Ruminating on romance, I realize it has very little to do with roses and much more to do with sprinkling cinnamon on the applesauce you pack in your honey's lunch.

One of these takes art.

Headlights, people! Maybe it's because I moved from an always-cloudy to a seldom-cloudy city, but Texans scare the heck out of me with their adamant refusal to turn on their lights when any sane person would. Headlights aren't for seeing the road--that's what street lights are for--they're for being seen.

Sharon's Rules for Enlightenment:

  1. If you need your windshield wipers, you need your headlights.

  2. If the sun is less than 20 degrees above the horizon, you need your headlights.

  3. If the air becomes the same color as your car, you need your headlights.

  4. If it is so foggy that the only things you can see are the street lights, you need your headlights.

Say no to phantom cars!

Gee, I feel better.

Jon conspired with AggieCon to get Rocky Horror Picture Show songs stuck in my head. Talk about inappropriate humming material for a cubicle farm.

I think the Space Program is neglecting some very promising avenues for development of inexpensive shuttles.

Mashed potatoes are alarmingly non-conductive. They take forever to get hot, but when they do, woo-nelly. Their reluctance to heat makes them an excellent candidate for heat shield technology.

Earlier, I described the potential for using raisins on mottled carpets as a propulsion technology. As explained by Newton's third law of motion, it doesn't matter whether you're dropping the raisin on the carpet or the carpet on the raisin. Therefore, I propose the creation of a raisin spring board. Carpet-covered shuttles (with mashed-potato undercarriages) could then be dropped upon it. They would bounce in a random, previously unforseen direction, as per the nature of raisins on carpets. In fact, if enough observers were to watch the falling shuttle closely enough, it might propell itself in a wholly atypical spatial dimension.

[Ed.'s note: In the midst of all this pseudo-science, I had a real scientific error: Where it now correctly cites Newton's third law of motion, I had previously called on the second law of thermodynamics, which, I remembered in a sudden explosion of memory the other night, deals with entropy. Nobody called me on it. Sheesh.]

Yay, fixed! (Well, except for that goofy table edge thing going on with IE4.) I needed to re-upload the images and the stylesheet--they were gone. *shrug*

Now that that's settled, time to think about what I'm really doing with this blog. I'd like to be witty, insightful, and poignant. That's not too much to tackle, is it? What do you want to see?

Jon, who actually reads newsy-type items, tells me that ev1, my ISP and webhost, was transferring servers and had asked us not to update our pages for a while. I see no such notice now, so I assume it is safe to blog again. I like ev1, by the way. They're inexpensive and reasonable. Texas only, though.

So AggieCon was a lot of fun. I got flyers made up in time and had fun distributing them around the flyer tables and such. I feel so important. I met neat people and got to listen to Terry Pratchett and Harlan Ellison, along with some Texas authors whom I am becoming familiar with through these cons. The Con Suite had great food. Radio Free Oz dj'ed the dance, and it was the most fun I've had at a con dance in a while. I made some new friends whom I did not have enough time to talk to—Eric, if you happen to stumble upon this site, say hi to me. It was a good con.

To attend the con, we stayed with our friend Ben and his family in Huntsville. They live on a ranch: vast expanse of land with huge, dark (but cloudy, this weekend) skies, big old pine trees, and horses! I got to say hi to the horses. I also rode through the mud in a Jeep and considered firing a rifle (too much mud; we would have sunk up to our knees--maybe next time). Ben's family is a lot of fun, and it felt so good to get out of the city.

*skritch, skritch* What on earth is going on? I view the page, and there is clearly no CSS and no images. I go somewhere else, then use the [Back] button, and the page looks fine. I hit the [Refresh] button, and it's back to blech. I'm so confused.

Aieee! What happened to my directory?! Everything that is called by the blog document is gone. Style sheets, images--all poof. And I'm not going to be able to fix it until Sunday. Oof.

I want one!

Going to AggieCon tonight. Terry Pratchet and Harlan Ellison are guests. Woo! As a result of the last-minuteness of the decision, I'm dashing about trying to prepare Invisible City propaganda. The up-side is that I get a chance to try my hand at design.

More words of my day from Merriam Webster: Equivocate (intr. v.) means to lie, to avoid making a commitment in your statements, to evade; and tergiversation (n.) means equivocation. Therefore, unequivocal (adj.), a word I'd stumbled over for years, means undisputed and without doubt. Ahhh...

Raisins, when dropped on a mottled carpet, can travel really far. Perhaps there is a future propulsion technology hidden here.

This is probably the height of vanity. I am so taken with my new blog design that I want to post over and over. But I can't think of anything to say. Um... Things are shaping up for Invisible City Productions (Jeremy is back in Chicago now); we've got a cool blog over there. And, um... The T.W.I.N.K.I.E.S. Project is amusing.

Apparently the problem is just with IE4. And if I copy the source of the file to a local copy on my harddrive, the page works fine. Bother.

So this is a switch. Something looks cool in Netscape and totally fails in Internet Explorer. Note the metal sheets these witty words of wisdom are etched upon. In Netscape, they look like metal sheets (though the colors won't appear to match, even though they do mathematically). In IE, it's anybody's guess as to which side image won't load. I don't think there's anything wrong with my html, especially since if I change the tag for any one image, the non-loading side on every sheet will switch. Pfoo.

It came it came it came! And it looks terrible. But, for better or for worse, I now have an official Texas driver's license.

Yee haw.

From the 'Bout Dang Time department: Girlstart, an organization dedicated to empowering girls in math, science, and technology. This jives right in with my Grace's Girls movement, and it is holding its grand opening here in Austin, next week.

New name! I was feeling out-cooled in the blogging community, and I lamented this fact to Jon last night. And Jon, brilliant, sexy guy that he is, suggested this froody new name: Phlebotomy. Get it? Spider... collecting blood...

Well, I'm pleased, anyway.

Vindicated!! Vin-dih-kated! Merriam-Webster's online dictionary lists, as a fourth definition for couple, "an indefinite small number: few." See? See?! It does mean more than two.

This has plagued me my entire verbal life.

So I'm another starry-eyed, slathering fan of Neil Gaiman, but, darnit, he's good. I read Neverwhere yesterday—creepy, clever, yummy. The day before, I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (J. K. Rowling) at my mother's urging; she's right, as usual. So what do these two books have in common that makes them so unbelievably popular? Both talk about a hidden world, seamlessly and invisibly interlaced with the one we know, that permits
magic and wonder, though it isn't always nice. Perhaps this hits at the same human need that Heaven appeals to: This isn't all there is.

Or, maybe they're popular because they take place in England. *shrug*

Wow, I understand more about corporations now than ever before. We spent many hours last night hammering out how Invisible City will work. I think we're getting there. It's so weird to think this will be real, that I really will be on the Board of Directors of a corporation, that people might even think I'm some kind of responsible grownup.

But I really wanted to share an amusing anecdote in this post. So Jon's a tech support agent at Apple Computers; he answers the phones and tries to mollify whiny people (so be nice when you call tech support, or I'll come growl at you). The other night, he was radiating heat like mad, while still under the covers, so I asked him, "Are you too warm?" He replied, proving he's so good at his job he can do it in his sleep, "You should usually follow the instructions on your screen, but this time go with 'Yeah, I'm too warm.'"

Jeremy's here! We took him out for proper Texan (center-cut Angus) steak last night (*drool*), and then went to this funky little coffee house that I'd never noticed before (MoJo's Daily Grind on Guadelupe and 27th) and played 1000 Blank White Cards. (Jeremy will probably scan some of the gems and put them somewhere on the ICP site, so I'll tell you where when he does.) We also talked about important Invisible City stuff, so things are really kicking into gear.

Jon's work schedule has finally become something reasonable (M-F, 8-5), so that's all-good, too.

My only real heartbreak has been watching the Dell stock creep steadily upwards these past few months, knowing I don't own any shares. They put the current stock quote on the internal website homepage. It's just mean.

Going to pick up Jeremy from the airport today--Yay!

The Weird Al concert was so cool. Sure, sure, he did stuff off his most recent album (and his Trent Reznor parody was convincing enough that I now don't need to subject myself to the kind of people who go to Nine Inch Nails concerts), but he did his best old stuff, too. Like a Surgeon, Eat It, Addicted to Spuds, Dare to be Stupid... Complete with costume changes. He also performed some songs that were new to us. One reminded me of Jer, my old roommate: in a pizza delivery uniform, to the theme from Titanic, "Near, Far, Wherever you are..." He puts on a fantastic show.

The crowd spanned a wide age range, and that got me to thinking. Song parody is a popular form of humor among kids, so Weird Al gets kids to be his fans. Then the kids grow up and have kids, and both generations are still fans. Plus, regardless of what music style comes into vogue, he can stay current by being a complete chameleon without alienating his fans--in fact, they expect it.

We spent the weekend with the friends we went to the concert with, played lots of dominos (a second game I can beat Jon at, so we'll have to get a set. The first is RYB.), saw the Alamo, and walked around the San Antonio River Walk. Great day. Plus, it's March, yet the trees are all in bloom. ^_^

One of the new friends I made this week is a published romance author. Her nom de plume is Pamela Ingrahm. So, after all the flak I've given my mom about her "trashy romance novels," I finally read one. It's about a Texas Ranger (*raowr*). It was entertaining, but I don't think I'll be turned to the Dark Side. I like more *realism*, which is why I read sci-fi. Er...

Jon and I are going with friends to a Weird Al concert tonight! Jon is wearing his Hawaiian shirt for the occasion.

Six Pence None the Richer covered ABBA's Dancing Queen. It's awesome!

Logitech is annoying me. And I've misplaced my Win98 system CD. And Netscape thinks that images aligned with style sheets should all be aligned in the same place, according to its whim.

Now, in haiku:

Logitech irks me

Crucial CDs wander off

Netscape is fickle, Ash Wednesday. Dang, I always think of these things the day after. There was a Mardi Gras party in downtown Austin that lasted from Friday to Tuesday. We didn't go, but we did have a lovely Fat Tuesday dinner (I still reek of garlic) with our friends Chris and Donna. I learned that Mardi Gras is French for "fat Tuesday"; makes sense.

I miss the Fastnacht doughnuts of back home.

Today is International Working Women's Day, so the Dell cafeteria offered a free cup of coffee to every woman who bought some item of food. As I'm drawing myself my cup of java, it occurs to me that, if we're such an unrecognized and underpriveleged group (see also, Women's History Month and Black History Month) that we need a special commemorating day, then is a cup of coffee really sufficient? I'd rather have a raise, respect, and job security, thanks.

Notice that this didn't stop me from getting the free coffee. Sigh...

I applied for my Texas drivers' license last night.

Once the finished card arrives, I will be fully and completely a committed Texan. I even already have boots.

I feel really far away.

In the Good News department, our friend Jeremy is coming to visit in a smidge more than a week. We'll definitely work on Invisible City stuff, but we'll also have a blast tooling around Austin. Also, my friend Fred, currently living in State College, PA, will come visit me (yay!) at the end of March, partly so he can evaluate whether he might like living in Austin. Follow the example of these two folks, people.

Adding insult to injury, a co-worker told me that Logitech webcams are absolutely the bottom of the barrel. Not only is their support hotline not toll-free, but it is only open 7:30 am to 3:30 pm, Pacific Time, Monday through Friday. I called Compaq, and they were pleasant but clueless. I need to call them back, since futher troubleshooting showed that an external microphone won't work in the recording application that comes with Windows. Grrr... (This is serving to increase my loyalty to Dell. They pay me, *and* their stuff works.)

On the upside, I have added that little option at the top of the page to allow you to choose whether links in this blog spawn separate windows or replace my site. Tell me quick if it doesn't work.

Our webcam finally arrived, but the audio part does not work. Apparently, Logitech has a known issue with the audio portion of their cameras not working with Compaq computers (though they failed to mention this on their System Requirements page). Fer Pete's sake. On top of that, their help line is not toll free. *grumble*

Pfoo, missed a good opportunity. Yesterday was leap day, giving me a chance to roll out a new word from Merriam-Webster's dictionary: bissextile year. It means, um, leap year.

So Julius Caesar recognized the need for an extra day every four years, and he put it into February. The Romans stuck that extra day after the 24th. They also had a custom of calling the last few days of a month according to how far they were from the start of the next month. Now, Merriam-Webster's tells me that Feb 24th was called sextus because it was six days before March 1st. That certainly isn't the case anymore, but February did have 30 days, once upon a time. However, it was Julius Caesar himself who moved the extra days (into July and August, for him and his pal), so I'm struggling with my chronology. My best guess: The custom of calling 2/24 "sextus" was in place before Julius's time; Julius decreed the need for an extra day every four years, so it was stuck in after 2/24 and called "bissextus" (second sextus); then Julius went and redistributed the days, but the bissextus name stuck.

Leap Day gets a Latin name meaning "the second sixth-day-before-March." Although all the conditions that made that true have changed, the term "bissextile year" is still used for leap year. By someone.

(Merriam-Webster posted it as their word of the day, but it is not in their on-line dictionary.)