I am so thoroughly disoriented. After an arid stretch of something like 50 days, it has now rained every day for the past five. I keep thinking I'm waking up in State College. Do you suppose Noah checked the paper every day: "What, again?"

The rain is quite needed, but we're starting to get flooding in various areas around the city. Not that I think I have the necessary connections, but it can't hurt to ask:

Could you make it, like, one rainy day a week for the next few months? Wednesdays would be good. Thanks. And, uh, I love your work in the sunset circuit.


Grrrr... After I so graciously agreed to subject myself to Disgruntled Toastmaster Lady's litany of complaints, she never answered with a meeting invitation.

Continuing to enjoy our Clerks DVD, we listened to the commentary from Kevin Smith last night. Unfortunately, the room during the recording was full of people, and you could never really hear anyone but Kevin. It did confirm, however, that Jason Mewes really is a lot like Jay, the character. Jay the actor spent most of the commentary session drunk and passed out, punctuated by a few "lucid" moments containing the f-word and some permutation of "snoochie boochies."

Yeah, it's worth renting.

That was cathartic. I think I feel better. Programming stuff is going swimmingly, at least. I'm back in that mode where I'm focused all day and then am surprised to notice that I've been here for ten hours. I love it. I feel smart.

Things that I don't need are confrontational, spirit-crushing emails, first thing in the morning. One of the members in my Toastmasters club (I'm the President, you may recall) sent an email saying she wanted to talk about the things she's dissatisfied with, rather than simply dropping out and leaving the other members to "stand alone about some of the mutual issues."

So, what? You all get together and talk about how you hate me, and now you'd like a private audience to air your grievances?

Or is it just you, and that other smoker who has disliked me from the day she met me, egging each other on?

Or does this all get down to a simple resistance to learning Robert's Rules of Order, which are stated explicitly as our governing principle in our unamendable club constitution? Excuse me for trying to finally get our club into compliance. (Toastmasters revokes charters, you know.)

I've been all pissed off and exasperated and upset all morning. I thought really hard about how to reply, and finally settled on the "so glad to hear you care about the quality of our club" approach. I said: "If you've got some suggestions for how to get people involved again, I'd be glad to hear them," subtly but firmly stating that I am not the least bit interested in complaints without solutions.

This is so fucking hard. I hate running this club. Attendance is the lowest it's been since I joined, mostly due to Dell's layoffs and furloughs and general climate. We have to hold a club contest, and we can't get contestants or judges. At least I've got help on that one. And our Area Governor, who oversees our club and four others to make sure we're providing the Toastmasters Experience, sits one row over from me and attends all our meetings. With suggestions.

I can't fix everything that's broken in just two months.

Or even in one whole term. Leave me alone. I'm counting the days.

It sure is Tuesday, ain't it?

Um... We had a big I/T All Hands meeting today. That kind of sucked the life out of me. Or, at least, any creative spark I may have had.


I had a dream this morning that I broke my wedding ring. It hurt.

Yesterday, we went to see Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. It is quite ridiculous and filled with swear words, but it was kind of charming and rather fun. I dig Kevin Smith, and it's nice to see him succeed. We then had to go rent Clerks, of course. We didn't get to watch much of it, though, because a big thunder storm came up (finally! Rain!), and our DVD player is Jon's iMac. We prefer to unplug the computers during storms. We found out that a few more of our windows leak, but at least the floor seems dry.

Speaking of shoddily made apartments, I had the coolest idea on Saturday: I'm going to propose to my apartment complex that I make them a web-based "trouble ticket" system for their maintenance requests. Residents log in, create a request, and can then follow its status. I'm still trying to decide how I'd like to be paid. Above all, I'd want the following two things:

  1. Define what "a reasonable amount of time" is in a Service Level Agreement.

  2. Answer—just acknowledge—my requests in that amount of time.

Beyond that, a month without rent would be nice. Or, better yet, 10% off each month. But I really want this system to happen, so I won't mention money unless they're really enthusiastic. I swear, just getting the god damned sink fixed (since January!) would be payment enough.

Apartment complexes really do think they're in a different kind of relationship, here in Texas.

I'm not able to distill the key attributes of site designs I really, really like, the ones that make me go "Oo." But, Textism is one.

One more note on how to talk to I/T: You don't need to use exclamation points. Nobody's that important.

Along the same line, though, error messages should never have exclamation points either. Half the stress in the workplace is caused by unnecessarily alarming alert messages.

I finished the Gilda Radner book, It's Always Something, this morning. It made me cry, often ('course, I was reading it within a day of getting married, when nearly anything would make me cry). Last night I dreamt I was undergoing chemotherapy, but trying not to let my friends know, but trying to explain why I couldn't walk all the way up Shortlidge (State College) in the snow, and would they please drop me off at my door? They were more of acquaintences, actually.

Shrinky Dinks make me so happy. Ooooh, you can buy them in bulk!

So anyway, wedding. It was a terrific party, and I'm kinda sad to be back at work. There's almost too much to report; I'm overwhelmed by the pressure of having to sum it up in a few paragraphs. Briefly, though, I'm married, I'm so in love, and lots of wonderful family members and friends were there to dance with us. Good food, though I only got the one bite of cake, and the site, the Barnhouse Village, was really outstanding. The bridal suite has a four-poster bed and a hot tub, and they had this wonderful dessert wine waiting for us (and everything tastes better in champagne flutes). It was just really fun, the whole week, goofy girl-tears aside.

Yesterday we played hookey from work, rented movies, and played video games. Ben and Tosha had left a goody basket on our doorstep, with wine, cheese, *fresh bread*, chips, and salsa. We haven't actually dug into those yet, not quite being properly hungry all day, but we're quite eager. I did snag a piece of bread on Sunday night, when it was still warm. Aren't they awesome?

And I've decided to be Sharon Jeanne Cichelli Leistiko. Sharon J. C. Leistiko. Jon says, any name that shares initials with a messiah has to be good. Now I just have to figure out how to make this transition, paperwork-wise.

I can't win. My chewing gum has a health warning on it. It contains something that causes cancer in lab rats. Currently I'm reading Gilda Radner's autobiographical story of her battle with cancer, It's Always Something.

C'mon, people, I have to do something with my jaw. Sigh.

Posting from PA... (It's cooler here. Whew.) So, we have some pictures of the ceremony with the JP, uploaded for your enjoyment. We're still learning with the camera, so some shots are blurry: with the flash, everything looks austere and terrible; without it, the shutter speed is too slow to avoid serious blurriness. We're thinking about putting a filter over the flash or the lens. I'll let you know.

Wow. You leave a poll up long enough, and eventually every option will get at least one vote. And here it is: Someone has endorsed hyphenating two three-syllable names. Golly.

What a weekend.

We started Saturday morning with a Toastmasters club contest. Jon competed in both the humorous speech and table topics competitions...and won first place in both! I was a timer for the contest, which was just plenty of involvement for me. After that, we got my dress from Natosha, packed it up, and mailed it off. Mom should get it by Tuesday morning, in time to take it to the dry cleaners for a pressing. ...And then, we went to the office of the Justice of the Peace and got married. Married. Maaaaarrrrried. Married. Right.

The ceremony was really nice, actually. I enjoyed what the Justice said, about how Texas doesn't marry us, and he doesn't marry us--we marry us--and about our love being strong enough for us to stand as individuals as well. Ben and Tosha were there, putting their house warming party on hold in order to be there, and they brought me a white iris so that I had a flower to hold. Mo and Jon also attended, and it was great to have them. Afterwards, we all went back to the house warming party, and Ben fed us incredible food, and I tried to get used to the word "husband."

Then on Sunday, we took care of some more wedding errands at the mall, had one last dance lesson (more after the wedding, but last for now), and then got together with Adam, one of my best friends, who is down visiting his brother. We took them out for barbecue, overshopped at Central Market, strolled around the Capitol building, and then took Adam to see the bats at Congress Avenue. They did not disappoint. Then, to complete the Austin-in-Brief tour, Amy's Ice Cream on Guadelupe. The coolest girl was working behind the counter. Usually, the guys will flip the ice cream scoops (and often catch them), but girls hardly ever have the guts. Not so, with this chick. The line was out the door and into the parking lot, so to help move things along, she was handing out samples of ice cream, so that people could make up their minds more easily. No, let me amend that: she was not handing out samples, she was throwing them. With a little wooden spoon of "Turkish Coffee," she calls to the man behind me, "Can you catch it?" He says, "No!" and then does, because she's already thrown it. Then I ask for a sample... "Can you catch it?" "No!!" *catch* I asked her, "Does everybody say 'no'?" She said that they do. Anyway, to be sure Adam got the full Amy's experience, I told her that this was his first visit to Austin. She tossed and caught one scoop, and for another... she handed Adam a bowl. Luckily, he used to play lacrosse. It was great.

So I had a completely fantastic, totally non-restful, vow-exchanging weekend. I'm pooped.

You may not have been thirsty, but when they tell you this section of the city has no water, you will suddenly become desperately thirsty. It feels like the stiflingTexas heat is pressing on the windows, squeezing us, wringing out any water that may remain.

The city expects to have water restored in half an hour, but it's still a weird feeling. Never forget your dependence on technology and societal infrastructure.

Password madness

My network password expired, so I created a new one. I then spent all day typing the wrong one each time I sat down to unlock my machine. Then some other network things got hinky, and I got locked out of my account. So I called the helpdesk and had them automatically reset it. That then prompted me to create a new, as-yet-unused password.

I am completely befuddled.

You're not a real geek if you don't have desk toys.

My co-workers threw me a surprise happy-wedding party during our staff meeting today. They had a card, gifts, and a whole mess of desserts, along with guests who wouldn't normally have been at the staff meeting. I must have looked like a goof, since I was totally caught by surprise and blushed a lot, but it was just so awesome. I really like working with these people, and I genuinely like them, too. ^_^

They gave me a gift certificate to a local theater, and some of the aforementioned desk toys: a squishy tube thing, Silly Putty, and a dancing gorilla water toy (remember the things with a column full of water and a big push-button on the bottom, and pushing the button made stuff inside the column move, like swirling up rings so you could hook them on a spike? Yeah, like that. With a gorilla.)

As unfathomable as it may seem, this turn of events has made me yet goofier. tee hee

Do you suppose it would be inappropriate to go home over my lunch hour to check on my camera, play with it, take it out for a walk and refill its water bowl...

I ask, Jon delivers: How to record from a cassette into MP3 format

Oooooooh, Toy!

Got the camera last night. It is so cool. I'm pretty handy with it in Auto mode; I've started in on the 190-page Guide to Digital Photography now, to learn how to do cool things with aperture settings and shutter speeds.

It's a real paradigm shift, though. It's very different to take pictures where there isn't a sense of wasting film and processing costs and you can get immediate feedback. It's freeing.

A little digging regarding the digital camera I ordered on line revealed that the company did not have it in stock, despite mentioning nothing of the kind on their site. I got rather nervous about getting ripped off (relieved a bit because I'd used my MasterCard, so I could dispute the charge), but I called them today, and they were quite willing to cancel the order. We'll see if it successfully gets cancelled, but I got the impression everything would be fine. So, we're going out tonight to go buy one from a brick-and-mortar after all. I can't wait!

We've been listening to stories on tape by Stephen King. They're a lot of fun! We pile a whole bunch of pillows in the living room, light a bunch of candles, and, optionally, snack on things like strawberries and chocolate. Just last night, we listened to Rob Lowe read "Dolan's Cadillac." A few days before, it was Yeardly Smith on "Rainy Season." (There is nothing quite so surreal as hearing Lisa Simpson say the f-word.) Whoopi Goldberg read one that I fell asleep during (no fault to author or reader, I was just super snuggled). But the real triumph is Tim Curry reading "Crouch End." He gives every character a different voice, a different dialect--his American is really quite good--and the story is a Cthulhu story. What a hoot.

Boy, they'll let anybody get married. No extrance exam or nuthin'. I just turned in the marriage license to the Justice of the Peace for our appointment on Saturday. That, and a whole chunk of cash, as they take only cash, and don't give change. Your government in action. Or, mine, anyway.

This is so close!

When stuck for what songs to list on your wedding DJ's request list, the best brainstorm-freer is to put a stamp on an envelope and seal the list inside.


Hey, wow, nifty! Reblogger is a new blog commenting system, to replace BlogVoices, which was forced to close its doors. Finally, I can hear from you again!

Therefore, tell me why you are voting for the various name options that you are. I'm really shocked at how high a rating "Cichelliko" is getting; perhaps society (the web-enabled, anyway) is ready for some revolutionizing of the way we think of marriage. I know I am.

In other news, we bought a digital camera and all its accoutrement this weekend. UPS should deliver it early this week. I can hardly wait. But it does herald ominous things for the paradigm of the brick-and-mortar store: It was cheaper--by a lot--to buy it online and have it over-nighted. And we still have a return policy, a service number to call, and Nikon's manufacturer's warranty. Granted, we ordered through the website of a brick-and-mortar, so maybe there's hope. But this is the harbinger of another mass extinction. Evolve or die, folks.

Jon and I also went for another drive, with Jon at the helm. Once again, we toured the lovely and scenic Dell parking lot. He's gettin' there.

Much errand running, this weekend. In six days, I will be a wife. Heaven help me.

One of the first projects for my digital camera, other than the wedding, is a website about stick-figure abuse. You know those signs, warning you of all the awful things that can happen to you? Dreadful abuses are being perpetrated against stick figures, just to make those signs for you. Shameful! So I want to capture the atrocities on film and post them, to raise awareness and promote advocacy. My boss has already sent a marvelous contribution to my collection. You can, too.

This. I want this.

I want to buy a digital camera before Tuesday, August 14th. Recommend one? Things that are important to me are storage space, battery life, and camera size. I'll use it mostly for pics to post on my website, but I might want to print some on a fancy printer and use them in my scrapbook. So, when you make your recommendation, please include some estimates on how many photos you can store at what resolution, what type of media the memory is, how long the battery lasts, and how big the thing is.

Much obliged.

How to Talk to I/T

So, you've been given the dreaded missive, "Go ask I/T." Well, here are Sharon's handy tips for getting along with the programmer in your life.

  1. You're allowed to ask for a feature that sounds tough to create. Challenge is good, and new ideas are better.

  2. Tell us (and our managers) when we do something you like, too. We are people, and praise is remembered when you submit your next request.

  3. Do not preface your support requests with, "For some strange reason..." You know and I know that it is either a bug in the code, a problem with the network, or a mistake by the user. Just ask your question, already.

  4. Don't suggest how the code should do what you want it to do. We know how to program.

  5. Look at the prototype more than three days before the release date. Heck, let's go wild and say more than a month before.

  6. We don't like business jargon any more than you like technical jargon. Let's hear it for simple, clear writing!

  7. Remember that our success is directly tied to your success. Why would we want to make a product you don't like? Think of this relationship as a partnership.

  8. Feeding your programmer chocolate makes for tighter code and faster response times. This programmer, anyway.

There's something fun about sitting in a meeting, chin resting on cupped hands, grinning wolfishly for no apparent reason. Especially when the non-apparent reason is simply that it's fun to grin wolfishly in a meeting.

I think I did have a reason, though. I'm going to be somebody's wife in less than two weeks. Thankfully, though, it's a nice somebody. And I've accomplished the hardest task on my wedding to-do list: Found a gift for my dad. ^_^

A while back, some disk drives wandered away from Los Alamos, and folks flambéed the security at Los Alamos. Now, when some talented programming shows you a serious flaw in Microsoft technology, you rant about those awful, horrid hackers?

Mind where you place the blame, there, folks, and don't shoot the messenger.