(no subject)
- For the past three weekends J and I have gone cross-country skiing just north of Winter Park.  The first day we also had a private lesson (it was my birthday present).  I've never liked downhill skiing (too fast, the chair lifts are too high) so this is a middle ground that still gets both of us outside in the mountains in the winter. It's been fun, if tiring.  Going up the few extra thousand feet in elevation means I end up gasping for breath occasionally, but the views at both places we've gone are stunning.  Each trip we've gotten a little better about preparing - wearing enough layers but not too many, bringing a handkerchief, having something warm to drink not just gatorade.  We'll probably go another few times this spring, one of the things I realized is that only going once a year would be tough - that leaves no chance for finding the right rhythm or developing the right muscles.  I've also discovered that rental boots tend not to be my friend because my feet are weirdly between sizes and narrow.  I may start bringing extra socks to see if that helps.

- I'm on my regular movie watching binge pre-Oscar's.  I've seen six of the nine nominated best movies this year, and plan to see at least one, maybe two more in theaters.  But even more exciting is the fact that our current basic cable package comes with the Turner Classic Movie channel.  I've never had that channel before and it's a little dangerous.  I've been going through the guide for the 28 days of Oscar and recording each movie nominated for best picture I haven't seen yet.  I think I have 40 or so movies on the tivo to watch right now, and the month isn't over yet.  So I will be able to make a big leap forward in my goal to see every nominated best picture film, that is if I can find the time to watch them all.

- I am registered to run the Colfax half-marathon in May.  I had originally been planning to run the full, and still feel a little like I'm wimping out.  I could have trained up enough to run it, but I was a little behind before I even started, pushing too hard is an easy way to get hurt, and we want to do some other things this spring instead of just running.  The half marathon makes a lot more sense.  Turns out Brett Favre recently ran his very first half-marathon and finished in 2:06.  So this Packer fan can now identify my goal like this  - I want to be faster than Brett Favre.  Actually I want to set a new PR and my current one is 2:07:44 so they do line up.  In support of this I am finally using the training time I bought last fall at the YMCA.  Once a week I meet with Dayna and she walks me through strength exercises.  I have to keep reminding myself I asked for upper body stuff too, because oof my shoulders ache after every session (mostly because of how weak they are currently).  I have a plan for the race that should be doable, though I have to start paying attention to my pace soon.

- I am taking antibiotics for a dry cough that turns out to be bronchitis.  Amusingly I had already been taking probiotics just to reset my system.  I keep picturing a mini-war happening in my insides and hope the anti- are killing all the right things and the pro- are helping everything else survive.

LJI:8 No Comment
“Hold all my calls!” Mr. Moyer shouted at his secretary while rushing past her into his office, trailing Mr. Battle behind him like a jogger with a small dog on leash.  Mr. Battle glanced at Ms. Geyer sympathetically, she was sitting frozen behind her desk while all ten lines on her phone blinked the angry red of ignored callers.  Mr. Moyer slammed the door behind Mr. Battle, probably thinking he was all the way in the office but clipping his elbow hard.  Mr. Battle quick-marched to the table and put down his papers before he dropped them, getting hit in the funny bone had made his whole arm numb.

“What the hell happened?”

“I think we have that figured out sir, and”

“Is it fixed?”

“Not yet, we took the reports down for the time being-”

“Took them down?  Our quarterly reports aren’t on the website for investors to see?”

“We – I thought nothing was better than the reports as they were, sir.”

Mr. Moyer opened his mouth to shout again, and a few nonsense syllables slipped out.  Then he took a deep breath, visibly trying to bring himself under control. “You’re right, though I don’t think we can bury this.”

“No sir, it’s out there.  We’ll have to decide how to respond.”

“That’s later.”  Mr. Moyer looked around his corner office as if to reassure himself it was still there.  “So, what did happen?”

“Um, I’ve been down with IT figuring it out.  If you remember, four years ago when we implemented the auto-reporting of our quarterly numbers to the website, it was an
idea that went from a thought to reality in two weeks – really quickly.”

“Of course I do, I was very proud of the group for jumping in and getting it done.”

“They were working long hours, frustrated when things weren’t coming together, and started, I guess playing a game is the best way to describe it.”

“Playing a game?  How does that screw up our quarterly reports four years later?”

“They played the game in the code they were writing.  Someone started leaving comments, someone else answered in another comment...”

“But none of this showed up before now.”

Mr. Battle looked at his CEO and moved to a chair at the table.  He was choosing his words carefully, trying to explain to Mr. Moyer what IT had explained to him.  He had thought about dragging the head of IT up to explain it herself, but she was still laughing so hard she had trouble breathing, which wouldn’t have helped the situation.

“Right, the game was all in comments in the code, just a call and response.  In coding comments are a way to make notes that don’t effect the functioning of the program.  Apparently they’re in everything, notes about what a fix was and when, ways to make the code prettier next time, occasionally just a bit of silliness.  It’s a way for coders to talk to the future, to leave tracks for whoever looks at the code next.”

“So IT knew this stuff was there?”

“Anyone who has updated the quarterly auto-report code has seen it, but it wasn’t hurting anything, so no one ever took it out.”

“And this morning’s fiasco?”

“You fired Tom Black three weeks ago.”

“He was disrespectful, always in jeans and t-shirts and asked that pointed question about infrastructure in the company meeting.”

“Yes sir.  Someone gave him a heads up what was happening, just two minutes before HR got to his desk to turn off his computer. “

Mr. Moyer looked confused and hurt.  “What could he have done in two minutes?”

“He pulled up the quarterly report code and deleted all the comment markers.”

“But if the comments were deleted..”

“No sir, the comment markers.  The symbols that let the code know that this wasn’t supposed to be functional.  And since the overall command in the report is print…”

Mr. Moyer still looked lost, and waved his hand at Mr. Battle in a ‘please continue’ gesture.  Mr. Battle sighed.

“All of the comments the coders had made to each other had been hidden by the markers.  Without the comment markers, they looked like printable text to the rest of the code.”

Mr. Moyer slumped forward a little.  “So because some IT folks were overworked four years ago, and I fired someone a few weeks ago…”

“Yes, sir.  That’s why the lyrics to ‘little bunny foo-foo’ and ‘bringing home a baby bumble-bee’ and all the others showed up throughout the report when it went live overnight.  IT is cleaning up the report code as quick as they can, which for the moment is putting all of the comment markers back in.  They will go back and do a full clean later.  Until then-” Mr. Battle slid his notebook out of the pile in front of him and took a pen from his pocket “as the head of public relations I need to know what you want to tell the public about this?”

Mr. Moyer stared at him bleakly and shrugged his shoulders.

Mr. Battle hid his quick smile.   “So that’d be no comment?”

****This is my entry for the latest round of LJ Idol.  Many thanks to my husband for explaining to me how comments work in code and answering a lot of odd questions as this idea came together, any technical errors are all mine.  To read more fabulous folks riffing on the same topic go here.***

LJI:7 Where I'm from
Wisconsin.  That’s where I was born and raised and if you ask me where I am from, that’s the answer.  Seymour might have been the platonic ideal of Midwestern small town upbringing, neighbor kids around the same age, a crossing guard who stopped traffic on Main Street (also a state highway) for us to go to and from school, and empty fields nearby to play in.  We lived on a dead-end road so we didn’t have to worry about traffic when we learned to ride bikes, no chain restaurant moved in until I was in high school (I got my first official job at the Dairy Queen), and we were still the new people ten years after we arrived.

I went to college in Indiana, but college is always a place of transience with people from all over.  After college I moved around to a few different states for a variety of internships and summer gigs but I wasn’t ever anywhere long enough to be from there.    Nope, I was from Wisconsin: cheese-head, Packer fan, salt of the earth Midwesterner.  I still call them bubblers, damn it.  (A water fountain is the large feature in a courtyard where you can throw pennies for a wish.   The public appliance where you hold down a button to get a stream of water to drink from is a bubbler.  Why is this so confusing to people from, um, everywhere else?)

After all of the moving around of my post-collegiate years I settled down in California, the Bay Area specifically.  I lived in five different cities on the Peninsula in my nearly twenty years there, and had friends scattered throughout the area but some things, like doctors or my favorite fish and chips place, stayed constant.  I experienced a few earthquakes, got used to summer as a dry season, and learned that up to the minute traffic reports were a necessity.  But the Bay Area is such a popular place to live it seems like most people are transplants from somewhere else, so even as the years ticked by I was never from there.

This past April we moved from California to Colorado, just outside Denver.  Now when someone asks where I’m from my brain gets stuck.  I’m still from Wisconsin, but I haven’t lived there since 1993.  (Though I did live in WI longer than CA by several months.  Yes, I did that math.)  These days, I suppose, I’m from California, or at least most recently.  That’s usually what people are asking anyway, not where was I born and raised, but where I was before this.

But that has its own pitfalls, as some Coloradans are very grumpy about people moving to their state: making their housing market tighter, their roads fuller, and taking their jobs, especially the people who moved from California.   I know, I’ve been told so several times with varying degrees of amusement and frustration after telling folks where I was before the move.  I have a response prepared: my husband was raised in Colorado and we moved back to be closer to families.  I’m just along for the ride.  Somehow that makes it okay.

I’ve never had anyone angry at me about where I was from before.  I never thought it was that important, more a clue into someone’s upbringing and personal identity, than a badge used to judge whether or not someone belongs.  It’s been uncomfortable to deal with, and I realize that so many people deal with this all the time, and in ways that are much nastier, especially now.

Maybe I have to retrain my automatic response.  Maybe I, and everyone else, should just be from earth.

***this is my entry for week 7 of LJ Idol, the topic post if you want to read other folks take is here."

hum if you don't know the words
- I can't quite figure out Denver winter.  It snowed about 4" overnight and through this morning.  Wendesday it's supposed to be 50 degrees.  This happened with the last storm too, over a Wed-Thurs we got 10" of snow, by Sunday it was in the upper 40's and all of the snow, except for a few banks in shady spots, was gone by Tuesday.  I'm not complaning, it's just odd.  I'm used to an upper midwest winter, once it's gotten cold enough to snow it usually stays that way for several months and all of the snow sticks.  This snow / no-snow pattern is going to take some getting used to.  Though it does make the way the city plows (or doesn't for non-major residential streets) make more sense.

- During the last storm my car got stuck turning the corner from a road that had been plowed to one that wasn't.  I was about a block from home, so I put on my flashers and called my husband.  Just as I got off the phone a car pulled to the side of the road in front of me and two guys jumped out.  They helped push me out, smiled and waved, and got back in their car and drove away.  It's nice to know that still happens.

- I missed LJ Idol this week.  I had no good ideas for the topic and was busy so I let this become my first bye.  Hopefully it'll be my only one.

- I don't quite believe the Packers won that game.  After so many blow outs it was great to have a really good, close game of football, but my heart might have preferred it to involve someone else's team.

- I kept forgetting that this is a three day weekend.  It feels too soon after the holidays for another day off.

LJI:4 "I don't skate to where the puck is. I skate to where the puck is going to be."
While waiting for the coffee to brew this morning, I saw on my news feed that Macy’s is closing 63 stores in early 2017.  “A sign of the times” I thought as I browsed through the list of stores.  “Online shopping is so huge now, it’s hard for brick and mortar to compete.”  Then I came to a line on the list that took my breath away.  Macy’s is closing the store in downtown Minneapolis; it opened in 1902.

I wanted to yell at someone about the loss of history, or why longevity doesn’t count for much of anything, or maybe just to get off my lawn.  But a national chain closing one branch of a store isn’t really a big deal.  It is just “a sign of the times”.  Macy’s in 1902 didn’t know about the Mall of America, or online shopping.  They’re doing what they need to do to stay alive now.

It made me realize that for most of the last century progress moved along a predictable curve.  Sure movies, the automobile, and television were crazy and dangerous when they debuted but it took time for any of them to gain traction in everyday life.  Computers and the internet, however, have changed everything in a short span of time.  Personally, by location or choice, I was usually a little behind.  But the changes just in my lifetime are huge.  When I was in grade school our phone still had a rotary dial, our TV had five channels, and my parents had just bought a new-fangled microwave.

I had a computer class for a quarter in the 9th grade.  We were taught it could do basic algebraic math and how to program it to make a picture in pointillism (turn this square in this column and row this color, and repeat until your image appeared).  That was it.

I got my first email address as a junior in college.  You could sign up at the student services office if you wanted one, and use one of the two computer labs on campus.  My boyfriend was at another college and taught me how to use it, to save on stamps.

I got a pager when I became a professional stage manager in 2000 and a brick of a laptop to do paperwork with.  I didn’t get a cell phone until about two years later, when finding a payphone to return a page went from annoying to near impossible.  And it was 2004 before we started emailing out daily reports, instead of printing and faxing them.

Now I can’t imagine how to function in the modern world without an internet connection and computer at home, a cell phone (preferably smart), and the ability to google something I don’t know, or send an email to coworkers or friends.  Now I live in CO and work at a company in PA by connecting to the servers over a VPN from my home internet connection and skyping with co-workers.  Only two decades ago that sentence would have been gibberish to me.

So how do we know where anything is going to be in a decade, or two?  Sure, maybe we’ll finally get our flying cars or replicator meals, or maybe something different but equally as cool is coming.  But I don’t know how to get ahead of a curve that’s moving this quickly and there’s no good way to predict. I don't know how to plan for a future I can't even imagine.

**This is my entry for this week in LJ Idol read everyone else's here.  The topic is a Wayne Gretsky quote.**

- Happy New Year to one and all.  I kept forgetting to open with that in work emails today and had to remind myself - a little social lubrication will make things better.  But things are busy enough it's hard for it not to feel a bit like wasted time.  I got asked a question today where the answer was 'don't know, won't have time to figure it out until later this week'.  Whee!

- Part of the oddity of wishing folks happy new year for me is I don't really feel like mine has started yet.  I looked at my calendar and now have numbers to put to my discombobulation, since November 16 I've been home for 23 days and travelling/away for 25.  So the time I usually spend tidying and summing up at the end of a year hasn't happened, nor has making any resolutions or plans for the year ahead.  I've just been keeping up.  But there are two dates coming up that feel like beginnings for different reasons, January 16 and 21, so I am going to spend some time this weekend getting settled and organized and calm, then pick one of them to be my new year. I just need to re-center, I keep spinning on small to-dos and have no head at all for the big picture right now.

-NYE was board games and hot toddys, so lovely.  Though it was surprisingly difficult to find a station doing a countdown in Mountain time, most channels apparently did east coast and then began replaying the whole thing for pacific time.  Hrmph.

- I picked up the scarf I had started and knit a lot while watching football this weekend.  Hopefully I'll maintain motivation to finish it, it's cold enough right now that a new wool scarf sounds like an amazing idea.

in an airport
I am at the Vegas airport killing time until I board a plane back to CO.

We spent the holidays in NW Arizona with J's sister-in-law and kids.  J drove down with his mom, brother, and niece in the car from CO to AZ.  I have to work on both sides of this trip so I flew in on the 24th and am flying out today.  This has the added benefit of no road trip with lots of family, which would have made me crazy.
holiday reactionCollapse )

I'll get home to work for a few days, and then am travelling again for New Year's weekend.  I'm hoping to be home for January, we've travelled a lot for the last six weeks and I'm ready to stay still for a while.

I'm a little nervous about work, this is my first time doing end of year and all of the 2016 audit items and my boss is a decent guy but absolutely believes in the sink-or-swim way of teaching things.  He'll answer questions, if I know what to ask.

Not much else to report from here - it's been a lot of hurry up to wait and filling time as best I can.  My Christmas present to me was reading "Snuff" by Terry Pratchett. Reading a new Pratchett has long been a balm, something I saved for a stressful time as a way to make things better.  There's only one Discworld novel I haven't read now.  It might be a while until I get to it since this is the last fix I get.

Happy late December everyone - I hope the week is treating you well.

travel day
Last week J and I were in Pittsburgh for my work.  I had meetings with the auditors to get ready for year end, and the company holiday party was Thursday night.  We decided to stay through Saturday and take Friday off to explore, which was fun.  We went to the Warhol museum which I highly recommend - it was fascinating to watch the styles and interests change in his art.

So Saturday was our day to travel home.  We got up and got to the airport only to find out our flight had been cancelled.  United rescheduled us on a flight early Sunday, but luckily I had booked the tickets through the company travel agent and called them.  They were able to find a flight from PIT-DEN with seats open on Saturday.

Instead of a flight leaving at 8:36a we were now on a flight leaving at 6:20p.  But we were getting home.  Once the Frontier counter opened up we checked bags, went through security and ate brunch.  We bought a headset splitter and found a corner of the terminal that was empty and watched a movie.  We walked around, and read some.

I got a text from Frontier announcing the flight was delayed - until 10:27p.  So we watched some tv on the computer, had dinner, and watched some more tv.

Our plane arrived and we left almost exactly when they said we would.  We landed at 12:12am local time   A long day, but not an impossible one.

Then the pilot came on the speakers to tell us we didn't have a gate assignment yet - and they expected that to take 45min - hour.  Until then we were stuck.

Four hours later we got off the plane.  Got to baggage claim, which looked like a war zone, and decided to split up.  J would take the shuttle to long term parking to retrieve the car and I'd get the bags.  As I started chatting to folks who had been waiting for bags for ten hours, I realized that I was pretty done and we might just have to fill out missing bag forms and run away.  But lo and behold our luggage arrived about an hour after they let us off the plane, and since J's truck had needed a jump it timed out perfectly.  We gathered our things and drove home.

Our trip which should have taken about eight hours from hotel door to home instead took 27.  We lost nearly all of the weekend, but we got home.

Out of curiosity I checked on the flight that United had rebooked us on Sunday morning as we were driving away from DIA in our own car with all our stuff.  It had been cancelled.

LJI:3 brushback pitch
It was the summer of stitches.  Nearly every kid in our neighborhood had ended up in the ER to fix knees, elbows, foreheads, and in one particularly memorable bike accident, a hand and fingers.  We had all been admonished by parents to 'play safely, please' but we couldn’t be concerned with caution if it got in the way of fun.

The site of most of our games (and injuries) was the neighborhood ‘backyard’.  Our block had an empty grassy lot that touched on the edge of all our yards.  The lot was an old cemetery and no one could build there without exhuming the few bodies still buried, so it stayed empty.  We all knew this history because of Mr. Carter who died in 1880.  His was the only tombstone left, and we all examined it regularly.  Mostly because it was frequently used as part of our games.

On this particular afternoon my brother wanted to use his new wooden bat, so the game was baseball.  We created a vaguely diamond shape out of a sapling tree for first base, a Frisbee thrown down for second, Mr. Carter’s stone for third and a slight sandy depression that we drew an “X” in for home plate.  Our games were usually four on four and heavily weighted in favor of the team batting; the team in the field needed a pitcher and a catcher, which left only two kids to cover everything else.

I don’t remember much about how the game began.  When I came up to bat Ritchie was the catcher and I told him he was standing too close.  I told him more than once, in the bossy tones of the oldest kid in the neighborhood, that he was going to get hit if he didn’t back up a few steps.  He didn’t back up a few steps.  And on a mighty swing – I missed the ball completely – I connected with Ritchie’s forehead.

Now Ritchie had just gotten stitches taken out of his forehead a few days before.  That time he had been trying to jump from the porch swing to the porch railing and back and he missed.  This time we all looked at Ritchie who was crying and had blood all over his face and kids scattered.  My brother and I got him up and walked him to our back door.  Ritchie agreed that the person to talk to first was our Mom, not his.

Mom got him cleaned up and brought him next door to his mom Annie, who sighed and put him in the car for another ER trip.  I was crying a little by then, freaked out that I had hit him.  I told Mom the whole story and she reassured me that it was an accident and Ritchie would be okay.  She talked my brother and me into staying inside and playing a board game for the rest of the afternoon.

After that baseball fell out of favor in our neighborhood.  I didn’t mind, I was never very good at it anyway, and it took some time before I stopped hearing the sound of the bat meeting Ritchie’s head.  We started playing kickball instead, which had the advantage of being less likely to cause damage to us.  The Sampson’s windows however…

***This is my entry for week 3 of LJ Idol.  Other folks' takes on brushback pitch are at the link.  I did not get any stitches that summer, but on the last day before school I broke my arm falling off a sllide.***

LJI:2 That one friend
James and Amy climbed the porch stairs and found a note on the door “Come on in if you’re invited.”  James shrugged and got the door for Amy who was carrying a bowl of her famous cheese dip.  Once inside they stopped in the entryway and stared.

“Um, this is still Paul’s house right?” Amy asked.

“Yes, it is.”

Music blared out of the speakers, thrash or death or some kind of metal.  She could see dozens of people, most of whom she didn’t recognize, holding red plastic cups and moving to the music, though it was difficult to see through the haze of smoke.

“And this is the low-key, post-holiday nosh and drinks party he throws every year?”

“That’s what the email said.”

At that moment chanting started from the kitchen.  James and Amy were both drawn forward by the sound several feet until they could see through the entryway.

“So, do you recognize the guy doing the keg stand?” James asked.

“No.  Since when does this party have a keg?”

“I have no idea.” James began peering through the haze.  “We should find Paul.”

“Good plan.  I’m going to put this in the…”  As Amy was stepping toward the kitchen to put down her dip the keg stand ended – and the standee began spraying the entire kitchen with beer to much raucous laughter.  “Actually, I’ll just hold on to this for a bit.”

James and Amy wandered through the party, trying to figure out when Paul had decided to throw a kegger, and why he hadn’t said anything about the change.  In a corner they spotted Alan, a long-time friend who always brought a half-dozen bottles of fairly expensive wine to the normal version of this gathering.

“Having fun?”

“These – people – took all of my wine and poured it into the largest pot in the kitchen, added a bottle of vodka and some fruit juice from the fridge, and they’re drinking it.”

Amy couldn’t decide if Alan was disgusted or offended and settled on a mix of the two. “What’s happening?  Have you seen Paul?”

“I got here a little early and had a chance to talk to him.  Remember that radio thing from November?”

James groaned.  “Sure.  Paul had to beat a phone-in game, then answer a trivia question and sing along to a song live on the radio.  He took seventh place.  He’s been talking about how he did so well and how he was going to receive a major award for weeks.  What about it?”

“Welcome to Paul’s award.” Alan sarcastically gestured to the party.

“The radio station ruined his party?  Yay?” said Amy confusedly.

“Wait, isn’t that –“ James pointed through the doorway.  “That guy, isn’t he – that guy?  The one who was in those movies in the 80’s, with the catchphrase?  What is his name?”

“His name is Dirk.” Alan said.  “Yes, that’s him.  I got to shake his hand earlier when his friends carried my wine to the kitchen.”

“Paul knows him?  I’m amazed he never brought this up before.”

“Paul met him tonight.  Apparently Dirk arrived and said the party looked cool but a little calm and asked if he could invite a few friends over too.  Paul said sure and this,” Alan once again gestured to the party “is the result.”

“Wait, how is this Paul’s award?” Amy asked.  A loud crash came from somewhere behind them, “And where is Paul, anyway?”

“Paul is hiding in the bedroom.  This is seventh prize – Dirk shows up at a party you’re throwing.  The fact that he’s still stuck in the 80’s frat comedies he starred in is a bug or a feature, depending on your point of view.”

“Why doesn’t Paul tell them all to leave?”

“I asked him that, when they were rolling in the keg.  Paul said he couldn’t do that to his 'won' friend.”  Alan looked at the bowl in Amy’s hands.  “Is that your cheese dip?”

“It is.”

“Do you want to both come over to my place?  We can open some wine without additives and eat it all ourselves.”

“Yes, that sounds amazing.”

“Should we invite Paul too?”  James asked.  The three of them stared at each other.

***The LJ Idoling continues.  To read other takes on the topic go here.  The puns attacked my brain early this year.***


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