Now that we're on the verge of this weekend, maybe I'll have time to write about last Saturday? All week I've been forcing myself to bed early (11PM) to wake up early (5:30AM) so that I can go to work early (7AM) and get out early (5PM) in order to get more daylight time in the evenings. I'm finally adjusting to it, after an entire week of feeling off-balance.

Last weekend was absolutely gorgeous, one of Maryland's few breathless perfect spring days. (Here we tend to skip over spring and dive right into a long hot summer.) Saturday morning: blue sky, bright sun, and breezy weather, not an ounce of humidity. K and I got up early and started the day by driving down to Alexandria.

I-295S. Crate&Barrel outlet. )Torpedo Factory. )Richard III. )

The evening's entertainment was in Annapolis, so we swung up to Laurel and picked up [livejournal.com profile] paleotheist, then headed east.

Annapolis. )Vienna Teng. )Chocolate oblivion. )

Spring weekends really are the best.
I finally got the laptop! K took 25:56 to beat level 12 of Planarity (damn you, [livejournal.com profile] bkleber, for introducing him to it!) and 21:27 to beat level 13, and now I get my computer back.

San Francisco, the stairmaster city )
Posting from the lobby of the pink Best Western in San Francisco, which boasts a WiFi hot spot. I've managed to tear K away from Planarity, but I don't know how long I'll be able to maintain control of the laptop, so I'll be quick. (Besides, it's pretty late.)

redwoods and garlic )
Currently posting from K's cousins' place in San Jose. It took a while for us to figure out how the Apple laptop liked to communicate with the wireless network, but K's programmer cousin happily tackled the problem until we finally managed a connection last night.

trip report, in which we eat. and drive up the coast. and eat. )
Posting from my aunt's internet setup, which consists of a laptop hooked up to one of those split-in-half "natural" keyboards. This means that the screen is kinda small, the mouse is the small button in the middle of the laptop keyboard, and the keyboard I'm actually using is huge and set back from the laptop. Feels like I'm playing on the bottom half of an organ. And looking at very small sheet music.

report so far )
Moments from work today...

grammar problems in the cubicle )

and too much fun in the lab )

Footnote to the cubicle episode: Further investigation (aka, asking B2) uncovered the fact that, appearances to the contrary, 'an' should not be used before words starting with a consonant sound even though they begin with a vowel. One such example is "unity," which begins with a pronounced "y;" another such is "one," which begins with a pronounced "w." The rule is phonetic* and not typographic.

*which bugs me, because I think typographically. This is why I sometimes insist on knowing how to spell words before I can use them.
Cleaning out last weekend's receipts from my wallet:

3/27 02:06p: Bread & Chocolate of Chevy Chase, 1 butter croissant, 1 mocha, 1 espresso. Largest mocha ever. Wonderful, good strong coffee and just enough chocolate to speak up without being too sweet. Milk foam coated the top of the cup, which was the size of a soup bowl. It was too hot to touch at first; I had to lift the cup using the saucer. Heated me from throat to stomach, warm against the grey sky and drizzle outside. The place was brightly colored and busy, a constant flow of people through the door. Tempting pastries were arranged behind the counter, and they had just put out a basket of Easter bunny bread. (Hemingway fils mistook them for snails, the thin long ears reaching out like antennae, hunched bodies like swirling shells.)

3/27 06:14p: la Madeleine on Rockville Pike, 1 cheesecake (10 pieces). My mother had invited me over for my brothers' birthday dinner, but had forgotten to arrange for a cake. I volunteered to drop by a bakery on my way up to Rockville, see what I could get, but I had forgotten to account for Easter Sunday. Shop after shop was closed or closing, and when I pulled up at the Giant, they were chasing out the last of the customers. I looked across the street; la Madeleine was surrounded by cars. The dessert case was depressingly bare and for a moment I thought fleetingly of purchasing what small pastries I could, but the man assured me that they had one or two cheesecakes left. He took one out of the refrigerator, topped it with dark red strawberries, handed it across the counter with a smile.
I am deeply grateful to N for holding his Lord of the Rings extended-edition marathon. Such a great experience - lovely big screen, with a wonderful surround sound system (though Nazgul screams that sound like they're coming from a spot directly behind one's left shoulder are kind of disorienting). I was amazed at how much the movies gained from being seen all strung together. The themes became a lot more cohesive, the words and actions better justified. And since I had already made my peace with my nitpick points, I was just able to sit back and enjoy.

Kudos also to N and K2 for getting the movies all played within a thirteen-hour period, even including pauses for dog walks, bathroom breaks and pizza. The efficiency was amazing.

leftover babbling -- and oh, that lovely Rohirric violin theme )
Somewhere between home and work this morning, the rain changed to snow; when I pulled into the parking lot, half the cars had their wipers up in the air like hopeful antennae. The sky cleared during the day and the snow was gone from the roads when I left the building; instead, everything was ice. The wind pushed at my face and pulled my hair as I broke crystal layers from my car.

The drive home was filled with achingly clear air, blue and purple shades pulled from the sky to wash the road. The area is rural and winter only serves to intensify the emptiness, all the trees gone to brown sticks, trunks lined with traces of white. The wind roared under my car, picked up snow from the fields and flung it across the road in powdery waves. Icicles broke off as I drove, clattering beneath the chassis.

Six in the evening, and there are still traces of light in the sky.
In my squash soup: squash, potato, honey, molasses, cinnamon, apple cider; trace amounts of salt, pepper, coriander, ginger, lemon peel. Partially pureed. Very, very tasty. (We're assuming it's a squash, anyway; thanks go to Hemingway fils for investigative work and cooking tips.)

It's either a squash or a small watermelon-colored pumpkin. I tried to hit the internet to find out what it was, but google persisted in telling me about the sport of squash instead of the plant. The squash was acquired accidentally; I think it belonged to whoever was at the cash register before me, and their bag got left behind. At any rate I found myself with an extra squash and four apples. I feel a bit guilty, but... what can you do?

Home early from work today, first sick leave of the year; I was coughing all morning and my voice changed from a breathy growl to nonexistent and back again. They finally kicked me out when I couldn't communicate across a cubicle. I fell directly into bed and didn't wake until evening, when I roused myself from a dream of destiny, responsibility, and +24V power terminals.

Since I couldn't talk, I signed on to IM. I rarely use the program, but I felt like communicating. Four hours later, I had been instant messaging more or less continuously. It's very draining; I'm not used to keeping track of all the little speech boxes, and the staggered pace of IM conversation took a while to get used to. When I went to answer the phone, it was really odd to hear my own voice twist and rasp out of my throat. I'd been typing for so long, I'd forgotten that I couldn't actually speak.
Climbing last night: exhausting, an overhang I couldn't overcome until the nth try, not to mention a corner chimney route I couldn't quite dislocate my hips enough to finish; I left the gym quite happy actually. Dinner last night: romaine lettuce and pita chips. Had chicken and pasta ready to go but body denied both; body really, really wanted the lettuce. Body is generally quiet enough about food preferences (apart from "chocolate? ooo! more chocolate?") that I've learned to listen when it has an opinion.

I find the smell of boiling romaine to be wonderfully reassuring. Grandma made it for my sister and me, either fifteen or seventeen years ago when one or the other of my brothers was being born and Mom was away from home. Grandma (this is Dad's mother; Mom's mother isn't much for the kitchen) had precisely one method of preparing vegetables: boil 'em up in soup (normally chicken bouillon). Serve on rice.

It's really tasty.

I'm progressing very slowly with St Augustine; over the past week or two I've been continually distracted by Neal Stephenson and I haven't even started Douglas Adams yet. Not to mention I've still got Dorothy Dunnett, who more or less fell by the wayside pre-November. But when I did bother to pick up St A again, I found him busily appealing to the angsty teenager in all of us.

rambling on St Augustine's teen angst, cut to spare the uninterested )
This afternoon there were facilities people in my cubicle, measuring the ambient temperature.

...59.9 degrees Fahrenheit.

"I see the problem. These vents," one of the men said, "are almost all closed." He was speaking of the air vents in the ceiling, nestled among the tiles.

"Air is still coming out," I said, pointing to the papers pinned to the wall of my cubicle, their corners rippling in the chill breeze.

"Doesn't matter. Those vents are supposed to be fully open. No wonder it's cold here."

"But... look, air is coming out. It's cold air, that's the problem."

"Don't worry," they told me, "we've got it figured out. We'll have the vents fully open tomorrow."

"I'll be really cold tomorrow," I warned.

"Then," said my boss, "we'll file another complaint."
My office has been pretty warm all winter. I wore a thin long-sleeved shirt to work, and put my scarf on whenever I went to the test bays and the coffee mess; I was quite content with the situation. But others were not quite as comfortable as I, and instead of turning on their fans, they complained to the facilities manager about the heat.

Apparently the facilities manager has a very binary view of life. Temperatures are colder than they've been all year, and what does this guy do? He turns on the air conditioning.

Suffice it to say that the people in my area are now wandering around in layers, coats and hats and gloves. It's pretty hilarious. As for me, I spent as much time as I could in the test bays, leaning casually against the warm humming cabinets. Mmm, 440VAC.

in a fog

Jan. 12th, 2005 11:28 pm
Driving in the fog makes me want to clean my glasses, except I don't wear glasses any more.

When I left this morning and went to work, everything was covered in mist; when I left work and drove home, conditions were the same. Makes me wonder if anything at all burned off during the day; for all I know, the mist sat down and never left.

Makes driving inconvenient, but it's pretty neat to walk through. I imagine it's a sort of fabric parting before me, that I'm wading through something too ephemeral to feel. At night it catches and diffuses the light from the streetlamps, creating a glowing haze outside my living room windows. Everything's much brighter tonight.

Now if only it were bright enough to read by.
In which we do the airport shuffle. )

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