Quote of the Moment

"It's never wrong to hope, Byx," said my mother. "Unless the truth says otherwise."
- from Endling #1: The Last, by Katherine Applegate

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monster in the Woods

This afternoon, we went for a walk in the woods at a nearby trailhead. It being a particularly popular trailhead and a sunny Sunday to boot, there were a fair number of other hikers, everything from stick-toting pros to barely-walking infants. Despite the traffic and attendant noise, we spotted a few snakes, a handful of birds and squirrels, and two dragonflies. Among the two-legged fauna, we spotted torn-black-hose Goth chicks, smokers too selfish and oblivious to reconsider carrying smoldering ashes into a tinder-dry forest (who later flicked their dead butts into a lake), and a man yakking on a cell phone and completely oblivious to where he was. (Ironically, he was doing so as he wandered past a trail marker bearing a quote from Thoreau, in which he wondered why anyone would go into the woods if their mind wasn't there with them.) But, disturbing as some of these were, they were nothing compared to the Monster in the Woods.

She had blond curly hair and carried a stuffed blue parrot. She couldn't have been older than four or five. As she walked along the trail, she pointed her finger at everything - stumps, trees, her family, and other hikers. And she repeated the same phrase.

"Bang! I kill you. Bang! I kill you."

"It's just a kid thing," her dad laughed as we stared in disbelief.

The look on that girl's face said it wasn't just a kid thing. She knew she was saying something nasty. She knew she would get away with it. And she enjoyed it. Too much. A little brat with no parental control, completely desensitized to guns and the concept of killing anything and anyone she points at.

Beware the Monster in the Woods.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wish I Was There

This morning, the Golden Taurus departed for a three-day trip to the ocean.

It carried my mom and my dad. It picked up my uncle and my grandfather. At some point, it will meet my aunt.

It did not, you may note, carry me.

This was a somewhat spur-of-the-moment trip, and the spur hit the moment too late for me to request time off. (Which is remarkably ironic, as I received a letter last week from HR complaining that I'd accumulated too many vacation hours.) My uncle's vacations occur at about the same frequency as ice ages, and Grandpa... well, for one thing he's 90 years old, and for another he's a fading shadow of the man I knew growing up. So this may be the last "big thing" they do as a family with him around.

Considering mobility and comfort issues, I figured that the Golden Taurus was a much better option than the other cars the family had available, so I sent it along with them. Meanwhile, I'm borrowing Mom's car to get to work and back.

Today, I slung books with a persnickity crane and stubborn computer that locked up for three hours yesterday, resulting in a massive backlog today. Because it continued to fight us, I get to go in extra-early tomorrow to help whittle the numbers down. (I suppose it worked out okay, me not taking vacation this week, as I'll earn at least two hours of overtime by being here to work them, instead of the standard hours I'd have filed for had I been gone. Still sucks having to get up at 6 AM...) The guy who fills the candy bowl is in Vegas, so we're down to old Tootsie Rolls and a few butterscotch things; the candy bowl is pretty much the main "perk" of the job. After work, I helped wrestle a broken recliner out of the house and pick up the debris generated by furniture rearrangement and washed a sinkful of dishes. Then we drove over to water Grandpa's yard and grab pizza for a late dinner, after which I washed another sinkful of dishes, fed various hungry critters, dumped some trash, and crawled online to clear e-mail and try to shut my brain down sufficiently for an unnaturally early bedtime. Nowhere in there did I manage to pick up a sketchbook or poke at a story, or even just sit down for more than a few minutes.

Today, the Golden Taurus got to taste the ocean air for possibly the first time in its existence. When I called to see if they'd made it okay (Mom was supposed to call when they got there, and round about 5 my sister and I got a bit worried), they were already having a ball. I think Mom needed this vacation more than she realized... not just to the ocean, but away from us for a bit. They'd walked on the beach. They had a big lunch. They saw a doe with three fawns and heard rumors of a cougar sighting in the area. After we talked, they were going to head out to the beach again.

Wish I was there...

Sunday, August 09, 2009


In my efforts to bring my websites up to date (or at least significantly closer to date), today marks a small but significant milestone.

Today, for the first time ever, I successfully wrote and implemented a style sheet.

Now, this probably seems like a spectacular non-event to most people, but to me it's big. I spent many years relying on FrontPage to determine how my sites looked and behaved, so taking matters into my own hands and writing out the code - in Notepad - felt like a major accomplishment. No, the results aren't published. Truth be told, they're downright hideous, on purpose. I've been cobbling together a "test web" on my computer to play with, so I wanted to see right away if the style sheet took or not. When they did, and when I successfully modified them without crashing anything out, I wanted to cheer. I probably would have, except I didn't want the cats staring at me, wondering what kind of freak they live with and why she can't let them nap. (They stare at me like that enough already...)

No, I don't have a life...

Unfortunately, the fact that I'm becoming more aware of the power of CSS and coding means I'm even more reluctant to rebuild my sites using software that generates junk code - which, evidently, rules out pretty much all WYSIWYG editors. I do still need some software to check coding, though, and I like having tools on hand to help with some of the drudgery of site generation and maintenance (navigation trees, updating/checking links, etc.) So I've been poking around online trying to track down free/cheap HTML editing software. Right now, I'm toying with HTML-Kit, because the free version fits my budget. (It's only 65 bucks to register and get more toys, which isn't entirely impossible - unlike the triple digits some big name site authoring software wants.) Any recommendations on that front would be appreciated, though I'm rapidly approaching decision time: I expect I'll start actively recoding sites in a week or two, starting with Brightdreamer Books before moving on to a complete re-imagining of Skyhaven (which will not be named Skyhaven anymore - no new name yet, but I'm working on it.)

Guess I'll get back at it...