One Hundred Percent Standard Deviations

Everything is very open with a very clear clarification of the challenges.

-the latest #SpamCompliment. It was attached to my Days All Strange and Vague post, which made me laugh harder than I probably should have.

I still haven’t finished the sweater. Or started watching American Gods.

I’m still doing 50 hour weeks, and the week before school let out for the summer, I had a surprise week-long business trip to Texas. Surprise! But that trip worked out for the best in some ways I can even talk about. I found a pair of cowboy boots that fit me1, a pair of sturdier dress shoes3, and I got to see Wonder Woman in 3D IMAX glory without having to wait for it to go digital. It was a lot better than I expected it would be. There were consequences. A fair number of characters had an approximation of agency. And thank whomever, things still blew up. I was mostly worried that all the explosions would be in the trailer, and the rest of it would involve a lot of standing around and sighing about man’s inhumanity to man while looking wistfully into the distance.4

I finished my Goodreads challenge six months early, thanks to a book I had to read for work.5 I’m still not sure how I feel about that.

I’m also behind in one of my classes, somewhat ironically, since it’s because of ten pagesish of writing, while I’ve produced a few hundred or so for work since my last post. However, I finished another class last week, so I — in theory — should be able to catch up.  In theory.  The Summer Camp Shenanigans start next week, so I will be spending a lot of time in the car, and becoming very good friends with the laptop I’m still not 100% sold on, despite having had it for a year.


1Which were legitimately necessary, since all I’d packed were sandals for the plane ride, dress shoes for work, and workout shoes for ridiculous ambition2, none of which would have fared well during my unexpected opportunity to go out on location to visit one of our video shoots.

2Which wasn’t so ridiculous: I kept myself on Eastern Time for the trip, and by doing so, had enough time to get in a couple of morning workouts. Workouts now make me feel better.  That is so deeply wrong in a way I can’t … yeah.

3Texas is definitely hard on shoes. On day two, I cracked something inside my right dress shoe that made the whole thing shimmy when I walked like it was going to break in half. Fortunately, I found a Dillard’s. I hate shoe shopping (that I have wide feet doesn’t help), but I can always find something in a Dillard’s shoe department. Always. Fortunately for me, Dillard’s isn’t convenient to where I live now.

4Sadly, there wasn’t enough Etta Candy. I felt like most of her arc was chopped in order to save time. I’d love to see one of her descendants turn up in a fixer role for Diana in the modern era movies. Oh, maybe Leslie Jones playing a disgruntled US Air Force Intelligence officer turned hacker/security specialist?

5The survey claimed my Strength Themes are 1) Restorative, 2) Strategic, 3) Learner, 4) Achiever, and 5) Individualization.   The MBTI also keeps claiming I’m INTP.  I haven’t yet found an assessment that’s come back with “She’s odd, but mostly harmless.”

Ninety Percent Thresholds

I still haven’t finished the sweater. To be honest, I haven’t worked on it at all. I was going to during the last two episodes of The Expanse, but I was so fried when I watched them that I didn’t need anything to do with my hands. American Gods debuted recently, so maybe I’ll get the sweater done when I get around to watching the episodes.

If that doesn’t work out, there’s always hope that it’ll happen during Suits or Killjoys — assuming I manage to watch the new seasons when they come on. To be honest, it’s rare that I watch more than one season of a series, and not unusual that I stop watching one right before it gets to a season ending cliffhanger. Pretty sure that would have happened with Season One of House of Cards if @bhoneydew and I hadn’t just binged it one weekend while we were sick.

I haven’t seen any episodes after that, even though I enjoyed House of Cards very much. I just can’t get myself in the right frame of mind to invest the time.

I’m still not sure what’s happening with my Goodreads reading challenge. Despite everything that’s going on1, I’m still way ahead of the curve. If I succeed in my devious Mother’s Day plan to read all day (after I finish my homework) and not look at anything work-related, I may even finish it!

1I’ve been working 50-hourish weeks for the past three weeks, while juggling my night class, Momming and this weird new peace with eating right and working out. Sadly, the good sleep habit I’ve been trying to cultivate did go right out the window — notice when I’m working on this? — but I’ve been cranky about that instead of just resigned2 so there’s hope for me yet.

2I haven’t been working on any creative projects. Seriously, the time I’d ordinarily put to that, I’ve been trying to put toward household foo. It’s not that I’m avoiding creative projects, it’s just that the household foo needs to be dealt with. It’ll get better. Eventually.

Eighty Percent Chance of Getting Stuff Done

Today at work, I followed up with someone I exchanged email with on Friday, and suddenly they no longer exist. As of the end of March.

I’m about 80% sure I didn’t make this person up, so it was surprising.

-Me, @shainorton, five days ago.

I’ve been busy.  This quite possibly surprises you not at all.

I haven’t yet finished the sweater.  I did finish:

    • another book (The Book of Etta, Meg Elison’s sequel to The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, making two more books that I have read recently that are actually recent, who hoo!).
    • multiple homework assignments and a midterm.
    • my gigantic pile of transcripts evaluated for another academic program, which, assuming I can fit everything into the schedule, I should finish in a year and change.
    • a large work project (in very little time), and multiple smaller work projects (in less time)
    • a work transition, but I’m more than eighty percent certain that work has not yet finished its side of the transition.1
    • transferring my cell phone to another phone and another carrier, like I’ve been putting off for over half a year now.
    • a blog post.  This one. In twenty-five minutes, as planned.  YAY!

1This doesn’t bother me; I’ve yet to have a job or even a gig where things didn’t change. There have even been a couple of occasions where they changed on my very first day. I started an engineering internship once, and got swapped into a human resources administrator role before I could put my lunch into the break room fridge. My first analyst job for a government contractor saw me pivoted into corporate business development on Day One — I never set foot on the site of the client I was initially hired for during my entire time with that company.2,3

2I’ve been told there’s a disconnect between reading my resume and talking to me. Can’t count for you how many times people have told me “You’re not what I expected.” I’m never sure how to take that. Are they smiling because they’re delighted or because they’re worried that if they upset me I’m going to manifest some hidden superpowers that involve, oh, wide area disintegration?

3“Why didn’t you say no, Shai? Don’t you care about what you do for a living?” Frankly, no, as long as the money’s good, the scenery changes, and they let me use explosive — er, no, I mean to say if my paychecks clear, I get to solve problems, and it doesn’t require me to make someone else coffee. See, I have a problem making coffee before I’ve had coffee. Sometimes, it’s not even coffee, more hot water tinted brown from whatever residue was left in the coffee maker after I cleaned out the old grounds and failed to replace them with fresh. Or it’s water on top of a thick layer of sludge because I scooped the grounds into the coffee pot instead of the machine. Don’t get me started on what can happen when I have to use a Keurig in the morning…

The Masque of the Waffler

I just wanted to send you a quick message here instead of calling you.
– latest #spamcommentary

Huh. I didn’t think I had posted a telephone number on my blog, but thanks for the heads-up, mystery spammer who keeps introducing yourself with a different name each time. Not that there’s anything wrong with … hey, I get that. There have been times in my online life when I had so many different names that I’d sometimes forget who I was.1

Each day since I’ve started this latest creative project — a revisit of a novella I wrote last year before my brain completely blew its transaxle — I’ve dreaded spending time on it. Not that the writing isn’t happening, despite the dread.  Not that I’ve gotten it to the point where I want to print it out and set it on fire or throw it into a folder to age. I’ve gotten more to the point where painting the rest of the rooms in this house seems like a fun way to spend my free time. Notice where I said that the writing is still happening?  Yes, it’s still happening. Maybe that’s why the mental penguins are trying another tactic to mess with me.

You’ll probably laugh, but, uhm, I’m figitated that I’ll finish this thing, send it off to my target market, and it’ll be liked right up to the point Marketing Googles me and decides that I’m not a good promotional fit, then (assuming I’m even told this) I’ll need to have a conversation with myself about going through the whole rigamarole of creating yet another online persona, one which I’ll need to invest enough of my life into in order for it to seem like a living breathing person.

The prospect of not being a good fit at first glance isn’t what bugs me. I’m used to that.2  This is all about my brain getting pre-tired considering the effort of making a workaround for it.  Yes, even though the problem doesn’t exist, and may never exist.3

I’ll get over it. Or I won’t, and I’ll turn the project into something my own name can go on without causing dread. Er, at least without causing me dread.


1Briefly. Not usually disastrously, but there were uncomfortable exceptions.

2You could even say I was born that way. Mom’s spelling my first name like she did set me up for a lifetime of hijinky first impressions.

3This is not new. I have workarounds for lots of other things that haven’t come to pass and may never. Admittedly, most of these are potential move related. For example, I maintain a sketchy base familiarity with the public school systems in a handful of target geographical areas, so that just in case we do find ourselves moving, I can get up to speed quickly.

Days All Strange and Vague

I think the admin of this web page is genuinely working hard in favor of his website, for the reason that here every material is quality based information.

-latest #spamcommentary

You know, that’s hardly the first time I’ve been mistaken for a guy, even by someone who claims to have read something I’ve written.

But, I’m not a dude, dude.  I’m also really working hard in favor of this website (honestly, most days I’m of mixed mind about having a social media presence at all). I’m also not trying to meet any quality standards beyond “be vague enough to keep my family and work and self happy”.

Speaking of vague, I’m on track to submit the January non-work project this week, despite family and work shenanigans.  Once it’s officially out the door, I’ll treat myself to a cupcake1 and then figure out what’s next.

This morning I noticed I was already halfway through the year’s Goodreads Challenge. No kidding, I’m kind of wondering who I am and what I’ve done with Shai.


1Which will be cleverly disguised as a subscription to Apex Magazine.

My Year of Bread and Air (and Stuck)

“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”

-Albert Einstein (likely misattributed).

I baked a lot of bread this year.  One or two loaves a week (three loaves a week on a few occasions), even the week of Mom’s funeral and the subsequent weeks of family-related and work travel.

I have been on planes this year more than I have any other year of my life — but there has still been bread in the house, each homemade loaf a little (and occasionally quite a bit1) different, even those weeks I’ve had all the ingredients I needed on hand and the last thing I wanted to do was experiment.

The bread did run out during a couple of those business trips, which inspired @bhoneydew to capture all the scrawled-on-butter-stained-printout hacks I’d made to the basic recipe I started with and bake a couple of loaves himself. Both of them came out differently than any of mine, and different from each other, even though he followed the same steps each time.

And … this is the paragraph where I was stuck for two weeks (I started writing this blog post on my birthday). It was a unique sort of stuck for me: until December 19th, it was a stare-at-a-page-and-no-words-come-out stuck as opposed to a write-ten-paragraphs-think-they’re-messed-up-and-delete-them-all-before-anyone-else-sees-them stuck. Though since this isn’t the first time this has happened this past year, I guess I should stop calling it ‘unique’. I should just call it ‘2016’s stuck’, and hope the year doesn’t forget it in the house when it heads out the door in a couple of weeks, especially if the door smacks it on the butt so hard that it falls down the front steps, because that should so happen.

My chirpy ambitiousness about being able to do NaNoWriMo and a massive work project and finish a networking class all in the same November timeframe? Yeah, that was me trying to flip off 2016 before it’d turned its back. I should know better, I really should, but I did get the two most important things on that list done, so there’s that. The bread still happened.


1The first time I used the “Proof/Warm” setting on our oven to proof a loaf, I didn’t notice that the temperature read “Hot” instead of “Brd”. This killed most of the yeast and made for a very dense brick o’ bread.

Wash On Monday … Or Something

It’s a month(ish) later, on another Holiday Monday, and I’m doing laundry. Don’t even try to look surprised. At least the weekend wasn’t a frame-for-frame reshoot of Labor Day Weekend:  while I did go out of town for work last Monday through Wednesday, and I pulled a work-related all-nighter on Thursday, I didn’t do…

Okay, at least I didn’t do as much questioning of life choices this weekend, and I didn’t at all have to hide from people I care about so I wouldn’t have to fight the urge to scream at them. I even left the house for reasons other than going to the airport or a grocery store or to take the Monster somewhere.  Yes, really!  Despite the weekend rain, I succeeded in participating in the charity walk I signed up for all the way back in August, and as a nice bonus, was able to drag @bhoneydew and the Monster along with me.

Of course, we did have doughnuts after that.

It also was for a good cause.  Or something.

Random Notes:

  • In week three of the Networking class.  My first exam’s on Wednesday. Things are going about as well as I was expecting from a refresher-must-once-again-officially-prove-that-I-know-this-stuff course.
  • Dropped the systems biology Coursera course after getting into Week Two and realizing, yep, I need to spend some quality time with my old biochemistry textbooks before I can get back into this stuff. Quality time, yes, I can schedule that! I am already almost done with this year’s Goodreads Challenge, and I am so proud of myself that it’s ridiculous. Just don’t ask me how low I set this year’s bar, okay?
  • Signed up for NaNoWriMo again this year, because :masochism:. Or my armadillo life is getting to me and I want to feel like part of a community again without, you know, having to put on war paint or pants. The officially sited reason is that I do have a personal writing project I want to work on in addition to the stuff I get paid to write, and NaNo gives me a great excuse. Or something.
  • Speaking of pants, I’ve become mildly addicted to LuLaRoe leggings. If only they had pockets…