Miz Shoes

Left Coast

I'm in training again. Unlike the last time we did this, when my expectations were to be reduced to tears at least twice, I'm having a good time. The lunch-time visit to the winery up the road may have helped my mood. The hummingbirds outside the hotel window this morning may also have had to do with it.

Solvang has two needlework stores, a quilt store, and a spinning and weaving shop just across the street from my hotel. Is this a great village, or what?
Another reason I'm in such a happy place today is that the place I'm in is not my office. Despite a three-hour layover at LAX, where you cannot smoke outside the terminal, and a twenty minute flight on a prop-driven puddle jumper, the flying itself wasn't bad, either.

Let me go back to the no smoking rule for a minute. What's up with that? Are they afraid that smoking will damage the air quality at the airport? I mean, jeez, the air was brown and visible when I got there. Air you can see, what a concept.

Maybe it was the airport, maybe it was being in the puddle jumper annex, but another thing I noticed about California was that there is either a lot less plastic surgery than one is led to believe, or the surgeons out here are infinitely better at their jobs than the ones in Miami. I didn't see the same quantity of obvious noses, tits and facelifts than I do at home.

And the radio out here! Wow! It had new music, and Tejano music and classical music and live interviews with interesting people. Except for that thing about fire seasons, mud slides, mountain lions and the occasional earthquake, this could be a cool place to live. I prefer my natural disasters to have a timeline attached, like: "You have a hurricane heading your way, it should be here in a week." And then there's the price of housing. Even here in the valley, housing is not affordable. For what would buy a mini-mansion with a lot in over-priced Miami, you can get a cottage on a zero lot line here.

More observations later.
Miz Shoes

Rats Cry When They Hear About My Life

That's from Dilbert. It's also my motto.

I've been reduced to posting PDFs as content on my day job's web site, because... uh, I don't know why because.

Because nobody will part with actual content? Because people think that scanning some piece of crap that was printed off a dot matrix printer and posting it is a good idea?

I leave for a week of training on Sunday. I'll be tripping out to the left coast. It's not that I hate to fly so much, as the terror I feel about ceasing to be flying. But it's a long flight, and I have money for alcohol and a bag of knitting, so I should be OK. Just call me Madame Defarge.

Not that I have much of a choice.

I'm starting to live in the zen moment, not because I have evolved and meditated to that point, but because I am practicing avoidance with every breath. Spending one's time not thinking about stuff leaves one with very little except the moment.

I'm a brain wave away from catatonic. Numb. Crazy.

Miz Shoes


Spam Haiku

churchyard clot
insulin parallelepiped

mutant italic
pontific busboy

The Show

The show went well, and the RLA sold four pieces. They all went to good homes. We had fun, and are both totally spent today. It is just exhausting being arty, cute and conversational for hours at a stretch.

The Old Cat

Is responding well to his treatments, and will be going in for another checkup this week.

Ralph Nader

Is an idiot and a spoiler. I hope, even if he learned nothing in 2000, that the idiots who voted for him did. But that's asking way to much of the American electorate, I'm sure. And I'll tell you something else: the Chevy Corvair was a very cool car, way ahead of its time. Thanks for ruining that for us too, Ralph.
Miz Shoes

Day Off

Working for the county has its advantages, now and then. Today I had off in honor of the generic presidential birthday celebration known as "President's Day." I took a nap.

Not just a nap, but the hallowed, mid-afternoon, workday couch nap.

There are just no words.

I also worked on a new quilt top and took the old cat to the vet to make sure he's just old and not old and sick. Old and sick seems to be a theme in my life, at least as far as the humans in it goes, so I was worried about the cat. He's 15 and a half. In cat years, that's um, 108.

The vet's prognosis: just old and he doesn't like his food.

There's only 24-ish hours left to vote in Blog Madness, Round Four. What are you waiting for? Follow the link, and vote for your favorite. That would be me, right? Right? RIGHT?!

Thank you. I promise to go back to my regular bitching and moaning tomorrow. But now, I'm going to bake chocolate chip cookies. With pecans. For the guy at the pharmacy who doesn't suck. He can rub it in and show them to the Insufferable Mr. Pimple, but no sharing.

And if you vote for me, maybe, just maybe, I'll bake some for you too.
Miz Shoes

Round Three of BlogMadness

Yes, she says, doing a short victory lap around the laptop.

I have gotten to Round Three in the BlogMadness Tourney. I am up against a fierce competitor in this round, the witty and evil Charlie of "Where the Hell Was I" and his entry "Can I Buy a Damned Clue Please?". And as I write this, he's ahead of me in votes.

Yes, he's funny, but I'm heartfelt and poignant, dammit. Don't you guys watch the Oscars? AIDS and death is supposed to beat funny every time. So go out there and cast your votes for "Back Home". Please. Please?

Thank you. We can now go back to my usual bitching and moaning about life, the universe and everything.

I'd like to take this opportunity to list ten random things that I find infinitely more compelling than Janet Jackson and her nipple shield. The RLA says that all this brouhaha reminds him of the scene in Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex where the giant boob runs amok, and bounces around smooshing people and lactating at them.

1. "President" Bush's AWOL record from the National Guard
2. Why all NASA projects on Mars go wonky (who or what doesn't want us to see what or who?)
3. A multi-trillion dollar nation debt
4. The odds of the Florida Marlins getting a decent baseball stadium in Dade County
5. Paris the city, not Paris the one-pose wonder (does she really think that the 3/4 view and the downward chin diminishes the length of that nose? Puh-leese. The woman looks like a Borzoi.)
6. Speaking of blue-bloods, The Westminster Dog Show
7. Bollywood
8. The Patriot Act
9. What "pipeweed" really is in the LOTR Trilogy
10. My dog, the Jack Russell Terrierist

Miz Shoes

Deja Voodoo

Several years ago, my then-boss said to me words that have remained seared on my brain. She said them in front of witnesses. She said:

"I don't want you to come to this meeting. Nobody wants to hear what you have to say. You're only going to tell us what we are doing wrong. This doesn't have to be done right, it only has to be done."
Today I had to go to that same person's office and talk to one of her flunkys about the same topic that she didn't want to hear about then. The bulk of my conversation went like this: "I really couldn't say." "I don't know the answer to that." "Really? You'll have to talk to my boss about that."

Believe it or not, that was good on my part because what I really wanted to say was: "I'm not about to stick a hand into that tar baby. There's no fucking way I'm touching that topic with a ten foot pole." "Why would it be any of your business?" and "Fuck you and die a slow, lingering death. You are an incompetent bitch working for an incompetent idiot bitch and you have absolutely no clue about anything."

Then I came back and sat in my boss's office for twenty minutes and cursed like a sailor for having had to suffer through the meeting. I am a foot soldier in a turf war and just because they're losing, that doesn't mean that the other party isn't going to inflict casualties and damage wherever possible.

No wonder I had a feeling of dread all week.

I came home and sat in the big comfy chair and listened to the rain on my roof. I finished a book. I drank hot tea. I played with my dog. I'm feeling much better now, thank you.
Miz Shoes

Office of Stupidity Security

Came into the office today to discover 155 messages in my blind "Webmaster" inbox. They were all (except for one, written in Spanglish, asking information about a patient that would be a HIPAA violation to give out) variations of the newest e-mail virus.

You know the one. The one that has a subject line of test, and an attachment of about 30K? You have to open the attachment and unzip a file, then run the exe file to infect yourself.

I guess there are people using computers who do just that (asshats). Christ, even my 86-year old father, who has never in his life even turned a computer on, knows better than that. Even he knows about computer viruses and how one gets them and how one never opens e-mail attachments.

But there's 154 virus e-mails in my in box. My personal e-mail is crawling at a salted slug's pace today, because the servers are clogged with virus-laden e-mail.

I swear, how do these people live? How do they operate heavy machinery, or even lap tops, huh? Even Oprah must have talked about computer viruses at some point. Even the Star or the Weekly World News has to have covered the issue.

So why, in the name of all that is holy, do people insist on opening bogus e-mail, and launching the bogus attachments? Surely by now, they know that when the body of the mail says something like "This my first game. I hope you like it." or "Testing." or "You first to see new thing. Open fast and enjoy!" that nothing good is going to come from opening the files.

Well, you'd think that, but you'd be wrong. I've gotten 157 (they're still coming in, even as I type) messages to prove you wrong.

PS-- Voting is still open in BlogMadness, and I still need your votes. Please? I'm down on my knees, I'm begging you please. I'm number #18, Back Home.
Miz Shoes

Shameless Whoring for Votes

Despite the title of this entry and the fact that the New Hampshire primary is tomorrow, there is nothing political here. At least, not on the presidential scale. On the scale of BlogMadness, this is national, and meaningful. To me and about fifty other bloggers who don't get out much.

The voting is open, and I'm seeded 18th in the Bills division, against #15, the fabulous SeaDoc, who is also shamelessly whoring for votes. Seeding and division placement is random, they say, and I should just hope so, seeing as I'm from Miami and those damned Bills have a special place in hell for Dolphins fans. Unless the Bills is just like, you know, bills to pay. In which case I have a lot of experience.

Either way, gentle readers, I'm begging here: please don't let me lose in the first round. I'll write about reality tv and Paris Hilton if it'll get you to vote for my entry. Or not write about them, if you prefer.

I was out of pocket over the weekend, and just discovered that the voting opened on Sunday. There's only 34 hours left to keep me from shameful dismissal.

My self esteem is in your hands.
Miz Shoes

The Power of the Net

Back in the dawn of time, when I was a little curmudgeon, one of my aunties used to bring me a present from Germany, whenever she went to visit. It was the coolest thing, and I loved it to death. What was this marvel?

Soap. (Insert your own lame jokes here about growing up in a small southern town, laugh at will and get back to the point.) But not just any old soap. It was soap in the shape of a teddy bear. Once it was out of its wrapper, it grew fuzz. (On purpose. Jeez, guys, get over it already.) It became a fuzzy bear. Once you used it , the fuzz didn't grow back. Something else cool happened. When you used the bar up, there was a tiny Cracker Jack-type toy inside the soap. Usually, as I recall, another tiny little plastic bear.

Well, Aunt Helga long ago passed into family legend, and I have never seen that soap ever again.

But I want to. I believe in the power of the Internet. I believe that if I put this request out there, someone will remember the soap. Someone will know what it was called (other than soap, duh.) Someone will be able to tell me if it is still produced, where and how to get it.

I believe.

P.S. I found it myself. Fuzzy Wuzzy Soap is the name, and some guy has a single, mint-in-box bar for a mere $125. See?
Miz Shoes

What the Hell am I Doing???

We're in week two of the boss is out of the country. This leaves me with plenty of time on my hands at work. So, in the name of research, I am teaching myself how to skin this blog, by teaching myself Cascading Style Sheets. I used style sheets all the time in PageMaker and Quark, so I figured it wouldn't be too hard.

I was, typically, wrong.
Miz Shoes

The Friday Five

I'm not sure if I'll ever do this again, but I'm doing it today.

1. List five things you'd like to accomplish by the end of the year.
2 quilts, drop another 20 points off my cholesterol, master skinning, master CSS, mosaic around the koi pond

2. List five people you've lost contact with that you'd like to hear from again.
Patti Ruiz, my best college bud; Kathy Kirkhardt, from high school; Leapin' Larry, but that won't happen because he's dead; Jill Clark from high school; Kathleen Sullivan, from Texas by way of New York -- last heard to be in Virginia

3. List five things you'd like to learn how to do.
surf, roller skate, sing on key, pilot a hot air balloon, speak French

4. List five things you'd do if you won the lottery (no limit).
Buy a major league baseball team and the stadium to put them in; create a film scholarship in memory of Nick Cannon, my college friend who died of AIDS; create another one in memory of Leapin', who died of war; buy a huge tract of land in the middle of nowhere with a river running through it; build my dream house on it (includes horse and stable)

5. List five things you do that help you relax.
drink; smoke; watch the koi; play with the dog; sew
Miz Shoes

Why Computers Suck

In the old days, back before G-d invented dirt, and I was a young designer who still had visions of a career standing at a drafting table, getting my hands full of ink and 2-coat rubber cement, only designers (or the paste-up guy at the local printer) could produce newsletters and such.

And then came the desktop computer, and it was OK. And then the desktop computer begat the desktop publishing software industry and everything went to hell in a handbasket.

Suddenly, secretaries were using the words "font" and "typeface" interchangeably. Point sizes were replaced by pitch (on IBMs). People with no eye, queer or otherwise, were able to put together newsletters. They used every typeface installed on their machines . . . in each publication. Because they could. Grayscale tints were placed behind blocks of copy. Black boxes contained knocked-out lettering. Xerox machines replaced printers.

And, in the immortal words of Stan Freeberg, "Everybody Wants to be an Art Director."

But they are not. Many, if not most, people haven't got what it takes to be a good graphic designer, top of the line software notwithstanding. If you don't believe me, just look at how the average man or woman dresses to appear in public. If they can't tell what looks good on themselves, what makes them think they can figure out how to make something look good on a page? Huh? Answer me that!

Here at the hospital, I used to have to work with the nurses who would bring me "designed" newsletters to publish. I would say this to them:

Everybody here went to school for something. You went to school to become a nurse. I went to school and studied design. While I could, theoretically, start an IV, it would be painful and messy, and you would not want me to do it to you. Likewise, although, in theory, you could design a newsletter, it would be messy and painful ...

Now I'm out of the printing business, and in the web publishing business, and you know what? I didn't think it could happen, but it's even fucking worse. There are so many more ways to be incompetent. JPGS that are articulated and bitmapped are presented as quality graphics for me to post.

Can I retire yet and become a luddite?
Miz Shoes

Did Ya Miss Me?

C'mon. Tell me that you did. Tell me that your day just was not complete without reading my whining and complaining and general all around bitching about the world. Tell me that you had a panic attack seeing that little page not found message.

And then I'll tell my brother in law, who switched servers without telling me, thereby sending this and my other sites into (say it with me a la Riffraff) O-blivion?

But a quick note to the geek gods of Register.com and here I am, 48 hours later. Happy to rag about just about any and everything that crosses my field of vision.

Item 1: Standing in front of the entrance to a small mall, a small boy. He is pissing in the hedge. His mother is standing nearby, encouraging him by telling him that if he will only face INTO the hedge, and not look back at her, nobody will notice that he's peeing. Except, of course, that we all do, and she looks me right in the eyes and smiles and explains that her boy "is making pee-pee." Really? No. I'd never have guessed. I reminded her, coldly, that there are public bathrooms in the mall.

Item 2: Did you know that the U.S. post office doesn't consider mail lost until it has not arrived at its destination after a full month? And that's for their PRIORITY mail. I shudder to think what a mere first class letter has to do to get itself declared missing. The exact response from my friendly mail clerk was "Well, it's the mail, it'll get there. Or not." Thank you.

Item 3: Oh. I guess there isn't an item three. How about this, then? I'm getting a mammogram at 2:30 this afternoon. I suggested to the service that they offer a glass of ice cold chardonnay afterwards to all their patients. While the lovely woman at the other end of the phone allowed as how that would be nice for us, she also noted that the staff would drink it all and there wouldn't be any for the patients anyway.

Tomorrow I have a date with my surrogate daughter. We're going out for dim sum and then I am going to teach her how to drive a stick. We are going in the Cabrio. She will not be learning how to leave a patch. She will benefit from the wisdom of my earliest college boyfriend, Steve Berger, who taught me two important things about cars.

The first thing was "It's just as easy to park your car correctly as it is to park like an asshole." I still hear that in my mind every time I pull into a space. It's why I'm the jerk taking time to position the car between the yellow lines, and not over them.

The second thing was "Always listen to your engine. It will never lie to you." Your tach can, but the engine cannot.

I hope it sounds as good coming from me as it did from Steve.
Miz Shoes

Another Day, Another Deluge

Someone needs to take Mother Nature aside and remind her that rainy season in the tropics means rain every afternoon, not steadily for days on end. And yet, and yet, there is something so soothing about this steady rain. The sound of it on my roof. The incredible variety of greens it brings to my yard. The coolth (and yes, that's a real word) that it gives the air. And the lightening. God's own light show, daily, from my office window.

I guess going to the gym actually does do all those things gym rats swear to, like lowering your blood pressure and releasing the feel-good endorphins into your brain. Three quarters of an hour on a treadmill and an elliptical trainer and I feel both virtuous and far less filled with free-floating rage than I did yesterday.

Either that or my bi-polar swing is set to manic today. Or at least mellow.

I'm not even raging over the network manager's inability to filter out spam and viruses. Hell, I've got the latest Norton virus defense shield running, updated only yesterday. So who cares if the webmaster account is being drowned in virus spam? I'm just methodically dumping them. Gives some rhythm and meaning to my day...
Miz Shoes

My Brain Hurts

Longtime readers may remember my posts from December, when I was in a crash course for ColdFusion. When the instructor asked what our expectations were, I said I expected to be reduced to tears at least three times.

That was then, this is now. The time has finally come for me to convert the hospital's web site from GoLive to Dreamweaver. I can't get the test server to run right. I can't get the text to line up right. I can't add line padding where I want it. I can't remember dick about what I learned in that class last December, except that I can calculate my age in dog years, and my instructor spoke with a very interesting Pakistani accent.

I'm fighting with the code. I'm fighting with the cascading style sheets. I'm fighting ennui. I'm staring out the window and wondering how I ended up designing web sites when all I ever wanted to do with my life was be an artist.

I have foot-high stack of books and I'm trying to figure out how to do everything I knew how to do in GoLive. This is why I'm such a huge fan of Adobe products. The interface is easy and intuitive. Things work. Drop and drag is active across the board. There are no unexpected results like an "onmouseover" command when you want it to be an "onmouseclick" command. Adobe makes sense to me, because whoever writes their programming code does so using the same logic I would use if I were writing it.

Macromedia seems to be written in another language and then translated to English and then to code. I just don't get it. But I will. I have to.

Did I mention that a friend gave me a hip flask? It's really more of a garter flask from the Roaring Twenties. I may have to start wearing garters to work.

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