DC Roller Girls

Jen and I went to see the DC Roller Girls roller derby tonight! I wouldn’t call us roller derby people, but we had a lot of fun. I’m thinking of taking Max to the July 21st double-header!
My favorite thing about the roller derby was the diversity of the crowd. There were, as Jen put them, “hot chicks” in small groups. There were several families with 6-12 year olds. There were older couples, lots of roller girl parents (with some great t-shirts declaring their maternity or paternity of their particular girl), a whole biker gang in full leather, several lesbian couples, some with kids, lots of nerdy couples, and even a couple goths. It was great! I think roller derby could bring world peace… bringing the world together for good clean fun and bruises.
My second favorite thing? The names!! Here are a couple of my faves:
* Speedy Gone-bra-less
* Inconvenient Ruth
* O-Face
* Madelaine Allfight
* Helena Handbag (her mom sat in front of us and politely cheered for her girl with the broken tailbone)
* X-abitchenest (like several of them, recovering from a broken ankle)
* Mason Vixen (my personal favorite – she was tiny, but in there kicking ass, blocking out ladies twice her size)
* Blondie Danger Slut
So… wanna go next time? July 21st at Dulles Sportsplex in Sterling. I’ll be there – either with Max or Jen. Come on, you know you wanna.

This Week’s Ficlets

I’ve been writing ficlets at night after work as a way to unwind and do something creative outside of writing code. It’s been fun! I’ve been trying to write sequels to other peoples’ stories as an exercise in trying other styles, genres and voices. I think I’d call the results mixed, but fun.
Here are this week’s:
* The Devil in a Shop Window – I seem to do tragedy pretty well. This is a sequel to a story about alchoholism and hitting rock bottom. The original provided a perfect setup.
* Shokran Gazillan – I had to do research for this one (looking up “thank you” in Arabic). It’s a sequel to a story about a soldier in Iraq on patrol stumbling on a wounded Iraqi child and his brother.
* Basil, Rock God – A sequel to a hilarious story about an accountant who wakes up in the body of a rock star. Lots of questions to answer, but all I wanted to write about were leather pants and his stupid non-rock star name.
* Keeping the Peace? What Peace? – I re-read Shokran Gazillan and had to write a sequel to figure out what happened next.
* God’s Fist – A sequel to a great Deep Impact-style story about an impending comet impact. Reminded me a lot of the first ficlet (which has spawned a surprising number of sequels – it’s actually got a bunch of threads coming off of it!).
Jen came downstairs earlier and asked me if I was working (before I started writing, I was checking on stats, checking for reported stories, and wander). I gave her a blank look… was I? She laughed at me and told me it was OK if I was working. I shook my head and told her I was playing with my “toys”.

Hugs for the AOL Daycare

Max just finished his first week at Summer Camp for school-aged children at the AOL Daycare Center. He had a fun time and was glad to be back. This week’s theme was Deserts. They learned about people and animals who live in the deserts and got up close and personal with a variety of real live reptiles. The week was finished with a trip to the pool. YAY! And it was an indoor pool, which is even better in my opinion. (Cuz the sun is my enemy. It should fear me, yet it does not. Boooo.)
I love the AOL Daycare Center. I’ve only experienced their Summer Camp, but the infant, toddler, and kindergarten programs sound fabulous too. I joked with Kevin that we should have 10 more babies, just so we can send them there. The full time care is a bit expensive, though, so poor Brian is hanging out with me and attending cheaper (but still nice) classes at the community center this summer.

Annoyed

I am tired of CNN having some reports only available through a video clip. What if I want to read about the damn thing, which is, you know, why I am on the computer and not freaking watching the tv show. Grrr. I get the appeal of video clips, but it should be a second option, not the only one. Arggg.

Watch Jeremy Schaap Talk About Nerds

AOL’s sponsoring TopCoder again this year, and one part of the promotional materials stood out:
bq. Over the course of the three hour webcast hosted by ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap, viewers will be able to watch the high stakes software competition unfold through live views of the arena, entertaining coder profiles, and interviews with contestants – all culminating with in-depth coverage of the final results.
Now, of ESPN’s reporters, Mr. Schaap is #2 when it comes to possible closet nerd status* (their awesome NFL guy, John Clayton, is #1), but it just cracks me up that we’ll have play by play for a coding event. It’s worth checking out for that alone!
If you want to play along, the coverage starts at 4 EST today over on the AOL Developer Network. They’ve even put together a preview video.
*I’m saying this as a full on nerd. There’s no shame in being a nerd. Flaunt it, Schaap, flaunt it!

Next to Godliness

Kevin took some fun pictures of the boys goofing off last night and my first thought upon seeing them was, “The house is so clean! My mom will be proud.” Heh. (You can see them by clicking the Photos link above.)
In other photo news- Only a year and half late, I finally took my waterproof disposable camera from Hawaii to be developed. Can’t wait to see the pics, though I bet the little boys in the pictures will barely be recognizable!
After the busiest two weeks ever, I am really hoping that I can just bum around the house today, doing laundry. Think that Brian is up to a quiet day at home? ??? Eh, I didn’t think so either.

My New Standards Role

It’s finally official and I can talk about it… so I am! My pal, Arun, who has served as AOL’s representative on the W3C’s Advisory Committee for the past three years, has been elected to the W3C’s Advisory Board. That’s a huge honor, and very cool, both for Arun and for AOL. That means he’s got his hands full – what with his membership in two working groups and his spot on the Advisory Board (plus his day job). So, I’m going to take his spot on the Advisory Committee! It’s a huge honor to represent AOL at the W3C and I’ve got my work cut out for me. AOL’s participation in the W3C while Arun was AC has blossomed, but there’s more work to do. We need more folks to participate, and participate in a meaningful and consistent manner (something I’ve not been able to do in my time in the CSS Working Group, unfortunately). It’s as much a management problem as it is a technical one, to give people the time to contribute beyond the travel (and a time management problem – we’ve got to be willing to carve out the time).
There’s lots to do, lots of folks to recruit to “the cause”… and I have to find some way to abuse my new power!!
(there’s no real power, just a lot more e-mail, apparently)
For now, I’m going to try to remain a member of the CSS Working Group, but I’ll probably need to drop it and concentrate on my duties on the Advisory Committee. Thankfully, we’ve got Jason and Justin, two super-talented designers, to take my place!

Busiest Weekend Ever

Early Friday morning, I received a visit from an excited friend who wanted to show off her new van. It was pretty and shiny and we traded gushes about our vans. Later, Brian and I went to kiddie class while Kevin and Max went to Lowe’s and Wegman’s. Then we all met up for lunch at Logan’s (mmm, steak), where we brainstormed about Max’s blog, and then went to Chuck E Cheese to celebrate the end of school. (Max is now a second grader and Brian is taking kiddie classes. Wheee.) $10 and two hours later, Kevin and the boys headed to AOL to pick up a coding book for Max’s blog and I headed to Target. My objective was to return a broken watch and get Brian a toddler-sized backpack. Did either of these two things happen? Noooo. But I did buy a really cute pair of capris, some adult-sized earrings, awesome flip flops for $2.99, and a pool toy for the boys. The flip flops were such a deal that I bought 3 different colors. (For my birthday, my mother-in-law bought me gold hoops in the tiny size I prefer. I haven’t been able to get them in though, that is how small they are. Since then, I have been trying to wear more adult-sized earrings. I guess it’s time.) Not to leave Kevin out from the Target haul, I bought him some deodorant and floss. Oh yea, he made out big time!
Saturday morning was supposed to be spent on Max’s blog and weeding the backyard. That so didn’t happen either. Kevin took the boys to breakfast while I slept in. He then drove down to Centerville in search of his favorite used CD store but it is long gone. He went to Trader Joe’s and JoAnne’s (in search of a birthday present) instead. Hours later I was still sleeping. YAY for me! I was having the worst dreams ever though, so it wasn’t really restful. I felt like I was stuck in Deliverance. Not fun. When I finally dragged my cute-pajamed butt out of bed, Kevin put together our new weed whacker and showed me how to use it. By this time though, the backyard was too sunny for me to attempt any weeding. I decided to rehang the dining room curtains, using drywalls anchors so that they would be more secure and would stop cracking the drywall around the rod holders. Eight holes and a few tears later, Kevin stepped in to finish the last two holes. What should have taken 15 minutes and six holes took 45 minutes and ten holes. And I really mean holes. Like, a three inch by two inch hole in the drywall that is now another job on our handyman “to do” list. After this, I frantically cleaned the main floor, except the kitchen (but four out five rooms isn’t bad, eh?) in preparation for Babba’s visit later. I told Max that we clean before Babba comes as a sign of respect. I wasn’t trying to nag him into cleaning; I was just trying to explain why I was in cleaning frenzy now. When Brian balked at picking up his toys, Max said, “Do you like Babba? Then you need to clean up!” Ha, unintentional guilt. Kevin recently started getting US Weekly for free. After cleaning up the living room, I artfully arranged them on our Ikea coffee table, like the fancy-pants decorators do. Cuz yea, that is how classy we are. Kevin and I dropped off the kids at the in-laws house and then we went out for Mexican food (yummy), floor shopping (educational), another visit to JoAnne’s (unsuccessful), a trip to Target (to finally return the watch and buy Brian’s backpack) and a movie ( Knocked Up ). We went to some mom-n-pop flooring place (actually a brother-n-sister operation, but we don’t judge) and they were very helpful and informative. We’ve decided on oak, with a micro-bevel for all three floors, with carpet on the stairs. I think I am going to get the wide planks for the main floor and the regular skinny planks for the others. We then went to Abbey Carpet, in front of the Sterling Costco, just to check prices. They were extremely unhelpful! I know Kevin is happy to never set foot inside there again. And their prices weren’t that good! The backpack I found for Brian is awesome. It’s Diego, Dora’s cousin, with a bright yellow school bus on the front- two of Brian’s favorite things. I am sure he will love it. It even has wheels and an extendable handle like Max’s. Knocked Up was funny and thought-provoking. The review I read told of the scene where Paul Rudd’s character mentions how bat shit crazy the kids were for bubbles. He said, “I wish I were that crazy about anything.” So true. Being an adult sucks sometimes. I’ve noticed that Max, now almost 8, doesn’t giggle as carelessly and easily as he used to. I am not ready for this change. He is a happy child, but doesn’t have the toddler-glee anymore. Sob. We came home around 10:15 which is the latest we’ve stayed out this year, I think. Kind of pathetic. Poor Grandpa was in the basement watching some show he didn’t really want to be because he didn’t have the password to watch real tv (sorry, Larry). I found a cute gold metallic purse waiting for me at home (thanks, Anne). Long day. Bed was a welcoming thought. But instead of going to bed, I stayed up until 2 am looking on the internet for engagement rings with a friend. Internet shopping is a blast!
Today is Sunday and I only got five hours sleep. Totally my fault and totally worth it. Kevin wants to hit the Farmers’ Market, if he wakes up in time, then tackle Max’s blog finally. I need to weed the backyard, but won’t be attempting that until late afternoon when the sun slips in front of the house. The kids probably want to go to the pool, but I am not sure that is on the agenda for today. Oh, there is also supposed to be some toilet-fixing going on too. Wish Kevin luck with that!
What did you do this weekend?

Playing With Ficlets

Ficlets has been around for a few months now, and while it was a blast to build and launch, I honestly haven’t had a ton of time since it launched to actually enjoy my own product. I’ve been busy fixing bugs, responding to feedback or working on other projects (the nerve, people making me work). Building things is fun, but I forgot to actually use it.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been taking time out to play with ficlets: write stories, play with inspiration, and explore other peoples’ ficlets. It’s been a nice surprise to find out that the experience I envisioned when we started building it is actually fun. I’m having a great time working on stories, getting feedback, and finding stories to continue. Here are some of my favorites:
* I’ve been working on writing dialogue recently, something I’ve always sucked at, and today’s ficlet is all dialogue about freakshow performers tired of performing.
* I wrote When It Ends For One, It Ends For Both to work through some emotional stuff late one night after hearing about some friends’ marital problems.
* The Butler’s Secret is my most popular ficlet yet – a mystery about a butler with some evil plan – written just because I saw a photo of an evil-lookin’ butler on the inspiration page.
* A Hero’s Burial is a sequel to Twelve Inch High Underdog – which is my all-time favorite ficlet.
* The Falling Men in Their Fancy Suits is a story I wrote as part of our poverty challenge as part of International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day.
* “Death and Sausages”… only because I wanted to use “death and sausages” in a story.
* I wrote Security Blanket because Mr. Scalzi wrote a blog post about steampunk zap guns.
I’ve written more, but they’re either crappy or not worth pointing out (although I still think my story about Moses is funny as hell).
There’s a lesson in here somewhere about eating dog food… but I’m just glad it’s still fun to play with ficlets.

Home Improvements

The estimates on the various house projects are about the same. So, how do I pick someone? The people themselves all kind of seem the same too. They all speak English and work for local companies. They were all men, who wore pants and shoes and shirts and wrote with pens on pads of paper. One guy was an hour late (he called ahead of time to reschedule) and another guy postponed the meeting by a day. Those are the only negatives that I know of. Kevin met two of the guys. I kind of feel like going with one of those guys, just because Kevin seconded my opinion that they were ok. Shrugs.