This Thanksgiving, my sole accomplishment has been introducing FunkyPlaid to Bejeweled 2. He is … a little obsessed. The good news is that he is extremely good at visual strategy games, so he has almost exceeded my highest score. The bad news is that I am pretty sure he can just keep going. Forever.

It is traditional in the American blogosphere (and I can’t believe I just typed that) to make a list of things we are thankful for today. I was sifting through my archives in order to link to some old Thanksgiving lists, but not once in eleven years have I written anything during this time of year worth reposting.

That’s just fine. I am sitting on the couch with sunshine on the back of my head, laptop on lapdesk on lap. My fiancé is sitting cross-legged next to me, cursing quietly at his iPhone. The murmur, thud, whistle, roar of football emanates from the TV we aren’t watching. Cats have sought out sunnier or more secluded spots. In a few hours, we will head north to ensconce ourselves with family and friends for the traditional overeating portion of the day.

Today is my list. My life is my list.

she told me it took a long time

She told me it took a long time. She told me it took a long time before she stopped seeing him everywhere he wasn’t. She told me it took a long time to unlearn the cringing, to unfurl during the phone ringing. She told me it took almost as long as they were together to be comfortably apart, not to expect the other shoe to drop, his other shoe, when his feet weren’t even near.

She told me it took a long time, not that she expected it to be short. Once you are terrorized in a certain way, she said, your body exists only within boundaries of panic. For long, hollow years later, she would be flooded with adrenaline from a glimpse of the color of his hair. Fight or flight, but of course she did neither.

She told me it took a long time to allow herself a leisurely shower, an indecision over clothing, a detour on the way to the market, a reshuffling of plans. Sometimes, after years of only being grabbed and pulled by the wrist, she would just sit, sit somewhere quiet, and hold her own hand.

on breaking a twitter app

Disclaimer: If you have no interest in iPhone apps, Twitter, or my opinion on software, you will want to skip this entry.

Long ago I used Twitteriffic for iPhone, and was perfectly happy with it. I only defected to Tweetie because the iPhone app offered integration, allowing me to utilize to update multiple networks all at once, and not only status updates, but blogging, micro-blogging, and photo uploads. The fact that Tweetie offered integration was big for me: I could read tweets and also update multiple services, all from one nice UI.

Then Tweetie became seriously unstable, crashing more often than not, and around the same time Courtney told me about Birdfeed, an app developed by a good friend of hers. Birdfeed’s UI was far superior to Tweetie’s, plus it had local caching, and though I was loathe to give up integration, it wasn’t of much use to me in its current state. I figured I’d catch Tweetie 2.0 when it was released.

When Tweetie 2.0 was released, integration was written out of it. Tweetie users were upset. Some felt betrayed, and in an open-source world, there is always another client for betrayed users to buy. Those of you with greater marketing experience than I have should feel free to comment on the changing face of customer loyalty.

Tweetie employees had been using GetSatisfaction, a well-known customer support community engine, and of course a number of “what happened to” threads broke out on it. No one from the company answered clearly, and instead asked people why they wanted the integration. One Tweetie employee was quoted as stating the following about wanting to update multiple networks simultaneously: “It always calls to mind a small child repeating the same thing ad nauseum. Essentially wasting the time of all the people who actually like you enough to follow you on multiple networks.” (As of this writing, I cannot verify this quote because GetSatisfaction will no longer allow me to go further back in this conversation. I can, however, point you to where the employee states that he has “some well known negative ideas about”.

Now I don’t need to point out the logical flaw in this argument, but I will anyway for the sake of thoroughness: not all of my contacts are on the same network. For example, NO ONE I know from Second Life is on Twitter; they are all on Plurk. I don’t want to stop updating Twitter in favor of Plurk, or vice-versa. I want to update both simultaneously. is the tool I use to do that. Tweetie 1.0 allowed me to access to this tool. Tweetie 2.0 does not, and for no clear reason.

I disagree strongly with how Tweetie employees have chosen to handle this. The discussion continues over at their new support forums but the employee who has taken point on the issue does not seem to understand why anyone is asking for integration. He repeatedly asks people to tell him why, a tactic I recognize as a favorite of ineffective management. This tactic eventually wears your opponents down enough that they either (a) lose the ability to articulate what it is they want because they are so frustrated with your (real or feigned) ignorance or (b) give up because you are obviously too stubborn to even entertain an opposing opinion, let alone adopt a better idea.

Obviously I won’t buy or recommend Tweetie 2.0, which is a shame because it could have been the best Twitter app available. Instead, I will use a combination of apps until someone figures out how to do what Tweetie was already doing, and does it before they can do it again.

asking the question

We have a question about the menu: what is chow-chow? A table of four library professionals, we are practiced in knowing how to find an answer quickly. The woman who seated us walks by, so we ask her. She responds, “Your server will be right with you.” A different woman approaches the table and asks if we would like iced tap water or bottled water. We agree to the tap water, then ask the water-giver our question: what is chow-chow? She responds, “Your server will be right with you.” Our server arrives, and we jump to ask the question: what is chow-chow? She says it is like cole slaw, except for– and then mumbles something I cannot hear. The dish with the chow-chow was my second choice, so I avoid asking any follow-up questions in case someone else needs to be sent out to answer them, and I order something else.

I go home, look up chow-chow on the web, and desperately attempt not to turn this into a metaphor.

becoming a ghost

I dreamed that I was a ghost. I didn’t die; I faded away, bit by bit. I dreamed that one night when FunkyPlaid returned home from work, he had trouble hearing me. A few nights later, he accused me of hiding from him, as he could see my clothing and shoes lying about but didn’t see me.

All this time I was standing right in front of him, yelling and waving my arms.

In no time at all, I was not even a memory. I tried to pick up a lamp to throw it, because then I was sure he would know I was still there. My hand dispersed like fog as soon as it neared the solid object. I resigned myself to more yelling, but had lost the ability to make sound.

I stood in the doorway of our bedroom and watched him sleep as I silently screamed.

I woke up wailing with his arms around me.

thank you

I tweeted earlier today that I know “what makes the world a better place: saying ‘thank you’ when someone does something nice for you, no matter who that person is.”

As a civil servant, politeness is something I think about multiple times each day. It is easy to think about it in the negative case, but today was different: I was warmed by the number of people who took a moment to thank me for helping them. I also tried to thank other people, and tried to be courteous even when I wasn’t feeling courteous.

There is a trap in judging whether or not a person is “worth” receiving thanks. I used to try to figure out if someone was acting out of sincere caring – and therefore worth my sincere thanks – or if that person was acting purely out of self-interest (what’s in it for me?) or obligation (I’m paid to do this). The truth is that most acts are a mixture, and speculate though I may, I won’t ever know for certain. I would rather assume the best of others than the worst.

When my job is at its most demoralizing, thanking and being thanked makes it worthwhile. This is how I know it is important.

Thank you for reading this and for thinking about it.


Originally uploaded by cygnoir
I am a good walker but not a good hiker, not yet. Now that I have proper hiking shoes, I have incentive to improve. I also have a terrific hiking partner who never fails to keep my spirits up, especially when I feel like I am going to keel over and never stand up again.

I felt that way on our Multnomah Falls hike in October. The pouring rain was the least of my concerns. I started to beat myself up, too, which never helped anything.
Just then, FunkyPlaid took a moment to stop me and talk with me, and listened while I barfed out some stupid excuses, and then hugged me. And we kept walking, and we finished the hike to stand right next to the second-tallest year-round waterfall in the United States.

stuff to consume

I love coming home from pub trivia to a house that smells like freshly-baked bread.

Whole Foods’ 365 gluten-free sandwich bread mix is the best mix I’ve baked so far. It tastes like real bread, and by that I mean it has a sweet aftertaste that FunkyPlaid immediately picked up on when he tried it. Most gluten-free mixes have a powdery, slightly sour aftertaste.

On another tactile note, I am testing out some new fragrances. Patchouli Garden’s vanilla sandalwood is enticing at first, but on my skin it evens out to what I can only term “old lady musk”, which is disappointing. Song of India’s sandalwood oil, on the other hand, is the perfect blend of woodsy sweetness. I am still undecided on the patchouli sandalwood.

Erik Larson’s Thunderstruck is excellently constructed and wholly absorbing, so I must go read it before I fall asleep.

I dearly wish I could crack my toes, but feet worry me so much that I avoid them all.


I dreamed of preparing to move away. Everything I owned had to be packed into suitcases and boxes. The sky outside was light but I knew it was nighttime. As I packed my clothes, they changed colors and shapes. Some of them hopped or crawled out of their containers. It was a losing battle. Finally I decided to leave with empty suitcases. As I was zipping the last one up, I looked down to see a necklace I lost a decade ago: an iridescent glass bottle shaped like a teardrop with a tiny cork stopper. I put the necklace around my neck and left, empty-handed and smiling.

cute robots

warehouse party
Originally uploaded by cygnoir
Due to this annoying stomach bug, I am not at the TMBG concert tonight. I am trying not to be bitter about it.

In an effort to avoid this bitterness, I have been distracting myself with other media. Earlier, I watched “WALL-E”, which was even better than I thought it would be. Then I downloaded a demo of a new game by Amanita Design called Machinarium. If you like puzzles and robots and grungy animation set to a gorgeous soundtrack, you will like this demo.

The cute robot is a newly-discovered and powerful weapon in my anti-bitterness arsenal.

capsule of water and life

I am not in the mood to post anything, but stubborn enough not to let chronic illness “win” today, so here is a random memory.

During my first semester at UAB, I lived on campus in a single room. My bedding was black and white; the walls were beige cinderblock; the furniture was light wood. Nothing about my room was remarkable in any way. To make it more my own, I bought a small octagonal aquarium, some neon tetras, and a tiny aquatic frog. I was far from home, hundreds of miles from everyone I knew, and this capsule of water and life became my nightlight and my lullaby.

The fish and frogs did not live long. I remain captivated by aquariums, but have not owned another since.

no longer of consequence

She thought that it would be enough when they had to register as no-gods, when they divided the line between types of belief. She never thought it would come to enforced sterilization. What was once a practice they so readily embraced as “choice” was now a mandatory medical procedure for all no-gods at age seven. The last procreating generation would be allowed to live, openly pitied as if they were unbaptized babies sent to limbo, checkboxes forever grayed-out. They were no longer of consequence.

– excerpted from an untitled story in progress

little box of money

Princess Obvious makes an announcement: weddings are expensive.

They are not the kind of expensive that makes me want to save up my money and splurge eventually. They are the kind of expensive that makes me count how many Apple products we could be buying with this unheard-of sum, and then quote that number at inopportune moments.

“Two.” “Two?” “Two iMacs. That ALONE is going to cost us TWO IMACS.”
But the sum has been heard, many times before, and will continue to be heard as long as we as humans consider this tradition an important part of our culture. I know I can’t think of these numbers in daily-life terms.

The difficulty I am having, I have pinpointed, is feeling like I am worth the fuss of something this expensive.

Not that I think I’m worthless, no! But perhaps I am worth just a little box of money, not a big one. Money has always been a complex emotional subject for me, and the wedding is throwing it into sharp relief. I have to get over it soon, or the next eleven months are going to be much more difficult than they need to be.

you are the one

merit badge
Originally uploaded by cygnoir
Straight to the links, as I’ve had some gin and trivia tonight:

Okay, time to fall asleep on the couch while FunkyPlaid plays Panzer General.

sundays are for

Originally uploaded by cygnoir
Sundays are for laundry and chores and errands and then gaming. If I had a higher-level World of Warcraft character, I might be raiding on Sunday nights. Instead I do my own thing, which usually involves reading, writing, knitting, and watching something on Hulu.

Tonight I decided to play World of Warcraft too. I played for about an hour and logged off as soon as I got bored. I like the game, but am unwilling to spend the time required to be good at it, and I am easily bored by grinding XP. I end up inventing my own stories and getting distracted with wandering throughout the different areas.

Some of the lush forested areas in the game reminded me of Portland, so I decided to look at some of the photos I took. The Lensbaby ones turned out the best. Blurred photo edges remind me of fond and fuzzy memories.

power couple

cloaker in progress
Originally uploaded by cygnoir
Today’s NaBloPoMo post is a short one because I have spent most of the day offline. A large chunk of this offline time was in transit to Gamescape North for pizza and painting night. My first project is a cloaker. FunkyPlaid is teaching me how to paint as I go. I love working on projects with tangible results.

While on the Golden Gate Transit 70 bus this evening, I overheard a woman’s phone conversation. She was scolding someone named Patrick who apparently called her mother and “nearly put her in the hospital with worry.” As if that wasn’t bad enough, this woman informed Patrick that he was disappointing to her because she needs to be “in a power couple.”

The young mother next to me breast-fed her child as I pondered what it meant to be in a power couple, perhaps something to do with lunches, chords, and stations. What an empty phrase to use: power couple. Wouldn’t it just be easier to dump him?

ten times

Predictably, I love Fridays. The first hour on the desk today was, true to form, outstanding. The late opening time should make people crankier but instead I tend to have the loveliest patrons. One thanked me no less than ten times. Ten times! And because I am trying to break myself of the habit of saying “sure” instead of “you’re welcome” I said “you’re welcome” ten times, which sounded pretty silly but felt better than saying “sure” ten times.

I know, rockstar life, huh?

Today I am trying something different, because I love other websites with this format, so here goes:

The other human and both cats are completely passed out beside me on the couch. I have had a glass of wine, and because I am a rockstar, just looking over at them makes my eyelids heavy. So that’s me.

that facebook thing

I know this is an old and tired subject, but it has been on my mind all day, and I am participating in NaBloPoMo so I don’t have time to talk myself out of writing it.

Today I posted a note on my Facebook profile stating that while WordPress, Tumblr, and Twitter would be automatically updating my wall, I would not be present. Thus I began my Facebook vacation.

I don’t hate Facebook, but I dislike the false knowledge I glean from it, the pretense of knowing who my contacts are by reading arbitrary updates, photos, and links they post. I also wonder about the reverse: which assumptions are my contacts making about me from my blurbs?

Eventually I will return, but not without reconsidering Facebook’s importance in my life, and severely limiting the time I spend with it.

Has Facebook changed your life?

another three things

Three things I wish I hadn’t told the reporter who showed up at work 14 minutes before my shift ended:

  1. Something about a party, and maybe even a keg of beer, in an analogy regarding print resources
  2. Anything about that ill-fated Chronicle article on webcams
  3. My name

Three aspects of my commute home I would have changed:

  1. Sharing my LRV-boarding strategy with two vaguely unappreciative strangers
  2. Realizing that I had an LRV-boarding strategy
  3. Comprehending just how much of a dork I am

Three things I wanted to do that I didn’t in favor of feeling sorry for myself:

  1. Exercise
  2. Finish a first draft of a short story
  3. Really anything else

Three things I will avoid for the rest of the week in favor of actually living my life:

  1. Facebook
  2. Brizzly’s Facebook interface
  3. Facebook app on the iPhone

falling for portland

breakfast at kennedy school
Originally uploaded by cygnoir
We had planned to leave Portland before breakfast, but overslept, so we decided to enjoy one last meal at Kennedy School. Here FunkyPlaid reads the Oregonian as we wait for our delicious food to arrive.

Falling for Portland took me completely by surprise. I am sure that a small measure of the starry-eyed wonder had to do with my utter SF burnout, but I hadn’t expected to feel so at home in a new place. Portland fuses the best parts of three of my favorite cities, Seattle and Pittsburgh and Chicago, and the result is a homey yet cosmopolitan mixture with incredible people and food and art and architecture and geography and weather all at once.

Back at home, I am able to gaze upon the very good life I have here with fresher eyes. Without a doubt, San Francisco is an amazing place and I am lucky to be here. I am also ready to be somewhere else. With a bit more luck, one of my future somewhere-elses will be Portland.

at the top

mount shasta
Originally uploaded by cygnoir
Mt. Shasta looms beside the I-5, so I snapped some photos of it on our drive home from Portland.

I have never climbed a mountain. I am not terribly interested in the idea of climbing a mountain. Some time in my thirties I gave up on the idea of doing things I wasn’t terribly interested in doing for the sake of saying I had done them.

Still, when I awkwardly aimed my phone at this massive landmark, I wondered what it would be like at the top. Because of this wondering, I won’t rule out the possibility that I might want to climb a mountain someday.


Originally uploaded by cygnoir
We really, really needed that trip to Portland. We needed that shot of optimism, that reminder that grouchiness is not a persistent state of ours, and that it is possible to fall in love with a city again.

Because we are active vacationers, I didn’t document the trip as it was happening, but there are plenty of photos and notes to share. Soon. Soon: that word of promise. I love it; I need it.

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I acknowledge that I live and work on stolen Cowlitz, Clackamas, Atfalati, and Kalapuya land.
I give respect and reverence to those who came before me.