Relish the balance.

You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. — Dale Carnegie.

Penny has written. I am “wow”ing. Read it in its entirety; it’ll do you good.

I almost wish she would stop writing so I can stop making these “wow” posts about her writing, but then I’d be bereft of her writing and the thinking it incites, and that would be no good.

So I am wowing. And thinking. And comparing, because I have been on both sides of that fence separating “RM” and Penny; I think it’s age and a lack of experience, but my idealism and my realism are still battling to the death in my life. Part of me wants to pass the link on to some specific people, but I know better than to do so, because ambiguity is a dirty son-of-a-bitch and things are finally starting to get clearer all around. Sometimes the clarity hurts, but it’s so much better than delusion.

You can, if you want, remember that I am a friend, before I am a woman, to you. If you don’t trust me or have faith in my knowing certain things about myself or having learned from my own past or being comfortable with my own inner-workings, if you don’t understand that I will grow at my own pace and I may or may not ask your advice and I may or may not follow it and that I will do disappointing things in our friendship and in my own seperate personal life, if you cannot believe in me first before you believe in what others have to say about me, or if you cannot seperate the two and understand that to each his own perspective and if you don’t trust that I am just me, […] just a girl, without a hidden agenda, then we have no basis for friendship.

Those who think me secretive or incomprehensibly complex simply don’t have the curiosity to ask enough questions. I’m learning to not be frustrated by that, to not set my bar so high that I demand my friends be as actively curious/inquisitve about me as I am about them. Some of that is resignation, yes, but it’s also realism and a growing understanding that an acceptable balance may be one in which the information flows primarily in my direction (see the above Carnegie quote). If anything, that acceptance of this “skewed” balance allows me to be more open when I’m asked to be.

Why? Because there are as close to no conditions as possible [original emphasis]. Of course it’s the strongest connection. It’s what I seek out in friendships and I won’t settle for less.

A lesson for myself and others: love and foster the openness and the closeness and the intimacy and the trust; cherish it like nothing else, because friends will be there when your family and/or the other components of your life fail you. But…

I am not your reason for being or your reason to smile. I can help you be a happier or better person, like all friends do, but I am just a girl.


Yeah. Just the “but” should have been sufficient. Don’t get it twisted.

There isn’t something inherently wrong with me. I am motivated and strong and fun and sometimes I have moments of addiction or discouragement or sorrow, but none of these things can be ‘fixed’ by a man in my life. They can be helped by my friends, male or female.

One last thing: Penny removed one paragraph in her revision that I’m going to take the liberty of quoting anyway (it can be removed upon request) because I thought it was particularly awesome.

And, when I find [a relationship/love], as per chance may have it, it will not be so that I can cuddle with a warm body, on my sofa, watching flicks. I can get a dog for that [ed note: or a cat!]. It will be because I have met my match. My challenging, inspiring, equal. And, it better be more provacative than my friendships, which are already the most treasured parts of my being.

Lyrics of my song of the day are in the extension of the entry. I’ve changed the to consist of my favorite Sting/Police songs. Enjoy.

Continue reading Relish the balance.

Website work; touching on web design canon

I’m still working on the site. In getting things validated, I discovered a highly annoying problem derived from using w.blogger in conjunction with BlogWorks XML—all my posts had double the open and close paragraph tags. Looking at the source code of any archive (or letting the validator do so), any opening paragraph was coded as a <p><p>, and closing tags were done similarly. Also, any lists (<ol> or <ul>) were surrounded by paragraph tags, which does not make for valid XHTML.

I had some trouble using Brinkster’s database querying tool to get the double-opening paragraph marks replaced. I could do the closing tags easily enough with UPDATE wp_posts SET post_content = REPLACE (post_content, '</p></p>', '</p>rn');, but couldn’t do the opening tags.

So I wrote another ASP script, downloadable here. Directions are in the ASP file, but you basically just need to update the connection variables—your username, MySQL server, password, etc. The usual. (Should I start making a page of these little things?) It replaces all doubled opening and closing paragraph marks, blockquotes with paragraph marks right before them (which causes funny formatting), and the cases of lists being surrounded with paragraph tags. Have fun, report errors.

Mathias recently posted a beautiful web design canon suggestion that has served as a bit of a whip cracking for me. I used to be very meticulous about directory structure and expanding abbreviations, but I’ve slipped lately. No longer! The webmistress is back—at least while she has time to be.

However (don’t say “uh-oh” yet), I disagree slightly with some of the points he makes. Yes, titles in anchor tags are useful and necessary, but only on links where the text of the link doesn’t explain the relevant information, as Mark originally suggested. Adding titles to every link seems redundant unless you’re actually providing extra and useful information about the link. That’s nitpicking, and maybe Mathias implicitly meant “where it’s not redundant”, but that may be an important distinction to make.

I’d also disagree (a little more strongly) with the forced capitalization of headings. I know good and well that this is the newspaper work getting to me, but I’ve picked up what I’ll call the French style of titling: first word and proper nouns only. (So-called the “French style” because, well, that’s how all the French articles I read in high school were titled.) But it’s also an acceptable, “official” style for publications, and shouldn’t be knocked.

While I’m at it, I’ll chomp lightly on the relative linking, although I’ve just changed my navigation links to be relative. I’ve changed hosts and servers (but not domains) so much over the past few years that absolute linking was a must to keeping this site maintainable. So while it’s a good suggestion, and one that probably should be made, I totally understand/sympathize with folks like David being set on absolute links.

To Mathias’s web design canon suggestion, I’d add an emphasis on relative font sizes (particularly now that I’m going blind!) and defining acronyms and abbreviations. Even if you have a hardcore techie crowd, and write primarly hardcore techie posts, it never hurts to define an acronym/abbreviation for those who are learning or whose heads are already too stuffed with acronyms to be able to sort out all of them without additional research. Particularly those who are learning or new to the field at hand, though. I can’t recall how many times I’ve wished medical website would define the obscure acronyms they use so I could better understand the context of what I reading…

Merr’ Chrimmus, indeed.

I wrapped most of my Christmas gifts this morning around 03:00 before I went to bed, and set those for the immediate family outside my door so they wouldn’t have to wait for me to wake up to open them. There was no way in hell I was getting up before 09:00.

I got my mother Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits, Michael Crichton’s Prey, and The Very Best of Sting & the Police (of which I am mos def going to have to make a copy; I love me some Sting).

My father is as difficult to shop for as Dr. 7, but I got him a gift certificate to iTunes that should keep him satiated for quite some time.

And I ain’t shoveling that damn driveway anymore until I need to go somewhere—like back to Rose. Which may be happening entirely too early (like Wednesday) on account of the weather.

My mother is currently pissed because her Amazon shipment for me hasn’t come in yet; to top it off, it looks like it won’t be coming until around January 3—long after I’ll be settled in at Rose again.

She did, however, get me some clothing: two knitted turtleneck ponchos (one tan, one black; can’t find a picture of the brand she got) with accompanying appropriate shirts. Interesting; I hope I can pull the style off.

Now I just need to be able to leave the house (without chipping at the ice in the driveway) so I can have an excuse to wear them…

Oh! And I got the awesomest book from Dulin: Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life. When he asked me what I wanted for Chrimmus, my response was:

Hmm… Find me a fascinating biography or autobiography—no shadow-written political books, although political figures are fine (particularly those in Latin American countries or Soviet bloc[-esque] countries).

😀 Have fun…

I’d say he did wonderfully…

My auntie Peaches didn’t make it over for dinner (we are getting damned frustrated dealing with this woman…), but we made good food anyway. I whipped up homemade garlic mashed potatoes and made auntie Peaches’ cornbread stuffing (recipe below, in the extension of the entry). Mother-dear made auntie Lisa’s sweet potato casserole (recipe also below), broccoli, and macaroni and cheese from scratch. The Old Man was typically annoying by eating all the yummy topping off the sweet potato casserole and leaving just the potatoes, the dirty bum.

Because my family is one of television-watchers, dinner was accompanied with the mandatory viewing of—of all movies—Kingdom Come. For all of the childhood jokes my friends made about my mother reminding them of Whoopi Goldberg (?!?), that movie is the one where the similarities in personality are apparent even to me. Weird.

Ah, well. Christmas is good. Particularly after a call from Mae, a chat yesterday with Dr. 7 (in which he pointed out a game that would be perfect for the likes of me), e-mails abound from friends, and my first-ever comment from Dr. 7. Now, whether this occurred because Luke isn’t around to pass along his commentary or because of some change in opinion about my blog, I don’t know.

Continue reading Merr’ Chrimmus, indeed.

Memage as distraction.

Stolen from EJ on account of my present desire to distract myself.

Three names you go by:

  1. Lissa
  2. Melissa
  3. Liss/Mel (clumped because of the degree of familiarity usually associated with them.)

Three screennames you have:

  1. irrsinn99
  2. 20375438 (ICQ)

Three things you like about yourself:

  1. My obsessiveness/tenacity.
  2. My ability to fairly rapid heal from the sharpest parts of a hard blow. I “scab” well, I guess.
  3. My masochism (ties in nicely with #1).

Three things you hate/dislike about yourself:

  1. My tenacity. Sometimes, I just need to stop fighting and cry “uncle” before I get hurt.
  2. My tendency (need? desire?) to unload my problems on others.
  3. My mathematical limitations that I have yet to learn how to overcome.

Three parts of your heritage:

  1. Mental instability/illness (Old Man’s family)
  2. My giggle. (Old Lady’s family)
  3. Willpower, and a lack of in particular situations. (My manifestations are most like those in my mother’s family.)

(Those who question my definition of “heritage” can feel free to look that up in a Merriam-Webster.)

Three things that scare you:

  1. Finding the limit of my ability (in intelligence or ability to cope)
  2. Getting sick.
  3. Having whatever secret is on my mind found out.

Three of your everyday essentials:

  1. Eric (my laptop)
  2. Yogurt. I like strawberry, but blueberry is awesome, too, and cherry is a good runner-up.
  3. Breakfast = orange juice + two glasses of water + egg and cheese on an English muffin or bagel + Vitamin C pill + multivitamin.

Three things you are wearing right now:

Just kidding.

  1. New Residence Hall “lemons” t-shirt
  2. Skivvies
  3. Glasses

Three of your favorite bands/artists (at the moment):

  1. Natalie Imbruglia
  2. Kanye West
  3. Jurassic 5

Three of your favorite songs at present:

  1. “Big Mistake” by Natalie Imbruglia
  2. “Bridging the Gap” by Nas and Olu Dara
  3. “Hey Now” by Xzibit

Three new things you want to try in the next 12 months:

  1. Electronically publishing a work of fiction.
  2. Running in a race.
  3. Swimming. If I can shape up, maybe even in a bathing suit.

Three things you want in a relationship (love is a given):

  1. Friendship
  2. Understanding/acceptance
  3. Fun

Two truths and a lie:

  1. I think my little sister is just the most adorable little kid on the planet.
  2. I’m a sucker for accents, no matter the flavor.
  3. I really can dance, I just don’t like to feel like I’m being watched.

Three physical things about the opposite sex that appeal to you:

  1. Eyes
  2. Hands
  3. Legs

Three things you just can’t do:

  1. Sing
  2. Eat creepy seafood.
  3. Give up easily/without some kind of fight (even just with myself).

Three of your favorite hobbies:

  1. Listening to music.
  2. Writing.
  3. Coding, in some shape or fashion.

Three things you want to do really badly right now:

  1. Spend time with a non-familial friend.
  2. Go out. For a walk, for an in-house (at someone else’s house) movie, for a long drive with loud music, for a visit to a damn park, I don’t care.
  3. Go for another run today.

Three careers you’re considering:

  1. Stripper/p0rn star (breast implants needed, though, methinks)
  2. Generic “software engineer” career (with my usual brand of fun involved, of course; I’m not knocking this)
  3. Military/gov’ment work.

Three places you want to go on vacation:

  1. Russia
  2. France (yeah, like I’d come back)
  3. Tour of Europe (see #2)

Three kids names:

  1. Valerie
  2. Danielle (one of my middle names)
  3. Frederick (a common name in my mother’s family)

Three things you want to do before you die:

  1. Teach myself to play an instrument.
  2. Engage in a “successful” non-platonic relationship. With “successful” being defined by those involved.
  3. Read the complete Remembrance of Things Past–in French.

Three people who have to take this quiz now or die painfully (if I am permitted to mandate…):

  1. Dulin
  2. Javid
  3. Mia

[Listening to: Big Mistake – Natalie Imbruglia – Left of the Middle (4:33)]