Happy Late Pi Day and Early St. Patrick’s Day!

So Thursday we’re having highs in the 60s, then Friday it’s snowing. Makes no sense! Then again, I prefer that to the alternative of “grey and drizzly”.

So I have a job. Or rather, in a month, I will have a temporary job. I got hired as an enumerator for the Census. It’s full-time, and the position lasts up to two months. Which is unfortunate in that I’d like a less temporary position, but is good in that it pays rather well considering the work, and will help me gain charisma levels as I will be working with the public and all. That plagues me – that I might look great on paper, but get me into an interview and I’m awful at reading people, or knowing what they’re looking for, or I’ve read too many conflicting articles on how to act in interviews and I can’t combine all the info into a perfect demeanor depending on who I’m interviewing with. Anyhow, work is good.

I’m redoing my professional site, which is almost but not quite done. Had another website that I’d built disappear altogether from the internet, which is unfortunate as I really needed a decent screenshot of it. It’s all built in OsCommerce too, meaning I can’t just open my saved version of the site. So I cheated and used a screenshot from the PDF file where I designed the site in the first place.

On a completely unrelated note, I can’t decide if I should go ahead and stop watching The Office. See, it’s been on a downhill slide since Season 5, and it makes me sad. There is that trope of “TV show goes downhill when the romantic tension is resolved” thing, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the case here, which makes it all the sadder. The first episode I ever watched was an early Season 4 one, so I knew from the start that Pam and Jim got together anyway.

Here’s the problems as I see them: First of all, the actress who played Holly left the show unexpectedly to pursue other things, and I’m pretty sure they’d planned out a bunch of episodes with her in them. Meaning the writers didn’t have much time to hash together a new plot direction. However, I still don’t understand why they brought Toby back. I mean, when Toby left, he was pretty clear about not coming back. But they brought him back anyway, and just didn’t give a strong reasoning for having his happen. Same thing with Ryan, in fact. It just made no sense that he would come back happily as a temp again. If I could, I would just erase the whole first chunk of Season 5, and start with the Charles Major arc.

The Charles Major arc was pretty much the best thing about Season 5. There’s a new interesting character, with all the new dynamics that go with such things. Plus, Michael left and started his own company. The show is more interesting when everyone isn’t in the same position they’ve been in for the past several years – office environments naturally evolve, people get promoted or move around, part of why it was so interesting in Season 3 to have Jim in a new office, or why Season 4 was fun with Ryan promoted above Michael’s head. Anyhow, Michael’s new company brought Ryan back into the story in a much more realistic fashion then the beginning of the season’s attempt to do so: I don’t think Ryan would happily return to being a temp from his previous status as a higher-up in management, but working as a salesman in Michael’s company is pretty appealing compared to working at a bowling alley. I was also happy to see Vicram again, as he was a fun character.

Incidentally I’m not too happy with Ryan’s character in Season 6. Apparently he went all indie/arty with no good explanation. I like the Sabre storyline, but I can’t help but feel like it’s too little too late. Also – I hate all the schmaltz surrounding everything Jim and Pam do. Like the wedding episode, completely unnecessary sentimentality! Made me greatly miss Phyllis’s wedding. Also, the recent baby episodes, too mushy. Not overtly mushy, but the mushiness was definitely still there.

I’ll probably still keep watching, just because I’ve been watching for so long. Now that Darryl is upstairs, maybe there will be some interesting interactions there. I’ve felt the lack of warehouse interactions ever since Roy disappeared, and especially since Kelly stopped dating Darryl. I’d like to see more episodes where Kelly and Kevin have stronger roles, as they are both ridiculous and fabulous. This seems to be the problem with TV shows in general, though, there are the lead actors and there are the supporting actors. Too bad that sometimes the supporting actors are more interesting then the lead actors!

Social Icons Font Set

So there’s all these websites that have little square icons allowing you to RSS the site, link the site to another site, etc.. I’d been reading about CSS’s ability to include a font in your stylesheet using @font-face, expanding the number of fonts you can see on a web page beyond just the standard set. I was thinking it would be neat to have an RSS symbol that was a font character rather then an image, so I downloaded FontForge. At some point in all of this I decided to convert a bunch of the most often used social networking icons into font characters, 26 in all. Useful for embedding into websites, or just for dumping into Photoshop to make your own icon images. Check them out!

I used CSS3 to spice them up. These are not meant to be a font set in and of itself, but more of my playing with CSS to explore the possibilities. Also, if you are viewing this in IE or an older browser, the icons may look a bit bland.

There is a lot that you can do with “box-shadow” involving layering shadows of different offsets, radius widths, and colors. I was particularly happy with how the LastFM icon came out.

I really wish there was a means of using CSS to apply shading directly on top of text. As I know of no way to do this, I had to figure out other means for icons that require multiple colors. The Picasa logo uses 5 different colors in the logo on a white background, so I instead made a 5-colored background using box-shadow and placed a white logo on top of that. This has it’s limitations, though, as I couldn’t quite get the green background segments of the Newsvine icon to look as they should.

There’s no way to outline text using CSS, but you can create an outline using by layering multiple “text-shadow” elements together, offsetting them in all directions around your text character. I used this on the AIM, Yelp, and Netvibes icon. This isn’t a perfect method, as you can tell by the jagged edges on the AIM icon. It works quite well on 90 degree angles, though, as you can see from the Netvibes icon.

The biggest pains were the Flickr and Delicious icons. Delicious is simple in that it just uses two squares, but it’s two differently colored squares. So I made one solid and the other comprised of lines, and hoped for the best. It’s still a little odd looking as it currently is. The Flickr icon is the same situation, but with circles instead. Most of the icons exist as just link html, but this one is a link within a span tag. I set the font character to be a blue, and then the link’s left margin to be a negative value, meaning you only see one of the dots. I used “text-shadow” to create the pink circle on it’s right. Incidentally, this is the only one I couldn’t figure out an IE CSS hack for, so it’s not quite usable in IE if you want the Flickr icon in it’s multi-colored glory. StumbleUpon was also a pain, and one I still don’t have looking quite right.

These icons are not all that ideal right now, and here’s why: First off, IE does not support CSS3 tags like text-shadow and box-shadow. Meaning that, though these are for the most part functional in IE, they’re not all that pretty. Also, not every browser supports @font-face right now. If this entire post is confusing to you, as all you see in the icons above is the alphabet, you’re probably using one of those browsers. I look forward to all of these things being adopted by the browsers that currently don’t support them, which will hopefully be sooner then later.

View a page with just these icons on them, or download a zipped file of the HTML, CSS, and fonts for these icons. Or, you can download just the font from the Open Font Library.

I’ve also got the icons posted here on varoper.com, essentially showing everything already displayed in this post, but with far fewer words and minus the fabulous yet jarring fish background.

On Writing, Designing, Games, and Beer

So I had this dream last night where I was a character in some Bleach episode, and I was trying to build PDFs out of CNC router parts. This sums up my last couple of weeks pretty well.

The website is launched, though there are still things that need to be done to it before it is finished. Still, I now have the time to get back to working on my other projects. I’m about halfway done with the font I’m working on. I now have piecemeal Drupal modules that I would like to clean up and stick on their site. I also again had the revelation that my professional website looks bad and needs a makeover. I get that revelation on a regular basis. This is good in that I’m constantly a.) learning more about design and programming and b.) upgrading the website to reflect that knowledge, but is a pain because this is a chunk of work to have to do on a regular basis. Am also thinking of shifting it into Drupal, to give me another Drupal site and to give me more Drupal experience. The site is just straight PHP right now, before that it was built with the ever popular duo of M4 + shell scripts. Which made me feel pretty cool to have a site built in them, but was not all that applicable to the job direction I was trying to go in. Oh yeah, I also have my super-cool new site idea that I wanna build and launch at some point. And there’s still converting the rest of the php into classes at Writaur.com. And making a version of Storypath that uses gamebook/rpg character elements.

Apparently none of this was as important to get done as beating Peggle Nights yesterday. It’s a free download if you create an account at PopCap games and say “yes” to getting a newsletter. Not nearly as exciting as Oasis, but it’s still pretty fun, and is apparently effective at distracting me from the pile of things I have to do. I’ve still got most of the “Challenge” levels to beat, so it will pose as a potential distraction for awhile to come, I suspect.

I made it to the second round in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest! The first round was where they read your 300 word pitch for your novel. 1000 people get to go on to the second round, and as they accept only 5000 entries, and the Young Adult category was a new one for this year, there’s a good chance I was accepted for my lack of typos and misspellings. Still, I was in the top 20%, so that’s good. The 2nd round is where they read the first 3000-5000 pages of my story. I really hope the style of the novel won’t be a hindrance – as it’s a “Choose your own adventure” style book, and the contest requirements said it had to be the first 3000-5000 words, so they will be reading a rather disjointed story indeed.

And on a final note, tonight will involve beer. Apparently the Coors factory is about 15 minutes away from where we live, and a coworker of Drew’s invited us to go take the tour. Seems that they’re very generous with their free samples, and the end of the tour involves being able to try up to three of their products. We still need to determine the “Who’s driving?” strategy of all of this, hopefully the factory is near enough to downtown Golden, CO, that we can stroll around and sober up a bit. The best part about Colorado is that, were we ambitious, there is a path about a 10 minute’s walk away from where we live that we could bike on to this factory. It’s a 9 mile ride, which I don’t think is bad at all, but Drew might have difficulty with. Still, we’ve got a stationary bike that he’s been using, so maybe come Springtime we can try the ride and see how it goes.

Work, Dollars, Anime, Etc.

Teleconference yesterday, for the ultimate goal of getting this website launched in a week. Not fully finished, mind you, but finished enough to function. I’m currently working on making php generate a PDF form based on products selected + other stuff, what once seemed impossible is now at the “persnickety” level. This means that I for the most part understand what’s going on, there’s a bunch of fiddly things for me to do, and there’s the occasional out of left field error to work through.

So once this project is done, I can get dollars. And add this to my resume, and talk about all the Drupal modules I’ve built. In theory, this might make someone else want to hire me? We’ll see about that.

I’ve got a fabulous idea for a new website. It will involve cute food, it should be relatively easy to execute, and it will give me something to design as well as something to build with Drupal. I think I’ll have a better shot with getting development jobs if I hunker down and focus on a specific area, and at this point I’m liking how Drupal works and would like to get as proficient in it as possible.

Oh wait, that’s related to work, hah! Liberty does not give me many dollars. However, I am currently wearing a bra I can usually only wear in the summer, which is good. For those who are not me and/or don’t gain weight like me, this means that Liberty is saving me from the winter weight gain I always get. I really like working there, too. Some people get really excited seeing me out there with my sign. And surprisingly, it’s really rare to get obscene gestures. Usually every other time I’m out there, someone will flick me off. Once in every 8 hour timespan is acceptable, I suppose.

I blame Liberty for my cold. My never-ending cold, which remains at a low-grade “headache plus weird nose” status. See, it’s those free cookies. I cannot resist eating the cookies, and neither can all those disease-ridden children that come in attached to their parents. Liberty has an excellent set-up for people with kids: a little table with coloring books, other books, etc. plus those darn cookies.. And I’m sure I ate a cookie which was already touched by some germy kid. Le sigh.

We finished the first season of Bleach. Definitely mixed feelings on it. I really like Chad and wanted to see more episodes where he was the focus. I wanted to see more background development on the characters – like the fact that Rukia is 40+ years old and stuck in this teenager’s body in a strange world. All we got about this was her not being able to stick a straw in a juice box. I really wanted to learn more about her situation. I mean, maybe it comes later, but at this point she’s not even on Earth anymore, so I’m not sure of the likelihood of this. I also don’t like the Hollows. Sometimes they stand around and talk to Ichigo and others in cunning ways, sometimes they stand around and make grunting noises like animals. Also, they like standing and waiting patiently while the main characters have dramatic conversation. Does not make sense. Anyhow, we may come back to Bleach later on, but for now we’ve moved on to other stuff.

Started watching Revolutionary Girl Utena last night, watched the first two episodes. I’m lost for a lot of it, but that’s pretty normal. It’s got some pretty interesting stuff going on so far (not the least is the song in the middle of both episodes singing about trilobytes, the Apocalypse, etc).

In other news, I need a tea vat with a drinking tube that just follows me around everywhere, it would be magical.

Whereupon I talk about being aimless and sick some more

Still sick. It’s weird, it started off like a normal cold – slight headache and scratchy throat growing into full blown cold. I had a few days of that, and then I woke up one morning and realized that I felt better. Not all the way better, though, and this is now day two that I feel that same as I did that morning. I’ve got my full-blown appetite again, no sore throat, but I’m stuck with a light stuffy nose, phlegm, and a headache that just won’t leave me. Not enough to really call it “sick” anymore, but just enough to be annoying. I’ve had this sort of thing last for a week or more in the past, and I’d rather not have that happen this time around. Now that I’ve added a blue-collar job to my repertoire, we’ll see how that effects the sickness. I’ve got a 4 hour shift with Liberty tomorrow, and I’m hoping (quite illogically, I’m sure) that with that long stretch of aerobic activity, the pseudo-sickness will realize that it has no place in my body any longer and will leave it for good.

Incidentally, I’m alone for the weekend. Had some plans for the whole V-day thing with Drew, involving going to some Cajun place whereupon I would gorge on shrimp, along with me making him something chocolatey and delicious. Alas, Drew has flown back to Richmond for Neil’s funeral, and shalnt return until Monday night. Being as I am poor and work Sunday, I stayed here. Estha needs company anyhow, and she entertains me nonstop with her pooping antics. I will spend a romantic Valentine’s day with her, playing with strings and pretending that when she meows, it’s because she’s telling me she loves me, not because her food bowl is almost empty. She doesn’t bother to finish the food first, she must preemptively let me know that she will need more food in the near future, and then she finishes it. Her definition of “empty” is when she can actually see the bottom of the bowl, even if the bowl’s edges are still crowded with food.

I’ve got entirely too many things to do but still managed to waste away my Saturday. I finally beat Airport Mania, and spent some time on i-sketch.net. Pictionary is a magical thing. Tomorrow will also be spent romantically wrangling some data into an attractive PDF layout. I found a class that lets me do it in PHP, it just looks to be a bit of a pain from my current standpoint. But, it must be done.

In other news, I like dance music. Good, high quality wiggly-waggly dance music. I must find more to help the days ooze by like buttah.

Gaming, Misc Projects, Jobs, and Media (a.k.a. I Suck At Making Relevant Post Titles)

My current site project right now involves bunches of icons, and I wish I had more time for it. I’m also trying to get myself in gear with the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest. I’ve never written a pitch before and it’s a tough slog at this point. My writing tendencies are entirely too stream-of-consciousness for their own good, and I need to focus more on a decent packaged whole when I write. In other news, I’ve eaten Mexican food every day this week except yesterday.

I finally beat Oasis on Insane. Were this 2004, when the game actually came out, it would likely be much more exciting. Nonetheless, Oasis has provided me with months of gameplay, and was totally worth the $6 I paid for it. On a similar note, rumors have it that a version of Civilization will be coming to Facebook this June. Aside from my occasional Scrabble obsession (and whenever someone flings a Pathwords invite at me), I’m not a big Facebook gamer. Yoville got tedious, and I haven’t logged into my account in months now. There’s a bunch of others (Mafia Wars, Farmville, etc.) I signed up for, played once, and then promptly forgot about. I think a problem with these games is that they’re mostly about doing the same thing over and over to acquire more stuff and build your character. None of which is all that interesting to me. One thing that is immensely interesting, however, is Civilization.

Job prospects = still slow. Didn’t get the job I interviewed for this past Friday. They might have a temporary use for me for a project that may or may not happen, however, which would be nice. I’d like to get more hours at Liberty, as though the pay is meager, it’s actually pretty fun to jump around by the side of the road all day long. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever felt this healthy in the middle of winter before.

I wish another Chick-fil-a would open up out here. This is because I want to do another First 100. Preferably without the blizzard this time around. I also really just want to eat chicken constantly, because it is so freaking good.

I finished reading “Jonathan Norrell & Mr. Strange” by Susanna Clarke recently. It was fabulous, a very British early 1800’s take on magicians and magic, quite long and involving with quirky characters, I highly recommend it. I’m currently reading “Nature Girl” by Carl Hiaasen, which is quite funny.

Finished watching Evangelion. Apparently the ending was poorly executed due to budget issues, and I thus need to see a movie called “The End of Evangelion” for proper fulfillment. I really liked the concept behind the ending, and we can hopefully get our paws on the movie sometime soon. Started watching Bleach, am enjoying it but with mixed feelings. The more it veers away from the “I need to kill this giant Hollow” plots, the more I like it.

Oh yeah, I totally scored some free fabric off of Craigslist. Giant bag, some scraps and some decent-sized pieces. I’ve got a pair of black shorts with a drawstring that never really fit me right, and I’ve got this great idea to convert it into a skirt, adding some fabric to the bottom in ruffles or something. I’ve got plenty of fabric to do this, now it’s simply the matter of locating said shorts. There’s this black hole that follows me sometimes, and likes eating things I’d prefer not to have eaten. I picked up a tank top from Old Navy with the final dregs of my gift card, and as a tank top it’s entirely too long, but with some fabric on the bottom it would make an awesome dress. I need to find a fabric really similar to the tank top’a fabric to execute this, however. Now, once I have made these items, I need to find or create circumstances where I would actually wear a skirt or a dress. Pants are just such a nice default, but it’s a shame that I keep making all of this crap and never wear it anywhere for the most part.

Oh yeah, crispy chocolate in my near future. Old Towne Arvada is having some sort of chocolate festival, whereupon I will enter items into their cookie contest and, with any luck, will win a giant pile of chocolate. Which would be good timing, as our Christmas chocolate is slowly running out!

My life as a statue

I’ve found employment. Not the employment I was really expecting to find, mind you, but employment nonetheless. Indeed, I am now one of those people that dresses up as the Statue of Liberty and dances around at the side of the road, trying to convince you to go get your taxes done at Liberty Tax. Part time, $8 an hour. But it works for now.

Here’s the thing: it’s pretty freaking disillusioning to spend large quantities of your time applying (and failing to get) jobs. Eventually you start wondering what the point is in the first place. My veeery sllooowly moooving job building the router site is, well, slow. Doesn’t take up a huge amount of time. And, I need money. Even if I’m earning a rather paltry sum, at least I’m earning something. There’s also the fact that winters are infamous for making me lazy and get no exercise. So, it’s like I’m getting paid to go to a gym/club. In theory, I’m also boosting my confidence, by waving at complete strangers and having them wave back. There’s the occasional middle finger, but for the most part (when people respond, at least), people are friendly and some downright bizarrely happy to see me. It’s also pretty fun to wear a costume. I would take on a job as a Chick-Fil-A cow in a heartbeat, incidentally.

I also find it easier to organize my time when it’s broken up into chunks. Now that Drew is at work all day, my day stretches before me like a vast plain, all to be spent in front of the computer doing *something*, in theory, that will propel me to the next job, or give me another thing to slap on the ole resume. With this part-time job, I *have* to get work done in the alloted time available. Also, dancing around for several hours in a row makes it much easier to sit in front of the computer for long stretches of time. I’m rather restless for the most part, and like to wander around, and the fact that I eat more then my fair share of sugar during the day does nothing to ameliorate this tendency. So, being exhausted helps with this. And, if things go well, I’ll be super-toned by springtime!

And that’s that. Here are other things going on in my life right now, in list form:

  • Have more or less gotten the hang of Drupal hooks. Am looking forward to trimming up my new shiny module and maybe getting it published on the Drupal site.
  • Have decided that, as we don’t have friends out here in Denver yet, it’s time to start watching more anime. I never saw Evangelion, so we just started watching that last night. And will apparently need to finish watching it very soon as well, as I’ve now got Bleach sitting at the library waiting to be picked up.
  • We’ve been eating free Chick-Fil-A for several months now, at least once a week. We thought we’d get sick of it at some point, but no. I still crave it as much as ever.
  • Did you know you can stick slices of tofu in the toaster? It’s pretty neat.
  • At some point, I need to get a phone with decent web-browsing capabilities. I mean, how am I supposed to make sure websites are designed to look good on mobile browsers if I don’t even have a mobile browser in which to look at them?
  • I got all extravagant recently and bought a cactus for $3.50. It’s succulent and adorable. There’s the best shop ever in Manitou Springs with a greenhouse-type room filled with cacti/cactuses/cactodes of all shapes and sizes. When I go in there it’s like I go into a pet shop. Even better, actually, because pet shops make me sad. I feel for the plight of those poor Betas trapped in those teeny little glass bowls.
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches are the Fruit of the Gods.

Job stuff, rabid illness, etc.

So here’s the job situation: I have picked up a temporary job working at Liberty Tax to tide me over until I (hopefully) hear back from the Census people (apparently it might be a bit of time, I’m hopeful though as I scored 100% on the test), and that will tide me over until either the freelance web stuff picks up or I can land a more permanent web job. I am moving forward on my current Drupal project, though, went to a meeting last week and checked out some CNC routers. Once that’s done, I’ve got a giant list of side projects to work on portfolio-building until I can land something else.

And, I’m sick. Came down with it yesterday. Might be cold or flu, not really sure. Headache, fever, chills, fatigue, sore throat, occasional cough. And I threw up today. Feels really weird to have things in my stomach. I think that my stomach’s weakening with age. I didn’t use to have stomach queasiness with illness, but lately I’ve gotten that. Also, in the last few years I’ve started experiencing queasy stomach after roller coaster rides. No good at all! Also no good is my period this time around. It’s really awful to have bad cramps while also sick. I’m still playing around with giving myself doses of zinc to help out. I wish zinc didn’t make me nauseas, and I need to drill into my skull that 15 minutes of nausea for a few days is a lot better then days of devastating pain.

Oh, and that avocado contest I entered? I did not win. Well, I did win a cookbook and a t-shirt, both of which should come in the mail at some point, but no dollars. It’s all good, though, I felt like I learned a great deal of Flash, which is something.

Using CSS3 text-shadow to create fun text effects

So I’ve been playing around with new CSS3 tags, and I just realized a fun effect you can make doing text-shadow. If you set the color of your text the same as your background color, you can create an outline effect. The following uses ‘style=”font-size: 24px; color: #000; text-shadow: 0px 0px 5px #e82aff;’.

Yay for text!!!

Or, even better, offset either of the first two values in text-shadow enough, and you can completely remove the text and only have the glowing shadow left:

Glowing is fun!

Especially when it’s super fuzzy!

“Glowing is fun!” uses this: font-size: 24px; padding-bottom: 30px; font-family: Georgia, serif;color: #000; text-shadow: 0px 20px 3px #54ff00;

“Especially when it’s super fuzzy!” uses this: font-size: 24px; padding-bottom: 30px; font-family: Georgia, serif;color: #000; text-shadow: 0px 20px 5px #fff;

How about using multiple shadows to make an outline?

Fuzzy outline?

“Fuzzy outline?” uses this: font-size: 24px; font-weight: bold;text-decoration: blink; padding-bottom: 30px; font-family: Georgia, serif; color: #000; text-shadow: 0px 20px 1px #000, 0px 20px 3px #fff;

How about some Matrix-style text?

1 0 0 1 0
0 1 0 0 1
0 0 1 1 1
1 1 0 1 0
1 0 0 0 1
0 0 1 0 1
1 1 1 1 0
0 1 0 0 1

The code for this baby is as follows:

<p style=”font-size: 20px; line-height: 24px; letter-spacing: 40px; font-family: Courier, serif; color: #000; text-shadow: 18px 3px 4px #fff, 51px 14px 2px #fff, 90px 8px 3px #fff, 20px 2px 2px #1cf200, 33px 24px 9px #1cf200, 52px 0px 4px #1cf200, 89px 5px 4px #1cf200, -19px 19px 3px #88fa98, 54px 15px 7px #88fa98, 73px 19px 4px #88fa98, -7px 5px 7px #329d42, 88px 9px 4px #329d42, 18px 29px 2px #329d42, 70px 5px 5px #329d42; 16px 5px 9px #329d42;”>1 0 0 1 0 <br /> 0 1 0 0 1<br /> 0 0 1 1 1<br /> 1 1 0 1 0<br /> 1 0 0 0 1<br /> 0 0 1 0 1<br /> 1 1 1 1 0<br /> 0 1 0 0 1<br /></p>

Incidentally, if you are using Internet Explorer (or Firefox pre-3.1), you probably don’t see any shadow effects, and in fact just see a lot of black all of the boxes above. Unfortunately, this means that unless you feel like adding some CSS hacks to add a font-color just for IE, text-shadow isn’t at useful as it could be. Hopefully IE will start supporting text-shadow sometime soon.

The long drive back from Tennessee

So, last Wednesday night we ended up leaving for Nashville at about 2 in the morning. Errr, we left for Nashville early Thursday morning (somehow, it doesn’t seem to be the next day until the sun actually starts rising). I drove first shift, and got to see a fabulous sunrise in Kansas before attempting to conk out in the folded down backseat of Drew’s car. There’s enough room for a person to stretch out and sleep, but it doesn’t work so well when the car is driving and I’m used to a glorious mattress. We got to Nashville at 11:00 central time. Unfortunately for us, most of the people there were East Coast elitists, so they had just finished watching the ball drop when we went inside, declared it a new year, and went to bed. New Year’s Central Time went unnoticed, and we were conked out in bed by the time Mountain Time New Years happened.

Now here’s something I’m curious about: New York has the ball drop and all, but what about the other time zones? Seems to be that Chicago should have a ball drop for the Central time zone, Denver for the Mountain time zone, and I suppose Seattle for the Pacific time zone. Don’t let New York get all the glory! I’d suggest more southern cities, but it seems that people have this idea that the holidays should be all gobbed up with snow, even though many parts of the US don’t see snow around the holidays at all. However, I’m open to a ball drop in .

We were there 2.5 days, whereupon I received stuff and ate stuff and hung out with Drew’s relations. We decided to split up the drive back into two parts, and ended up getting a motel room in Topeka after having eaten some incredibly delicious BBQ in Missouri earlier. I need to either make or get ahold of some St. Louis style BBQ sauce, as it’s really good. I’m a sucker for some sweet and smoky. We might have driven further that night, but at some point the roads got slushy, then icy, and it would have been a waste. It’s interesting to observe weather driving west. It was really cold in Nashville with no snow, bitterly cold in Topeka with bunches of snow, and the further west we drove across Kansas the warmer it got, and it’s gonna hit close to 50 in Denver today.

Incidentally, next time we’ve got this kind of distance to go, we’re gonna try to fly instead. Driving is fun if you aren’t really familiar with the route so much, but we’ve both seen the 430 mile stretch on I-70 across Kansas waaay more then we need to at this point.

And here’s a few thoughts on hotels. I like nicer hotels, but only if someone else is totally covering it. As Drew and I were splitting the tab, we stayed at a Motel 6. In terms of cheap hotels/motels, it often seems better to choose chains over non-chains. With non-chains it’s questionable as to how livable the room will actually end up being. However, it doesn’t matter much for that chain if whoever stays there thinks it sucks, as they’re just passing through and so repeat business isn’t too much of a concern. So, if they’re sheisty or lazy, they can get away with lower standards. However, staying at a chain place, there’s a possibility that you’ll continue to visit their other locations when you travel. Thus, the Motel 6 was as bare-bones as the price suggested, but had the benefit of being appropriately clean and not being sketchy.

We got back last night around 8:30, and Estha was super glad to see us. We now have giant piles of crap sitting everywhere which we should probably deal with at some point. Also, so much junk food. My goal is to not eat it all today. Incidentally, my New Year’s resolution is to not gain too much weight. Screw losing weight. And screw not gaining weight. I’ve accepted the fact that, every winter, I put on lbs. Conversely, every summer, I lose those lbs. All I want is to not gain so many lbs that my bras stop fitting, as that is a royal pain. Mind you, I’ve got summer bras and winter bras for this precise purpose, but when I start outgrowing the winter bras things start getting really pissy for me.

Anyhow, we scored a giant bag of miniature candy (kisses and teeny Reeses cups and such), which pleases the little Martha Stewart part of me as it means we have stuff to put in our candy dish for the next month or so. Incidentally, we decided that we’re gonna keep our Christmas tree and lights up until the beginning of February. See, I get depressed in the winter. I think the excitement of the holidays helps, but January is generally pretty bleak. So, I shall experiment with leaving bonus Xmas light cheer up, to see if that combats seasonal affective disorder type issues.

And on a final note, today is Drew’s and my 4 year anniversary, yay! Unfortunately, Drew is currently passed out in bed with whatever disease he picked up on this trip. We’ll be hitting the Macaroni Grill later for anniversary dinner, whereupon I will gorge myself on sea life and exciting beverages. Until then, I will hang out with Drupal and try to figure out what the heck to get Drew for our anniversary that he hasn’t already received over this long holiday season.