Projecting

I don’t know if it’s the cooler weather or the school schedule, but I’ve begun feeling project-ish lately. I suddenly have lists of things that I want to do. In the interests of organizing my thinking on them I’m going to catalog them in here.

The biggest project is the one which will enable many of the other projects. We’re going to shift Howard out of the Dungeon Office Of Doom. The current office which Howard and I share is a windowless basement room. The space is crammed full of two workspaces and cluttered with papers and books. Half a flight of stairs upward we have a guest room with a window.

We’ve decided that leaving a room empty for guests who are only here a few weeks out of the year may be hospitable, but it isn’t a good use of space. Howard is going to get that room. He’ll get access to actual daylight whil he is working. My computer stays in the basement, but I get the whole rest of the dungeon room to set up as I please. It’ll have the futon for guests, shelves full of books, and a big table upon which I can spread out a project and leave it for a week without anybody spilling food on it or moving things around.

I’m excited about this move. It’s going to happen this Saturday while Howard is out of town so that his buffer productivity won’t be impacted. I’ve already drafted the help I’ll need for it. I’m dreading moving Howards big drawing table though.

Other Projects:
2004 Tayler Family Scrapbook
“Who Was Grandpa/Grandma Tayler” books
Howard Childhood photo book
Sandra Childhood photo book
painting & sewing Road & River blanket for Patches Christmas.
sew stuffed Dragon for my mom for Christmas
see if Microwaving Pressed Flowers really works
actually put together some of those puzzles gathering dust
sort and re-organize games shelves
clean up my bedroom
plant tulip bulbs when they arrive
repaint and decorate kid’s bathroom
finish the story I’ve been working on

I’m sure there are more, but those are the ones in the front of my brain right now. For today I need to be cleaning up so that Saturday’s move can go smoothly.

Rites of Passage

We had a rite of passage around here today.  Kiki got her ears pierced.  She’s wanted it done since she was about 5.  My parents wouldn’t let me get mine done until I was 12, so my first reaction was to make her wait until 12.  But when I sat down and tried to figure out “Why 12?” I found my back brain mumbling something about “responsibility” and “old enough”.  I realized what I really wanted was for her to be responsible enough to take care of the holes and earrings herself without any intervention from me.  I decided that when she was consistently taking care of her hair and fixing it every day without my help, that would demonstrate adequate levels of responsibility. 

I told Kiki this and from age 5 to age 9 she had sporadic days where she tried to earn her earrings.  Then about a month ago I realized it had been months sinced I’d brushed Kiki’s hair.  It looked nice, so I had to assume that she’d been doing it by herself.  I brought it up with Howard and double checked that he was alright with his daughter having holes in her earlobes. He was fine with it.  In fact he was the one who took her out to lunch and to the mall to get her ears pierced. 

Kiki is extremely delighted with the ear rings.  Far more delighted now than she would have been had I simply taken her after her first request.  She earned the right to wear those ear rings. 

I swear I didn’t intentionally plan it this way 4 years ago, but now I really really like the fact that she has a physical reminder that responsibility brings priveledges.  This is such an important message to teach children because we live in a society which believes in entitlement.  All forms of media preach it every day and if kids can’t see in their own lives that we get what we earn, then they’ll believe the hype.  Wow, that got preachy.

Anyway, Kiki has ear rings and they look beautiful on her.  And I feel wistful and nostalgic because my “baby” is growing up so fast and now she has her ears pierced. 

Business and Opportunity Cost

I’ve been musing on Opportunity Costs lately.  Opportunity Cost is a term that I learned in my high school economy class.  Opportunity Cost basically means that anything you get requires you to give up something else.  The Opportunity Cost of buying a new stereo is that you are unable to buy a new computer.  The Opportunity Cost of watching a movie is that you’re unable to spend the time playing with kids, or reading a book, or anything else with that time.

I’m pretty convinced that the simplest way to have a happy life is to make sure that the value of the things you choose to do, buy, have, be, outweighs the accompanying opportunity costs. Unfortunately that isn’t always easy to do.  Sometimes the thing we get isn’t happy even though the opportunity cost is much worse.  Getting to stay at an unpleasant job doesn’t make us happy even though unemployment is worse.

This has been on my brain as Howard and I make plans to get from where we are (Employed by Novell, frequently stressed, Schlock barely paying for itself) to where we want to be (Schlock paying for the family, Howard home more, actual free time).  There are large, carefully laid plans for getting us from here to there.  We don’t talk about these plans much because sometimes talking about them would break them.  People ask why there isn’t more merchandise, they ask why don’t we do this thing, or why on earth we did that thing.  Mostly I don’t answer because the answer involves a treatise on economics and Good Business Practice which they didn’t ask for and probably don’t want to listen to anyway.

Howard and I have been running a business for over 10 years.  It has never been a profitable business and the goals of the business have changed significantly, but we’ve learned a lot.  We’ve learned how to be professional.  We’ve learned how to properly account for the money and inventory.  We’ve learned what things we can do for ourselves and when the best solution is to develop relationships with other businesses.  Schlock is building slowly and merchandise is coming slowly because we are making sure that we don’t go running out on a limb and swamp the business with expenses that will kill it.  We went down that road before when we were doing music.  I don’t want to go there again.

It’s all about opportunity costs.  Every penny that goes into shirt production can’t go into book productions.  Which will sell better?  Probably books.  But to prep the book takes time.  Time to find a publisher and distributor.  Time to put the book together.  Every slice of time that goes into Schlock production doesn’t go into Novell, or Family, or relaxation.  Time must be parcelled out carefully or things fall apart.  It is all pretty delecately balanced and trying to move faster will send things crashing and breaking.

Moving slowly when I want to run is incredibly frustrating.  I’m here and I want to be there.  I want to be there right now

The Phantom of the Opera

Early in my college career Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical play The Phantom of the Opera came into focus for me.  It had been camped on Broadway for months and had expanded to a theater in LA.  Both locations were selling out regularly.  I became interested in the play because of a roommate who’d seen it and loved it.  I listened to her soundtrack, bought the soundtrack, read the original book, bought the original book, looked through books about the creation of the play, and finally convinced my family to go and see it while we were in LA for a trip to Disneyland.  I loved it, but became convinced that my family members were phlistines because they didn’t properly appreciate it. (I’ve revised this opinion since).  Then my life moved on and I haven’t spent much of the intervening 11 years thinking about phantoms or operas.

Then the other day I was browsing a movie trailer site and saw a trailer labeled Phantom of the Opera.  I clicked and discovered to my surprise that the artistic wrangling over the creation of a movie based on Webbers’ play had been worked through, and the film will come out in theaters this December.  I’m going to be there.  I looked at who they picked for the major parts and the faces look right to me.  The images in the trailer looked beautiful.  I figure the probability that they failed to capture the glory of the play is pretty high, but the nostalgia alone is worth $4.50 (I do matinees).

This morning I pulled out my dusty copy of the Phantom Soundtrack and listened to it while I cleaned the kitchen.  By “listened” I mean “sang along at the top of my voice.”  I love being able to match the high notes in beautiful songs although a few of the highest notes were only reachable by screeching.  I screeched away joyfully.  No one who can tell on me is within hearing range.  Gleek and Patches seemed to take the performance in stride and just went on with their day. 

Now I’m wanting to get the highlights soundtrack for Les Miserables which was really popular at the same time, but which I never acquired the soundtrack for.  I used to be able to sing those songs by heart, but I’ve forgotten most of the words now.  While I’m at it I might pick up the soundtrack for Chicago, that movie was absolutely fantastic and I want to learn those songs.  Unfortunately I just tightened up the budget so no splurging for me today.  I’ll just have to stick them on my Amazon.com wish list and look forward to Christmas.  Perhaps my local library has them.  For now I’m going to go pop in the second disc of Phantom and go fold some laundry.

Castle in the Sky

I just watched Castle in the Sky with my kids and Howard.  None of us had seen it before.  It was fantastic.  It is the only Anime movie that I’ve ever seen where I outright loved all of it.  Kiki’s Delivery Service is cute, but the pacing feels off and I didn’t get wrapped up in the story.  Ditto My Neighbor Totoro.  I’ve grown to love both, but didn’t love them right away.  The other anime that I’ve seen is beautifully drawn, but all of the stories failed to engage me.  It is entirely possible that I’ve just missed all of the good stuff.  (Feel free to recommend some, but be aware that I’m not keen on graphic violence or sex even animated.)

Castle in the Sky was an instant hit with all of us.  Gleek kept making delighted exclaimations throughout the movie. (“The robot is their friend!”)  Link and Kiki were enraptured.    All three kids wanted to watch the movie again right away.  After I refused to allow an imediate re-showing, the kids all engaged in a delightful discussions about whether it would be possible for a tree to grow up in the sky.  Kiki and Gleek both asserted that it was.  Kiki said the tree needed something floating to grow on.  Gleek said it only needed a blue diamond.  Link was doubtful about this, but agreed that it might work if there was magic involved.  They all went to bed happily musing on castles and crystals and trees and giant robots.

I suspect that the kind friend who loaned us the DVD won’t be getting it back for several weeks. 

Badges

According to Howard if the Red Badge of Courage is Blood, then the Translucent Badge of Motherhood is Snot.

I ponder this while wearing my third shirt for today. If I ever have amnesia I’ll be able to tell that I’m a mother just by looking at my clothes. They’re oldish, stained, washable, easy to move in, and usually “badged”.

Fortunately neither Howard nor the kids seem to care what my clothes look like. Although there have been some times where I’ve wondered what other people think as I look down and realized that I forgot to change before going out in public. If I were a celebrity, there would be tons of paparazzi photos of me looking horrible. So many opportunities for photo taking.

Faith

Sometimes when I consider all of the things that Howard and I have to keep afloat I really don’t know how we do it. And yet we do. The children are fed, bathed, made to do chores, made to do homework, played with, read to, and generally taken care of. Schlock gets scripted, read, drawn, colored, and uploaded. Novell gets it’s share of work and frequently hauls Howard away on trips. The dishes get done, laundry gets washed, folded, put away, floors get swept, carpets get vacuumed, spills get cleaned. All of this on a near daily basis. The conclusion I’ve come to is that the only way the important stuff gets done is by faith.

I don’t talk much about my faith in this journal, but it is an integral part of my daily life. People don’t talk much about air either, but it is always there. As a family we pray and read scriptures daily. We attend church each Sunday. We teach the children about tolerance and God at the same time. I don’t record most of this in my public journal in part because I don’t want to push my religion onto people and in part because it is personal and I don’t want to be arguing or discussing it all the time. I just know that for me faith makes the difference between surviving and thriving.

For the last couple of days I’ve been feeling opressed by all the things that need doing and by Howard’s upcoming travel. This morning after the school rush was over I looked around at the disaster of the house. I contemplated the long day ahead and the day after that and a long stretch of early mornings and frustrating evenings without breaks. All of this weighed on me to the point where I wanted to crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head, and cry. Instead I went to my knees in prayer.

I believe in personal revelation. I believe that God not only listens to prayers, but answers them. I believe that God can give us the strength to carry burdens we could not carry on our own. It happened to me today. I got up from that prayer and went to work. For the first time in weeks (months?) the adjective “clean” can accurately be applied to my kitchen. More importantly I feel optimistic and hopeful rather than oppressed.

Now I just need a nap and the world will be an altogether wonderful place.

Oh Buffer My Buffer. . .

Well, I guess technically it is Howard’s buffer, but it significantly affects my life so I can claim a small slice of ownership. 4 years of experience has taught me that a buffer of 28 days or more puts us in the Happy Zone. At that point there is less ambient buffer stress around the house and Howard starts really enjoying the cartooning and taking time to make it visually prettier. And when he wanders upstairs he is cheerful and refreshed rather than drained and stressed. I love a big buffer.

Unfortunately two weeks from now we are facing the largest and most concentrated buffer-hit we’ve ever had. It begins August 10 and for the following five weeks Howard will only be home for one of them. So instead of enjoying the current buffer of 28, Howard is understress to try to double it in two weeks. Possible, but extremely improbable.

So what I get is pre-trip buffer building stress. Howard gone. Then post-trip buffer building stress. Not a whole lot of happy for me in Howard travelling.

But Novell pays the bills and until such a time that we can dispense with the Novell paycheck it would be dishonest to dodge the work that they pay Howard for. If I keep telling myself that I’ll be happier about the travel right?

Fandemonium Report — Saturday

Saturday morning the kids bounced out of bed around 9 am. I fed them cereal that I’d brought with me. Then we wandered down to watch Daddy in Part I of the Village Idiot’s comedy show. It is unfortunate that Chani and I could not find them a better time slot. They really got shafted because there wasn’t much crowd at that hour of the morning.

The kids all colored a picture for the contest. We saw shiny sharp things in the dealers room and got custom buttons from Hawklady’s button booth.By 11 am I was tired of herding children and Patches was pretty much fed up with the stroller, so we loaded up everything. I wasn’t sleeping there that night, so EVERYTHING had to go. Pi and Discarnate kindly volunteered (or maybe were drafted) to help haul stuff to the car. I drove to my sister’s, unloaded kids, put Patches down for a nap, grabbed a bite to eat, and made it back to the con by 12:15. That meant I missed the first 15 minutes of Hawklady’s panel, but the rest was really fun.

In the time before my panel I determined that unless I took measures my panel wouldn’t get filmed unless I took control of the project. I got a camera from Bizzybody. Then worked out a deal with Discarnate so I filmed his (and Howard’s) Gamemastering panel and he filmed the Women In Gaming panel. I’m really glad that I did. I’m even gladder that we didn’t end up with the camera which recorded no sound. I’m hoping to eventually get a copy of both panels. I don’t know if I ever properly thanked Discarnate for being willing to film. It was very kind of him, especially since there was no tripod and so he had to shoulder the camera for the entire hour.

The Women in Gaming panel which Kreely, Chani, and I shared was really fun. I think I might have talked more than either Chani or Kreely, but hopefully no one felt I was hogging the show. I never intended to, there was just so much to say. It was thrilling to be in a place where I could say things and have fellow panelists or audience memebers respond intelligently.

Then it was time for dinner. Howard had a guest of honor dinner he needed to be available for, so I rounded up company, volunteered to drive and headed out. There were four of us in the group, Me, Vermillion, Chani, and Discarnate. The moment we got to my car I realized I’d made a tactical error. This van had just been through a road trip with four children and lots of crackers. Hurricane Charly couldn’t have made a bigger mess inside. So much for good impressions.

We found a nice little pub restaurant not too far from the hotel and proceeded to have one of the nicest and most relaxing times I had at the con. I don’t remember what we talked about, at least not in detail, but I know it was comfortable instead of awkward. This was a nice surprise because I didn’t have Howard to lean on socially.

We returned to the con just as the dance was beginning. Howard was not back from his dinner yet and I needed a few minutes of quiet time after the various events of the day, so I went and lay down in our room until Howard got back. Then we danced. The dance was industrial, which isn’t my preferred music. We were having fun anyway, then the fire alarm went off. Everybody evacuated, stood around outside, then trooped back inside to continue dancing. Howard arranged for “our song” to be played and we got do dance to it which was a nice late anniversary gift for him to plan for me.

The evening ended hanging out with Kreely, Pi, Chalain, and Liren. It was a good ending for a wonderful con. The con continued on Sunday, but other obligations prevented me from attending any of the events that day. I’m sorry to have missed out on some of the fun, but I was also pretty worn out by that point.

So there’s my “report” on Fandemonium in more detail than most of you care to know.