Well, whaddya know... I wrote another story.

I had been planning to start my "restitution" for my speeding ticket (i.e. the Defensive Driving class) on Friday, but Clarice's dinner upset my schedule. I didn't want to do everything on Saturday, so I postponed the event and ended up with a fairly free weekend.

Incidentally, what I'm planning to do is the video DD class. You rent a video from Blockbuster, costs about $40 for three days, but that includes a test at the end which is state-certified to issue a Defensive Driving certificate. Seems to me a better deal than the class I took before, which was hard to schedule, with an instructor who was really pretty clueless. Not that I'm doing the class for anything other than getting the certificate to dismiss my ticket, but that earlier class was really a waste of time.

Which is why I was planning to start Friday, with the video, and finish sometime yesterday.

Anyway, I mentioned the Story That I Will Not Talk About (yet). My new story, The Delivery suggested itself while I was working on that one. And I've been working up to something like this for a while, playing games with characters' ages in the last several stories, starting with Babysitter.

So, now, you had a new story at the end of last month, two this, and one pending but subject to clarification. I don't want to hear any gripes about not having any new work on the site if I take a couple of months' break from writing :-) I have some other ideas I want to think about, and having short stories running around in my head might get in the way.


Brian handed in his notice today. It certainly did come as a shock to Andy. He was grilled this afternoon by Andy, Terry and Ken. It was painful, he said. And he was surprised that they were so concerned, there are plenty of other engineers, but I guess he has a lot of company know-how in that pretty head.

So, the day was a little tense, but it's done with.

Our company policy is to keep resignations secret - or at least very low key, only announcing them the day before they're effective. I guess the idea is that we don't have a lot of time to discuss the state of the hiring market or problems with the company, and there's no reason for the employee who's leaving to be seen to have a short-timer's attitude. So Brian will be working on his current project as normal for the next two weeks. Which will be strange for him... and for me, since I have just that time left of him being around at work, and I can't take advantage of it, since no-one else will know that anything's up.

His last day will be January 28, and I'm sure Andy will invite all the engineers to lunch, but that won't happen until the day before.

Jill replied to my email. Seems that she did enjoy meeting me, and does want for us to stay in touch.


Terry called me into his office this morning. I had a feeling it would be about Brian quitting, and I wasn't especially happy. Our relationship should have nothing to do with the company. What he does is between him and them.

Sure enough, that was the topic, and I explained my feelings emphatically.

"The thing is," he said, "I'm concerned that there is a personal issue here. Not about Brian, perhaps... but I'm concerned that others could be affected."

I didn't say anything, I had no clue what he was leading up to.

"I heard," he continued, "that there was some unpleasantness at the Christmas party. I wondered if it influenced Brian's decision."


I wanted to ask who had told him, but that wasn't a fair question. It wouldn't have been Darrell, or he wouldn't be thinking in terms of unpleasantness towards Brian. Unless Darrell did say something and Terry's insightful enough to read between the lines. Which he would be, I think, but still, it seems more likely that someone overheard their argument.

I shook my head. "No, it didn't. I can answer that with a good amount of confidence, because at the time Brian was really steamed. So much so that he knew he had to put the events behind him before he could make a decision."

"So he was already thinking about leaving?"

"Yes, he was. That night didn't start him on the path, and I think it's fair to say that he'd have made the same decision."

He frowned. "Okay. I'll trust you on that. How did it happen?"

"What, the... ugly situation?"


"May I ask what you know? It was personal, and I wouldn't want you to think I was making an issue of it."

"I heard that he and Darrell were yelling at each other. That it looked very ugly for a time."

Even more likely that Darrell wasn't his source. I nodded. "That's about it. Brian walked away rather than punch him. I've never seen him so angry."

"What were they fighting about?"

"That's personal," I said, but I could feel myself coloring.



"And you'd say Darrell instigated it?"

"I know he did. Because he was continuing exactly what he'd been doing with me a few minutes earlier."

"Oh. Shit. I didn't know about that."

I shrugged. "He seems to have fixated on me somehow, Terry. I ignore him, I'm not sure what else I can do. His being socially objectionable doesn't seem to affect my work here."

"Do you know if he has treated anyone else the same way?"

"No, I don't. I don't think IT is a great environment to work in right now, but I'm not in that group, and I don't know how much is his management style. You should talk to Susie. I'm not in a position to give you feedback, nor to complain about any work-related activities of his. I don't like him. That really isn't a company problem."

"I'll talk to Susie. I know that this is difficult for you, but I want you to come to me if anything else happens. I'd hate to lose you, too."

"Thanks, Terry, I appreciate that."

I went for lunch with Brian. He thinks he knows who probably reported his conflict to Terry. He denies that they were yelling, though :-)


We're sitting outside watching the moon. Tonight is the night of the lunar eclipse. Brian has brought a pair of binoculars, and we've carried a couple of folding chairs into the yard.

It would be perfect if this was a warm night, and we could warm up the spa, but I'm shivering in my jacket. In fact, I think I'll go get a heavy coat...

Half of the moon is dark now, and every time I look, the light side is a little smaller.

I'm using the time to answer some more email. I'm almost caught up now.

During the day if I come out here the birds are always singing, even at this time of year. House finches and cardinals regularly visit the bird feeder, and we have song sparrows in one nest box (regular English sparrows in the others). The goldfinches vanished while I was away over Christmas, and didn't have any seed out, but I'm sure they'll be back.

Right now, though, there's a dog barking constantly, just over the fence.

My cannas are all brown and withered, of course. Next summer I'm sure they'll be even lovelier than last year, if I can water them. I'd like to plant some sweet smelling flowers, though. I don't have anything planted for scent, just for color. There's a small flower bed beside the spa, I think I'll put some petunias there.

Now the last edge of brightness has disappeared. Brian gave me the binoculars to see it clearly. The light side of the moon is blue-tinged, and the whole moon is visible in colors from the pale bluish-white through reddish-gold to dull brown. When there was still even a small amount lit, the dark part wasn't visible, now it's clear. It's strange to see the shape of the moon, though, looking darker than the stars around it.

It seems to have shrunk, too. It looks smaller than a bright full moon.

Brian wants to stay out here until the other side begins to get light, but I'm getting cold. I think I'll go warm the bed up for him...


Brian didn't come to bed until about midnight, by which time I was sound asleep. He was so cold, though, that he woke me, enough to try to warm him up by holding him... by the time I woke completely we were both beyond needing any extra warmth. This morning my back was a little sore. I think I twisted something before I had fully awakened last night.

I noticed after uploading last night's entry that the "Last Updated" date was today, even though the notebook's clock said that it was still yesterday. I'm beginning to really dislike FrontPage. It was a quick way to get each of these web folders put together, but I'm finding the irritations are outweighing the advantages. It does not generate good HTML code, "Daydreaming" looks pretty horrible in some browsers.

Besides, the twice-monthly updates are tedious. That isn't FrontPage's problem, but if I'm going to keep "Daydreaming" around for a while longer, I really should switch to using a script.

I rented the Defensive Driving video tonight. Looks like the procedure is more complex than I had expected, but I guess they have to know that it's really me taking the tests at the end of each section.

I'll do the first one tonight.


I started working on the Defensive Driving video and my new Daydreaming script simultaneously. The video's coming along better than the script, since it's taking more attention than I expected... but at least working on the script means I can get it started. There is always more interesting work to do than start a programming project... but once I've gotten past the "is this worth the effort" phase, I'm good about keeping up.

So far I have a good start on the navigation. I need the script to automatically figure out which Daydreaming sections exist, so that it can create the links automatically. Otherwise, there isn't much point; manually updating the links between sections when I create a new section is the hard (and most error-prone) part of the process now, and the one that makes the script project worthwhile. Keeping the entries in simple text files will be good, but that is less important.

I haven't done much scripting since I moved out of IT, so working on this for myself is kinda refreshing.

The way the video works, I watch one section, then call a toll-free number to answer questions. The first time I did that, last night, it panicked me... the first question they asked was about a name of a character in the video. I didn't even realize it was a multiple-choice question, and I had no clue... but then the guy started reeling off names, and I recognized one. Still, until I was through answering all of the questions, I didn't know what was going on. It was only after I'd hung up the phone that I figured it out.

All the other questions were about driving. The first one was to verify I'd watched the video, to eliminate the possibility I was answering questions from general knowledge. Anyway, I went to bed after that, and carried on this morning.

Currently I'm halfway through. In fact, I still have to answer questions about the last section, but they insist on me not being able to call back before a certain time, to be sure I have time to watch the whole section and take a break. (State-mandated, apparently.) I was through too early, so I figured I'd add today's entry...

And I'm not in a great hurry to get to the next section. Terry called earlier; Ken has scheduled a meeting of managers this afternoon about scheduling. He apologized for asking me to come in to work today, but claims this is important. So after I answer my next set of questions, I'll relax with some tea and head in.

Clarice wants to take us out for a drink this evening. If I have time to do one more section, we'll go. The tape must go back tomorrow.

Later: Another ten-minute pause before I can call to answer questions. Then we'll be going to Clarice's.

It turns out that our current beta program has been very successful in terms of not finding problems; not so successful in meeting a major customer's schedule. Management decided at a late meeting last night that we'd try to pull in the release schedule. To mid-March.

It's possible, at least on the software side, though I think there will be some long hours for the next few weeks. Andy's less sanguine about hardware. I suggested bonuses for making the schedule; Ken said they'd been considering that.

Darrell was there, but he ignored me, which suits me fine.

I got back at three-thirty, in plenty of time to finish section #4 and still get to Clarice's.

Time to answer questions...


Clarice claims she's now our permanent designated driver, since she no longer touches anything alcoholic. It's strange to think of her as permanently sober... but then, Clarice never needed to drink to be as crazy as she wants to be.

Of course, I felt her stomach, and it did seem tighter. I took Brian's hand to have him do the same, and Clarice made a purring noise when he touched her.

So she really hasn't changed.

Rob figured out insurance, he can cover her, and they found an OB/GYN on his approved list who a friend of hers knows and likes. They see her together next week.

The new daydreaming scripts are almost complete. I'm missing a few important navigation links, but the journal pages themselves look good. I'm writing this entry just in a text file and I'll upload it and see how it works... though I'll move it back to the current journal. Unfortunately, FrontPage has been refusing to recognize when text files have changed, so I will have to abandon it for uploads. The program must have recognized that I'm trying to bypass it and is taking its revenge :-)

I have one more section to complete in the defensive driving video, then I have a final (long) answer session, which I guess is the one the state is interested in.

I scored 100% on the final test in the video course, so I guess I passed :-) Now back to Blockbuster, where there's some final paperwork.

And you've probably noticed a different look and feel to "Daydreaming". Well, it's done, it's all script-driven, and much easier for me to maintain. But it's still "Version 1.0" :-), so please let me know if you find any bugs.


I'm depressed.

It looks like one of the Internet's pioneering sites has finally been shut down.

"The Spot" hasn't been active for a couple of years now, the experiment of being an on-line soap-opera having already failed, but the site still existed, with all the original diary entries, photographs, fan mail and BBSs, until very recently. But today I checked, and it seems to be completely gone.

Perhaps it's simply fallen off its name server, but I'm guessing it's a more serious problem than that. I had figured that the site still received enough visits that the advertising support would keep the archive alive, at least.

I was never a major fan, not like some netizens who seemed to have all the addiction to "The Spot" that some have to daytime TV soaps. In fact, I don't think I even visited the site until after it won infi.net's 1995 "Cool Site of the Year" award. But I checked in occasionally, fascinated with the way the writers developed relationships within and without the primary cast. I was sick when Tara Hartwick was written out of the series, and I still think the site would have been around at least a little longer if they had found something more interesting to do with her than kill her off.

So, visiting "The Spot" may not have been the most intellectual of experiences, but the site itself was a part of Internet history. Inspiring, among other things, this journal... had it not been for the voyeuristic experience of seeing into the lives of those young people - fictional though they may have been - I would probably never have developed an interest in other online journals. And I think many of those journals may not have existed, or have taken different forms, had "The Spot" not introduced the concept.

Five years between "Cool Site of the Year" and disconnection. A long time in Internet terms, but not long enough. I want history to stay, not to be discarded just because it isn't bringing in enough revenue.

Thinking of time... this month marks two years that my site has been online. Two years since finishing The Trade Show and In-Laws. Two years... I'm not sure when I started whether I believed I'd still be maintaining the site, or whether I thought it would be a fun idea which would probably fizzle. I'm not absolutely certain even now that I know that.

Next month the journal will be a year old...

Next week is Brian's twenty-sixth birthday. How did he become such an essential part of my life in just... Sheesh, there's another anniversary. March will be one year after our first date. I'm sure I can find something suitable to mark that occasion... but I have no clue what to do for his birthday.

And only a year ago, I was young, single, and planning to stay both forever. What happened?

A few days ago, just after we found out about Clarice's pregnancy, Brian needed keys for the car, and I told him to dig mine out of my purse. While he was digging around in there, he found the condoms I've always kept in there, and wanted to know why I still had them.

There's no reason, of course. But it's hard to imagine not having the "safety net" I've carried with me for years. I guess it's just superstition, really, but it's like leaving the house without my watch. I feel uncomfortable all day, like I'm indecently dressed.

Anyway, I explained that to Brian, but I put them in my nightstand. I still feel strange, knowing they're not there. I'm sure I'll get used to not having them with me, and I know I don't need them. And I never have quite enough space in my purse.

But, it got me thinking...

About Rob and Clarice, and how they won't need them now, either. Rob won't have any problems, having (I assume) been monogamous since marrying Pam, and Clarice will be having blood tests anyway (probably Wednesday at the doctor's). Which started me thinking about the baby...

"Oh, damn," I said to Brian. "I just thought of something funny. Well, not funny, really, sad, I guess, but amusing too."

"What's that?"

"Wait a moment," I said. I called Clarice, and asked for Rob.

"Tell me something," I asked him, "what are you gonna tell Mom?"

I heard Brian make a startled noise, while Rob answered, "Don't remind me."

"I just thought about it," I said.

I had sent my mother a card and gift before we went to see Brian's family. She'd sent me a card - no gift, of course, I'll be expected to go see her for that, which I'm unlikely to do. Beyond that, I really hadn't thought about her.

"If she goes crazy because I'm living with someone," I said, "imagine what she's going to be like when she find out that you got herself pregnant. And you're not even planning to get married..."

"I know," he said, "I know. Believe me, I've thought about it. I'll have to tell her. Soon."

"I don't envy you." But, then, she has always been more receptive to Rob's arguments than mine. He'll probably be okay.

Rob has ever doubted the problems I have with my mother; he has them himself. But I feel like I've gained something more of an ally in any future conflicts with her.


I saw the most spectacular sunset this evening. The western sky was full of tiny clouds, and they glowed brilliant orange with ruffles of dark gray up to 30 degrees or more from the horizon. With faint radiating spokes throughout. I've seen some great sunsets, but this may have been the best ever.

It's cold now. Freezing yesterday, maybe about forty today, after seventy-odd over the weekend. What I said on wasn't true. I noticed on Saturday that my cannas may have dead stems, but they each have several inches of new growth.

I think that's a problem. Because when it freezes (Sunday night was only slightly below freezing, not a hard freeze) I'm afraid they're going to die. I will be very disappointed if they don't make it into this summer.

I've started work on another story. I know, I said I wouldn't. This grew out of a suggestion by a reader, and a desire I've had for a while to do another office seduction story. I like the concept, but it seems to be taking a time to come together.

Last night I was reading through some of my older Daydreaming entries, looking for problems with the new script. I noticed a lot of errors, but they were spelling mistakes and grammar goofs in the original version. I've fixed them now, but some sections were barely understandable.


Clarice called. Her doctor's visit went well.

Her doctor is pleased that Rob plans to stay involved. I guess most unmarried pregnant women - and many married ones - go through the experience alone.

She did a family history chart for both of them, went through the risks, and figures that at their ages the chance of there being a problem is low. Especially since Rob already has two healthy children. She thinks its unlikely that she'll recommend an amnio, but she would be doing ultrasounds, and if Clarice didn't want to know the sex of the baby, she'd better say so right now.

Clarice doesn't. Rob is okay either way, since he already has one of each. He didn't want to know the sex of the first one (which turned out to be Eric), but Pam insisted. So perhaps this is his only chance for a surprise, too.

Anyway, Clarice seems almost calm about the situation now.

We're supposed to have a freeze tonight, with freezing rain and sleet likely. I may not be going to work tomorrow. I hope it's back to normal Friday, though, 'cause that's Brian's last day at the office.


I drove us to work in Brian's Range Rover. One of the few days four-wheel drive has been of benefit... the roads were slippery, though not frozen. Still, they closed the office around noon, because schools were closing and snow and sleet were being forecast. It looks like the weather will be worse tomorrow, and Brian will miss his official last day.

Andy sent email telling everyone that Brian was leaving, and hoping we could hold a belated goodbye lunch for him next week or the one after if we can't do it tomorrow.

I've finished another story. It's called Taking Liberties.

I've been wanting to do an office co-workers story, as I said, and email from a reader gave me the background I was looking for. "My ultimate fantasy," he writes, "has always been to be seduced by that conservative woman in the office. The one who is always business first, but dresses in those tight business suits in the power colors."

Which isn't exactly what I wrote. But that's the way most of my writing works, an idea suggests a story that's somewhat related to but not the same as the original idea. Gwen's conservatism is obviously more of a facade than the real thing, and I'm not sure that my reader will be completely satisfied with the story... but I thank him for the idea anyway :-)

I was over halfway through when I realized I was distancing myself from the story. Not deliberately, just that the way that I was writing seemed so. That was what was not working, and for the first time in almost two years I switched to using the present tense for immediacy. I hope I caught all the tense errors, if not, please let me know.

On the drive home, inspiration struck. I know what I'm going to get Brian for his birthday. And how to make it more special than just a bought gift...

I'll need Clarice's help, and I'll need to get him out of the house for a time.

Perhaps because of the ice today, and the difficulty of finding food, the goldfinches have returned. Not too many today, but now they're back, they'll bring their friends...

Lots of house finches, though. More than I've ever seen. Maybe a dozen males gathering on the various feeders and in the trees around. Safflower attracts house finches (and goldfinches, though the bird seed store people don't believe me about that :-) and cardinals, but not sparrows. I love to watch the house finches, they have such a lovely red coloring around the head, and sharp markings over their wings like the goldfinches. They're much more territorial than goldfinches, it seems... there can be as many male goldfinches as will fit on the small thistle seed feeder, but no more than one male house finch on each side of the bigger feeders.


No school or office closings. It did get cold last night, but enough of yesterday's snow and slush had thawed, and we didn't get the predicted freezing rain and snow flurries, so the roads were passable.


The freeway was a mess, because all the bridges were iced over, but we took an alternate route, which took not much longer than my regular commute. Others were delayed up to an hour.

So we did have a farewell lunch for Brian. Mainly engineers, but a few of the software people. None of the IT group, which surprised me. We went to an Indian restaurant, where they have a very good (and reasonably priced) lunch buffet.

I spent most of the lunch talking to Mary. I haven't seen her outside the office since before Christmas, at lunch. She and her boyfriend have parted company. Not too surprising, I guess, given the blow-up over my car.

She wanted to know how I would feel without Brian around. I told her I knew I'd miss him, but we don't spend much time together now, mainly just the commute. I think that's what I'll like the least. I hate both the morning and evening drives. At least they were tolerable with Brian along.

Last night, Brian made me put on my coat and join him outside.

Our neighbors, the elderly couple whose dog died, have a crape myrtle tree in their front yard. Crape myrtles have very smooth wood, and this had collected ice in the day's sleet and freezing rain. Well, so had many trees, in fact we had several trees and large limbs collapse in our neighborhood.

But this one, with the ice so evenly spread out, and such thin, smooth branches underneath, looked like a tree made of glass. There's a street light very close, which enhanced the effect, making the tree glow like crystal.

It would have been better seen by the light of a full moon, I guess, rather than a street light, but all the same, it was an amazing sight. I should have tried to photograph it, but the breeze would probably have blurred the result too much anyway.


I've rewritten a story. I've been thinking about doing this for months. It's a small change, but a very significant one, and one which quite honestly was the way I originally wanted to write it, but chickened out.

It's The Hostess.

If you re-read it, the change will be obvious. I fixed some minor flaws, too... I'm always surprised at how many errors I fail to catch, but the big change is just that - a big change. Even though it's only in a couple of lines of dialog.

My problem with the new version... and why I chickened out in the first place... is I don't want for the language to be the "thin end of the wedge". I've often failed to be accurate here in my journal, especially with Clarice's language, for the same reason... and because the journal itself doesn't suffer if I moderate what she says, as long as the meaning comes across. I don't remember conversations verbatim anyway, so why not change wording that might distract?

That's my problem with it, primarily. Strong language and explicit imagery, if it isn't directly contributing to the story, tends to pull the reader back from it. I don't want a Beavis and Butthead reaction to the language, when I'm trying to focus on the sexual tension. So I've avoiding using, for example, the "F" word, because it breaks up the flow. (Writers call "fuck" the "F-bomb", because of the effect it has.)

But it's possible also that avoiding the imagery detracts badly from the story. And in the case of The Hostess, it did. Since I first conceived the story, I knew exactly what I wanted it to do, and I've always been disappointed with the result; not that I didn't think it worked, but that I did think it lost a lot of the power I'd imagined.

If you're interested in comparing the changes, the original version is online here.

I had a bizarre dream this morning. I was some kind of secret agent, flying into a former Soviet-bloc country. I had a bomb in my briefcase. God knows what I was supposed to do when I got there, but worrying about the bomb was making me late for my flight... Fortunately Brian woke me then with tea.

Not the basis for any kind of story I'd want to write. Not for this site, anyway. (Some ideas have suggested themselves in dreams, but not ones I can really use here. One day I may take all the notes I've accumulated and turn them into a novel.)

Anyway, it's getting close to time to meet Clarice. I'm kicking Brian out of the house today, sending him over to spend the day with Rob, while Clarice and I go shopping. And then come back here to put the finishing touches on Brian's birthday gift.

I'm tired, this was a busy day. We're all done, though, and Clarice and I had a lot of fun with our preparations...


My cannas look distinctly wilted :-( I do hope they survive.

I spent far too long today browsing Rose McCaine's site. I haven't mentioned Rose here, but we've been trading mail for a couple of months now, and I added a link to her site a few weeks back.

Rose was somehow inspired by my journal, and she started keeping her own, originally to cover the millennium, but she seems to be finding the process as addictive as I, and doesn't want to put it down. She doesn't hold back in her journal, it's frank, and it's fun. I recommend checking it out.

Rose recently added some of her own erotic fiction, and I like it. She shared it with me before she put it online, and I feel very privileged. When I first wrote in the link "No erotic fiction - yet?!" I really intended for the "yet" to be taken ironically; that I recommend the site even without erotic fiction, but I knew Rose would see the double meaning, that I was dropping hints to her :-) Well, she rose to the challenge, and you can read three lovely stories there now. She has more in work.

And I love her husband's reaction to my stories Camping Out and Taking Liberties. I think I'd like to meet him sometime... :-)

Just kidding, Rose... if I were ever to try to contact him, I wouldn't tell you first :-) Besides, if you're mid-20's, I guess he's a similar age, and I don't go for younger guys. (Studiously ignoring the fact that Brian turns twenty-six tomorrow).

As I've hinted, I'm reconsidering my decision to abandon the journal in February. Part of the reason is, I believe, the same as Rose's; that I'm hooked on doing this.

Mary mentioned something today that set me thinking. There's a house - quite near to me - which is a big, old house, in huge landscaped grounds. It has been opened as a place to hold parties, wedding receptions and such.

She went to a friend's engagement party there recently. Except it wasn't an engagement party, it was a wedding. She had suspected the couple was going to do that, but no-one really knew until the minister showed up about 8pm and married them.

I've never seen the place, but she says it is beautiful - I should see if they have June 3 available. Though - God. Getting married is scary enough. But getting married on the day I turn thirty?