Catastrophe this morning. I lost the hard disk in my notebook. It got to the login prompt, then started making noises, with the computer hung. I rebooted, and the disk started grinding.

I've ordered a replacement, and I have a fairly recent backup (about a month ago), but in the meantime, I lost all of the updates to my journal, and a lot of the story I've been working on.

Fortunately, the notes for my story are mainly on my Palm Pilot.

One thing I've lost is email. I still have a lot on the server, but I won't know how complete it is until I recover from my month-old backups and retrieve the mail. I'm months behind in answering mail anyway, so if you've written to me and I don't reply this might not be the problem, but if you don't see a reply in a few weeks, email me again.

This was the second, and major, part of a double whammy. Last night in the storm, the power failed a couple of times, and it seems to have messed up the PC I use as a gateway at home. There doesn't seem to be anything wrong with it, other than the fact that it won't boot.


Recovered the notebook - up to September 16, which was my last set of backups. The mail on the server dates back to September 18. So it seems that I've only lost maybe 1-2 days of mail. I'm not even certain that I lost any. But if you emailed me around then, you might resend it... but it's more likely that I did get your mail and just haven't replied yet.

The other machine, my home gateway / firewall, is being much more stubborn. Nothing I do will make it boot. I'm not sure what to do next.


I backed up the gateway machine, and at work yesterday I talked to Larry about it for a while - he offered to lend me his expertise, so he came to my house last night. With Kelly, although I know Larry's married... she said she needed a ride home, and would have been bored, but that wasn't the reason.

Anyway, Larry did no better than me. We finished up reformatting, reinstalling, restoring from tape, and reconfiguring the gateway. Finally finished about 2 a.m. Everything has been looking good all day.

Clarice has invited me over tomorrow night. Tonight I'm just going to get an early night. Late night / early morning just is too hard on me in the middle of the week :-)


Clarice called me at work to suggest I brought an overnight bag. She didn't want me driving home later. So I guess she and/or Rob has laid in something to drink.

I tried to find Larry to ask about some behavior that seems different on my home system, but he wasn't at work. Susie was none too happy about it, he hadn't called, and she hadn't been able to reach him at home.


I'd guessed right; Rob had bought some champagne. André, not the most expensive he could find, but very nice, not too dry. He poured me a glass as soon as I arrived.

Of course, I raised my eyebrows at the gesture. "It's to help us celebrate," he said. Then he added, to Clarice, "Though maybe we should let her drink it now, she might not want to soon..."

Clarice glared at him and told him to shut up.

I figured I knew what was coming, but I waited for one of them to tell me. Rob did. "We're getting married."

Even though I'd expected it, the news still gave me a jolt - a pleasant one. I congratulated them and drank my champagne, then put the glass down and hugged them both for a long time.

Clarice had allowed herself a small glass, she said Mara would complain if she had any more, but she made sure Rob's and my glasses were never empty for the rest of the night. I'm sure drinking champagne with food is not what Miss Manners would recommend, but then, it was more small snacks than a meal, a party for the three of us. Four, I guess, since Mara made a few noisy contributions before Clarice put her to bed.

They're planning to get married at a party. No-one else is going to know beforehand. Well, except Brian... Rob wants him as best man. (He asked me if I had a problem with that; I don't.) And I'll be maid of honor, for what little ceremony there will be. Clarice has already talked to a minister.

I really am pleased for them. They suit each other so well.

Mara woke me some time around two. When I heard Clarice talking to her, I went through to sit with them. She and I talked until well after Mara went back to sleep. Mainly about Rob and her, but about Brian, too. I haven't told her the reasons for the breakup. Not all of them. But I told her I didn't blame him. I don't know if she believed me completely.

The baby woke me again at about six. I was still more groggy than hung over, I think there was still alcohol in my system. I tried to get back to sleep, and I was tired enough to do so, but my head would spin every time I lay down, and finally I gave up.

At seven I decided to call Brian to give him the news. It was early, but I didn't know where he'd be if I left it too late.

Lee answered the phone, sounding about like I felt, and I asked if I could speak to Brian.

"Just a moment," he said, and I heard him stumbling through the house. "He hasn't gotten back yet," he said when he returned to the phone. "When did he leave?"

I was puzzled. "Leave from where?"

"From your place. Wasn't he with you?" He seemed to sound more awake, and maybe worried. "Didn't he arrive last night?"

Now I was thoroughly confused. Brian knew he was welcome to come over to my place, but I couldn't imagine him staying if I wasn't there. "I don't know," I said. "I haven't been home. Why would he..."

There was a pause on the line, then a very alert-sounding Lee asked, "Who is this?"

"It's Helen."

"Oh, fuck," he said, and the line went dead with a sharp crack.

Obviously I couldn't get back to sleep after that. When I realized what had just happened, I barely made it to the bathroom in time, and the noise I made throwing up brought a concerned Clarice to see what was happening. I told her I'd just overdone the champagne - which was true - and that I'd be fine soon. Which was less so.

So I drank plenty of coffee and went home, where I slept for most of the day.

So now, I guess, I know how it feels to be on the other side. Though not in the way Brian did, since he had every reason to expect me to behave as I'd promised. On the contrary, he owes me no commitment at all.

The strange thing is, I don't feel jealous. I was shocked, certainly. So much so that it overcame my abused stomach and made me instantly sick. But not jealous. Disappointed - bitterly disappointed - at what it implies, because I can't believe he'll be back now. I'd love to know who she is, but not because I hate her, or would like to do her harm. I have no claim on him.

One thing I do know, it wasn't Clarice.


Brian's planning to pick up all the rest of his things next weekend. He called this evening to tell me. He doesn't have an apartment yet, sharing with Lee is working out, but he doesn't want to keep disturbing me, he says, so he's rented a small storage unit. Lee and he will come over Saturday.

He says I can keep whatever we bought together, rather than have to argue who owns what, after all, he said, he had saved on rent for the whole period. I think he may not want the reminders, because I don't think I do, either.

He didn't say anything about last weekend, and I didn't bring it up. I'd like to. I think I'd like to, but I don't know how, and I certainly don't want to do it by phone.

We had another engineer quit this week, and I still haven't been able to hire any replacements. I've talked to Terry about trying to get better pay for the people we have. The problem is that any one of them could walk into a job paying ten to twenty percent more.

It isn't that they're badly paid, though I think we're getting a little out of step. It's that in this tight market, companies are paying for experience, and one of the most important ways to judge experience and ability is current salary. So if Terry could increase everyone's pay now, they could walk into ten percent more than that.

Paying enough to make a potential employer balk would be an option, if we wanted to add a huge tally to our payroll, and then other employees would likely revolt...

Still, Terry is going to try to bring reviews forward and get salaries to a point where they'll be less tempted to look. And I'll try to figure what else may be pushing engineers away.


We've had one interesting résumé. His name's Jim. I called him this evening. Spent a half-hour on the phone. He's coming in for interview Monday.

It made me think, talking to Jim, how alone I am now. No, don't get me wrong, I'm not whining about being lonely. It's just that I haven't felt so completely outside for such a long time. Last year, after Jay, I was between relationships, but that ending was expected. Welcome. And there was still Clarice.

Until Saturday, I had a lingering hope that Brian would be able to reconcile himself to the "new" me. (Actually, to the old me.) Now he's gone, and I feel... not empty, not quite, more like disconnected. Maybe it's better that he'll be completely moved out after this weekend.


Brian was here with Lee. He's probably two-thirds moved, but he left a couple of things for next weekend. Lee's pickup is fairly small, and it took them several trips. Plus they had to work when the rain let up, most of the day it was torrential.

They both seemed nervous around me. I'd have liked the chance to talk to Brian some, but it was pretty difficult around Lee. I was pretty depressed when he left, especially having lost my bed... his, of course, really. Mine is in the spare room. He's going to move it back to the master bedroom next weekend and put my spare bed back together.

Brian didn't look much happier than I felt, even when he wasn't trying to avoid my eyes.

On the upside, Charles called to invite me to a Halloween dance on Tuesday. It sounds like it could be fun.


I have a horrible headache. The rains lightened up a little through the day, though I can hear thunder in the distance now. My fat storm cat... well, not-so-far storm cat now... seems to have recovered completely, except for his weight, and I don't think losing a pound or two has hurt him, especially if he has weak kidneys.

He's been crying a little, though not a pained sound, more confused, when he goes into the master bedroom. I'm not there, and his favorite bed isn't there. He's sought me out in the spare room a couple of times, he just hasn't figured everything out yet.

I did go out earlier today to get clothes for Tuesday. My costume isn't exactly a costume. I'm going to dress as a witch... not especially imaginative, except that my "witches robes" will be a black bodysuit, black hose, and a tight black leather mini. With a black sheer wrap as a "cape", and some gold and silver paper decorations I'll stick on the bodysuit.

I haven't figured out what to do for a broom.


Jim's interview went very well. He seemed to like the place. The only problem I have is that his salary at his current job is what Terry told me would be the outside for what we could offer. We won't get him until we go higher. He interviewed with Terry, too, and with Mary for technical stuff.

Mary's impressed by his technical ability. I'll talk to Terry tomorrow about making him an offer.

Last night's storm was so bad that we had fairly extensive street flooding this morning. As much as I love my job, the drive is bad in the best of times, and when the roads are wet it's horrible. Tonight I was wiped out.


I was tempted to wear my "costume" to work today, several people did, but I decided it was just a little extreme :-) And the roads had cleared up with the better weather yesterday, so I figured I'd have plenty of time to get home and changed.

Terry agreed to go higher in Jim's offer, so I called him earlier. He seems enthusiastic, and Terry's offer letter has gone in the mail.

It's time to get changed and head out to the party.