Lyssa took sick last week. On Thursday she woke up having trouble breathing while I was in the shower, which threw our plans into a tailspin. I took a sickday and drove her to urgent care (where I seem to spend far too much time in the waiting room these days), only to discover that she has a sinus infection. Lyssa spent the bulk of the weekend in bed pumped full of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs, with the odd sortie to get food in some form or go shopping.
This also meant that I was running solo when I went to $work's holiday party on Friday night, which I'm still a little disappointed about. Because I was driving in from Maryland I wound up being one of the last ones to arrive - fashionably late, as it were. It was good to spend some time with folks whom I don't get to see very often (due to field work) - we got in a couple of good discussions about making and bottling wine, the Wintergreen Resort, and a museum somewhere in southern Virginia that restores and races tanks (!) (which took me right back to the desktop fabrication train of thought for making spare parts). I also spent a couple of hours with my boss and another cow-orker debating physics and the Large Hadron Collider and rounded off the night by burning a DVD full of music for a friend at the office who doesn't do much field work.
Somehow Lyssa got me out of bed at 0945 EST5EDT on Saturday morning so that we could drive to Tyson's Corner Mall to finish up our Yule shopping. As expected, the parking lot was packed to the gills with motor vehicles of all kinds, but we struck it lucky by finding a parking space at the far side of the Macy's parking deck and hiking the rest of the way. We picked up a couple of things at Macy's and then had an early lunch at Gordon Biersch to fuel ourselves up (by this time I was running on fumes) before stopping at Barnes and Noble to pick up a couple of last minute gifts. After returning home to drop Lyssa off I headed back out to the HacDC space to help clean up the addition to the workshop they'd negotiated from the church. Unfortunately, the only other person there was Nate, so not a lot of cleaning got done though we did hack around a little on a firewall appliance (a Netraguard?) that makes an amazing amount of noise for such a small device (it's a 1U rackmount). We spent an hour or two finding ways of building a new cooling system for its CPU (which runs surprisingly cool for its time) but didn't make it very far because we didn't have a way of bending copper tubing without permanantly kinking it.
Saturday night brought with it a holiday party at Seele and Justin's place in Maryland. Lyssa opted to pass so Hasufin drove to our place and I picked up the second leg of the journey to their new apartment. It was a bit of a trick finding their apartment because they moved sometime during the last year and what I thought was familiar territory actually wasn't. I've also discovered a flaw in my GPS navigation system: parking lots, in particular large parking lots for multiple-building complexes aren't considered roads and thus aren't entered into the on-board GIS database. It took Hasufin and I two tries and a couple of phone calls to find the right building, but once we did we had no trouble getting upstairs. The shindig was in full swing when we arrived - we dropped off our blind gift exchange presents and started mingling. As expected, it was hip-deep in geek in there: the original Ghost In the Shell was playing on the television (subtitled, no less), Elwing and Irregular Expression showed off their wedding bands to a few people who hadn't seen them before (complete with the date and time of the wedding ceremony in UNIX time_t format), and not a few of us tried but failed miserably to avoid talking about work for the first half hour.
I need to stop doing that.
Seele asked me if I'd officiate at their wedding in September of 2009 and I've accepted. I need to sit down and talk with them about everything that has to go into it given all the problems that Lyssa and I had in the state of Pennsylvania earlier this year.
The blind gift exchange went much more smoothly than expected. Most of the gifts did not fall into the 'naughty' category, which sort of made me wish that I'd put more thought into buying a gift to add to the mix. At any rate, it went fairly smoothly. A pair of flying toys came out of the mix (which required various degrees of repair or modification at the end of the night due to the relatively low ceilings) and a half-dozen of us played Jelly Belly Russian Roulette with the jellybeans that were half of reasonable flavors and half of... other flavors (like ear wax and vomit). It wasn't terribly difficult to tell who got which by the facial expressions that were made...
After playing a few rounds of Guitar Hero, which requires much more manual dexterity than previously believed, Hasufin and I headed out shortly after midnight local time. The weather had taken a turn for the worse and we thought it best to make serious progress towards home before the roads got too bad to navigate safely. As is wont to happen in the DC metroplex, the weather never got that bad; at worst, the fine mist of sleet that filled the air cut visibility sufficiently to be a nuisance but not a real impediment.
I slept in on Sunday morning. Lyssa and I headed off to Anita's for a late breakfast after I got myself cleaned up and then took care of what little grocery shopping we needed to do for the rest of the week. That done, Lyssa retired to the bedroom to rest and catch up on her reading while I wrapped some gifts, went shopping again to pick up some essentials for same, and then finished wrapping the rest of the gifts that had piled up in the library over the past two weeks or so. Unfortunately, not all of them have arrived yet, which concerns me a bit. I rounded off the day by going through the dunes of junk mail that have piled up since the beginning of December, cleaned off most of the dining room table, paid a couple of bills, and hauled a few loads of trash out to the dumpster.
Adventure. Excitement. A security engineer craves not these things.
As we are wont to do, Lyssa and I exchanged gifts last night, which hearlded the beginning of Longest Night, 21 December. I bought Lyssa a couple of books that she'd wanted for a while, a Utilikey (which Micro Center has not had in stock for a few weeks), and a curious little USB owl which sits on top of your monitor and looks cute at you all the time. Lyssa got me a few books and a DVD on a trade that I've been interested in for a couple of years - bookbinding - in which there is a curious sort of recursion at work. She also got me a handful of glitter-filled rubber bouncy balls which are perfect for practicing contact juggling because they don't wreck the whole house if they go out of control (or at least, much less so than poured acrylic spheres) and one of my favorite science fiction movies on DVD, Demon Seed>. Hasufin had gotten her the re-release of the Vertigo Tarot, and for me a plastic petri dish full of stuffed neurons. So now I can honestly say that I have three neurons to hook together in series before I've had my first cup of coffee in the morning.
After some deliberation, Hasufin came over about a half-hour later with the makings of a quiche for dinner and his laptop. We spent the rest of the evening playing Starcraft head-to-head over the wireless network (it seems to work quite well this way) while Lyssa spent the night writing in the office and wondering why her mouse had stopped working. Unfortunately, the last time this happened Alphonse's mainboard was starting to fail, but I digress... all told, Hasufin and I battled for slightly over an hour - maybe fifty minutes of building up two colonies, industrial works, platoons of marines and whatnot... and ten minutes of getting my ass handed to me.
Last night marked the third time I've ever played Starcraft - ever. Hasufin handicapped himself by playing the Protoss, which he freely admits are his weak spot, and he wiped me clean off the map in a single strike. Be that as it may, I had a great time playing and I'd love to do it again soon.