Happy 1st Anniversay you marvelous geek.

Today marks the first year of being officially married to Bariguy, my other half here at 2phatgeeks.  We’ve been together for years, so long that everyone who knew us simply assumed we were already married. So it was a shock that early last year I revealed that not only were we not married; but that I had to return to Canada to get my paperwork in order for us to get married.

Luckily, everything turned out alright. And here we are, 1 year later and official in paper work.

To be honest and cheesy, though, we were already official in my heart–years ago.

I’m a lucky woman. I have a husband who not only understands my Star Wars quotes, but joins in with his own favorites. Who understands when I reference an internet meme and who not only gets my jokes? But laughs at them.

In celebration of our 1st year anniversary let me share with you some of our most embarrassing and geeky moments!

I love you, Shawn!

A collection of our most embarrassing and/or geeky quotes from all times in our marriage at this link! Click it to read them on my personal journal!

Swingin’ my big stick.

Our little notebook investment arrived yesterday. A little sleek black Asus meant to simply help us store the wealth of information I will be shoving into it this March because Shawn and I are spending four days at Disney.

Originally, we were simply going to buy a lot of storage cards for my digital camera, cell phone and video camera. We realized this plan was not-so-brilliant and Shawn, my one true geek went shopping around for other options.

The little notebook is perfect. It’s all shiny black with that New Computer smell and nothing delights me more than watching my husband come skipping home when we have new gadgets for him to play with. He literally spent the entire night setting it up, removing programs, installing the ones we use, customizing as well as tweaking. During all of this he generally kept up and entire line of conversation excitedly extolling the add ons, features, and wonderful uses this new notebook will bring. He might as well have been four years old again–skipping through the Star Wars toy section. His eyes were bright and his hands expressive, he’d stop for five seconds to press a button here and there or type something then continue telling me of dis wondrous shiny device we had purchased.

Sadly, my excitement only ran as far as, Neato! A new thingie to type on and decorate with the added bonus of being transportable! and to name it Piddles the Notebook.

I had an even more difficult time focusing on anything he had to say. As he was babbling happily away about what programs were installed and what weren’t, he was fiddling with a removable stick of ram the entire time. It’s on a long, long string meant to be worn about the neck. He’d start spinning it to the right and winding it around his fingers until it stopped short. Then, in mid-sentence, he’d start swinging it to the left until the string was fully wound around his fingers just to immediately switch directions and repeat.

After about six minutes of being entranced by this as if I were a three-week old kitten, I shook my head abruptly and demanded, “What are you doing?”

He stopped in mid-speech about being surprised how fast it was, given how small the notebook was, eyebrows quirking upward. “With what? Huh?”

I fluttered my hands absently in his string-spinning direction. “What are you doing with the swinging and the thing and the–wtf?–is this some sort of weird geek sexual strip routine I’m not aware of? Like a routine featuring a feather boa except–”

He interrupted me entirely calmly and as if he’d been waiting all his life for this moment to say a single line he’d been saving for decades.

“Don’t deny it. You find it sexy when I swing my big ram stick.”

And it is in those moments when I’m done staring agog or laughing my fool ass off, that I realize each day I love him more and more. Big hard drive and all.

A Good Year

It’s been a busy year here at the Pence household.

Like most people, I’m busy celebrating with the better half and quite definitely “nicely relaxed.” this year, I am “nicely relaxed” (ie obliterated… so please excuse the typos) on a steady stream of Mooing Irish Pepsis (Bailey’s, coke and milk) and rum and cokes, but made with this awesome Black Cherry rum. It’s very rare that me and the other half of 2phatgeeks.com actually get a chance to drink up and enjoy. We’re either too poor or too occupied or I’m too tied up with work.

But tonight? No way… Tonight we celebrate one hell of a year, as far as I’m concerned. Tonight we’re gonna tie one on because I can afford it (sort of), because we’ve earned it and because, for once, we don’t have any major crises hanging over my gradually increasing forehead. So let me tell you what we both accomplished this year.

  1. We were finally, legally, without a doubt and without legal issue completely married. We’ve been together seven years this year and we finally made it through, what for us, was a major international hurdle. It was also something I’ve wanted to do since we met and it is more than an major relief, it’s like I’ve finally managed to finish off a major life’s work. It would not have been possible without the continual support of my family, her family and… most importantly, her.
  2. Hell, not only that, we made it through reams of international (though largely US) red tape. Sure, it put us in debt beyond my wildest imagination and involved an enormous amount of stress, but as of this October, we officially made it through the first and most difficult portion of her naturalization. I’d like to throw out a special and very heartfelt thank you to our lawyer, Fernando Palacios. This kindly grandfatherly figure made a significant portion of our dreams come true and we’ll always be indebted. If anyone on the east coast of Florida needs an Immigration lawyer, find this guy… he’s the best.
  3. The credit union I work out announced it’s intention to merge, and absorb, one of the largest credit unions in south Florida. This was a huge deal and resulted in the next item, in addition to essentially securing the future for my family.
  4. I received a promotion to Assistant Manager. I’ve been a Senior Call Center Associate, basically the person you get when you ask for a manager or a supervisor, for over two years. It’s the longest I’ve ever been in a position. I figured, like most folks, that I’d be in this position another year or so. Thanks to the merger, the support of my managers and no small amount of hard work, I managed to claw my way up sooner than expected officially as of this November. This was an awesome surprise and the opportunity I’d been waiting for. It’s a lot more work, but I do find myself loving it. It, along with the above, has lead to the next item…
  5. Finally some relief from having to rely on credit to make our way through every plan and holiday. As 2010 begins, 4 out of 7 credit cards are shut down and in payoff and we’ve still managed to have nearly enough money set aside to pay for the entire awesome Disney Vacation we have planned. It may not seem like such a big deal to some folks, but moving away from Credit and moving into paying for things directly is a huge deal for me. As much as I might miss having the cards to fall back on for extra little surprised for the better half, it’s just awesome knowing that I’m paying these things off and closing them… eventually.
  6. While all of this craziness was going on, we both participated in NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. While many of you are very familiar with this it’s honestly the first I’d heard of it. I’ve never considered myself much of a writer. With all of the focus I’ve had lately on work, I used to play saxophone regularly, in several jazz bands and ensembles, but I haven’t had any actually creative outlet in a long time. So this year, when Mel mentioned this novel writing thing, I figured, “What the hell. I’ve got nothing else to do.” To my immense surprise I actually finished… and finished early. It feels like I won a fucking marathon and I certainly count it in my highlights of a year already filled with goodness.
  7. My better half opened and made some real, no-foolin’, people money on the intarwebz! Her Etsy shop took off more than even I expected, and I had high hopes, and she continues to show me just how talented she really is each and every day.
  8. Last but most certainly not least, every member of my family made it through the year still alive and still kicking; mom, dad, grandma, sister, mother and father in law (hang in there guys!) and my brother-in-law not to mention my non-human family: cats, bird, hamsters and all! Sure, some of my family are kicking a lot less strongly than before, but they’re still out there and they make it all worth doing, no matter what a pain in the ass it is.

It was one hell of a year, for sure. After what is sure to be a couple of frenetic months, 2010 will start off with me and my better half finally taking a long discussed and dreamed of vacation at Disney World. Instead of running through two parks in a single day, we’ll have four full days to enjoy it all. For those of you that don’t fully appreciate what this means, let me just say that I will have more fun watching her at Disney than I will actually being there myself. 2010 is already looking up.

To all of you that I’ve argued with, dealt with on the phone, annoyed, pissed off, amused or in any way touched your life, thanks for being a part of making this awesome year even more awesome. I wish each and every one of you as good a year as we’ve had and hope nothing but the very best for all of you and your families.

Happy New Year, Internets… I love you guys.


When it comes to computers, there are pink components, and there are good components, but there are scant few good pink components. While for most geeks this is not a problem, for me it is as the better half loves the color pink. So, in addition to doing every odd job I could think of to fill my time, I decided to right a serious geek wrong and make the pink computer I know she wants.

I am not a case modder; not by a long shot. I put computers together in preassembled cases. I’m pretty handy when it comes to putting things IN computers, but I am not known for my vast case modding skills. So while this was intended to be a welcome home gift for the better half of 2PhatGeeks, It was also a learning experience. So, I began.

First, we had to modify the cover. The case was originally black and silver and designed around a nicely geeky RPG/Medieval theme, complete with a shield on the front. Unfortunately The XBlade Design wasn’t going to work for the pink happy box idea I had in mind, so I had to do something. I pondered long and hard, several weeks before she left, in fact, deciding what to put on the case…


This brilliant design, of course, required I cut aluminum approx ¼” thick. I needed firepower. I needed… my first Dremel! It is an amazing machine that I am not at all good at using. But I managed to accomplish what I needed and lined it with a little bit of rubber tubing and hot glue to cover some of my many imperfections… wow, it’s a metaphor for me!.


Next there was a BOATLOAD of painting. Every peripheral that I could properly paint (as well as some I couldn’t) got a coat of candy pink, white or pink fading to white.


One thing you won’t see in this next picture is a fancy pink keyboard. While I knew it would be a challenge, Mel had literally worn her keyboard almost out, half the letters were gone, so I figured I had nothing to lose. If things didn’t work out, well, she was due for a keyboard anyway. Good thing I had planned for the possibility of failure! While the keyboard looked awesome, it just didn’t work. The Microsoft ergo that she prefers is made to pretty dang exacting standards that my painting is not up to! I bid it a fond adieu and replaced it with a new one. Anyway, here we can see some of the peripherals. The mouse looks and feels awesome!


Next I turned my attentions to the case. Every surface was repainted. The chassis frame is completely white, inside and out, while the outside of the case is pink in the front fading to white at the rear. It was far from flawless, as a first attempt, and some minor touch ups were needed, but when I first saw the case front repainted and reassembled, I started to get excited. I think it looks awesome and girly!



Lastly, as I assembled the case, I couldn’t just let the blue lights and fans stay, so I replaced them with white lights and filled the heart in with a pink bit of plastic from, of all things, a girl’s notebook from Wal-Mart.


Behold… The Pinkopalypse! It looks so light and airy and girly I think I just grew an ovary.


So ended my first real attempt at (admittedly very minimal) case modding and I hope the returning princess likes it! I really believe she will. I learned several good lessons for the future… including that 1. The Dremel is the coolest power tool ever, but that they require patience and that 2. I really suck at painting. By the time you are all reading this, she will be on a flight home and will be seeing it by sometime around 8PM this evening.


Pic Dump #1!

I decided to clean out the images on my phone memory card last night, in a desperate attempt to give me something to do. I’ve always loved stumbling across pic dumps and a couple of these gave me a chuckle, so I figured I should follow kindergarten rules and share! You’ll have to forgive the quality of some of these, my camera phone is just one step above a daguerreotype.

Breakfast Time?

Breakfast Time?

Well, you didn’t think we weren’t going to have at least one picture of an animal, did you? Flora’s morning kitchen shenanigans now include table top supervision.

The Mileage of the Devil!

The Mileage of the Devil!

It’s time for the Oil Change from HELL!!

Shindler's Lift

Schindler's Lift

Alright, I find this hysterical, but I’m not sure who else will. This is my elevator at work, made by the Schindler company. Schindler’s Lift! HA HA HA HA HA!

Hi, Grandma!

Hi, Grandma!

This is my Grandmother. As you might be able to guess, she would probably kill me if she saw this picture. I snapped this one while helping her out one day. She’s waving at Melissa in Canada.

Living in Florida is so hard!

Living in Florida is so hard!

I took this pretty much just to brag. I took this about a two-and-a-half weeks ago. This is a shot from the table where I usually eat lunch when I get a chance to go outside. Obviously it’s looking back into the parking lot, but it;s under a great open concert shell like covering and those aren’t just random woods back there, that’s a nature preserve here. We have Owl, Dear, Hawk, Sandhill Cranes and pretty much every small bird in the area. When I took this it was about 78 degrees (25.5 C for you metric folks), dry (for Florida) and with a nice breeze. Yeah, it might suck in the summer, but it is freakin’ awesome the rest of the year!

A Delicate Princess!

A Delicate Princess!

This awesome pic is also my current Cell phone wallpaper. This is what happens when you leave your phone unattended at your desk while you’re working on your wife’s computer. Love you, baby!

THIS is Customer Service

THIS is Customer Service

And last but not least: yours fatly. The next time you feel the need to unload your frustration on some poor, unsuspecting Customer Service Rep, remember this.


Ok, I couldn’t resist sharing. The garden continues it’s amazing development. While we finally said goodbye to the peas, that we still have a bag full, I might add, everything else is coming up like crazy! I hope you all enjoy the pics of a walkaround of the most awesome 2PhatGeeks garden ever. A special “Hello!” to all of you that are following this at Mel’s LiveJournal.

First we have a couple shots of the northwest corner of the garden. While initially this was dominated by bluebells, they’ve gone to pod (yay, more bluebells next year!) and these Blue carnations have taken over




Here we have a couple shots of some of the edibles. We can see some Sage, Onions, Basil, the side of the Jalapenos (which are just starting to bloom) and a little Oregano.




And check these out! Cayennes are coming up really nicely. Yum!


Remember that White Tri-color Daisy Chrysanthemum? Well, we have just a few more.





In addition to the mostly white variety, we also have these cool little light purple ones scattered in.



Hey, who’s that’s poking their head in the picture? Oh yeah, this little guy! He was quite the surprise and there seem to be a good number of these coming in, too.


The Tomato plants may start demaning “Feed Me!” at any moment. We have about 30 tomatoes by our count. If they taste haslf as good as they look, they may be fatally delicious. I can’t wait to have fresh basil and tomatoes. or maybe even ad in a little fresh mozzarella from the deli and make a little home grown pizza margherita!



This guy is so big he needs his own caption. I don’t have tiny delicate little fingers, either.


Not pitured are parsley and dill that are growing literally like weeds… so much so I couldn’t get a realy good picture aside from the little snippet in the title image. The dill is about 3 feet tall and still growing. We’ll be sure to let all of you know just how delicious everything is. Hope every one is having a great spring… summer is just around the corner!

Spring Sproinged!

Ok, so I might not be quite the awesome photographer that my better half is, but I wanted to share a little of the awesomeness going on in the Garden these days. Within the last few weeks everything is growing virtually uncontrolled and color is everywhere. In addition to making sure you all get to see these wonderful flowers, this is also a great way to celebrate Mel’s safe arrival in Canada after a grueling 3 day bus trip. It’s still snowing and cold in Alberta and plenty of other places, so I figured this might help warm her (and the rest of you) up! So take a gander at what’s growing in the garden!

First, some Tomato Flowers. There are about 30 of these and I’m hoping each one turns into another of the amazingly large and delicious looking tomatoes we already have growing. Something about tomato plants just screams spring. They just exude warmth and the plants themselves have this amazing smell that only tomato plants really have.


Next up are these awesome little Nasturtium that were a suggestion from Mom. Brightly colored really doesn’t do thee little suckers justice. The reds are vivid and the yellows almost shocking. unfortunately for me (and you all) the camera didn’t really do these justice but take my word for it, these suckers are delicious!


At the other end of the spectrum we have these Texas Bluebells. I’ve always had a thing for blue flowers. No, I don’t know why either, but I could look at these things all day. The blue of the Bluebells and the lush green of the stems along with the rich soil…. this is why i wanted to have this garden to start with.


And last but not least, the surprise. We grabbed a lot of random flowers when we set out this year’s garden and honestly forgot what seed we purchased. This is a Tri-Color Daisy Chrysanthemum and it is just awesome looking. The leaves on this thing are really odd looking and it had out curiosity piqued. These were the last flowers to open, literally in the last two days. There are at least a half dozen more buds out there and I just can’t wait to see what the garden looks once all of these open, along with the rest of what we have above.


Not pictured, because I couldn’t get a good picture, are the few dozen tiny, white awesome pepper flowers we have, both Cayenne and Jalapeno. Looks like a bumper crop this year! Fingers crossed! For all of you who decided to see what color your thumbs are, I hope you’re all as happy with your results as I am already! Happy Spring!

Digital Parchment.

I need you so much closer.”

It was just black Arial text on a white back ground staring at me unflinchingly from the frame of my monitor.

Eight little words delivered to me via a tool bar downloaded and installed into my fire fox to entertain me as I browsed this great tangled mess called the Internet. He didn’t send it to me directly you see, he thumbed it up. Possibly several months ago, maybe a week before I received it, could have even be the day before it arrived onto my screen.

It arrived, actually, sometime early last week and I haven’t said anything about it–that’s a bad habit of mine. I don’t say things to the important people. I write them for the world to see; I bare my dark little places with courage to a room full of strangers. When it comes to close friends or family, to the people I should say things to? My mouth shuts tight with the clang of savage bear trap. So I never told him that I got it. I never told him how it rang within me like old sounds lost forever in endless deep-earth caverns.

I know that after I read it several times, I went very still.

The television had long been turned off before he’d gone to work. The birds were unusually calm, the cats napping, the house hummed along with its central air conditioning; everything appeared to follow me in this moment. Movie directors have been attempting to perfect this single moment without much success. It is when the span of a heart beat stretches on for endless minutes, when the world to your right and left become a blur and all you can see is the tunnel of clarity directly in front of you.

For me, it was nothing more than black font on a white page.

I need you so much closer.”

It wasn’t noise that brought me back to this world. It wasn’t the cat knocking something over or the sleepy chirp of our pet cockatiel. It was the emotion that welled up into my throat to make the back of it ache then tighten.

It was the understanding that right here on this very planet, in a million, million lost souls gasping, lamenting, clawing, screaming, wishing, praying, wanting for love–trying so hard to be loved–fighting for love, that I had already. That I’ve always had it. That I have it every day. That is sleeps beside me, snoring away every night and it gets up in the morning and it goes to work and it plods through shitty people with shitty attitudes to bring home money that it spends on me even when it doesn’t really have the money TO spend on me. It wakes up in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep to roll over when he’s snoring because it knows I can’t fall asleep when it does. It’s the hand that curves around my hip jolting me awake after fighting all night to go to sleep anyway. It’s the cheesecake that mysteriously appears in the fridge when I’m on my period and ready to kill everything that tip toes around me. It’s the quiet, adamant insistence that there’s nothing wrong with me and that I am beautiful no matter how many rolls of fat I can count.

It’s the man I married, quietly thumbing up a web page with the words:

I need you so much closer.”

And I’m trying.

I’m trying.

I love you.

The journey of life includes Survivorman & flaming poo.

Shawn and I were cuddled up in bed, nice warm sheets and blankies around our necks. Sleep was coming soon but we weren’t in any rush, just enjoying the night and the television show we were watching.

We happened to be watching Survivorman. Now, despite Survivorman being a whiny bitch, Shawn and I like to watch it because compared to Bear–he’s a whole lot more surviving, a lot less “doing shit just for the camera and show.”

Last night Survivorman was re-running an episode in the Australia Outback. Les, the main man from the show was chillin’, eating grubs and making a fire to keep himself from freezin’ his dangly bits off. To make a fire and keep it going he used dried up old dung found strewn about all over the ground as well as dead wood. Some of you out there are aware that poop, especially very old dried out poop makes for an excellent source of fire. It burns hotter, longer and slower than wood and has the advantage of keeping away a lot of bugs.

So Survivorman was on the tubes telling us that he was thinking about moving on to the next place in search of better water when I turn a bit to Shawn and say, “I’d grab me a big ol’ piece of flaming poo to carry with me, if I were him.”

There were several seconds of silence where we sort of eyed one another over the edges of our blankets before Shawn and I lost it.

Never in my life did I ever think I would have ever put the words big ol’ piece of, flaming, and poo together.

The journey of my life is a quiet, crazy path. A path that I am learning to follow with hopefully crazy grace, flaming crap and all.