Sunday, June 26, 2011

It's the Post "Post Towel Giveaway" Giveaway Winner Post

Clearly, I've been playing too much YOU DON'T KNOW JACK.

I had Michael draw names out of the TOG (Teacup of Gifting), on his own terms. (That is, he drew the first slip and said, "This person...{fling!}...does NOT win!" The {fling}, of course, being him cavalierly tossing the strip aside. Sorry if that was you...I cannot control him, I tell you.)

Aimee, there's some yarn and geeky dishcloths towels coming your way (I'm not sure I have your latest address, so can you send it just to be safe?)

Southpaw Stitcher, towels and stitchy goodness are yours! Please email me at heather at lottloft dot com with your shipping info!

Thank you for participating, all!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

SYTYCD Top 20 the Second Reactions

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Quick thoughts from So You Think You Can Dance last the way, I have NOT forgotten about the giveaway. I promise to post winners tomorrow!

Ryan & Ricky - Ew. Over Ryan; hope Ricky sticks around.

Caitlyn & Mitchell - Mitchell's refusal to really play the bad guy left the piece looking like a mentally unstable woman whose man's doing the best he can to cope with her mood swings.

Missy & Wadi - Really impressed with Missy; though she wasn't perfect, she gave it her all. Had to watch a 2nd time to even see Wadi...result: meh. He tried.

Iveta & Nick - not the best Bollywood, but not the worst. Doesn't matter; <3 Nick. Impressive that such a tall dancer can move that fast! (Your chicken legs are OK with me, Nick! =( )

Miranda & Robert - HOLY CRAP WHERE DID MIRANDA COME FROM THAT CHEST POP, WHUT??? Robert failed to annoy me.

Clarice & Jess - Clarice did an amazing job supporting herself on Jess with no help from him and having gorgeous lines. He danced like he had a vague idea of what contemporary was supposed to look like, but his moves stopped at his phalanges. Boy can spin, but please send Jess & Ryan home so Clarice can dance with Roderick (snark).

Tadd & Jordan - Competent Viennese Waltz. Tadd's "dirty little secret" makes me want to fight Debbie Reynolds for him.

Melanie & Marko - Almost cuted out at Marko messing w/Mel's ears & her reaction. Costuming was dumb but failed to screw up fabuloso characterizations and style.

Sasha & Alexander - Mostly meh. Curious to see if lack of beard mobilizes the teenyboppers.

Ashley & Chris - <3 <3 <3 His opening move...WHAT? ...although, STUPIDEST "what America doesn't know" EVAR.

Who's with me??

I think tonight's elimination is going to be really rough. =(

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fascinating Geeky Thing of the Day

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WARNING: The Geek Content of this post has been rated EXTREMELY HIGH...please avoid this post unless you're into programming and databases.

In the "who knew? probably a lot of people except me" category....

Being a programmer with some basic database knowledge, but not database-proficient by any stretch, I am often surprised by the inner workings of databases. Today was one of those days. I knew that in addition to having database tables, you can have "views", which are logical views over data. I think in my mind, a database view was storing pointers to data. Well, it turns out that it's pretty much just a stored query or a "macros" that's executed afresh whenever you query the view.

Now here comes the really surprising thing. I was querying a particularly slow has a lot of business logic built into it. It's also against a huge table. So my query:


was taking about 5 minutes. I decided to try and speed up the query by limiting the number of rows that were being returned, just in case it was the data transfer or creation of the row set that was taking so long:


This did speed things up, but not very much: It took about 3 minutes. So, I decided to try an inner query: Just chop off the first 100 rows of the view and then query against them thusly:


I expected this query to execute more quickly. Instead, it took FOREVER. (I stopped counting at an hour.)

This leads me to believe that in the first and second cases, my WHERE clause criteria was just getting added on to the where clause of the view's query, but in the third case, the entire view was being created in some temp space, then the first 100 rows were taken.

Definitely not what I expected.

I'm going to try to get this view converted to a Materialized View, which is physically stored and then updated as the "underlying" tables change.

Blah blah blah database blah blah blah.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Disney: Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

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I'm still trying to kick these posts out quickly get back from vacation. Whoops. So, before I blog about the vacation I just got back from! ONWARD!

Epcot's gorgeous in the Spring, apparently!
"Spring" being, like, February in Florida.

And it's even more beautiful (and fun) during the annual Flower and Garden Festival.
I got asked a few times whether I'd just gotten off the Dream because of the T-shirt! (It says "Inaugural Voyages".) The funniest thing was all the cast members working far away from the merchandise stands who had not even seen this year's F&GF pin (on my left shoulder)! You will notice from this picture that Michael finally succumbed to his feelings of "I might want my own pins" when we hit a too-good-to-pass-up deal at the pin trading stand.

Floral mouse:

TRON-themed monorail, just because.

And speaking of 80s techno-media...I finally got to see...
I never saw it in the 80s; there was a block of time where we visited my sister in California and therefore went to Disneyland. It was fabulous. Much better "in context" than the clip I saw on YouTube (DO NOT GO LOOK IT IS TOO CHEESY).

Nothing like advertising a new TV series in topiary form.

At least the houses were too cute.
Each fairy had a unique, well-done (and adorable) house.

But enough about Future World, KIM POSSIBLE NEEDS OUR HELP!!!
If you've never done this interactive game, you're missing out. You do a mission within one country in the World Showcase, interacting with the environment in ways you wouldn't be able to without the Kimmunicator. For instance, a poster might flip over, a robot might pop up, smoke might pour out of a chimney, unexpected fiber optics might appear...!

We were out to save Norway, because...SCHOOLBREAD!!
If you don't know about schoolbread, I really almost don't want to tell you, because there might not be any left next time I go. It's this unassuming bun, you can kind of tell it's topped with coconut and maybe a little glaze, but it's FILLED WITH CUSTARD. Nom.

With a snack, we had strength to carry on...and impersonate cover models for Viking Fashion Monthly.

After saving Norway, we went on to save China. I love this picture of the panda topiaries.
After we returned from Orlando, Michael was looking at pictures online of the F&GF, and when he saw a photo of these pandas, he exclaimed, "We didn't see those!" "Well, I did," I replied. "I have a picture of them!"

And the moral of this story, boys and girls, is "Pictures or it didn't happen." =)

Boy, I could really go for some spaghetti and meatballs right about now.

We got to try the new pizza restaurant in the Italian pavilion. Very atmospheric.

I did not create this Hidden Mickey on purpose.
But remember, it is your Key to Quality Blogging. (Oh wait, that's foreshadowing!)

The food was great, but the pizza did not come to our table hot enough for us. I think it's because most people don't know how to eat real Neapolitan pizza (fold the slice in half, and you eat it when the cheese is liquid, it's so hot).

Here's the pizza in its pre-folded state.

These ovens are serious.

After tooling around the World Showcase some more, we headed back to the Wilderness Lodge. The sign outside the magic snack room said there would be "dessert and cordials" until 10 pm. We made it back with some time to spare, and found more cookie mountains, cobbler, brownies and Magic Bars (7-layer bars). OMIGOSH SO GOOD. Also, actual alcohol. Like, for free. In bottles. Right there on the counter. Now, we are not big drinkers (I don't even like the taste of alcohol), but we had just learned how to pour this cool three-layer drink on the cruise ship...
Sweet dreams.

This is a nighttime view of one of the giant totem poles in the lobby.

And a nighttime view out our window!

Epcot Flower & Garden Festival is good for distracting other people from eating my schoolbread.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Disney: The Free Food Continues!

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Enjoy these Disney posts while we're on our next trip...a cruise to Alaska!!!

We arrived at the Wilderness Lodge just before noon. The first cast member I saw asked about my pins and what I was looking for. Then he disappeared "to check something" but returned saying he'd looked at a lot of pins and didn't see what I wanted. This led to the discovery that if you are looking for current cast lanyard (Hidden Mickey) pins and you are staying at a resort, you should mention to cast members what you're looking for. They have a way of turning up on lanyards soon afterwards. =)

We were shocked and pleased to discover that we'd been upgraded to the Club Level! Free breakfast, we heard! Cool! Our wilderness-themed room was replete with Mickey ears towels on the bed.

I must mention here that when I asked Michael, "Did you get a picture of the Mickey ears on the bed???" he responded "Yes, of course!" Later when I was going through the pictures I said, "Really??!? This was your picture of the Mickey ears??"

We also had a wonderful porch...

...with an amazing view.

We're not sure if we got upgraded because Michael had paid a little extra for "lake view" or what. As we were running out to go to Magic Kingdom, we noticed that the "breakfast room" was open. And we noticed a sign by the door that said "snacks" were currently available. So we decided to check it out:

OMIGOSH, IT'S COOKIE MOUNTAIN!! They also had jars of gummy bears, nuts and Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, along with canned Cokes. They also had liter bottles of water (glass; not portable)--very important in Orlando where your tap water can possibly taste like it's had a baseball-sized rock of sulfur dissolved in it before it was piped to your faucet. Also one of those fancy-schmancy machines that distributes all manner of coffee-polluted drinks (bleh) along with HOT CHOCOLATE! (Huzzah!)

Love the name. As you hang out with your free snacks (FREE! SNACKS!!!) you can look out over the impressive lobby of the Lodge.

Once we got over the shock of having free snacks (and I ate some gummy bears JUST BECAUSE I COULD), we headed to the Magic Kingdom on the boat that goes by the Lodge. Of course, the moment we got off the boat, Michael realized he didn't have our tickets with us (we always buy 10-day park hoppers with the "never expire" option. If you can afford to make your purchases in a chunk, it's WAY cheaper in the long run because prices are constantly going up). He was all set for an hour wasted in round-trip back to the Lodge, when I said, "Wait a minute. We CANNOT be the only people who have done this. I am betting Guest Services is set up for just this kind of eventuality." Sure enough, the lovely Jeannie was able to charge one-day, one-park tickets for us and give us a small envelope that would allow the next cast member we talked with to refund us that price and take the day off our passes.

Everyone neat and pretty? On with the show!

I have never gotten to see the Main Street Marching Band before; they were very good. Of course, we were really just hanging out to see my one "must do" Magic Kingdom attraction: The Dapper Dans.

Since I sang with them a few years ago (they let me sing "Will I Ever Tell You?" from "The Music Man" while they sang "Lida Rose" to accompany me), I am now officially the president. I have the card that says so. It's signed by Mickey Mouse, so, you know...totally legal and all. Here they are with their organ chimes (too cool). I was probably more amused than I should have been by the antics of the guy on the right, because he could be the brother of a guy I work with.

The park is gorgeous in Spring!

First order of business: Grab some FastPasses, either to Buzz Lightyear or Space Mountain.

Michael and I don't wait in line at least, not any more than 20 minutes (30 if it's something we really want to do or maybe 45 if it's a new attraction and we can't get FastPasses...but we always get FastPasses ;). Handy FastPass tip: Generally, once you get a FastPass, you can't get another one until your return time. However, sometimes you can get one earlier! The time you're allowed to get another is printed at the bottom of the FastPass.

We got to catch a new (to us) parade...

So, what would you expect to be behind the Genie on the float? Any guesses? Notice the chimneys on the front? Foreshadowing, your key to quality parades!




The Winnie the Pooh ride has a swanky new entrance, as well as a Poohtacular queue line. We weren't going to wait for it at this point, but we did get to ride with no wait on another day. Foreshadowing: Your key to quality blogging!

It was neat to see the artists' renderings of what the new Fantasyland will look like!

If you're familiar with Mickey's ToonTown Fair (or Mickey's StarLand or Mickey's Birthday Land or whatever the heck it's called now), this is what it's going to change to.

Dueling Dumbos!!! Whoop whoop! (Geeky sidenote: Dumbo has one of the worst throughputs of any ride but is probably the most-loved by teeny people...or most-pushed by their parents. Pirates of the Caribbean's throughput is about 4 times Dumbo's--2500 vs. 600.)

And even though the lagoon for 20,000 Leagues under the Sea was filled in long ago, it will finally have a replacement.

Can't wait!

If you recall past fierce competitions in Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, you'll realize that these numbers are SHOCKINGLY CLOSE!

Butofcourse, I am still ahead. =)

I don't think I'd ever actually ridden the riverboat before!

It's a nice relaxing ride, with some upgraded (according to the hubby) native American animatronics, and also allows you to see things you don't normally see, like...

The backside of a mountain! OK, not as good as the backside of water, but the slow speed of the riverboat does let you get great shots of Thunder Mountain Railroad, like this:


So, it turns out that even with my great love of Spectromagic, I have somehow never seen the Main Street Electrical Parade before. Until now!

Parade crossing the bridge into Frontierland (I *think*).


We got to see the fabulous new castle show. I desperately wish I had videoed the entire thing. Basically, they project on the castle, IN THE ROUND. At one point, it looked like all the blocks in the castle were flipping around, ala the entrance to Diagon Alley in the first Harry Potter movie. I did video part of it; someday I'll upload a video.

And despite the fact that I normally don't like the Disney fireworks shows, I LOVED this one.

Hidden Mickey in the fireworks!!

OK, maybe not so hidden.

We must be living right.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


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Fourteen years ago today, I married my best friend.
And we are still zipping along* together!

*This picture was taken at during our North Georgia Canopy Tour. You know, ziplines. So, it's a really bad pun. But don't let that stop you from's tons of fun!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Boldly Going...!

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In a few hours, we boldly go where no man has gone Alaska!!

Ah...actually, quite a few people have been to Alaska.

In a few hours, we boldly go where no Lott has gone Alaska!

Oh wait...that's not true, either...Michael's parents have been before.

In a few hours, we boldly go where WE have never gone before...TO ALASKA!!!

We fly to Seattle tonight, then tool around Saturday (and get to see Aimee & Jason, woo hoo!), then board a cruise ship Sunday that will take us to Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Victoria!

Pictures (but of course) when I return!

We're going to Alaska, dangit.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

TUSAL Rhymes with "Too Small"

(What's a TUSAL?)

Aaaaaaaaand...THIS is why I bought such a small monthly ort jar:

The past many months were anomalous; this is more like what I usually output in a month. The dry spell continues, in stitching and general zeal!

Say hey, I'm going to be in Alaska next week, so I'm going to try and queue up the remaining, languishing Disney posts while I'm away. At least it will be sunny here on the blog. =)

Old Geek-outs