Almost there...

Thursday, June 21, 2001

Well, the big presentation went fine. Not perfect, but just what we needed to make the last refinements for the really big presentation in the morning. Tomorrow is the BIG presentation: University Management Group, Persona Advisory Group, and other key stakeholders. Gulp. I wonder why this makes me nervous, but I can stand up and teach without even a case of butterflies?

Tonight is the last night of Morris dancing for me for the season. Happy solstice everyone!

Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Today is our first big presentation. Scary. Actually, this one is almost a dress rehearsal for the really scary presentation on Friday. Now we get to see if all the work I've been doing is going to be good enough to pass muster. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 19, 2001

Wow. Life is a roller coaster. Sure, it's all even in the end, but the ups and downs could kill you.

Yesterday I came into work after a very happy weekend filled with friends, fun, games, and dance. The Looneys came out from back east to visit and play games. They professed to have a really good time, which was great. Lots of folks came to the party, including Ingrid from my Morris dance team. I made my famous chili and got rave reviews. Andy taught us a new game that he's prototyping right now that was lots of fun and which I wished I'd had when I was teaching English. Tigger was the star of the party though. And the next morning the Looneys took a great photo of her watching television. We headed for breakfast at Hobees with the Looneys (which turns out to include Andy, Kristin, and Allison), and then sent them on their way. After some minor traffic drama, arrived at the folk fest to participate in classes on creating no-sew ballgowns, Victorian polka variations, and lindy/charleston. It was great fun. After that we had a delicious burrito at El Faro. The California burrito there has rice, zuchini, onions, and sweet red peppers. It's the best vegetarian burrito I've ever encountered. Then we headed to Goat Hall for a night of dancing with Ingrid and her friends. It turned out great. There were just enough people there to keep it interesting, and everyone was really eager to learn. Plus it was a great opportunity for me to teach some silly dances from Gaskells/Dickens and to dance to some of my favorite old tunes from D.A. Afterward we retired to the Connecticut Yankee for drinks and half the table played a viscious game of Fluxx while the other half talked of everything from education to politics to porn. It was great. The next day I headed back to the festival and danced myself silly, learning everything from Cape Breton Social and Step dance to Old Israeli Folk dance to English Longsword. Add to that a morning of dancing to the Brassworks and a beginning fiddle class and finish it off with teaching about 60 people basic Irish Ceili dance and it was a good day.

Yesterday didn't go quite so well. A bad night's sleep made a bad day even worse. The worst part of all though was that I lost my boss. Wynn, the best boss I've ever had in my professional career, was reassigned to the Delphi project. It's the right thing to do for him and for the project, but it's the last thing I wanted. Wynn was so easy to get along with, so easy to work with, and so easy to communicate with, that I'm feeling this loss profoundly. Basically, the Persona campus readiness team is formed and taking off. Wynn assembled a great team that seems to really click together. So now, he's been reassigned to do the same thing for the Delphi project. Val is taking over our team, which is much better than having and outsider come in and try to rule us, but I'm not completely certain about my faith in her managerial skills. Time will tell I suppose.

What is that curse? May you lead an interesting life. Yeah.

Monday, June 18, 2001

So much good stuff this weekend. Gotta write about it. Tomorrow probably. Unfortunately the apartment building next to ours is repaving. This meant a very early, very loud wake-up call this morning (jackhammers and backhoes, oh my!) after a night of mediocre sleep due to Rick's allergies (which lead to snoring) and that it never really cooled off completely. It all leads to one of those days where I'm so dead tired that my head feels too heavy. Bleh.

Friday, June 15, 2001

The Looneys are coming! The Looneys are coming!

This should be fun, Andrew and Kristin Looney and Allison are all visiting the Bay Area, out from Maryland. They're coming to my place tonight for an evening of cards and potluck. Since they are the makers of Fluxx, Aquarius, Chrononauts, and Cosmic Coasters, among others, this will probably be a really fun night. Per Kevin's request I'm making my famous chili. Hee hee! I'm excited. It's great to have games on Friday night again.

It should be an action packed weekend. Tonight is games with the Looneys. Tomorrow and Sunday are the San Francisco Free Folk Festival. And on Saturday night, Ingrid is hosting a dance party at our beloved Goat Hall to practice all the ballroom dance she's been learning. It's going to be a grand weekend of games, music, and dance. Hopefully it will be as soul refreshing as it will be physically exhausting!

Thursday, June 14, 2001

Last night I went to Ross, and standing in the inevitable tediously long line, the girl behind me was talking about Pearl Harbor. She had high praise for it. "It was so sad!" she exclaimed to her mother. Eventually the woman behind her started talking about it with her, thus breaking the unwritten rule of looking forward in line and not talking to the people around you. I said, "Have you seen Moulin Rouge yet?" ready to gush about how great it was. She wrinkled her nose and said, "Ugh, I couldn't stand that movie. I walked out after 20 minutes." I argued that she didn't give it enough of a chance to get into it. The girl behind her said, "That wouldn't help." Okay, whatever. I just don't get it. Again, I feel myself the on the fringe trying to explain to everyone why my impressions of the universe aren't completely whacked. Oh well. If that's the popular impression, I guess I'll just have to accept it and watch Moulin Rouge spiral down the top ten into oblivion. There goes all hope for a new fashion trend. And I was really hoping for the red and green plaid stockings one of the can-can girls had. Drat it.

Meanwhile, shopping at Ross was an interesting exploration of current fashion. I got several great skirts because cute little skirts seem to be all the rage suddenly. It's fabulous. After years of struggling to find a single decent skirt in one shoping trip, I walked away with four. Vibrant colors and lengths that are either knee length or slightly longer are available in abundance. Gone are the oversized men's t-shirts in favor of cute little baby-doll tees in a rainbow of colors. Sure, there's still way too much 70's crap and polyester, but that can be avoided. Another interesting item was all the little peasant shirts. Remember those from the 80's? Well, they're back, mostly sans ruffles. They've got drawstring necks and sleeves. Some are made in traditional bubble gauze or crinkle cotton, but some are being made out of thin t-shirt knit. It's very odd. I'd be curious to wander onto a high school campus and see what's really being worn. Anyway, even with my ever increasing girth (which seems to be getting worse rather than better), I still found a ton of cute clothes to get me through the summer, all for less than a $100 investment. Hooray!

Wednesday, June 13, 2001

I went to visit Kevin last night at the new Yahoo! campus. On the one hand it was really cool. They really make a space for you to live and work. There's a great gym, basketball and volleyball courts, foosball tables here and there, plus a pool table and an air hockey table in the room we were in. I set my stuff on a bench that was crammed full of various balls and a croquet set. Pretty cool. On the other hand, I couldn't help but feel it just had this weird sort of Gattaca sense to the place. All those people there at work happily at 7:30 at night. Sure, most of them were on the treadmills in the gym, but still it was slightly spooky. One thing was for sure, I've slid back into my comfort zone in academia. We may not have the neatest toys, but there's a certain feel to an academic campus that I just love. Plus, we've got the cutest squirrels around!

Now why is it that every time I ride my new bicycle across campus, I hear the Wicked Witch of the West theme song in my head?

Tuesday, June 12, 2001

Having a surreal day. I dreamt of wombats last night. I realized sometime after waking up that I'm not completely certain what a wombat looks like. In my dream it was a small grey furry creature that was sort of a cross between a kangaroo and a bat.Very odd. I was roused by the very real sound of a backhoe tearing apart the parking area behind the apartment. Groggy, I stumbled out of the house and to the car to head for the office. Pulling into the parking lot I found a spot for my car (a green Saturn) next to a large silver grey van from the 80s. As I walked across the expanse of parking lot toward the office, I glanced to my left to see a large silver grey van from the 80s parked next to a green Saturn. No, not my green Saturn. Another pairing just like it. It made me pause for just a moment. I don't know how surreal all of that is unless you look at it through a certain lense. I guess my lens is just sort of there today.

Monday, June 11, 2001

Here's a bummer. Moulin Rouge was the fourth highest grossing film last weekend. This weekend it was sixth. I was hoping word of mouth would mean that more people went to see it. Looks like the enthusiasm that my friends and I have for the film may be lost on the rest of the world.

Well here's to weekends gone awry. I started out with a fairly grand plan in mind. We'd go to the wedding, then hang out with Liz and Josh, then head to Gaskells and have Sunday to putter around the house. Of course, very little of that actually came to pass. We did go to the wedding. It was fine. Wendy sang in an early part of the ceremony and I was really amazed at how her voice has matured. She really could have a recording career in Christian music if she wanted to go for it. We headed over to Liz & Josh's place where Rick promptly fell asleep for two hours while I hung out, chatted, and played cards. It was nice to catch up with them. Liz is one of my very favorite people on the planet and I love spending time with her and Josh. They're just such good people. When Rick roused himself, he mentioned again that he needed to go out to his dad's place to help him set up the arcade game he bought from the surplus Midway stuff. So he dropped me off at my grandparents and I went to dinner with my mom, my grandparents, and my cousin Debbie and her husband Ken. Debbie and I, though only second cousins, are clearly cut from the same cloth. She's nearly twenty years older than me, but we are both flat chested, brown haired, blue eyed, freckle faced, bubble butted women who gain weight in exactly the same places and proportions. Standing next to one another, you'd guess us to be sisters in a heartbeat. And though she's twenty years older than me, she doesn't look more than ten years older on the outside, which blessedly seems to be a fairly consistent family trait. My mom doesn't look 52. My grandmother doesn't look 75 (and she still dances and plays tennis every week). It bodes well for my potential to age gracefully. Also, Debbie and I just seem to have very similar personalities and temperaments. She married for the first time when she was 42 after a very independent single life. If I knew her better, I'd say she could've been a role model. Unfortunately, being a relatively distant cousin, I only see her at weddings and the occasional holiday.

Anyway, when Rick got back from his dad's place, we realized that there really was no hope for making it to Gaskells. We headed out of my grandparent's place around 9:00 and tried to catch Liz and Josh again. After some phone tag, we decided to head to the theater for either a 10:20 showing of Moulin Rouge or a 10:25 of Evolution. Now, having gotten used to life in the Bay Area, I said, "Well, whichever one isn't sold out is the one we'll go to." Life in Sacramento is a bit mellower to say the least. Neither was sold out. More than that, the theater didn't accept credit or debit cards. And they didn't have any self-service ticket kiosks. It was weird. They wanted cash. It was so weird. Now, luckily Rick had been thinking ahead and had cash on hand. I just wandered through the lobby saying, "Really, you don't accept credit cards? Weird." I'm so very used to the AMC theaters down by us, and I suppose spoiled. We ended up seeing Moulin Rouge again and I caught a whole lot more detail this time through. It really is a great film. I'm also convinced now that I have to buy the soundtrack (as well as the DVD when it comes out). We also got to see a trailer for Planet of the Apes, which surprisingly looks very interesting. Of course, with Tim Burton at the helm, my doubts were only small. Still, the question pounded in my head: Why? That hasn't been fully answered yet, but I'm at least looking forward to seeing it now.

The next morning we packed up the car and headed out of town with one minor detour on the way. We went to the Sound of Music Sing-Along. It was really fun. First, it was fun to see the movie on the big screen. Second, it was great to see it without commercials. Third, it was great to see it in an irreverent setting that seemed borrowed directly from Rocky Horror Picture Show. After my years in the cast of RHPS at Birdcage walk, I was ready to be the noisiest player in the game. I waved my curtain fabric and edelweiss. I popped my party popper at Maria and the Captain's first kiss. Still, I had to give it to the folks who had planned ahead and dressed up. I especially liked our Uncle Max (who took first place) and the Lonely Goatherd. We sang our hearts out and screamed our commentary. All in all, it makes me want to borrow a projector and host a RHPS reunion night. The bad news is that I don't think I could still fit into my old Columbia costume.

We stopped by Pescados for a couple of fish tacos and then hit the trail, back home to Santa Clara where I can buy movie tickets at a self serve kiosk using my credit card. It's great to be home!

Friday, June 08, 2001

Driving home last night from Morris practice I managed to pick up a speeding ticket. Doh. I hate that. Now, it's been over three years since I've had one, so there's no problem with going to traffic school. The thing that irks me about it is that I was cruising along at about 70 thinking nothing of it because that's how fast the traffic around me was travelling. It turns out that this stretch of road was 55 for some reason. Unfortunately, it looks like any other stretch of freeway and isn't near the center of anything that would make the speed limit clearly lower (like in San Francisco where it's totally understandable since the lanes are narrower and there's always traffic) and the signs that post speed limits are fairly inconspicuous. Not only that, but they don't tell you how long the road is going to be an adjusted speed limit. When I got my license renewed last month, I picked up and read the current driver handbook. Sure enough, if a freeway isn't posted otherwise, the default speed limit is 65. Great, but how are you supposed to know the difference if it isn't 65? On rural highways when the speed limit changes, there's a sign that says Xmph speed zone ahead. Then there's the speed limit sign. And then there's the End Xmph zone sign. Not around here. Anyway, it just seems like it would make things a lot clearer for everyone if there was a series of signs that told you that these zone was a weird speed zone and how long it was going to last.

My second complaint about this has to do with the prevailing speed of traffic. When I got back on the highway after signing my ticket, I tried driving the 55 mile an hour speed limit (which I never did see posted anywhere). Within two minutes I had been nearly run over by two different people, one of which swerved around me, then roared up to scream through his window and flip me off. All because I was doing the speed limit. There's a huge disconnect between the "law" and the actual behavior on the road. So I sped up to 65 and tried that for a while. I still had several people come roaring up on me and swerve around, including one particularly aggressive BMW driver. So, I crept back up to 70. Sure enough, that did the trick. Suddenly I was back to driving at the prevailing speed of traffic and people stopped nearly running me over. Now the only difference was that I made absolutely certain that I wasn't the fastest one on the road. So that ticket did just about no good other than to eventually cost me the price of the ticket and 8 hours of my life in traffic school. It's clearly not going to change my behavior on the road because it is ~safer~ for me to drive 70 and not risk a road rage incident. The risk of getting another ticket is small in comparison. That's happened once in three years. I see road rage every single day. So, peer pressure and negative reinforcement win the day. Oh well.

Thursday, June 07, 2001

Whew. Last night my life had a minor overload. I knew I was going to be at work late because Kevin had agreed to help me sort my brain and design a template for our web based learning stuff. So, he gets off work at six, makes his way to Stanford and arrives around seven. Two hours later we're headed to dinner having hacked out a basic design for the courses. By ten we'd had dinner and were headed homeward. When I arrived home just before eleven, I realized that I needed to dye my hair, pack for the wedding, and cook something for the potluck at work the next day. Yikes!!!

Lucky for me I tend to have plenty of food around the house. I pulled out some broccoli and cheddar and the extra pie shell I had and whipped up a quiche and set it to baking. Now the recipe book says quiche takes 35 minutes to bake. Every time I've made it, it takes at least an hour and a half to bake. Nonetheless, I set the timer for 35 minutes and ran upstairs to start dying my head. Thirty five minutes later, I dashed downstairs again looking much like some alien out of Star Trek, my hair coated in slimey burgandy goo. Of course, the quiche wasn't ready. Heck, it wasn't even close. So, I set the timer for another 35 minutes and headed back upstairs. I sat down for a moment and then realized I needed to pack. I carefully started looking through my closet for something appropriate to wear to a Southern Baptist wedding. (Wendy's getting married this weekend. Sigh.) Unfortunately, fashion coordination was too much for my brain after midnight. It was then that I noticed we had a message. Turns out the leaky toilet we'd been dealing with for months was finally due to get fixed in the morning. This led Rick to say, "Crap, I can't be here tomorrow morning! I've got that Microsoft meeting!"

Anyway, so I said I could stay home in the morning and take care of the plumber. I decided to put off packing a bag until then. Another 35 minutes had passed and I was showered and ready for bed. Still, the quiche wasn't even close to done. I set the timer for another hour and twenty minutes and asked Rick to wake me when he got out of the shower. He did. It had been about 30 minutes. I checked and found that no, it still wasn't done. I set the timer to shut off the oven in an hour and reset the kitchen timer to sixty minutes. At 2:30 in the morning, I tromped back downstairs one more time to find the quiche finally looked done. The oven had even done it's job and automatically turned off. I pulled the quiche out, loosened the foil over it, and stumbled back up to bed. I'm kinda tired this morning. Yah. But everyone liked my quiche at the party. Feh. There's something definitely wrong with that quiche recipe. It's either the time or the temperature. I'm not sure which. I've got to find out though before I do this again.

Monday, June 04, 2001

Moulin Rouge was everything I had hoped for. Nicole Kidman looked stunning. Baz Luhrman has created another visually stunning piece. Seeing it at the Grand Lake theater was the right thing to do. Oddly enough, the curtain and procenium arch at the start of the film almost perfectly matched the curtain and arch of the theater itself. Baz Luhrman seems to have a refreshing disregard for the way movies should be made according to the Hollywood establishment. He throws the utterly absurd and ridiculous at you, makes you scoff at his choices, and yet inexorably sucks you in. Listening to the reactions of the audience throughout the film was fascinating in itself. In the first scene when the actors break into song, it's met with groans and cringing. But then after an in your face song and dance that takes you where no Sound of Music/Carousel/Oklahoma musical ever could, when the characters break into an equally absurd 80's love song medley, suddenly your realize that you and the rest of the audience gets it and are becoming part of the vision. They're laughing, but only where it's meant to be funny and ridiculous. There is no more disdain in the laughter. In our particular theater the change happened slowly throughout the rest of the film. First the folks sitting near the center behind us. Then those sitting in front of us joined them. Eventually even those on the sides were laughing at the right parts. Yes, it remains absurd, but now they realize that that is part of the point.

I'm somewhat hoping that Kevin is right in his prediction that this film may have some impact on upcoming fashion. God knows I'd give anything to move out of the 70's revival fashion. It was vile the first time around and it's even more vile now when we ought to know better. I rather doubt the possibility more than Kevin though. Sure, there may be more can-can costumes at Halloween this year, but I don't foresee getting the average American woman back in to skirts, let alone frilly ruffled skirts and corsets. So much the pity. If only they knew what a well made corset felt like, they'd never strap themselves into a ill-fitting brassiere again. I just can't abide by the permanent little arches made under one's breasts by an underwire, let alone the shoulder divots and red stripe around the midriff from too tight elastic. Bleh! Frankly I'll take what I can get, and far more pundits out there are suggesting that the 40's fashion featured in Pearl Harbor will be more likely to splash into Macy's in the fall. At least that's a major step up from bell bottoms and polyester double knit.

As for more on Moulin Rouge, check out Kevin's review. He says much of what I'd say. Better yet, get your butt out to your local movie palace (if you have one) and see the film. Granted, this won't be a film that everyone will like. Certainly not. But if you're willing to see something that's very different from anything you'd expect, go see Moulin Rouge. I hope it does well at the Academy Awards this year.

Friday, June 01, 2001

Y'know, sometimes my life just isn't all that exciting. I was thinking I'd best write something before the end of the week, but nothing came up. Mergle.

This weekend we're planning to go see Moulin Rouge. I've been really looking forward to this movie for a good long time. Add to that that it's showing at the Grand Lake Theater and consider me stoked! Now we just have to figure out a good time. Nicole Kidman in a corset in the Grand Lake Theater. Yup. Sometimes life is good. Now the only question that remains is whether I should break out my corset for the occasion.

While we were in Vegas we saw this shop that had the cutest little baroque style light corsets. So I poked my head in to look at the price tag. I was completely blown away to find them charging $459 for them off the rack. For that money I can get (and have gotten) a custom made corset from Dark Garden. I don't think I will ever understand mainstream fashion. The other thing I saw that just blew me away was in the Armani store. It was a cute skirt out of a gossamer polyester fabric with flounces down the front of the skirt. Handling it for thirty seconds or so I noticed two things. One, even I with my very limited sewing skills could turn out a skirt just like it in about two hours. Two, they wanted $259 for it. Yah. Whatever. The only real reason I never learned to make my own clothes is that the fabrics sold in the fabric stores are usually atrocious. Anything not atrocious is at least $20 a yard and scarce. For $20 with no labor I can buy acceptable clothes off the rack from Ross. Like I said. I'll never understand mainstream fashion.