Almost there...

Friday, January 26, 2001

Now why didn't I get a degree in something useful? If I had it to do over again, that would be the first thing I'd change. I'd study something that had a future and minor in what inspired me. Yup. Oh well.

Got laid off this morning. Blah. I shoulda seen it coming. The signs were all there. Didn't. Thought I'd get onto a new project next week. Dammit. I don't want to be unemployed. Anybody have any jobs they need filled? If so, write to ammy_hill@yahoo.com. Sigh.

Thursday, January 25, 2001

Yesterday when I had no web access I had all these things to put in my weblog. Now I can't remember any of them. Doh.

Yesterday I came to work as normal even though I now was technically on the beach. However, every parking lot was full leaving me only one option: to park in the building parking for $1 every 20 minutes. So I raced upstairs, took care of the most important things I had wanted to do today, and headed back down to run errands. $3 later, I was on the road. I managed to get an estimate for the damage to my car and to stop by the adjustor's shop to get approval for my insurance. Then I planned to head to Berkeley and curl up with the New Hire Tech Basics Leader's Guide and a good cup of coffee. On the way there I decided to pop into Good Vibrations for some Liquid Silk and just to browse. There went the rest of my afternoon. Their book section always sucks me in. About 4:00 I headed up Dwight to Kevin's apartment, and on the way noticed a house for sale. I pulled the flier just to prove to myself that it was ridiculously overpriced and that I would never to be able to afford a place like I wanted in the bay area. Only it didn't work out that way. This 1920's spanish style house with detached garage, spa, washer & dryer, 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, remodeled kitchen and so forth was only $299,000. Now if you don't live in the bay area, that may seem high. But for me it's just what I want at a price that is really reasonable by recent standards. Unfortunately, Berkeley is not a convenient place to live since Rick works in Milpitas. Rasafrasamergle. Oh well. At least it reminds me that I may someday be able to afford a place to live even in the bay area. Man it was tempting!!!

So then I headed up to Kevin's house and we "worked" on Cameo for a while. This consisted of playing a new Looney Labs game called Cosmic Coasters (fun!), doing some brief online stuff, making travel arrangements, grabbing dinner at Coffee Source, going to the ASUC arcade to play Dance Dance Revolution and Air Hockey, stopping at Yogurt Park for dessert on the way back (mmm... 4 point non-fat, sugar-free caffe latte frogurt), playing Guillotine, watching Buffy again, and then going home. And oh yeah, over dinner we talked a little about Cameo. Anyway, I had a great time, but now we have to get together again sometime and really do work (Darn!). No really! We're going to work next time! Really!

So today as I walked the half mile from the last available parking lot to the office, I asked one of my co-pedestrians what the conference was all about. He said it was Photonics West. Oh.



Tuesday, January 23, 2001

I feel terribly behind today. I was looking back over the weblog and realizing how much I'd left out!

Last week, a semi drove into the state capitol building. I saw it on the news so I decided to call my mom in Sac and see what was up. She hadn't heard anything. Turns out I got my news faster in San Jose than she got it in the city the news was happening in. Eh, whatever. The long and the short of it was that a guy committed a weird sort of suicide by driving his truck into the side of the capitol in his Dick Simon truck full of cans of evaporated milk. He was killed instantely in the ensuing blaze. The funny thing was that this didn't really even make national news. Granted, it happened after 11pm EST. Apparently it wasn't news anymore by the time it was time for the news the next day.

On Friday we drove down to California Adventure. While the ticket turned out to be more than ridiculously overpriced (I had thought it was $65, but later found out it was $85), it was a really fun event. Several things at the new park were well done. The first ride we went on was Soaring Over California. This is basically an IMAX movie with Smell-o-Vision. You sit in dangling seats that mimic a plane or a hanglider (the theming was a bit fuzzy) and you take a trip over various parts of California. As you pass over the sequoias, you smell trees. As you pass over an orchard, you smell oranges. Funny thing was that as you passed over L.A., you didn't smell smog. Hmm. Anyway, it was pretty cool. I'm afraid I wasn't quite as wowed as everyone else, but it was pretty cool none the less. We also got to see the Muppet 3D movie, which I loved in Florida. Then we tried Limo ride. Oh man that was lame. It's sort of like a wax museum with figures you could barely tell who it was, but they weren't made out of wax, and they were all sort of mediocre tv stars like Tim Allen and Drew Carey. It was a dark ride sort of in the style of Roger Rabbit, but without the spinning or anything else to make it interesting. Oh well. Next we wandered over to the challenge trail. This was a fun playground with a zipline, rope climbs and bridges, rock climbing, slides, caves, and so forth. We played for a while, then we headed out to start the scavenger hunt. This was a great idea and really added a lot to the event. So to find the answer to the first clue, we headed into the Bug's Life 3D movie. This was cute, and a little creepy. Finally at the end, the beetles, cockroaches, and maggots left (and you could feel them crawling out under your bum!) and we had our first answer. Then we caught up with Fred & Julie. Julie is a woman who we've been seeing around for a while and which Fred liked a lot the first time he met her. Now, having broken up with Laura, he's starting to date Julie. She's really great. She's warm and huggable and fun. Anyway, we spent most of the rest of the evening with them. We wandered through the Boudin bakery demonstration and started getting hungry. Yummy sourdough. Then we wandered through the Mission tortillia factory. Yummy fresh tortillias. Next we headed out to go Paradise Pier. On our way, we noticed that the Eureka parade was coming. By and large, it was a fairly standard parade. It was interesting, but nothing too special. Then the guys on the pogo legs bounced by. These things were SO COOL! As dancers, we could all think of a million reasons that these things would be way too much fun. All we wanted to know was how to get some. I can't begin to describe them, although I've been sitting here trying for the last few minutes. Finally we made it out to the pier/boardwalk area. Rick and I tried the new coaster while Fred and Julie tried the Ferris Wheel. The coaster loaded very quickly and we were on and off within ten minutes. The Ferris Wheel took a lot longer because it has to load all the way around, then spin a few times, then reload. Bleh! Anyway, the coaster was very cool. It starts off with a blast like Space Mountain at DLP. You accelerate toward the first hill and don't really slow down through the whole ride. And it had a loop and I didn't panic! Yeah! While we were waiting for Fred & Julie to get their turn on the Ferris Wheel, we wandered around the rest of Paradise Pier. It looks a whole lot like the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk or the Santa Monica Pier. This basically worked out as a really cheap way to theme the area and still get to make money on carny games and pre-fab rides. After wandering through the pier and collecting several more scavenger hunt answers, we headed back to the Hollywood area for dinner at the Hollywood and Dine. Our tickets came with $15 vouchers for meals. We promptly realized this was more than we could spend on dinner. Instead, Rick and I got dinner on one voucher and Fred and Julie got dinner on another, which left us with two extra vouchers. We figured we’d use those for dessert later, which we did, and for snacks for the next day. We ended up picking up a bagful of croissants for a snack mid-day in Disneyland. After a bit more romping about, we concluded our evening in the Animation Studio. This was a really fun attraction. There was the Beast’s library where Lumiere would tell you which character you are most like. Depending on my answer to one particular question, I either ended up most like Belle or Arial. I can live with either of those really, although I really feel more kinship with Belle. Then there is Ursula’s grotto where she steals your voice so that you can do karaoke along to a scene from several different movies. You can sing or you can act in a scene. It was so much fun. Rick and I did a scene from Beauty and the Beast. Then we did karaoke to Bare Necessities from Jungle Book. Then Fred, Julie, and I did a scene from Bambi. This was a great giggly ending to the evening. We headed back to the hotel room and fell down only to rise far too early for a day at Disneyland. Disneyland was great as usual, but many of the favorites were shut down: Space Mountain and Roger Rabbit in particular. Still, FastPass has been installed all over the place, so on a day with very light crowds like this gorgeous day in January (sunny and 70 degrees!) we ended up waiting no longer than 5 or 10 minutes in any given line. We had even brought a book called “Would You” to pass the time, but never got a chance to bring it out. Rick and I concluded our day with a cappuccino at the Grand Californian, the new, super-nice hotel. All in all, it was a really fun weekend. We drove home, hitting Jerry’s Famous Deli in Studio City for a bit of matzo ball soup on our way out on Sunday.

Today I’m sitting in on the New Hire Tech Basics course in San Francisco. I’ll be teaching this course in about two weeks, so I really ought to be listening. Unfortunately, I’ve come to the end of my attention span, much like everyone else in the room. We’re all wandering off and feeling spacey. I officially rolled off the LDS WBL project this morning finally. I have no idea what I’ll be doing tomorrow outside of reading over the leader’s guide in detail. It will be nice to have a low pressure day. I can start to get caught up on correspondence and have some time to look over the WBL courses I was thinking of taking.

Last night, Tom and Kim came to stay the night. Tom had a couple of interviews around the bay today. He might just end up moving down here and moving in with Kim. I really like Kim and I hope that she and Tom are going to last. They seem so complimentary to one another and it’s great to see him thriving.

As for Rick and I, we’re happy as little clams lately. Something seemed to have snapped back into place on New Year’s and I don’t know what it is. What I do know is that for right now, we’re really happy and loving our home and life together. Aww…..

Thursday, January 18, 2001

Today I experienced the first rolling blackout in downtown San Jose. Basically, the power went off around 10am and was restored around noon. About 10:45, I realized that sitting around the office was utterly useless and so I left. I went and did all of my afterwork errands (that were put off last night due to long hours), went home and put away groceries, and then headed back to work. I arrived back here about 12:30 to find everything back up and running except the voicemail system. It actually ended up being kind of cool. Just as I was leaving the Whole Foods Market at noon, the power went off there. The cool thing was that the registers had a backup system and could run for about 15 minutes after the power was out. At least, that's what they announced over the loudspeakers.

Tomorrow we're headed to see the new California Adventure. There's a special annual passholder's preview. Even though I'm no longer an AP holder, I still have friends who are. They purchased the ridiculously overpriced tickets and so off we go! I hope it's cool. I'm really looking forward to seeing everything. It still seems bizarre to try to cram all the attractions of California into a few acres, but who knows, maybe it will work. I still think it will be a little odd to walk past a miniture Golden Gate bridge down in So.Cal though.

I've got to leave the office now though. My hands are frozen since this half of the building doesn't seem to get heat after 3:00. Plus, I've got to cook dinner for Rick & Fred.

Wednesday, January 17, 2001

Rick and I joined Weight Watchers yesterday. I tried it a little less than a year ago myself, but with Rick still wanting real dinners and me not wanting to let him just eat Taco Bell, I eventually wimped out. Now that's Rick's doctor has recommended losing a little weight, I think we can team up and do pretty well. The program has been refined a bit over the last year, but one thing is for sure: broccoli is 0 points and I can eat as much of that as I want. No, really! It's a good thing!

Tonight I'm still at work. It's 9:34. I'm hungry because I couldn't leave the building to get food because I didn't have a badge to get back in. I'm really feeling like the bastard child at my company. There was going to be a San Jose office dammit! That was the plan! But the plan has died and there's no hope for CPR. So this week and last week I've been working in the San Jose E&Y office downtown and feeling a bit like a guest at a wedding who doesn't know the bride or the groom. Ick! At least there was one nice accountant who came and made friends with me. Her name is Bronwen. Believe it or not. It's the Welsh spelling of that name. Anyway, I just had to tell her about the dance Bronwyn and she was tickled. So she's real nice and has offered to help me out if I need anything. The problem is that during the daytime, I've got no problems. But after hours, it really sucks to be me. I'm just glad the toilet is accessible without a security badge.

Monday, January 15, 2001

So I've spent about six hours today entering my time and expenses into the new software they introduced to Intellinex in November. Never once have I made it through this process without some major problem. The software is incredibly poorly designed. First there is a main toolbar which just launches over whatever other applications you are running. It doesn't create a window for itself; it's just a toolbar. From there you can go into the time entry or expense entry windows. When you do, these windows launch with their own toolbars and completely ignore (and bury) the main toolbar even though you will need some functions that can only be accessed on the other one. This alone is enough to make me denounce this software as something that unnecessarily complicates what should be a simple process.

Today though, TimeTrax went to a new level of frustration. After wading through all the entry forms and fighting my usual battles, I finally went to the submission window with a sigh of relief. I right clicked to "complete" the cards. I have no idea why we have to do this step, other than it won't work otherwise. You can always move cards back to open to make changes, but while in complete status, they can't be edited. They must be in complete status to be submitted. Whatever. So I click Send Expenses to the Corporate Network. All seems to be going well, except that instead of all the cards moving from Completed to Sent, they go to Alerts instead. All of them. I open one and get an incredibly cryptic and not particularly useful error: Alert 25: Error in User Defined Field:5. Great. I have no idea which field that is and the program doesn't highlight it so I can know. This is when I called tech support.

Sandra from tech support is nice, but she's just as bewildered as I am. After several times on hold where she runs to coworkers to see if they've ever seen anything like it, she finally comes back and suggests that since we've tried everything else, we should run a 90 day update. I have no idea why it's called a 90 day update because it seems like I have to run it every time I open the program, which is once every 15 days. Here's another big UI complaint: The 90 update button is also a drop down list if you click the very right edge of it. Running the 90 day update does nothing useful. First you must go to the drop down and select Update all lists. Invariably, I accidentally click the button rather than the pull down because I'm too far from the edge. So I finally get that done and close the program (because you have to close and reopen it to get it to recognize the update), and I go back and all the alerts are still there. This time I go into the cards and change something in one of the items to see if it will let me save it. I added a period to the end of a narrative. It saved it and let me complete and submit the expense and went to my sent pile. This was the point when Sandra said, "You know, I wouldn't believe this if I couldn't see it myself." She was viewing my computer through Timbuk 2. I went through each one and changed something trivial. I added buffet to the end of breakfast. I added or took away periods at the end of sentences. I reversed the order of wording in sentences. Every last one submitted just fine even though nothing material had changed about the particular entry.

All of this is just a really long way of building up to the punchline. What I've wondered again and again while using this software is what the company was thinking when they actually spent money on this software. Did they not actually try using it before buying it? So I went to the Elite Information Systems website. They are the creators of TimeTrax. And there it is right there. It says,
"TimeTrax is a high-level entry system. Because of its intuitive design, the system requires minimal user training. By allowing users to enter time while directly connected to the system or in a remote mode, TimeTrax provides a consistent method of time and expense entry for an entire firm. "

I laughed really hard. Intuitive design! Hahahahahahaha! minimal user training! Hahahahahahaha! ahhhh... the joy of marketing materials. On another place on the page, it calls itself "World Class Software." Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha! Oh god, my sides ache. I just wish I knew how much they paid for this. That would probably sober me up.

Friday, January 12, 2001

So I didn't actually make it out of here yet. I still need to proofread those lessons. I'll do my best. Meanwhile, now Elizabeth and Sean and Fred are joining our dinner party. Hooray! Fred just broke up with Laura. I feel really sorry for him. I just wish he could find that magical girl of his dreams to settle down with. I know that's what he wants.

I've got a secret. I can't tell. I can't tell for a long time. It's a good secret. It makes me smile a lot. Heeheeheeheeheeheeheehee!

So my social life has finally settled into a schedule for the evening. Luke & Emily and Rick & I are going to dinner at Il Fornaio in Palo Alto. Yummy. Definitely blows the diet. Oh well. What amazes me is that it took a conference call to figure it out. Wacky.

My project is making me completely crazy. There's between 1-4 hours of work to do a day. Then there's between 1-4 hours of waiting for others to do their work so that you can do the rest of yours. I hate waiting. I think the problem is that there is no firm deadline at this point, so everything has gotten all mushy. Unfortunately, they laid off our graphic artists at the end of the day and their stuff still isn't done. Oy! I'm going to take one more look through my lesson and see if there's anything else I can do, and if not, I'm outta here!


Thursday, January 11, 2001

Well, I should've left a couple of hours ago, but I decided to catch up on email and other details. One such detail was finding a hotel room for our upcoming trip to Disneyland. Now, in all the hussle and bussle of Dallas and the holidays, I forgot about this until now. Bad idea. It seems there's a big convention that weekend and the hotels are booked. Really really booked. So now I'm wondering what to do now. Doh.

And what did we say before Homer said "Doh!"? Hmmm?

So my cat has turned into a total couch potato. What was funny a week ago, is still funny, but now becoming somewhat more disturbing. She watches tv all day long. She even has a favorite commercial. It's the Fresh Step commercial with the woman dancing with her cat. Whenever that comes on, Tigger reaches up to the screen and meows persistently. She can be their spokesperson all she wants. I'm still going to buy Arm & Hammer unscented scooping litter. Anyway, she's been watching Animal Planet. When I get up in the morning, she runs downstairs and sits on her chair by the tv and meows until I turn it on. I guess I'm glad she's waiting until I get up, but all in all, it's pretty scary. Last night she was watching South Park. The episode featured Cartman's cat being in heat and having an cat orgy in the living room. Tigger was really into it. I think it worries me even more that she even likes animated cats. It seems that humans are the only thing that bores her. It was a struggle to get to watch Buffy on Tuesday. She kept meowing all through it. She wanted it back to her show on Animal Planet.

I'm troubled. Let's take a moment.

Wednesday, January 10, 2001

Whoa. Big scary thunder and lightening. Why is that scarier when you're on the 10th floor? Guess it hit my earthquake o'meter somehow.

Tuesday, January 09, 2001

I realized this morning that I forgot to mention anything about Krazy Khabib's Indian Food Crisis. Krazy Khabib's is at Tate's every year. It started back in the early 90's (1993?) just after the Gulf War. It was originally Krazy Khabib's Middle East Food Crisis. We created a bunch of different dishes of middle eastern origin, dressed up, and spent the night lounging around Tate's place listening to middle eastern music. Flash forward to 2001. Krazy Khabib's is now a running tradition. Krazy Khabib has been to India, Thailand, and the Carribean. The event usually happens every year on the Saturday between Christmas and New Year's. This year it was pushed out a week since doing this one night and New Year's Eve parties the next seemed too stressful.

This year, Krazy Khabib went back along the spice trade route to India. I made a dal soup and chicken tikka masala. We also made lamb vindaloo, raita, mint and corriander chutney, saag, a rice I forget the name of, a fish dish I forget the name of, and... well heck, a whole bunch of food. Plus, we ordered the samosas and nan from a local restaurant. Plus Ann served us ollolieberries and pineapple drizzled with honey for dessert. We all dressed in our best Indian wear (much of which was very nice from Tate and Terri's wedding), and let Khabib offer us pleasures and temptations. First we had a belly dancing show from a friend of ours. For the first time, I was actually impressed with belly dancing. She was not your standard overweight house wife. This woman had the moves! Then Khabib pleasured us with two masseuses. It's kind of fun now that our friends are getting established enough not to be living hand to mouth. When we first did Krazy Khabib's, Tate would pass the hat to help pay for all the groceries we bought. It usually only cost about a hundred dollars, but when you're just getting over being a student, that's a lot of money. Now, he provides the food, buys take out for what he doesn't want to bother with, and provides massage for everyone at the party. Life is good. I'm enjoying growing up and moving out of my starving student phase.


Monday, January 08, 2001

Went to the Fezziwigs Cast Party yesterday. It sounds corny, but at some point midway through the evening, I just found myself thinking fondly about what wonderful friends I have and how blessed my social life is. Where else could a group of 40-odd folks with ages ranging from 9 to 65, with a myriad of different ethnic and religious backgrounds, get together, throroughly enjoy one another's company outside in January, dancing on the deck, playing kissing games indoors (young and old alike), with the most fantastic potluck feast laid out. I just can't imagine anything more perfect.

And now I'm off to the Starry Plough to do more dancing with many of those same friends and several others.

Did I mention I'm not in Dallas this week? Hooray!!!

Thursday, January 04, 2001

Just for the heck of it, I was browsing Monster. I have an agent which collects training positions in the Bay Area. Looking through the current postings, I noticed a company searching for a DSL trainer. I'd be willing to bet $20 that this is Covad and that the position would be instructing from the training materials I helped create for them a couple of months ago.

It's kind of ironic on a couple of fronts. First, they're looking for someone who has experience doing all of these things. I feel like I could teach that class in a heartbeat, but I've never even seen a loop test run. Still, I spent a month immersed in the material and I know it pretty darned well. Second, I know I'd be comfortable teaching using their materials since there's already so much of my style in the materials. I'd be interested to contact the recruiter just to confirm that it really is Covad.

On the other hand, even if it was, would I want to work for a company that just laid off 400 employees and whose stock has gone from the mid30s to $1 5/8 a share? I don't think so!

Wednesday, January 03, 2001

So I called Rick last night after getting back to the hotel. He was hooking up our new DVD player (Thank you Fred!) and had the tv tuned into channel 3 as a result. Channel 3 is the Discovery channel at home, and there was a program about meerkats. My dear little cat became instantly glued to the television for the next couple of hours. Rick brought over the little step ladder so that she could be closer to the screen. She then sat completely glued to the tv for as long as the show was on, making little chirps and meows in response. Rick was thinking we should get her a video of this show. I suggested getting her one of the videos created specially for cats. Then I thought we could just program the VCR to tape a bunch of Discovery channel shows and we could even leave it on for her when we go away for a day or more. It was about this point that I realized just how good Tigger has it. We bring her food, we clean her bathroom, we're considering programming the VCR for her. If you walk up and pet her while she's watching tv, she'll talk to you for a moment, but then get sucked back in. Heck, maybe she's saying, "Hey woman, bring me a beer!"

My cat, the couch potato. Sigh.

Tuesday, January 02, 2001

Back to Dallas. According to the locals, the snow I see around here and there is from New Year's Eve. Today it's been hovering around 30 degrees outside. And I'm inside, working, at 11:26 p.m. Okay, technically, I'm taking a break at 11:26 p.m. But I'm still in the office and I'm pretty sure I've even outlasted the janitors. Is this job really worth an extra 8k a year?

Last week we played a fun new game with Lee and Stacy called Guillotine. We liked it so much we went out and got our own copy this weekend. In the process we introduced another game store clerk to Fluxx. He really loved the game, but no one can seem to figure out how to stock these games so that they need not be ordered online and shipped in. The good news is that Gator Games in San Mateo seems to be the only California distributor of Looney Labs games. So if you're in the bay area and just can't wait for your deck to ship, go to them.

Alright. Back to work. Ugh.