Almost there...

Wednesday, February 28, 2001

So on my way back from my morning training session, I caught the news on NPR. Apparently there was a major earthquake in Washington State. I must say, I was kind of expecting it. Here in California, little quakes (in the 1-3 range) are a daily occurance. On Sunday in San Jose, there was a bigger quake that people actually noticed. It was only a 4.4, but that's enough to feel it. It seems like every time there's a batch of worldwide earthquakes (India, El Salvador), then it's usually followed by a mild quake here that may or may not be followed by a big West Coast quake. I've personally been kind of waiting for it all week. It's the Bay Area's turn since LA had the Northridge quake in '96 and we had the last biggie before that in '89. I hope everyone in Washington is okay. I don't know if they're as prepared to handle quakes as we are in California. I'm also thankful that it wasn't us. I've never actually been near the epicenter of a big one when they happen. I'm not looking forward to that possibility.

Tuesday, February 27, 2001

The California Lottery is up to a $60 million payoff this week. I told Kevin to add me in for $20 bucks to his pool. The first week I got this job, I drove to San Francisco and passed the sign that said it was at $26 mil. and I thought to myself, "Hmm, you've had pretty good luck this week. Maybe you should buy a ticket." But I didn't because the convenience stores that sell them aren't on my day to day route through life. So then I passed it a week later and it was at forty-something million. I thought, "Hmm, maybe I was meant to win and I just didn't buy a ticket so no one won. Maybe I should buy a ticket this week." Then I passed it again last night. I thought about the house for sale in Sac. I thought about my good fortune lately. "Gotta buy a ticket I thought." Then I was on the phone with Kevin and he asked if I'd read his weblog today. Nope. So I bring it up, and click on the link marked "Holy Shit." to find that he got in to CMU. Gotta buy those lottery tickets says I. So I asked him to kick $20 in the pool for me. It's probably a huge waste of money. I'll most likely feel foolish by Thursday morning. But what if the Kharma Fairy really does want me to win?

Monday, February 26, 2001

I have inadvertantly started something that seems to have caught a wisp of enthusiasm I had no idea was lying so quietly, dormantly in the corner.

Dirk sent me an email about a house on F Street in Sacramento. He's been looking at places in Palo Alto to settle in for the long haul (or at least the upbringing of Camryn). The house is stunning. I was amazed with it, and amazed with the price compared to the prices around here, but then I noticed this line in the description:
"Grand ballroom with a large fireplace and spring loaded maple dance floor in the basement for your dance parties"

That's when I couldn't let it go. So I sent a hasty email to a bunch of friends. And that's how it started.

Now there's a mailing list for interested parties on Topica and we're planning to see the place on Sunday at noon. I certainly don't have the money to buy it and I can't move back to Sacramento right now, but apparently this struck a chord with others as well, and well, Kevin has gone completely gung ho and I think he really really wants to do this.

And all of the sudden if feels real and I'm panicking!

Is this real? Is this possible? Would the group have a home? And who would the group be if that happened? And what about those in the group that I don't want to have in my home? Granted, that's only one person, but this is the thing that plagues my mind.

There's this part of me that hopes that the place is infested with termites and not worth the money. There's another big part of me that wonders what happens if it is worth it. Could I really be part owner in a dream home in Sacramento? Should I be?

Friday, February 23, 2001

Last night I became an official Goat, and I have the pin to prove it. I am now an official Goat Hill Morris Dancer. What's more, I'm also a squirrel. The team is so small this yeat that squire duties have been divided between 3 people, and I took on the job of contact to the outside world. So if anyone wants Goat Hill Morris to show up somewhere, they arrange it through me. Anyway, in the process of division, they decided that the title of squire didn't quite work anymore, so now there are three squirrels. I'm getting a whole totem full of animals and all I really wanted to do was to learn how to dance!

In related news, Sherman joined the team last night. I picked him up from the Daly City BART station in something of a Comedy of Errors since traffic on 280 was patently awful last night. Sherman was riding the shuttle from his office, and consequently got to read his new book, "Bowling Alone". It's all about the demise of community life in America. Interesting topic, and one I'm quite fond of reading about, so I'll be forced to pick up a copy of it after I finish reading the one I'm reading called "Extraordinary Groups". It's a study of various communities in America: The Oneida Community, the Gypsies, the Father Divine Movement, the Mormons, the Jehovah's Witnesses, etc. Fascinating stuff. For better or worse, my book is a library book. It's so good though that I'm just going to have to buy it. Dang it. I thought borrowing from the library might be a way to get my reading done with less expense. Hah!

Thursday, February 22, 2001

Whew! What a week. I was about to melt down into a puddle yesterday. I was trying to get to all of my meetings, get some documentation created, and get to my grandmother's funeral in Sacramento. Grandma lost. I just couldn't make the 6+ hour round trip in one rainy day and keep any semblance of my sanity.

Okay, backing up. It was a weird weekend first. On Thursday of last week I found out that my Grandma Mary (my father's mother) had died. On Saturday, I was headed to Sacramento anyway to go to my Grandma Scottie's (my mother's mother) birthday party. It was an odd juxtaposition. Things really happened in the right order there. Grandma Mary stopped living a long time ago and seemed to be sort of ticked of the Grim Reaper hadn't come and picked her off yet. My Grandma Scottie still plays tennis every week with women half her age and goes square dancing and plays bridge and is really active in her church and generally only sits down long enough to sleep. (In fact, watching her sit down is something of a humorous activity, because unless she's doing something active (not passive like watching tv) like talking or playing cards while she's sitting, she'll be asleep in well under five minutes. My grandpa laughs at her for it, and then does the same thing.

So we went to Sacramento and dropped Rick's car off for service at the Saturn dealership (long story). Then we ran errands for my mom all day and did the family dinner thing in the evening. Then we spent Sunday upgrading my grandparent's computer. I bought grandma a copy of the Wheel of Fortune CD-ROM game for her birthday. They're really starting to get the hang of the computer thing. They were busy clicking ahead and not waiting for Vanna's instructions at all. After it was all said and done, we headed back to Santa Clara at about midnight and got home a little before three a.m. Blah.

Anyway, on Tuesday afternoon I got word finally that Grandma Mary's funeral was the next day. Having just done the Sacto tour, I was having a hard time facing that trip again. I'm just starting this new job and I was stuck in orientation all day Tuesday, so all of my real work got put off. On Wednesday I thought maybe just maybe I can make it and miss only one meeting. About an hour into my first morning meeting, I felt like if I tried to go to Sac, everything was going to unravel. Anyway, I ended up staying here and getting on top of it all. By 7:00 when I left, I was sane again. There's this little part of me that feels bad for not going, but there's this other bigger part of me that lists all of the reasons it would be silly to have gone.

I think the final big deciding factor was that I just don't like American style funerals. We go into the somber funeral home wearing black, being sad. Everyone is quiet. Then there's a little ceremony which no one is really invested in in any way, and then we all shuffle out and go out to eat afterward. I just don't get it. Let me just say for the record right here and now that I do not want that kind of funeral. I want what Terry had. Terry O'Neil was my Irish dance teacher from the Starry Plough. He also taught other kinds of dance like Morris and so forth. Anyway, at his wake, he had the Plough filled with people drinking and telling stories of fun and tribute to the man we were all going to miss. And then we danced, because that's what Terry gave us all. That was a proper celebration of a life. I just really hope that I don't end up like my grandma, waiting to die. I want to come screaming into the home stretch, having contributed all that I could to the world around me, and having made everyone else's life richer for my existence. Yup. Anyway, I'll go say goodbye to my grandma at her gravesite in my own time and my own way. I think it's better that way.

Thursday, February 15, 2001

Okay, so the PeopleSoft manual I'm digging through right now is in the silliest format I can imagine. I know their reasoning (it allows for really big flowcharts, important things can be all on one page, etc.), but the darned thing is about a yard wide when opened! I wish I had a ruler to measure it. And quite a large portion of it isn't really written to utilize the size of it's pages. I feel like a munchkin when I'm trying to read it. Actually, it wouldn't be nearly as bad if it had a hard cover, but as it is, it flops and bends all over the place unless you lay it out on a table, which just isn't convenient for the use I'm putting it to.

Kevin handed me a book called "The Design of Everyday Things." On the one hand, it's great because it's shaping my perspective on good user-interface design. On the other, it's really annoying because now I see flaws in the design of darned near everything. Doh!

Yesterday I spent my lunchtime exploring the campus a bit. I headed down Serra, up Galvez, past the coffee stand where the largest coffee was only $1.50. The funny thing there was that it was the same size as what Starbuck's would refer to as "Venti" but somehow calling it a large shaved 65 cents off the price. Then I headed up toward the bookstore and post office. I stopped in at the post office and picked up 25 one cent stamps. I really hate postage hikes. Actually, the US postal service just annoys me as a whole.

The last time I went to the post office, I had received a package I had to pick up. So I went there, waited 10 minutes for a parking spot, then waited 20 minutes in line during which time they announced that they had no more one cent stamps. Now the person behind me was there just to get a one cent stamp because her phone bill that was mailed the day before (on the first day of the rate hike) had been returned to her home. Here is a highly efficient organization. They sent the carrier to her home to pick up the mail, sent him back to give it back to her, sent her to the post office (during business hours when she was supposed to be at work) to fix it only to find that the post office wasn't prepared to deal with the situation, so she had to wait in line to get her mail individually processed by a postal clerk. All of this for the sake of one penny. Frankly, if the post office is going to raise rates, I'd rather it was by some increment that isn't just a nuisance. In the meantime, I told her she should just tape a penny to the damned envelope with a note to her carrier about the post office being out of stamps and let him deal with it. She was tempted. Finally when I got to the front of the line to pick up my package, not only could I not get the one cent stamps I wanted, but the post office had lost my package. They said they could bring it to me in the next few days when they find it. So I waited in line for a total of 30 minutes and was unable to effect any of the transactions I needed to make with them.

But back to the story about Stanford. I walked into the post office here and was able to buy one cent stamps individually from the machine. So I dropped a quarter in the machine and got back 25 one cent stamps. It still seems like a big waste of resources to me, but maybe it makes sense somewhere in the collective postal mind. Next I went across the plaza and was handed a Valentine's lolipop with a condom attached and a flyer for the pro-choice group on campus. Ahhh.... college life. Having gotten rather hungry, I trudged into the pseudo-cafeteria. It looked like no cafeteria I'd ever encountered before. First, they have a Jamba Juice (Yay!) right here on campus. Second, there was a Java City espresso bar. Then there was the actual cafeteria portion. It was divided into about 8 different stations where you could get everything from a Thai Chicken Wrap to a Mexican combo meal (enchiladas, tamales, etc. plus rice and beans), to a Terriyaki rice bowl, to a full American dinner (chicken or meatloaf, mashed potatoes, vegetables), to something from the short order grill, to your favorite selection from the salad bar. I tried a Mexican Classic chicken burrito from the place serving various types of tortilla wrapped concoctions. It was as good as anything from a burrito shop like Una Mas, but it was bigger and cheaper and came with a free soda. Go figure. I sat down and consumed my monster burrito (or at least most of it) while reading my book on change management and listening to the conversations of students. It was then that I thought to myself that I had fallen into something far too cool. It's all the up sides of campus life without the nasty down side of being perpetually broke, although I'm fairly certain that's not a real problem for a lot of the students here.

So with that wonderful feeling firmly planted in my head, I wandered back across the plaza where an increasing number of information tables were congregating. I started walking past one and noticed it was an advertisement for the Vienese Ball. I looked up from my journey to find myself face to face with my sister. Or at least my sometimes sister, Miss Ophelia. Miriam had missed half a day of Dickens at one point to be on the Vienese Ball planning committee, so seeing her there wasn't a real shock to me, but I seemed to have surprised her. I told her I worked here now and told her about my new job. She told me all about the ball and why I should spend $95 for tickets (choke!). I declined and told her I'd think about it. My suspicions about student's financial situations seemed to be confirmed.

With an even lighter spring in my step, I headed for the office, but then decided to poke into the bookstore for a minute. Bad idea. Now this bookstore was unlike any campus bookstore I'd ever encountered before. Most campus bookstores have rows of books that are organized by what classes they are required for. This bookstore was more like a Barnes and Noble or a Borders. Richly colored wood shelves of books were complemented by warm comfortable arm chairs. I think the upstairs must have been the more traditional textbook section. I'll have to confirm that suspicion at some other time. The process of walking the first floor front to back took me over 20 minutes, and that was only because I knew I had to get back to the office. I could've easily spent a couple of days in there. The history of science section alone could absorb several weeks of my life. Anyway, not wanting to risk getting fired and driven away from this magical place, I pried myself away to go back to my desk. On the way back, I stopped for a large coffee to wash down my burrito. By the time I returned to my desk, I was more pleased with my lot in life than I could imagine. I think I'm gonna like it here!

Tuesday, February 13, 2001

I started work at Stanford yesterday. I have a sneaking suspicion this may be the job of my dreams. I may have finally found a niche in the world. At least, that's what I'm hoping.

First, the cool just keeps getting cooler. The desktop system they dropped on my desk yesterday is a P3, 1 Ghz Dell. Ooohhh, ahhhh. Massive computing power....

Second, this place just feels right. There are so many areas to explore here and it's a nice encouraging place to go exploring.

Today I took my Peoplesoft Basics class. Peoplesoft looks very straightforward from a user perspective. I was afraid it might be a nasty scary program, but it's got a reasonably effective user interface and it behaves with in the way you would expect it to as someone who has used other Windows programs. This is a huge relief to me. First, it makes learning it easier. Second, it makes teaching it much much easier.

In other news, word has it that the new line-up for Tempest, my favorite band to see live, is better than Tempest has been in years. They've got a new guitarist and a new fiddle player who both get great reviews. Check out their tour schedule for upcoming shows in your area.

Tuesday, February 06, 2001

I got the job!!! I'm going to be teaching (training) at Stanford!!! It so fucking rocks!!!

Now this is my weird experiment. When I posted my email address a few days ago when I was laid off (ten days ago) I got email from all sorts of folks I couldn't imagine were reading my weblog. This included Alice Rice, from Intellinex, who commiserated since she had also been laid off. This also included Anthony from the Plough, someone who I've danced with many times but couldn't imagine having stumbled across my weblog. And it included someone who promised to send my resume to the right people at Yahoo! And to that person, thank you so much for the offer. The only reason I didn't jump on the opportunity was because I was already deeply into the interview process with Stanford and figured I'd ride that out before moving ahead with other positions.

So Rick was upset a while back about my weblog and my saying things he felt were private. I said it wasn't like I was screaming out to the world. I have to admit now though that it is a bit like that.

So Thomas and Kim are moving to the area. Tom took a job with Chaincast and is moving down from Sacramento. Kim is his girlfriend who was living in Monterey. We've been looking for a place for them to move into together. It's still a tricky prospect out there, but there are definitely more interesting places out there than there were six months or a year ago. Of course, what was going to 12-13k a month is now 15-18k a month. Yesterday we went to see a house that started from the exact same floor plan as our place in Sacramento. Only here it was $1800 a month and in Sac, we paid $795. The difference seems to be that at this point there's a $1000 Silicon Valley surcharge. It's hard for Tom to stomach. Still, I'm having fun driving around and seeing what's available. I'm really hoping they get the duplex in Santa Clara for $1595 a month. It's a great place in a great location with all new carpert and vinyl and a garage with w/d hookups. Very cool. And walking distance from Mio Vicino (yummy Italian!).

Well, back to the hunt. Wish us luck!

This was supposed to be published on the 31st of January, but Blogger was having issues.

For those who were worried, I'm just fine. I got several emails of concern and good wishes. Thanks for the mail. It invoked myriad different emotional responses. My first was, “oh that's so nice” and “gosh that’s thoughtful,” followed by, “wow, I can’t believe this person was actually reading my weblog” to having a moment of, “Geez, people actually read this thing?! I gotta start writing some more interesting stuff!” I was also thinking back to the movie “Pump Up the Volume” with Christian Slater. Yah, yah, cheesy flick, but I was 15 when it came out, so don’t pester me. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s about a guy who has a pirate radio station in the middle of suburban Arizona. There’s one moment where he’s talking about “keeping his three listeners glued with hooey-blooey to their radios” only to realize later that he has hundreds of listeners. That’s how I felt this week. I just can’t believe anyone takes the time to read my rambles. Did you all get laid off too?

I had an interview at Stanford today for a training position. They’re converting their campus administration/financials/HR systems to Peoplesoft and Oracle. They want someone to come in and be a part of the team to develop the training for these systems. It’s a big project, but everything they talked about made me really glad I had a chance to work for E&Y/Intellinex. The one thing about working for a place like E&Y is that you cram in so much experience in so little time. In the three major projects I worked on there, I got to write instructor led training, develop web based learning, and design a course from start to finish. I’ll never get that kind of accelerated experience in any other job again. Just for the record, if Stanford offers me the job, I’ll be taking it in a heartbeat.

In other news, I went to Christyn’s birthday party (at Stanford) on Saturday night. After some reluctance to play, it turns out that I am a champion 3D Twister player. It was a homemade game of Twister with construction paper cutouts pasted all over the walls and sofas for a game board. It was played like normal Twister, except that there were certain extra calls, like “Right hand on someone else’s head.” I won the first round I was in on a left foot on someone else’s back. Wearing a nice silk dress, I easily craned my foot around behind me to the other player’s back. The guys who were playing were mostly wearing jeans, and I think this finally proved that I have far more mobility in my skirts and dresses than they’ll ever have in jeans. I ended up winning two games!

Meanwhile, I’m busy revising my resume and spending some quality time with Tiggs. She’s curled up in my lap at the moment. It’s good to have a cuddly cat.