Almost there...

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Okay, so the world has to stop being so freaking surreal. And eventful. Full. Yarg.

So I plowed through my day today at work. Volt's funeral is on Thursday morning. No one came around and said, "Hey, sorry for the ill-timed April Fool's joke." I hate that.

Just before I left, I had some questions about a presentation I was giving tomorrow morning. So I called the chap who presumably had the answers and got in to the weirdest circular argument I've been in in ages. Maybe ever. There are two items which have different security classes in PeopleSoft, but ultimately they translate to exactly the same thing in Reportmart, which is the only place they have an effect. Sadly, these two different items have been given the same privilege name in Authority Manager. I was questioning first, that this wasn't a mistake, and second why this obvious mistake had been overlooked. I suggested giving them separate names. The chap responded that they were the same thing. I suggested getting rid of one. He said that they couldn't because both existed. I suggested just giving the user community one to choose from instead of both. He said that we couldn't because they already have both. I said that they need to have different names then, so that they can be distinguished. He said they were the same thing. I grabbed a large tuft of hair on my head and started tugging.

Ultimately, this went on long enough that I had to give up and get off the phone or be late to my class. Extricating myself from the argument took a while, so I was about ten minutes late to class. The instructor was discussing townships (36 square mile pieces of land) and how they are divided into 1 mile blocks which are futher divided. Anyway, we got through that section and started to go on to Freehold Estates. Then he faltered. Paused. Tried to restart. Got stuck again. Couldn't conjure words. Then he started talking about "Alzheimer's Disease, or All Timers, or Alzheimer's or however you call it" and how he had this problem. He said he needed to take a five minute break. After about 2 minutes, he told us all to go home and he'd see us next week. We all sat there utterly stunned. Our professor has Alzheimer's Disease, and 30 minutes into a four hour class he was sending us home. After another minute or so, we collected our things and headed out.

This was, I think, the final straw on Ammy's camel. Do you ever feel like your life is on Candid Camera? Or maybe morbid camera? Or that you're just losing your marbles and everyone is having fun watching. Yeah. Came home and drowned myself in television. Gilmore Girls and the pilot of West Wing. Tomorrow is another day, and boy does it start early. G'night all.

In other (much better) news, Dirk and Tracy, famous for their adorable daughter Camryn, have just brought a new bundle of joy into the world: Miss Eleanor Grace. Pictures are not available online yet, but will be soon. The second pregnancy was rough on Tracy, but the birth went perfectly, with just four hours of labor, followed by five minutes of pushing. They arrived at the birth center at 3:30 in the morning, and were headed home by 9:30am. Camryn is absolutely in love with her "sister-baby". And Tracy already feels better than she did during the pregnancy. I can't wait to visit them over Christmas. Yay!

Monday, September 29, 2003

About a year ago, I came to work on the Workflow project on campus. Our job was to build a web-based approval system for HR transactions in PeopleSoft that would work not only for PeopleSoft, but would be expandable to allow approval for other administrative systems on campus. The eventual goal was to have one central place where staff could go to approve transactions. We were a small team of four people - the Project Manager, the Analyst, the Programmer, and the Campus Readiness Specialist. There was also a consultant and the guy doing the Crossworlds stuff, and the admin assistant who was ours about 10% of the time, but we were the core team. With such a small team, once we learned to work together, things went really well. We delivered a great solution, on time, within budget, with very little stress to the team or the user community.

One of the things that made the team great was our programmer, Volt. We would come up with wacky design solutions, and he would never say no. The worst he ever said was that something would take a little longer than something else.

Volt died this weekend in a freak shower accident. Apparently he slipped and cut his arm on the glass shower door, managed to call 911, but bled to death before the paramedics arrived. He was 34.

Volt was a great guy who had his life together. He was smart and personable and easy to work with. The four of us made a fantastic team because we had the perfect blend of youth and age, perfectly gender balanced, and could always find someone to share with. Volt was there with a similar linguistic style to mine, and a similar willingness to try anything that the other (older) half of the team would temper with caution and wisdom. And now Volt is gone. And I just can't believe it.

Carpe diem. You never know which one will be your last.

Friday, September 26, 2003

So I did the unthinkable last night. I made on offer on the Pomeroy house. It was promptly rejected by the owners. They didn't even counter. Sadly, the owners have an overinflated view of their property's value, asking $415k even though they haven't done any special upgrades or even kept up well on basic maintenance. (Two out of three sliding glass doors have broken locks!) But that explains why it's been on the market without a single offer for over 6 weeks. And then there was my offer - $375k, which is closer to what it's actually worth. Comparable properties in the same complex have gone for between $345k and $409k in the last year or so. The one that sold at $409 had had beautiful new cabinets in the kitchen, nice new tile, and several other substantial upgrades.

So, since the owners are clearly not interested in listening to reason yet, I am content to wait. Maybe another one will come available. Maybe they'll be more interested a month from now. Or maybe now is not my time. And that's fine. The good thing is that I made the offer. I deeply regretted not making the offer on the first place we saw in the complex (the one that sold for $345k). If we'd gotten that one, it would've been worth every penny, but unfortunately, the night we we scheduled to make our offer was the first night Tiggs was in the vet hospital, and she wasn't expected to last the night. I couldn't handle any more stress at the time. So, it was the right decision for the moment, but I would've loved that place. We wouldn't have even needed to paint before moving in. This time I thought I should at least offer, get the experience of offering, and know in my heart that I gave it a go. Of course, that didn't help me any as I was leaving the realtor's office last night having just committed myself to spending $375,000. But, all that is passed now, and we're back to being casual renters with a little disposable income. And that's good too. Now I can definitely afford to go see Dirk, Tracy, and Camryn, and Camryn's baby sister for Christmas. Yay!

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

I'm a foster parent! Yay! Okay, so Nym is currently terrified and hiding under the bed, but that's just because her person just left. Earlier she was being totally snuggly and cute. She likes being held and she likes her belly rubbed. This may take some getting used to, since Tiggs had a ticklish tummy and couldn't abide being held. I really think this is going to be fun. I've much missed having a cat around to hang out with, and Nym is all kinds of adorable. So until Rachel finds a place of her own, I've got one fuzzy little kitty-person to fill the 1 year kitty gap. Woohoo!

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Oy. It's always a struggle when new people join the world of email. My grandparents have had email for a couple of years now, and they still inevitably end up sending me ridiculous urban legends every few months. Today's selection involved a poisonous spider that lives under toilet seats. It was so plainly an urban legend on first read that I didn't even get past the first two sentences before heading over to Snopes. Sure enough, this was a rehash of the 1999 Butt Spider story with the North Florida variation. I thought that with age comes wisdom, but geez they're gullible. This explains a lot about how much they enjoy Rush Limbaugh, but it certainly doesn't make it any less scary that they vote without fail in every election. Yikes.

Monday, September 22, 2003

A very pleasant weekend indeed, with a lot of movies.

Friday was Amelie outdoors in the Circle of Palms in downtown San Jose. Amelie is still my favorite movie ever. I walk away from it thinking the world is a better place and that I just need to appreciate the simple things in life. Amelie was followed up by desserts at Christyn's house, and much lounging around. Since Rick was off with the boys at a strip club for Lee's Belated Bachelor/Birthday party, I hung out there until nearly 3am.

Saturday was running errands followed by a little sewing followed by Totoro at Em Quinnan's house in another of her series of "Miyazaki and Munchies" nights. It was a lovely gathering of old friends. And now I really want to ride the Catbus.

Sunday was sleeping late followed by some more errands and then Underworld. Underworld, though not a great film, was pretty cool. Kate Beckinsale was wicked hot, and generally it had some of the best dressed vampires I've seen in ages. The group of us took over an entire row - 16 people, many of whom were very well dressed for the film. I wore my new black corset from Evangelines and probably managed to get my money's worth in 1 night. That corset was a real find. In many ways, it's even more comfortable than my corset from Dark Garden. It's low in the front, but cut high over the hips allowing for maximum flexibility and ease in going to the bathroom. It's certainly not as durable or well made as my Dark Garden corset, but for 15% of the cost, the trade off is worth it.

The really good news? I was able to sleep last night for the first time in weeks. Sunday nights haunt me. I'm never able to fall asleep fully. But last night I was out for good within 20 minutes of hitting the pillow. Ahhhh...

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Well last night's adventure in roller skating was truly an exercise in extreme nostalgia. Little did I know how little has changed at this roller rink in 20 years. Sure, the roller rink I went to as a kid was in Sacramento (Sunrise Rollerland), but the CalSkate Milpitas was very similar. They had the same carpeting, the same snack bar, the same skates, the same carpeted walls and benches, the same scary bathroom, and the same distinctive roller rink smell. Mice, Wendy, Athena, Thomas, Thomas's friend Rebecca, and Rachel all showed up. I was really pleasantly surprised to see Rachel since her pancreas has been so bitchy lately, but she got out there and did great. Thomas, who used to work at Sunrise Rollerland, made us all feel even more pathetic than we looked because he skated with the ease of a pro. The rest of us wobbled out on the floor fearing eminent death at any moment. Rachel and I both had to adjust to very different bodies than the last time we'd done this.

Wheeling around the floor, I had a moment of epiphany. It always made perfect sense to me that in ballroom dancing, you do figures and slow stuff in the middle, and the outside is the fast lane. Last night I realized where I'd learned it, long before ever dancing. The roller rink has the same rules, and there it's even more obvious because of the red line painted around the slow/figures section.

We all wheeled around for 2 hours or so, with Thomas and Rick enjoying it so much that they want to buy skates and do it more often. Afterwards, feeling every bit our thirtysomethingness, we retired to Lyon's across the street for some late supper and conversation. I think this was one of the most fun nights I've had in a while. I'm sort of hoping I don't make it through the wait list for my class and end up getting to do this a few more times in the next few months. And next time, Rachel said I should invite the Fezzis, because not only is it great for building stamina in a low impact way, it would also be perfect for getting used to corsets. More roller skating madness simply must ensue! Sunday nights are for adults only, and have an adult lesson before the session. I'm thinking that may be my next stop (in a week or two) for a couple of tips followed by a nice evening of skating sans fear of accidentally running over small fingers. Weeeeeeeee!

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

So there's all these fun things that I haven't gotten around to doing because of one excuse or another. No more excuses, says I!

I'm finding that I really like having my Monday nights back. It sets my week off on a better note to have Monday night to run errands and get to bed at a reasonable hour. Before I could never enjoy it because I always felt I was missing something if I was home on a Monday. Now that I've written off the Plough, I feel a renewed freedom. Last night I went fabric shopping and cleaned the downstairs. I've got things planned for the rest of the week, but I don't feel the pressure of no free evenings because the week started off on a calmer note. It's nice.

So I decided to try for Retro Roller Skating Night on Wednesday at Cal Skate Milpitas. I invited a short list of folks to come join me in this madness, but really, everyone is welcome. I was just a bit hesitant about spamming say, the Fezziwigs list or something with something that is clearly not period, not dance related, and totally untried. But if you read this and want to go, just get there. It'll be a hoot. I haven't been roller skating in ages, and wasn't ever particularly good at it. But all that wood floor is so attractive, and messing around on wheels on such a smooth surface is so appealing, and well, then there's the music. It's a crapshoot, but it might be fun. And bless Thomas Davis, who has always said that if it involves roller skating, he'll be there. And sure enough, I sent the email, and he replied with an exuberant affirmative within minutes. So it's at least him and I, in wheels on wood.

Friday, September 12, 2003

Sometimes it's the little things that make you feel better. Today at work, nothing was really going right. At 3:40 I was thinking of just blowing off the rest of the day. Then I started sorting my email inbox which has been totally out of control for a while now. I cut the inbox from over 600 messages to 32. Then I did the same thing to my personal mailbox, slicing it from 140 to 23. Now I'm really ready for the weekend, even if I wasn't able to complete my real work. I got the little thing that's been bugging me for too long done, and that's almost better.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

So this morning I woke up to reports about the World Trade Center attacks, just like 2 years ago. I hit the snooze bar, just like 2 years ago. I woke again to more reports about the World Trade Center attacks. I got up, wandered to the guest bedroom and roused Kevin, just like 2 years ago. I went back, got ready for work to go do User Acceptance Testing for PeopleSoft, just like 2 years ago, only this time I actually went to work because things weren't falling down and there wasn't any question about the immediate risk of further attacks.

Is my life really that stagnant? Feels like a good time for reflection. Is the sameness good or bad?

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Okay, scary math. This calculator estimates how much money you'd save on a yearly basis if you ate a bag lunch instead of eating out. For one year if I ate strictly Lean Cuisine instead of going out with coworkers, it estimates I'd save $1125. Mmmm... frozen food sounds good. No, not every day, but at least 3 days a week. Want more? This guy has got a million of them.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Why do I look?

There's a townhome complex that is where I want to live. I've toured several of the units. I've met the president of the HOA. I've talked to the residents. I've played with the dogs who live there. I've wished for one of these properties for three years now.

For the last few months, since Rick became unemployed, I've been avoiding looking at the listings my realtor has sent. For some reason, I looked today. I must be nuts for even looking.

And there it was, one of the Pomeroy West places for sale. In fact, it's the one that I said if anything ever came up on this particular area of the complex, I'd move heaven and earth to buy it. And there it is. Taunting me. Rick is still out of work. And 20% down on the asking price would be $83,000. I don't have $83,000. If I had $83,000, the monthly payment would be around $2300 including the HOA dues (which cover a lot of stuff including basic cable and earthquake insurance). That's high, but not out of the realm of possibility. But I don't have $83,000.

And there it sits. Someone else is going to buy my dream home this week.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

In honor of Mice's birthday, we had an evening of total decadence.

First came the trip to Chez Panisse. I've wanted to go for years. Like, ten years. Since before I moved to Berkeley. And when I lived in Berkeley, I promised myself that I would splurge before I left and go for dinner just once. And yet I left, and only now did I finally make the pilgrimage. And though insanely expensive, it was some of the best food I've ever consumed. Okay, the best.

The first course was an antipasto plate of salami, fried squash blossom, torpedo onions, and marinated peppers. The fried squash blossom was the big surprise. It tasted of squash, basil, salt and peper and was so perfectly delicate. It was just the sort of thing you could easily eat twenty of without blinking. We were teased with just one, but one was a perfect treat.

The second course was fresh fetuccine with Chino Ranch corn, lima bean and chanterelle mushrooms. The corn was sweet and crisp. The mushrooms were yummy (and I'm not really a mushroom person), the lima beans were brilliant green. It was really very colorful between the white/yellow corn, the reddish mushrooms, and the brilliant green lima beans sliced so thin. The sauce was light and seemed almost like a lightly thickened chicken stock.

The third course was a spit-roasted duck with sauteed Gravenstein apples, Romano bean and leek compote, and crispy potatoes. The duck was rich and flavorful. I removed most of the skin and fat, but got a few bites of skin from the leg where it wasn't so fatty and they were an explosion of flavor. The beans were fresh and green and crisp. The apples were a nice complement to the duck, and the potatoes were little fingerlings quartered lengthwise and pan fried. It's hard to mess up a potato.

The fourth course was a fig and rasberry tart with muscat ice cream. The rasberries were the best I have ever tasted. It still wasn't enough to get over my dislike of figs, but it was quite good. Rick finished mine when it got too fig intensive for me.

Finally, they pushed us over the edge with a tiny little chocolate truffle. And then we were off to phase two of the most decadent birthday ever - Watercourse Way, Room 1 - for an hour or so of tub time.

I got home around midnight, well fed, well soaked, washed and dried and slept so well that I woke up before the alarm. It's not an evening I'll be able to repeat any time soon, but that's the life. Good friends, good food, and good hot water. God bless California.