Almost there...

Friday, January 31, 2003

You know, Craig's List is just plain cool. I was trying to think of someplace that would have movers without trucks - you know, just strong arms and backs for the heavy lifting. Craig's list has a whole category just for that sort of thing.

Oh. we're moving to Mountain View by the way. At the start of December, our next door neighbor had his ceiling fall in on his bathroom. Our landlord then hired his handyman to take care of the repairs. 32 days later, Mo had a working toilet and shower again. In the meantime, he was given a key to an empty apartment in the building and told to go down there to use the toilet and shower. At the beginning of January, they told Mo that they were generously offering him a $300 discount on his rent. He said, "You're charging me rent this month?"

We realized it was time to move. No longer could we wait for the right place to buy. So we started looking for a new place to rent. We've found a lovely place in Mountain View with 3 bedrooms and 1 1/2 baths including a garage and a washer/dryer that doesn't require quarters, all for $1500 a month. But the fun at our current residence hasn't stopped yet.

The handyman has entered our home more than once without permission. And it's been over two months since we asked to have the toilet in the second bedroom fixed, and when Hiugo (the handyman) finally came in to fix it,without letting us know he would be entering our home, he didn't fix the other toilet downstairs which we told them three weeks ago had started running as well. Oh, and his fix-it job on the upstairs toilet didn't work. Yesterday we came home to find the water in our shower turned all the way to the hot side, and a small pile of dirt next to the shower. This was the only way we knew that Higuo had been in our apartment again, and there is nothing wrong with the bathroom in our bedroom, so I have no idea why he thought he was allowed to go in there without so much as permission to enter the premises. It's getting very creepy.

I don't know what comes next. All I do know is I'm going to miss Santa Clara. I've really learned to like living here. I love Cosentino's market. I really love Silicon Valley Power. Our new place has a 1 year lease with one very important clause - if we buy a place, the lease dissolves. This time I'm serious. I don't want to move again unless I'm buying. I just wish our current landlord hadn't made it impossible to wait it out here until the summer until the right place in Pomeroy West becomes available. Hopefully I'll be back in Santa Clara before long.

Friday, January 24, 2003

"Harry, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don't plan it, don't wait for it, just let it happen. Could be a new shirt at the men's store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot, black coffee. Like this." -Dale Cooper

Today, my present is an extra cup of coffee (don't panic! It's decaf, but it's still Peet's and it's still damn good.) and Newman's Own Tops and Bottoms. It's just the cookie part of an Oreo, but without all the nasty preservatives that Nabisco puts in 'em. Dunk the cookie in the coffee and consume. It's one of life's sublime joys.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Today I am discouraged. If someone asks how I'm feeling, that's probably what I'll say.

So I haven't been insanely strict with my diet, taking an opportunity to have a couple of nice breakfasts in the last couple weeks. But I've been good during the work week. But I've been less active since the end of Fezzis, and especially less active this week due to my back. Net result: back up to 151. I hate my body.

There was a great deal of whining from the Student Administration Working Group about the PeopleSoft 8 upgrade a week or so ago. One particularly influential person feels that all of these administrative systems upgrades are just too challenging for the users. And there's no CEO at Stanford who can say, "Too bad, we're doing it anyway." Net result: They're planning to delay the upgrade, again. This also delays my project, and totally destroys my Campus Readiness plan.

A bunch of my friends went to the war protest in San Francisco this weekend. A comment was made, to which I replied that I didn't think marching up Market Street didn't do much of anything beyond get pretty pictures on the news, and piss off those who needed to be in San Francisco that day for other reasons, citing my experience in October with trying to get to La Boheme, but it taking over 2 hours because of the protest. I ended up getting flamed, which I kind of expected, and then they've all spent the last 3 days bickering back and forth, taking all the energy any of us has to fight, and wasting it on fighting with each other rather than finding some more creative or effective means of getting Bush's/Congress's/the world's attention. Net result: no one's mind was changed (about the value of protests, let alone whether or not there should be a war), and I don't have the time or energy left to do anything to stop the coming war.

We're going to end up in a war in Iraq, and there's no discernable good reason other than George W. wants it. We're going to delay the project, and drag things out for the users, and force them to come to repeated trainings rather than one consolidated training. I'm going to stay fat no matter what. And I'm just plain discouraged.

It was a long strange weekend. I went to Squonk Opera on Friday night, after an hour of Balkan singing rehearsals for Lenai. After the show, I headed back to the rehearsals (all this was happening on campus at Stanford) just in time to go out to dinner with everyone at Taxis on University where we were offered table service by the very enthusiastic cashier. Sweet kid.

Saturday morning I woke up with the most excruciating pain in my lower back. I think it may have been the running from the rehearsal to the theater (in heels). I'm not sure. All I know is that that it hurt. A lot. Still does. It's getting better slowly though. Now, five days into it, four ibuprofen every six hours seems to be dulling it sufficiently.

Saturday evening, Sean and Monica came over since Sean's Tivo had gotten confused about Angel's new day and time. The season pass manager in Tivo has a cool function to allow you to decide what takes priority if two shows are on at the same time. It works out pretty well, if you think about setting it up. With Angel's move to Wednesday, it's now opposite The West Wing. I'm not sure I comprehend the WB's thinking there, but whatever. Anyway, Sean and Monica came over, TV was consumed, and then they showed us his new Mini-Cooper. Very nice. It even has an oil slick switch. Okay, so in reality, it just rolls down the window. But it's labeled "Oil Slick". It really is a cute car, and far more spacious than I expected. If only they came in a hybrid model....

So Sunday the great breakfast mission continued based on a recommendation from Sean. We went to Stacks in Campbell. It was pretty decent, but it had some really odd quirks. I looked up their address online before going on Sunday and found that a user on Citysearch had given it a low rating because of "Don Juan". So I admit, I was looking for it. But he was there. If it was young and cute and wearing makeup or heels, he was somehow drawn to their table for every little thing. For better or worse, he did not favor Kelly or I with such attention. I think there's a strong chance she would've thrown him to the ground if he had. The other odd quirk about the place was that even though their name implied pancakes, those only appeared on the menu in a cameo role. By contrast, almost every breakfast featured both potatoes and a bagel. I don't know why. I asked for a pancake to be substituted for my bagel, but they wouldn't do that. Okie dokie. Anyhoo, Stacks wasn't bad, but it didn't break into the top five either.

Monday I spent hunting for a hotel. In London. Rick and I are finally going. We're leaving March 22nd, spending 7 nights in and around London, and 7 nights in and around Paris. So on Monday, I found a great site called Londontown.com and they had a listing for the Rushmore Hotel, which was one of the ones I'd circled in the Frommer's guide, so we're staying there. On Tuesday night, I narrowed down Paris and sent email. It looks like we'll be at the Familia Hotel in Paris. I can't wait. Rick has never been off of this continent. And we've been wanting to go for four years. And now it's really going to happen. He's got a passport. We've got plane tickets. And I can hear Mickey whispering in my ear, "Beinvenue Ammy!" Wheeee!

Friday, January 17, 2003

HAHAHAHAHA! Tivo loves me!!!!

So I came home tonight and curled up with a bowl of soup to watch the first new episode of Angel in more than a month. And it wasn't there. It went Gilmore Girls (from Tuesday) right on to Friends (from Thursday). No Angel in between. I was so sad. Tivo had disappointed me. I went back to the Season Pass Manager and realized that I'd forgotten to set up Angel since he hadn't been on since our Tivo was repaired. All my other season passes were there, but no Angel. I set it up for next week, but then disappointedly went on to ER. Sniff.

Just before bed, I scrolled down to see what Tivo had been recording of its own free will. And there it was. Angel. With a level of gleeful laughter (that kinda scared Rick), I switched it to Save Until I Delete.

God bless Tivo. Tivo knows me. Tivo loves me. And I love Tivo.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

More fodder for the great SUV debate. Mark Morford has a really fun writing style, and he uses it to lambaste Hummer owners. Alternet sticks closer to a straightforward book review. But the real answer is to buy the book.

I think my favorite part of Mark Morford's article was this line: "And, given the horrible visibility from SUVs, their drivers have a rather unfortunate habit of running over their own children in the driveway. True." The number one reason SUV owners give me for owning one is that it let's them have a better view of traffic. Too bad that view has such a high cost.

I promise to get off my soap box soon, but dammit, it's time these things were said, and it's time to fight the battle. SUVs should have to conform to the same fuel economy and safety standards that other cars do. We should have cars that protect us from the common situations (minor fender benders in heavy traffic), not the extraordinary (like a 100 year flood).

So I've been thinking a lot about the value of praise and other forms of positive feedback lately.

One of the risks I took by taking my new job was of leaving my former manager. Suzanne and I hit it off from the start, but the reason she was one of my favorite bosses of all time was that she was never afraid of giving too much praise. Sometimes when she’d tell me how much she appreciated my work, or was so amazed by what I had produced in a certain situation, I would think, “geez, it’s no big deal.” But then I’d be more motivated to actually produce something that was a big deal.

My new boss doesn’t give me any feedback. He doesn’t tell me when I’m screwing up, but more discouraging, he never tells me when he’s happy with something I’ve done. The net result is that I don’t know if he’s happy I’m on the team, appreciates my contributions, or likes what I produce, and I feel a bit anxious and I’m starting to feel demotivated.

The weird thing is that Suzanne always praised, and I before I had her as my boss, I thought a lot of excess praise would be cloying or annoying. Her praise was always genuine, even if it was for something small, and I really liked that.

The same goes for the rest of my life. A little complement on my dancing or my appearance, and I’m floating on air for a while. And comments on details are so much more appealing than on the big picture.

The thing is that consciously, I ~know~ I shouldn’t need validation from others. The old parental question, “Why do you care what other people think?” rings in my ears. But so much of our lives depend on just that – what other people think. Other people thought I’d be good at this Campus Readiness job at Stanford University, and so I have the job. Other people thought I did a good job, so I got a raise. Other people think I’m a good (enough) dancer, so I have several dance partners to choose from without having to beg. And because I have people to dance with and a good job that I like and am good at, I’m a happier person. So I guess I do care what other people think. And I guess almost everyone else does to. So many people use something on the order of “What would (person x) think if I did (action y)?” as their moral compass, person x being most commonly one’s mother, or grandmother, or significant other, etc..

So I’m reclaiming it for myself. I do care what other people think. Maybe I don’t care about what everyone thinks, but I will consider their opinion and weigh it against my moral compass. Confucius was asked, “What would you say of the person who is liked by all his fellow townsmen?” He replied, “That is not sufficient. What is better is that the good among his fellow townsmen like him and the bad hate him.“ Perhaps that will be my standard, with my initial actions measured by the golden rule, and later reflection on those actions to include reflections on the insights and opinions of others. It’s not the only thing I’ll reflect on, but I won’t dismiss them anymore with “Why should I care what other people think?” I know why I should care – because I know how good praise and positive feedback feels, and it should be part of my practice in life to provide that to others, and to hope to receive it.

And yeah, they’re still be times when I justify what I’ve just done by saying “Why should I care what other people think?” without reflection. Conditioned responses die hard.

Monday, January 13, 2003

The great breakfast quest continues....

You may have thought it dead, but no! This weekend we were introduced to Bucks, and enjoyed an exceptionally scrumptious breakfast. We went to breakfast with Kelly and Rollie. We suggested Hobees, and Rollie countered with Bucks, and we thank him enthusiastically for showing it to us.

Some of best features of Bucks include very large coffee mugs, extending the drain and fill and wait to cool interval. They also make a yummy coffee cake, though it's more expensive than Hobees, and though delicious and different than Hobee's coffeecake, I can't say it's better (or worse for that matter), so the difference in price is a bit off-putting. They also have free access to the internet via a wireless network. Service was friendly, if not always quite as attentive as desired.They need one staff member to be on drink refill duty rather than leaving it to the normal wait staff. Kelly drained her water and Rollie's water before we broke down and asked another waitress for a refill, since ours was MIA. But that was trivial compared with the positives.

The real star of the show was the food. Rick had a yummy breakfast burrito with chicken apple sausage and other good fixens, all topped with a mole' sauce. I had Devine's omelette - bacon, tomatoes, onions, cheese, and sour cream. It was a delightful treat I won't repeat often or risk gaining several excess pounds. For better or worse, the home fries they do are not particularly special, but there was so much food, I was relieved that I wasn't tempted to eat more than a couple of bites of potatoes. Kelly had a yummy plate of Huevos Rancheros, and Rollie had the pancake special - one blueberry buckwheat, one banana buttermilk, and one pumpkin pancake, all topped with blueberries and bananas, with whipped butter and hot syrup on the side. The pumpkin pancake was a surprising treat.

Bucks is a bit out of our way, and slightly more expensive than Hobees, but it's worth the trip.

Now if only I could get Crepevine to open a restaurant on the Peninsula or in the South Bay. That would make my weekend breakfast life complete.

So that brings the list of favorite bay area breakfast joints to six (in no particular order):
Hobees are all over the Peninsula and South Bay
The Original Pancake House in Los Altos and Saratoga/San Jose
Crepevine in Oakland (Rockridge) and San Francisco
Crepe de Marakech (formerly Crepe de Vine) in Shattuck Square
Bucks in Woodside
Sweet Peas in Los Gatos

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

A few months ago, the Mini-Cooper started a teaser campaign saying, "The SUV backlash starts now." I really liked that tag line. A friend recently said that there seemed to be a ratio of how large your SUV is to how agressive a driver you are. The bigger the gas guzzler, the more likely you are to be a complete asshole on the road. "What're you gonnna do? I'm bigger than you." And now I'm seeing far too many of the new Hummers on my local roadways, with the gas mileage that you can count on your fingers!

And then there was a new ad campaign, led by Ariana Huffington of all people, and it just warmed my heart. Maybe the Mini-Cooper folks were right. It's well past time for the SUV backlash. If you thought the "I'm changing the climate. Ask me how." campaign (or other similar campaigns) was too much, then this ad campaign is a little less antagonistic.

But suffice to say, I wish someone would develop legislation requiring bumpers on street legal vehicles to be no higher and no lower than a specified range so that when two vehicles bump, they actually bump at the bumper rather than one sliding under the other. And I will never buy a gas-guzzling SUV. In fact, I fully expect that my current car is the last one I will ever own that is powered by an internal combustion engine only, even though it's a lovely compact car that gets 29-34 MPG. My next car will either be a hybrid or a fuel cell. And in the meantime, I'm just glad to know I'm not the only one.

Monday, January 06, 2003

Oh, and by the way, for those who might be expecting me at the Plough, I won't be there for the next few weeks, with the possible exception of MLK's birthday. I'm taking a class called Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics. Sounds like fun. And I'm taking an Intro to Latin Dance class on Tuesdays to make up for no Irish on Mondays. Wheeee!

It's official. I'm a Sunday night insomniac. This has to stop. For some reason, most Sunday nights, if I don't fall asleep before 11:00, I won't fall asleep until after 3am. I just lay there reading away, not the least bit sleepy, watching the precious time slip away when I should be sleeping. And it's driving me nuts. So far, the only solution I've found at all is going to sleep in the other room, alone, in a bed that is not my own. I don't know why that helps, but it seems to.

I know a huge part of the problem is thinking, "Oh crap, if I fall asleep right now, I'll only get x hours a sleep before I have to get up and go to work." But that's not all of it. Ordinarily, I might think much the same thing, but pass out within a half hour nevertheless. But for some reason that doesn't happen on Sunday nights.

For a long time it's always been hard for me to fall asleep unless I can read myself to sleep. That's a nasty habit that started in college. Too many things to read as an English major, and not nearly enough hours of sleep. Now, even that trick doesn't work on Sunday nights.

Reading all the various literature on the web about things to do to avoid insomnia don't make sense or don't apply to me. It's not like I have trouble sleeping most of the time. Only Sunday nights.

And the amazing part about it last night was that I had spent an hour in a hot tub before bedtime, so I was so totally relaxed and ready for bed when I climbed in. Then I just read and read and read, and looked over a couple of hours later and just sighed.

Well, here's to a good night's sleep tonight.

Friday, January 03, 2003

And back to our regularly scheduled blog...

My romantic life took a left turn at Albuquerque the other day. Don't ask, but it's all good. I feel closer to Rick than I have in ages.

Reason number 74 why I do Fezziwigs:
I walked backstage on the last Saturday of Dickens Fair to find Bates straddling Laura on a chair (fully clothed), and Dawn (his wife) looking on with a grin on her face. David was sitting in another chair changing from his Mr. Fezziwig knickers into his kilt when Steve suggested we should show him the hide-the-suitor trick. Steve ducked under my hoop skirts and wrapped himself around my legs and became completely invisible save for the bit of grey frock coat hanging out from under my skirt. Elizabeth, who had been fussing on her own business, surveyed the room, and smiled. When Steve popped back out from under my skirts, she blushed and giggled. David finished slipping off his tights and Elizabeth dared to ask about his undies, which promptly followed.Elizabeth fluttered away, one mass of very rosy cheeked giggles. Moments later we were all standing out front again, being perfect little Victorians, all very prim and proper.

Caught up on some more movies: Catch Me If You Can (very fun) and Chicago (hot!).

Working from home for the past two days. Wish I could do that all the time. It's nice. And quiet. It's easy to get a lot done, then look up and realize it's only been three hours or so.