Almost there...

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Work has been unbelievably awful the past two days. Today I didn't go in. I felt utterly paralyzed and unable to do my job. Instead, I caught up on sleep, ate what pleased me, made some personal maintenance appointments (smog check, brakes, eye exam), and wrote a long long letter to my bosses. Harish responded. He understands my connundrum, and will do everything he can on his side of the problem, but some basic trust needs to be rebuilt. Oddly enough, I still trust both of my managers. They're not the problem. It's the business sponsors of the two projects I'm working on that are making me absolutely nutty. Sadly, Shirley is out of the office until Monday, and my biggest problems are on the E-Protocols side. I'm utterly terrified to go to the meeting I have to go to tomorrow, and I'm going in there totally alone. I dread tomorrow.

Cognitive dissonance is what I'm suffering, and it's really hurting my brain.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

It was a truly awful day at work. By the end of the day, there were few people that I didn't want to yell at.

Then I went to meet with Des Whelan. Rachel and Paul joined me and we first missed Des by being at the wrong St. Stephens. Then when we caught up with him in Mountain View, he was every bit as enthusiastic as my first impression led me to believe. He wondered if we had a flyer he could print up for us. Y'know, like he'd pay for it and everything. I was stunned. Again. We talked about dates to start. We decided around St. Patrick's Day would be good. Oh, and he wants us to come in for a demo on St. Patty's Day. Wheeeee!

So it's a go. Starting March 16th, there's a ceili every Tuesday night at St. Stephen's Green in Los Altos. Lessons start at 7pm. Rachel is teaching. Cost is $5 for the lesson. After 9pm, there's no cover and dancing until 11. We're actively recruiting musicians. If you know of anyone, please let me know. We've got one solid yes so far and one maybe, and a CD player as backup. Dinner is good there, but not cheap.

So come out on March 16th and let's show them what a Terry O'Neil style ceili is all about. I can't wait. I've been smiling so much for the last four hours, it's hard to imagine going back to work in the morning. On the plus side, it's very close to the office, so I think I'd like to keep my job for just a while longer. I just hope I can get through tomorrow without doing something to get myself fired.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Oh, I hate late work nights like this. I wish I could skip my morning meetings and sleep in. No chance. But I'm leaving here now. Finally. And the systems demo is done. Just some final spit and polish tomorrow. Oy. Too many hours straight in front of the monitor unable to stop for fear of a system time-out. Over six hours. Body tired now.

I can't begin to say enough about how much I love Turbo Tax online. It took me less than one hour to step through the process this year. I just waited for all the documents to arrive, then sat down yesterday and stepped through the questions, most of which were already correctly filled in from last year's tax return. I know it will get more complicated again once I actually buy a home and do an itemized deduction, but right now, doing my taxes couldn't be easier.

Turbo Tax offers a discount for Wells Fargo customers, but they never ask if you're a Wells Fargo customer. So long as you go from the Wells Fargo URL, you get the 20% discount.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Just found out last night that my friends Ingrid and Greta were in the crush of folks getting married last weekend at City Hall. They'd been planning personal nuptials for a while now, and couldn't pass up the opportunity. Congratulations ladies!

Friday, February 20, 2004

Browsing the SFGate over lunch, I noticed that now a county in New Mexico is issuing same-sex marriage licenses. My thanks to San Francisco for stepping up to the plate and making it possible. The thing is, this isn't a religious issue. A civil marriage confers a lot of privileges (1,049 that the federal government can count). Just because you can have a civil union, doesn't mean your local pastor will do it in his church, and that's his prerogative. That's where the religious element stands. Civil marriage is just a legal bond in the eyes of the government. Anyone can do it for whatever half-baked reason they so choose, and now it's looking more and more likely that that "anyone" will soon include same sex couples. Lord knows millions of heterosexual couples have gotten married for far less appropriate reasons than the reasons the same-sex couples want to have the option.

The fervor over the word marriage amazes me though. I suggest that the religious groups change their terminology. The Mormons call it "being sealed". What say that becomes the religious term and civil marriage is used for everyone else?

Thursday, February 19, 2004

I can't believe I agree with Pat Buchanan about... anything... let alone the War on Terror. When a right wing Christian conservative says that things are getting hysterical, it shows how far over the edge things have gone.

Pat says, "In the worst of terror attacks, we lost 3,000 people. Horrific. But at Antietam Creek, we lost 7,000 in a day's battle in a nation that was one-ninth as populous. Three thousand men and boys perished every week for 200 weeks of that Civil War. We Americans did not curl up and die. We did not come all this way because we are made of sugar candy. Germany and Japan suffered 3,000 dead every day in the last two years of World War II, with every city flattened and two blackened by atom bombs. Both came back in a decade. Is al-Qaeda capable of this sort of devastation when they are recruiting such scrub stock as Jose Padilla and the shoe bomber? In the war we are in, our enemies are weak. That is why they resort to the weapon of the weak?terror. And, as in the Cold War, time is on America?s side. Perseverance and patience are called for, not this panic."

I sure hope Kerry can pull off this election. I don't think our nation will ever be the same with four more years of BushCo.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Des from St. Stephen's Green called back. They're very interested. We're going to talk more on Tuesday evening. Wish me luck!!! I can't believe this is really happening. Yay!

The house my dad built is for sale again. He calls it "his castle". He built it on spec, so when the market got shaky during construction, he ended up living there for a couple of years. It was perfect timing for me, since the school with the HA program my folks wanted for junior high was now in the area of his house. I'd usually go there after school. I've many fond memories of time spent in the fire nook (which used to be more open so that you could actualy sit in there on a bench), or up in the tower hidden behind the bookcase in my room.

Funny thing is, the listing agent is now my friend Kathy's mom. Small world that is Sacramento.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Last Tuesday, I went with Paul and Rick for dinner at the other St. Stephen's Green. It's even more ideal a location than the Mountain View site. So that's it.

I did it. I wrote the scariest email in years. I can't believe I'm thinking of starting something like this. Still, I've looked around. I've got an instructor lined up (thank you Rachel!) and at least one musician (thank you Matt!) and Paul. And Athena has been pestering me for months to get this started. And, well, I just asked for it. The St. Stephen's Green website had an email address, so I wrote to them asking if I could run a south bay ceili there every week on Tuesday nights.

Deep breaths. Hoo-wah!

Now I'm on pins and needles until they reply. I've never been good at asking for what I wanted when I really wanted it. And I just did it. It was scarier than asking for a raise. I think I'm prepared for any response. I'll be very sad if they say no, but I'll keep looking. If they say yes, then I've just committed myself to something huge. But it could be a very very good thing.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

So, these marriages probably won't be legal tomorrow. There will probably be a court injunction. But when you look at the first homosexual couple married in America, you can't help but realize that this is not about any homosexual agenda, this is not about immoral lifestyles, this is absolutely completely about two people who have loved each other for a long long time who just want to have their love recognized by the world.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Some days are just emotional roller coasters. A flower delivery man just showed up with flowers for Jo-Ann and I - an arrangement for each of us. Mine is a bouquet of white orchids. The card said, "Thanks for your always available help. Anne Van Camp" We helped Anne out last week because she had a returned transaction that needed to be fully approved in time for the payroll lockout. This all happened at 6pm last Monday. Jo-Ann had been at home all day because her daughter was sick. She IM'd me with a question about the status of a particular transaction. Turns out the transaction had been returned and needed to be re-originated. We had Anne go back in, change a couple of details in the transaction, click save, and then Jo-Ann super-approved the transaction. Net result - one new employee gets paid on time without Anne having to turn in a special form to payroll to generate a special check. It wasn't any big deal. Just all in a day's work. But, for once, it was really realy appreciated. I got all teary eyed. I guess I'm here to help Anne. I guess it makes her world a little better.

Feh. Feeling like Cassandra.

I said from the beginning that the way the business sponsor insists that we create the web forms is madness, that the user community won't stand for it. At 11am, I gave a demo of the new web form for the Hire process to the HR Working Group for the first time. As if on cue, the room erupted into one unified force to push back on the plan. We'd been told that they were all on board with it. We were just going there to get their input on which fields should be shown, and which items should be required prior to saving the transaction. Instead we got into a huge debate about web forms in general. It's a major business process redesign, and the folks in the group are clearly not "on board" as we'd been assured they were. We got slaughtered. We followed that meeting with an emergency design meeting. Harish said, "Well, we'll have to give them something for July, then we can just redesign it all again next year." That works for him and works for Eileen, but it makes me nuts. Why put people through learning to use a new system if you're just going to change it again right away? It's madness. And what the heck am I doing with my life anyway? The only thing I've ever wanted is to make the world a better place (on a big or a small scale) by my having been here. My current work clearly does not meet that criteria. I should be teaching high school. I should be doing activist work for HIV/AIDS or Abortion Rights. Gah. I don't know. Anyway, it's one of those days.

I'm glad that tonight's activities involve shopping for a south bay Irish pub. Tonight's pick is St. Stephen's Green in Los Altos, and I'm really looking forward to a pint of pear cider.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Before I leave, I should mention that Rick got a new camera from his dad, so I got our old one as a hand-me-down. Now I finally took pictures of the office just before leaving tonight.

I have about 15 minutes between meetings. It's going to be a crazy week. I probably worked 6-8 hours this weekend on two different things that I just couldn't find time for during the week. This week shows no sign of slowing up. I've got the first major demo of the web forms to the HR Working Group tomorrow. If they like it, things are good. If they hate it, things are really bad.

In the meantime, I still managed to have a pretty nice weekend. On Friday I wore a new shirt I acquired from the Girly Clothing Swap at Corinne's on Thursday night. I danced myself utterly senseless at Friday Night Waltz, standing out something like four dances all night. On Saturday, I wore some new jeans from the same swap. They were still a tad tight, but I was feeling all funky and sexy in these wacky Calvin Klein flare jeans. Rick liked them too. We went to breakfast with Rachel and Kevin and I won a good hand of Fluxx with a patented Kevin-Extendo turn. Then I came home and worked and just couldn't manage to get an outfit together for the ball and pay sufficient attention to getting the work done, so we skipped the ball in favor of finally seeing Master and Commander. Good film, gladly watched with a free ticket, free popcorn, and free soda courtesy of my Movie Watcher card. Then we stopped into Tomatina for dinner afterwards. Their Piadine Caprese is fast becoming one of my favorite foods. Warm flat bread spread with pesto, with three slices of sun-dried tomato, three slices of fresh mozarella, some romaine with balsalmic vinegarette, folded in half and eaten like an oversized taco. Yummy perfection. Sunday morning was spent reading another hundred pages of The Eyre Affair, and then we had a late breakfast with Kat at Ole's Waffle Shop, then I headed home to go back to work while Rick went to install Kat's computer. Nym was in a snuggly mood and I spent most of the evening watching Oliver Twist on Masterpiece Theater with a cat attached to my thighs. I also managed to frame a bunch of photos from our Europe trip.

I still feel like I had most of a weekend, and I feel relieved about having two items off my plate for this week. I'd be scrambling right now otherwise. Instead, I get to write a little note to the world. And I get to go home at a reasonable hour. That's a much better way to start the week, but it's the first time in a long time I've broken my personal promise - not to work the weekend. Weekends are my sacred time. Once in a blue moon, for a very good reason, for something that can't be done any other time, I'll work the weekend, but otherwise, no go. This time, I couldn't work late either Thursday or Friday due to the clothing swap and Friday Night Waltz, so I had to sacrifice the weekend. That's once. I won't let it happen again soon, no matter how crazy things get.

It's good to have goals.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

So Senator Frist openly said, "I very much feel that marriage is a sacrament, and that sacrament should extend and can extend to that legal entity of a union between, what is traditionally in our Western values has been defined, as between a man and a woman."

Sacrament being a religious term. And therefore sacrament in his religious view, but whether or not that view is reflected in the society at large has nothing to do with the legal benefits of a legal union called marriage that confers certain legal/constitutional rights and benefits. There's this thing called separation of church and state we're supposed to have. At least there was the last time I checked.

This is the civil rights movement of our time. We're watching Brown v. Board of Education unfold all over again. The Masachusettes justices said, "The history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal." The precedent is all there. There's just this weird head in sand behavior coming from the religious right, many of whom probably still think that racial mixing is a sin.

The upside is that same precedent gives me confidence that within my lifetime gay marriage will be legal across America. It's going to be a bumpy ride in the meantime though.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

The meme that would not die:

create your own visited states map

Half. Just half. With strong evidence of the two road trips. Can you trace our steps?

Driving a golf cart on campus is always a weird experience. Everyone you pass envies you. You're not fast enough to really do okay on the street, but you're so big and vehicular that being on the walkways seems wrong too. They have no turn signals or brake lights, so it's tough to communicate to the cars behind you. You don't have a horn so when people are walking five abreast on the walkway, you have no way to let them know you'd like to get by, other than saying, "Um, excuse me?" But when you're feeling weird about being on the walkway anyway, that seems awfully rude. I mean, they're walking on the walkway after all, which is, you know, what it's for. The least I could be is patient, right?

Gnoshing on a pretzel while cruising around in the golf cart is even weirder. I've never gotten more stares in the golf cart. But seriously, it had been meetings a go go since 11am, and by 3:30 I needed food. So walking through the hospital cafeteria, I noticed they had hot pretzels. I couldn't resist! I hopped back in the cart and headed to the next meeting. Yummy pretzel. Cart go wheeeeee!

Monday, February 02, 2004

I successfully avoided the Superbowl yesterday. I went to see Fred's production of The Winter's Tale instead. Shakespeare, even odd Shakespeare, is still much better than football. The Winter's Tale is this odd combination of a tragedy and a comedy. The first half is all about a king driven mad by jealousy who sends his wife and unborn daughter to prison, where the wife gives birth and he orders the daughter exposed to the elements on a shore outside of his borders. Their first-born son dies in the process, and the wife dies at the shock of hearing this. Then in the second half it turns into a pastoral comedy set fifteen years later with the shepherd who found the baby now having the most beautiful and somehow nobler than her birth daughter infatuated with the local king's son. The local king is the chap who the other king was jealous of. They were childhood friends and seemed to get along with his wife just a tad too well. Anyway, it all works out in perfect comedic style, with the original wife not being really dead, the two young children getting married, and generally ending like a romantic comedy. It was very odd. But Fred makes a lovely king of Bohemia.

After that, Rick and I headed to the cheapie theaters for Mona Lisa Smile, which was better than I expected. Not a great movie, but a nice revisitation on the classic inspirational teacher story. We split a dinner at El Torito to finish the evening. All in all, Sunday was an awfully nice day.

As for the rest of the weekend, we had a wildly successful games party Friday night, with approximately 30 guests in our place. It was cool. Saturday was spent with Jordan and my mom and Kat lounging around the house watching Battlestar Galactica and Firefly DVDs. Later, down to just Jordan and his wife Kat, we headed to a quick dinner at Tomatina, where we bumped into Anthony and Deborah. Then Rachel saved us by saving Angel. We watched Angel while the party started, then shut off the TV and joined the socializing. But with not enough sleep the night before, we came home early, and slept for 12 hours, making Sunday as nice as it was.

And then I got back to work on Monday. It's a good thing they pay me well. My manager stopped by earlier and asked, "So are you still speaking to me?" Yes, yes I am. But only because none of it is her fault. She's caught in the undertow with me. I will be so thrilled when we're done dealing with Research Compliance. It was a very interesting morning. After getting dressed down by them on Friday for not testing thoroughly enough before testing with users, then they almost completely reversed their position today because the reviewers simply must be able to get into the system no later than Wednesday. Okie dokie. Whenever Shirley and I have enough distance from it all, we laugh a lot about how completely bi-polar these folks seem. Unfortunately, at 9:30 this morning, it wasn't even remotely funny.