Almost there...

Monday, August 30, 2004

Life as a Homeowner

I felt like a real homeowner this weekend, spending my entire day working around the house yesterday. I cleaned out the kitchen cabinets in preparations for moving in this weekend, installed a bathroom cabinet and a screen door on the back, and shopped at Home Depot while the boys were under the house strapping the foundation and out moving shelves in the garage.

Some things are good. Generally the neighborhood is very quiet and neighborhoody, with kids playing and such. The house is lovely inside. I'm much looking forward to decorating and settling in.

Some things are kinda bad. There's some bugs - specifically one nasty cockroach in the bathroom, and some termites, mostly in the garage. The garage has pretty major issues. It really needs to be torn down, a proper foundation laid, and a new garage built. This will likely need to happen in the next couple of years. Meanwhile, we need to decide if it's better to let the termites and such eat it, or if we should stop them. Stopping them won't keep them from coming back. Stopping them won't fix the foundation (or lack thereof) that will likely let water into the garage with every storm. Anyway, that's a bridge to cross soon. For now, I just have to get through Dickens Fair, and then I can start thinking of such things. Right now, there's moving, and Emily's wedding, and Justin's wedding, making time for Baby Sonia, and Fezzis rehearsals, and more and more. Come January, I can look into what it would cost to build a new garage or new garage with flair. This week, I need focus on packing boxes.

Friday, August 27, 2004

It's official.

Escrow has closed. I am the proud owner of a trust deed on 298 S. 23rd Street.

Feeling a wild mix of fear and exultation. And trying to stay focused on the lab animals meeting I'm in. Trying.

Baby Mice

Sonia is perfect. She's got the cutest little ears and she's totally soft and she's sooooooo tiny and just loves to be held (even at 2am when mom and dad are trying (and failing) to sleep). Wendy looks amazing for someone who just had a baby five days ago. She's up and mobile and mostly her normal self. Both of them are severly lacking sleep and trying to master the new skills of the cloth diaper and baby burrito wrap. We brought Thai food for dinner and manicotti and tuna noodle for fridge food. On the way home, we drove first to the new house to see how far we'd be from Miceland. Looks like it's just about a 30 minute drive exactly. That'll work. I reckon we'll be visiting often.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Stanford is cool sometimes

You know you work in a good place when a meeting is about to start and you're on the last page of your 500 page book, and they decide to wait a minute to get started so that you can finish the last page of the book. Were everyone here and ready to go, I wouldn't consider it, but since Kathy isn't back yet, it gave Elizabeth a minute to walk down the hall to see if she was at her desk. And now I have finished "To Say Nothing of the Dog". I think it's a new favorite. It's full of time travel, Victorians, a fabulous bulldog named Cyril, a mystery to be solved, and kittens!

Monday, August 23, 2004


Packed one big box (probably too big, might need to split into two smaller ones) with much of the junk from my desk. I'll sort it in detail at the new house. Now I just want it packed. Spent that packing time, plus a little end of the day work time watching an episode of Battlestar Galactica, specifically "The Magnificent Warriors". It's the one where they need new seed, so they go to a planet and try to trade for it, get robbed, and Starbuck ends up as the town constable by winning a hand of Pyramid. Ultimately, the big problem is the Boorays, who have turned into scavengers because their leader is a big lazy pig. Starbuck makes a deal with them and that leader becomes the new town constable, Starbuck becomes the only man to survive being town constable, and they Galactica gets the seed it needs. It all takes place in a town called Serenity. I wonder if Joss Whedon was a Battlestar Galactica fan as a kid, or if the name of this little wild west town in a valley is pure coicidence?

Baby Girl!

Mice and Wendy had their baby! And she's already cute (which is no small feat in my opinion since most newborns look like space aliens). Can't wait to meet her in person. Yay!

Sunday, August 22, 2004

More Packing... and a dress!

Cyrus and Athena came to help us with packing today. We had breakfast, and then Athena and I split off to do one round of hunting for her dress. The Ammy/JessicaMcClintock synergy occurred on cue and Athena got her dress, a one-of-a-kind sample, originally marked $332, which the clerks said, "Oh, that's one is $115." We gasped. Then the clerk said, "Plus 40% off." Athena had already decided it was the one. For less than $75 she found a dress she totally loved. I had picked out a purple lace confection which turned out to be a mere $26, and Athena bought it for me as a thank you for finding her dress. It was one of those magical moments of dress glory. I saw someone else trying it on, thought it had potential, saw them return it, and went out and grabbed it while Athena tried something else. She'd seen it on the rack, but passed it over because of one feature we're going to alter. I made her try it on, promising to ignore the horrific gold and rhinestone with an enormous fake pearl centerpiece buckles on it. It fit well and screamed "Wow!" so we gave the place one more pass. On second try, she succumbed to the power of the dress and screamed, "I'm going to wear this dress at my wedding!" and hugged me and burst into tears. It is a totally cool dress, save for the buckles, but those can be removed, and the back taken in a smidge and voila - gorgeous couture on a pauper's budget.

And then we came home and packed the rest of the downstairs. Glamour, glory, and boxes. Yep, it's been a good day.

Ugh. Religion. Again.

For me, it's all about abdicating reason for the sake of faith, especially for the rules of a faith that are created by man. No where in the bible does it say that a communion wafer has to have wheat. The Pope made it up. A man in a silly hat said that's the way things are, and so shall it be. But because he did, people can't practice their chosen religion. Any god that would want you to suffer bone loss and intestinal cancer just to follow his faith is not worth following. If the priests can't see that, I just hope the parents of this child do.

A Sea of Boxes

Well, packing goes. It's a slow, arduous process that leaves this place in a sea of boxes. But, the books and CDs and DVDs are all packed now. My costume closet is packed. Not sure what Rick's gotten through. It's all coming along, well aided (for me) by Tivo, and DVDs of favorite old TV shows. I work hardest on laborious tasks when entertained either by a radio story (a la This American Life) or by TV. Unfortunately for Rick, he has trouble working when the tv is on. I have to stay out of rooms he's in or near if I'm working with the tv on. But for what it's worth, I have so far caught up on two movies Tivo recorded for me, and consumed several episodes of Battlestar Gallactica.

Unfortunately, all hope of social activities this weekend have gone away. I missed Ingrid and Greta's dance party last night and I'm going to miss the Fezziwig's picnic today. And I was so looking forward to a game of croquet! But the sea of boxes calls. I must drown now.

Friday, August 20, 2004


It's all just coincidence. Really. No, really.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Name for the New Digs?

I'm now taking suggestions for a name for the new house. I've been trying to think of something good for a while now. Rick thinks it should be something with a Spanish theme since we'll be living in a predominently hispanic neighborhood. I tend to disagree. I went looking at slang of the 20's (since the house was built in the 20's), but didn't find much that really rang out as perfect. Possibly "heavy sugar" meaning a lot of money, or "Sockdollager" meaning an action having a great impact, or possibly "The Dapper Pad" or the "The Darb Joint". Rick complained that none of those sounded as good as friends' homes' names like "Six Birches" or "Victoria Place". So, I'm stumped. I'm taking all suggestions, maybe picking one, maybe not. But show me what you've got. I hope to have this place appropriately dubbed by the end of September.

Getting It Done

I'm getting closer on all the details. So far, I have:
- arranged for a U-Haul truck on September 4th, pickup at 1:30.
- gotten a new phone service for the house and phone number and disconnected the old service.
- tried to arrange DSL, but that has to wait until 3 days after the phone line is installed.
- gotten cable and cable internet disconnected from the old place and new cable service at the new place and found out where to drop off the old cable modem when it's time.
- set up PG&E and arranged disconnection at the old place.
- arranged water, sewer, and garbage at the new place.
- gotten homeowner's insurance, flood insurance, and new car insurance and contacted my former agent to arrange cancellation of my old insurance
- gotten my Oppenheimer and ING Funds transferred to Wells Fargo to get a big big check for close of escrow.
- signed off on all the loan paperwork.
- re-registered to vote.
- sent a change of address notice to the post office.

I think I'm almost done. We're planning a walkthrough next Wednesday. I need to get a cashier's check to the title company next Monday or Tuesday. A week from Friday, I'll have keys to my home. Home home home. Hooray.

So what am I forgetting?

Vile Torture

Someone, who says he's a good friend, but who is apparently in Manchester, England, is posting comments. And now he's (she's?) torturing me. I wonder who it is. Curiouser and curiouser.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Shoulda Stood In Bed

Ever have those days where things just don't go as planned. Yep, having one of those.

I had considered working from home today, and I'm relatively certain that had I done so, I would've gotten at least as much work done. Probably a lot more. Today has been a day of computer issues, and a new and special issue with my VOIP phone. These VOIP phones have been rather a nuisance since they arrived, and today's special trick involves having every button dial a 7. When I press the headset button, it dials 7. When I press 0, it dials 7. When I press Quit, it dials 7. When I press the speaker loudness button, it dials 7. I submitted a HelpSU request three hours ago. Meanwhile, I keep trying to do things, like check my voicemail. No can do. Call Paula to help her with her request for support. No can do.

Meanwhile, what I'm supposed to be doing is creating a WBT course for Non-Medical eProtocols. That didn't happen today. I've gotten the CSS mostly done since Key never sent me their CSS (and I do so love recreating work!) and I finished the Introduction page. Now I just have to create all the content. And the system walk-throughs. Bleh. Too much to do, and too many distractions and nuisances.

And now it's time for Ceili teaching. I'm on my own again tonight as the fearless leader. Rachel is busy with school and Paul has to work late, so it's all me. And weeeeeeeee!

Ceili Mailing List

So several folks have mentioned that they managed to fall off the mailing list somehow. I'm not sure what happened, but I do have a way for you to fix it:

Subscribe to St. Steven's Green Ceili

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The Religious People Are Pissing Me Off Again

So my family frequently asks me why I'm "so hard on religion" or have such an active dislike for it.

Well, there's a lot of reasons. And those reasons keep getting reinforced.

Religion is frequently used as an excuse not to think through moral or political or social issues for yourself. The answer is so clear - plain as day, so long as you read the Bible/the Koran/whathaveyou from the right perspective.

The obvious thing to cite right now would be the recent California court decision on gay marriage, but I knew that one was coming. There was a law banning it in this state. It's been a law for a while. Gavin Newsome was breaking the law, bless his heart. I agree with him wholeheartedly, but that doesn't change the law. Other things have to happen for that to occur. Meanwhile, it was a grand and beautiful gesture that reignited the dialogue.

No, what I cite today are other things, like the woman in South Carolina, who wanted to be a good citizen and participate in the local council. I applaud her for doing so. It's something most of us (myself included) are just "too busy" to bother doing. She's a Wiccan though, and found it a bit uncomfortable by having every meeting begin with a group prayer ending in “In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.” She asked to be considered. She asked to have just that part left out. Eventually, after the mayor told her that “This is the way we’ve always done things, and we’re not going to change,” she eventually sued the city. She won. This is all fine. People don't like change. Sometimes change has to be enforced. It's never fun. But none of this bothers me.

The part that bothers me is that the good "Christian" folks of the town have "killed her cat and hanged its gutted body" on her porch and "put sand in the gas tank of her truck." This from a community that does everything in the name of Jesus Christ. This sort of thing is evil perpetrated in the name of religion, backed up by the "our way, or the highway" mentality of religious groups.

Again, the golden rule is so simple, and remediates so many ills: Treat others as you wish to be treated.

I'm looking forward to picking up a copy of Sam Harris' new book, "The End of Faith." Meanwhile, he wrote a pretty good article for the LA Times. Religion is not the answer. It's the enemy. I have no problem with spirituality or a belief in a god or many gods. I do have a problem with organized, institutionalized religion. When one group tries to remake the world in the image of their religion, it can only end in pain for everyone else, because we will never ever ever agree on a global level about what is the one true faith. Therefore, no faith should be the basis for social or political policy. And yet, we elected the village idiot who is out there on a "mission" to do just that, and who treats everything as a "crusade". Swell.

The Pixies Figured It Out

After heaps and piles of whining and complaining on the part of the RIAA and some of its musicians, it's nice to know that innovative bands are still able to figure a way around the system. Funny thing is, the Pixies were an innovative band fifteen years ago, and they're doing it again. Now the focus isn't on new, groundbreaking music. Instead, they've reunited and gone on tour, all without the benefit of a record label. And it seems to be really working for them.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Gaelic Storm Rocks!

And there was plenty of room for dancing, and an audience that really appreciated the dancing. It was the best show I've been to for quite a long time. Must convince them to come back here more often.

So tired. Finally got the email off that needed to go out before morning. To sleep now, and to work early in the morning. Too much fun, and not enough packing or sleeping this weekend. The fun was well worth it though. Gaskells plus Gaelic Storm makes me one happy little dancer!

Friday, August 13, 2004


So a lot of folks I know are getting married.

Cyrus and Athena announced their wedding in May. I'm going to be a bride's maid. This will likely involve a lot of sewing and shopping over the next few months.

Emily and David announced their wedding in October. Emily called yesterday and asked if I wanted to participate. Looks like it's me and Elizabeth there. So the wedding machine cranks into overdrive. With a short planning schedule, this will be exciting and busy, but it's a good thing.

Also, there's Justin and Monica's wedding. There's is the weekend immediately before David and Emily's wedding. At this point, all I need to do for that one is show up and bring a neat present. I'm pretty sure that as things get closer, they'll need some last minute help, and I'm more than happy to assist there.

But suffice to say that with 3 weddings on the horizon, 2 of which I'll be participating in heavily, I'm going to be very busy with other people's major life events. It seems like lately everyone has to pick a major life event - have a baby, get married, or buy a house. Pick one. Mice and Wendy will be the next to cross the finish line, unless baby-mice is running late. Then I might close escrow before their little girl arrives. I signed off all the loan papers yesterday, so it's just a walk through in a week and finishing insurance (today I hope) and we're ready. We close August 27, my mom's birthday. And then it's all weddings all the time!!!!

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Gaelic Storm!!!

Okay, so one of my favorite bands ever is Gaelic Storm. Remember the band in steerage in Titanic? The ones who made Forest and I consider getting up in the middle of the movie to dance? Yeah, them. They're cool. Back when I was living in LA, they were a little local band that played at a pub in Santa Monica every week. Next thing they knew they were overfilling the pub and on a world tour.

They don't often make it to San Francisco, but they will be at Cafe du Nord THIS SUNDAY!!! Tickets are $14 at the door, which is totally reasonable for a good venue and a great band. After looking at ticket prices for anything at Shoreline this year, $14 is a steal.

So anyway, I don't know if there will be one square inch for dancing, but even without that, they'll be great music. Come out and play!!!

Monday, August 09, 2004

Stanford - Not your average college town

Sometimes Stanford catches me off guard. This is not a real college. Real colleges have funk. Stanford ain't got no funk.

At Berkeley, it's funky. It's got rows of trailers serving student food on the stupid-cheap. Spud Brothers was a ritual. Roach shack sushi for less than $5 was good. I personally loved the Sauteed Pork in Garlic Sauce with fresh steamed brocolli on the side for $4. It was food for at least two meals, and it was SOOOOOO good. I've never found it's equal at any price.

Stanford doesn't have that. Getting lunch for less than $5 seems to be totally impossible. $5-8 is common, and several places, getting lunch for $8-12 is more like it. This is on campus, mind you. You know, where the students are supposed to be starving and all. But apparently, starving students don't go to Stanford.

Instead, I went to the cancer center today to train a nice lady on the new research protocol system. There's a valet stand out front and a guy in a white coat and bow tie parking cars. The valet was better dressed than the one outside Spago. I just... I mean... a valet! Wog. On the one hand, it makes sense - cancer patients, too weak to walk far, valet service. But to charge $8 for valet parking just somehow seemed completely ridiculous.

Stanford. Go figure.

Thursday, August 05, 2004


I have a new phone number. It is not real yet, but if you want the number for our new home, just ask me. I already have my new address and phone number memorized, and escrow doesn't close for another 3 weeks. Can you tell I'm excited about this?

In the further news of yay, our new house gets standard cable with no cable box for $45 a month that INCLUDES both Bravo and Sci-Fi.

Oh yes, I am a very happy monkey.

House Stuff

Shopping for Homeowner's Insurance sucks. It's way harder than shopping for car insurance. The first big question is what is the reasonable replacement value of the house? Me, I have no clue in the world. Not a one. The appraiser says $266k. The Farmer's agent says $136k. Everyone else falls somewhere in between.

The other thing that cracks me up is that when I talk to some folks (usually folks involved in the process in some way) and I tell them the date escrow closes, they say, "Oh, so we've got plenty of time." Then whenever I talk to friends or coworkers and say the same thing, they say, "Oh! Soon!" I'm somewhere in the middle there, looking at all there is to do between now and then, and thinking, yeah soon, but also thinking, "it's okay. I've got four weeks until we move." This leads to intermittent bouts of not feeling stressed about it all, and then suddenly feeling very stressed. Some would say it's because I'm a Gemini. I would say it's my project management leanings - Yes, I can do this, there's a solid plan. Yes, there is a lot to do. Both answers are right. Occasional moments of panic are to be expected. I can deal.

Meanwhile, there have been moments today where I just want the internet to sit up and do tricks for me, and it just hasn't cooperated. Sometimes I just wish it would provide me with a good story or some interesting news or something on demand, and it just never seems to do that when I'm really looking to just chill for a few minutes. Guess I'll have to go home and see what Tivo's got for me. Sadly, after five, most of this house stuff comes to a grinding halt.

The West Wing

Since September, channel 5 has been playing The West Wing from the beginning, 2 episodes a week at midnight on Saturday and Sunday. I've watched them all. Yes, all. It's been a great show. I've really wildly enjoyed it. Everyone always said it was a great show, but having missed it from the beginning, I didn't want to dive in mid-way through the series.

On Saturday, Zoe was kidnapped. On Sunday, the search for her began and John Goodman took over as president. Next weekend, channel 5 is starting over at the beginning. There's one more season out there in the world, and I have no idea when I'll ever be able to see it. This is the part where I whine really loudly.

I'm whining not only because I want to see the most recent season, but also because this marks one more show I'm all caught up on, and shortens the list even further of things worth watching on tv. No more Buffy. No more Angel. No more Friends (though that hadn't really been very worthwhile for a number of years). No Firefly. I think the only thing left out there that I watch with any regularity is Gilmore Girls and ER. I'd put Gilmore Girls on my A list, but ER is just kind of there. It hasn't been really great for a long time. Now it's just familiar. And sure, I still record Enterprise, but it's sad that the best part of Enterprise is whenever Porthos the beagle comes on. That dog sends me into apoplexy over how darned cute he is. Sadly, the show isn't worth my time.

Is there anything new coming this season? Anything with promise? Someone has to tell me stories! Someone has to spark my spririt with new characters! I guess I'll be reading more.

Unnaturally Awake

So we stayed up with the kitties in Alameda again last night. Caliban wins for happiest to see me. I showered up, and climbed into bed to read for an hour or so while Rick surfed on his laptop. Caliban climbed onto me and demanded snuggles. I'm really willing to oblige when a cute kitty is purring himself senseless in this demand. Meanwhile, Calypso climbed into Rick's lap to demand attention from the other available human. Both are incorrigibly cute.

This morning we rose at 6 to leave them by 7 and head back to the peninsula. I was surprised at how quickly we got here. It really is only about a 40 minute drive from Alameda. Go figure. Going via 92 to 280 instead of 880 to 84 seems to have made a big difference.

And now I'm at work, having already consumed my morning bucket of coffee and breakfast, ostensibly ready to be productive at 8:30. It's really odd. Hmm.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Ceili... still breathing!

So after talking to Ted Garrett at the Los Altos Village Association, and hearing his enthusiastic support for the thought of continuing the ceili, I called a "Game on!" and sent email to the troops inviting them to another Tuesday of dancing, again at the plaza at State and Main in Los Altos.

So come out and play! We're going to be dancing again, probably from about 7-10. I recommend bringing sneakers (because they're more durable and cushiony than the average dance shoe) and a sweater (because my calendar says it's August, but I just can't believe it right now).

We're hoping the band can join us, but on 24 hours notice, I dare not count on it. If there's music you've been dying to dance to, feel free to bring the CD. If the crowd at 7 is interested, I may try teaching a quick fun dance to those assembled early, but only if they're willing to put up with my total inability to tell right from left.

Ted has asked for a summary of what we do and how it works so that he can find us a winter home. He wants us to stay in Los Altos. I don't know what it is we're doing here anymore, but this ceili will not be killed by normal means. It will require total disinterest on the part of the participants for it to melt away. We'll see what we've got after this week.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Life Maintenance, Janelle Cookies, and Other Social Goodness

So with the Home Inspection today, and a doctor's appointment, the half day I'd planned to take off stretched into a full day with about 2 hours working from home. Those two hours were productive, but getting the rest of my life tamed was very liberting. Stupid stuff, like getting my oil changed: done. It's amazing how a little thing like that can bug you for a few weeks, knowing you need to make time during business hours, but just can't get to it. Now I don't have to have that on my horizon for 3 months. Now I feel more like really diving into work tomorrow.

Add to that housesitting for Janelle and Frank this weekend. Janelle has a way of making every space around her feel serene and comfortable. She's able to make other people's flotsam into art. And then there's the baking. There's nothing better than walking into a place and finding Janelle bread and cookies waiting for you. And they have the two most loving adoring kitties ever. Calypso and Caliban spent the better part of the weekend curled up with us one way or another. By the time we were leaving Sunday, I was feeling so refreshed.

Add to that an afternoon hanging out with my 7th grade boyfriend, Mark, who is still in the Marines after 12 years, about to be shipped back to Iraq. He's looking at 8 more years in, because after that he gets to retire with 50% of his salary. It's a pretty sweet deal, if you survive. I hope he does. It was a very mellow afternoon, with a late breakfast at Ole's Waffle Shop, followed by hanging out at Frank and Janelle's place and having tea. Mellow goodness.

Saturday night was Arthur's Mystery Dinner, where we got to pick what three items we wanted in each course, five courses total. Simple enough, except they're all coded with a mystery word. And little things like your utensils count as a selection. So, for the first course, I got zuchinni, a fork, and a spoon. I also got two courses with no utensils. Mashed potatoes without utilsils is a challenge.

Finally, Sunday was capped off at Ariyana's housewarming party. Her paella is divine. Her sofa is the snuggliest ever. And hanging out with friends is always a special pleasure.

And now, for my dinner fixin's from Cosentino's. Yummy fresh made Sicilian sausage and pasta and mizithra cheese and broccoli. Yay!

Ever closer...

I signed off on the last of the contingencies today. Now I just need to get homeowner's insurance, flood insurance, a copy of my last two bank statements from Wells Fargo, and check on DSL coverage in the new place. Moving is still planned for Labor Day Weekend, specifically Saturday, hopefully starting about 10am. Gotta line up a truck for that too. Dare I say it? Almost there...