Almost there...

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Thinking in Metaphors

Does everyone else think in metaphors? For me, I'm always picturing my life in metaphors. They gallop through my brain, unbridled, like horses on vacation. See! I wasn't even planning to use a metaphor there, and there it is. Dangit.

Anyway, earlier I was thinking about the whole house purchase thing as a gymnastics floor routine. I've made several tumbling passes, and so far I've stayed in bounds, though some of the moves weren't quite as graceful as I'd hoped. Now I've just got one more pass, and I've really got to stick the landing. If I can make it through the end of the year financially, then I suspect it will get easier after that. That last tumbling run is in the air, flying in super-slow-motion, waiting for the end of the year. Can I make it through the workflow project go-live, the holidays and Dickens Fair, and still stick the landing, and end with arms up for the audience and the judges? We'll see. So far, it's looking like at least a bronze medal performance. This last bit will make or break it. Having made it through the housewarming party this weekend, I'm feeling pretty good about it all, and trying not to get cocky.

Being an Only Child Isn't So Bad

So I've always liked being an only child. In recent years though, I've heard several friends saying that they're planning to have two, because it would be better for the child. I don't know where this mythology started, but it just isn't true. I directly attribute my self-sufficiency and my non-violent tendencies to not having siblings. It looks like research may agree with me. It says "studies show that only children tend to do better in school, especially in science, math, and literature, have more friends, and are more flexible about gender roles than kids in larger families." Well, that certainly describes me. Guess I'm a classic only child.

About the only downside as far as I can tell is that I never learned how to physically fight. I didn't have a brother or sister to torture me, so it never became a part of my reality. I can take a self-defense course to make up that gap though.

Star Wars!

Star Wars is now on my desk. Shiny. And so much less stressful than Fry's.

Kitten Snuggle Assault

Warning: Kittens may be hazardous to your continued employment. Their magical powers of cuteness may overwhelm your sense of responsibility.

Woke up late, and then just as I was starting to crawl out of bed, Pixel came running up, rubbed his face in mine, and flopped down and began purring like crazy. This is truly irresistable. So, another 10 minutes down the drain. Finally up and moving, but I was well and truly late for work. Sigh.

Flyers are printed. The Humane Society and San Jose Animal Control both have listings for him. He's posted on Craig's list. We'll see if he gets claimed by the weekend. If not, we're keeping him. He's too perfect to pass up.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Working From Home

Typing away on a requirements document for web forms with a napping kitten curled up against my leg, dreaming little kitten dreams. Is it wrong to hope he doesn't have an owner?

House Warmed

The house warming was a success. Through no small heroic efforts, we managed to get the place generally presentable. Actually, the living room looks great. The kitchen has 2 pictures hung, and the bedroom has one box hiding in the closet. Just don't open the closet in the spare room. That would be bad. Rick strung some white lights around the deck, which looks positively charming. It feels a little like home now.

Part of the reason I scheduled the housewarming when I did was that I knew I'd go insane if the unpacking thing went on for too long. Now we're up to minimum functionality, and we can keep adding on from here. The garage will be unpacked slowly. There will be a massive garage sale. There are still a million things to do around the house, including hanging picture rail so that we can have pictures on the walls of other rooms too. Plus there's wiring for cable. And the attic. And... and... and...

But anyway, folks started arriving around noon, and several shifts filtered through during the course of the day. Old friends reunited. New friends were made. Sausages were grilled and eaten. (The phrase of the day became "meat platter" since it amused Justin.) With Chicken Apple Sausage, Chicken Sundried Tomato Sausage, Polska Kielbasa, and Cheddarwurst, who would've guessed that the Cheddarwurst would be the big hit in this crowd? Not me, but they definitely were all gobbled up first. There was a little dancing, and a little musical revue from Rick's sister nieces. The kids enjoyed playing together. The adults shared some wine. Various groupings appeared all over the house, with people out surrounding the fire pit, and people chatting on the deck, and more folks in the kitchen, and another batch in the living room. Our next door neighbor brought over some freshly peeled and sliced prickly pear. She really is a great neighbor.

We did have one rather unexpected guest: a little ginger tabby kitten. While Rick was saying goodbye to his mom, the ginger tabby walked up and Rick tried to shoo him out of the street. When he put his hand down, the kitten rubbed up against it. Not being shooed, Rick picked him up to move him out of the way, and the kitten instantly wrapped an arm around each side of his neck and began purring furiously. Meanwhile, I'm chatting in the kitchen and someone says, "Rick has a cat he wants you to see." I walk out, most puzzled, and am handed a little lost kitten. We got him a can of tuna out of the cupboard, and he proceeded to suck it all down, and still be hungry for more. He has a little purple and white flea collar, but he's clearly a bit lost. The flea collar is sort of old and cracked and sunbleached, and I think he may have been on his own for a while. We eventually set him down and let him head off, but he didn't go far, so we picked him back up and took him inside, fearing for a car coming too fast down the street. More tuna, and a trip to 7-11 for kitty litter, and little Pixel stayed the night.

Today, Rick headed off to Athena's party, and I went off to the Pixies concert. Pixel was waiting for us when we got home. Much additional cuddling ensued, plus some Friskies and Kitten Chow. Now he's curled up on my pillow, ready for bed. Tomorrow we're posting "Found Kitten" fliers and I've already listed him on Craig's List. Maybe he has a home with people who miss him a lot. If so, we'll cheerfully turn him over, but if not, he's definitely welcome here.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Share the Love

Amazon.com is the coolest thing ever. Well, maybe not ever, but I'm definitely feeling the love this morning.

I admitted to myself last night that even though George went and mucked with the originals and put his new revisionist version of the Star Wars trilogy on DVD (with the worst CGI monster his studio has ever produced), I wanted it anyway. I've seen two amazing prices - WalMart for $35.87 and Fry's for $36.99. Having just stopped in at Home Depot in Campbell to return a lamp, I figured I'd swing through Fry's to pick up a copy if they had it. Well, after an extended hunt, and asking two helpless employees, I stumbled across it on my way out of the store. Only now they've realized that their $36.99 price really is the cheapest (or close to it) and that they didn't need to do that. So now they're charging $38.99, with a big sign that says "Guaranteed low price!" So, having just looked at Outpost earlier in the day, I walk up to the counter and say, "Guaranteed low price? It's cheaper at Wal-Mart and on your own website you know." They say, "Oh, you have to go back to the software department to get a price adjustment." Um, well, I've already broached the subject, so let's see how this plays out, eh? At this point, it's no longer about the price, but the principle. I mean, $2 is nothing, but Fry's makes it a habit to screw their customers, and buying from them at all is against my better judgement. So I walk back to the software department, or probably better called "The Excuse Desk". First I pitch the WalMart price, mentioning that I would've just bought it there, but they were out of wide screen. She said, "Oh, our guarantee only counts if it's in stock." We discuss the absurdity of this policy for a moment. Then I say, "Well, your website (outpost.com) says the price is $36.99." and she says, "Oh, we don't match online prices." I said, "But it's your own online price!" and she's says, "Yes, online." Now, completely taken aback by their policy, I decide it's time to go. We've entered crazy land at Fry's where they won't match their own price. Uh, yeah, whatever. I can shop at Amazon. There's no sales tax and free shipping. Yep.

Then this morning, I open my email and find a "Share the Love" email from Mice via Amazon.com. It's a 10% discount off of the widescreen Star Wars trilogy, making my new price $37.57 with no tax and free shipping. The entire transaction occurred in 4 minutes. No parking. No idiotic clerks. No ridiculous "Oh this policy only works on the third Sunday after a full moon." bullshit. Just me, my friends, and Amazon. Yep, definitely feeling the love.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Some days...

Some days I'm just on top of things. I had a meeting at 10:30 with the HR folks for Web Forms. We managed to get through the last details on all six web forms. It was the coolest thing ever. I came back, grabbed a bite of lunch, circled wagons with Amanda on the human subjects demo on Monday, October 4th. I checked through the presentation I captured last night in bed at 11 and there was only one minor mistake, which I fixed, and emailed her the presentation. Now I just need to photocopy handouts for today's presentation, and I already tracked down the projector this morning before my other meeting. All this, plus an unexpected and quite useful meeting where I brought Shirley up to speed on the current web forms issues. For the first time in weeks, I feel like everything at work is cooking along, well attended to, with no panic. I know what I need to do tomorrow, but it's not a crisis. This is such a good thing.

Keep Breathing

I just made my first house payment. It's larger than one of my paychecks, and I only get two a month. This house thing is scary. My bank account is not shiny, even after the raise. Poof! Gone in an instant. Buh-bye.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Islands of Sanity

I just cleaned my desk at work. My desk at home is still a disaster. Boxes still haunt every room. The gardening I wanted to do before the party is in a terrible, half-done state (though my dad did manage to fix the broken sprinkler head this weekend). But my desk at work is now a haven of tidiness. Stacks of paper are sorted. Recyling is in the bin ready to be hauled away. There are large surfaces with nothing on them. It's my little island of sanity in the chaos.

Now if only I could figure out where to put the rest of the bathroom stuff in the house. One bathroom with a pedistal sink after 3 vanities with cabinets makes for some interesting, and slightly unexpected issues.

Have I said this before?

For all the wailing and moaning coming from the drug companies, it's not the cost of drugs in America that bothers me, exactly. It's that with those costs being less elsewhere, we're expected to pay U.S. prices just because we live here.

To the drug companies, I say, Welcome to the Global Economy, baby!

The same situations that make it cheaper to offshore your production facilities outside of high priced American workers' hands work equally easily for Americans to buy the products from other countries. You can't have NAFTA working for you and against consumers. The world just doesn't work that way. When a computer manufacturer outsources to Korea, he sells his product to Americans at a cheaper rate, keeping some of the profit for himself and giving some of it away in discounts to make the product more attractive to the consumer. There's a basic check and balance in place because if one manufacturer's product isn't priced well, then the consumer will choose another manufacturer's computer that is. But drug companies don't have this pressure. Most of their medications are patented, so normal market pressures don't apply. But if a consumer is savvy enough to shop elsewhere, there's no excuse for legislating against doing so. I've bought books from Amazon.co.uk because they have something at a better price, or an edition I can't find in the states. I've bought shoes from Russia since they don't distribute them in the U.S. and comparable shoes cost two or three times as much. The web makes such transactions simple and easy. I just can't for the life of me figure why the drug companies believe they have a legitimate claim to cry foul just because their consumers know how to do basic comparison shopping. That Wal-Mart is as huge as it is should turn on the lightbulb for them. Americans always choose cheap over quality, given half a chance. The web gives the average American ample chance to become a global consumer. That the drug companies didn't see it coming and equalize prices between Canada and the U.S. at least enough to make shipping costs prohibitive to large savings is silly. So please pipe down and quit your whining. You thought we were just dunces who would pay whatever was asked, but we're not quite as gullible as you thought. Too bad for you.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Fall Fell

I get back from Chicago, and suddenly it's fall. Apparently there was rain while I was gone. This morning it was all kinds of cold in the house and I did not want to get up under any circumstances. Not enough sleep plus cold house makes Ammy want to stay home.

Rick cannibalized some parts from the heater for the water heater. We'll be picking up new parts to fix that on our way home tonight.

A Mighty Fine Shindig

My first fan convention has come and gone. And you know what? I really enjoyed it. Really. A lot.

We headed out Friday morning and zipped through the aiport process with a minimum of fuss (and allow me to personally recommend Anza Park and Sky - fast and cheap!). We landed in Chicago and were picked up at the airport by one of the convention organizers. This was such an amazing welcoming gesture, that I reckoned the rest of the weekend would probably involve hanging out with a lot of other amazingly friendly, kind folks. Things were still being pulled together upstairs, so after getting checked in and changing shirts (and eating my Hand of Blue cookie and checking out the other goodies in my goody bag), we (Karen, Paul, and I) headed for the Navy Pier. Mostly the Navy Pier is a really long pier full of tourist shops, but they also had a really fabulous, free, walkthrough stained glass museum. After getting back from the pier, we changed and headed up to the roof for the Sinohn Welcome dinner. It was a Chinese dinner, with custom fortune cookies that said things like "You look better in red." and "Time for some thrilling heroics." There was a pan-asian tea ceremony, and then we all got to play with origami. I made a blind, albino, man-eating cow. (It was the easiest to make, and the paper ended up wrong side out, so my yellow cow was even paler than expected.) There was origami judging, and the custom "brown coat" lost out to the very charming "green frog" by a hair, which surprised me, since we were after all at the Browncoats Ball. After dinner we headed downstairs for some lounging in the Blue Sun room and watching a couple of episodes projected on a big sheet. Finally, we concluded our evening with a trip to "The Bordello", a fabulously decorated room. I ended up talking with one of the Amys and getting to know her. She's a social worker in Nashville, and really, just about one of the nicest folks I met all weekend. We all sat around and chatted for a hour or so, and then called it a night and headed up to the room to sleep.

Saturday morning began with a the train ride. Turns out, in Chicago, you can rent an El train on the weekends. We had our own train car, decorated to the nines with baloons, and wanted posters, and crepe paper. The cop/conductor, John, was a hoot and got involved in the party. We took a scenic tour of Chicago, stopping for some major landmarks and pretty bridges. As we made it back to the station, we started to undecorate the train. I had my hair up in two little buns (a la Kaylee), so I had Ray tie a balloon to each one. Eventually they got me to jump up and down and Ray got some great footage of the balloons bouncing off my head. The great thing about being with trusted friends in an environment full of geeks is that it's easy to be your silliest self. After the train ride, we headed out to the Celtic festival, taking photos for the digital scavenger hunt along the way. Yes, we happened to hit Chicago the same weekend as their big Celtic festival in Grant Park. First stop: the ceili tent. They were doing Scottish ceilidh, so we came back later for some Irish ceili, because the Seige of Ennis is always the Seige of Ennis. Tromping back across town, ogling the lovely gothic architecture of the Tribune building, and the lovely deco architecture fo the Hard Rock Hotel, we made it back with just enough time to get ready for the ball. I grabbed my dance notes and we headed downstairs. My dress was a big hit. All bows and lace and Kaylee-fied goodness. That is, until another girl walked in in her copy of the actual Kaylee dress. It was stunning. At the ball, I dragged everyone through a grand march, then taught them the Spanish Circle Waltz, Sellinger's Round, and then Paul taught the Bonfire Reel. We also did a demo of Congress of Vienna, and a couple of other waltzes. Surprisingly enough, everyone loved it. There must've been four or five people who came up afterwards to thank me for teaching the dances. It was surprising to see so much appreciation for it. After the dance session, there was a presentation by Lukeski, who did several Dr. Demento style songs about Buffy, Angel, and Firefly. He was really hilarious. Next was an awards ceremony, with prizes such as "The most Kaylee-fied dress" and "The Captain Tightpants" award. Finally, the last award was for Mr. and Miss Persephone. They called up Ray for Mr. Persephone. They called his name and he didn't budge. He finally said, "Oh! Me!' and jumped up. Next was Miss Persephone, won by yours truly. They really liked the dance lessons, apparently. I blushed and got my crown and sash and thanked everyone for indulging my little dance obsession. The night continued with a bunch of New Wave music and 80's dancing. I droped most of my dress in favor of my underthings - corset, bloomers, tights and boots and boogied the night away. After the main ball shut down, we headed up to the Blue Sun room for a couple more episodes, and then I let everyone else head back to the Bordello while I went back to the room to pack up and sleep.

The next morning was a nice breakfast, followed by a train ride to the airport, a fast, easy check-in (ATA Airlines is very cool), a hand of Fluxx, and a plane ride home. We arrived at the airport, grabbed the luggage, and jumped the Anza Park and Sky shuttle, and were at the movie theaters by 7:40 for a showing of "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow". It was very very pretty, and just the proper ending to a weekend full of new friends, good tv, and dancing.

Other things of note:
- Meeting Shanna was cool. Can't wait to read her book. It's coming out next summer.
- There were five Amys, out of less than 80 participants. Apparently, you're more likely to be a fan of Firefly if you are named Amy. Go figure.
- Hoops pack so nicely. I'm continually astonished by their ability to be tardis-like. I only had carry-on luggage.

Okay, gotta do that job thing. Next stop: Housewarming on Saturday. Yikes!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

In other news...

Things are coming off the list faster than they're going on. I finished the last quirky bug in the Non-Medical eProtocol tutorial yesterday. I posted it and sent it to the business owners. So far, their comments have been light. I changed one sentence. It's designed to mimic the look and feel of the system so that the users get a little used to the navigation before having to actually do it in the system. The two walk throughs both turned out pretty well.

Last night I headed up to Cynthia and Alex's place and hung out with them. Cynthia was having a bad plumbing day, but still managed to have my bodice beautiful and ready for fitting when I arrived. After some debate and failed phone calls to two different pizza joints, Cynthia played the "stir crazy" card and we all went out for dinner at Buffalo Bill's Brewpub. It was yummy, and watching two women ride herd on a 2 year old, staying one step ahead of him without his ever noticing was also highly entertaining.

Cynthia never ceases to amaze me. She's equally good with a drill or a sewing machine. She seems to have a super-human ability to stay on top of work, parenting, house projects, personal projects, and still have time to do more to help out friends. We got back from dinner, and Alex helped fix the pleats in my underskirt. Cynthia went to town on the bodice to do the finishing touches. By 11:30, I was dressed in piles of lace and bows, completely ready for the ball and looking finer than I thought possible. We also got to watch a couple more episodes of Firefly. There's one or two more I want to see again before the weekend, but that's what planes are for, right? Oh wait, planes are for sleeping? Or planes are for talking with the friends going with you? Or planes are for playing card games? Oh nutbunnies. Again, there's not enough hours in the day, but with luck, planes will be for a short nap, and time for the rest as well.

Looks like I'm actually going to survive this week. Now I'm in the home stretch. By the time of the party, I should be almost back to my regularly scheduled level of insanity.

Commute Suckage

Well, the commute to campus has been worse than expected. The traffic is bad, but that's not that bad part. The bad part is the carpool lane in Cupertino.

The carpool lane ends in Los Altos, but for some reason, aggressive, bitchy, invariably female drivers decide in Cupertino that they no longer need to be a carpool, and that they should tailgate me at 70 miles an hour. This morning's devil-bitch was a woman following so closely that I couldn't see her license plate. It was terrifying and aggrevating and not the way I like to start my day, but my day has started that way repeatedly for the past two weeks.

If traffic were travelling at a reasonable rate in the next lane over, I'd just move, but it's travelling much slower, and I don't feel comfortable making a lane change with someone following that closely and aggressively because it's just as likely they'll try to bust a move to swing around me, and if we both do it at the same time, it would be very very bad. Plus, I'm so clearly in the right! I've got a carpool. I'm travelling at the speed limit. This aggressive devil-bitch is doing neither and should just back the hell off.

Net result: I get to campus all angsty and tense. I'll be looking into the train schedule this week. I don't think I can do this five days a week for five years. Nope.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Big Bucket of Caffeine

There's a little deli on campus. It's the one place on this entire campus that feels remotely like college. It's kinda funky, and it has wacky employees (like Buzz who will grill you a good turkey burger and tell you about his Harley, and Dottie, who will call you "Honey" or "Sweetie" in a good grandmotherly sort of way) and they sell refillable plastic drink buckets that you can refill for 50 cents anytime. I say bucket, because I think the thing is 46 ounces. Bucket. They also have a really nice mix on their soda machine. So, I just ran down the hill on my bike, and came back with a giant bucket of soda. Sip by sip, I'm boosting my power cells with caffeine. I know it's not a permanent fix, but barring a spare 8 hours to sleep, this will have to do.

Yes, that's right folks: Ammy's hooked on the sauce again. She still drinks decaf coffee with breakfast, but she's powering through the afternoon on vast quantities of caffeine. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Stupid House Tricks

Our house is 80 years old. It's had many owners. Each one has probably done one (or more) slightly odd thing to the place. This makes for a lot of slightly odd things. So far, the funniest one is the plug in the bathroom.

We kept trying to figure out what was wrong with it. You plug things in, and nothing happens. Other times, you notice it is working. We couldn't figure out the correllation until we're both standing there saying, "It works sometimes, but not others, and there doesn't seem to be a pattern." At that moment, the obvious pattern of being attached to a switch occurred to us. Rick turned on the bathroom light, and both toothbrushes dutifully lit up. He turned it off. They turned off. Um, yeah. Not sure why, but the bathroom light has to be on for the plug work. Yeah. Okay. Rick started getting all mad. I just laughed really hard. I nearly spit toothpaste everywhere.

Maybe we'll call the place Kooky Kottage. Or something.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

I'd be nowhere without my friends and family. Alex came down Friday night and helped to further unpack. All of my clothes are hung or sorted into the garage sale pile. Shoes and linens are sorted but not put away yet.

On Saturday, I made my first whack at the yard. The pruning shears my mom got me are working like champs, except for this one weed with roots the size of my arm. Wog. That's going to take some serious hacking.

Saturday afternoon, Kev and Rachel helped me clean out the old place. Rachel is queen of the kitchen slayers. Kev helped Rick unload his room down to the garage. Rick still doesn't seem to get it that he just has too much stuff, but his sore muscles are still valiantly striving to get the message across. Of course, the cough in his chest is just saying "Stop already! Sheesh!" He's not listening to either very well.

Sunday we sent Rick off to get one more U-Haul to pick up the last of his stuff. Meanwhile, my dad started work on the towel bars and the garbage disposal. When the garbage disposal didn't have power, he went and checked on the patch panel. This led him to discover that one of the circuit breakers was wired dangerously wrong, with small 12 gauge wire running into a 40 amp circuit breaker. That's bad. So, a quick trip to OSH for two 15 amp GFCI breakers (at $45 apiece!!!) to replace it, and it was rewired in about 30 minutes. Burning the house down would've been bad. Let's not do that.

So then my dad headed out and Rick and I unloaded the U-haul until about 1am. Then we returned it. Then we slept. Then I got up and went to work. Oy. After work I headed out to Cynthia's place to work on my ball gown bodice for Saturday night. She decided that remaking it correctly would be faster/easier than finishing the one that was in progress. So we started that. She's got Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday off, and was planning to sew anyway, so she's going to march forward on this one. Got home about midnight, and then shower and sleep and more work.

If I can just survive this week, it will start to be better. This week is the crucible. Friday morning I fly to Chicago, and between now and then, I have to work with Cynthia to finish the bodice, pack for the trip (including music and instructional notes), put away the linens and shoes so that my dad has somewhere to sleep when he returns on Thursday, surrender keys to the old place and do a final walkthrough, teach the ceili, dye my hair, and work (especially finishing the tutorial and the web forms documentation). Just trying to keep my head down and not get sick. It's possible. I might make it. I'm just not confident yet. Something tells me I may be asleep on the plane.

But when we arrive in Chicago, one of the organizers is picking us up at the airport. I'm really looking forward to this. Or at least I will be when I get there. Right now, I'm just barely keeping head above water, and I'm so thankful for each person that is helping to keep me afloat.

Friday, September 10, 2004

My Friends are the Best

So this weekend, my friends came and picked up all of our crap, loaded it into a truck, and unloaded it at the other end. This was very cool. Many huge thank yous go out to them (except for the one person who packed Rick's bagpipes at the bottom of a large box, damaging them. He's very sad about that.)

Karen and Athena were amazing, staying in a state of perpetual motion throughout a very hot, tiresome day. Auntie and her truck rocked. She fetched the old sofa from Lee's place, and after the truck break down, went back with us at 10pm to go fetch some important things that hadn't made it in the first load. Cynthia was a master with packing up the last of our bedroom, and being able to tell us just where she had packed things later. Sean and David were amazing in their ability to heft large objects repeatedly without complaint. My mom started the kitchen cleaning. Elizabeth and Fred and Malaya all helped too. Emily helped direct traffic and tried not to injure her poor shoulder further. All in all, there were many hands to make lighter work.

Meanwhile, this week, Fred has completely saved me twice. Once by looping a Spanish Waltz track so that it will repeat sufficiently for the ball, and then again by fixing a bug in my html that was causing the javascript to fail. He's one of those folks you can always count on to drop what they're doing to help in a moment of need. It's been so great to have him as a friend for all these years.

And then there's Cynthia and Alex. When I started to crack on Wednesday, Cynthia leapt in and offered to help me finish my ball gown bodice. Then Alex said she'd come down Friday night to help unpack.

Meanwhile, there's the other friends who couldn't help with all this because they're busy being amazing in other ways. We've got to get back up next week to see Mice and Wendy. Sonia is growing fast, and mom and dad need more fridge food, and we don't want to miss any of it. Lizzie and Jeff are marching forward into their new lives, having found a nice place in Vallejo. Lizzie starts teaching just as soon as her fingerprints clear.

Elizabeth sent a perfect email to Emily's mom to arrange the wedding shower. Now we just need a guest list so we can send Evites.

Ultimately, this is just a long entry to say that I really really appreciate my friends. They're all amazing. We work hard to take care of each other and the result is a feeling of security in the midst of life chaos. Even if everything goes nuts, I'll be able to fall back on them, and know there's many hands to catch me.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Still standing

Okay, starting to feel human again. It’s terribly likely I’ll finish the eProtocol tutorial tomorrow. I’ve just got to capture one walkthrough, activate the next and previous buttons, and put hot spot links on the Funding image. It’s very nearly done. I got through my first HR Subgroup meeting today. It sucked, but I had the basic screen shot document I needed. We got through some good work on the Supplemental Pay web form. Unfortunately, I’m coming to the conclusion that there’s no way to produce anything truly useful in the way of web forms. There are several immoveable political objects walling things in. Then there’s people’s inability to think beyond exactly how they do things right now. Between those two major forces, what we produce will be a perfect compromise that will do nothing but add a layer of work to an already stressed audience. Sigh.

My dad is coming tomorrow to be my handyman. He’s got major plans for the attic and the garage. First I’m hoping he can do some more basic things like install the garbage disposal. My dad has been a real champ, and as long as we can avoid discussing the upcoming election this weekend, we’ve got a real shot at getting along with one another through several days. He keeps teasing me about supporting Kerry though. These conversations never go well.

Unpacking is coming along slowly but surely. I caught a glimpse of my counter tops tonight. Soon I hope to be able to walk into my bathroom rather than tiptoeing around boxes.

DSL is hooked up. Cable is nominally working. It’s running into Rick’s room only right now. The reception sure is a hell of a lot better than in Mountain View. Now we just need to get it out to the living room, because so help me, Tivo and I have a date some night in my future. Of course, more important may be making a date with Paul to catch up on some West Wing. Mmmm… post Zoe kidnapping episodes. Hooray!

Ticking things off the list makes me feel good. I got the CD shipped to Chicago for the Ball. I have Cynthia coming (many thanks Ali-Mama!!) to help me finish my bodice on Sunday night. I’m going to unpack costumes tomorrow night and try to find stuff for the trip. I know my new hoop skirt has to be here somewhere, but where?!?! I think I’ll be ready to hop a plane next Friday, and I’m so looking forward to a weekend away from anything house related.

Oh, and I love my new living room. It’s very comfortable. I love the wall color. I love the wood floors. And I love Elizabeth’s rug on my floor.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Melt Down

Finally reached that point. Too much. There are too many things competing for my immediate attention.

First there's work. This week I must finish creating the online tutorial for Non-Medical Human Subjects eProtocols. I'm about half way there and there's another 16 or so hours of work to do on it. By tomorrow I need to have screen shots of the HR Web Forms System for a discussion I'm leading. I also need to document the web forms design this week. That's a lot of work, not counting time for meetings. Oh, and my boss just announced he took a job at Genentech and will be leaving the 24th.

Then there's the house. Things aren't to a basic functional level yet. I just got some really bad news about the water heater. It's going to cost about $600 to install instead of $249, plus it can't be installed right now because it's venting into a wall instead of venting somewhere outside. Apparently the home inspector missed this, or it would've been made an issue during escrow. Now it's my problem. So, my water heater went from a $700 project to a $1500 project. Oh, and it needs to happen right away. We bug bombed the garage on Monday night and apparently it killed off one generation. There's lots of roach bodies. Getting it ready for the bombing meant being up til 2 unpacking all essential items one box at a time with a thorough bug check. For stuff I didn't know where to put it, I couldn't put it in a box in the garage, so my kitchen counters are thoroughly covered in stuff.

Cable was supposed to be installed Sunday but there's a problem with the wiring. They're going to try again today. DSL is also supposed to go in today. We'll see how that goes. I don't know anyone whose DSL was set up right the first try.

We'd been under the impression that my dad was off to Florida for a few weeks. Turns out they didn't need him after all, so he's coming down this weekend to keep working on the house. I was really looking forward to taking a little break this weekend. Not happening. Instead it'll be me monkeying around the attic running wires and pipes since I'm the only who fits through the hole.

Finally, there's the other demands for my attention. I've got to find a new home for the ceili. I don't know when I'll do that. I can't envision a free evening to go check out a venue, let alone manage the process of introductions and negotiations with a potential host, but we're fast running out of summer so something has to happen right away. Also, there's the Browncoat's Ball, which I still have to spend one more night sewing for and for which I must finish and send the music CD. It's about a week away. Then there's Emily's wedding where I'm supposed to be planning and arranging a shower and a bachelorette party on October 9th. Then there's Dickens Fair which is starting to rear its head and demand my time.

And ultimately, I'm so tired. I've been getting four to six hours of sleep a night and I can't keep going, but if I don't, something really important will fall apart and make a bigger, more time consuming problem for me. So I'm stuck. And that's why when Rick told me about the water heater, the one thing that I thought would be as simple as "hire guy to bring it and install it and take the old one away", I started crying. There's no room for adding one more thing, and now there's lots more added in.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Deep breaths

I'm really over-tired today. Sitting here, I feel it in every muscle sulking quietly, wimpering at my fuzzy brain. I had one of those "What have I done?" moments on the way to work today, wondering if I'd just bought an albatross to hang around my neck. Looking online at the MLS listings, it's comforting to note that there's only 13 properties on the market that are 3 bedrooms under $450k, and of those, none are remotely tempting. Ours is a good little house. Once we get it tamed, everything will be good. We bug bombed the garage last night. We need to borrow some hedge trimmers to get the ivy away from the garage. We need to replace the water heater. We need to get the termite guy to treat the one spot. We need to finish strapping the foundation. We need to hang towel bars. We need to expand the attic access and finish that room. We need to attach a light to the back of the house. We need to do wiring for internet and cable. We need to adjust the landscaping and lay paving stones in the center strip. We need to unpack. Eventually, there's a lot more work needing to be done, but once we get through those basics, it'll start to feel like home rather than a terrifyingly endless set of chores. It will still be a terrifyingly endless set of chores, but we'll be able to take occasional weekends off from the chores.

I keep reminding myself: I didn't buy a house. I bought a lifestyle change.

So.... tired....

Somehow, it seems wrong to come to the office for a break, but that's exactly what today is. Three days of moving chaos. So much more work to do, but it's all going to have to wait for a couple of days while the body recovers and I do this job thing.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Aw!

Rick and I have been together for almost six years now. Back at the Y2K New Year's Eve, the group in Sac had a big party that was "Space 1999" themed. We have one cute photo of us from that party on our fridge, but my Suzi just sent me one that is totally adorable and I just had to share. Look at how short my hair is! Look how young I look! Wow.

Vanity Fair

Last night I had big plans for getting stuff done - either finishing my ball gown bodice or working on installing towel bars and more packing.

Then I emailed Athena to check on her schedule. She was exceptionally grumpy at Cyrus for having messed up her birthday plans. She suggested Vanity Fair. Pretty costumes? Lush cinematography? Reese Witherspoon? Gabriel Byrne? Sure! So off we went for dinner and a movie, and being the cool date I am, I had tickets for her by the time she made it to the restaurant, made sure she got a nice beer, pointed out the best item on the menu, and took her for ice cream after dinner. Suitably stuffed full of good food, good beer, and good ice cream, we were ready for the movie. The movie suffered the fatal flaw of most literary adaptations - trying to cram too much story into 2 1/2 hours - but it was pretty. Now we're more inspired to do big pretty costumes. Rich reds abounded.

And now back to my regularly scheduled sea of boxes.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Holy shit!

I just got my annual merit increase announcement. It was a little better than I expected due in large part to the fact that I was previously at the bottom of my pay scale, and the bottom moved up about $3300, thus necessitating a bigger than expected raise. But on top of that, I got a $2000 bonus because "Your work is top quality, and your ideas and inputs are valued by all of ITSS." Wow.

Stanford really has been good to me. In the three and a half years I've been here, I've been consistently recognized for my contributions. That is so valuable to me. Sometimes this place wears me down, sometimes the politics and weirdnesses seem insurmountable, but other times I'm utterly amazed by how highly thought of I am. I can make a difference here. I can excel. Who knew that Stanford would be the place where a sassy, irreverent misfit could bloom and grow? I sure didn't, but it's definitely working out that way.

The acting director of the project management office handed the letter to me, and when I opened it he said, "I'd say don't spend it all in one place, but I know you just bought a house, so..." And I said, "Yeah, I know a certain water heater that's got this check's name all over it."