Almost there...

Monday, January 31, 2005

Powerpoint Chaps My Hide

Powerpoint sucks. This is an almost universally known and accepted truism. What's worse, is that with each new revision, rather than adding spiffy new features or improving some of the elements that suck about it, Microsoft thinks it'd be better to add nifty animation. So now, when I copy and paste, I get a little clipboard icon next to what I've copied and it writes lines on the clipboard. This doesn't help me copy and paste better.

On the other hand, I used to use Ctrl+Shift+M to add a new slide of the same type to my presentation. Often times, I need a series of blank slides with no text boxes or any other nonsense so that I can add a lot of screen shots to make a system walk through presentation. In PowerPoint 2000, I could do that by hitting my special command code and it would add another blank slide. Now, I have to hit Ctrl+M, and then click on the type of slide I want in the right hand column. I can't even take the action I need through keyboard shortcuts. I have to use the mouse. I hate unnecessary mousing. Let me work fast like the power user I am.

And now, I've just spent the last 2+ hours trying to get the screen shots I took for a handout to print. The basic image prints, but the little notes describing the interesting details about each image never printed. I tried everything I could think of. Then my office mate tried everything she could think of. And I made about 25 trips back and forth to the printer to pick up a page to confirm that no, it didn't print again. Finally, in utter desperation, I use SnagIt (a truly lovely tool made by a software company that is NOT Microsoft who sells their products for a reasonable price and whose upgrades are actually better than the old version, not just released because it's been a few years and they need to make everyone incompatible to make more money) to take screen shots of all the slides and paste them into a Word document so that I can print handouts of the things that display perfectly fine on the screen. Gah!

I have a suspicion that this has something to do with what Powerpoint believes is in the "printable" space on a slide, which is utter crap because it's on the slide, it displays on the screen, and all printouts have a buffer space of at least an inch all the way around, and on handout sheets with 2 slides to a page like I'm trying to print, there's far more buffer space.

I want software that does what it is told to do, not what it thinks is best. If I mess up, let me be responsible for fixing it after I see that that truly won't work. And don't offer (or charge for!) a new release until you've really improved some of the serious weaknesses of your program that have been that way since 1997 at least! I moved up to Office 2003 on the assumption that something would be improved, but I can't find it. So far, everything seems the same, or more broken. I can't find a single thing about it that works better. Powerpoint still tries to enforce the big text, hierarchical bullets filgercarb it always has, and now they've made it even harder to get around. That's just sad.

I think my Word version of my Powerpoint document is finished printing now. Mergle...

Knitting

I could tell you how amazingly fabulous the Fezziwig's Cast Party was, or what a nice evening the little party was, but truly, the most noteworthy element of my weekend was learning to knit.

First, let it be said that Christyn is a very patient woman. She took on teaching six of us to knit at once and didn't actually accept any of the proffered alcohol to get through the day. We managed to learn how to cast on and how to do a basic continental knit stitch. Next time we get to learn binding off and pearling, but we were so not ready for that right now. We arrived at Janelle's with knitting needles and yarn in hand ready to give it a go. Rick had decided several weeks back that he wanted to learn how to knit so that he could make himself a thneed that didn't look like a boa. Somehow the combination of floofy scarf and kilt was a little too much for his manliness, especially when I'd ask him to hold my purse. So I come home one night to find him sitting on the toilet, and since I have no bathroom etiquette whatsoever, I struck up a conversation with him (he hates that). Meanwhile, he plastered the magazine he was reading against his chest, and then further attempting to hide it in the classic "Don't look! I'm reading porn!" posture known to every young man. Knowing Rick, I couldn't fathom why he'd do that because well, if he has good porn, he should share. So, completely puzzled, I pried. After several minutes of "Why do you need to know?" and "Mind your own business." I couldn't be dissuaded, so with a huff and a sigh, he produced the magazine in question: Easy Knitting. I don't know what I was expecting, but this definitely wasn't it. A fit of giggles commenced.

Anyway, so Rick has had this knitting plan for a little while. Then Lisa started a knitting circle on Thursdays for the Sac crowd, and the bay area denizens of the Barbarians decided they wanted in on that action, and Christyn volunteered to show us, so there we were, in Alameda learning to knit. Janelle, ever the wonder of the hearth, had prepared two soups (clam chowder and ciopino) from scratch, laid out several cheeses and breads with fresh basil and sundried tomato bruschetta sauce and a variety of home-baked cookies. Janelle still amazes me with her inestimable penchant for hostessing. With all of us wrestling with casting on, we finally started the actual knitting, and things went downhill. For some reason, I'm unable to knit without coming up with extra loops after most rows, usually 2 or 3 extra loops. That's bad. Nicole's stuff was looking the best, but even hers had the occasional random hole. Rick couldn't get past 3 or 4 rows without getting disgusted and unraveling it all to start over again. I asked, "People do this for fun?" Christyn assured me that they did. Our souls were salved with helpings of soup, coffee, hot bread, and cookies. After five hours, Rick and I had to head home to meet someone picking up the washer and dryer. Both of us had headaches from focusing too tight for too long and crampy hands, but we survived our first knitting lesson and plan to head back for more punishment in 2 weeks. I suspect that much like dance (and other physical activities) this will be fun after it makes sense to the muscles. When the brain is still overinvolved, it just feels like torture, but once basics are in the muscle memory, the rest will fall into place. We shall see. Suffice to say, I'm really glad that Corinne is planning to give me her first Hallowig, because any fantasies I had about making one are now post-dated at least a year, and probably go into the never pile.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Bread

Good bread is one of the greatest joys of my life. Every time I think of an Atkins style diet I think "Could I give up pasta? Yeah. Could I give up rice? Sure. Could I give up tortillas? Probably. Could I give up bread?" And then my mind wanders to all the greatest varieties of bread. My grandmother used to make this homemade sweet sourdough that was always brewing in the back of her fridge, a day away from bread glory. Fresh from the oven with nothing on it, it was one of the greatest pleasures of life. Unfortunately, the bread culture died, so there's not that bread anymore. Then there's Trader Joe's fat free crumpets, the perfect English breakfast treat. Next my mind wanders to Grace Baking, and specifically their par-baked Pugeliese. Few finer things exist on this earth than one of those tiny loaves after 7 minutes in the over. Crusty and crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, not sweet, and always melt in your mouth delicious, smeared with a little butter and honey or dipped in olive oil and balsalmic vinegar, I cannot imagine anything I'd rather eat. So yeah, the thought of Atkins? I think I'd rather be fat. Pardon me while I have another slice. Mmmm...

Friday, January 28, 2005

California Weather

Some days I love California weather. Okay, let's be honest, I love it most of the time. Back when I worked for Ernst & Young, I'd fly out to points other and my coworkers would invariably wonder incredulously, "Wow. I couldn't live there. It costs too much to buy a house." And I'd say, "Yeah, it's expensive, but have you seen our weather?" Then they'd usually mention earthquakes. I think the best kept secret is that it's been 15 years since the last serious one in Northern California, but Florida keeps getting multiple major hurricanes every year. Personally, I'll take that trade off any day. Clearly.

As I was saying, I love California weather. Today on 280 (as I cruised through amazingly good traffic), I started at home with a sunny morning, rounded around Cupertino to face a beautiful rainbow against a charcoal grey sky, followed by a double rainbow, and then found myself in a torrential downpour as I passed through Los Altos. By the time I parked at work, there were some light sprinkles and big blue patches showing through the clouds. Add to this the already picturesque rolling green hills and I just wanted to go sit on a hill with a warm coat and a big umbrella and watch the clouds roll in for the rest of the day. Instead I went to a lecture and discussion with Jared Spool. The weather will still be there tomorrow. I love it when the rain comes to visit.

Geography Quiz!

Can you place the states?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Saw Some Movies

Rick and I went to see the Phantom of the Opera on Sunday night. It was just as good as the stage production, which is to say, good but not great. It does have annoyingly catchy songs for sure. Still humming the 3 days later. Honestly, I really enjoyed it, except for the girl playing Christine. She had the least animated face of any actress I've ever seen. When the Phantom sends his message saying that Carlotta has to learn to act, it's hard to believe compared to the Phantom's favorite little Christine. By comparison, Minnie Driver is a MUCH better actress in this and in many other things. Oh, and Rick says this movie would make a great drinking game. If you had to drink everytime they said "Christine" you'd be utterly soused by the end.

Last night we went to see Kinsey. It was a really good film and a fascinating personal portrait. I'd recommend it to almost anyone, though you have to be ready to hear frank discussion of human sexuality. Rick is still giggling to himself about one line that the delivery totally cracked him up.

Next on the list of movies to see is The Aviator. It's gotten a lot of Academy Award noms so I'm hoping it's actually good, though initial reviews didn't make me want to rush out and see it. The Academy seems to be turning in a weak list again this year, which really is a shame considering some of the truly great films this year. I think the best is still Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind followed closely by The Incredibles. Finding Neverland is also a favorite.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Mop Head

Okay, so I punted on the hair dilemma. Got 2 inches trimmed off today at lunch. The ends are all happy and shiny again. It feels significantly shorter. Anyway, I couldn't find a style that inspired. I couldn't find a hair stylist closer than San Francisco that inspired. So I gave up and got the splits trimmed and will probably continue to have long, style-free hair for another six to twelve months.

I used to have this really cool, totally funky hair stylist in Sacramento named Jennifer. I miss her. I'd go in and say, "Do something fun that won't be total torture to keep up." And I'd walk out looking cute for $30 or so. Ah, the good old days.

Weekend in Review

Had an oddly productive weekend. I posted the two washer/dryer sets and the armoire on craig's list. The armoire and one washer/dryer set sold on Sunday. The woman who bought the armoire was just pretty darned cool. She's a construction inspector for the state who specializes in hospital construction. We ended up hanging out with her for a couple of hours, and ultimately invited her and her partner to games on Friday night.

Beyond that, my dad came down with Howard and they finished the foundation bolting in 2 hours flat. They made a great team under there, with Howard drilling and my dad bolting behind him. I must send Howard a big thank you. Having his help made all the difference, and watching he and my dad banter back and forth was actually heart-warming. There is someone on the earth who "gets" my dad -- his brother. They have the same sense of humor. I'm also heartened to note that my dad and Carol have gotten back together. This is probably a really good thing. Dad needs a companion in life, and Carol is perfect save for one "defect" - her love of pets. My dad HATES pets. But, if they can work around that, as they did before for 10 years, then they'll both have someone and that's a good thing. They're already planning a big trip to England for 3 or 4 weeks in May. This is such a good thing. I'm hoping it makes my dad happy. He's been so very lonely.

I also did little things like dying my hair, buying a rake for the lawn, scooping up the dog poop from the front yard, and checking out the Espresso Garden as a potential ceili venue. And we got to go out Friday night to play games with Kevin and Rachel at Barefoot Coffee, which is the best little old fashioned coffee house in Santa Clara.

Oh, and Pixel is no longer eating Kitten flavor. He's graduated to adult cat food. According to the last vet visit, he's probably a year old now, so he gets to eat the big boy food. Our little baby's growing up! Sure, now he's just an unruly teenager with a sock fetish, but a year from now, he'll be a lazy adult cat.

And tonight, I get to watch Hamlet (which I got for Christmas on DVD) with Christyn and Brian over a dinner of Cabbage Porial and Chicken Cauliflower Masala. Hooray for good friends, good food, and good film.

Social Security Reform

Bush keeps talking about social security reform as if he's privatizing it for my generation. I'd like to thank him for not speaking for me in the future. He doesn't have a clue what I want or need and shoudl really stop pretending that he does.

Privatizing social security is the last thing in the world that I want. Social Security is a defined benefit that I'll get paid no matter what happens to the rest of my investments. I already have a lot of government sponsored privatized retirement savings accounts - my IRA, my 401k, and my 403b(s). Within those, I'm already managing the risks associated with those dollars so that I feel comfortable and earn as much as possible. In recent years, none of those accounts have done particularly well. That's the risks, and that's the way it is, but so long as social security doesn't utterly collapse, I'll always have a small amount of money coming from that to supplement my other retirement incomes. That's right - social security is my most secure investment. And I don't want that to change. I don't want to be responsible for managing that money as well as everything else. It's already enough work to keep track of my various accounts from my past years at different jobs. I've got enough $2000 annoying retirement accounts in all varieties (IRA, 401k, 403b) that are hard enough to keep track of. And managing that money costs money. This year I'm in the process of consolidating those accounts so that they don't continue to be such a burden, but darned if that doesn't cost me a heap big load of fees. Still, it's better than losing track of them entirely. No, I want social security to be my safety net. I can make riskier investments with other retirement dollars if I know I have one sure thing.

So, Mr. Bush, stop trying to privatize social security. We've already got 401k and 403b doing that for us. Figure out how to make social security work as a guaranteed benefit program. That's what it was invented for, and that's what it should be. It's supposed to ensure that the elderly don't starve to death in the streets. If it's privatized, there is no guarantee that the stock market won't tank just as I retire and try to draw cash (as happened to so many in 2001). And a generation from now, we'll have to figure out a way to patch that hole, because most people don't actually have the wherewithal pay attention to how their money is invested and will be starving in the streets, and how will we take care of them then? Will we just say, "Oh they invested poorly. Let them die." That's a perversion of the reason that social security was invented. Social security is a difficult problem. It's grown away from it's original intent. Perhaps contracting it to cover only its original intent might help preserve it to continue to provide that benefit. I don't know what the answer is, but I do know that privatization is not something I desire. It just means one more account I have to keep track of, pay investment fees on, and probably will be laden with restrictions that make it difficult to manage. No thank you. Please think again.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

32 Years of Legal Abortion

And on the 32nd anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, I offer this charming article. That's right, the woman once known as "Jane Roe" has asked the Supreme Court to overturn its landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion 32 years ago. Okie dokie then. And what's more, there's a judge in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals who criticized the abortion ruling and said "new medical evidence may well show undue harm to a mother and her fetus." Um? Which medical evidence was that? I mean, the point of an abortion is to necessarily harm the fetus. As for harm to the mother, it's still a heck of a lot safer than having a baby. According to Consumer Reports, "In the U.S., the fatality risk with mifepristone is slightly less than 1 per 100,000 cases, compared with 0.1 per 100,000 for surgical abortion at 8 weeks or less. Pregnancy itself carries a fatality risk of 11.8 per 100,000." So, it's somewhere on the order of 100 times more dangerous to have a baby than to have an abortion. And yes, it's safest to not get pregnant in the first place, but if we're talking about the yes/no of delivering a baby or not, then sorry, it's not unduely harmful to have an abortion. Get real. If you're going to cite evidence, the cite it, and be ready to back it up, because the truth will come out.

Please let us get through the next four years with abortion kept safe and legal. Why on earth would you force someone to have a child they didn't want? That's just asking for a child to be unloved and unwanted, and the kids know when they are resented. Anyway, happy anniversary America.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Grant Restrictions on "Objectionable" Reasearch

Okay, lemme get this straight. You get a grant to do some research. You're merrily doing your research, and then the granting agency decides that someone at your institution has done something which it sees as promoting or engaging in "violence, terrorrism, bigotry or the destruction of any state." So you may be researching a new drug and someone over in a totally different school, say School of Humanities and Sciences, that crosses the line somehow, maybe by studying the attraction of Islamic extremism in 12-20 year old Afghani males. Instead of that research director getting in trouble, you lose your grant even though you have nothing to do with that other person and have never met them nor were even vaguely even aware that they or their research existed.

For one, they clearly have no concept of how balkanized a university is. For two, this is a bizarre restriction. You should be judged on the merits or failings of your own research, not on what happens at the university with every dollar spent, not merely grant funds, but "all salaries, scholarships and university payments to outside vendors." For three, how do they judge whether any other activity on campus is promotion or engagment in the forbidden activities? It could be so easy for something to be misconstrued, and then you'd lose your grant through no fault of your own. Somehow that just doesn't seem quite right.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Gamester

With season tickets to ACT, I'm getting to see the full range of their performances. The Black Rider was surreal and had beautiful set design, but ultimately the story didn't quite gel. It seemed like so much actor-bation. The Real Thing was good, but I expect a bit more from a Tom Stoppard play at this point. It just didn't quite stack up against Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead or Arcadia. The Gamester was pure delight. The story is the classic sort of Shakespearean type farcical romantic comedy, with the lovers, the complication, and the neat resolutions at the end, but the telling was gorgeous. Strong attention was paid to physical characterization, probably best typified by Hector's walk. There was a chase scene akin to a Monkees or Scooby Doo episode, complete with background music. The costumes were gorgeous. The leading lady was perfection both in her pure pink finery and her cross-dressed country boy outfit. Little things like explaining how to play dice, and having the student take the advice of "throw the dice" to mean throwing them away... off stage... and hitting a backstage player in the head who comes out holding his eye to return the dice. Or the magical twinkling sounds and light that occurred every time Angelique's portrait came out of a pocket. Or Madame Securite' pulling the bullwhip from her cleavage... twice. Or the Duke Argente's asking his hair, "Where have you gone to?" Anyway, it was priceless. I'd cheerfully go see it again. All in all, it was a positively lovely evening, complete with a quick dinner a Quiznos before hand and yummy dessert at Lori's Diner with Fred and Malaya afterward.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Sick Building?

Ever read an article and hear it resounding in your head? I doubt this is what's going on, but man, getting sick with an annoying cough the day I got back to work from 2 weeks off is oddly coincidental. And feeling much better this morning, and then feeling my chest get all bogged down again during the course of the day? Well, it's disconcerting. And walking down the hall and seeing just how many doors are closed with the white board outside it saying "Out Sick". It's not comforting. Anyway, I sincerely hope this isn't the story, but 2 1/2 weeks of coughing is not normal for me. I'm usually one of the healthiest people in any given crowd, and I really miss that status right now. Right now, I hang out with anyone, and they get furrowed brows of concern and ask if I've seen a doctor, or shy away to the other side of the table, or make a joke about laying off the cigarettes. I really thought when I woke up this morning that I was turning a corner, but right now, I sounds every bit as bad as yesterday and the two weeks before that. Mergle. This too shall pass. I hope.

House For Sale

There's another house for sale on my block. It's just across the street and it's a 2 bedroom, 2 bath for $399k. It's cute, and would be even cuter painted something other than this shade of green. It would be nifty to have a cool person buy it. It would be more nifty to have a friend buy it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday

Had the day off yesterday for MLKjr. Day. I headed up to Berkeley to help Chris shop for glasses. It was such an advantage to shop for glasses with a camera and be able to compare after the fact with images that didn't lie, and then to be able to get lots of opinions on my choices. I thought I'd pass along the joy of that. Anyway, I was heartened to note that several places weren't open. Also, on my drive up, on the flashback lunch hour on live 105, the last track they played in the hour was the entirety of King's "I Have a Dream" speech. He knew. He knew he'd pissed off too many people and that they were coming for him. He kept saying, "I may not make it with you to the promised land" and the like. It still amazes me what he managed to set in motion. One of my favorite episodes of This American Life sums it up perfectly - "Did they kill him too?" Yeah, they did.

Finally, after yummy pizza at Extreme Pizza (mmm... Mr. Pestato Head), we headed off to the Plough. It was a very crowded evening, but it was nice, because when I arrived at 8, there were already lots of people to hang out with. I caught up with a bunch of friends and then dove into the dancing at 9. I got in one chutney, a couple of waltzes, and a High Caul Cap. Not much dancing, but it was okay. I knew it was crowded, and hey, as expected, it's much less important when it's just the thing you do at the end of the day rather than fighting an hour and a half of rush hour traffic to get there. It's nice. I've found a peace and a balance at the Plough again. I know I can only go when it's convenient, when I don't have to work the next day or that day, and it's just for seeing people, with a little dancing thrown in for fun. It's nice. The last three times I've been there have been very refreshing. Plus, there's a new bartender. Next time, I'll even bring in cash. Anyway, it was a nice day, with just enough deference to the celebrant.

Bah!

Americans embarass me. As a people, we are ignorant and self-righteous. This is an extraordinarily bad combination.

A month or so ago, I heard that there was a complaint filed with the FCC about the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. When I first heard this, I was stunned. Apparently, those complaints have not gone away or been shelved as pure poppycock. Now the chairman of the Olympic Committee has gotten wind of this, and she's fuming. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is laughing at as, as usual. As a student of Greek Art and Archaelogy, I was awestruck by the opening ceremonies. There, in living flesh were some of the greatest extant works of greek art from the most ancient through the classical period and into the Byzantine and modern eras. Seeing the bull jumpers come to life is extraordinary. Seeing the rows of Kouroi with their hair plaited was magical. Seeing the Minoan Snake Goddess in motion was an astonishing joy. To imply that these were "lewd" or "indecent" is offensive to the core. These are some of the greatest works of art of all time. The transition in greek art to statuary that was individual and had individual faces was a historic moment. As the Greeks broke away from the postures of the Egypian statuary, and started to sculpt figures in motion, as the statuary moved from the columnar Hera of Samos into individual arms and legs and faces, that progression also coincides with the development of the world's greatest cultures - cultures that are still a model for our society today. To say that that is lewd and indecent and shouldn't be shown makes us no better than the people hundreds of years ago who bashed the penises of the statues because they felt them to be indecent. The only indecency is to destroy some of the most important works of art in history - or to ask the world to deny their existence. This is not ancient pornography. The ancient Greeks revered the human form, and I think we still have a lot to learn from them.

In case you haven't seen the opening ceremonies, the only thing indecent about it was the voice overs by the NBC announcers. It was the history of greek art come to life. It was a guy on a spinning cube. It was Bjork in a dress that covered not only herself, but all of the atheletes. It was a little greek boy in a boat. The only way to find something lewd in that presentation is to enter into watching it with a dirty mind.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

A Sunday in January

Funny thing about being sick - you get some odd things done. It was a beautiful day today. I really wanted to get out to the yard and tear up a bunch of weeds. Still, the thought of exacerbating my cough with pollen and grasses and Round-Up seemed like a really bad idea. So, instead, I stayed in. Everyone keeps bugging me about lying down and being sick and resting, so I'm resting. And drinking lots of fluids. I've got a cocktail of 16 ounces of "I Love Lemon" tea and the fresh-squeezed juice of one orange that I've consumed once for every episode of West Wing I've watched today. I've got one episode of West Wing left to watch. After that, I'm totally caught up on West Wing. It's freakish. So yeah, I'm hydrated. I'm still coughing. I'd really really love to have some actual treatment that would fix this thing, but western medicine seems non-plussed by my cough. So, I cough, and I wait. And I watch a lot of tv. Oh, and I washed all the laundry. I do so love my new washer and dryer, and that is such an odd thing.

It's odd how very different my Sunday is today than a month ago. Very odd indeed. I miss the gang at Fezziwigs. I'm much looking forward to the cast party in a couple of weeks. You know those moving sidewalks in the airports? If you go walking along those at a brisk pace, then you step back off onto the regular walkway and the world stops passing you at the amazing rate, and you feel like you're walking very slowly, even though you're still going at the same pace. That's what a Sunday in January feels like compared to a Sunday in December. I know I couldn't really keep up the pace of December all year long, but it feels so good at the time. It feels like flying. No moment is wasted. And January always feels like a let down at some point. This weekend is feeling that way. It only takes a few steps before you start to feel normal walking at a normal pace again. It will all balance out soon. I'm looking forward to regaining my usual stride.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Multiple Intelligences

This is a theory that you get beaten with in the teacher credentialing courses. Yes, it's important to appeal to multiple intelligences when teaching. Somehow though, verbal/linguistic seems more at home in an English class while Bodily/Kinesthetic seems more at home in P.E. Still, when learning Shakespeare, I did torture my kids into learning a couple of English country dances because I could use this theory as a nice excuse.



Verbal/Linguistic

89%

Interpersonal

86%

Intrapersonal

71%

Visual/Spatial

68%

Musical/Rhythmic

64%

Logical/Mathematical

50%

Bodily/Kinesthetic

29%

You scored as Verbal/Linguistic. You have highly developed auditory skills, enjoy reading and writing and telling stories, and are good at getting your point across. You learn best by saying and hearing words. People like you include poets, authors, speakers, attorneys, politicians, lecturers and teachers.


The Rogers Indicator of Multiple Intelligences
created with QuizFarm.com


What you may also note is that though my hobby is dancing, my lowest scores are in bodily/kinesthetic. Every dance I learn is a struggle, but I love the feeling of dance so much that it's totally worth it.

Albuterol

Oooh. Albuterol is cool. Oh yes it is. I stopped by the pharmacy after the ceili last night and picked up my prescription. Sitting in the car, I took the inhalent. Then I took a nice deep breath. It was the first deep breath in at least a week. It felt so good. It felt so good that I had to call Rick to tell him how happy I was about breathing. I think it confused him. The next hour or so, it was all about deep breaths. Here's hoping this helps turn the corner and I actually start getting my lungs back. This has been unpleasant for too long.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Cough cough, continued

Okay, so this whole cough thing has officially gotten silly. A couple of days ago I called Kaiser, and they prescribed a codeine/guifenisen cough syrup. I took it Tuesday night, hoping for a long quiet sleep. Since everything has the opposite of the intended effect for the past week or so, I instead started coughing far more violently, and found myself wide awake until 2:30. Everyone at the office found that terribly surprising. For everyone else, codeine induces 1. drowsiness, and 2. less coughing. So I thought, well maybe that was just a fluke, and tried it again last night. Much coughing ensued and I ended up awake until after 2 again. I called Kaiser this morning to let them know that Plan A had failed utterly and ask what Plan B would be. I haven't heard back yet.

The cough thing wouldn't be that big a deal. It's just a cough. I'm not particularly sick overall. I feel fine otherwise. But I can't laugh. That's really starting to bother me. If I laugh, I am thrust into a fit of coughing. Can you imagine me not giggling for 2 weeks? I can't. It's just wrong.

Update at 5:30: Doctor thinks it's bronchitis, plus an asthmatic response. Going to pick up an inhaler on the way to ceili. He says that cough syrup does the same thing to him. Cool.

West Wing

So I went to Paul's last night to catch 2 more episodes of West Wing. We watched "Eppur Si Muove", which amused me more than the average person. Bartlett's daughter's lab was being targeted for their "questionable" NIH grant. Questionable in the mind of conservative Christians who had taken a list of all such research grants to the floor to complain about what taxpayer dollars were being spent on. Now, being far more familiar now than I ever expected to be with the entire process of getting an NIH grant for research, and getting that research proposal approved, this struck a pretty loud chord with me. Sure, studying HPV in Puerto Rican prostitutes doesn't sound all mom and apple pie on the surface, but dammit, it's not a political decision. The research needs to be done, and may someday lead to a HPV vaccine, which could save thousands of women from the pain and possible death from cervical cancer. And how dare a congressman think they know better what is valuable scientific research than the NIH, the peer reviewers, or the scientists designing the study? Do you have any idea how hard it is to get human subjects research approved? Gah. Anyway, I strongly feel that we have incredibly strong safeguards in place to protect the subjects and the researchers and to insure scientific value in the research. Let the process work and don't make political hay about what you haven't taken the time or effort to fully understand. Plus, there was a subplot involving the Muppets. It was good West Wing.

The bad news is that both our Tivo and Paul's are missing the same 2 episodes of West Wing, so I'll have to skip those and go on. Such is life. I'm sure I'll catch them eventually. We took our remaining time to watch a couple episodes of last year's Solstrom. It's an odd little show, but it's fun seeing some good cirque acts again. Too often the act just isn't shot from a good angle though. We watched two episodes, both interesting, but not quite good enough to recommend.

And now I'm just 3 episodes away from this season, which I have recorded. Yay!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Our Beloved Stimpy

If Pixel isn't careful, he's going to get renamed.

Rick scooped his litter last night. Pixel has always loved a fresh clean litter box, but he took it too far last night, not merely scratching around in the freshly tidied litter box, but ultimately curling up in the clean sand just to hang out. He is such a freak.

Of course, he's also the super snuggliest freak ever, who curled up in bed with me this morning for a full hour of purring snuggles. Why yes, I was late to work today. But does he really like me, or am I just as good as a clean litter box to him? Hmmm...

Breszny Hits the Target

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): In his book, *Chronicles: Volume 1,* famed Gemini bard Bob Dylan claims that he never wanted to be the voice of his generation, let alone a prophet of protest leading a charge to overthrow the corrupt empire. "I really was never any more than a folk musician who gazed into the gray mist with tear-blinded eyes," he writes. "My deepest dream was a house on a tree-lined block with a white picket fence, pink roses in the backyard." I believe many of you Geminis will thrive in the coming nine months if you pursue a similarly modest path. Beginning next November, you may be called on to raise some beautiful and benevolent hell, but in the short run I advise you to bolster your foundations with tender loving care.

Hmm. I seem to have recently purchased a house on a tree-lined block and I'm planning to install a white picket fence to go with my pink roses in the front and back yard. So you're saying this year is about settling into my new lifestyle of home and garden and cat with fresh soup bubbling on the stove? Yah, okay.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Well then...

Okay, clearly my own perceptions are skewed, according to the common perception, but it's been one of those weeks where my body and I just aren't on the same wavelength. It's very frustrating to do all the right things and get rewarded with the opposite of the expected result. But that describes several other things going on right now as well, so maybe it's just that general malaise coloring this and other things. Not to mention that I'm also mad at my body about this stupid cough nonsense. Ten days of coughing? I've never felt sick the entire time. I feel fine. I sound horrible (between hacking and my voice being all tweeked from all the hacking). But I feel fine. Still. Sheesh. Stupid body.

On the other hand, there is a lot going right in the world. I had the best time ever at the PEERS ball this weekend. PEERS events aren't generally as much fun as say a Gaskells or a Friday Night Waltz for me for a number of odd reasons (no set list, having to be quiet during breaks instead of socializing, blah blah blah), but none of that mattered on Saturday. All of the folks I'd hoped to see were there, and a great night of friends and dancing ensued. Ah happy days.

Speaking of Friday Night Waltz, learning the Maxixe (pronounced "Masheesh") was a hoot. It's a two-step pattern from Brazil. It's bouncy and showy and silly fun fun fun. I hope I can remember it a while from now.

I am almost caught up on West Wing. I've got 7 episodes left from last season, and then all of this season, but all of it is recorded. I get two more at Paul's house tomorrow, then several at home, one more at Paul's and then I'm home free! It seems odd to be so thrilled about catching up on TV, but this has been a project since August. You know that thing about how I like to finish things? Yeah, even TV. Oddly, getting caught up on that will feel like an accomplishment. Plus, it will mean I'm no longer unduely imposing on Paul and Bill's Tivo. Plus, I won't have to go around with my hands over my ears going "La la la" whenever people talk about West Wing. That'd be cool.

And then today, I got to have a lunch out with Mr. Lowe. He's our favorite customer this year. Most years, the customer who makes it all worthwhile is someone who has never danced before and really enjoys it. I didn't have any of that breed of magic customer this year, but we did all enjoy the company of Mr. Lowe, who fell in love with Fezziwigs and has been well and truly adopted by the cast. He's even invited to the cast party. Anyway, he's a law student here on campus, so when I found out his finals wrapped up on Monday, I invited him to lunch Tuesday to celebrate. So we had good conversation, and yummy pizza and salad at Pizza My Heart. He's an interesting puzzlement that one. He's young, Republican, Christian, and yet I get along with him. Of course, he's also a dancer and a gamer geek, so y'know, he's not the football watching, big truck driving, hunting small woodland creatures sort of mid-western christian conservative that scares me senseless. Anyway, hope to pass some time with him again soon. I suspect he may be interesting to get into long twisty politico-religious discussions with. I've not had a sparring partner of that sort for many years, and I think that I could really appreciate it.

I mailed off the CD of all project documentation to the folks in Research Compliance and Key Solutions on Friday. I'm officially off the eProtocols project now, and I even got to deflect a support request as a result. Truly, it wasn't a question I could answer anyway, but it's just nice to be able to say, "Actually, I'd love to help if I could, but you really want to talk to the support team. Their number is..." Did I mention I love being done with something? Yeah.

Testing on Workflow marches on. I'm really a bit disappointed in our business owners for this project. They didn't make it to our 1 hour weekly meeting for the second week in a row this week. They didn't respond to the emails I sent them last week. It makes a girl wonder, out loud, to her manager, "Seriously, do they want this to go live or not, because I've got no problem with going and working on something else instead." Grr. Oh well. At least my manager volunteered herself and Jo-Ann to test for us today and we got two solid hours of real serious testing done. It was probably far more useful than the past 3 days of my testing. Different hands on the same system do very different things. We shook out four or five new quirks. Yay! We've also got Leanna coming to test tomorrow. I'll be feeling much more confident in the system after that. Next week, we're getting some payroll folks to test for us for the terminations section. Almost there... stay on target... Oh please let this go live in February!

Took Pixel to the vet this weekend to get a 1 year checkup and introduce him to what I expect to be his place of permanent care (Adobe Animal Hospital). He's a healthy growing boy. He's gained 3 1/2 pounds since we got him in October! Zoinks! He's going to be a very big boy when he's all grown up. He weighs 9 1/2 pounds now and he's still growing. On the trip home, we picked up a 3 story cat condo from Wal-Mart, because after MUCH shopping for a suitable scratching post thing, this was the best size/configuration to fit our needs, and was fully 1/4 the price of similar things at the pet stores. He instantly knew it was for him and played with it all the way home. He's such a spoiled boy.

I'm making more eggplant soup tonight and being all sorts of domestic - changing sheets, doing laundry, cleaning my room, folding clothes, cleaning the bathroom - so that I can play the rest of the week. There's West Wing on Wednesday, ceili on Thursday, sewing on Saturday, and glasses shopping with Chris on Monday, likely followed by a short trip to the Plough.

Oh, and I've got Page Mandarins from Cosentino's. These are the best tangerine type fruit ever. It's like the best clementine you've ever eaten, every time. I wish I could find a tree of this type to plant in my yard. That would rock. They only exist in the store for 3 weeks or so each year, and I managed to be there and grab them. Woohoo! Produce from Cosentino's and food from Trader Joe's makes me all kinds of happy.

Anyway, just thought I'd post a non-bodily function post since my blog was starting to look really boring and stuff. As per the usual, life isn't perfect, but it sure is awfully nice most of the time.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Grrr

I'm officially mad at my body. Over Dickens season, I generally lose somewhere between 4-8 pounds. Not this year. Just as much dancing. Just as much effort. No weight loss. Okay, well, technically, one pound, which was dutifully gained back over the Christmas holiday.

So I figured, back to work last Monday, and what a great time for a dietary change. I already get far more exercise than the average desk monkey, so clearly I'm just eating too much. I stuck to my Weight Watchers points, guarding myself against eating more than 20 points a day, even though I was allowed up to 23. I eschewed even my favorite treats in the office. I did really well. I stayed on target all the way through to Saturday. So Saturday before the ball, I weighed myself again before slipping into my ball gown. I figured I'd be down a pound or two, or maybe even just breaking even. Nope. I GAINED TWO POUNDS!!! This is after weight training Monday and Wednesday, dancing Thursday and Friday and on my way to more dancing on Saturday night. I checked again Sunday. Nope, that was for real.

Let's just say I didn't hold back at the ThanksMasKa dinner Rachel served. If I'm going to be relegated to being fat anyway, then by god, I'm going to enjoy the turkey when it's served.

I'm back to eating responsibly today, but far less hopeful about the outcome. Will I really spend the rest of my life over 150 pounds? Should I just give up now and get rid of favorite old dresses? I'm just not quite willing to give up yet, especially looking at photos of myself this year and wondering when I became a fat chick. I can fight the trend, but clearly my body is not looking to partner with me on this task. One more week on this tack, and then I may try a different approach. Lisa has had unbelievably fabulous results via Atkins, and though I'd sooner give up almost anything before giving up good bread, I may be willing to compromise and try it finally. I don't care if I make it all the way back to 127 this year, but please don't let me exit 2005 still over 150! I've got a ball gown I so want to wear again.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Hair Dilemma

Every year, come May or so, I decide I want to cut my hair. Then I'm never sure where to go, what style to have cut, how short to go, or anything else. After a month or two of dithering, I go to Great Clips and have them hack off an inch and continue growing it with the thought "Well, I'll just keep it long until after Dickens." Through the entire fall, I see cute hairstyles and think, "Yes, right after Dickens." I wait through the entirety of October and November thinking, "Whew at last. After just a few more weeks I can cut my hair. Then Dickens happens, and during Dickens I spend all month with my hair up most of the time. When I take it down at the end of the day, I get complements on how lovely it is. And then I start to believe it. Yes, it is lovely. And it's taken so very long to grow out. Maybe I should just keep it long.

Well, the cycle has repeated four times now, and I'm in the January phase again: maybe I should just keep it long. I'm now convinced that this is the last stage/cycle before true madness and next I'll be committed and not allowed anywhere near scissors. But back in October and November, I did look at hair styles. I even did a couple of different styles on me in the online Clairol Try It On Studio back in early December. I don't know if I want to cut bangs. I don't know if I want to cut it short. I don't know if I want to do something small or something drastic. I haven't found just the right thing to make me think "Yes, now that's how I want my hair!" So, I suppose I'm throwing it open to the peanut gallery for commentary and recommendations.

Cough Cough

I have a weird sort of cough. I never got sick. No head cold. No runny nose. No achy body. None of that. But I've got this odd lingering cough like the end of a cold. I don't feel sick at all. I've made it through my week with flying colors. But now the cough cough has started stealing my voice as well. This is annoying.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Done!

I thought about leaving at 7:30 to go have dinner with Rick. Then I mentioned that I had one more long night at work. Then I started thinking. That one more long night probably wouldn't be nearly as long if I just kept going right now. So I did. It's a little over an hour later, and I'm done! No late night required tomorrow. Yay!!! What have I been laboring over so madly for the past two days (having already logged 24 hours of work in my first two days back from vacation)? The Lab Animals eProtocol tutorial. Done. Whew. I'll probably take this link down after a few days, but if anyone is interested in the new system I helped put together, now is your chance to look at how it works. It's not perfect, but it's far better than the old mainframe system. And as of Friday, I won't be involved anymore. This is bittersweet though, because I've really enjoyed working with the researchers, learning about what they're studying and such. But it also feels so good to finish something. My old boss once asked if I'd be able to surrender the project when the time came. I said, "Sure, no problem. I've always loved the last day of school." And that's what it feels like.

And now to turn all of my attention to Workflow. No wait... and now to go home!

Monday, January 03, 2005

Sleep? Now?

My body, having just realized that the pre-10am wake up call was no joke, has decided I need to sleep now. Getting up and walking around the building hasn't helped. Now eating an apple. Still sleepy. I can almost hear every cell in my body screaming out "But we loved getting 9 hours of sleep a day. What was so wrong with that?!" Sorry guys, gotta do that job thing. If I don't, there won't be anywhere to sleep. Strong intention to take pity on my body tonight and go to bed early. Something tells me my easy bounce out of bed this morning will not be repeated tomorrow.

Back to Work

After setting the alarm, but failing to turn it on, I awoke to kitten snuggles at 7:43. Unfortunately, that was a bit late for Rick, but for me, I dashed around the house and got out quickly. I left at 8:10, then realized I forgot my lunch on the counter. I left again at 8:26, and made it here at 8:54. Clearly, a lot of folks are taking a few extra days around the holiday weekend. Traffic was non-existant. I got into work, and sat down. Now back to the grind. Testing Workflow doesn't sound like any more fun even though I haven't done it for 2 weeks. Oh well. Only another few weeks of this and then on to real campus readiness work.