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Saturday, April 30, 2005

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The movie last night was great. 16 friends huddled together in a theater actually getting to see something that lived up to its source material. Sure, it wasn't perfect, but it was very very good, and really had the spark of Douglas Adams to it.

Afterwards, good pizza and hanging out was had at Pizza My Heart. For some odd reason, conversation flowed straight to Firefly and Serenity and then seemed to hover in the realm of sci-fi tv for the rest of the evening. It was good though. And then there was the sleeping in. Then a little check to make sure a security role had been properly updated for a faculty member, and now for wedding shopping.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Whew!

Well the tickets to Serenity sold out in less than 24 hours for all 10 screens nationwide. In the scrum yesterday, I forgot to call Paul and Karen, my Browncoat Ball companions, to say "Go! Buy! Now!" So when Paul logged in this morning, it was all sold out. Very sad. Luckily, Ray is smarter than me and he got extra tickets, and through some last minute negotiation, we have now secured tickets for Paul, Karen, and Crystal. Whew!

So, so far, I know that Ray, Rick, Cyrus, Athena, Kevin, Rachel (pending wisdom tooth badness), Paul, Karen, Crystal, Brian, Christyn, James, Debbie, T, and Sean will all be there at the theater. This will be the movie event of the season. I was completely unable to contain my glee last night and ended up bursting out in random happy dances around the house.

Plus, we projected the trailer last night at home. Wah. This is going to rock.

Oh, and to the exec who cancelled Firefly - Big mistake. Huge. Watch Universal suck up all the profits you could've had.

And to George Lucas, this is how great sci-fi is made - through passion to tell a great story against all odds.

And to Joss Whedon, we love you man! You and your bunion-y toes.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Serenity!

The Serenity Trailer is available now!!! I'm sad there's no Kaylee or Shepherd Book in the trailer, so I guess I'll just have to go home and watch my DVDs tonight on the big screen at home. Plus go home and watch the trailer again. Yah.

Rumor had it that there is going to be a special sneak preview on May 5th, but as fast as rumors flew, tickets flew faster. I tried logging on to Fandango to get tickets to the showing in Roseville at 10pm next Thursday night (which is a clear expression of my insanity that it sounds like a good idea to deal with Fandango, pay their exorbitant fees, go see a movie in a Century theater, and drive 3 hours to do it each way on a work night). Unfortunately, by the time I got to Fandango, they were all sold out. Rumors are flying now that they've added a SF showing. I'm hoping for the best, but maybe waiting til September won't be so bad if no one else I know gets to see it on May 5th either.

Update: Rumors of the SF showing are true, and tickets are available now on MovieTickets.com. I've got two for me and two for Kevin & Rachel. Ray is also going and I think Chris Stehlik. This is great on so many levels. I didn't have to use Fandango. I don't have to drive to Roseville. And, oh yeah, I get to see Serenity a full four and a half months early!!! And now Ammy does the happy dance. Woohoo! Heck yah!!!

Friday, April 22, 2005

Little Nibbles

So there's a million little things to mention, none big enough to inspire me to post, but together they are hopefully entertaining and worth recording.

Last night before I left the office, I remembered I needed to write a quick article for the Administrative Systems newsletter. I also had dinner plans in 15 minutes. So, I tossed off a quick note to the editor and copied my manager, figuring I could revise as needed in the morning. This morning I arrive to a note from my manager that says "This is very good. Thanks a lot." Well okay then. If there's one thing I've always been good at, it's timed writing. In school, if it was an essay test, I was golden. There are some things I'm really glad I learned in school.

Last night was the fourth week of my tango class. So, after yummy noodles at Zao with Brian and Christyn, I headed back to campus for the tango class. I've always avoided learning tango because it always seemed to serious and/or ooky to me. Most tango dancers try to exude seduction, and when it comes to dance (and, well, most things in my life) I'm more silly and playful. Tango has never seemed silly or playful. But Richard is teaching and I trust him and his emphasis on social dance versus competitive/pattern style dance, so learning lead and follow tango seemed worthwhile. It has been. Heck, I did a very silly tango with Alex last weekend at her birthday party and it was perfect. So I've found the silly in tango. Hooray!

But anyway, at this fourth class, I'm switching partners and the man I partner with says his name is Herve. I say, "Really? What's your last name?" and he answers and I think for a moment, and he asks why I ask. I say, "Well I helped a student with an Axess problem last week on the help desk named Herve." He says, "Oh! That was me! And thank you very much." We dance, now both slightly flustered. It's not often that student and staff find themselves in each others arms dancing something like the tango, but there I was.

Meanwhile, I signed up for Netflix yesterday. I figured I'd give it a whirl over the summer, see what the big deal was. So far, what I'm finding is that there aren't a whole lot of movies I really wanted to see that I didn't make time for in the theater. I'm a huge sucker for seeing a movie on a big screen in the theater, and with Cinema Saver 10 for $3 and Camera 7 and 12 for $5, it's just not very expensive, so we go see a lot of movies. Anyway, I've got several HBO and Showtime productions in the queue, plus some old classics I missed like "The Graduate". It'll be fun for the summer, but I suspect we'll give up on it after a few months. We'll see.

Now I just need to decide if I want to organize a big movie outing to see Hitchhiker's Guide on opening day. I'm thinking yes. It's going to be a fun year for movies I hope, starting with Hitchhiker's Guide (which is rumored to have the first preview for Serenity), Star Wars 3 (at least it will finally be over), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (yay! Tim Burton and Johnny Depp and a herd of trained squirrels!), and finally Serenity on September 30th. I can't wait. Opening day was supposed to be today (fittingly, Earth Day), but it was postponed by the studio to avoid competition with Star Wars and Hitchhikers and such. Probably a wise move. Still, I'm really missing having some Joss Whedon banter in my life. Dead Like Me was entertaining, but it lacked the character development and linguistic wit of anything shepherded by Joss. Ah well. Til September.

Off to a meeting now!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Design of Everyday Things

Donald Norman's seminal work on the subject of everyday design is one of those books that changes your world view and at the very least gets you to question why your stove has such stupid controls, but at best can inspire a new way of working and building.

Ann just posted this amazing article on a radical change to prescription bottle design. It's amazing how something so taken for granted can be so poorly designed, and yet a conscientious look at the design can produce something so far superior. In this case, far enough superior that Target (a company I've long noticed actually cares about design far more than its competitors) snapped up the patent and is bringing to life in the real world.

Monday, April 18, 2005

101 and Still Dancing

I want to still dance when I'm 101 too.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Slow Start to a Productive Day

Usually it takes me around 40 minutes to get to work. Today it took twice 40 minutes. That sucked. It seems very wrong to be stopped long enough on the freeway to be able to pluck your eyebrows.

But then I got to work, had a good meeting where we figured out who was going to work on the major issues pending for Workflow, which is to say, some of the rest of the support team currently has some time to help us whittle our issues list a bit, so off we go with more hands than just Jia. Then I reviewed the changes moving to production tonight, doing a final round of testing and arranging final sign off from the business owners. Then I took care of the tickets in the HelpSU queue. Then I created the necessary Code & Problem Tracker tickets for the stuff from the first meeting. And I took 20 minutes to roll over to the Parking office to get my Eco-Pass so that I can ride the train to work for free. Then I arranged to get my side-view mirrors repaired next week. And now I'm off to my Tango class. Luckily the HelpSU queue was fairly light today, thus enabling all of this glorious productivity, but I tell you, it feels good to get so much done. Oh, and I found a good birthday present for Auntie that I'll go pick up after dance class. Yep. Done Done Done. I love getting stuff done.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Bouncy

Okay, so maybe Slavic Mac Hag did spoil my desire to help others a bit today. Rick called looking for contact info for Ray, and I ended up browsing his web page and found the Browncoat Ball photos he took, including the bouncing Ammy video. Yes, I am a total goofball.

edit - ooh, but look at the other pretty picture Ray caught at the ball with all three of us looking cute.

May I speak to your supervisor?

It's been a long time since I've done help desk work in any large amount. It's impressive how awful some folks can be. One person who submitted a ticket a couple of days ago called me back after a day of phone tag yesterday. She said I never called her back. I had, and left a message where I actually suggested that her tone was not helping the matter. For me to do that, someone has to be really over the top. She was. She was in full persecuted Mac-user mode. I had told her I wasn't having the problem she was having when I logged in as her. She said I couldn't possibly understand her problem since I was logging in on a PC. This is for a web-based program. Sure, there are some things that operate less well on certain browsers on a Mac, but as she'd originally described her problem, this wasn't one of those situations. So we went several rounds of me asking what browser she was using, and her not giving an answer to that basic question, insisting that it didn't matter if I wasn't going to log into a Mac. I finally said, "I'm really am trying to help you here, but your tone isn't helping, and I need you to answer my questions so that I can troubleshoot the problem." She started giving answers, terse and pissy, and finally we were able to see what she wanted using either Firefox or Safari, just not IE 5.2. I suggested that she should use Firefox. She asked for my supervisor's number. I offered it. She called him and left a voicemail. I sent him an email. I sighed and went on with my day.

But the one thing I've got a really big problem with for Mac users is this persecution complex they have. Yes, you are using a less common operating system, and the world programs for the most common things. If you're going to use a less common operating system, expect quirks and learn to work around them. As a PC user, I have 2 different browsers I use regularly just because things behave differently in each and sometimes I want one over the other. And all Linux users know that they may have to do something extra or special to get stuff to work for them. But for some reason, Mac users (especially on campus) seem to feel that they shouldn't have to think and everything should just work for them because we should all cater to the Mac. All hail the holy Mac! Um, not. It's just another operating system. It does some things very well. It does other things not as well. Were I to be a graphic designer, or if I wanted to design a nice photo album, then sure, I'd rather use a Mac. For dealing with campus administrative systems, give me a PC. Or if I must use a Mac, I'll expect problems.

Anyway, this pissant little woman from the pathetic little Slavic department inside the School of H&S won't ruin my day. I'll just laugh at her and her pathetic little life. And then I'll go pester Justin to show me his Swtich spoof video again. It's funny 'cause he's right.

Ghetto Night at the Movies

The local cheapie theater in Milpitas is great. They've always got good soda, fresh popcorn, a nice selection of movies, and tickets for $3. It's great. We go there often since it's just about as cheap as renting a movie, and it's a nice evening out of the house.

Tuesday night is extra super cheap night - just $1.50 for all tickets. This brings out the dregs of humanity. Usually, I'm busy on Tuesday nights, or remember that that's not a good night for the cheapie theaters.

But heck, they were showing Constantine, and I forgot that it was Tuesday. On the way, I remembered the badness, but hoped for the best.

In the row in front of us, a teeny bopper played with her very bright Nokia phone throughout the movie. I leaned over after about 30 minutes and asked her to turn it off because it was very bright. She made a mild grunt. About ten minutes later, I noticed her actually making a phone call. I leaned over again, about to say something else, trying to decide if I would actually take it from her in full teacher-mode, and when she noticed my presence, she said, "Oh, I gotta go." and hung up. She actually put it away and watched the movie after that. Good girl.

But then about four seats down from her was the older couple who came in 20 minutes late. The gentleman plowed through his giant bag of popcorn in about 30 minutes, and then proceeded to start wiping out the inside of his bag with his hand, scooping the last remaining particles of popcorn and salt into his mouth, ruffling the paper bag like a cat with a toy, and ultimately culminating with his licking the fake butter from each of his fat fingers with a sharp smacking noise as he reached the end of each finger. This drew shushes from others in the audience, but somehow, having known I'd walked into ghetto night at the movies, I was just amused as could be.

Constantine wasn't bad. Sure, Keanu Reeves still can't act his way out of a wet paper bag, but this didn't take much from him, and the rest of the story was good Catholic mysticism schtick, so it wasn't bad. But the floor show at the theater - that was great. Had me laughing all the way home.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

All Aboard!

Our plans for Disneyland with Dirk, Tracey, Camryn and Ella fell through this weekend,so finding ourselves at loose ends, but still needed a weekend out of town as much as ever, Rick talked me into taking the train to go to Sacramento to visit friends. Our last few trips to town have been all family related, so we haven't gotten to see many of our friends in Sacramento in recent history. So we hopped the 9:40 train on Saturday morning, and headed on up to town. We met my mom for a bite of lunch and she dropped us off at Payless Car Rental where I had a little Hyundai reserved for $14.99 a day. They upgraded me to a PT Cruiser, which was kind of fun, and off we went. First we went to see Justin and Monica, who took us out to see the house they're planning to buy. It's a manufactured home made by Skyline, but sold by "Cousin Gary's". Luckily, their house design is far nicer than a business name like "Cousin Gary's" implies. It's actually got a very nice layout, with a beautiful kitchen and a huge master bedroom. We looked at a few other models too, and then one of the sales guys got totally fascinated with Rick's kilt. He came up asking what Justin and Monica needed, then admitted he just wanted to ask about the kilt. After that, we went to Chevy's for a nice dinner on the river at sunset, and then went back to to warm glow of Monica's new 60 inch television. We fed them a couple of episodes of Firefly, and once again, I got the joy of watching someone else start to really enjoy the show. We ended up crashing at mom's place for convenience, and we off to Orangevale in the morning for breakfast with Thomas, Lisa, and Rebbekah. After breakfast, I took a detour to see if the place I'd noticed on one of our prior visits was really related to the Susie's Deals that I used to shop at in L.A. It was, so I ended up doing a bit of shopping, getting several new tops, all for $5 or less. This was cool. I even found a favorite shirt I'd bought last year at Mervyns (for well more than $5) there for $5, so I got it as a spare because the best shirts always seem to die early deaths. Since we'd managed to miss the early train on that detour, we decided to pop into the local Target for a drink and a bathroom, and noticed another store in Birdcage - Beyond Gotham. The name was intriguing enough, so in we went to find a store specializing in Austrian crystal jewelry. After much trying on, I got a lovely new red necklace for Gaskells and a nice brooch for Dickens. The owner moved out from NYC to try expanding the business here as a test market. So far, it's going really well, and I'll certainly recommend it to others looking for attractive costume jewelry. After that, it was back to the car rental place, and they cheerfully shuttled us to the train station. We grabbed a bite of late lunch at the mall, and here we are on the train homeward. The sun is setting. The train is rolling. I've been writing and and knitting and playing games with Rick. This extra relaxation time is definitely worth the extra expense. It's a great way to travel, and this weekend has been exactly the little mini-vacation I needed.

So, back to work in the morning. I'm currently working two jobs and not really fully handling it well. It will get better, but right now, it's definitely too much to do any of it well. My left forearm is sad about all the extra mousing in the program I'm now using daily, so that may be an issue in the near future. We'll see how it all goes. But I think I'm actually ready to face the day on Monday, after the first truly totally relaxing weekend I've had in a good long time.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Flowers

Rick just stopped by the office on his way between Mountain View and South San Francisco to bring me flowers. He didn't have time for lunch, but he brough flowers nonetheless, just because.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

April Fool Friday Night Waltz

Well, several folks avoided FNW last night, not trusting either the DJ or the idea of silly music. Me, I had a blast. There were a couple of clunkers to be sure, but overall, it was a fun night of silliness. In truth, I'm a very silly person, so this was perfect for me. At the bottom of the first set, Tom announced that the Congress would not be silly and was entirely the normal music. I grabbed Bob and told him if the music wasn't silly we'd have to do our best to make it silly for other reasons. A very silly Congress ensued, with fast spins, switching off lead and follow, going backwards, and so on. We didn't crash into anyone, but I think we made a couple people nervous. I think that's the best part of being and experienced dancer at this point - I know enough, and with an equally skilled partner, we can do all manner of wackiness and not cause harm to anyone else. It's just like writing - by having a full comprehension of the rules, you can bend and break the rules in far more elegant ways. Tom ended the night at the bottom of the set list, then gave us stragglers one more: "I'm an Asshole" by Dennis Leary. Still an all time favorite. After Tango class Thursday night, Dance Fitness at noon, and FNW in the evening, I've gotten more dancing in the past 3 days than in the month preceeding, and it feels really good, although a few muscles have mentioned that they don't appreciate the total inactivity to full speed ahead on 3 days notice thing, but they'll be fine in a day or two.