Almost there...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Still Love My Job

And I'm still good at it too. Over the last couple of work days, I focused in and wrote a training guide for the OrderIT website (a Pinnacle portal). It's still rough, but it's a wild improvement over the prior documentation. It no longer has instructions that for adding an account that conclude with "If the account is not there, add it!" or information on placing an order that conclude the moment you get to the order screen with the instruction to "Follow the instructions provided on the form." I note here that the exclamation point is actually in the original documentation and that the form does not have instructions on it. So, I wrote a shiny new training guide that's fifty pages long so far, and has some more to go, and sent it off to the expert to review. She was so thrilled. I showed it to my boss and he said, "You did this in 2 days?" I said yes. He said "Wow. You're really good." I like it here. I get appreciated.

Also, I got my new desk chair today. It's comfy and squishy and feels soft. Yay!

PSA: Dark Garden Window

On Saturday, December 2nd at 4pm, I'll be sitting in the Dark Garden window with Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge.

Anthony caught some great shots of this weekend's windows, including my personal favorite of Frank and Janelle.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Sleep, oh how I've missed thee!

Okay, so I know a lot of loved ones are going to be violently jealous of me for this, but I slept almost thirteen hours last night, waking a bit before noon, rolling out of bed around one after finishing my book and getting snuggled within an inch of life by the cat.

I feel SO much better.

My feet still hurt.

Sunday I'd gone well beyond sanity. I was struck by a major case of the giggles during Scrooge's values speech at the end of the day after the Hallelujah chorus. Elizabeth was just turning to me to say, "I'm not going to break this time" as I was melting into a fit of giggles. Martin was going on in his way, not quite getting to the point, when Erik says, "What are you trying to say Mr. Scrooge?" It struck me as the funniest thing I'd ever seen. It was well into Shamu hour clearly. This was proven once again when we're singing Christmas carols, all well slap-happy by now, and Mr. F pushes the Exit sign with his cane so that now it's a swinging hand with pointing finger saying Exit. I lost it again. This time Elizabeth went with me. I laughed so hard my stomach muscles started hurting. She melted into tears. Everyone gaped at us like we'd lost our minds. We had. We finally made it inside the warehouse after The Twelve Days of Christmas (which really sobered me up when it was announced that that's what we were going to sing next) and then Elizabeth brought up the "Foom Foom Foom!" carol again and visions of baby Jesus in the catcher's mit had me in stitches one more time. I should've realized how tired I was then, but I was too tired.

So yah, 13 hours of sleep later, I feel great. I was planning to go to Plough tonight, but got a call from Ray on my way out the door and he had a present to drop off. The Chicago Browncoats had gotten a copy of Adam's poster for the ball, and secretly gotten it signed by all of our guests. It's going to be a very dear remembrance.

So other highlights...
- Waking up in Quintette on Thursday morning to the smell of pine trees and wood smoke.
- Frog-leg jambalaya, red snapper in tamarind ginger sauce, black bass, and shark from Edward's Thanksgiving feast.
- Dancing with a little red-haired boy twice who was keeping count of every dance. Last time I danced with him it was his fifteenth dance that afternoon. His sister had taught him to waltz before they came. Too bad he lives in Needles, because otherwise he'd be an clear choice for Fezziwigger in training.
- having Frank and Janelle over Saturday night. I dozed off in the middle of showing them their first Iron Chef - Battle Carrot. (BTW - HAPPY BIRTHDAY JANELLE!)
- having a ghost of Christmas past that I can hear clearly, inspiring confidence just before our scene rather than "Wait, was that our cue?"
- having an extremely silly rendition of Stagecoach on Saturday and utterly forgetting my lines. Mr. Quarrl's addition of a sock puppet for the goose is priceless. Being back from the ladies room just in time to be Aunt Matilda on Sunday was also a hoot.

So back to work tomorrow. Again, I love my new job, that has all the fabulousness of being a totally new job without the downside of losing my 260 hours of accrued vacation time. I'm most happily less 8 hours today. So very happy to have had the chance to do so. I'll actually be a functional employee tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Dickens Fair

In case you've been living in a cave, just a heads up that Dickens Fair starts Friday. Dancing all day at Fezziwig's Warehouse, plus me breaking Ebenezer's heart daily at 1:40.

History of the Calendar

Not sure what I was doing, but in the progress of trying to get the internet to do tricks for me over lunch, I stumbled on an interesting history of calendaring. It was clearly prepared just before the Y2K roll-over. Here's an excerpt covering the interesting bit before it goes into Y2K stuff.
Rioting Over a Calendar?
By Mary Mullett

The year was 1582, and Pope Gregory had spoken: the Julian calendar had outlived its usefulness. Come October, it would be replaced in Catholic countries by the more accurate Gregorian calendar.

The Julian calendar ran slowly, like a watch with a weak battery. True, it lost only 11 minutes and 15 seconds a year, but those minutes and seconds had been piling up for centuries.

By 1582, the vernal equinox was 10 days off from where it should have been on the calendar, and if the vernal equinox fell on the wrong date, so did Easter, the holiest of Christian holidays.To the pope and his advisers it seemed obvious a change was long overdue.

But the public wasn't so sure. People rioted in the streets, and many others were equally unhappy. It wasn't that the rioters objected to having a new calendar--they didn't much understand calendars anyway. But the pope had decreed that the day after Thursday, October 4, 1582, would become Friday, October 15, 1582! They understood that someone was stealing 10 days from their lives.

Nevertheless, the change was made--on schedule in a few countries, later in most--and eventually accepted.

Protestant England and her colonies clung to the creaky Julian calendar for another 170 years. By the time Parliament adopted the new calendar, the old one was 11 days behind. The day after Wednesday, September 2, 1752, became Thursday, September 14, 1752, in England and America.

Once again, angry mobs took to the streets. "Give us back our 11 days!" they demanded. If 11 days were being taken from them, they at least wanted wages for the lost days. But employers refused to pay them for days they hadn't worked.

Actually, by historical standards the Julian calendar had been a very good one. The first calendars were lunar--based on phases of the moon and were not very accurate. A major difficulty with calendars in general is the length of the seasonal year, an awkward 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and approximately 45 seconds. Weeks, days, hours, minutes, seconds--none of these divides evenly into a year. Neither does the lunar month, an equally awkward 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 2.9 seconds.

An Egyptian scientist and physician named Thoth created the precursor to the Julian calendar in 4236 B.C. Ancient Egyptians lived and grew their crops on a narrow strip of fertile land along the Nile River, surrounded by desert. The Nile flooded about the same date every summer, bringing life-giving silt to the area as well as water. With a calendar, it was possible to predict when the floods would come--and move people and belongings to safety. Thoth's calendar had twelve 30-day months, plus five extra days at the end of the year, six in leap years. The new year began on our September 23. Flood waters were receding then, and it was time to plant seeds in the wet ground.

In 47 B.C. the Roman conqueror Julius Caesar came to Egypt and discovered Thoth's calendar. Its accuracy impressed him. Rome's old lunar calendar was off 80 days from the seasonal year by then. Caesar took the Egyptian calendar back to Rome and modified it, creating the original Julian calendar.

The Roman lunar calendar began with March, so Caesar started making his changes there. He gave the first 11 months 31 or 30 days, in an alternating pattern, but by the time he got to February, the last month, he was down to 29 days, or 30 in leap years. He began the Julian calendar year in January. So February wasn't the last month any more, but it remained the shortest. Later, February was shortened by another day so that August, named for the emperor Caesar Augustus, could be made as long as July which had been named for Julius Caesar.

The original Julian calendar numbered years from the founding of Rome. Our practice of numbering from the birth of Christ was started in the sixth century A.D. by a monk called Dionysius Exiguus, or Dennis the Short. Unfortunately no one understood zeroes in the sixth century. Instead of beginning with the year zero, Dennis began with the year one--throwing each century off one year forever after. Because of his error, the 21st century will begin, not in the year 2000, but in 2001.

Dennis apparently made another error too. Most experts now believe Christ was born around four B.C., instead of one A.D.

The Julian calendar made every fourth year a leap year--no exceptions. The more accurate Gregorian calendar handles century years differently. All century years are divisible by four, but only those divisible by 400 are leap years.

The Gregorian calendar is better--not perfect. It runs fast by about 26 seconds relative to a seasonal year. In the year 4909, the Gregorian calendar will be one day ahead of the seasonal year and will need adustment. Perhaps the day after October 4, 4909, will become . . . October 4, 4909?

Da-hoo doray Da-hoo doray!

I've got the Welcome Christmas song stuck in my head from How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Busy Weekend.

So very tired today. Luckily, it's a short week follow by a crazy weekend.

But this weekend went well. I went to Friday Night Waltz for one last chance to dance with friends in whatever style I chose before the Dickens season begins. After getting home, I stayed up to dye my hair so that my Sunday hairstyle wouldn't include a skunk stripe down the middle. Finally to bed around 2:30.

I didn't make it to rehearsal Saturday against my better judgment, but I think I made the right call. I instead had breakfast and Battlestar followed by insane housekeeping. Slapped a third coat of paint on the wall patches, cleaned out my office from the Browncoat Ball explosion, pulled out my full Dickens costume, hung laundry, cleaned up the guest bedroom, stored stuff in the attic, and made the living room more toddler friendly. I then headed on to Richard and Tracey's Anniversary Ball while Rick stayed home and finished up the vacuuming and the bathroom. I got home after the ball and the house looked really great. It was tidy and clean. This is the perfect way to have it just before Dickens, because it won't happen again anytime in the next month. Dirk and Tracey and Camryn and Ella arrived a few minutes after midnight, with Ella fast asleep, and Camryn mostly asleep, but she still had to tell me about her Nutcracker performance. She got to be the littlest Gingertte under Mother Ginger's skirt. We fell to bed a little before two.

Sunday I headed up to dress rehearsal, noticing all the little flaws and fix-its I need to do on Wednesday night to get it ready for Friday - tack down this bit of trim, fix this seam, don't forget the underskirt, fix this loose button, and so on. I also have to figure out what to do with my bangs. Hair spray was insufficient to the task. Dress rehearsal was busy. We got through the character round-robin successfully as most everyone took the "Just your name and book" cue well. Martin is here so I ran up and gave him a kiss on the cheek. We rehearsed the morning tableau, ducking out while Mr. Dickens set and coached all the major books to grab the Things container and stow it backstage. Then all the Fezzis marched over to the KFC/Taco Bell to grab lunch. The line of characters stretched out the door, hoopskirts and top hats and cravats and corsets - oh my! The clerk at the counter looked up and said, "Wow, it just got really weird in here." After lunch we headed across to the Savers where I found a copy of a favorite shirt, one size smaller. Major score. Finally, back to be Fezziwiggers for a few hours. We did warm-ups. We ran the Scrooge scene (which needed some work on blocking. Amazing what not doing something for eleven months will do to it.). We danced. We played games. We got our bleacher lecture to mimic notes at the end of the night. We sang Hallelujah. At some point, a random fellow came by handing out Italian ices. This was a welcome treat.

At the end of the night I ran Sarah home. She's the daughter of two of the musicians in Bangers and Mash, and they had to leave earlier so I shuttled her back to Sunnyvale. Finally, home again home again to head to dinner with everyone. I rattled off several suggestions and Tracey picked Chevy's. We popped into Target to get Camryn a new sleeping bag/air mattress combo since hers seemed to have sprung a leak which led to a minor morning tantrum when mom and dad wouldn't reinflate it at 7am. She didn't want to just crawl in with them. Her new one has ballerina's on it so it's even better. Finally to bed again around 11:30.

So, I'm tired today, but still definitely heading to the Plough. Dirk's meeting me here and we're off to Berkeley early. See you all there!

Oh, and it's okay that I'm tired right now. I know exactly when I get to sleep in: Thursday morning. I'll be in the mountains with my family. When I do wake up, there will be the smell of wood smoke and pine trees in the air. I can't wait!

Friday, November 17, 2006

WWJD? (What would JANELLE do?)

So last night, I'm in Target, chatting with a staff person about a discrepancy between the shelf price and the scanner price of an item for Fezziwigs when I get a call from Suzi. In an attempt to sound innocent, she says, "Whatcha doing?" I reply, "Shopping at Target." Turns out, Tom and Sandy are stranded in Santa Clara. Any chance I could rescue them? Well, yes, of course!

So I try to quickly wrap things up at Target, but the lady who was helping me has run off to the stock room. I wait for her to return and find that yes, really, the shelf price is right, the scanner price is wrong, and she'll meet me at the register. Alrighty then. I jump in the car and head to Santa Clara.

Talking to Suzi en route, we try to figure out some alternatives - Greyhound, rent a car, fly Southwest, and so on. Meanwhile, Tom & Sandy hop the southbound Starlight to get to the San Jose station to try to catch the tardy northbound Starlight there. I change course to meet them there. As I walk in the station, the northbound Starlight is there, and they're closing the doors. I don't know if the southbound has made it yet, so I ask the conductor. He says he thinks so. I ask if they could wait a second while I check and he says no, they're late already. Still, I run around to the other track and see it pulling in. Crap! I see Tom coming down the ramp and figure maybe the other one hasn't pulled out yet. We make it up the next ramp in time to see it chugging away. Drat.

So, I provide options - Greyhound, rent a car, or go back to my place for food and drinks and catch the 6:40 train tomorrow. Tom says he's tired of running. So we head home. I try to ply them with brownies and food and milk and rum. Turns out what they really wanted was access to a computer to play A Tale in the Desert. So, got them rolling on one system, with a rum and Coke in Tom's hand, and all was well.

In the morning, we shuffled out of bed, me tossing on a bathrobe and slippers to take them to catch the 6:40 train. I came home and bedded down for a forty minute nap and still made it to my 9am meeting.

So I'm chatting with Suzi last night while I'm running around the train station, and she's talking about hating to impose, and I'm saying, "Dude, this is why we live here. And plus, it's all part of the WWJD thing." and she replies, "Yeah, 'cause if it was Janelle, she'd rescue them, and somehow magically produce cookies out of nowhere." And I said, "Exactly!"

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Simple and Elegant

In an interesting twist on why same-sex couples need the legal rights afforded to hetero couples, a New Jersey birth certificate has just been issued with two moms listed. On the one hand, I immediately leapt to the genetic issue - what if the child has genetic issues that would need input from the bio-father? But the trick there is that there's nothing enforcing that hetero couples list the bio-father on the birth certificate. In point of fact, I suspect a great many babies are misattributed, and or have no father listed. Beyond that, the father is just as likely to be an unknown sperm donor from a sperm bank so that information may never be able to be known anyway, and certainly couldn't be attributed on the birth certificate. So outside of that, the remaining issues associated with a birth certificate are legal issues surrounding legal guardianship and inheritance. In that case, having both parents listed from birth makes all of those issues so much simpler and less expensive to handle.

New Jersey, butt of so many jokes. Who would've thunk they'd be the progressive state leading the way on this issue. Wacky.


Okay, apparently in addition to the nuisance of not having a toilet, my building has one other issue I was unaware of: no U.S. mail service.

Of course, I find this out today because Christopher walks by and says "If you want that letter to go out, you'll have to take it to the mailbox." I look puzzled. I put a piece of mail out there back in mid-October for something with a November 1st deadline. It couldn't possibly still be there right? Oh yes, it is. Now it's overdue, and still sitting cheerfully in the container marked "US MAIL" next to the "ID MAIL" box.

As I was walking back to my desk with my now dusty mailing in hand to rip open, add in a late fee, and re-mail, Tom pointed out that I had a hole in my stocking. A chair grabbed me earlier and I thought I'd gotten off easy. Ha! Not having an especially good day I guess.

Domestic Productivity

Some nights I feel wildly productive even if it's not all that big of a deal. The only major milestone was mending my hoopskirt, but I also managed to watch Nicholas Nickleby while doing so, do three loads of laundry and put away two, cook a nice dinner, and still let the cat curl up in my lap for a thirty minute nap.

And then, Rick got up before me this morning and went to work. Woohoo!

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Prestige

Just call me Posty McPostsalot today.

So Friday night turned into a mini-celebration, with dinner and a movie. We went to see The Prestige. It's a good movie, really it is. But I just dislike revenge so much, and it's a revenge story. Revenge is never necessary, and just begets more revenge. This story is a classic example of that. Plus I guessed the well before it was revealed, so it made the lead up to confirmation seem tedious. I so much preferred The Illusionist.

PSA: No Plough Tonight

So I'm not headed to Berkeley tonight. Big rainy weather means horrific traffic and no advanced lessson, so I'm gambling that the weather holds and heading to the gym with Rick instead. The gym isn't nearly as much fun as dancing with y'all, but going to the gym means I'll also get to mend my hoop skirt and watch Nicholas Nickelby tonight and still get to bed at a reasonable hour.


And with an amazing sigh of relief, I can report Rick got a job on Friday. He starts working for Taos Mountain on Wednesday. He went to orientation today. So far, they think he's the coolest guy ever. He wasn't actually told to go to orientation today, but had sussed out the situation and thought it might be a good idea to go this week so he'd be free and available to the client next week. So he got dressed up in his suit slacks and tie, and showed up in time, and sometime after he got there, there was a call from his account manager asking about any chance of his getting there for orientation, and the recruiter saying, "Uh, yah, he's already here. He's on top of it." Let's just say he keeps making really good impressions like that with these folks. Things came together on Friday because he had another interview at Stanford, and they wanted to keep him from going to it.

So finances will continue to be tight for a few months while we dig out of this little hole, but it will get better soon. Very very soon.

Waltzing for Health

So they say waltzing makes your heart healthy. Coulda toldya that! And so, my life plan to continue waltzing the night away until I die is now officially supported by medical science. Woohoo!

Study: Waltzing helps mend hearts

AP Medical Writer

CHICAGO (AP) -- Italian researchers have come up with a novel way for cardiac rehabilitation patients to exercise their damaged hearts without having to squeeze into spandex or gyrate in a gym: waltzing.

The dance proved to be just as effective as bicycle and treadmill training for improving exercise capacity in a study of 110 heart failure patients. Dancers also reported slightly more improvement in sleep, mood, and the ability to do hobbies, do housework and have sex than the others.

"This may be a more effective way of getting people to exercise, and may be more fun than running on a treadmill," said Dr. Robert Bonow, cardiology chief at Northwestern University School of Medicine. "Maybe we should try that here. I'm not sure we can get Americans to waltz, but they can certainly dance."

Exercise is crucial after people suffer heart problems, but getting people to stick with it is tough. As many as 70 percent drop out of traditional programs, said Dr. Romualdo Belardinelli, director of cardiac rehabilitation at Lancisi Heart Institute in Ancona, Italy.

"We have to find something that may capture the patients' interest," he said Sunday at an American Heart Association meeting in Chicago where he presented results of his study.

They chose waltzing because it is "internationally known" and is quite aerobic, as the study ultimately verified, he said.

The same researchers previously showed that waltzing could help heart attack sufferers regain strength. The new study involved 89 men and 11 women, average age 59, with heart failure. The condition occurs when weakened hearts can no longer pump blood effectively, making simple activities like climbing stairs and taking the dog for a walk tough to do, let alone enjoy.

Researchers assigned 44 patients to a supervised exercise training program of cycling and treadmill work three times a week for eight weeks. Another group of 44 took dance classes in the hospital gym, alternating between slow and fast waltzes for 21 minutes, three times a week for eight weeks. A third group of 22 patients had no exercise.

Heart rates were checked during both activities, more extensive exercise tests were done at the start and end of the study, and artery imaging exams were performed.

Cardiopulmonary fitness increased at similar rates among those who danced or exercised and did not change in those who did neither.

Oxygen uptake increased 16 percent among exercisers and 18 percent among dancers. The anaerobic threshold - the point where muscles fatigue - rose 20 percent among exercisers and 21 percent among dancers. Other measures, including a general index of fitness, were comparable.

Imaging showed that dancers' arteries were more able to dilate and expand in response to exercise than non-exercisers.

Part of the benefit may be that dancers had a partner and social companion rather than cycling or walking on a treadmill alone, doctors said.

"This type of program is more effective," Belardinelli said, "because it is fun."

They're just plan wrong about not getting Americans to waltz. If it were sold as a health fad, it could just as easily become the next Spinning or Cardio Kick-Boxing.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

New Glasses?

It's that time again. I'm down to deciding on a couple of glasses frames. Here are the top two choices according to the Second Sunday brunch committee:

So what do you think?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Lancers In My Head!

Gah! I think I've got part three of the Lancers Quadrille song stuck in my head. I know it's the part with the long bow. Evil! Evil I tell you!

Went to see The Little Foxes at ACT last night. It's still current after 70 years. It had 2 intermissions and I had an 8am meeting - not a good combination. But I got up, got out of the house on time, stopped for scones for the meeting on the way, and made it with 8 minutes to set up. Then I realized I wasn't my usual muzziheaded morning self. Weird. The meeting was super-important, so I guess my brain decided to play nice. We did good work, and I was at my desk at 9:15 feeling all accomplished.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Voting Night

Getting home to vote was crazy stressful. As with any other day where folks have to get home by a certain hour, generally a bit earlier than normal, traffic was all messed up. There was an accident on the other side of the freeway near the 280/880 junction, and apparently another issue further back near Foothill that had disappeared long before I approached it, but all I know is that from the moment I hit the freeway, I was creeping along between four and seven miles an hour. And this wasn't the first time this week.

Just a quick aside - traffic has gotten significantly worse in the last month. I've spent at least one night a week in truly horrendous traffic, and by horrendous, I mean freeways creeping at less than 10 miles per hour. I don't understand it, but I suspect Tracey's speculation Monday night may be accurate - with gas prices having dropped by a dollar a gallon, people are driving more. So, that was the final nail in my opting to vote for Proposition 87. Only when fuel is prohibitively expensive will we seek alternatives in the form of more fuel efficient vehicles, alternative energy research, and public transit.

Anyway, after over an hour of very stressful driving involving winding through the back roads of Los Altos Hill, getting cut off mid-merge by a Honda CRV who was apparently horribly offended that I was coming into His Lane, and all manner of manic and aggressive drivers, I finally made it to my polling place. I asked for a paper ballot, and they said they didn't have anymore. I looked at them incredulously. They suggested I could use my sample ballot, then looked at it and said, "Oh, if you hadn't been so messy." Well yes, it's MY sample ballot. It's got notes all over it. Now they were starting to annoy me. She rummaged around the mess on the counters and finally said, "Oh, well here's another sample ballot. Use this." Skeptical. So then it turns out they don't have anywhere for paper ballots to be filled out. So I walk over to the stove, and start filling it out on the electric coils. I get to the second side and realize that this ballot does not match my ballot. I walk back over and point this out, and she starts folding it up to throw it away. She then tells me to get in line to do it electronically. Um, no. The whole point was that I didn't wish to do it electronically, certainly not until our electronic machines are better secured. She starts in about how it's no big deal. And I launch about how I work on systems implementation and none of these machines would pass muster for security for anything and that until things change, I'll continue voting on paper thank-you-very-much. Sure, it's not likely that anyone will go thieving any of my local elections, but that doesn't make it alright that we're using a system that makes it highly possible. Anyway, at that point, I was no longer willing to back down. The poll leader lady came over and started sassing me about, "Well what do you expect us to do?" Well, I expect to vote in my chosen method, and I expect that you will supply a sufficient number of paper ballots, and a place to complete them. And she says, "Well what do you expect with less than an hour til the polls close?" That did it. I expect that during the hours of voting, I will be able to vote. That's my right as a registered voter, whether I choose to do it 7am or 7pm or 7:59pm, and whether or not I'm stuck in traffic for an extra forty minutes. I expect to not be made to feel like I'm being ridiculous when I know a heck of a lot more about computers than some smelly old woman (and please take a shower, put on a fresh shirt, and wear some deodorant before you come to work all day!). So I took back my original ballot, told them I'd just ignore the parts that don't apply to my district, and finish this up. I then completed my ballot, on the table with no less than 3 people looking over my shoulder at my voting choices. Then I handed over the ballot, which she put in an envelope, and started to set aside on the table. Then I said, "Doesn't that go in the ballot box?" And she says, "Yes, we'll do that." And I stared at her until she did it. As I walked out, I heard the smelly old poll leader exclaim, "Well really. Such a fuss." Almost turned around and got her name so that I could report her. Instead, I clung to my new absentee ballot voter reg card, and filled it out as soon as I got home. Screw this nonsense. I'm not playing the polling place games any more.

So did my vote get counted? I sincerely doubt it. But, who knows?

The proposition results this year are a bit disappointing. Prop 86 and 87 went down, which wasn't a huge shock, but too bad nonetheless. Really, I wouldn't mind if cigarettes were so expensive that it causes people to quit. There's just nothing wrong with that. It's a nasty filthy habit. The other one that bothers me is Proposition 83. We don't need to spend the money on low-risk offenders, but now we will, and it hasn't worked to reduce crime in other states where they've enacted similar laws. The truth is, it's too easy to become a registered sex offender for life. Heck, an 18 year old boy sleeping with his 17 year old girlfriend while they're both in high school could make the kid a registered sex offender for life if the parents get bitchy enough to prosecute. Does that make the boy a danger to others? Does it make it worthwhile to spend the money to track him by GPS for life? No! Oh well. People always picture the basic case when thinking about enacting these sorts of laws, and don't think about the rest of the cases. It's a knee-jerk expenditure that's going to be a big waste of money. Mergle.

So after voting drama, I came home and made matzo ball soup and potato pancakes for dinner, eschewing all of my other plans for sewing or socializing or going to the gym in favor of a nice evening at home watching the rest of Cassanova on Masterpiece Theater. Much enjoyed that. It's a fun sort of adaptation that shows influence from Baz Luhrman. That and this week's How I Met Your Mother had Morena Baccarin and made me laugh out loud.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Dickens Workshops

Every year, I have a minor dread associated with Dickens workshops. I'm pretty sure it has a lot to do with my career and my hobby clashing.

A big part of my career is instructional design - determining how to convey the needed information in the best format as efficiently as possible. Workshops are generally run by folks who don't spend most of their days thinking about how to handle this for various topics. So, I go, I sit, and I can't help thinking that I want a more organized, denser course.

Saturday I went to Robert Young's "Dickens Real London" course, and I know what a good story teller Robert is, and I just wanted him to tell us some stories, paint colors into the sketch of london. Instead, he told us a bunch of books we could read. There was not a handout with author name spellings and such, so I promptly forgot them all before I could even search for them, but even if I had time to search for them, I couldn't possibly acquire and read them before Dickens. I've got a costume to mend, rehearsals to attend, and my day job. So just tell me the best bits out of them! Please! That's why you're the instructor. You've done all the reading and can tell us the best bits. Oh well.

Sunday was the Hallelujah chorus workshop, which is much like being taught math by someone who never struggled with it. Much to his credit, Bob spent a lot of time talking at the end of the session about just enjoying singing, and not to worry about doing it wrong. This made me feel a bit better. But the opening was a little daunting. He put on music and we were all to just sing through it. Terror struck. I can't read music. I don't know what note to start on. I always get lost in the music because I lose count of the Hallelujah's in the beginning. So I sat quietly, trying to follow along, while those that knew it sang. He congratulated us for doing so well the first time through. I thought, "Well, yah, 'cause I was quiet." Another girl piped up and said she didn't know what line to follow. Bob explained then about the second line always being the altos. I only knew that because I took the workshop six years ago. So, anyway, not confidence inspiring. I pretty much figured out what I already knew - I know all the words and the timing, so I can hold the cards, but I still don't know what note goes where, so it's best to let someone else do the singing, and maybe, someday when I have some free time, I'll take voice/singing lessons.

Then there's the redundancy issue. We're "required" to take Physical Characterization and Victorian Speech. I took Vic Speech on Sunday. It's exactly the same handout that it has been for the past seven years. It's a good reminder, but really, at this point, you could just hand me the handout, I read it over once, remember the ones I always forget, and move on. Instead, the Vicspeak practice nights over games or drinks or dinner do me far more good than covering the exact same sentences again every year. And I honestly can't face another year of the Physical Characterization lecture. I know about my green umbrella, thanks.

So it's always recommended that we take more workshops. I always cringe. I wish there weren't "required" workshops for the veterans, or that they were labs where we could skip the basics and really work on fine tuning. I wish that the classes were a bit tighter. I wish the instructors were required to prepare a lesson plan for their class. You've got one hour - make it the best hour possible!

Still, all in all, workshops were less torturous than usual this year, and Fezziwigs rehearsal was very good. I still think we Fezzis need to drill our small games and set dances a bit more. They're the meat of our day, and the part that never gets learned outside of rehearsal. But overall, our time was incredibly well-spent on Sunday, running Stagecoach, doing a backleading workshop, running Strip the Willow, and doing a character specificity exercise - what is your character's favorite Christmas gift. I think we scared the crap out of a few newbies with running an untaught Lancers Quadrille, but they seemed to survive with the terror only showing in their eyes.

Day 28 - Still Love My Job

I've been told today by three different people what a great job I'm doing and how happy they are that I'm on board. This rules.

I may have to work late tonight, miss lessons at the Plough, but when Rick asked if it was because work was being a bear, I was actually momentarily puzzled. It doesn't have a thing to do with what work is demanding from me. It's just I want to do the best job possible, and can't quite see fitting today's work in between now and six, but that's totally okay. Then I thought about how much I'm enjoying my job, so much so that working late doesn't remotely seem like a burden. That's just so amazingly fabulous. It's fascinating how much being appreciated changes the dynamic.

Friday, November 03, 2006

...but I never inahled.

Nope, not Clinton. Instead, our latest hypocritical religious leader. Oh sure, he bought methaphetamines from the male prostitute, but he threw them away. Um.... okay. And I've got a nice bridge to sell you too. How gullible do you think the public is anyway? Wait - don't answer that. You already know. You're an evangelist.

Why why why does anyone follow these evangelists? Why do people give them money? Is their message of hatred and damnation so seductive?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


So I decided that coming to work as Columbia would likely be a career-limiting move. Instead, I opted for a tasteful French maid outfit. My coworkers didn't know what to make of me. One of the guys on my team (whom I identified in the first week or so as "one-of-us") made me pose for a photo at the end of the day with the copier. He then turned it into a motivational poster.
campus readiness
I did attend the Rocky Horror showing, and explained to the audience as the movie began that usually you have a very young, cute girl do a pantomime before the show. I was that girl half a lifetime ago, and it's still etched in my brain, so now you get me. And then proceeded to do the Trixie pantomime during the opening song.

I also called out a few lines during the show, being the only one willing/able to do so, but getting egged on by everyone else. I was HEAVILY censoring myself because so many of the various lines are NOT work safe. But it was fun. And it was about as much RHPS as I need for a while.

Then I headed out towards Union City for Christmas caroling. Sadly, there was an accident on the Dumbarton. After sitting in traffic in Palo Alto for over a half hour, I gave up and decided to try the alternate route suggested by the traffic reporters. Everyone else was trying it too. Le sigh. It took two hours and fifteen minutes to get from Stanford to Union City. One of these years, I'm going to learn to stay home on Halloween. The traffic is always abominable.

Arriving at Fred's place, I made a beeline for the toilet and bonded with my little porcelain friend for a few minutes. Oh heck yah it felt good to pee. Several deep breaths later, I changed clothes and we headed out. We sang badly and handed out many candy canes. The tradition lives on.