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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Sicky-head

It never ceases to amaze me that I can get through the whole of Dickens Fair without so much as the sniffles, and then some random Tuesday in April, I come down with a killer cold. Here's hoping I'm on the mend, but if there was something I was supposed to do with you or for you this week, assume that I've forgotten or had to give it up or will get back to it later.

Meanwhile, spending a couple of days at home, I've noticed a few cool things going on in my neighborhood. First, we have a street sign on the corner of William and 23rd. If you've ever come to my house, and missed the turn, you know how much this is appreciated. Additionally, construction has begun on the KB Homes site at the end of 23rd. The houses are going up really fast, and there's a pretty steady stream of traffic through the sales office. Also, the house across the street is getting a fresh coat of paint. Looks like it's going to be tan with white trim. So far, with just the primer and first coat, it looks much better.

Finally, our next door neighbors are really great. They've taken to mowing our lawn, and today they were pulling weeds. They're spectacularly poor, but they spend their time keeping up the neighborhood rather than anything else. We gave them a gift card this week for the local grocery store. Next step is to get an X-ray for Adella's dog Gunther. He's been limping a while now, and she can't afford the $80 to get it checked out. So, I think we'll pitch in on that. Gunther is such a great dog (he carries the groceries home!) and Adella would be lost without him. We haven't had to rehire a gardener, so I'm more than willing to spend what we would've spent on that to take care of them.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Meme-Attack

Well, I ignored this meme for most of the day, but then Elizabeth posted it and I couldn't resist, so here it is:

If you leave a comment requesting a quick analysis, I will respond to you about the following..

1. I'll respond with something random I like about you.
2. I'll tell you what song/movie reminds me of you.
3: I'll name something we should do together.
4. I'll say something that only makes sense to you and me (or just me).
5. I'll tell you my first/clearest memory of you.
6. I'll leave you a quote that is somehow appropriate to you.
7. I'll ask you something that I've always wondered about you.
8. If I do this for you, please post this on your journal so you can do the same for other people.

Addendum - I'm not sure how this will work in Blogger versus Live Journal. I may email the list back to you rather than replying in the comments since my comments aren't threaded.

Plough Tonight!

Had such a good time at the Plough last week that I'm headed back tonight. Even better, Fred and Alex are going too. Woohoo!

A Trip to the Gym

We took our first trip to our new gym yesterday afternoon. This was a Really Good Idea. I dragged Rick through a fairly normal (if slightly gentle) workout for me. He was mostly fine until the sit-ups. I thought I'd take it easy on him, do just 50 standard crunches, then 25 each right and left. He didn't quite keep up, and later his tummy was cramping. But he was a real sport about it all and did the eliptical trainer and some weights and some stretching and some sit-ups. An hour later we were sweaty and decided we'd earned a cheeseburger at Johnny Rockets. As we sat down to dinner, Rick was all a-chatter. After a few minutes of really engaging conversation, he said, "Wow, I feel so awake and alive!" And me, a little wide-eyed, replying, "Yes, I think this gym thing is going to be good for you." So we're fully on the wagon to better fitness. Well, better fitness, plus earned cheeseburgers.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Ammy's Week in Review

Every day this week, I've been thinking, "Yeah, and I should write that up for the blog." And every day it just doesn't happen. So here's a quick couple of bites.

I went to the Plough on Monday. It was a truly charmed trip. I left campus at 6:22 and made it to the Plough by 7:10. That shouldn't be possible. Somehow, space and time were folded and I made it in time for the lesson. And the lesson was the Hallucination Jig 2.0, with an alternate 3rd figure. So, getting another lesson on Hallucination was good, not butting heads with Patrick was great, and getting to learn the alternate figure was cool. It's a six-hand rights and lefts. It's pretty. After 9, the charmed evening continued with lots of advanced dances. There was a reel-a-thon followed immediately by the Hallucination jig, with 4-hand jigs later, plus High Caul Cap, plus a polka set. By the end of the night, I was tuckered out. I danced every dance until the polka set, which I actually opted to sit out for something like the first time in 11 years. Sweaty to the core, I drove home and slept like a log.

We've also had Dixie visiting this week. She and Pixel are hilarious together. They're very similar personalities, with Dixie being just a little more rebellious and willful. They go racing through the house, tackling one another, swatting each other in the face, chewing each others ears, finally collapsing into a heap and licking each other. It's unbelievably cute. Except at 5am when Dixie decides it's time to walk on my vanity and knock the jewelry box to the ground. Then she gets tossed out to the hall.

Tonight is my third West Coast Swing class. My brain gets the basic footwork now, but my legs are still arguing. The basic six count figure goes walk-walk-triple step-triple step. With two beats left in the music and a history of Lindy and East Coast swing, my legs naturally fill in a rock step at the end of that, which is just all wrong. I'm hoping tonight my legs will start cooperating. We shall see.

Rick and I joined a gym today. It's right across from the Camera 12 theaters we frequent, so we noticed they had a $19 initiation/$19 a month deal. We talked through the various options and their guy called back with a perfect deal for us today. So now we're looking forward to spending Sunday afternoon going to a movie and working out together.

Gaskells is Saturday. Yay!

Spot the Racist

So I don't think of myself as a racist. As Avenue Q says, "Everyone's a little bit racist." It's something we all wrestle with, with me making generalizations about the drivers in my neighborhood, where macho Latino drivers share the road with timid Asian drivers. But my best friend in elementary school was black, and I never thought for a minute that I shouldn't be her friend because of it. Yencina was the best. Culturally, I don't have much in common with Gangsta Rap or Hip-Hop culture, so I don't interact with the people who participate in those cultures. (But heck, I'd be interested in learning Hip-Hop dance. Lord knows my body was built for it.) Anyway, I'm rambling.

The thing that put this in my mind was this article about a Math professor in Washington who had a test question about Condoleeza dropping a watermelon off a Federal building. Previously the question was written with Gallagher in mind, but he replaced it with Condoleeza because she was more recognizable to the (youthful) students who had never heard of Gallagher. The prof was then reprimanded for having a culturally insensitive question. But is he really the one promoting racism? Just as the student's don't know who Gallagher is, many of them also don't know of the Black Sambo caricatures with watermelons. It wouldn't occur to me to think of it as a black thing or an insult, certainly not when I was 18 or 19, and these kids are another dozen years younger than I with a radically different cultural experience. So who is the racist here? Is it the prof who wrote the question, or the person from the Urban League who is demanding that he be fired? Because, if it were me, I probably wouldn't have written the question thinking about it in racial terms because the whole black/watermelon association holds no currency in my mind. I don't perceive Condoleeza Rice as a black person (let alone a black sambo type), I perceive her as a powerful, well-educated woman who works in the highest levels of our government. Any stereotypes I associate with her in my mind have to do with Republicans or women, but never really with her racial color. So was the professor in the same boat as I, or was he thinking in the way he's been accused? And when do we stop passing these stereotypes to the next generation through their constant reintroduction merely as accusation? There are so many past stereotypes I'm just not familiar with because they've passed out of common currency and the community it affects has failed to make a fuss to keep it alive.

Back in college I remember debating what was more sinister - the overt racism of the south or the quiet whispers of the west. I wasn't sure then, but I'm pretty sure now. Quiet whispers eventually fade as the generation that is making the whispers passes away. It's a step on the path to the move away from the old paradigms. Sure, we'll never be without racism, as the old assumptions will be replaced with new ones, but at least the wheel keeps turning and everyone gets a chance to come out on top with a fresh outlook, so long as they don't hold themselves to the old paradigms, insisting that others see them as they assume they're being perceived.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

God I Love This Crazy Town!

A tricycle race on Lombard. That just makes my day. (And quietly makes me wish I still had my little red tricycle.)

At Loose Ends

All of my usual Easter holiday plans failed to materialize this year.

As a kid, Easter meant a family brunch, but that was sometimes a little uneasy as half the family was off to the Southern Baptist church in the morning, and some of us were not. So, I started moving away from that to celebrate Easter with my friends.

Some favorite past years have included Easter at Tate's house, roasting rabbit on the grill, with a chalk outline of a large bunny on the driveway with evidence flags for the overturned basket and eggs.

Another favorite was placing little gifts and promises in plastic Easter Eggs, then hiding them, and hunting for as many eggs as you hid. Promises were things like "a mix CD" and "doing all the dishes after a party" and "three quiches". They had to be redeemed before Easter next year.

Last year when spent at Crimson for brunch (thanks again, Kevin!), and then celebrated the circle of life, placing Easter Eggs in the cemetary.

But this year, no plans emerged. Instead, we slept late, and had a breakfast of oatmeal and turkey maple breakfast sausage and dried fruit. Then we went and investigated a gym near home to see about signing up. Then we went to the Toyota dealership and signed on to the waiting list for a Prius. Next we headed downtown and ate at the Sonoma Chicken Coop for the first time. We split an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert. The desserts there are just amazing. We had a Banana Phyllo Sundae was the best thing I've eaten in a while. Pure elegant perfection. Finally, home to fold laundry and patch walls. It was all very mellow. We were surprised to find so many places closed for Easter - the mall, Target, some restaurants. I don't think of Easter as a holiday on the caliber of Christmas with many closed businesses and such, but I guess it is the other big Christian holiday.

It's a little odd. I didn't even encounter an egg today, let alone a chocolate bunny. Thankfully, I didn't run into anyone frothing at the mouth about it not being Easter and it being Resurrection Sunday. Easter has always seemed such a silly pseudo-Christian holiday to me. First there's the whole date issue - the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox, unless that Sunday is the full moon and then it's the following Sunday, because Christianity is not a lunar religion. Right. And the holiday is named after Eostre and has many of the traditions of the original pagan holiday. So, let's hope all this celebration of spring brings some dryer, sunnier weather soon. I've got some broccoli and cauliflower that needs planting and it hasn't stayed dry long enough for me to get them in the ground.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I Love My Friends

So, much as I appreciate eVite, it's a system that reached a minimum standard a few years ago and has languished ever since. It fails to function well pretty frequently.

A while ago I started pleading with Kevin, "When is Google going to do a "G-Vite" system?" Snafus with invitations and missing invitees and weird problems with trying to change times and failing, and the refrain was "When, Kevin, when?!"

Well, I was having dinner with Kev tonight, and he said that they had something coming out at 9 that he wanted to show me.

So there we are, huddled around my desk, logging in to http://calendar.google.com when Paul called. He was calling to tell me about Google Calendar. Hee hee!

I love having friends who actually get to make my world a better place. Sure, it's very beta, it's a fragile little baby, but my friends and Google are looking out for me. And I never have to use eVite again. Whew!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Twenty One Firsts

I'm not usually one to fill out the question memes and post them in my blog, but I liked this one, and I liked the exercise, fishing back through the mostly distant memories and swimming through time. Anyway, I give you twenty one firsts.

1.Who was your first prom date?
Mark, my 7th grade boyfriend. I hadn't been planning to go to prom at all, but he asked me to go to his, so I went. Then I ended up going to my own prom too, because, well, I already had a dress.

2. Who was your first roommate?
Jocelyn. We had a place on T Street in downtown Sacramento. 2 bedrooms for $400 a month. And we had the best on-site manager ever. He chased down the guy who broke into my car and got my bag of cassettes back from him. And he got the wood beetle out of my shoe. (He came down because he heard screaming. That wood beetle was frikkin huge.)

3. What alcoholic beverage did you drink when you got drunk the first time?
Well, really, mai tais when I was 30. Sure, I'd had champagne at New Year's and such before that, but two mai tais at Trader Vic's and then my face was kinda numb and I asked Rick where the bathroom was and he said, "Go down this hall, down the stairs..." and I said, "There's stairs!?" and decided I'd need to wait for a little while before attempting stairs.

4. What was your first job?
Paid job? Working at Harding Plaza Cinema in Roseville. It was a 1 screen theater in a strip mall. I learned how to assemble a movie from the cans there and that Diet Coke is a great degreaser.

5. What was your first car?
1982 Datsun King Cab diesel truck. That thing got great gas mileage and had a choke that roughly approximated cruise control. It was a good little truck, even if I wasn't much a of a truck person.

6. When did you go to your first funeral?
My Uncle Lee, in 1990. I miss him so very much.

7. How old were you when you first moved away from your hometown?
Twenty, from Sacramento to Berkeley, to live on Sacramento Street.

8. Who was your first grade teacher?
Mrs. Bradbury. She was the owner, principal, and first grade teacher at Deerfield Commons. She was also Welsh and slightly crazy. But her phonics lessons made me a very good speller.

9. Where did you go on your first ride on an airplane?
Hmm... not sure really. Probably Texas.

10. When you snuck out of your house for the first time, who was it with?
I don't recall ever sneaking out per se. I was always more of a bend the rules than a break the rules sort of girl.

11. Who was your first Best Friend and are you still friends?
Hmm... probably Yencina, or maybe Christina. I don't see either of them anymore. I know Christina is a lawyer now (I think). Her mom and my mom are still friends. I haven't seen Yencina in very long time. She was cool though. She introduced me to Michael Jackson and Madonna when my parents listened to Barbara Striesand and Barry Manilow. Many blessings for that intervention.

12. Where was your first sleepover?
There were a lot of slumber parties. Probably at Ross and Nikki's house, my cousins. My mom and their mom were friends.

13. Who is the first person you call when you have a problem?
Depends on the problem. Rick, Fred, and Kevin are always at the top of the list though.

14. Who's wedding were you in the first time you were a bridesmaid or groomsmen?
My cousin Susan. The wedding was in Texas so my grandma made my dress (pink moray taffeta) for me here and then we flew down for it. I think I was 12.

15. What is the first thing you do in the morning?
Snuggle Pixel. Usually this is enforced by his standing on me.

16. What was the first concert you ever went to?
The Monkees. In 1990 at Cal Expo. That was also the first place I ever smelled pot smoke. It smells bad.

17. First tattoo or piercing?
Never have. Neither. Like I need more holes in my head?

18. First celebrity crush?
Dirk Benedict – Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica. He is a very pretty man.

19. Age of first real kiss with tongue?
13 maybe? With my 7th grade boyfriend, Mark. Hmm, or maybe Danny. Not sure honestly.

20. First crush?
Oh heck, probably Mark too. Or maybe Danny. No, definitely Mark. Well, I dunno, I guess I met Danny first, back in sixth grade. There was dating Mark, then breaking up, then dating Danny, then dating Mark again and well, heck, it was all just kind of like that for a while. Sure set up a big pattern for my life. Those who I'm intimate with stay as friends even if the relationship doesn't exactly work out for long term partnership. And Danny and I are still friends, and I still talk to Mark occassionally, but he's in the Marines and is very different from the boy I once knew.

21. First REAL love?
I think I'd still count that as Mark. I hope he's doing okay and not stuck back in Iraq again. I think I'll go send him an email now...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Tivo Ambassador

Well, they picked a Tivo ambassador, and I'm sad to report it isn't me. But it seems like he's a pretty cool guy, and heck, there's a half second clip of my video in the rundown given by Shannen at Tivo, so there's another drop in the bucket of my fifteen minutes of fame.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Steve, Don't Eat It!

Last night over dinner, Tracy mentioned this website written by a guy who tries "food" that really doesn't deserve to be called food. Oddly though my favorite bit was about the one item not intended for human consumption - Beggin Strips:
I'm sad to report that I did not run around the house yelling "Bacon!" I did, however, run around the house yelling "Call 911!"

So enjoy Steve's wild tour through the culinary hinterlands tasting such favorites as pickled pork rinds, potted meat food product, and prison wine. Oh yeah.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Walking on Sunshine

Well, the sun is shining, and I couldn't be happier. My car needed a Smog check so I stopped on my way to work. The first time I tried to get it smogged, it failed because the Service Engine Soon light was on. This light comes on periodically and we've long since determined there's nothing actually wrong, but it always throws the same code, and we've fixed everything short of replacing all of the car's electrical. It's clearly some sort of weird electrical problem because the SES light seems to come on about the same time that the driver's side window stops rolling down. In this particular era of Saturn cars, electrical issues are a consistent complaint. So I mostly just ignore the light unless it's flashing (which means something else bad is happening). It never flashes. It just comes on for a week or two, and then goes off again. So when I took it for a Smog check the first time, I never thought about it, but even though I passed by all the Smog metrics, the state failed it for having this warning light on. Grr.

Fast forward a month. I needed to get my registration done this week, so I've been keeping an eye on the light, waiting for an opportunity. With no carpool buddy this morning, I was leaving the house later, and noticed the SES light was off again (and it was during the business hours of the Smog check places!!). So I raced over to the Smog check place and spent a half hour or so getting checked. It passed with flying colors. Sure, this made me late for work, but just so darned happy I could squeak. I got back in the car to find the start of 10@10. After twenty some-odd days of rain, we've got a bona fide sunny day, so KFOG was celebrating with a "Hello Sunshine!" set.

So there's me, cruising down 280, singing along, "I'm walking on sunshine, baby, yeah!"

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Project Relief

I've been slaving away over some import files for our new time tracking system for the past couple of weeks. I finished up last night around 9pm with the last file of project/task combinations for the department, a whopping 1700 lines long. The consultant arrived at 9am this morning to load everything and there were 3 typos in just one the seven files. Everything else loaded perfectly. We're done already even though he'd planned for 2 days. So I started looking over the reports, seeing if it does what we hoped for, and it does. This is very very cool. Now I get to fake up some data tonight to load in the morning and start prepping for a meeting with the directors on the 11th to see what changes they'd like to make. But overall, it went amazingly well, and now I'm all relieved.

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Death Penalty in America

I'm saddened to see the jury's response in the Moussaoui case. I can't for the life of me figure why it's a valuable use of time, money, and other resources to try to put this man to death when the alternative is that he rots in jail for the rest of his life. Why isn't that good enough? The door has been so widely opened to allow for an endless series of appeals to last a lifetime, that really, it's time to shut it and say, "No, really, rotting in jail for the rest of your life is sufficient." Why spend so much more money on someone America collectively despises so utterly? Why not spend that money on something more worthwhile instead? Revenge of this type is never sweet. It is frustrating and tedious and wasteful. Whether you agree with the death penalty or not as a concept, it's just not practical or feasible.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

No Buy at Best Buy

So one of the Saturday afternoon adventures was something that should've been simple. Erik had a copy of Star Wars he'd received as a gift that was the full screen. As any good Star Wars fan would agree, widescreen is the only format worth owning. So, he went back to Best Buy where it should've been as simple as "Could I trade you this shrink-wrapped copy of full screen Star Wars with the Best Buy sticker on the front for a wide screen version of the same?" followed by "Sure, no problem." That's what I expected. But first came a really odd question: "What is your phone number?" Hunh? Turns out they can only do a straight exchange like that if they have a record of you purchasing it. But this was a gift. So then they need the phone number of the person who bought it for you. Specifically, the phone number associated with the credit card they purchased it on. And if you don't have that, or it wasn't purchased with a credit card, or they can't find it in their database, then no exchange for you. Even though it's got a Best Buy sticker on the front, the same price tag, and there's no exchange of cash going on at all. I was horrified. This sort of absurd policy is the kind of thing that makes me never shop somewhere again, and certainly never purchase a gift for anyone else there either. I can't for the life of me figure what harm would come to Best Buy if they failed to enforce this policy. But the harm to their reputation as a place worth shopping is plain to see. I'll not be back, and I'll be sure to tell everyone who ever brings up Best Buy in front of me.

And it just doesn't have to be like that. I go back again and again to Target because they have always handled any returns with speed and simplicity. Even weird wonky returns without a receipt, or from accidental duplicate gifts. As a result, I shop there first, then go elsewhere if they don't have what I need. Why? Because I trust the customer/vendor relationship offered by Target. Oh, and by the way, their prices are better for DVDs and such anyway.

But Best Buy? Never again.

Weekend-y Weekend

It was the nicest of weekends. Friday night was one of our low-keyed game nights with 20 friends huddled around tables and in circles on the floor playing various games. Favored games included Shadows Over Camelot, Apples to Apples, Hoopla, and Muppet Uno. Muppet Uno is a nifty variation that includes a "Mayhem" card. This means the cards get passed right or left or across depending on what the person who played it calls. It was a lovely evening, resulting in one lone houseguest. We roused the next morning and made a breakfast of eggs, grits, and turkey bacon. It was super yummy. Then there was a smidgen of shopping followed by Elizabeth's birthday party. It was a small gathering of some of my closest friends, gnoshing on tea sandwiches, strawberries, and sundaes. The roast beef tea sandwiches had just a little horseradish mixed into the mayonaisse and it was just the perfect little kick. And the strawberries.... mmmm... yum. So today I was supposed to go to Sacramento for a neo-hellenic symposium, but Rick asked if I could stay home and spend the day with him. So, skipping the five hours of driving in favor of extensive sleeping in, breakfast at Ole's with Shauna and Sherman and going open housing with them in Alameda. I was surprised to find prices there much lower than I expected. Highlights included a townhouse/duplex near Webster on Pacific for $350k. I didn't think you could find anything decent in the entire bay area for that kind of money nowadays, but it was a really cute little place. It had a good sized back yard, a 1 car garage, and a little studio/spare room in the yard. It was a very liveable space, and darned reasonably priced. But the real highlight was this amazing place on Paru for $588k. It's 110 years old, lots of period detail, and the basement has been fully converted into a second unit. There's a lot of that in Alameda. Dave's place is a classic example - officially a 2 bedroom house, but with a basement that's the size of the entire house with 8 foot ceilings and the attic with room for a living room and a ballroom. No really, a ballroom. We go there to practice Fezziwigs, and it's not small. Anyway, I spent the day falling in love with Alameda all over again. Too bad I don't work at Cal instead of Stanford. Ah well. We headed out of there after dropping Shauna and Sherman off and headed homeward to the south bay. We went to the Camera 7 for a slice of Pizza My Heart and to see Ice Age 2, which was cute. Finally, we headed home to check the mail and get ready for the week.

There was nothing splashy. No major event that made it a perfectly great weekend. Just a whole lot of little things to generate the kind of mellow relaxing weekend I've been needing.

And now to face the masses and mayhem at work on Monday. It's Reg Day (last day to pay fees without penalty for the quarter), and undergrad admissions decisions went out yesterday, plus I've got to finish the Unanet set up before the consultant arrives Tuesday morning. It's a good thing I had such a nice weekend!