Almost there...

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Living to the Fullest

So I went to work, did that work thing, then came home, did a couple of minor chores, then commenced the evening run. Dinner at PF Changs sharing Lettuce Wraps, Won-Ton Soup, and Garlic Snap Peas. I treated Rick to dinner since he found my front license plate in the garage. Then we headed to the gym for a quick workout and caught the 9:40 show of Superman Returns. I love that they kept the original score, but seriously, I thought Lois Lane was human? She should've died about 18 times over. Maybe her innate durability is why Superman thinks she's so hot. I dunno. Anyway, fun movie. But now it is late and I've gotta go do that work thing again in the morning. G'night!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

No More Metal Fillings

About three years ago, my dentist started a project to replace my old childhood fillings, which were a metal amalgam that was becoming brittle and breaking down. We started with the ones that were obviously failing, and worked around to replace each one slowly. Some of them were pulled out to find that they really had failed and were allowing more decay. Those weren't any fun. But last night, the last two original fillings were quickly and easily replaced with nice white resin composite fillings, so you just about can't tell where I have fillings and where I don't. The reality is that I have a lot of fillings, just none of them are metal now. I think that's pretty cool. And I managed to sit through the last session without flinching, jumping, crying, begging for a break, or anything else. Dr. Kiryakos was just as thrilled as I was and said I should've brought a bottle of champagne. Instead we celebrated with checking out the new baby pictures from his very cool hygenist Heather. Her third is now just five months and a cutie.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Go Cingular!

This another one in a long line of posts about customer service, the good and the bad. This is a good story. This is how to keep a customer happy and loyal and get them to tell others that your company is worth spending money on. To places like Best Buy, please, take note.

Well, I must admit when Cingular bought AT&T cellular, I had concerns. But as of this moment, they've definitely earned my business for another couple of years. Last month, Stanford had a phone outage. Our VOIP system took longer than the regular phone lines to come back up. This meant I unexpectedly spent two days near the Commencement season doing tech support from my cell phone. This does bad things to your cell phone bill. But after day two of this, I called them up after seeing online that I was definitely going to be over my minutes to see if maybe I could do an advance purchase of extra minutes at a lower rate or something. It was a totally last ditch move because I was pretty sure this cell bill would hurt with a big ol' ouch.

So I called up and the very nice lady discussed my options and we decided to upgrade my plan to a larger monthly bucket because I was usually running close to the limit anyway, so she could retroactively do that for the past month if I liked. I said, "Really?" She said yes. I sat utterly dumbfounded. This was so very cool. She said, "I can do this, but it will mean you're committed to Cingular for another year." I said, "You make this happen and that's completely fine with me." So she did some tinkering and I'm switched over to the new plan, still with my Stanford discount applied, and all is working well. Then she says, "Hmm, looks like you're really close to the close of the billing cycle this month. If your bill comes out funny, just call back and we'll take care of it." So I watched and waited for the bill to arrive, and sure enough it was funky, so I called up, and they in about three minutes they fixed it and said, "Okay, so what you owe is $36.19." And I tried to argue that I owed them more. And she said, "Oh, no I just credited you back to the basic plan price for your old plan. I just took off all the usage charges." I sat there gaping for a moment. Then said, "Oh. Thank you. Thank you very much." She asked if there was anything else she could help me with today. All I could think was, "Could you make the rest of my bills magically smaller too?" but I decided not to say that.

Oh, and also, their cell coverage is fantastic. It's a rare day that I can't get coverage or have a dropped call. This is not the experience of my roommate who is constantly jumping up and running out the door with her Verizon phone saying, "Hello? Hello? Can you hear me now?" Ah, sweet irony!

Fair Oaks Faire

It's been twenty years of Fair Oaks Faire, and like most years, it was hot. I expected pure misery, but really, I was surprised to find it wasn't all that bad. The park is so beautifully shaded by oak trees that it felt really quite bearable most of the day. Dancing didn't sound like a terrible idea, and the stage was even shaded. Ellen had been told to plan for street sets, so she was surprised to find we had three stage shows a day. So we threw together stage sets on the fly and they went pretty well. We even had teaching sets that stretched out well past the official stage space.

Look - Dave took pictures!


On both days I ended up taking an air conditioning break over at the Arby's. It's weird how little has changed in that neighborhood, but I remember when that Arby's was a Rax and they had a salad bar back when salad bars were new and spiffy. That was a long long time ago. Of course, I also remember when Fair Oaks Faire wasn't at Temple Park but down in old Fair Oaks so really, let's just face it, I'm old, and well, it's my home town.

Saturday evening a dozen or so Pryanksters went back to Erik & Marissa's place for yummy barbecue. First we dashed out to the pool for a quick swim, then watched the sun set over the farmland while standing around as burgers cooked on the grill. Josh (the Scottish Highland dancer) went out to the sidewalk and looked every bit the part of the romance novel cover, with locks flowing. Rene and Claudia and Whitton ran out to play the part of the Three Graces. Luckily, a couple of pictures were taken. Back inside, mai tais were served first. Then Eddie started making these yummy fresh strawberry drinks. Then he made mojitos. These all happen to fit the list of alcoholic drinks I actually enjoy, so drinks were had, followed by plenty of water. Eddie and Alisa also brought a funky mushroom from the farmer's market I'd never tried before. They'd forgotten the name, but it was nice, light, firm, and tasty. I'm not much of a mushroom person, so I was pleasantly surprised to consider this food.

On Sunday, somehow a minor water fight got started. The trouble is, both Erik and I are pretty competitive. So when he claimed that he'd won, that was more of a call to action than an end to the affair. Sure, he has longer arms and martial arts training, but I had three bucks which said St. Greg's would help me win. When you can't win the war on your own terms, hire mercenaries. Or something. And oh but they do a nice job! So after the drubbing, Erik vowed revenge and I went merrily off for my air conditioning and beverage break at Arby's with Josh, and David Bedno joined us there. We talked about housing in Alameda and other random stuff. I was wandering back to Pryankster camp to stash the rest of my soda and minding my own business when from behind comes a mass of water and ice. This is the part where I demonstrate once again that when it comes to screams, though Nicole has pitch, I will always have volume. Soaked through three skirts, shift, bloomers, tights and undies right to the skin, I was willing to let Erik claim victory, because really, we'd both thoroughly lost/won this game, for losing really had no consequence as the weather made it perfectly pleasant to be completely soaking wet, and also managed to evaporate the water rather quickly.

I ended my day by helping pack up Pryankster camp, sorting trash from recyling and hefting bins over the fence to the van and finally heading over to Suzi and Sandy's house for a pool party. Rick had taken the train up to get there so we headed home together finally getting home about midnight.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Prius Update

So I finally found a couple of things that I don't like about the Prius, but now knowing about both of them they are easy to live with. The first is that the charger outlets don't stay active when the car's power is off, so you can't leave your cell phone trickle charging overnight. I'm going to chuck the spare wall charger in the trunk so that problem is solved.

Problem two comes with a much more entertaining story. The Prius comes with digital display of the fuel gage. It's divided into ten squares. So as I headed to Anaheim, I was keeping an eye on it, being amazed at my fantastic gas mileage, and thinking, "Well okay with 2 pips left, and well over four hundred miles on this tank so far, that gives me at least another hundred miles, so I'll be sure to get gas within fifty just to be safe. So I did the math and figured I'd be at Harris Ranch in about 35 miles. This would be perfect. Step one, get past Cowschwitz. Step two, get gas, food, and go pee. Right, got it.

But it turns out those pips aren't evenly divided exactly. After 20 miles, the second pip disappeared. After another 10 miles, the final pip started flashing and the car said "Add Fuel Now". This is the part where I recall my conversation with Kevin last week about running a Prius out of gas. He said it's no big deal, especially if you can coast into the station on battery. If not, it sucks, but it doesn't really hurt the car. A bunch of warning lights come on, but they all turn themselves off after 50 miles. Could I make it the last five miles? If not, could I do them on battery? How big is this battery anyway? And oh dear god, what will Cowschwitz smell like this time of year! So, visions of me stranded on the side of the road, waiting for Triple A while I remembered vividly why I don't eat beef.

At 2 miles to go, the engine cut out. I threw on the emergency flashers and pulled to the side, using the battery to keep going at about 55. The whole time I'm saying, "Come on Shadow! Give me two miles!" Shadow, being a very good car, did just as she was asked. We rolled off the freeway, around to the right, coasted down the hill into the gas station. I started filling the tank, went to the bathroom, and then immediately called Kevin. I left him a voicemail which he returned a few minutes later saying, "I think you get a prize for running your car out of gas faster than anyone I know after just purchasing it." Yeah, I earned that prize. So, after powering down the car and powering up again (Yes, I rebooted my car.), she started up and we were off and running. And sure enough, by fifty miles later, all the warning lights were off.

And just for the record, I went 530 miles on an 11 gallon tank of gas. Oh, and also, the first pip didn't disappear until after 150 miles, so it's definitely not evenly distributed between the pips. The Prius rocks, but I'll definitely be filling up at 2 pips from now on.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Wicked Little Fairies

Tee-hee. Thanks to Anthony who again takes such great photos of me.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Waiting Until The Eleventh Hour

Received two tickets both timestamped at 10:45. Instructors are getting a "Maximum Sessions Reached" error. This is a bummer and makes us all leap into action, especially the infrastructure team, but really, why do they wait until the last 75 minutes to submit grades? Crazy people.

Commencement Week - Holy Thursday

They call it Holy Thursday. All grades are due by noon. All graduates are due to be fully signed off by 2pm. Today life goes from check every ten minutes to check every five minutes until 2pm. I've got a big cup of coffee and a frozen lunch. I'm ready.

Meanwhile, there be pirates in the Day In Pictures. Snicker.

And yesterday I fully overcame potential boredom to be totally productive. Javier had asked me to finish the reporting task, which I did, and revised the grading business process document. Plus there was a ticket that came in about PO Box renewals and I realized we had no business process document for that, so I wrote one up. Ten pages later we had shiny new documentation and I was feeling all proactive.

And I'd planned to drop in on the Irish Sets last night, but Bates called and said "Harold and Maude! Cinema San Pedro!" and well, I couldn't resist. So Rick and I took the folding sofa and curled up together with a small assortment of friends and acquaintances for a movie in the middle of the street. We shared a meal at Sonoma Chicken Coop beforehand, ultimately unable to resist the Banana Phyllo Sundae. So very yummy.

And can I just say how much I love my new car. Okay, so it's not a hover car, but besides that, it's the most 21st century thing I own. When I think back on my expectations for future technology, this car hits a bunch of those details. I walk up to the car and it automatically unlocks my door. No more fishing for keys or a fob; just *beep* and I know it has welcomed me. And then there's the phone. When I get in the car, my phone automatically knows that there's a hands-free system waiting, so it syncs up. Last night Rick called on my way home and I just pressed the answer button on the steering wheel and it automatically muted the radio and we had a little conversation and then I hung up and the radio came back up. This is so very cool. And the navigation system is great. It doesn't scold me when I go off course; it just recalculates in about 1 second and directs me from there. And it always offers 3 routes to my destination, allowing me to pick the best knowing factors that a basic map doesn't necessarily know (like 101 is a parking lot in the morning).

Tonight I pack up to spend the weekend in Disneyland with my mom and five Swedes. Unfortunately, Rick doesn't get to go due to a combination of money issues, too much schoolwork, and needing to be at a Monday morning meeting. I'm going to miss having his company in the park. It'll be interesting to do Disneyland outside of my usual peer group. I expect this trip will be fairly different, but hopefully fun. Too bad I didn't find out sooner or else I would've tried to dragoon another DL regular into joining us (Shauna or Fred maybe).

Oh, and for the record, so far this week there's been a total of 4 Commencement related tickets in amongst the dozens of summer session enrollment, course setup, security related, and duplicate ID tickets. Wheeeeeeee!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Bored

I'm not good at being bored. Today the queue is really deadly dull. There's one to three tickets coming in each hour. Each one takes five to ten minutes to complete. But I still have to check the queue every ten minutes to make sure nothing urgent has come in. So I click refresh, then wonder what to do with the remaining nine minutes and fifty seconds until the next time I click refresh. I am so bored. This kind of boredom really gets to me. I stop being able to think of anything to do, and stop being able to be motivated to do anything else. There's a reporting task I could work on, but I don't really understand the desired result fully, so it's hard to work on that in 9 minute chunks. I've read Live Journal and SF Gate and the Stanford Report. I've stared at the reporting files. I've contemplated other things to do. But mostly, I've been idle. I've done a really great job fully documenting every ticket that has come in. But I'm at that horrible low energy place I get to when I'm too bored. It's like every last ounce of creative spunk has been sucked out of me. I can't wait til 5:00 when I can run away. When cleaning the bathroom sounds exciting because it's so productive, you know you've gone around the bend. At least there's only 2 more days until Holy Thursday. By 2:00 on Thursday, I should be free of the ten minute leash, and I'll be so very thrilled.

Time to go click Refresh. Yep. Still no new tickets. Time to wait another nine minutes and fifty seconds.

And have I mentioned lately that Science is Cool!

Science is on its way to producing a vaccine for Alzheimer's Disease. As someone who relies on her memory rather thoroughly to get through her day, I really hope this comes to fruition.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Science is Cool!

Improved battery technology is on the horizon. Thanks MIT!

Fairie Ceili, and other dancey goodness

There was dancing, dancing, dancing, a movie, and dancing this weekend. Allow me to state for the record that this totally rocked. FNW was lovely, with an appearance from Kat, tunes by Sam & Whitton, and a lovely BNP with Daniel. Ardenwood went beautifully. There were lots of dancers so no one had to get overly tuckered out. There was a gorgeous pair of Browyn's Chutneys, complete with very large long figures and tight crisp bow-tie heys. Gaskells was somewhat sparsely populated, but that mostly meant I got a chance to dance with nearly everyone I wanted (well, most at least). Plus, the six of us girls of the Estrogen Evening realized Elizabeth's evil plot to arrive as fairies.


Erik and Marissa stayed over and we headed to Hobbee's for breakfast before seeing Cars at the Camera 7. Cars is not quite as inspired as some earlier Pixar movies, but it's still got that Pixar shine, where they just don't produce anything not worth watching. And there's a ton of inside-joke detail in this movie.

Finally, there was the Fairie Ceili. Quinn had an inspired idea to dance under the light of the full moon. We met at the Berkeley Rose Garden where Quinn brought us freshly baked cinnamon rolls, we toured the rose garden at dusk, and then we headed across the street to the other park to dance. First we got terribly distracted by the giant slide. The slide is so cool. Concrete, worn smooth with years of use, and a heap of cardboard at the bottom to speed the trip. So, after zipping down the slide one after the other, we danced in the grass. Our new motto: In the dark, no one can see your footwork. It was just lovely dancing under the open air. The night was cool and foggy, but perfect for dancing. We started with a Fairy Reel (of course!) and ran through everything we had enough hands for. By 11 we were leaving the park, sweaty, fully of cinnamon treats, and ready for bed.

So if I'm not getting out to dance again all week, at least it was a weekend chock full of the best sort of dancey goodness.

Is it a good thing or a bad thing?

When assisting a student administrator with a tiny fix to her class schedule for summer, I cheerfully walked her through the process, and while she was finishing, checked her other classes. They're fine. She says, "You're just too perky about all this." I think she meant it nicely, but really, on the scale of things that could go wrong during the week, an unchecked checkbox (or really, 56 unchecked checkboxes) is really small potatoes.

As far as Commencement goes, so far so good. I had a Christyn to ride to work with so that ensured we made it before 8. And though I was out dancing until 11 last night, the morning wake up didn't feel too terribly bad.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Commencement

The annual madness whereupon every student administration related staff member on campus succumbs to a temporary but all-consuming state of tension and insanity is officialy upon us. Commencement happens once a year with great fanfare. Next week I'm working at 8am every morning (because Commencement is more important than the GUP). I'm still hoping to con Christyn into carpooling to work with me as I don't yet have my Access OK stickers for the Prius. So, I'll slog through traffic, fight fires all day, have 3 checkpoint meetings a day, and generally try to talk down the hysterical. In all likelihood, it will be much ado about nothing. But if things go wrong, I'm the first line of defense.

So, for the record, don't expect to see me out and about in the evenings next week. I'll be at home decompressing, watching a movie, and eating bon-bons. No Plough. No Wednesday Ceili. No dinners out. No theater. Just me and the sofa. It'll be a nice change of pace. Unless things go wrong. Then I'll be chained to my desk.

Wish me luck!

Monster Names


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alt="Abomination from the Mysterious Mysterious Yonder"
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Doubly Mysterious!

Car for Sale

My old car is for sale, by the way. She's had occassional issues, but she's never once left me stranded, and has some very nice features (like Cruise Control. I'll never go without Cruise Control again. Oh, and a kick-ass air conditioner.). Anyway, if you're reading this and interested, drop me a line. The price is negotiable.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

HPV/Cervical Cancer Vaccine

This is such great news. I know too many friends and acquaintances who've had to deal with this over the years. The most dangerous forms of HPV have no symptoms at all, so it passes from one to the next with impunity. Now the next generation can be spared. Imagine a world without an annual PAP Smear because the incidence of problems is so low in vaccinated women. It sounds ideal.

Mmmm.... coffee good

It doesn't happen every day. Some days someone else makes the coffee and it's too weak. Some days the filter falls over and the coffee ends up with grounds in it. Some days it's just not quite right. But today was one of those perfect coffee days. Dark and rich but not bitter or sharp. Just Peet's coffee at it's finest, brewed up fresh and stored in an airpot, which meant that after enjoying the first cup so very much, the bonus cup was just as good.

Damn Fine Coffee.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Mini-bites

The new car rocks. Best Car Evar! It didn't flinch on the hills up to Tahoe. Quena noticed that the exterior felt soft to the touch. How painted metal can feel soft, I have no clue, but it did. I figure there's no bug guts or hard water stains yet, so it's like that. Steve remarked that the back seat had the most legroom he'd ever encountered in a car. The upper/lower storage in the back totally rules. That's where my water and dance shoes live for eternity. I love having all the controls on the steering wheel - audio, temperature, map, consumption info. The cupholders in front cheerfully accomodate two big sodas. And the automatic transmission is far less annoying than I'd expected.

~*~

Valhalla was lovely. Sarah Caves has a family cabin about 4 miles from site, so it was faire with hot showers and warm beds. This is perfect for me. And it was faire with soaring pine trees. And it was faire with a fun little ice cream parlor just off-site. And it was faire with a great after hours party including the Black Irish band. Good dancing was had. Oh, and the drag fencing tournament was hilarious. And Erik fits just a little too well into my bodice. From the back, you can't really tell he's a gent. I'll add a picture when someone posts them.

~*~

Went and had dinner and Fluxx with Kevin last night. He has Prius envy, which is funny, because I've spent the past couple years envying his Prius. But mine is shiny and new and has a smoother user interface and a backup camera. Oh, and I beat him five hands to four in the most "Brain No TV" oriented night of Fluxx ever.

~*~

On the way home from dinner, I pulled onto the freeway and found myself behind a black Prius with a Tracy Toyota ad in the license plate blank. I actually jumped. Suddenly I was following myself on the freeway. Turns out it was driven by a little Asian guy, so no, not actually following myself. Before I got to pass him, I called Kev. He said to make sure I didn't hit the other car or the universe might implode. I love my friends. We're such geeks.

~*~

Things at work got weird this week. My old, much-appreciated boss got a layoff notice. She is the most singularly competent person in Administrative Systems. If she's getting laid off, then everything is up for grabs. We'll see if I still have a job come September. Rumors are not pointing to good signs, but I can hope and dream, and check the Stanford Jobs website every week to see if there's any other jobs on campus that I want.

~*~

Pixel apparently missed the whole lesson on "Cats are cool". He was playing the other night at the end of the bed, and he reached behind himself to grab his toy and rolled right off the bed in a sort of slow motion move. This was not smooth. He's a big ol' dork, but I love him.

~*~

Off to see King Lear tomorrow. Gabe is in it so I couldn't miss the combination of getting to see Gabe in a show and Shakespeare.

~*~

After my birthday I got to spend some Amazon credit. I now have all of Danger Mouse, and the Animaniacs are on order. Can't wait for Animaniacs. I also picked up several good books.

~*~

Will made mini-cheesecakes and brought them to Plough on Monday. I'm not a big fan of cheesecake. It tends to be dry and heavy. But these were delicious. Such a treat. Thanks Will!

~*~

This weekend I'm abdicating all sanity and going to Friday Night Waltz on Friday, dancing 2 performances at Ardenwood on Saturday morning, going to Gaskells (with special theme costume) on Saturday night, and doing Quinn's Fairie Ceili on Sunday night. Super-danci-licious!

~*~

I have, I know not how, lost somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 pounds since December. I didn't plan for it. It just started happening around the end of January. This weekend I got to wear my old faire bodice on Sunday because the other one had grown too big. As previously mentioned, it fit Erik perfectly, so it was just as well. So, after years and years of actively trying to lose weight and failing utterly, my body has decided to do it on its own. I am so not even remotely complaining.

Diet Coke and Mentos

Two guys, a lot of Diet Coke and Mentos, and a video camera. I am amused.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Waking Before the Alarm

In the morning, I'm a big sleepy-head. I can sleep through alarms. If I actually wake up I'll hit the snooze. Not a morning person.

But I woke up ten minutes before the alarm this morning because this afternoon, I'm going to pick up my shiny new Prius.

Back when we finished our electrical work, I got on several waiting lists for a Prius, but was told "expect to wait 6 months." So, I was waiting. Then Kevin mentioned that Google had an internal list for Prius stuff, and there were some dealerships with extra ones. He forwarded me a couple of the messages. I called Hashim out at the Toyota dealer in Tracy. He said, "I don't have that right now. Hmm. And I don't have that on my list coming in in two weeks. How serious are you?" I said, "If you can get it, I'll buy it." He said, "Okay, let me give you a call back." Two hours later he called and said, "Okay, I've got good news. I've made a paper trade with another dealership, so I've got Black, package #7 with grey interiors coming in. It's landing in SF on May 25, and should be here a week later. It's yours if you want it." I proceeded to jump up and down and bounce around my office. Want it? Oh yeah! What's more, he's giving me a discount off MSRP since I heard about it through the Google list. Rock on.

So, bouncy bouncy hooray. Today I go to pick up my Prius in Tracy. Shiny new car. With all the bells and whistles. Can't wait!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Stanford made the news!

Because our phones were out. My VoIP phone is still down. There's someone in the Telcom department getting a big spanking tonight.