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Monday, July 31, 2006

Save the Princess!

One night a few months ago, Rick and I came home and saw this little kitten a couple of doors down. I thought, "Oh how cute. I wonder if it's friendly." and reached out and said, "Here kitty kitty?" The kitten ran the other way, but across the street, came this little black and white kitty. Suprised I turned and said, "Oh. Hello. Who are you?" The kitty rubbed up against me and fell over purring. Right, okay, friendly cat. But clearly hungry cat. So we gave her a little dry food and some water. She sucked down both with the enthusiasm of a starving man in the desert. She looked lost and dirty and a little beat up. So we laid a towel in a box for her to sleep the night, but she was gone the next morning.

But she was back a couple days later. Again we fed and watered her and got lots of affectionate head butts and purrs for our trouble. She clearly had some problem going on with a tooth and was a bit drooly, so we gave her some moist food, and she was wildly appreciative. Then she disappeared again, this time for a week. But a week later she was back, looking tired and dehydrated again. Okay, we thought, time to find out if we can get her some vet services for cheap. I called around but couldn't find much help. So I figured we'd wait until after monthly bills and make sure we could afford a trip to the vet for her and see how bad it was and try to find her a home and such. Meanwhile, she decided our back deck was the cool place to hang out and we came home to find her there most days. We took to referring to her as "The Princess" because she was kind of a prissy, prancey girl who loved to stretch up to her tippy toes for a scritch, even if she was all scruffy.

But then Rick couldn't afford rent for the month. And then I got word of the probable layoffs and then ultimately of the definite layoffs, and suddenly spending money on a stray cat seemed less than ideal. Then her drooliness increased to a swollen, infected chin and I knew she needed help sooner than I could provide it. So I called around again trying to find someone to help us. It looked like turning her over to the Santa Clara Humane Society or San Jose Animal Care would elicit similar responses - testing for Feline Leukemia and FIV, treatment if negative, and putting her up for adoption. Okay, good plan. So we took her in to San Jose Animal Care. They gave us a cage number to follow up on her. We called the next day and heard some slightly different information that made us nervous about her future. They said to call back again tomorrow for health results. So we called back the next day and they said, "Oh, we don't test for those things. If they animal seems healthy and passes the behavior test, we put them up for adoption. Otherwise, we euthanize." Oh crap. So I had just managed to consign this cat to death row, because while she'd pass the behavior test with flying colors, she was definitely not completely healthy. Again, I called around to a bunch of rescue organizations and begged for help.

Pixel managed to somehow lose his collar and tag, so I went to get him a new one at Pet Food Express and talked to a woman from Town Cats. She said, "Oh jeez, San Jose Animal Care is horrible. They kill 80% of their cats. Thousands every year." My heart sank. We had to save the princess. In my helpfulness, I had signed her death warrant instead of finding her help.

We took Pixel in for his annual exam and got a feline leukemia test just to be sure (since he's mister friendly and can't help interacting with the kitties outside by sticking his arm under the door or pressing his nose against the gate). He's fine, and his vet (Dr. Derenzi) at Adobe Pet Hospital pointed us toward a woman from the Stanford Cat Network. Meanwhile, Rick was working with Kelly, the vet tech at San Jose Animal Care, making sure they didn't do anything bad to her. Kelly showed her off to the volunteers from the rescue groups on their weekly tour to see if anyone would take her in. I emailed the woman from Town Cats asking for help. Finally, Kelly said to contact Lisa from Unconditional Love, because if we could be her foster home, Unconditional Love would pay for her vet bill. I called Lisa and she managed to get the princess out of kitty jail two days later. Whew. Then she took the princess to see Dr. Derenzi at Adobe, and she came back with lots of new information. The princess is about 2 years old, she's been spayed. She's clearly been living on the street for a while. She doesn't have feline leukemia or FIV. She has a couple of bad teeth. She's getting surgery for that on August 14th. Meanwhile, she's on antibiotics to help heal her up before the surgery.

So last night, we went by Lisa's house and picked up the princess. Lisa was amazingly cool, and she sent us home with food and dishes and a pet bed and antibiotics for the princess. They named her "Savannah" and posted her on Pet Finders. She also has a radio show where she'll advertise her. And they have weekend adoption fairs where she can be shown too. I'm sure she'll find a home in no time, and in the meantime, she's staying with us. So far we have her locked in the guest bedroom, but hopefully she and Pixel will get along and she'll get run of the house in a few days.

But oy with the extra stress! Because, really, my life isn't stressful enough right now. But at least this one thing worked out just about as well as I'd hoped, with a lot of bumpy road to get there. And if you know of anyone who would like a small, wildly affectionate little tuxedo kitty who will appreciate the good life like only a former stray can, give a holler. Meanwhile, I breathe a big sigh of relief because we saved the princess.

Toyota Vs. Saturn

I took Shadow in for her first service this morning. I'd tried to do it a week ago, but found myself caught in service beauracracy. I figured the Toyota of Stevens Creek would be my best bet, so I called to make an appointment on the Monday after Waltz Week, except they don't make appointments. It's first come, first served. Le sigh. Okay, so I dropped in for a service, and was told as busy as they were that day that it would be 3-4 hours for the 5000 mile service. The 5000 mile service is an oil change. Right, so, I came back. Finally this morning I got up extra early and made it there a little after opening and got my 5000 mile service in just about an hour and still made it to work relatively on time. This was good. But it wasn't like a Saturn service. You take your car to Saturn, they always wash it and vacuum it. It's a tiny detail, but you get your car back looking fresh and new every time. I'm going to miss that. Also, if I had needed to go to work instead of waiting (which will likely be more important on bigger service appointments), they don't loan you a car. You could rent one. Or, they provide a one-way shuttle service for up to 10 miles. Now how a one-way shuttle is useful is beyond me, because ultimately then I'm at work with no transportation other than relying on the kindness of my coworkers, but okay, whatever, if that's your policy. Ultimately I asked, "So is this how Toyota does things, or does it vary from dealer to dealer?" And the answer was, it varies, at the discretion of the particular dealer. That's the other thing I'll miss about Saturn - consistency. Oh well. Shadow is a great little car, so I guess I'll get used to dealing with the Toyota dealers since she'll be mine for the next 10 years or so, and next time, I'll research what other dealers policies are prior to crossing the 10,000 mile mark so that I know where, when, and how I should approach the next service appointment, rather than having it wait til another thousand miles passed.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

A Day In The City

In pursuit of the Browncoat Ball being wicked cool, I spent the day in the city yesterday with Kerry & Michelle and their friend Mike Ross. It was a hoot.

We started the morning taking the SF City Guides tour of Chinatown. We had fresh made fortune cookies en route and I took 15 pages of notes. We followed that with lunch at the Empress of China. We even had a Flaming Baby Quail. The hot and sour soup was especially tasty. And the views are phenomenal. Coit Tower lurks out the window. After lunch, we started the work on the scavenger hunt, both for physical object and photo scavenger hunts. It should be fun. We ended up at Pier 39. Now, I really haven't been to Pier 39. I knew it was a tourist trap, but I had no idea. On the other hand, there was a really cute clothing store where I could've been lots of time and money, a hat shop full of some really great hats, and a movie shop called Antiquities whose manager had been chatting with the Browncoats at Comicon. But there were also crazy agressive buskers, one of whom insisted on shining Kerry's shoes. This was finally accomplished when he smeared goo on his shoes mid-stride. Evil. But we got through that and on to the Musee Mechanique and started heading back through North Beach up to Chinatown. We made it back to Chinatown and hunted for a DVD store for Mike, then swung through one shop to find a little suitcase that matches my purse (so now I have matching cherry print luggage!), then stopped in and picked up some pork buns and headed back to Kerry and Michelle's place in the outer Richmond to finish up the day with some Blade Runner and leftover pizza from Pizza Orgasmica. We'd started watching the first season of Lost the night before so Kerry and Michelle sent us home with the DVDs. I'm sure we'll lose a few nights to Lost in the next few weeks.

All in all I was reminded of the fun that can be had as a tourist in your own area. And getting to spend a day with Kerry and Michelle is always the best.

Little Joys

Woke up around 6am to find the room quite chilly. Rick closed the window. I snuggled under the covers. It was chilly! Woohoo!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Portfolio

Today in our team meeting, we spent a bunch of time talking over our thoughts about the re-org and the job postings and so forth. Javier passed around his portfolio and I thought, "Well dang, I should have a portfolio." So I started printing out some stuff. Soon, my binder was too small, and I've barely scratched the surface. I moved it all ot a bigger binder. I wanted to include the full documentation for one class I developed. Turns out that's about 400 pages. I wanted to include a basic overview of documentation for one project, so I picked the Web Forms portion of the Workflow project since it was small and manageable. Ha! There's just six sample documents (one website tutorial printout, one classroom Powerpoint printout, one set of job aids, one usability test result, one general spec doc) and it's nearly as thick as the Grad Admissions course materials. There's a few sample Business Process documents. There's a set of course evaluations from all the people who love my classes (and reading back through those did cheer me up). There's a little handout from the Authority Manager TGIF. And there's the Unanet documentation I just finished a few weeks ago. And the (bigger) binder is utterly splitting its seams, and I wish I could give a fuller picture of what I'm capable of.

Please let me come out of this with a job I enjoy and get paid reasonable well to do. This whole process is breaking my heart. I hate what this means for the clients I serve because they're going to get left in the cold with no support. And really, I just wish the reward for a job well done wasn't a layoff. Too often in my life I've been handed a bonus check or a glowing performance evaluation one day and a layoff notice the next. Sigh.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Back to Work

Back in the office and it's feeling grim. I have what amounts to three jobs:
- business analysis - figuring out what's going on and how things should work, testing how they are working, and writing documentation associated with that. This is especially fun when it means building new systems from scratch because then it's more than mere documentation. It's setup, tweek tweek tweek, document. I like that part. This is about 40% of my day to day.
- training - lately that means ongoing PeopleSoft Student Administration training for Student Records, Course Maintenance, Graduate Admissions, and the Graduate Financial System. This means maintaining the training database, maintaining and updating the course materials and job aids, and teaching the classes, usually at least once a week. This is another 40% of my job.
- support - answering the incoming requests for help regarding Axess, PeopleSoft Student Administration, Workflow, and occasionally PeopleSoft HR. This is about 20% of my job, but varies seasonally (remember Commencement?).

So, I could take a job that is the 20% of what I do, and the lowest level of what I do at a significant pay cut. Or I could shoot for the stars and aim at a Systems Analyst role which I don't have all of the technical knowledge to perform on day one, though I could probably learn it in a matter of days or weeks with just a little encouragement and guidance, but which I probably won't get because there are those more qualified than I vying for the same position. In fact, there's a dozen people aiming for the same six jobs, so that is a long shot at best. There are no training roles in the new org structure because they want to get out of the business of training and make the business owners take care of it themselves. But I love training. It's single-day goal-oriented teaching. Sigh. So, either route leaves me in a far more bland and uninspiring job role than I have now. I love the balancing act inherent in my multi-hat job. But after talking with the director of the SA/HR systems, I understand more deeply that he doesn't value my contribution and doesn't really see me as able to rise to any challenge. The above all is the most discouraging.

Tonight I'm going to the Plough. I will drown my sorrows in a fit of wild polka sets and swirling watlzes and endless reels and bouncing jigs. And tomorrow I will earnestly endeavor to revise my resume so that I can find a new workplace where I am valued.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

On the Job Front

Stanford Administrative Systems announced (another) reorganization last week while I was on vacation. Being on campus, I caught up to some coworkers at lunch immediately following the end of the announcement meeting. As per my assumption, I have been reorganized out of a job. Of 113 jobs in the department, 33 positions remain unchanged. Everyone else will need to apply to a newly created position, interview, and wait for a response until August 28th, or blow the whole thing off and accept a layoff. So, starting tomorrow morning, I'm putting aside my documentation work and my training updates and working on my resume. Maybe I'll find a job in the new org that suits me, or maybe I won't. Maybe I'll apply to something with the Registrar's Office or the Law School or the Medical School. I will definitely be following up on opportunities I've seen at Google and Kaiser in the past few weeks and an interesting gig with the Sam Ramon school district that Elizabeth let me know about. Anyone else who has a job for a support/trainer/analyst type person, just let me know.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Lindy Survivor

Norma's class was a killer, but it was great. She kept screaming, "No no, it's the same step! You've got to be on the beat!" and "Stop looking at your feet!" The class went from fifteen couples to seven couples to four couples to just two remaining. And at the end of it all, Forest and I ran through it one more time and she said, "That's it. Somebody finally learned it!" I bounced around like I'd won a million dollars. My Lindy is finally tuned. I asked a good dancer to dance Lindy last night and didn't feel shy about it. This is good. And I'll never forget her laugh.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Waltz & Swing Week

It's mostly turning out to be Swing week for me. I'm taking a class with Norma Miller who says things like, "You've seen Day at the Races right? Well when we did that, this is just like that." She also says things like, "No no honey, that's all wrong. You got to stay on the beat." and e two, one two three, buh-bam!" and "That's it. You got it. Now just do it exactly like that every time." It's a an ego melter, but I'm loving it. The class size fell in half after the first day. The net result is that the 7 remaining couples are getting incredibly detailed personal attention. I'm now confident in my swingout for the first time ever. This is cool.

The second class I was taking was Charleston. i got through the first day just fine. The second day was too much, so I went and took a vacation in Joan's Mazurka class. They were working on a pattern with 12 rotary waltzes, 8 forward travellilng redowas, then 8 turning redowas. And they were short follows. So I dove in and felt right at home.

After lunch I'm taking Early Roots of Swing with Richard. This is great. The first day we did Texas Tommy, the original swing from San Francisco. It's positively goofy. Today we worked on early two-step from New York. With each of these, he's showing bits of original footage and it's completely adorable to watch Richard get positively giddy about the history of dance and the ressearch he's done and these 20 second clips of extant film from 1910. It's really great. Tomorrow we're leaping ahead another 25 years to Rock and Roll Swing.

After that, I took Anne's Slow Waltz class, but Room 52 was unbearably hot in the afternoon and nearly did me in. Today I dove into Monica and Ryan's Mazurka Quadrille class. It was perfect for a 12 year veteran of Irish dance. I saw what they worked on the day before and was able to pick it up on the first time through with one mistake, easily corrected. Can't wait for the rest of this class because next we're doing improv sets tomorrow and Thursday. Can you say polka sets? Oh yes, there will be new fun things coming into Irish Polka Sets from this very soon. Heh heh heh.

My final class of the day is Hustle with Anne. We're getting our Diva on. It's fun. Still, I keep thinking, "Yeah, but if this song was playing, I'd be doing a four hand reel." Oh well. It's too bad that I finally have two dances competing for the same music.

And after the dancing, the falling over. For two nights, all I can do is shower, eat dinner, and sleep. Too tired. Today I'm less exhausted because I had a better lunch. Yesterday I was in bed by 9:30.

Speaking of which, it's way past my bedtime. G'night!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Crazy Monkey

Next week I'm on vacation. And I'm coming to work every single day - for Stanford Waltz and Swing week! Yay! I'll probably miss one class one day in favor of attending a big all hands meeting for my department where they announce the new org structure (and whether or not my job still exists), but otherwise, I'm dancey dancey girl. I get warm-up with Joan every morning, Lindy with Norma Miller in the morning, a Waltz and Blues class after that, Early/late Swing with Richard after lunch, then either a Mazurka or Waltz class, followed by finally getting to learn Hustle with none other than Anne Remsen. Can't wait! My feet are going to hate me. Woohoo!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Pirates!

Okay, so Pirates was fun. Not perfect, but not nearly as bad as some reviewers had it. It ends on a cliff hanger, but the next one is due out just in time for my birthday next year. So start your planning now. My birthday gathering next year will include a trip to see Pirates of the Carribean 3. Woohoo! Hooray for pirate-y things!

Also, thanks to Sam and Whitton for playing Yo Ho Yo Ho A Pirate's Life For Me as a polka on Friday night at FNW. That was fun, and a far better polka than I expected it to be.

Equality Now

Joss Whedon is still my hero. His speech at the Equality Now awards ceremony was priceless. I should've posted it a while back, but I got distracted.

Now if only we could just convince the man it's time to write for television again. I miss my weekly doses of Joss-wit.

Friday, July 07, 2006

I.Q.

I had an I.Q. test this morning. A friend from the Browncoat community needed test subjects for running I.Q. tests and since she lives on campus, I figured I'd volunteer. Once again, it turns out I'm smart and stuff. This is good. The bad thing is that if I'm in the 97th percentile for intelligence, then it makes me fear desperately for the rest of the world. No wonder most people just don't get it. It really amazes me that humanity has done as well as it has if most people are dumber than me, because criminey, I surely don't feel very smart. In fact, most of the time, I feel like a complete spaz. And there's plenty of things I don't get. And lordy, if everyone else is soaking up less, then how have we survived this long? Scary stuff.

First Fruit

So back in March 2005 we got a 4-in-1 fruit tree. It's four stone fruits: peaches, nectarines, plums, and apricots. Today for the first time I picked fruit from the tree. I pulled two peaches and a plum and gave Rick one peach and took the other two to work. The peaches were lovely, and the plum was plum perfection. Even if my Calla Lillies are having a crisis, my roses are being overrun by weeds, and my oregano is choking out the mint (which really I didn't think anything could win over mint), my fruit tree is happy and healthy and bearing lots of yummy fruits in at least 3 different varieties. I think the apricots are coming later. This is definitely one of the coolest things I've ever planted in the ground. And oatmeal with fresh peach and plum on top makes coworkers jealous.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Devil Wears Prada

So last night I utterly forgot that I wanted to go to Will's dance thing in San Leandro and instead planned to go to the gym and a movie with Rick. The upside is that I still got some exercise, only it wasn't really dancing, and dancing is always the best exercise.

But as a trade-off I did also get to see The Devil Wears Prada, which was a fun film. It left me with three major tracks running in my head.
1. Gosh Anne Hathaway is pretty. Pretty pretty girl.
2. Ah Paris. I want to go back to Paris. Now.
3. I really want a grilled cheese sandwich.

Overall, a predictable movie well played. And did I mention that you get to look at Anne Hathaway for almost 2 hours? Yah. Pretty.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Browncoat Ball

Speaking of the Browncoat Ball, tickets are on sale now. A few months ago, I spent a lot of time hammering out the details for the various venues and menus and events. Then it sat idle for a little while while I waited for Ray to finish up the website. Now I'm diving back in, making up a playlist for Friday night, planning to spend July 29th in the city, first going through a tour of Chinatown, then lunch at the Empress of China, culiminating in a scavenger hunt collection tour of the 20 blocks between the hotel and Pier 39. That should be a fun day. With just 2 1/2 months to the biggest event I've ever organized, I'm getting a smidgen intimidated, but it'll all work out just fine. It's all details now. The main events are set in stone and they should be great.

Tickets are $150, and that includes two nights of dinner and dancing, a boat cruise, and a tour of Chinatown. It should be great. I can't wait!

4th of July

I had this plan. It was a good plan. But it was utterly foiled by a pool, a baby, and dancing.

Erik and Marissa were hosting a 4th of July BBQ starting at noon. T and Danielle were hosting a 4th of July BBQ starting at 4pm. I figured, go to one for a few hours, and then head on to the next one. It was a beautiful plan. But just before 3, Dave and Ellen arrived with Sarah. She'd just cut her fourth tooth this morning and was headed to the pool for her first swim. So out to the pool we all went, and bobbed around, cannon-balled, played pool Katamari, compared relative whiteness, and splashed around until thoroughly pruney.

After that, there was grazing and walking Sarah around attached to my fingers, followed by a call for dancing the Hallucination jig since several folks had just learned it the night before. It was at this point that I turned to Rick and said, "Do you want to head to the next party or stay put." He got distracted and didn't really answer me for another 30 minutes or so when I asked again. At this point, we were well and truly running late, so I decided dancing wins over driving and was promptly handed a fresh mai tai. So dancing, then playing a cool game called Tsuro, which I'll be buying a copy of for the happy hour lounge at the Browncoat Ball. Alisa finished making some truly decadent vanilla ice cream and we slurped it down on the lawn outside. Finally the party started packing up for a pilgrimage to the park for fireworks. This was our cue to head back home.

So once again I was treated to fireworks around the bay from the freeway. We saw lots of fireworks between Fairfield and Walnut Creek, and a few bursts here and there after that. When we got home, our neighborhood was still blasting with tons of illegal fireworks. The spent bottle rocket in our driveway was hardly a comfort. But Pixel was happy to have us home and so we gave him some supper and headed off to bed.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Dancey Dancey Dancey

Okay, so yes, Plough was crowded, but a little less wall to wall than I expected. The one thing we did learn is that 3 Hallucination Jigs at once is too much. Too bad for that. But jeez, we had enough advanced dancers for 3 Hallucination Jigs at once. Amazing stuff. The unexpected side effect of the Tuesday off phenomenon was that when John called for the last called dance, the band wasn't ready to stop. So they kept going. First with a reel. Then jigs. Then polkas. Then waltzes. More waltzes. Before we knew it it was 12:30 and the band was just winding down. Wow. I danced til my knee wouldn't let me dance anymore. It said, "Um, time to stop now right?" and I said, "Oh, if you insist. Wait - one more polka?" Oh well. Yes, I will have some Advil before bed thank you. It was a fabulous night. There was a new accordian player, resplendent in her cheetah print body suit and pink hair. Word on the street is that she told Loni "No" last week. She was the one egging on the band. I don't know what it takes, but really, I hope we can keep her. She totally rocked.

And now, the sleeping. Sleeping the sleep of the dead, or at least those who've danced all their little bodies will let them.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Amused

I'm working from home today. I suspect there's something like 12 staff members on campus today. So I figured driving in wouldn't gain me anything. I can read technical documentation on transcripts, run weekly reports, and answer HelpSU requests from home just as easily as in the office. And this way, I get random snuggle attacks from the cat.

The additional unexpected benefit is the comedy sketch happening outside my front window. There are these bugs that keep barrelling full steam into the window, stopping with a nice "thwick" sound, and then dropping to the ground below the window. It's too bad the local birds haven't yet figured out that there's a smorgasboard of addled bugs at the base of the window.

Alright, back to the transcript doc. I love reviewing boring documentation written by Indian consultants with a rudimentary grasp of the English language. Really. Or not.

Plough Tonight

Y'know, I suspect the Plough will be mighty crowded tonight. Choruses of "Well, gee, I don't have to work Tuesday so I could go to Plough" have been spontaneously erupting around me all weekend. I'll see y'all there.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Torn

Friday the new Pirates of the Carribean movie comes out and it's Friday Night Waltz. So, do I organize a group of folks to dress like a bunch of pirates and lay seige to the local movie theater, or do I go out dancing?

I'm thinking of dancing, and going to catch the movie on Sunday, but I just don't know. I mean... pirates!