Almost there...

Friday, September 29, 2006

Back on September Fifteenth...

The moment I knew things were all going to turn the corner was when the guy at the bike shop gave me a free bicycle.

Remember when my bike seat got stolen? I went to the bike shop on campus on Tuesday, looking for a new seat post and a seat. They had a post for me, but the only seats they had were not really weather-proof. They were lovely gel seats that would be great if my bike didn't sit outside in the rain. But it does. And really, that's what my bike is for - it's basic transportation around campus. And the seat post was $12.95 and the seats were $19.95 and the whole bike was $51 new. And they had a used bike (one speed, with coaster brakes) for $25. And I thought about how Rick had wanted to go bike riding around home more, and how if I took my current bike home, we could do that, and I could get the $25 bike for campus and if it got stolen I'd just replace it with another cheap-ass bike. So I called Rick and talked it over with him, and then wandered back to my desk with my new seat post, contemplating the other possible new bike, having told them I could only manage to get one bike across campus by myself and that I'd be back tomorrow for the other bike.

But the next day was crazy busy, so the day after that I get back to the bike shop, with Rick in tow, and ask after the $25 bike. Turns out, it sold yesterday. Drat. Okay, so off to lunch with Rick, myself mumbling about why nothing can ever go smooth. So, I go back to the bike shop, buy a nice gel seat for my current bike, and figure I'll keep looking for a replacement cheap-ass bike and take my bike home before rainy season gets into full swing. When I buy the seat, the guy behind the counter asks, "So are you still looking for a bike?" I say yes, but that I just don't want to spend much money on it because it will inevitably be stolen on campus because it has to live outside. He says, "Well there's this old professor bike on the rack outside. It's a Raleigh. You could have that." Puzzled, I ask a few more questions, then head out to the rack. It's this totally adorable 50's bike with 3 speeds, kind of beat up, but with fenders front and back, and it's small, like it was made for someone five feet tall. And getting on and off in a long skirt is a breeze, not requiring a big swooping leg swing. I'm in love. It's perfect. I go back inside and say, "Wait, you mean you don't want any money for it? I could totally pay you guys for that. That's a great bike." He says no, that the professor just wanted them to find it a good home. She got a nice new Raleigh from them and had been a good customer for a long time and so they figured they'd just pick someone to give it to. I was gibbering. I was thrilled. I hopped on my bike and rode back to the office. Rick followed in his car and took home my other bike (my beloved purple bike) now with a new seat and post and we get to go bike riding around the neighborhood on the weekend. And I get to tour around campus on this adorable little vintage bike that the bike shop gave me for free. And that was it. That was the moment when I knew everything was going to be okay.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

And then the planets alligned...

I just accepted a new job today, on campus as a Campus Readiness Analyst, working for ITS instead of AS. It's going to be great.

I decided not to pursue the other amazing company that was courting me as the Education Manager for Intuitive Surgical, but I may regret that quietly some day. They make the coolest stuff ever. It would be a dream job, but I have to take the sure thing and not pin my hopes on something that may not come through.

Rick took the Princess to a pet fair on Saturday and she went home with her new family. We did good for her. Now she gets to be a loved kitty in a new indoor home for the rest of her days, may they be long and happy.

And the Browncoat Ball went well. Really well.

Everything is looking up. It's all coming together. I'm just hoping a couple of more pieces fall into place in the next couple of weeks, first and foremost that Rick finds a good job, and everything will be right back to near perfect. Life am good.

Yep. That went well.

The Browncoat Ball went off swimmingly.

Friday night was fabulous. I arrived a bit harried, but made it for the end of the happy hour at the hotel. I smacked Ray in the head first thing for forgetting to put out the gift bags to give everyone when they checked in. But then I was handed a nice drink and spent some time catching up with the Chicago Browncoats who made this all possible by hosting the first ball in Chicago. They're really great folks. So then I ran back to the room, dressed, tied down my hair, and walked up to the Empress of China. Walking 8 blocks in San Francisco with a black velvet floor length skirt, a blue china silk corset, black top, and red and black handbag was fun. By the time I arrived at the Empress, I felt like I could own any room just as well as Inara. I got off the elevator and was greeted by Tommy, the host for the evening. He said, "I'm here to make your evening go well." I fell in love with him at that moment. And it was true. He made the evening go beautifully. He got us all to sit for dinner, served dinner, including 118 uniformly hot, crisp egg rolls, fifteen tables of sizzling rice soup which garnered applause with every sizzle, and several main courses including a truly divine snow peas chicken. Meanwhile, the set list was running on the CD player upstairs. I heard the quote that preceded Congress and started to rise from the table. Everyone else heard the first chord of Congress and there was a clatter of silverware and all hte dancers came running. We danced and then returned to dinner. After dinner Ariyana La Fey treated us to a gorgeous fan dance. Even the waiters couldn't take their eyes (or their camera phones) off of her. There were several resounding "I'll be in my bunk" quotes heard round the room. Then I led a chaotic, but extremely well received Haymaker's Jig to River's Jig from the Firefly soundtrack which Fred had extended to 8 minutes for me. It was amazing. I think there were 38 couples on the floor to dance. That's huge. It was over half of the attendees dancing at once. Later we did a grand march and I was amazed at how long the line got. I just wished we hadn't missed the Spanish Circle Waltz earlier in the set list. It was just as we were sitting down to dinner though.

After dinner some of us headed to Li Po, and one person even remembered what Mal's favorite drink is: Ng Ka Py. She ordered it from the Chinese bartender who promptly poured her a very large shot from an earthenware jug. I tasted hers, and it was sort of like a sweet cognac. Very nice, though I'd be hard pressed to have more than a sip. After a while of hanging out and winding down, Karen, Crystal, and Paul walked me back to the hotel. I crashed in the hospitality suite, amazed that it wasn't full of folks watching the show on DVD like at the first ball.

Saturday morning I rose before the alarm, got dressed and headed downstairs to the bus. The bus driver was a sweet guy and he did just as we asked - two trips to get everyone to the boat. And the Blue & Gold Fleet was also great. The weather couldn't have been better. The boat took us out to the Golden Gate and we sailed under it and back to the Bay Bridge and past Alcatraz and Angel Island. It was a gorgeous day, and a joy to see the city in all its glory.

So then I had lunch with Shauna and Sherman and Karen and Paul at Swiss Louie's on Pier 39. We broke up after that and went our separate ways and I foolishly decided the fastest route back to the hotel would just be to go straight up Mason. Did I mention up? Yeah, up and over Russian Hill. I made it back to the hotel and said, "It's 3:20! Oh my god!" and I ran through the shower and changed into a fresh outfit and put my hair up before running downstairs to assist Joan with the dance lesson.

And then I freaked out. We had asked for the largest dance floor possible. The dance floor at Dave's house was larger. And this floor had a stage at both ends of it. The one stage had a podium sitting on a huge stage. The other end was the band's stage, but it had no power outlets and it was huge. I talked to Mary Ann, the coodinator for the night there and she said, "Oh, well, you have the buffet and there's no other place to put everything you requested." I countered that we didn't need two stages and that we had very specifically requested the largest dance floor possible. She said this is the largest dance floor they usually do. I said that this was not a wedding, it was a ball, and 150 people were expecting to dance. She kept trying to argue with me, telling me she'd have to charge extra labor for removing the stage. I told her I couldn't authorize the charges, but that it had to move before seven. Then I stood back and started analyzing the moving, wondering aloud if anyone had an electric drill. She started talking about liability, and I said that it had to be moved by seven one way or another. It was moved in less than an hour. All was better. But then she started talking about centerpieces for the tables, offering me rental candlabras for $10 a table. I said flatly, "Well at $54 a meal, I kind of figured that would be included." She sputtered a bit. Really, they're clearly set up to deal with weddings and little else.

So then Joan taught a fabulous waltz lesson for a half hour, and spent the other half hour teaching the Sir Warrick Harrow. This was a variation on the Duke of Kent's waltz with hand placement and walking figures like in Shindig. It was gorgeous. We ran through it several times and everyone seemed to really like it. But suddenly it was 5:30 and I needed to be neat and pretty and ready to greet guests in a half hour.

Anyway, I ran upstairs, threw on a corset and the ball gown my grandmother made for me some dozen years ago (which fits again! Hooray!) and headed back down to staff the welcome table. I handed folks a drink coupon and had them select a fortune cookie, then pointed them at the giant bowl of strawberries and some kind of hot cheese (baked brie). Then dinner was ready. We escorted the guests into one room for those who wished to be announced, and let the others in to sit down. Jeff announced the guests and Ray and I hung back, entering the ballroom last to a welcome round of applause. I invited everyone to enjoy the evening and then made a beeline for the buffet. If I didn't eat quick, I wouldn't get to eat at all. And dinner was good. Chicken in a prosciutto mushroom sauce, grilled vegetable lasagna, asparagus with shaved parmasan, saffron rice pilaf, garlic mashed potatoes, cous cous with bay shrimp, sonoma greens with balsalmic vinaigrette, and an amazing display of fruit and pastries and cakes. The little tiramisu were my favorite, followed closely by the tiny chocolate eclairs. Yum. Bangers and Mash played throughout dinner, probably wondering when the dancing would start. They were absolutely amazing as usual. One of the Chicago Browncoats said, "Oh my god. You hired a quartet." I said, "Well of course. We couldn't do this without Bangers and Mash." With much assistance from my fellow Fezziwiggers, we led the guests through many group dances: Sir Roger, La Bastrangue, Spanish Circle Waltz, Sir Warrick Harrow (twice), and so on. They really seemed to love those. I even got Johnny to dance a Congress of Vienna with me. After it was all over, I ran upstairs and changed again back to jeans to go out to Swig for afters. I led a small parade the three blocks and we crammed our way to the back to our own private (but stuffy) room. I ordered a Diet Coke and lounged out, finally having no responsibility other than just chatting with friends and guests.

Around 1 I walked back to the hotel with Karen, Crystal, and Paul and I stopped by the hospitality suite to find them watching the game video on tv. There I was, waltzing gracefully by with Johnny. After that ended, we put on Shindig, and I have to say that in motion, it wasn't all that different. And pretty much everybody seemed to be having fun.

The next day, I did the impossible. I led two tours through Chinatown during the Autumn Moon Festival. There were a couple of moments where the direction we were going to go had to be changed because there was a stage or a parade right where we were supposed to go. But overall, I think it went pretty well. I had my new little portable microphone which totally rocked. We had lunch at Sam Wo's and then headed to the Eastern Bakery for fresh steamed pork bao after the second tour. Then I headed back to the hotel where it turned out Johnny had left flowers as a thank you. Bless that man, he was so much help this weekend.

Well heck, him, and Adam and Karla, and Corinne, and Emily and David and Josh and Alex and Paul and Karen and Crystal and Shauna and Sherman and geez, Dave before with all the quotes and James with the music swap and well, lordy there's too many to name. I kept asking Emily to call dances and she kept doing it. It was amazing. I even had to run around during the La Bastrangue and it just happened because she's fabulous. Anyway, it was a great weekend. It's the biggest event I've ever organized and I think it went pretty well. There's a few things I'd do different if I had it to do again, but they're minor. And what's even better is that next year I get to sit at a table with the Chicago Browncoats while someone else from another town in another state runs around and does what I did this weekend. I'm looking forward to that. Oh yeah.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

And then it was a good weekend...

There was Friday Night Waltz on Friday which is always good.

Saturday morning was Logan's fifth birthday party at Pump It Up. Air inflated bounce houses are one of my favorite things ever. I was crushed as a kid when I grew too tall to get into these at the State Fair anymore. In the past couple of years, it seems like the rest of the world has wakened to join in my love of bouncy houses because they've shown up at house parties and these kids arenas have started emerging. So when Elizabeth said she was having a party for Logan at Pump It Up, the first words out of my mouth were "I wanna go!!!" So, as the only non-child having attendee at the party, I played in the bouncies and on the giant inflatable slides with Elizabeth and Cynthia and Katie until I couldn't bounce no more. With certain knowledge that some body part would complain bitterly the next day, I ate my pizza and ice cream cake and helped do final cleanup before hitting the road.

See, it was Steve's birthday. Sometime around June he had mentioned Truckee Faire. I said, "No way, it's the weekend before Browncoat Ball." This merely meant that additional incentives and convincing was required. Alisa threw in that it was her last fair before leaving for San Antonio. Edward offered to cook me amazing Eddy dinner if I stayed the night in Davis. Resistance waned. Finally, getting almost everything ready for Browncoat Ball the weekend before, I decided that yes, maybe I did need a non-Browncoat day would be nice. So I moseyed up to Truckee, reviewing the Browncoat playlist for Friday on the way, and talking with Ray about details for about an hour. Then I arrived at faire where Alisa immediately announced, "Hey Ammy - go get naked in the pavillion. You've got to try on this dress." With a bewildered "Hunh?" I dutifully marched into the pavillion where she whipped out a truly gorgeous velvet dress worthy of Inara. Two minutes later I was out modeling the dress for the camp.

Apparently this had been a great deal of entertainment for the day. Alisa found the dress at Faire Play, then Sarah found one in red patterned velvet. Knowing my dilemma about what to wear to the ball next weekend (having lost over 20 pounds, none of my clothes fit!), I wandered over, but they were all out of smalls, so I didn't get one. After that we made some peach cobbler and headed over to the Black Friars clambake for Steve's birthday party. There was bad singing and clams and mussles and Sean was completely amused with Gerbil's nickname. We ended the even back around the Pryanksters fire with smoldering coals and singing.

The next morning we rose to bacon and potatoes and short order eggs. Life as a Pryankster is much better than back in my days of faire. Hot fresh bacon really dose beat Spam, I gotta admit. Then Alisa came back through and said, "Faire Play is having a pre-inventory, faire partipants only sale. Come see." I wandered over. She handed me a little black velvet dress and said, "Try it on. No, wait, too much garb. Just buy it. It's five bucks. It'll fit you or someone else." So I did as told and got one other pretty blue skirt (that fits without threatening to fall off! Hooray!). Then we launched into the day, with three dance sets and I worked on tweaking the playlist from my mental notes on the drive up. After the second dance set, I finished the list. Then I listened to my changes and amused everyone by how happy and grinning I was. Really, it's been a slog to finish this beast, with far more hours invested then I had dreamed possible. So, it's done. Little tweaks maybe tomorrow to fix copies of tracks with better sound quality, but other than that, done done done. Have I mentioned how much I love completing projects? Yah. I was happy.

We got packed up and headed down the hill. I crashed in Davis and ended up working there on the sofa at Erik & Marissa's place, scrambling on the last day before payroll cutoff to get all the 9/1 changes corrected. At six I closed up and headed over to Eddy and Alisa's for dinner.

Alisa, Sarah, and I dressed in our new velvet dresses for dinner. Edward made artichokes and corn and emu in a blackberry cabernet honey reduction sauce. Then there was chocolate gelato and port for dessert. It was absolutely divine. I regretfully left the table and headed off to Plough for dancing and to hand off Gerbil's woolen basket. Dancing was good. And then home to bed and kitty snuggles and Rick kisses. Nice.

Susie Fox?

Hey everybody -
Is anybody I know working Casa de Ren Faire? Kev's sister Susie has been working there, and she's gone missing. She didn't show up to work yesterday. Last anyone in her family knew, she was headed north for faire. Someone in her guild has confirmed that she made it there, and was last seen packing up Sunday to head home. Can anybody add any other info? Kev's really worried.

ADDENDUM:
Found my sister! She's at a workshop in the hills with no means of communication, but all is well. Thank you everyone for your assistance! I've seen alerts like this go out before but 'I never thought it would happen to me'. Thanks for being such a supportive and well-connected community.

-Kevin

As we all say "Whew!"

Friday, September 15, 2006

On the Job Front

None of my interviews from last week has come through with a job offer yet. One has had a hiring freeze, so that definitely won't happen. The others are just still outstanding, but not a no yet either. Just unlikely at this point.

Last weekend I came to a decision about the work stuff. I really do want to see this transition through and get things handed off gracefully. I also don't want to be starting a new job during Dickens Fair. So, if none of the things I've already interviewed for pan out, then I'm staying in my current "help desk" job until I resume searching in January. I was very honest about this with my new manager this week, and she was just grateful that I was willing to give it that long. So that makes me feel far better about the whole thing. Now if only I had some help and wasn't doing all PeopleSoft support by myself. It's the last day before the end of the pay period after the annual merit increases and I've spend all day long correcting HR records. It'll all work out soon, since Monday is the payroll cutoff, but right now it's like having two full time jobs, doing my job and Jo-Ann's job. So very swamped. So falling behind on all non-help queue related work. It will be better soon. Really it will.

But yeah, that's where things stand. Unanet went live Monday after a lot of work over the weekend. It's still being a big hunk of time to finish that roll-out with everyone's fixes and tweaks, but it's out there, and I just submitted my first weekly timesheet (with just short of 50 hours logged. Woof.).

Richard Powers Thursday Night Classes

Richard Powers just announced this quarter's Thursday evening classes. These are taught at Stanford and open to the public. If you've never tried social dance and want to get your feet wet, the 7pm class is the perfect way to start. Sign up quick! These always fill up well before the classes begin.

Yes, registration is now open for this fall's evening dance classes.

http://dance.stanford.edu/thursday/

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,
(o__.__ 6 / Thursday evenings beginning in 2 weeks!
\\ \\___,
/< | C O U P L E D A N C I N G presented by
~ ~ ~ the Dance Preservation Society (ASSU)

Social ballroom lessons by Richard Powers with Angela Amarillas

A five-week series of non-credit classes
beginning September 28

Class I Intro Swing & Waltz
7-7:55 pm The best introduction to couple dancing.
Bring a friend or two - they'll thank you.

Class II The Fast Track to Lindy Hop and Swing Rueda
8-8:55 pm Everything you need to get started, refresh
what you know, and add new moves.

Class III Intermediate/Advanced Waltz Variations
9-10 pm New variations in Cross-Step, Rotary, Shadow
and Viennese Waltz.

Complete descriptions at http://dance.stanford.edu/thursday/more.htm

First class at Roble Dance Studio
Thursday September 28 Santa Teresa & Morris

Stanford Students: $25 for the entire series.
Non-students, faculty, alums and our Silicon Valley friends $35.

Last quarter all 3 classes filled through online registration.
Don't wait too long to register.

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These are couple dances, but you may come alone (find partners in
class), come with a partner, or bring your friends. Yes, some people
spend the night dancing, staying for two or three classes.

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Tell your friends. <\\__ See http://dance.stanford.edu
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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Yay Fortune Cookies!

My fortune cookies arrived today for the Browncoat Ball. I taste tested one and they're yummy and crisp and have just a hint of orange. And the fortune inside is even in Papyrus font like is used in the Firefly titles and such. Woohoo! Oh, and my fortune was "See Vera? Dress yourself up, you get taken out somewhere fun. -Jayne" Which reminds me, I really have to figure out what I'm wearing to the ball. None of my clothes fit me. Gah!!!

For the other four possible fortunes, you have to come to the ball. We're trying to get just a few more people, especially for Saturday night, so if you've been waffling over the price, Ray posted some discount tickets on eBay.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Whimper

Okay, enough already.

My bicycle seat got stolen over the weekend. Seat and post. In fact, all of the bikes parked near my building had their seats stolen over the weekend by some asshat with nothing better to do than ruin other people's day. It's going to cost as much as the bike to replace it.

Monday I discovered you can't burn tracks less than 10 seconds on to a CD. Why? No clue. But it's in the documentation. Says so, right there, you just can't do it. This left some very annoying problems with my Browncoat Ball test burn CD. But hey, at least I'm 80% of the way through creating the final set list.

Or at least I was. Real Player just crashed and after rebooting my computer, I opened again to have it say, "Real Player had an abnormal shut down. Do you want to repair your music library?" Um, yes? It brought back all the tracks. It lost my playlist. So now I get to start all over again.

And yet, for all the stress of the past month and some, I've not yet had a good cathartic cry about it all. And it's apparently not going to happen tonight either. You know when you feel nauseous and you just know you're going to throw up, but it just hasn't happened yet? And how you just know you'll feel so much better as soon as you throw up? It's starting to feel a bit like that, only no crying. All I can muster tonight is a heavy sigh and starting over and moving on.

Oh and Real Player just got so completely uninstalled from my system. Never again. So done with anything from Real.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Fish Slapping Dance

Okay, I can't help it. I really am a sucker for slapstick. But really, Monty Python's Fish Slapping Dance makes me giggle every time.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Cutie Patootie Princess

So the Princess has been staying with us for a bit more than a month now. It's been about 3 weeks since she had her dental surgery and had 12 teeth pulled. It took her a couple of weeks to heal up from that, but now she's turning into a real cat. Instead of hiding in the third bedroom, she comes out to the living room and digs through the toy basket. Then she entertains herself batting a toy around until her tail distracts her and then she chases that for a while. Her hair has gotten shiny and she looks so much healthier and happier. Right now she's attacking the yellow feather toy with focused vigor. She still spends most of her day in the third bedroom, hanging out on the bed or the sofa, happy as can be to have a soft, indoors place to sit and sleep. Whenever I walk in the room, she immediately starts purring and wants to be petted. Oh, and she's getting a cute little round belly. And even with hardly any teeth, she still eats some dry food, though she loves her daily can of food. Pixel loves that part too because he only likes the gravy, so I feed him the gravy in a saucer, and give her the little puck of food and we have two terribly happy cats.

So hey, anybody want a cat? We've got a spare, and boy is she cute!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Work Hate

I'm working late again on the Unanet project. I'm trying to integrate the input of six different directors for the final load tomorrow for go-live on Monday. Well, five really. Even two days late, one hasn't done the work. It's an insane schedule, because we just changed our org structure last Friday, with all job offers made Friday and decisions by Tuesday. So I was supposed to have new org charts and project managers assigned to all projects no later than Wednesday morning. I had that for half of the directors on Wednesday before the close of business. Of those, only one followed the instructions (Thanks Armand!). The rate of assignment completion and attention to detail for this group is far worse than for the high school kids I used to teach. If it were school, there'd be a lot of really bad grades. Most would be flunking. And these folks make all the decisions for the organization. I have got to get out of this department!!! Aieeeeeeeeeee!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Illusionist

Rick and I have a semi-traditional gym and a movie date night on Tuesdays. Tonight we did the usual, with a small twist of having to venture to Camera 7 after the gym since The Illusionist wasn't playing at Camera 12 next door to the gym. It's a period film (yay pretty costumes!), set in Vienna, about a love story between a peasant/magician and a duchess. It is beautiful, and amazingly well acted. And the story is extremely well told. Perfect wonderful movie. And did I mention the acting? I was all in for Rufas Sewall and Edward Norton, but Paul Giamatti stole the show. Anyway, I highly recommend it. It make take some hunting to find it at your local theater, but take the time and go see it.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Damnation

They offered me the Help Desk job. Gah. I really wish it was a layoff. I don't want to do Help Desk full time. This sucks. I remember a couple of years ago when it looked like I had a career path. Time to move on. Must find another job soon. Here's hoping that Jim's Campus Readiness gig or Research Compliance's Education Specialist gig or something else works out next week. It's time to go.

4pm

It's four o'clock and I still don't know my fate. Apparently there's some screw up surrounding who is supposed to communicate with me. So very tired of this organization. I really hope some other job (any other job!) comes through. The management here is beyond incompetant.