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Monday, October 30, 2006

Gaskells

Gaskells was faboo as usual on Saturday. I love the Halloween Gaskell because of the random creativity that comes out of the woodwork. I didn't know what to wear, so I went back to basics - the dress my grandma made for me back when I first started attending Gaskells. Add a few feathers on my head (leftovers from Tate and Elisa's wedding) and a black mask and voila! Instant Halloween ballgown.

I'm sooooo glad that dress fits again. It's just the best. Thanks Grandma!

Sigh... Berkeley

This weekend I was reminded why Berkeley is a lovely place to visit, but I'd never want to live there again.

I had to run up to Berkeley Bowl during a party. Back when I lived there, that was a Safeway. Well, first it was a Safeway, and then it was a barren, empty building. After that, the closest grocery store was the Pak N' Save in Emeryville. I can't vouch for it now, but back then, you had to pay a quarter or fifty cents to get a shopping cart, which unlocked it from the station, making it more attractive for the homeless to return the carts rather than stealing them, but made it terribly annoying because you had to remember to bring quarters to the grocery store.

The other option was Trader Joe's in Emeryville, a little bit further away and in the most congested, poorly laid-out parking lot I'd ever dealt with.

Nowadays, Berkeley Bowl has moved into the old Safeway, and Walgreens has moved into the old Rite-Aid spot. Traffic in that area is still an abomination as well since they have about half the parking that those stores usually have. Finding parking usually entails vulturing someone walking out with a cart, because those that have started loading their cars already have someone waiting to take their spot. Anyway, it's no fun, which is too bad, because Berkeley Bowl has good food, but I don't want to have to do battle to shop there.

So this morning I'm browsing the news, and find that a Trader Joe's is hoping to move into Berkeley. As someone who is not a true Berkeley person, I'm astonished to read that the locals are fighting it. It's Trader Joe's - home of the socially responsible grocers! It's fabulous bread and organic food and cage-free eggs and... and... what do you mean you don't want them there?!?!?! That's just crazy talk! It turns out they're worried about increased traffic (gee, at the intersection of two major thoroughfares where there's been commercial space forever? Shocking.) and that Trader Joe's sells inexpensive alcohol that will be a draw to students and the homeless (unlike all those liquor stores already around? Hunh?) and that the associated housing project has smaller units (mostly 1 bedrooms), not intended to accomodate families (because Berkeley isn't the kind of place that carved up houses to make smaller housing locations already? But, wait...). My favorite line in the article is, ""Trader Joe's is a nonunion store owned by a secretive German family that sells specialty food and low-cost alcohol," said Steve Wollmer, who lives 250 feet from the site. "Do we really need this in our neighborhood?"" Um... yes! And how does their German-ness come into anyway? Just one of those days again where I don't quite get Berkeley. There are some things I really like about it, but I can't imagine living there. Some of them locals are just too crazy. I'd love to live in the East Bay again, but I'm pretty sure it'd have to be Alameda.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Halloween Carols

In a last minute decision, we've decided to return to the tradition of Halloween caroling. Few things confuse the average person more than opening the door to a group of trick-or-treaters, only to be greeted by Christmas carols instead, to be handed a candy cane instead of giving away candy. I love watching people's varied reactions - from confusion, to amusement, to being terribly happy to see carolers. Plus it let's me take part in my favorite holiday.

So, if you're interested, ping me and I'll send you the details.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Wisdom from Heinlein

I do really enjoy Robert Heinlein. In searching for a quote/tagline/inspiration for our holiday card this year, I stumbled on a page of his quotes. Favorites include:
Don't ever become a pessimist... a pessimist is correct oftener than an optimist, but an optimist has more fun, and neither can stop the march of events.

"Love" is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own... Jealousy is a disease, love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often mistakes one for the other, or assumes that the greater the love, the greater the jealousy.

One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.

Theology is never any help; it is searching in a dark cellar at midnight for a black cat that isn't there. Theologians can persuade themselves of anything.

I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.

Project Brain

It's feels really good to be thinking at work again. The last year was pretty much on auto-pilot. I was really good at what I did, and could sleep-walk through it. Now, I'm thinking four steps ahead all the time, trying to figure out how to get the puzzle pieces to fit. The unfortunate consequence of this is that I'm dreaming a lot more at night, and apparently kicking Rick a lot. He woke me up the other night, and I told him that the plan for the Disaster Recovery project just wouldn't work if there was a nuclear bomb. Thinking about it more now, it all depends on how far away our off-site recovery location is. Um... yah.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Weekend Redux

It was a weekend of too many things to do, and having to make choices, but I think I chose wisely. We headed up to Sac on Friday night, including Pixel, and crashed at my mom's house. Her cat Charlie has lost about 3 pounds this year, which is a lot for a cat, and he looks so much better. He thought Pixel's toy was the best thing ever. Much play ensued, with Pixel complaining to us occassionaly about Charlie stealing his toy. Before long Pixel and Charlie were busy playing with each other.

The next morning, we headed to Folsom where I turned over my Prius and Rick went to visit his mom and I did three of the four dance shows for the day with Pryanksters. It was a nice way to close out the Ren Faire season. Then I changed in the pavillion and headed to Tate and Elisa's wedding. As predicted, Tate always throws the best parties. The first dance was announced and I knew Suzi had choreographed it. What I didn't know was that it was choreographed to "Disco Inferno". It totally rocked.

At the wedding, it kept coming up that Tate and Elisa aren't an obvious match, but that they're totally adorable together. People described him as fastidious and her as chaotic. It's an exageration, but it's true. They weren't an obvious match, but they're utterly inseparable and seem to be yin and yang.

So then after the first dance, they got the whole wedding party up for a dance. It too, was choreographed, this time to the Dick Dale surf tune from Pulp Fiction. Even the little bridesmaids were dancing along in formation. About half way through the song, they ran out and tried to grab everyone else to join and start dancing. A dancing frenzy ensued, with all of us gyrating and waving arms. I'm pretty sure this is exactly what Tate wanted. The party continued from there. I think the personal highlight for me was when Janelle convinced Frank and Rick that is was their turn to dance while we watched them instead. They blew it. Know we know they can dance all sexy and stuff. There were other really great parts like Mario trying to get past me in the very tight space, and dancing the Mamushka with Suzi, and the Wrenches in the Dark game, and the Suzi and Mario dance show and everybody dancing to Lady Marmalade and Man of Constant Sorrow. But a little before 11 we had to pack it up and head home. We followed Nicole to her car so she could try my new corset on me. Unfortunately, a little more tinkering must be done. I got smaller again, dangit. But it's so pretty, and man do it give me a hell of a silhouette!

Meanwhile, back at mom's place, Charlie and Pixel have been at it all day. Pixel has decided he prefers Charlie's toy and Charlie still likes Pixel's toy. We got big snuggles once we were in bed. I think Pixel definitely enjoyed his little road trip (except for the gas stop and car wash on the way up. Car washes are way too scary for him.).

The next morning is brunch at Suzi & Sandy's house. I love my friends, and no one makes me feel more loved, safe, and at home than Frank and Janelle. Janelle just exudes Hestian qualities. Having them back home even for the weekend made everything feel just right. So while Steve roasted coffee in the oven, and we feasted on the fritatas that Jeff made and the bagels and scones and other treats, I sat with my head on Frank's shoulder, just wishing we could keep them forever. But they're coming back soon, for keeps. People move away, but it only takes a little while to realize that home is where your family is, be that bio or chosen. They're working on coming back, with the major contingency right now being that Frank has to find a job with medical benefits because his pancreas is just to cranky to go without ever again. So if anyone needs a truly kick-ass network security engineer, just say the word and we'll send you a resume.

We finished up the trip with a quick foray into Evangeline's. Broke or not, I just had to see if there was anything I absolutely couldn't live without. The costume mansion is only open for September and October, and I usually find my most useful accessories there. We made it out having spent very little, and having satisfied the itch to go look. After that, we packed up the car and the cat and headed home. Pixel is passed out on the bed, having clearly played a lot in the last 48 hours. I expect an early morning kitten snuggle attack. I'm off to bed to get ready for that.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Dilemma

So my department just announced that on Halloween, they're showing RHPS, and giving "Extra points for any person and/or department that dresses or decorates in the Rocky Horror theme." I have most of my Columbia costume still. Heck, one of the only pairs of socks I own is turquoise blue. Do I dare? Here I was thinking I'd wear my Dorothy outfit that day. Going as Columbia would be far different.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Ammy Body

It happened again today. Someone that I've known in passing for years said, "I almost didn't recognize you. You've lost so much weight!" It wouldn't catch my attention so much if it weren't the third person to mention it this week.

I'll grant, I've lost a bit of weight, but I don't feel like I look any different. When I look in the mirror, I look just almost exactly the same to myself, just a smidgen narrower. I've got bulges in all the same spots - the belly jiggle, the under-arm wobblies, the booty-of-doom (tm). I'm a little smaller overall, but it's all the same proportions. I guess I was more fat than I perceived myself before. And by federal standards, I'm still overweight by 10-15 pounds.

So I guess I don't know how to feel about that. All I know is that my weight has stopped its unrestrained free-fall for the moment, probably due in large part to my consciously eating a bit more because I have to be able to wear at least my old Miss Emelia dress for Dickens this year. I absolutely cannot afford a new Dickens costume this year. But then, what happens when I start dancing 4-6 hours a day on the weekends at Dickens? Will I begin melting away some more? I don't know how to feel about that either. I really like being a curvy girl. And thank goodness for clothing swaps. I seriously can't afford to replace my clothes. I was talking about this the other day with Suzi, who has also spent the past year or so melting away (though through a much more concerted effort than mine), and she's the only one who gets it. She said "It's an awesome yet frustrating and expensive problem."

Little joys

Allow me to gush for a moment.

My new office is lovely. It is small, but that's okay. I may someday share it with a roommate, but today it is all mine. It has a vaulted, beamed ceiling. It's in a little low, Eichler-esque building with green plants all over. After four years of over-air conditioned spaces on campus, I'm back to a building with a window that opens. The room is cool in the mornings when I arrive, warm in the afternoons when it's warm outside, and as it gets late, I notice the sun setting outside, reminding me to wrap things up and head home. I love this. It's a beautiful sort of connection to the outside world. Also, what I wear for being outside and what I wear for being inside are closely correllated. This is very much unlike my experience in Godzilla, where my days were punctuated with sweaters and a space heater under my desk... in July.

I am treated as the expert in my field. If I say something is a campus readiness task, it is. If I say that belongs to someone else, it does. Jim keeps telling me I get to define this realm for ITS because currently I'm the only one. And everyone is so happy to see me. And it's a rare day that goes by without at least one person saying, "We're just so glad you're here. We really need you." And then I float back to my desk and turn out my very best work because I will not let these people down. I am not, and never will be, "the kid" to these folks. I'm a skilled, experienced, adult professional. This totally rocks.

And my manager and I had a little miscommunication about computers. I pretty much do everything off of one computer that has to go everywhere I go and have everything I've ever done on it. When my new computer arrived and was a desktop system, I looked rather pained. Lugging a tower from meeting to meeting seemed like a bad idea. So before Rodney installed it, I leaned over to inquire with Jim. He said he was getting me a laptop too. Then he poked his head in a few minutes later and said, "But you only want one, right? That's the part I didn't get." I confirmed, and he said that it was no problem and he'd order my laptop post haste. I talked to the tech about it yesterday, went over my hoped for specs, and he told me the specs he was planning on were even better than what I was gingerly, cautiously asking for. And when it came to software, it was get whatever you need. No, really, anything. If I can name it (and hopefully a reason for it) then order it. Wog. I'm in heaven. Absolute heaven. Over in AS I couldn't upgrade to the new version of SnagIt because the director had found another product that was $8 cheaper and wanted us to use that instead, so I downloaded the trial version, found out it totally sucked, and went back to using my ancient, likely not appropriately licensed copy of SnagIt rather than do battle to argue for the new version.

So, work is good. Really really good. I've been spending my lunches reading "The Know-It-All", soaking up the sunshine of the autumn afternoons, sometimes eating frozen lunch and sometimes really savoring the cheapest lunch I've found on campus - chicken taco, side of pinto beans, bag of tortilla chips, and a bucket of soda for $3.98. The taco maker always smiles and waves when he sees me coming. He barely speaks English and I don't speak Spanish, but he always says hello and asks if I'm doing okay. It's great. It's just so nice to have one area of my life calm, moving in a good direction, and where every day I learn something new. Other things aren't quite so stable yet, but hopefully something will come together soon and Rick will find a job and be able to pay his rent again and I'll get to stop living on a financial precipice. Hopefully alterations to Dickens clothing won't be overwhelming. Hopefully Dickens workshops and Dickens Fair won't be completely exhausting. Hopefully everything else will fall gracefully into place like work has. The great thing is that after months of everything going awry, I no longer have the daily expectation that the worst possible outcome is the most likely outcome, because at least one thing is going as well as possible.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Girly Clothing Swap

One of my favorite things ever is coming home to a clean house. I got home last night and Rick had spent his afternoon cleaning up - vacuuming, cleaning the kitchen, clearing off the table, scooping kitty litter, doing dishes, and so on. The house had gone from totally cluttered and dusty to very very comfortable. So, I got there, put on a pot of soup, threw some mini-quiches in the oven, opened a couple of bags of chips, and hung up some clothes left over from the Browncoat Ball in the blue room.

And then Christyn and I hosted another clothing swap. I pulled less clothes than I donated, so I count that a victory. Meanwhile, one of the things I truly love about clothing swaps is that since the clothes are all just laying there, begging for a home, I get brave enough to try things I would never ordinarily try on. Items this time included:
- a very slinky silver dress.
- a pair of size 8 jeans that fit perfectly.
- a pair of Old Navy sneakers that were totally cute.
- a Hawaiian shirt for a future Paw Paw club.
- a totally fifties red and white dress. It screams "Take me to tea!"
Other grand finds were a perfect little apron that Laura brought, a cherry print skirt for work (because really I need more cherry prints? Um, no wait...), a couple of well-fitted black tops, a light blue top, a white top, a couple of new skirts for work, and a black leather motorcycle jacket that looks exactly like one I owned in 1989 (that one having been long since stolen).

Even better than what I found for myself was seeing friends in clothes I once loved but cannot wear now. There are few greater thrills than the classic, "Oooh this is so cute!" of someone turning in front of a mirror wearing something you know and love. We had an huge range of body sizes represented - from size 4 to size 26 - so there was a lot of "Hmm too big for me. You try this." followed shortly by, "Hmm, a little tight. I think it'll fit you." Thursday I'm hauling the leftovers to the thrift store. This morning I went to my closet and tried on a little grey cardigan I'd decided to keep on Sunday, and immediately thought, "Hmm. Too big. Should've sent it to the swap. Oh well. Next time." It'll be time again in January or February.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Target Rules

Okay, so I really love Target. Over the years I've had a lot of really pleasant Target shopping experiences. Don't get me wrong, I've had bad days there too, but the overwhelming majority of the time, it's just really great.

Case in point: I go into Target the other night to grab some chips for the clothing swap and come out with the cutest undies ever. Now, woe to the girl who loses a bunch of weight and ends up with droopy drawers, but yeah, that's how it is. So I've been keeping my eyes peeled for some nice new undies. And there they were in the Lingerie section, on clearance for super cheap, like less than half the price of the not-nearly-as-cute undies at Victoria's Secret. Target rocks.

A.D.

It's here. That special time of year when all of my responses to social inquiries conclude with, "Well that sounds cool, after Dickens."

Monday, October 16, 2006

No Bathroom

One of the odder quirks of my new office is that the building does not have a bathroom. It's got a lovely kitchen, but to go pee, you've got to go out the door, across the breezway, and into the building next door. During the day, this is no big deal. After five, this is a bit trickier. I have to have a traditional metal key to get into the building next door, and a card key to get back into my own building, which can only be entered from one door at the end of the hall. So, going to the loo after five requires significantly more thought that I usually put into such things. Usually, I wait til the last second, then when I'm convinced that tapping my foot does not actually make my bladder larger, I dash down the hall to relieve myself. If I do that here, I'm awfully likely to get locked out. Instead I have to think, "Do I have my keys? Do I have my wallet? Okay, good, time to go pee then." It's very odd. But as quirks go, it's not such a big deal.

Well, I guess that brings my blog full circle. One of the very first posts to my blog was about women who pee on the seats of public toilets. For this, I became one of the top Google hits for "women peeing" for a while. I suspect I may go up in the rankings again. Really, I'm not an especially urine-minded person. Really. I swear.

Oh hey, did I mention we went to see Urinetown at CCSF a week ago. Still really love that show. I just adore the interaction between Officer Lockstock and Little Sally.

Highly Productive

Sunday was spent in a whirlwind of productivity. I washed the deck for sealing before Fezziwig's practice on Saturday, so right after breakfast, I marched out to the deck to seal it for the winter. Opening the can of sealant proved to be the trickiest part. Meanwhile, Rick started working on fixing the attic stairs. They had failed during the electricians-and-Dad period a few months ago. Meanwhile, I started cleaning up the leaves around the backyard and driveway. A few minutes later Rick emerged an announced he needed a different tool. So we broke off, got changed, and headed out to Lowe's for some additional stuff. We grabbed a grinder bit and some silicone sealant for use in replacing the bathroom faucet. We had a look at the shower stuff. I think I'm going to add a new tub and shower faucet to my Christmas wishlist. It's $168, so it's a bit more than I can casually spend, but it would be nice to have a new faucet, not so woefully tacky and dated and that better matches the style of the house. Of course, eventually I'll need to replace the whole tub and such, but that's a much bigger project, and one I won't likely take on until we add a second bathroom to the house, if that ever happens. Anyway, after Lowe's we headed up Central to Mountain View to go look at new glasses frames as mine are worn out and the lenses have a couple of small cracks. We took photos a about 20 different frames on me. One or two more stops and I should be ready to make a decision on that front. Next up was a quick trip through Target and Trader Joe's to get munchies for the clothing swap on Tuesday. Trader Joe's had a big board of groceries advertising the savings of shopping there. I always knew TJ's was cheaper, but yeah, actually way cheaper. I'd noticed this myself lately when I had sticker shock at Safeway and Save Mart. Anyway, for comparable carts of food, it was $108 vs. $49. Yikes. Yeah, always shopping at TJ's if I can help it, because also the food quality is so much better. They've got these lovely new treats - 100 calorie packs of chocolate chip oatmeal cookies made with real sugar and butter instead of corn syrup and partially hydrogenated soybean oil. Anyway, after that we headed past my favorite Mountain View taqueria - Los Charros on Dana - and took home a burrito for Rick and I to split. I'd forgotten how good their burritos are. Yum. After dinner, Rick went back to the stairs and finished that up. I attacked my closet and tried on everything that I hadn't worn in the past week. With a mountain of clothes on my bed, and five bags of discards, I'm now ready for the clothes swap and for a big batch to donate. Meanwhile, I got to watch several hours of the Animaniacs while doing this sorting.

So, final tally:
- glasses shopping started
- attic stairs repaired
- deck sealed
- prepped for clothing swap
- new bathroom faucet project in progress

I suspect this fit of productivity was inspired by Saturday's trip to the last Fezziwig's rehearsal of the year, with 2 weekends left between now and Dickens workshops. I'm SO not ready for Dickens, but hopefully I'll have a new corset after this coming weekend. Then I can see what it will take to get me dressed for Dickens. I suspect some last minute tailoring assistance may need to be solicited. We shall see.

Oh, and we totally saw this squirrel run across the road on Central Expressway, and he ran between three cars and made it to the other side and said, "Weeeeeeeeeee!" It ruled. (In reality, he didn't actually say "Weeeeeeee!" as far as I could see, but man that little guy was moving fast!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Living in a Low-Income Neighborhood

Our next door neighbors still live in a partially burned out house with no electricity. Except for Adella, who lives in a camper out back. It's pretty ghetto, but I've never had nicer neighbors. Adella hit a tree on her bike a few weeks ago and hurt her leg. As a diabetic, it really didn't heal well (or quickly). So she was laid up for a couple of weeks, in a lot of pain, with her 70+ year old dad to help her out. Rick loaned them some walkie talkies after one particularly unfortunate morning where her dad couldn't hear her calling from the camper. The camper is parked next to our bedroom window, so we could hear her calling out just fine. Anyway, a nice loan, and a few suggestions about wound care later, and Adella's feeling a lot better now. She's up and walking again at least, which prompted her to make us dinner last night. So there I am, working on a demo of the Stanford Desktop tool for the TIPS meeting on Wednesday morning (must remember to get up extra early on Wednesday!), and I get an IM from Rick that asks how long I'm going to be, because Adella just brought over dinner, and should he keep it warm? I said to fridge it because I'd be at least an hour. He said dinner was corn on the cob, baked potato with gravy, pork ribs, roll, and some dessert. I didn't really get the magnitude of this til I got home to a huge platter covered in foil wrapped food. The ribs were amazing. I don't really eat ribs because the whole thought of gnawing on a bone just seems a tad uncivilized, but man, this was an experience in why pork is the best meat ever. Anyway, Adella was just saying thanks for being concerned. I love our ghetto neighbors!

The Know-It-All

I had to miss the last dinner and book swap with my girlfriends because it was less than 48 hours before the Browncoat Ball and I had too much to do, most of which involved a fashion crisis. But I digress. I saw Elizabeth just before the monthly meetup and she said, "You have to have this book first. You're going to love it." Well, she was right. I'm really enjoying The Know-It-All. It's a memoir of a guy who is reading the Encyclopedia Britannica (the whole thing, all 33,000 pages). I'm only up to the H's, but it's funny, weirdly informative, and has a great style that just amuses me. Anyway, just thought I should share.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Banking with Wow

So I went to the ATM last night to deposit a check. I scrambled around for a few minutes, trying not to be overly rude to the other users there, but also trying to find an envelope for my deposit. Couldn't find one. Finally started reading the signage that said, "No envelopes!" and initially thought, "Well how dumb is that. They finally put bank/ATM in my neighborhood and you can't make deposits at it? Sheesh." But then I kept reading. Oh no, now you don't put your checks in an envelope; you just put them in the machine. Uh... okay. So I try it. I fumble a little bit because it doesn't suck the check in like it did with the old envelopes. The space is bigger. But then the little door closes and I realize, "Oh wait, I didn't type in the amount." But then a second later, the ATM pops up with a little image of my check and says "Total deposits: $60." I touch the image of my check and sure enough, even with the bad handwriting, it recognized the amount and has taken a nice image of it. This is the part where I loudly exclaim, "Cool!" But wait, there's more. So I finish my deposit, and it asks me if I want a receipt, but not just any receipt. I can have my receipt with or without an image of the check. Well with the image of course! It prints out and there I am with a receipt for my deposit with the picture of the check right on it. Totally the coolest thing ever. So then I get some cash and head to Target, where I find lightbulbs on sale for half price ($1.48 for 8) which is really cheap, but really, I'm just still totally thrilled about the banking. It's been a long time since going to an ATM has been a totally Wow experience, but tonight, Wells Fargo rocked my world.

It's Good To Be The King

Just ran over to the Registrar's Office for Friday lunch games. Too late, Max and I discovered we were both big board/card game players, and he said, "Man, I should've invited you to the game lunches at the Reg Office." So I've gone over twice now, both time for a really good time. This time I played It's Good To Be The King. It's sort of a poker variant with tributes the king wants. Each day he gets a little more demanding. There are seven days. First there's a card trading round, then you pay your tribute, and finally points are counted. Your tribute ranks based on number of items first, and type of tribute second. There's different rankings each day. So it worked out pretty cool. In the in, I won by one point, which is clearly beginner's luck because there were a bunch of missed opportunities. Next week I'm going back to play Guillotine with them, because Max has always wanted to play it and never has. Go figure.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Pixel Cutey




Rick caught some really cute pictures of Pixel and posted them to his blog. I couldn't help reposting them. He's such a great kitty, with his adorable little tufty ears. And someone recently asked me to post pictures of him, so how could I refuse?

He learned something?

Usually nothing gets me out of bed faster than hearing the start of a speech from our president. His diction annoys me to the core. The man can't speak English gracefully. After all the years and all the teasing, he still says nookyooler instead of nuclear, and even did so this morning. But much to my surprise, when asked much the same question as I posed in my blog yesterday, he said that he'd learned something from the Iraq thing and that he doesn't want to act unilaterally. Sure, it's probably not true, but man, just the thought of him even saying he had learned something from his mistakes was more than I thought possible from him. He's always comes off as so righteous and unable to ever admit his misjudgements, that this was a huge moment for me. Maybe, just maybe, he's grown. Or, y'know, that was the excuse his speech advisor told him to use and he didn't notice he was admitting to not being omniscient. One or the other.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

North Korea

Could someone explain to me how when we ~think~ Iraq ~might~ have weapons of mass destruction or ~might~ be working on nuclear stuff, we march in and take over the country, but when North Korea test launches a long range missle and then follows it up with testing nuclear explosives a few months later, we start discussing sanctions?

Oh sure, it's because our resources are stretched so darned thin we couldn't possibly mount a legitimate attack on N. Korea and expect to do well. And because China would come hand us our ass. And because they don't have oil. And a bunch of other bitter and cynical reasons. But sheeesh, the hypocrisy of it all certainly won't be lost on the Islamic world. Bah.

Monday, October 09, 2006

First Day at the New Job

The first day went remarkably like a first day at a new company. I had to do ID card setup. I had to move into my office. I had to be introduced to bunches of folks. I had to start reading background documents. I had to get set up for the alarm system. And tomorrow there's a bagel and coffee breakfast planned for everyone else to come meet me. I feel welcome.

And so, after one day, I think I really made the right decision. My office is all set up. My old work is handed off, save for a few training classes yet to be taught. My new boss is gentle and quiet by nature, so I'm going to have to be careful not to overwhelm him with my rapid-fire delivery, but that's easy. And it's funny, but after one day, I feel so much better about describing my work to folks. I know what my job is and why it's important and how I'm going to be good at it. It's good to feel that again. I knew I was good at the client support stuff, but it never seemed like it was stretching me at all. Staring at a list of five projects that I'll be working on simultaneously, I know I'm going to be crazy busy, but that's when I perform the best. It'll be like college, where there are five classes competing for attention and it's a balancing act to get everything produced well and delivered on time. It's going to be great.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Fortune Cookie

Just found a random fortune from a cookie while cleaning up my office. It says,
Ride with the waves, smooth sea lies ahead.

Woot!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Browncoat Ball Photos

Hooray to Steven who has kept a running list of all the folks who posted photos of the Browncoat Ball. I didn't take a single photo all weekend, instead trusting that others were definitely on the task.

Here's a little sampling of photos (with me in them) from various of the links:








Prayer in School

Thanks to Chris for posting this letter regarding organized prayer in school. It appeared as a letter to the editor of the World News Daily.
I was prompted to write and comment after reading the story on the New Jersey football coach that resigned because he was prohibited from leading his team in pre-game prayers.

Let me start by saying I am an evangelical Christian and have pretty hard-core beliefs about the rights of individuals, particularly students, to express their faith, to include religious themes in their school work, to perform Christian-themed music and dramas during school talent events, etc. If a school administrator had ever tried to stop one of my kids from carrying a Bible, participating in voluntary prayer, or openly discussing their faith with another student, I would have sued him back in to the Stone Age.

You might be surprised then to learn that I am adamantly opposed to teachers and other school officials leading students in prayer or the conduct of prayer rituals, even by students, at officially sanctioned events. Why would I take a position that is seemingly so at odds with my core beliefs?

Throughout the vast majority of the United States, most religious practices and beliefs are rooted in a traditional Judeo-Christian belief system. As such, prayers conducted before a football game or at a graduation ceremony, even if so bland and non-proselytizing as to be meaningless, are generally offered in the context of the traditional Jehovah God of the Old and New Testament. However, that is not the case in all corners of our nation.

I had the privilege of serving our nation's Air Force while assigned to Hickam Air Force Base on the beautiful island of Oahu in the beautiful state of Hawaii. Because of the arrangement of military housing in that location, my family and I actually lived not at Hickam near the Honolulu metropolitan area, but at Wheeler Air Force Base in the central part of the island just out side of the small pineapple-farming town of Wahiawa. In Wahiawa we found a small Baptist church that met our family's needs. However, Christians and others from various Judeo-Christian traditions were in the very distinct minority in this little village that was populated predominantly by people of Japanese and Chinese ancestry. Rather than a church on every corner, as is common in the continental 48 states, Wahiawa had a Shinto or Buddhist shrine on every corner.

Because we worked in the youth department of our church and taught teenage Sunday School classes, we were anxious to be involved in the lives of the students we worked with. So we were quite excited to be able to attend our first football game at Wahiawa High School. Upon our arrival at the stadium it seemed like so many other high school athletic events we had been to in many other places. The teams were warming up, the band was gathering, the ROTC was preparing to raise the colors – a pretty typical fall ritual.

Coming from a fairly traditional Southern upbringing, I was not at all initially surprised when a voice came over the PA and asked everyone to rise for the invocation. I had been through this same ritual at many other high-school events and thought nothing of it, so to our feet my wife and I stood, bowed our heads, and prepared to partake of the prayer. But to our extreme dismay, the clergyman who took the microphone and began to pray was not a Protestant minister or a Catholic priest, but a Buddhist priest who proceeded to offer up prayers and intonations to god-head figures that our tradition held to be pagan.

We were frozen in shock and incredulity! What to do? To continue to stand and observe this prayer would represent a betrayal of our own faith and imply the honoring of a pagan deity that was anathema to our beliefs. To sit would be an act of extreme rudeness and disrespect in the eyes of our Japanese hosts and neighbors, who value above all other things deference and respect in their social interactions. I am sorry to say that in the confusion of the moment we chose the easier path and elected to continue to stand in silence so as not to create a scene or ill will among those who were seated nearby.

As I thought through the incident over the next few days I supposed that the duty of offering the pre-game prayer rotated through the local clergy and we just happened to arrive on the night that the responsibility fell to the Buddhist priest. However, after inquiring I learned that due to the predominance of Buddhist and Shinto adherents in this town, it was the normal practice to have a member of one these faiths offer the pre-game prayer, and Christian clergy were never included. Needless to say that was our first and last football game. Although many of the students we worked with continued to invite us to the games, we were forced to decline. We knew that if we were to attend again we would be forced to abstain from the pre-game activity. And not wanting to offend our Asiatic neighbors and colleagues, we simply refrained from attending.

The point is this. I am a professional, educated and responsible man who is strong in his faith and is quite comfortable debating the social and political issues of the day. Yet when placed in a setting where the majority culture proved hostile to my faith and beliefs, I became paralyzed with indecision and could not act decisively to defend and proclaim my own beliefs. I felt instantly ostracized and viewed myself as a foreigner in my own land.

We often advocate the practice of Judeo-Christian rituals in America's public schools by hiding behind the excuse that they are voluntary and any student who doesn't wish to participate can simply remained seated and silent. Oh that this were true. But if I, as a mature adult, would be so confounded and uncomfortable when faced with the decision of observing and standing on my own religious principals or run the risk of offending the majority crowd, I can only imagine what thoughts and confusion must run through the head of the typical child or teenager, for whom peer acceptance is one of the highest ideals.

I would say in love to my Christian brothers and sisters, before you yearn for the imposition of prayer and similar rituals in your public schools, you might consider attending a football game at Wahiawa High School. Because unless you're ready to endure the unwilling exposure of yourself and your children to those beliefs and practices that your own faith forswears, you have no right to insist that others sit in silence and complicity while you do the same to them. I, for one, slept better at night knowing that because Judeo-Christian prayers were not being offered at my children's schools, I didn't have to worry about them being confronted with Buddhist, Shinto, Wiccan, Satanic or any other prayer ritual I might find offensive.

Gary Christenot


It's dead-on. If you would be offended by being pressured into participating in someone else's religion, then don't do the same to them. It's as simple as the Golden Rule all over again, which is really all we need for a moral compass.

I still remember a day in elementary school, probably about 2nd or 3rd grade, where one girl was discovered not to believe in god, and how the other girls grilled her about it, eventually pushing her into the mud of the creek and calling her names. It was probably one of the first times I actively questioned whether or not I believed in god or religion, and what I would never tell those girls was that I wasn't all that sure there was a god either, and that their version of piety held no attraction for me. Peer pressure is an ugly thing. Peer pressure plus righteousness is a true evil.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

It's raining!

It's raining and it smells fabulous. I found my mind turning to thoughts of making macaroni and cheese for dinner and baking. Luckily, SFGate has some yummy looking recipes. I think I may go home and try baking some popovers.

New Job Joy

Okay, I think I'm going to like my new manager. So far, he's already impressed me multiple times. He also just sent me a list of the projects I'm going to be working on starting next week. Top of the list are the Guest Authentication project, Email and Calendar infrastructure, Kerberos 4 to K5 conversion, and Disaster Recovery Phase 1. Sounds great to me. Can't wait! I'm going to have stuff to learn again! Hooray!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Another Fine Weekend

So this weekend had a Fifth Friday, so that should've meant a games night at our house, but following on the heels of the Browncoat Ball, I didn't have the spunk, and we had 2 other big parties to attend so we opted to spend Friday night other ways with a little late work, a trip to the gym, and a romp through Target to find (and agonize over) a birthday present for Fred. He ended up getting the first season of the Tick on DVD, but it was a tight race with Animaniacs vol. 1. I reckon that will be for Christmas if he's not gotten it for himself by then.

So Saturday we rose earlyish with some household projects in mind. We walked down to Linda's for yummy Mexican breakfast and bumped into a couple of the neighbors and petted their dog Bergen. He's the softest Boxer I've ever petted. We cleaned out the fridge, and then I scrubbed the grill and Rick did the dishes. And then Rick discovered that there was a leak under the sink. A leak that had apparently been there for a while, not leaking a lot, but just enough to keep things moist, and growing. He set about cleaning up the mess and trying to figure out where the leak was coming from. We left everything dry and headed to Fred's party.

Fred's party was lovely as ever. It's one of those never miss parties. The Tick was warmly received and there was a minor interlude of watching The Tick vs. The Tick and The Tick vs. The Uncommon Cold, introducing them to Logan for the first time. The party flowed in its usual waves of people, and Rick gorged himself on cupcakes while at at many tortellinis. We had a quorum of 5 ex-girlfriends, but sadly Fred's new place has little room for dancing. I also got to meet his new rescue kitten Colin, who is just cottonball soft.

We came home to find the area under the sink we again, and presumed it had to have something to do with the dishwasher. Mopped up, we went to bed, ready to take it on in the morning. In the morning, there was a new puddle, so we knew it wasn't the dishwasher after all since it hadn't been running again. With some more puzzzling, we figured out it was the faucet dripping down on the hose to the dishwasher that had misled us before. So we started trying to unscrew the faucet to see what size washer was needed. Turns out that it's a whole modular thing, and it was all calcified into place. Rick proceeded to work on it for 40 minutes or so, with much cursing and scowling and one strained thumb, but finally it came free. We threw it in a bag and headed to Home Depot.

It started raining on the way there. A lot. No namby pamby first rain of the season. This was wet and cold. Okay then.

We left Home Depot after bumping into Chris who was shopping for gardening stuff with her new boyfriend. Their faucet selection was uninspiring. We decided to try Lowe's, but got back on the freeway to find it creeping along, because it had been months since everyone had seen rain and they'd utterly forgotten how to drive. So we scrapped that plan, opting to run past OSH on the way home and then get dressed for dinner and maybe hit Lowe's on the way to the Supper Club.

We were the most fabulously dressed couple in Lowe's. Me in a golden halter top dress, fishnet stockings and little 40's style heels, all made up with hair pinned in swirls. Rick was in his dressy Utilikilt and silver shirt and tie. And we bought a new faucet. And then we went on to Ari's birthday party.

Ari was turning 30, so she invited about 30 friends to a fabulous evening of dining and lounging and performance art at Supper Club. Five courses of food were served to us on our sprawling wall of beds - pickled beets and melon, garlic parmesan soup, lobster ragout, pork with huckleberry sauce with mushrooms and spaetzle, and apple mint cheesecake. In between we were treated to performance art centered largely around a water tank. When we entered, there was a chap floating in the tank. Later, he came back with a girl who did a small trapeze act and then they swirled together in the tank. Later they were back and gothy, her in chains. She broke free of the chains in the tank, and he went in later to bind himself in them. Meanwhile, the real show was the aerialist who did the hoop act. She had skill, hanging from one foot, both heels, the back of her head, etc. Gorgeous. Meanwhile, I'm snuggled up with my friends, sipping on "fauxitos" (a virgin mojito - yummy yummy), getting to spend some quality time over dinner with my favorite people, all dressed to the nines. Then I danced with Auntie, her protecting her shoulder but getting out there and dancing like she loved it. Elizabeth gloried in snuggling with her friends and having a whole evening to herself, dining at a leisurely pace, and revelling in not having to make any choices.

Arriving at 7, we wandered home a little after 11:30. It was a late night, but well worth it.

And today, Rick played plumber and installed the new faucet. It's shiny and pretty and has a little sprayer spout. Yay!