Almost there...

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Circle?

Anyone interested in joining me for ACT production of The Circle tonight at the Geary Theater? Show starts at 8. Dinner before at Cafe Mason at 7ish. Rick is buried in Algebra. Also, Fred and Malaya will be there as well.

UPDATE: Sam is going to be my date tonight. Thanks Sam!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Firewood

For over two years, I've had a simple item on my wishlist: firewood. We have a lovely fireplace in our living room, and firewood is expensive. When we got home from the Humane Society last Monday, my grandparents called and asked if they could come down this weekend and bring us some firewood from Quintette. Secretly, I'd been hoping to get this call for about 2 years. With unabashed glee, we arranged for them to come on Saturday.

My mom and grandma and grandpa arrived on Saturday around noon and grandpa and Rick unloaded the firewood into the garage while mom and grandma hung out with Tommy, rapidly deciding he was awfully cute. We went out back and the firewood smelled of Quintette. It's one of those magical memory inspiring smells that makes you want to curl up with a log.

We proceeded to take them to our favorite local Mexican restaurant, and then tooled around the neighborhood a bit showing them fun stuff like the difference between our neighborhood and Naglee Park, and showing them the house we almost bought and finally ending up at the San Jose History park for a brief stroll. Grandpa said it was time to go, and we headed back home and got them on their way. It was a nice visit, if just entirely too brief.

Sunday night after Lizzie's tea party we came home and I made tuna cassarole and roasted zucchini for dinner, and we had a fire. It was a grey and drizzly night, and the fire kept us warm and crackled and popped with the sound of real wood. It was a perfectly relaxing way to finish the weekend.

Does he know?

Does Bill Gates have any idea what a good impression he does of Montgomery Burns?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Battlestar Galactica

I'm disappointed with Battlestar Galactica, and I'm angsty about being disappointed with it. So many friends think it's such a great show, but it's just not satisfying for me.

I watched last night's episode eagerly, thinking the prior episode was relatively good. The prior episode amused me with the (either conscious or unconscious) reference to the original series. [SPOILERS] See, they're on this 'algae world' which is a lot like Kobol from the Lost Planet of the Gods episode of the original series, with a temple and ancient inscriptions from the 13th tribe. Then the Cylon Diana has an experience with the Eye of Jupiter, and slips into an alternate reality with white hooded beings very much like the ones aboard the ship of lights in the War of the Gods episode of the original series. So I'm thinking, hey, we're going to get into some interesting interplay here.

But then this week's episode is again back to dealing with American soap opera issues in a space setting. I don't know if it's just that the writer's don't have the creativity to imagine a social structure beyond the here and now or what, but it's really starting to grate on me. It bothers me that the 1978 version was more socially imaginative. In this version, typical American families respond in stereotypical ways. When the husbands have a fight with their wives, they go to the local bar and get drunk. And the symbol of marriage is a wedding ring on the left ring finger. And when there are issues of love outside of the bounds of marriage, it's handled through jealousy and an "it's either me or her" ultimatum. The polytheism of the humans is handled only nominally - making the expressions "my gods" and "by gods" instead of "my god" or "by god". Rarely are references made to the gods as individual gods. Characters don't pray to one god over another for the sake of that god's specialty. Also, this is directly counterbalanced by the Cylons Judeo-Christian monotheism. And government is basically an analog of American constitutional presidency. When Starbuck finds out about another pilot's past history, she shames her into doing a crazy maneuver and getting herself killed, because whomever you were, you always are.

Way back in 1978, they had the Council of the Twelve for decisions. There was no president. They had Starbuck dating two women, and them alternately getting pissed off about his philandering and then other times ganging up on him. Oh, and also, one of his girlfriends was originally a prostitute, but now works as a nurse. Rather than being shamed, she is redeemed. References to Earth culture was consciously made to show that man on Earth was descended from the same ancient race as the now rag-tag band of humans trying to find them. And you know what? The original Battlestar was a bad show. Going back and rewatching it is painful, but at least it was imaginative.

The role of science-fiction is to encourage questioning of your societal standards through alternate imaginings. Great works do this and become part of the cultural lexicon - 1984, Brave New World, Stranger in a Strange Land, and so on. Heck, this was one of the brilliant things about Firefly. Here was a ship where the only person on the right side of the law was the prostitute. The new Battlestar Galactica is squandering its promise. So far all it's done is to transform the word "Frak" into a direct translation of "Fuck". So not worthy.

I'm going to finish watching this season, but if it doesn't improve, I think I'm done.

Do-Over!

So I had a 9am meeting, and then I have a 1pm meeting. After the 9am meeting ended I realized I was still unfit for company and decided it was lunchtime. So, home to get my coat and snuggle Pixel, grabbed my dance shoes which were sitting sadly in the bathroom and which would've definitely upped the ante on the bad day if I'd made it all the way to Plough without them, then decided to hit Target for milk and butter and a container for mixing non-caffeinated drinks at the office. I grabbed a bite of food and treated myself to a small Diet Coke and made it back to the office a little before noon. Now I'm much more likely to actually get something done today.

Grr.

Having a bad morning. I left the house without my coat. This means no lesson at the Plough for me. I was distracted as I was leaving by Tommy escaping his room and immediately picking a fight with Pixel. He got tossed back in and I spent a few moments comforting Pixel. This arrangement may not work out. But I thought, just get to work, get some coffee, start your day.

On Friday they were cleaning out the fridge. They said to set aside things to be saved. I did, and talked to the people doing the cleaning, and thought all was well. Ha! I came in this morning to find my milk and butter gone. I'd brought the butter for Friday bagels and had used it once. I had half a quart of milk left for my coffee. But no, this morning, there was no milk. I was pissed. Do not mess with my morning coffee routine. I get grumpy. So, black coffee instead of my usual soothing blend. Someone suggested using non-dairy creamer. I said, "Oh the stuff with partially hydrogenated soybean and coconut oil and corn syrup - I don't eat that stuff, pretty much ever. I don't really think I'll 'whiten' my coffee with poison." Grr. Grumpy girl.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Hunh.

Live Journal is just odd. After not displaying my posts for 2 days, it finally pumped them through in the wrong order. For anyone who reads this blog via LJ, I apologize. Your system is all wonky and stuff.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Zeus is Loose!

A group of Greek pagans from Greece had a ceremony/ritual in Athens this week. That's pretty darned cool, but it really ticked off the Greek Orthodox Christians, saying
The president of the Association of Greek Clergymen, Father Efstathios Kollas, has described the followers of the Olympic gods as a handful of miserable resuscitators of a degenerate dead religion who wish to return to the monstrous dark delusions of the past.

Whoa Nellie! Tell us how it really makes you feel man! But you know what? The Greek religion is way older than your little upstart religion, and the Greek religion died out because it was outlawed by the Christian Romans. It didn't exactly die a natural death. There was a whole lot of repression and persecution involved. And what makes the ancient Greek polytheistic faith so much more monstrous, dark, and delusional than Orthodox Christianity exactly? Was it the democracy the was born and flourished under it's influence? Was it the great works of art and theater that make it so monstrous? Was it the amazing architectural achievements that made it so dark? Or are you just pissy because Zeus can turn himself into a sweet smelling white bull and your god always appears as a (far less appealing) burning bush? And let's just not even talk about the subject of being delusional. It's pretty much a requirement for being a devotee of any religion.

Voice of Doom

Today, I became the voice of doom in a project status meeting. We've been scrambling to meet the project go-live date, but with 30 days to go-live, the basic development isn't done yet, the testing has barely begun, no test has been successfully completed end-to-end, and we're still talking about major interface changes. If we keep our current date, I need to get mailers to the printer on February 1st. This is the first domino in a fast moving chain of communications both inside and outside of my department. I expected by now that I'd be finishing the last touches on the training guide and finishing up the e-learning site and starting to work on the delta class for current users. I can't take screen shots for publication of the system as it is now, so none of that is done. I've got a lovely skeleton for the e-learning site. I've got a nice training guide that's 70% done, save for all the bits that don't work yet (like all the billing reports) full of screenshots of the system before the name change. I haven't even started on the delta class materials. The system is going to be down for a refresh starting tomorrow until Wednesday, and when it comes back, we won't be much closer to sure about the final version. So when the project manager suggested that we should just get the flyers printed with the current go-live date and then get them reprinted if it changes, I had to restate the issue. He looked really deflated.

It's like this: say the system comes back on February 1st, and we test on the 1st and 2nd, that gives me less than 2 weeks to prepare all those materials AND get them printed for classes starting on February 15th. Also, I need to prepare the other communications as well, like invitations to all the approximately 90 new Departmental Contacts, introducing them to the new system and inviting them to training, and invitations to the existing Departmental Contacts to tell them of the upcoming changes and to invite them to the delta classes, and preparing 2 articles for the internal newsletter, and getting on the agenda for the TIPS meeting, and probably writing a Stanford Report article too. I can't send out any of this in advance in case things don't come together and we have to shift the date, but I have to send them out by the first week of February. Oh, and by the way, I'm still working on five other projects at the same time, thankfully only 3 of which are actively taking my time right now. Add to that that the system will not be cheerfully fully functioning when we start testing on February 1st again, and thus compressing the timeline even further.

So I tried to explain this gently, in the broadest terms possible, really only saying that February 1st is just the first domino, and that there are other deadlines like the ITS&BITS internal newsletter article deadline on February 2nd, and that the classes are available for sign-up in STARS as of yesterday, and that the Department Contacts were scheduled for their first communication by email as of January 31st, so there's a whole series of things that really need either a go or no-go.

And then the project sponsor pulled out her calendar and got down to real business. If we didn't go February 26th, what are our options? Could we go March 5th (a one week reprieve)? Yes, but that's probably not enough to help. Could we go March 26th? Yes, no one has had any communication about the date yet, so we're fine there. Should it really be April 2nd, so that the refresh doesn't start on a Saturday (after the billing run completes mid-day on Saturday) so that there are people available to help if things go wrong rather than having to go through on-call services? Probably. What are the repercussions of that? I don't know.

The net result is that no one thought the possible date slip was a real issue until I made a big deal out of it, so they decided to decide at next week's meeting, even though there will only be a half of a day of testing before the meeting. I'll be very surprised if they decide to keep the current date at that next meeting, but they all need the intervening week to come to terms with it. If they do decide to press on at the next meeting, I'm going to disappear down a rabbit hole for the first 2 weeks of February trying desperately to get my work done well and thoroughly on a truly insane schedule. During those two weeks I will find some deity to pray to each day (maybe several deities prayed to on a rotating basis) that all of the technical issues will magically get resolved before I come to work the next day so that I can finalize the documentation for training.

So yeah, it was a surprisingly scary meeting. Lots of folks backed me up, but I was the one in the unique position to really push back, so I had to, and I did, and it was good. And really scary. And on my way out, down the stairs, out of sight of the rest of the meeting participants, my old boss Suzanne who is now the director of Order Processing hugged me and said, "Good job in there." And we talked for a minute, and it was all good.

I still love my job.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

State of the Union

Did anyone else catch what W said last night?
America is on the verge of technological breakthroughs that will enable us to live our lives less dependent on oil. These technologies will help us become better stewards of the environment - and they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change.

That's right - he acknowledged that global climate change is a serious challenge. Interesting. At least he's no longer denying the evidence. Now it's whether or not anything actually gets done. We're long overdue for some serious reevaluations of the CAFE standards. That's where I'd start first. Anyway, baby steps in the right direction.

The rest of the speech was really nothing special.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Acceptable Behavior

Browsing the SFGate, I caught this article about a family getting chucked off a plane because of their ill-behaved 3 year old pitching a fit rather than sitting in a seat with a seat-belt on so that the plane could leave on schedule. What surprises me is the bias of the article. Ask any flight attendant about unruly passengers, and you'll get a host of stories, usually including one about a tyrant child and parents who pass it off with "just let him be a kid". Bullshit. First of all, families with small children get on first. They have all that extra time so that they can get settled. If the plane is 15 minutes overdue for departure, that means you didn't use that time wisely. And whatever happened to acceptable public behavior? I would've been on 1-2-3 notice in no time if I hadn't had my butt in the seat with the seatbelt on. No, the rest of the plane does not want to wait for your little darling to settle down and shut up. They want to fly to their destination, make their connecting flights, and get away from the screaming toddler. I wouldn't be surprised if the rest of the plane didn't give the flight attendants a round of applause after they booted the brat and parents.

But this article makes it sound like the airline was being completely unreasonable. Hardly. They refunded their tickets and gave them free tickets on top of that. They were more than generous. And the parents should be embarassed that their child is such a brat rather than defending the behavior. Our modern lackadaisical parenting is the problem here, not the airline enforcing Federal regulations. In the past, children were expected to behave much better, and our current low expectations do no service to the children.

New Cat

I missed Plough last night. We went back to the Humane Society, interacted with Hobbs and Maddie and Elsa again and decided that yeah, Tommy needed to come home with us. He doesn't really respond to his name so far, so we're considering renaming him, but nothing leaps out the way it did with Pixel (who was the epitome of the The Cat Who Walks Through Walls - orange, friendly, appearing out of nowhere to get snuggles). Anyway, Tommy got home and we stashed him in the blue room. At first he timidly sat in the back of his carrier. Rick reached in and petted him and he immediately started purring. Within a few minutes, he was climbing out for more petting. After a half hour he was playing with toys. Within an hour he'd decided the best place to snuggle up was next to my bum.

Meanwhile, Pixel knew something was up. He tried letting himself in repeatedly. He really can open the blue room door using the handle. He just barely has to jiggle it. This explains some reports from houseguests ("I could've sworn I closed the door, but there he was."). He knows there's a cat in there. We're going to give Tommy a few days to see if he has a cold, but if not, he should be playing with Pixel by Sunday or so. We'll see how it goes. Hopefully they'll take to one another like peanut butter and jelly.

Oh, and if you need a cat, I highly recommend Hobbs. He's adorable.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Daylight Saving Dates Changed

So have you heard that the dates for Daylight Saving Time have changed? Well, they have, and it's going to cause some weird problems for me. The Oracle Calendar we use (which is utter crap) will get a patch to the server to update the time at the right time, but any meetings scheduled prior to the patch being implemented will now be an hour off schedule for the 3 intervening weeks between the old DST dates and the new ones. Oracle says they can't do anything about that and that we'll just have to adjust those meetings manually. Everyone on campus who uses the calendar will have to adjust their meetings. Great.

And after reviewing the data on this one, I'm convinced that I no longer hate Daylight Saving Time. I hate standard time. In standard time, it gets light earlier and dark earlier. Just leave it dark when we're sleeping, and keep it light when we're at work, on the way home, and shuffling around the house doing chores. Everything keeps talking about how much energy is saved during DST, so just shift it and stick it. But no, instead we go through the twice annual drama of clock shifting. The complaint there is that the sun won't be at its apex at noon, but that's not been true since we shifted to standardized time in the first place, so get over it, and let's let time be more appropriate to the needs of our time.

The new DST dates also still don't sync up with the European dates for DST. I still resent the year I lost an hour in Germany and lost the hour again in the states a week later. The upside for the new dates is that the fall change is after Halloween, making it get dark a bit later for Trick or Treating. In theory, part of the rationale was that kids would go out while it was still light, but everyone knows you have to wait for the dark before trick-or-treating. I just hope it makes for a little less chaos on the road since everyone won't have to leave work quite as early to get home to take the kids out. We shall see.

Meet Tommy

So we think we have a final candidate for our second kitty. Tommy is on hold the Humane Society. He's super people-friendly. He plays well with other cats. He's playful with mousie toys and bell toys. After a month of shopping, I think we're going to cross the finish line on this one. Wish us luck.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Grumble

I think every car should have a monitor of fuel consumption. If it showed you again and again that your being a jerk on the freeway was costing you actual money, I think the pain of that would definitely modulate some folks driving habits.

It was a rough commute this morning. First there was an accident just where the road narrows to cross under 880. This is the stupidest piece of road engineering I know of. Just before a big junction, shave off two lanes and see what happens. Well, what happens is traffic. Daily backups. Today it was backed up all the way to 7th street (six miles away) because an accident was blocking another one of the lanes.

I got through that eventually, and came upon the next big event - an accident on 85 North that was backed up on to 280 to Wolfe Road. This left a string of very slow moving traffic in the two right hand lanes and some awkwardly moving traffic in the other two lanes. It's a recipe for additional disaster as folks who find themselves in the slowest 2 lanes realize it's something to do with getting on 85, and they don't want to be on 85, so they jump into the faster moving lanes and don't speed up very quickly. I stayed left and cringingly passed someone doing this move which led to screeching tires, hasty lane changes, and honking by someone coming up entirely too fast on the person coming out of the not-moving lane. Yikes.

So, with all that chaos behind me (and almost an hour on the road on my normally 30 minute commute), I thought now things would mellow out. Sure, there was still traffic, but it was manageable. I kept a reasonable distance behind the car in front of me as we were now traveling around 72. But the person behind me seemed mortally offended that I wasn't tailgating, and sped up to pass me, glaring at me as he went by, and cut in front of me, causing us both to brake. I could hear his engine revving to do this. Probably took him down to 5 or 6 miles per gallon for that little move, and then he lost all of that energy to braking. Meanwhile, if he'd kept cruising along at 72, he would've saved a lot of gas. (Of course, he wouldn't have gotten to glare at me.)

If every car had a reminder like mine - that every aggressive driving act is costing you money - then I suspect a lot of drivers would chill out. It's like the research about pleasure of buying versus pain of spending. If we looked at fuel as the same sort of behavioral value proposition moment by moment rather than a less concrete average, I suspect that we'd see less childish acting out on the road.

Or a least a girl can dream.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Tale of Two Animal Shelters

We've been shopping for a new cat to be Pixel's buddy. We haven't gotten one yet, but it's been a fascinating experience.

First we went to the Humane Society. The buildings are old and dilapidated. Mice dart in and out through holes in the ceiling and under the cages. Wire mesh covers some missing pieces of glass. But the place has heart. The staff there are friendly and helpful. When we first walked in, the reception desk welcomed us, asked what we were looking for, and then directed us to the cat rooms. We browsed through the cat rooms, and made an appointment to get a cat. The cat we wanted was adopted when we came back to visit her two days later. This place gets pets homes and fast. But they don't just pawn the pets off on anyone who walks in. We were back there on Monday, and the adoption counselor talked us out of adopting Henry, a year-old grey kitty with striking dark gold eyes. He had marked in his previous home and been returned and they worried that he might be stressed by Pixel and do it again and possibly teach Pixel to do it. They had all this information on his kennel card, including his entire medical record and his volunteer socialization cards and his owner surrender survey. They're hoping to find him a low-stress single-cat household now. Meanwhile, we've watched dozens of great cats get adopted from there. We considered adopting Ted, but Ted was gone when we went back Monday. They pointed us at Wolfie again and we may adopt him after all. He's got an awfully similar personality to Pixel. They might be best buddies. And he's a black kitty and the black ones don't get adopted due to all sorts of weird notions folks have about them. Anyway, the Humane Society has our information on file for the next six months, and now that they know us so well, they're keeping their eyes peeled for a good candidate. The staff know us and love looking at Pixel's pictures with us. They all agree he's a cutie.

On the other hand, we went to San Jose Animal Care. You may remember this place from the drama with The Princess. Well, our opinion of them hasn't improved much. We drove down one evening to see their cats and were told we couldn't because they were closing and didn't show any animals after 6:30. We decided to come back on the weekend. We came back and asked about a cat we'd seen online. They checked their adoptable animals list and said, "Oh, he's not on the list so he must've been adopted." Um, okay... but then we walk out to the animal cages and see him sitting their with no name tag. Rick went back in to check on his status, waited in line for 10 minutes, and was told they couldn't help him unless he completed a pink adoption form. This made him very grumpy. You have to complete the adoption form and put your name on the list and wait for an adoption counselor to be available before you can see any animal. They hadn't mentioned this when we came in before or when we arrived this time. This really ticked Rick off. Meanwhile, I'd been out at the cages (which are really little isolation cubes with thick double-paned glass) visiting with some of the other candidates. Rudy was this cute white with stiped spots cat who when I walked up, threw himself against the glass in the hopes of being petted. Oh boy. Rick came back and said, "We're out of here." And I said, "But meet Rudy." He told me all about the drama and we left and headed back to the Humane Society. I went back last night to see if Rudy or Twain were still there. A check of the list elicited the similar, "Well, they're not on the list of adoptable cats" response. I filled out the pink form, put my name on the list, and waited. Then I was scolded for coming in at 6:20. "You should really come in before 6." I've got this job thing that makes that a little tough. (The Humane Society stays open til 8, and once we were coming back in from visiting a cat and asked a question and they said, "Well we officially closed twenty minutes ago, but that's okay.") So we go out to meet Cleo and Samantha. After meeting Cleo (who actually is a pretty good candidate - both loving and playful) I asked what her story was. "She's a stray, I think." No reference to where she was picked up, how long she's been there, or any other history. I asked if she was social with other kitties. The adoption counselor said, "We keep them all separate, otherwise they get sick. We never let them interact." Um, okay. Meanwhile, the humane society has several shared cages where social kitties get to hang out together. Wolfie has interacted well with three different roommates that we've met (though he was a bit rough with Felicia, and I understand that Caviar whomped him but good the other day). We went on to meet Samantha, a really sweet orange kitty who just isn't as playful as Cleo. She needs a quieter home. I asked about her history. Same story - a stray she thinks. Grumble.

Now there's a big part of me that wants to get a cat out of there the San Jose shelter just to save it, and give money to the Humane Society to help keep them going. They do so much better by their animals in their run-down facility. And I think I'm going to write a letter to my city councilman (Sam Liccardo). Animal adoption should be handled with heart rather than handled like the DMV. Heck, I've gotten better, friendlier service at the DMV.

Fashionista!

Apparently my building-mates are amused by my clothing choices. Tom just walked by and called my hat "rakish". I call it warmish. It's a nifty new casual fedora I picked up at Target on Monday. Laura commented earlier that she loves seeing what I'm wearing each day. On my bike on the way to lunch, one of my project managers called out, "Oh my gosh you're so cute!" So, the hat is good.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Dancey Goodness

I went to the first class of the 5 week series on Party Dances of the 50's and 70's last night. First, we took normal East Coast six-count swing, then we broke it. Changed the feet, made it bouncy, walk backs instead of rock steps, changed the hands to a left hand push. It hurt my brain, but the dance itself is just so much fun. Then we worked on Chalypso, which is a bouncy, hands-free, fifties version of the cha-cha. Oh lordy but it was fun. And you know the song "Love is Strange"? Apparently chalypso is what they danced to that song in a 1957 episode of American Bandstand. I love going to Richard's classes because beyond being the best social dance instructor I've ever met, he's also a dance historian, and spends a ton of time examining old footage to figure out what was really happening then. Then he manages to convey how much work he's done to get you here without bogging the class down with a tedious lecture. Instead, he just keeps you moving - bouncing! - along to some really fun music. I'm really looking forward to the rest of the series.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Surge in Troops, eh? That's the big plan?

I'm very annoyed with our president. Does he really think, I mean really, that adding a measly 14% more troops will somehow magically fix the problem in Iraq? He's FUBARed this from the start. There was no imminent crisis in Iraq. We should've finished what we started with Afghanistan, and watched and waited to see what developed in Iraq. Back when the weapons inspectors were allowed back into Iraq, why weren't they given the time to really inspect? Why did we go in haphazardly rather than waiting for enough evidence to mount to get the rest of the world on our side? Why didn't we work through the channels of the U.N. to get global support? Why did we pick a fight in a foreign civilization without understanding the existing political drama on the ground? Four years later, and with over 150,000 troops currently on the ground, over 3000 dead, at least 23,000 wounded, I still wonder why the heck we're even there in the first place. This shouldn't have been the mess that it is, but it is a huge mess, and it's turning out just as I expected four years ago.

And you know what? From the first moment this started, there's been no way to fix it. From March 19th, 2003, we've been on a non-stop ticket to hell. And this is so much worse than Vietnam, because the Vietnamese just wanted us out of their space. The Iraqi insurgents will come hunt us down and make us pay for our mistakes.

Okay, annoyed is just too much soft language. I hate our president for taking the international good will and sympathy we'd gained as a result of 9/11, and squandering it all like a vengeful teenager, and I hate that the rest of us will pay the price for his immaturity and ignorance for the rest of our lives. Stupid git.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Microwave Hell

Just went to the kitchen to microwave my lunch. I was nearly knocked over by the stink of what someone else was currently microwaving. Smelled exactly like hot vomit. I think I'm going to get lunch out today. That should give the building time to air out. Blech!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Ceili on Saturday at Friday Night Waltz

Scott has decided to move the East Bay Friday Night Waltz to Saturday. I'm not so sure this is a good idea, but heck, we'll see what happens. I very frequently have Saturdays booked months in advance, but have freedom on many Friday nights.

The first FNW on Saturday is this coming Saturday at the Oakland Veterans Hall. Scott has the whole building, so why not use it all! First, if you've been dying to learn the Bohemian National Polka, then go to that class. Richard Powers is teaching from 7-9. But if you're like me and learned BNP ages ago, then come join us in the other room for some ceili dancing. I suspect that since there's a beginning waltz class and a BNP class, we'll have a pretty high skill level of dancer. This is just a guess, but if I'm right, then we'll be working on polka sets. If it's just one set, that's fine. We can work on some crazy variations. It should be fun one way or another.

The lessons/workshop is from 7-9, with open dancing in the main room after that.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Yipe!

I really have to be careful what I say around work. I say things, people trust my opinion, and do it my way. This is spooky. So far, it's all good, but what happens when I make a bad call? And really, how often are my opinions remotely aligned with the majority? Pretty much never. This is a whole new world of responsibility for me.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Internet Works in Mysterious Ways

I logged in on New Year's Day and had some offline messages from an animator. Turns out, he'd been working on a project, needed a photo of a 40's era couple, and stumbled on the photo I posted of my grandparents. He used it, thinking it's just a class project, no one will ever see it. Then a year or so later, he gets a chance to have if shown on IFC. So he frantically tries to contact me about asking permission to use the photo. Finally we connect via Yahoo!IM. I watch the video and like it and say sure, use the photo. I double checked with my grandparents, and it's fine with them, so with a giant sigh of relief, he doesn't have to reedit the video.

It's a nice little short. I told him that my grandpa really was a pilot in WW2. He asks if they're both still with us. I say yes, very much so. He says that he was worried, because he altered by grandpa's hairline (since grandpa was apparently just a tad too handsome?) and his girlfriend said, "Well they'll probably be fine with it... wait... did you mess up his hair? Oh man, they're gonna hate you."

Dickens Reunion Ball

I'm headed to the Dickens Reunion Ball this weekend, and the best part is that I get to be the customer asking for dances from my friends rather than seeking out the paying customers to ask them to dance. Woohoo! I'm half-tempted to wear a tourist outfit (complete with purse, camera, and coat that must be stowed on a chair or with someone else before dancing), but I think I'll look better in my burgandy ballgown.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Dickens to the New Year

So the last day of Dickens was apparently the highest attendance ever, including my dad and his old friends Dave and Cheryl. It was cool to see them again. My dad made some not subtle comments about wanting grandchildren. I suggested that maybe he should've had more than one kid if he wanted to be guaranteed grandchildren. He grumbled that he didn't have much say in the matter. Right, moving on!

I headed out to tea with Erik and Marissa and Josh. It was a lovely rest stop in the middle of the day. A few moments of sanity in the midst of the scrum.

After that, back to the warehouse. I got to dance with Jeremy, visiting from Austin. There were a few others I expected to see that day, but didn't, like Siannan. Too bad really. The day blew past. We wrapped up around 7:15, which was far too early and left us singing by the door for quite a while. Venite adora-moose!

And then there was the real Christmas Eve. I started the morning by baking some more zucchinni bread because Rick ate almost all the ginger snaps I'd saved for presents. We made it out of the house around one, hurtling toward Sacramento with Pixel in tow. We dropped Pixel off at my mom's house so that he could play with Charlie and headed over to grandma and grandpa's house. Turns out my Cousin Debbie and her husband were joining us for dinner, which was nice. I like Debbie and Ken. Ken is a space collector. He's got a small museum collection of things like a Russian space suit and a panel off one of the spacecraft. He occasionally hosts events with various astronauts as speakers and so on. Anyway, it was nice to see them.

Christmas Day was the usual whirlwind. Off to Howard and Debbie's in Shingle Springs for my Dad's side of the family. Then call Rick's family to see if we should stop by. Got a reprieve there, so back to my mom's house to reload the car, and finally to the Wilson's house for the annual Christmas night gathering. This is always one of my favorite parts of the holidays. It's all my old friends, gathered together, enjoying the company of their chosen family. Suzi and I were apparently on the same wavelength, both sporting cute little plaid skirts. Sandy made blown glass things for everyone. I got a beautiful blue bud vase. Lisa made handmade soaps. Nicole brought little cactii. I gave out the rest of my zucchinni bread. Suzi was undertaking a photo project for Frank and Janelle, so we all posed in turn. Forest said, "Pick a number." I did and then he said "Go look in the bedroom." He had found a mask seller on Telegraph, and rather than just buying one, he got one for everyone. They're really cool Venetian style masks. Mine is a white face with music and red and black patches and music folded up into a sort of jester's cap at the top with bells. Way too cool. Pandora brought little Chinese coinpurses with dried flower tea inside. Frank and Janelle had mailed four boxes of cookies and we were all required to take home cookies. Sara was doing full-fledged ziploc inspection duty as everyone left. Kimmie made plates of vegan cookies and vegan fudge for everyone. Tate and Elisa brought back presents from Cambodia and Thailand. Meanwhile, Rick got totally distracted by the very cool light sabers that Sandy brought. They went out to the park and had a battle in the dark. He spent the rest of the night in his socks since his shoes were too muddy. We left far too late, and headed back south. By Concord, I woke Rick up to keep me awake. We stopped to pee in San Ramon, and the nasty gas station bathroom work me up enough for the last 30 minutes of the journey.

The next morning, I sent Rick off to work far too early, and got up a couple hours later to head up to do Fezziwigs tear down. I like tearing down really. It adds a sense of closure to the season. Walking away, knowing it's all still there feels incomplete. Boxing everything up and tucking it into David's basement seems to finish it for me.

After that, the tired caught up to me fully. I needed to run errands. I needed to clean house. I stopped at one store to pick up some cat food, but it seemed like too much effort. Finally I went home and decided to read for a while. I read for a few paragraphs and then slept for a couple of hours. Then Rick got home from work. At this point, I don't really know how he was doing it. He was trying to recover from a cold, and had half the sleep I'd had that day. We went to bed early, with me getting a lot more reading done. People kept telling me over Christmas, "You look tired." Well, yeah, that's because I'm really really tired.

Wednesday I cleaned house, cancelling my other plans in hope of finding some floor. For a month, the house had been the place I run into, drop off the remenants of the last journey, pack a new bag, and run out of again. It was trashed. It took all day just to clean up the clutter.

Thursday I planned to head to Sacramento. This plan got derailed by Rick's cold winning. His lack of sleep plus the lingering cold whomped him down hard and he spent the day home. I went out and acquired pizza per his request and we spent the afternoon on the sofa watching Joan of Arcadia and sleeping.

Friday was the Fifth Friday Games party. If you weren't invited, I apologize now. I just copied an old Evite, and found later that it was chock full of issues - missing guests, bad email addresses, and so on. If you weren't invited, it wasn't personal. It was just I didn't have time to do it right.

I'd gotten Dread Pirate for Christmas, so we broke that in. We also introduced Elizabeth to Apples to Apples. I think she had more fun playing Parchesi though, goofy girl that she is. Also, after loads of parties where folks bring us wine, I changed course and opened four bottles of wine early in the party and encouraged consumption. It went well, and for the first time in a long time, we have less wine than when we started the party. This was good. Also, I made Eggplant Soup and a Black-eyed Peas dish for supper, and some hot cider, and well, there was a bounty of food. The party broke up around one and we crashed.

Our one overnight couple had a rough night, with their car alarm going off every hour or so. It made no sense. But by 10am, they were up and headed home, planning to stop by the dealer to have them take a look. I heard it a couple of times, but must've slept through the rest.

Saturday was spent going to Happy Feet and going back by the Humane Society. Sunday we headed up to Sacramento for the New Year's Eve Wedding. Jeff and Tina and Janise have been together for a number of years, but they decided to make the bond official in the eyes of their community. Thomas was officiating and it was a decidedly Thomas ceremony. He started off saying, "Society has norms for a reason. Those that decide to live outside of those norms have a hard time of it." He went on, sort of capping on the alternative lifestyle for a while. Finally he summed it up saying how important it is to have a supportive community when you choose to live outside of the norms and that's why we're here today. It was good. After the ceremony, it was mostly a New Year's Eve party with a little pause for cake. I slipped into an old habit and made sure all the food got out to the table. We had quite a feast, but it definitely needed some rotation. The living room became the music room, with Bryn, Megan, Nicole, Aaron, Forest and Steve playing the old favorites. The family room became the dance/groove room with things like Tainted Love, Rock Lobster, and Lady Marmalade playing. As midnight approached, we all congregated in the family room with champagne and poppers and while Rick and I and Anne and Mario swapped tales of home improvement (we both bought the same uber-cool toilet seat, and we both know we're hopeless old-fart homeowners because we're excited about a toilet seat) and finally the countdown began. Crackers went off, kisses were exchanged, absent friends were dialed, and happy birthday was sung to Marina. That kid makes me feel old. The little six-month old baby I held while learning English Country dance outside of Jeff and Tina's townhouse is now fifteen with hot pink hair and a mohawk and a boyfriend. Yikes!

We headed out to my mom's house a little after 1, and I felt really old as I started dozing in the chair in the living room. We got up the next morning and headed home. On the way home, I started feeling the end-of-the-holidays blues. Back to work in the morning. Erik was headed back from Fremont, and called en route. We ended up stopping in at the Starbucks in Cordelia for a few hands of Loot, which really is a much better game for 3 people than 2. It was a nice closure for a hectic holiday season.

And now, back to work. The world seems far less colorful from the office this week. There's messy projects to deal with and elearning to develop and new projects kicking off. Still, I wish I could keep up that rock and roll lifestyle instead.

Dude! Finally!!!

I am an unabashed fan of Twin Peaks. Hell, my coffee addiction stems directly from Agent Cooper's enthusiasm for the stuff. (That, and my friend Danny, who treated me to my first mocha at the Star Cafe in between the matinee and evening performances of "The Future Lies in Eggs". But I digress...)

So today in my inbox, I get a message from Amazon.com letting me know that I can pre-order season 2 of Twin Peaks. For years - YEARS! - I've waited to introduce Twin Peaks to Rick (and so many other people) because you can't do just one season. That's just mean.

Years ago they published the first season (minus the pilot episode) on DVD. Expecting the second season to follow, it seemed an adequate compromise. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Years passed. Six years! Now, finally, with Season 1 long out of print, they're finally releasing season 2. This doesn't seem like the smoothest marketing plan, but hey, I guess I win, sort of. Still no hope for the pilot.

It will be good to visit these old friends again, to see if they've stood the test of time. Lord knows I was fifteen when it debuted. Will it still hold the same magic?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Back to Work

Oh the alarm came too early this morning. Couldn't I just continue the life of leisure I'd come to enjoy? I wish.

There's a bunch of stuff I'm supposed to be doing, but I can't quite wrap my brains around it. Brains are gooshy. Sleep beckons.

My only New Year's resolution was to decaffeinate. Today may not be a good day to pursue that goal if I want to stay conscious at my desk. We'll see how it goes.

Rewatched the movie Possession last night. It still has some of the most beautiful Victorian costumes I've ever seen in a movie, and Jennifer Ehle is radiant.

Must enter data in timesheet from 2-4 weeks ago. Must start developing e-learning course for OrderIT. Must keep head off desk.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Disneyland

Every year, Stanford has a Winter Closure. It's intended to save money over the holidays by not heating or lighting under-utilized buildings. It's also intended to scrape some of our vacation off the books. So, they kicked us out on Tuesday and said don't come back until January 2nd. Sounds good to me.

And heck, with Wednesday through Friday having no plans, but having to be back for Saturday closing of Dickens, I thought to myself, what could I possibly do with those days.

Yeah, Disneyland.

Even better, Disneyland during the holidays, with special fireworks, Holiday Small World, and best of all, Haunted Mansion Holiday.

I love Haunted Mansion Holiday. I could ride it all day long. Have a Merry Scary Christmas. It's like a little slice of perfection. Giant snow angels with Jack-o-lantern heads in the graveyard. A giant purple and yellow snake eating the Christmas presents. Man-eating poinsettias that sing. The Thirteen Days of Christmas by Madame Leota. And waltzing in the ballroom around the Christmas tree. Yeah, perfect.

Our contingent was Rick, Erik, and I. And if the timing ever works out again, allow me to highly recommend the week before Christmas. Wednesday, the park was vacant. Five minutes before the fireworks started, we walked up to the hub and found a nice spot for the three of us, with plenty of elbow room. And the fireworks were lovely, clearly based on the 50th anniversary show, but set to Christmas Carols instead. Still, there was the same message about believing in the magic of the season and dreams can come true. They said it, and then we heard a whirring behind us and turned around to see it snowing on Main Street. It wasn't really snow. It was a sort of bubble substance. But it looked fantastic, and it wasn't cold and wet and slippery, so bonus points there. It was like a religious ceremony/ritual really, where you're looking one way or have your eyes covered, and suddenly the magical transformation is revealed. Wow.

And then on Thursday, we saw Mary Poppins striding across the hub. Just as she ducked back stage, we thought we'd missed her, but an observant cast member said, "Oh, she'll be right back with the Pearl Button Band." Woohoo! So there's Mary Poppins and the band and I say to Erik, "You have to polka with me when they play Supercalifragilisticsexpialidocious." Oh yes, we danced, and Mary complemented us twice on how lovely it was.

And we took Erik on his first trip to the Blue Bayou. He was impressed. The Monte Cristo was yummy as ever. We shared that, the roast pork loin, and the crab cakes. It's still the nicest way to spend the busy part of the afternoon. We followed that with a trip through the revised Pirates of the Carribean. The Davy Jones waterfall is cool.

So we drove home on Friday morning, forgetting to account for holiday traffic leaving L.A. D'oh! We made it home by 6:15, sending Erik up the road to fetch Marissa from the airport. Rick and I went out to finish up our minimum Christmas shopping. Home again around 11, and up the next morning to close Dickens Fair.

The Dance Pentathalon

Every year, there's a weekend of special madness. It's when Fezziwigs and Gaskells collide. This year was even more than normal. Sherman called it the "Dance Pentathalon" - five dance events in four days:
- Friday Night Waltz
- Fezziwigs Saturday
- Gaskell Ball
- Fezziwigs Sunday
- Starry Plough
On Friday, the alternate event was Dave and Ellen's Winter Bash.

So yes, I did it all. And I went to work on Monday morning. And I felt pretty good. And tired. Luckily this year it didn't also involve closing day at Dickens so I headed home Sunday night to foot soaking and falling asleep on the sofa.

But Gaskells was special. I got to wear my prom dress (vintage 1992) for the first time in years. It's a good dress. It's a good dress with no corset and no hoops. This was totally the right answer after a full day at Dickens. My favorite part was when Tony walked up and said, "Well, it's a trick, because there's a flesh colored slip under it." And he slid his finger under my sleeve, and saw his finger under the lace. And then his brain broke for a moment. Tee hee! Very good dress.

Gaskell Ball December 2006 - photo by Dave Price
After the ball, several of us crashed with Auntie in Alameda. This was so the right answer. A hot shower and quickly to bed, I didn't bother to grab my book. In the morning, we stopped at Ole's to see if they did take-out. Sure enough, they do. Ten minutes later, I was back in the car with waffle in hand. They have the best bacon ever. Yum! So, we were five to ten minutes late for our 9:30 dressed call. Couldn't be helped. Ole's had take-out.

We made it through the day, including the crazy video guy wandering through the middle of our scene completely unannounced. Turns out, he was contracted by the Pattersons, but no one bothered to mention to us. Grr. But we survived and actually the scene went amazingly well that day. Much cleaner than the day before.

And the day finished with the Belle tug-of-war.

I took a few minutes before leaving the office to make up Pendancelete badges for those that made all five, and Participant badges for those who were there for some of it.
Pendancelete
Couldn't help it. Danced like crazy. Drove home. Slept. Went to work. And then went to Disneyland.

Yeah, Disneyland.