Almost there...

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Hedda Gabler

I'm short of a date to the theater again. Rick started a new contract today and doesn't feel up to the trip to the city nor the late night. Tonight's show is Hedda Gabler at the Geary theater at 8pm, with seats right next to Fred and Malaya. Likely dinner before hand with them as well.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Apple - the corporate-centered meanie?

It's a strange day when Apple looks like the bad guy when compared against Microsoft. I'm so used to Microsoft being evil and Apple being user-centered, but the Daylight Saving Time change is showing them in a different light.

Microsoft Vista is natively compatible for the change. MS sent out patches to all Windows XP (released originally in October 2001) users to fix their systems. Their initial stance was that that was the end of their supported operating systems, but now it turns out you can buy a patch for older systems like Win2K (originally released February 2000). We did that here at Stanford for all of our users still lurking on Win2k for whatever reason. And oh yes, we definitely do still have them.

Meanwhile, Apple's stand was that they offered a patch for OS 10.4 users and everything else was unsupported. OS 10.4 is the most recent version and only came out in April 2005, so if you haven't upgraded in the last year and a half, you're out of luck. Outrage blossomed, and now they've released a patch for 10.3.9 (10.3 originally released October 2003). But for users of older 10.x versions and heavens forbid, old classic Mac systems, they've got some nice instructions for how to work around on their website, but you'll get to work around twice a year until you upgrade. And yes, upgrading costs money, so that's usually why people wait. Also, every operating system upgrade comes with little headaches and unexpected issues, so a lot of folks put it off until there's a compelling reason to move forward.

Life moves pretty fast in the computer world, but what computing systems providers often forget is that it just doesn't move that fast for the rest of us. You may be all thrilled about your latest version and how cool it is, but that doesn't make it worth $129 to the family getting along just fine on their current solution. XP and OS X came out the same year, but if you've not kept up to date on the Mac side, you're getting left behind on this one. It's just not what I've come to expect from a company that fashions itself on being kinder and friendlier to the consumer, especially in their rather annoying Mac vs. PC commercial campaign.

In fact, I'm pretty sure that campaign is a big part of why it all bugs me. It's just an operating system, and for most things on most days, the one you're used to is the one that's better for you. This is why I've no interest in upgrading to Vista or switching to Mac. I need to get my work done - lots of work, especially on Daylight Saving Time - and working with the familiar is the fastest way to make that happen.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

DunDraCon

Totally Rocked.

Last year I figured it was just this thing I'd try once on a Friday night. Now I'm thinking I'm hooked for life. Hell, in one weekend, I got to be a fiesty French cat/patisserie chef, Kaylee... er Chase Smith, a vampire primogen, and Mad Anne Bonney (who became the next Dread Pirate Roberts). Plus I learned how to play Bang! and Killer Bunnies.

Again, and now unsurprisingly, T & Danielle's LARP was the highlight of the weekend: Monkey Island: Pirates vs. Ninjas. It totally ruled. It wasn't quite as cool as their game at Kublacon, but it was still fabulously great. The pirates and ninjas were playing a sort of Survivor game, complete with host Jerque Probes (that's zherk!) and new cohost (played by Suzanne). The pirates and ninjas ranged from the serious to the utterly goofy. We had Sir Francis Drake, the Dread Pirate Roberts and Long John Silver (fish franchise magnate) against Hitori Hanzo, Shredder, and the Ninja Burger Delivery Guy, for example. Fishsticks for everybody! The other great thing about this game was playing it with so many favorite Fezzis - Erik, Arthur, Kathrine (once a Fezziwigger, always a Fezziwigger), Suzanne, plus T & Danielle. It was family. I managed to cut a deal with the Dread Pirate Roberts. He explained the succession, and meanwhile I was trying to work out a deal with Zorro to become his wife. See, he was running for Governor of California, and really if he had any shot at winning, he was going to have to break the "Gay Blade" image. And it would promote my aspirations for women's rights advocacy and provide a nice father figure for my little girl. Meanwhile, pirating under the Dread Pirate Roberts guise was the perfect cover.

But the rest of the weekend was fun too. The Firefly LARP on Saturday was very similar in structure to a game I played at KublaCon, but had Firefly overlaid over the same basic plot. It worked better (for me) actually than the medieval story it was before. I was the genius mechanic with an overly friendly country bumpkin attitude. Luckily an old friend was working on board the Alliance ship so we got on just fine and managed to get a couple of the ships broke free and we escaped. Too bad the Reavers caught up to my friend on board the Alliance ship. It's a good thing that little bucket we were on was fast, else we would've got et as well.

After that I had a few hours free to stop by for a quick 10 minute massage from Ray, wander over to Target, grab a soda, and read a few chapters of Victoria's Daughters over lunch (yummy fish tacos) at Baja Fresh. I wandered back in and found Nick and Thea and Suzanne playing Bang. Looked like fun so I hung out for a hand. Cool game. I walked past the business center and saw T & Danielle, so hung out with them for a while, eventually heading out to grab dinner at Pasta Pomodoro. We talked over plans for the evening, and while they were headed up to finish planning their game, Dave and I headed over to check out the Vampire game. I've never played Vampire before, so I didn't really know... anything. Yet, I ended up as Jane Lee, Brujah primogen of my own small coterie. I ran upstairs to change and with the elevators' slowness, it took me about five minutes too long to get back. When I did make it back, one of my coterie (a Malkavian) had been scalped for pranking the Harpy, an explosion had gone off killing another primogen, and had blown off the arm of the one who'd just gotten scalped. She carried it around for the rest of the game and named it Sally. So I get back and say, "Hunh?" So, my goal is to make the Prince trust me and not to get framed for the murder and to teach my young Brujah that violence isn't always the answer and so on. Chaos ensues. The GMs were a bit inexperienced and didn't have their story straight. Lots of silly stuff happens including Josephine (the Malkavian) coming into possession of a second stray arm that wasn't even supposed to be there. She named it Jo Jo. Also, she was cursed to not be able to tell the truth for an hour, so she and my young Brujah worked for an hour on a series of questions that kept them very entertained, and left me utterly bewildered for quite some time. It was highly silly. Net result, we did watch each others backs, and kept together quite well, and I blundered through with utter honesty and gained the prince's trust enough to become his senechal by the close of the game. And then I headed to bed at 3am. Oof.

The next morning was breakfast with the Schluntzes. There was waffles and coffee cake and bacon. It was the neverending plate of bacon. And good coffee. Yum. And Logan showed me his new Nintendo and we played Land Before Time. This is actually one of my very favorite parts of Dundracon weekend - getting to spend a leisurely morning with Sean, Elizabeth, Katie, and Logan. We did it last year, and playing Uno with a four year old rocks. This year we didn't get around to Uno, but I did get to see the new windows and closets they put into their condo.

Finally, I went back and did a bit of work on Daylight Saving Time stuff and testing iPass before playing Killer Bunnies.

Net result: one highly entertaining, and yet relaxing weekend.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Pillow Fight!

Okay, so it was fun. Really really fun.

There are LOTS of pictures. I love that the press just embraces it as the "annual" pillow fight, even though it's only year two. San Francisco is just the kind of town to embrace wacky traditions.

I got off BART about one minute to six and ran towards the plaza with the others. The clock started striking six, and pillows began to fly. Battle cries were sounded. At first, everyone was really polite, apologizing for whacking strangers. We mostly got over it. I learned pretty quickly to pick on people my own size - nice little Asian girls or small, relatively calm white girls. Some people where way to big for me, and the overhand hits on the head can be kinda harsh. Go for the body blows instead. And watch out for the guys with martial arts training and the super angry chicks and the little kids. At one point someone called out, "He's a lawyer! Everybody get the lawyer." So we did. A lot. Poor guy. Feathers flew. Don't breathe the feathers. Feathers up the nose, in the eyes. There was a lady in a nice business suit dress with pearls. At first she looked too small and frail for even me to pick on, but then she whacked me, so I whacked her and told her she was the best dressed here. She said, "Yeah, so?" I said, "Makes you a good target." We exchanged blows and laughed. I bumped into Dougie and met his new girlfriend. That was cool. I didn't see anyone else I knew. I complemented another girl on her cute coat and we exchanged blows. It was kind of like that. Sort of a "Hmmm, you're interesting. I'm gonna hit you with a pillow now."

There's something magical about hundreds of people coming together with no foundation other than knowing it was fun on a small scale and wanting to try it on a big scale.

On the BART train on the way there, I exchanged smiles with other pillow holders. On the way back, the pillow holders were more friendly. We'd just done this crazy thing together even though we'd never met, we were more open to knowing one another. That's cool. Meanwhile the rest of the BART riders were like, "Hunh? What's with all the pillows?" Feathers were stuck in grate at the bottom of the BART escalator. Feathers were clinging to the seat backs in the BART train. Feathers were everywhere.

I went home and picked up Rick's favorite dinner at the Vegetarian house. I helped him with his math homework. We opened cards and such after a shower. Meanwhile Pixel decided I'd brought him the best toy ever - my (now much used) feather pillow. He spent the evening rolling around on it. I think I could've only made it better by adding some catnip to the feather stuffing.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tommy Got Adopted!!!

After work I went by Petsmart and picked up a new crinkle ball and stuffed toy for Tommy. I had that and a bunch more pictures of Tommy when I arrived at the Humane Society. I'd written in little captions like "That blur? That's Tommy."

So I wandered into his cage area. The door was open. No Tommy. I went back out to the lobby and looked at the adoption board. There were five cats adopted today, and the last one was Tommy! Yay!

Unfortunately the staff member who'd handled the adoption was already gone for the day so I don't know anything about who adopted him, but they have our phone number, so they can call if they have questions. Here's hoping for the best this time around.

Here's a couple of the pictures I was bringing in.



Here's wishing Tommy the best of luck in his new home.

Snicker

Kevin sent me this YouTube video. Some days this is so my job.

Visiting Kitty Jail

Figuring that with that much late-afternoon rain, the intermediate/advanced class outdoors would be off, I went back to the Humane Society yesterday after work to visit Tommy. I walked into the first room of kitties and didn't see him. As I was walking back out, a familiar little cry caught my attention. There he was, in his tiny little cage. This is not a good place for a little boy who likes to stretch his legs running all over the house like miniature tornado. He cried at me. I cried at him. All of his toys were missing - the crinkle ball, koaly bear, and the Care Bear. I don't know what went wrong there. Eventually things were less busy at the front desk, so I asked Anna if I could snuggle him for a minute. She said sure. So Tommy came out and got scritches at least, even if I couldn't let him run and play. He was already dusty dirty like when we first got him, no more the sleek and shiny boy we'd come to know. He laid placidly in my arms, purring like crazy, soaking up the attention. He was shedding like crazy, which was clearly from stress since he didn't shed much at all at our house. Poor little guy.

So I wasn't much in the mood for dancing after visiting. I went across the street to Home Depot instead where I was treated to amazing customer service. Turns out, they're having a promotion where the customer surveys translate into employee bonuses. It was employee incentives in action. So, I got a piece of replacement water-resistant wall board custom cut from some damaged stock (so that I didn't have to figure out how to get a 4x8 foot piece home in the Prius), and talked over some fun stories with Rick, the building supplies guy, who has lived as a rancher in San Jose all his life. He gave me a good price, and walked me up to the register to make sure the clerk understood what he was doing. Pretty cool.

Zombies?

Does anyone know if the zombies happened last weekend, or if the rain delay date is still on?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Weather!

We just had lightning, followed by thunder that rattled my windows and set off car alarms in the garage.

Maybe tonight isn't a good night to go to the Plough...

Poor Tommy

We took him back. All week, the fighting continued. Little tufts of fur dot our hallways as testament to claws landed on one another. It wasn't one-sided. Pixel started it about a third of the time. Saturday morning, Tommy kicked Pixel off our bed because he wanted us to himself. That was the final straw. No matter how many times I told him "In this house, we share!" he just wasn't getting it. It's too bad though. He is such an amazing little sweetie boy. He plays like a maniac, playing fetch with his koala bear or a crinkle ball for up to an hour as you toss it from the sofa. Then when he's exhausted, he falls asleep at your feet. He also purrs at almost anything. He's just a happy guy. He had no problem with having a dozen strangers in his house dancing so long as they played with him a bit, entertaining them with his high flying antics.

We took him back and he panicked, his mouth open and panting as we got out of the car. He knew he was going back to jail. It broke my heart.

But Pixel thanked us with repeated snuggle attacks over the weekend. I'm glad he's happy. I'm going to visit Tommy in kitty jail on Tuesday. Hopefully he'll soon find a new forever home where he can be top cat.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Great Light Bulb Debate

There's pending legislation in California right now looking to make incandescent bulbs illegal by 2012. The argument being that consumers should just switch over, and they won't do it as long as the cheaper bulbs are available. The SFGate article says:
...when it comes to buying a light bulb, it's all about the price at retail stores, said Jorge Moreno, an analyst at the market research firm Frost & Sullivan that's headquartered in Palo Alto.

"People just are not willing to pay more money," he said.

That is why despite many years of utility companies offering discounts and rebates for the energy-efficient lamps, one study released last summer showed only 2 percent of the nation's lighting market is made up of compact fluorescents.

California's numbers are better, but only comes in around 5 percent, according to the report prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy.

"This is a very highly price-sensitive market where the end-user has control," Moreno said. "But of course a new legislation could change that."


Unfortunately, it's just not that simple. For me, I can work out the basic math about how it's cheaper over the life of the bulb. I can also see how my saving energy is good for the environment. However, ultimately the deal breaker for me has nothing to do with cost; it has everything to do with the quality of light. Fluorescent bulbs throw a light that offends my senses.

My grandparents have switched over to compact fluorescents all over their house. In the kitchen over the counter, they blaze with their weirdly bright but grey light. It simultaneously makes me want to squint from brightness and want to turn on a light to get the rest of the color spectrum. The same goes for in their bathroom.

At home, I've settled for fluorescents in my front and back porch lights, but the back porch one really does cast a ghastly pall over the back deck. I don't know what is missing from the compact fluorescents that exists in the incandescents, but it's something critical. I certainly would never want it in my dining room or kitchen over my food, or in my bathroom while putting on make-up, or in my bedroom while matching colors for an outfit.

At work I've spent years with the warm glow of desk and floor lamps, never turning on the overhead fluorescents that seem to guarantee me a headache after a full day of the frequency vibrations of the monitor dueling with the fluorescent light.

So really, I'm all for a more energy efficient bulb. I'm even willing to pay more money to have it. But it has to be as good as or better than the incandescent. If not, I won't buy it. And yes, I'd be willing to order illegal incandescents for my home from online retailers in other states if things went that way. And you have to know that paying for shipping on top of my light bulbs certainly wouldn't be cheaper than getting a fluorescent from Target or IKEA. Fluorescents have never been a solid solution. Perhaps it's time to look at a new technology like a compact LED cluster bulb or something. In the meantime, please don't take my good old fashioned soft white bulbs away!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

New Deadlines

Remember when I became the voice of doom on one of my projects? At last week's meeting, the project sponsor decided that we couldn't do February 26th. (Whew!) She also decided that we didn't have enough information to set a new and firm date for launch. Her idea was that we could play it by ear, and then launch somewhere between March 5th and March 26th with at least 3 weeks lead time. This left me anxious. I really needed a minimum of 4 weeks lead time to do a proper communication ramp up and training delivery. So there I was with a nervous knot in my belly all last week thinking we'd end up launching on March 5th and I'd still be scrambling.

And then I went to the meeting again today. Turns out, the consultant from the software company isn't available to be onsite from March 5th through March 16th, so that left us two potential weekends to do the cutover. Discussion happened about the pros and cons of the remaining weekends and in the end, lots of people who were not me voted for the later weekend. So, we're launching March 26th, and I have confidence that we can make that date gracefully, and I have my marching orders and I've got six weeks to get everything to go well. I can totally do that.

So even though I have a lot of work to do, I've got a reasonable amount of time to do it in and a firm end point. It's a huge relief.

I still love my job.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Going to the Special Hell

It's all Richard's fault. I just bought Pure Disco and the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Sure, I bought them used on the cheap, but I bought them and I'm going to listen to the Bee Gees and know the dance moves to Night Fever and I'm going to enjoy Dancing Queen and I'm going to dance the hustle. But you know what? This dance class has been the most fun I've had at a dance class in ages. Not only have I learned crazy dance moves of the 70's, I've also learned The Madison and the Flea Hop from the 50's. I walk out of that class with a big stupid grin every time.

Raiding Grandma's Closet

When my grandparents came down to bring me firewood, my mom and grandma started talking about the fun things lurking in her closet. My mom was suggesting that money could be had for all the vintage things grandma couldn't wear any more. Possibly true, and possibly worth shipping them off to a consignment store, but more likely well worth itemizing and donating to WEAVE. But first, I wanted to raid grandma's closet. With grandma's birthday fast approaching, and her computer misbehaving, we made a quick pilgrimage Saturday to visit. Before dinner, we dug through grandma's closets. Out came skirts bought in Gibralter in the fifties and sweaters from here and there and a beautiful brown suede jacket. I always think of my grandma as tall and much thinner than I. Turns out, I am now just her size, about four inches shorter. Sweaters and jackets are a nice treat, but coming home with four new-to-me skirts is a boon. Good skirts are so hard to find. Usually a store stocks a dozen different styles of jeans and four or five different skirts, most of which currently have an uneven hemline. I can do with one or two uneven hemlined skirts, but it's been multiple years of nothing but uneven hemlines and I'm done now. So, yesterday I wore grandma's lovely grey pleated skirt with a shirt and sweater I've wanted to wear for a while but haven't had a proper pairing. The skirt has a lovely turn to it, so it was perfect for the English Country Dance practice last night. Must remember to send grandma a follow-up birthday/thank you card.

In other news, the two cats survived the Pryankster practice at my house last night, Tommy only getting stepped on after all the dancers left and when he was trying to chase his Koala bear toy as it zoomed past my feet. The two of them were sufficientlly distracted by the dancers to not fight much, so that's an improvement. We'll see if they make it through this evening without wailing on each other. Small and hopeful improvements give me hope that maybe Tommy can stay. He still needs a better name though. Maybe Stormy or Sparky or Oscar Wilde. We'll see.

Flavor Meme


What Flavour Are You? I am Chocolate Flavoured.I am Chocolate Flavoured.


I am sweet and a little bit naughty. I am one of the few clinically proven aphrodisiacs. Sometimes I can seem a little hard, but show warmth and I soon melt. What Flavour Are You?

More Random Social Chaos

Apparently, Justin Hermann Plaza is *the* place for random social chaos. While the zombies may get rained out 'til next weekend, I'm hoping the pillow fight on Valentine's Day will survive.

Dinner and a movie with your girlfriend? Nah. Pillow fight. Really big pillow fight.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Braaaaaaaiins....

This is your one week notification for Critical Ghast, because nothing says a hallmark "I Heart You" like ZOMBIES!

WHERE & WHEN
* Justin Herman Plaza nearest Embarcadero BART

* Meet up at noon on February 10th. (hang 'em high).

* Rain date (February 17th)

* Will Critical Ghast elsewhere at 12:30.

WHAT
* Pass this letter along to everyone you know and want to see as a walking corpse.

* Show up dressed in yer finest zombie drag.

* If you want to participate but as an innocent bystander who gets turned into a zombie, put a piece of duct tape visibly on yourself to indicate you are a zombie target.

* Bring some extra bottles of fake blood, makeup, and props to help zombify (willing) bystanders.

HOW TO BECOME A ZOMBIE

Think blood, open wounds, bruises, burns, decaying flesh, bite marks, tire tracks, a bolt through your head. Yellow, blue, green, and grey are healthy skin tones for zombies. You can’t overdo it, we promise.

Think about characters. Be a musician zombie, a business-person zombie, a tourist zombie, a firefighter zombie, a deadhead zombie. Have fun with it.

The high-budget version: With liquid latex, you can build truly spectacular open wounds. Add some color and some stage blood.

The lower-budget version: Burn a cork and rub the ash into your skin for a fabulous grey dead look. Corn syrup + red food coloring makes decent blood. You can build rotting flesh with wax, raw egg, or white glue, then add some color.

Rub dirt on your hands. Run your car over your pants. Use cheap drugstore eye shadow in blue or green on your cheeks. Rip and/or burn your clothing.

The almost-no-budget version: Show up with duct tape on your torso, and the zombies will attack you, eat your brains, cover you with blood, and turn you into one of them. Your costume won’t look great, but you get the joy of having your brains eaten by a mob of zombies in public.

WHAT TO DO ONCE YOU ARE A ZOMBIE

You are hungry for brains! “Innocent” bystanders will signal that they want to play by wearing duct tape on their torsos. Feel free to eat their brains, especially if you have extra blood or make-up and can turn them into a zombie too. DO NOT attack people who are not wearing duct tape; they taste bad. Moan, stagger, lurch. Play. Talk to people. Have fun!

WHAT TO BRING

Everything you wear is likely to end up covered with blood, make-up, and random body parts ripped off other people. Don’t wear or bring anything that has to stay clean.

Think about props – brains to eat, extra body parts, or props/costumes that can signal who your character is. For instance, a tourist zombie could have a ripped Hawaiian shirt and a camera, and try (ineffectually) to take pictures.

Bring extra blood to make new zombies! Please bring it in plastic bottles or tubes, not glass.

WHAT ELSE

Please pass this notice on!

Monday, February 05, 2007

IFC Premiere

Ryan's short is premiering tonight on IFC at 5:30 PST. Congratulations!