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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Oof

Day on fire successfully put out. Going home now. There were things I was going to do tonight that weren't work related. Then again, maybe not.

Little Potato

It's amazing how some days refuse to go smoothly. The PBN cutover didn't happen. They're going to do it tomorrow. The update to OrderIT didn't happen. They're going to do it tonight at 5. I've been updating and correcting everything to say June 1st for the first 2 hours of my day, not getting what I really needed to do done. And I discover that our billing rates page is wrong by an order of 10 and has been so for months, maybe years.

And just when I'm ready to give up because the stuff that should be simple - putting a file up via AFS - refuses to work and SecureFX is giving me fits too, I wander down the hall to beg help for the third time this morning. I got back to Launchcast serving me the Little Potato song by Metamora. Flashback to Dancers Anonymous and Janelle singing along to the Little Potato and how much has changed over the years. A moment of indulgence in nostalgia. A brain mini-break.

And now my file is moved up via SecureFX. It's all going to be okay. I miss Janelle. She'll be home soon. I hope. I believe.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Geek to English Translator

I've been in so many weird conversations this week about the inner workings of phone systems and billing policies, and it all boils down to one press release and a whole bunch of emails that are iterations on the same theme. Wacky.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Dreaming

Waking up was hard to do this morning, not because I didn't get enough hours of sleep, but because I was just so very busy in my dreams.

The most vivid and cinematic dream was about how everyone seemed to be behaving oddly. It started with the truly devout, and they were always using the phrase, "Have you heard the good news?" and I was trying to figure it out, but I don't generally get super-religious people so I figured I'd let it go for a while. It was during this part of the dream that I went to a Pryanksters dance practice and Ellen was refusing to teach me the 29th of May, because if I had faith then I would know what the next figure was. And I got really frustrated and I yelled at her, and she wasn't remotely upset. She just said, "I don't think you've heard the good news." And that's when I started freaking out. So I went to investigate, and everyone in the ceremony/ritual/congregation was eating these slices of what looked like and tasted like apple with little black dots. I dug out one of the black dots with my fingernail and it was a little spider, and it bit me. I squeezed out most of the poison, but I started to get it. The spiders were aliens and they were bent on world domination. And the good news was that we wouldn't have to worry about anything ever again because god would take care of it. So I started running away, but all the people from the congregation thought I was with them now and wanted my help to get others to come to hear the good news. So I tried running away, but the people in my house had already been taken over by the spiders, and so I tried to escape in my car and they were suspicious now since I wasn't all calm, so they kept trying to throw pieces of apple at me and the spiders would start crawling out of the apple pieces and attack me. I managed to squish one of them but they weren't very squishable and I didn't want poisonous bug guts all over me, so finally I ended up on foot in suburbia somewhere ducking behind bushes and over fences trying to find some nice secular folks who hadn't heard the good news so that we could mount a resistance.

And yeah, somewhere in there I woke up, and I laid in bed trying to get my head together, totally forgetting about my morning plans, and I spent some part of this morning wondering whether or not I should go to Pryanksters practice tonight since folks were going to be mean to me. It was all very odd. I'm feeling better now. But how come some dreams have to be so simultaneously absurd and yet somehow believable? I need some sleep to recover from my sleeping.

Back Again

I took Friday off since Stanford has a birthday holiday policy. Technically when we moved to Kronos for accruals, it became a floating holiday, but when I arrived at Stanford, it was sold to me as a birthday holiday and I really like that idea, so I'm sticking to it. Net result: a day to catch up, run errands, and get my nails done. It's just a real pleasure having someone else fuss at your fingers and toes and my grandparents sent me a check for my birthday (plus some yummy yummy ginger snaps - thanks Grandma!) and when I unfolded it, it immediately whispered in my ear "Manicure and pedicure". I refused to ignore the words of the talking check.

Friday night I made it to KublaCon about 30 minutes later than I'd hoped and without scissors. Luckily the con staff loaned me a pair and I was able to finish the sheep for the WOW LARP with Jennifer's help.

Saturday was T & Danielle's Dragaera LARP. One of the things that started becoming clear was that the con LARP community is fairly small. I can pretty much count on seeing Chris, Eli, Devon, Justin, Wendy, etc. at every con. This is cool. I apparently made Eli's day by giving him a favor thus achieving his romantic goal in a LARP for the first time ever. After that I got suckered in to playing the Diplomat for Clan Panther in Wayne and Brian's L5R LARP. This was cool. We decided to be a mighty warring clan. So we were being all nice and diplomatic and things were going well. The Lotus were going to help us out with some extra food while we took over the wild lands to their south, protecting them from bandits and opening up some additional trade routes. It was all going adequately well until they had a communications failure and their diplomat failed to relay a message. Then their hatamoto accidentally turned back the food our troops were depending on and refused to admit the error and resend the supplies, and they they pretty much sealed their fate by reneging on a marriage agreement with the daughter of our champion. We had to go kill them a lot and take over their lands. It solved our food production problem at least.

The next morning was trampolines and picnic. About 20 minutes in to trampolines we all felt really old. And tired. But the foam pit was cool. And dodgeball was fun. And bouncing is just always fun. So there were little breaks, and then more bouncing. And then there was picnic, which was lovely. Emily and David asked us to help them work on a modification of Lancers for the PEERS ball. Dancey goodness occurred on the grass. After that, post-bouncy lethargy took its toll and there was napping.

Finally, Sunday evening concluded with the long-deferred trip to Forbidden Island. Paul, Karen, and Crystal arrived first to bump into a bunch of our friends who were just there because they live on the island. They were headed back home for dinner so we just missed them. We arrived and lounging about and sipping big fruity drinks commenced. Aaron and Nicole, Emily, and Alex and Sherman also made it, with David making a cameo appearance at the end. There was singing along to Tom Jones and Johnny Cash, and random dancing to Elvis. Also, Sunday night is the night for discounts on the Scorpion Bowl. After one came out to a table nearby, we had to have the flaming drink. So, flaming volcano of alcohol was shared by many and insanely long straws were endlessly entertaining. Forbidden Island totally rocks. It's fully realized as far as decor goes, and the staff are efficient, patient, and totally cute. Twas a good night, even if Kat flaked. We closed the place at midnight and headed back to Alex's place to crash. The next morning was marked by sleeping in, achey muscles from trampolines, and eventually breakfast at Julie's.

After breakfast we went to see Waitress at AMC Emeryville. It was a sold out house and we ended up sitting in the front row. I'm hoping this means good things for the box office numbers over the weekend. We wandered around the new mall for a bit, popping in to H&M and Old Navy. The boys shopped for swim trunks for Hawaii. Dinner at Rubios and back to Alameda for the ceili. Everyone who was at trampolines on Sunday was feeling achey. There was no interest in an advanced class, so I melted into the sofa, never to be retrieved. I promise to be back to full dance bounce next week. The weekend won and I had nothing left for Monday night.

And home again home again to see our favorite kitten head. He greeted us in his usual fashion, throwing himself down on the blue rug by the door. I obliged him by bending over and letting my hair drape across him. He purred and rolled around and got belly rubs. Such a cutie boy.

This morning, the internet says I did pretty much earn my high school diploma.
You paid attention during 97% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
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The internet says a lot of other things too. I guess not everyone was as busy as me this weekend. I didn't crack open the computer once after Friday morning.

And today, I must announce to the world the future of Personal Billing Numbers and long distance calling at Stanford!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Pirates Didn't Suck!

So dinner and a movie rocked last night. We had 15 for dinner, and 19 for the movie. Ace and his crew of Pirates were there and in full swing. They did a great trick with a basket and a girl and spikes and swords.

And after reading a couple of reviews yesterday, I was genuinely worried about how much the movie would suck. It in fact didn't suck at all. It was chock full of pirate-y goodness. It was a bit uneven at the beginning, but kept rolling along better and better, picking up momentum as it went.

And I gotta say, my friends totally rock. Fred launched an evil plan to get me a bounce house. Yes, a bounce house of my very own. He got a bunch of folks to chip in and well, let's just say there will be a party to try it out soon. Add to that cards and well wishes and presents from others and it was a very good night.

Dinner at Johnny Rockets was good and the waiter's birthday was the 23rd. He took our ever increasing group in stride without complaint. Later, I even ventured in to Boswells for the first time ever. Not sure why I've never made that pilgrimage before. Mostly because it's kind of a dark and smoky bar sort of place, but it's not so bad really, and it's not actually smoky anymore. And Coffee Society was serving Celebes Kolassi so I treated myself to a cup. Yummy. So to recap: yummy onion rings, real live Pirates, good coffee, great company, and a genuinely fun movie. Yep, that's how I like my birthday.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Today Is My Birthday!

The big plan for tonight is to go see Pirates 3 at Camera 7 at 9:15. That's in Campbell. Dinner beforehand at 7pm at Johnny Rockets Pruneyard on the other side of the center near the Barnes & Noble.

In other news, so far, birthday goes relatively well. Lazy morning in bed with backrub followed by kitten snuggle attack just when it was time to get up. Scurried around the house, packed up the pirate garb, and headed out. Commute was fine until crazy Asian driver in Los Altos decided to cut me off, forcing me to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting him since he cut me off going slower than the traffic in my lane. Things in car went flying. This was stressful. He didn't seem to notice.

But got to work and had many nice birthday wishes from far and wide waiting in my Inbox.

But my favorite thing so far today has to be an even sillier version of the Hallelujah Chorus than the one we do at Fezziwigs. I am so very amused.

Hi Dad!

My dad sent me an email this morning saying he'd read my blog for the first time. He's in Missouri right now working on the tail end of a FEMA disaster. He'll be back soon. Just thought I'd say hi!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Equality Now

Reading Joss's post about Dua Khalil reminded me to go back and review his acceptance speech for his award from Equality Now. It is a thing of beauty. He gets rolling around 2:56. I miss having that man write for television. I wish someone would give him a forum again, at least one hour a week.

Also, I should mention that my friend Adam is selling a fundraiser t-shirt for Equality now.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Dua Khalil

I despise religion. I really do. So much evil is perpetrated in the name of god, and those doing it are utterly convinced of their correctness because it is sanctioned, practiced, taught, and reinforced societally using the Word Of God as the standard for every action.

Today's rage brought to you by the story of Dua Khalil, stoned to death at the behest of her uncle and cousins for possibly having interest in a boy from another religion. She was murdered, her head bashed in finally with a concrete block, in broad daylight in public. And it was recorded by someone who chose to stand by and record it rather than trying to stop it.

I first heard about this Monday from a post Joss Whedon made on Whedonesque. Read it. Go now. I'll wait here.

He's right. He's so right. And this shit has got to stop.

"Oh, but nothing like that could ever happen here!" you say. Bullshit. It happens in a million small ways across this country every day. Hell, it happened to one of my dearest friends, dragged before her congregation to have all her hair cut off because a man in the congregation believed she was having sexual thoughts and dreamed that she had masturbated. And that was just one example of the things done to her in the name of God and religion before she finally stopped it, said no, and became an emancipated minor. No, this isn't murder, but her parents let something awful happen to her because they believed in the leaders of their faith, even though any reflection on the issue would've given them pause. But I guess Falwell is right: "Christians, like slaves and soldiers, ask no questions."

I'm sick to death of people getting away with cruel, unconscionable things because, "It's part of their religious tradition." or "It's part of their beliefs." If your religions suggests that you do something to someone else that you wouldn't want done to you THEN DON'T DO IT!!! Or, y'know, here's a simple, obvious rule: Don't murder people, especially the ones you (in theory) love!

In the SFGate article, the sentence that set me off the most was this:
In an interview, Mohsen Gargari, a Kurdish member of parliament, and two other Kurdish lawmakers condemned Duaa's killing. But they noted that in February a Sunni woman had been killed by relatives for having a relationship with a Yazidi man. "Nobody talked about it. Nobody filmed it or turned it into a big issue," he said.

Oh, okay, so it's not that big of a deal then. It happens all the time. This is just a Sunni plot to make the Yazidi look bad. Well fuck that! No one, anywhere, of any religion, should ever ever ever be beaten to death by a crowd for (allegedly) being in love with someone. There's no scenario where that's okay. You can be disappointed in your niece. You could tell her it's a bad idea. You could disown her. But you may not murder her. Anyone who thinks that is a good plan really deserves no better themselves and I hope these men die a horrible, cruel, and bloody death.

Women are too frequently treated as less than an object. They are treated as less than an animal. They are treated as property to be abused or destroyed as you please. This is a thread that runs through all of the religions of Abraham, loud and clear in the Bible in Genesis 19:8, and happening repeatedly throughout that text. It is unacceptable to found our society on these beliefs. I have the right to life and liberty the same as any man on Earth, and while I live in the privileged, rarified world of the SF Bay Area, and get to live my life feeling that I do have that freedom, many women are not so lucky. The fight isn't over until every one of us can live free of the fear of being bludgeoned in the street by our loved ones.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Sky High Birthday Bash

I'm having a birthday on Thursday. I'll be 33. Bigger news - Molly is having a birthday on Saturday the 26th and she'll be 18. Rick is organizing a birthday bash for us at Sky High (the trampoline place) on Sunday from 11-12. He's got a reservation for 10 folks, but no idea who wants to come. So the big idea is, jump for an hour, then have a picnic at the nearby park where we will lounge in the grass like sweaty mammals. Oh wait, we will be sweaty mammals. Well anyway, you get the idea. So, if you want to join us, your should RSVP to Rick. We'll only be at Sky High for one hour, but I'll finally get to try out the foam pit.

Jerry Falwell - RIP

SFGate published a list of choice quotes from Jerry Falwell. They just make me sputter. Take for example:
"The argument that making contraceptives available to young people would prevent teen pregnancies is ridiculous. That's like offering a cookbook as a cure to people who are trying to lose weight."

to which I can only respond that well, yes, giving a healthy cooking cookbook to someone who has only ever known to eat what looks good would be a reasonable step to take. Much like with contraceptives, if your choices are to eat not at all, overeat and eat poorly, or learn a healthy way to do things, learning how to cook healthy is a good first step. Teenagers and young adults will either have no sex, unprotected sex, or safe sex. Wouldn't you like to increase the odds of a good result by teaching more options for a good outcome?

"The Bible is the inerrant ... word of the living God. It is absolutely infallible, without error in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as well as in areas such as geography, science, history, etcetera."

Oh really? Even the parts where it suggests throwing your virgin daughter to the ravening masses rather than handing over the two strangers who showed up on your doorstep? Great. I do not need to worship this god. And I hope you get buried in a cotton/polyester blend.

"There's been a concerted effort to steal Christmas."

Hunh? From whom? The Christians stole it first from the pagans. Nobody is stealing your holiday. Go to your church and celebrate it any way you want. And if everybody's so keen on stealing it, then could somebody please steal all the decorations that come out before Halloween now?

"I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won't have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!"

Aiiiiiiieeeeeee! Oh Jesus, please save me from your followers. If This Goes On, anyone? And also, allow me to direct you to a truly heartbreaking story from This American Life, Shouting Across the Divide.

"Christians, like slaves and soldiers, ask no questions."

Guess I'll never be a Christian. One of my bosses once told me that my greatest strength and weakness was that I ask a lot of questions. It's true. And I'll never be a slave because of it. I question my daily existence, how things are, why things are, and I just wish more people did so rather than just doing as their expected without ever asking why.

"The abortionists have got to bear some burden for [the attacks of Sept. 11] because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'"

Wha? Buh? How can you? You really believe this? And people give you money to say these things in public? Oh dear. I fear for us all. And I worry that now that he's dead, another will raise up to take his place, like some mythical hydra of hate in the name of Christianity.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Computers

So for the past five days, I've been working on the testing Mac - a Mac laptop that I've plugged into my existing monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc. This is because my hard drive in my Dell died a horrible death. So, I've been a Mac user for five days, which is long enough to find some new things to like and dislike about the Mac over Windows.

Grumbles:
- clicking once in the browser address bar places the cursor there. I have to click three times to fully highlight the address. On Windows, one click highlights the address, which suits my needs 80% of the time. Triple clicking blows.
- when launching something, Mac takes a guess at what program should open it, and I haven't yet found a work-around if it guesses wrong. This led to a rather comic episode trying to install Yahoo Messenger since it thought the file should be opened by Excel.
- On Amazon, the format offered for their music samples is Real or Windows Media Player. I don't want to have to download Real ever, and WMP is Windows specific.
- I miss the taskbar. I use a lot of different open windows in my normal day and quick, single click switches between them is essential. (On Windows I deselect "Group
Similar Items.)
- Textpad holds on to formatting. I frequently drop text into Notepad on Windows to strip off formatting. I haven't found a way or place to do that on the Mac yet.

Praise:
- Mail.app works really nicely. When idle, it scrolls the Inbox up to show me new mail without scrolling the next time I bring it to focus. When new mail comes in while I'm reading mail, it doesn't steal focus on the one I'm reading to jump to the new mail. Nice.
- The Mac lets me easily work with the laptop screen on or off. If the laptop is open, it shares the workspace across both screens. If the lid is closed, it pushes everything to the external monitor. It just does this with no fuss.

On the plus side, while everyone is fretting over my email, I can't be bothered to care. My work email archive is Gmail. Kevin didn't think he'd be able to get my mail, but was in the end. I think he expected bigger praise for this, but I've been forwarding my work mail to Gmail for a couple of years now, and everything I care about is there. The only thing I can lose is my sent mail.

But possibly more compelling is the switch back. Using the Mac with my Dell keyboard meant that the Windows key behaved like the Apple/Squiggle key on the Mac (which behaves like the Ctrl key on Windows). Today I've been flailing, hitting Windows instead of Ctrl. I also caught myself looking to the top of the screen for the time instead of the bottom.

But now I face the rather daunting and unrewarding task of cleaning up my new hard drive. There's a bunch of stuff that just doesn't need to be there and needs to go away. There's also some duplication because Kevin was having trouble getting data off the drive and my backup wasn't happening properly. I need to clean it all up. Don't wanna.

AIRobics - 2nd trip

The class was pretty much the same this time, but the instructor had a microphone and generally seemed more experienced leading a group. This was good. I am a big dork with no coordination and managed to fall over a couple of times. I thought the first time that maybe I was so sweaty and tired because it was so hot. Nope. I stumbled out, wishing they had a shower and drove straight home to shower up and watch Heroes and the final 2 episodes of Gilmore Girls because all my other plans for the evening went poof when I realized how little I wanted to move.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Shanna Swendson

So I solved my big book dilemma last week by just cracking into Damsel Under Stress, and realizing that yes, I'd gobble up the whole thing before the next Estrogen Evening if I just let myself do it. I finished it at lunch, only getting back about 20 minutes late. Now I'm itching for the next one.

Shanna was a girl I happened to sit down near at the first Browncoat Ball in Chicago. Small talk ensued and she said she had a book coming out next spring. She said her publisher was describing it as a little like Harry Potter meets Sex in the City. I thought, "Hmm, that might be worth checking out." Hooked I was, I tell ya. Waiting year by year for the next one to arrive is torture, and this one is definitely a special torture.

Anyway, Shanna is super cool and you should buy her books. That's all I can say. Now I'm going to go back to reading Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife.

Two Turtle Doves

Well, actually, probably not turtle doves, but doves nonetheless, nesting right outside my office window. Doves are not stealthy birds. They fly away with a little clucking trill every time they come and go. They're building their nest atop the circuit box out my window. They've been fussing at it for two days now. Soon I expect eggs and later perhaps chicks. Here's hoping everything goes well for the happy couple.

Alameda Ceili

Do you ever have those dreams where you throw a party and nobody shows up? While there was a quiet, nervous part of me that had that tiny fear nagging in the back, let's just say that's not how it happened.

We had 40 people, including six (or more) musicians. It was amazing. The intermediate class worked on the 4-Hand Jig (Humours of Bandon) and the advanced group worked on Chutney modifications - telescope/rise & grind and medium and fast hey for four. It was fun. Shauna put together a set list which was a great guideline for the evening. We squeezed in a Trip to the Cottage since that was taught last week and you have to keep doing the Ring Out the Dishrag until it's in your muscle memory or it will continue to be a wrenching experience. We had 15 minutes of polka set. We had Bonfire Reel and Fairy Reel and Harvest Time Jig as dances for everyone and still had time for a long set of 4 hand jigs, a reel-a-thon, polka sets, Trip to the Cottage, and several waltzes.

And we're going to keep doing it, same time, same place, in Alameda from now until August 27th at least. We've got a contract for the room rental.

And it felt good. The wood floors are such a treat. The musicians were amazing (and apparently tireless) and there was just so much room to dance. And there was so much good will. People kept coming up and thanking me and thanking Shauna and saying how nice this was. I just kept being a little stunned. I never ever meant for there to be a coup, but I've no idea who was at the Plough last night because pretty much everyone I knew from the Plough was in Alameda, save for a few who are dearly missed (Cynthia, Bob, Patrick, etc.). Hopefully turnout will continue to be high. This is a lot of fun.

Monday, May 14, 2007

AIRobics

The first time I tried to go, I got lost, thinking it was in a different neighborhood. Rhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifick had said it was right by Planet Granite, so I headed down Wolfe Road, found Planet Granite, but not Sky High.

I clarified. Looked it up. Confirmed with Rick that it was near the old Planet Granite location. Okay, no problem. Been there lots of times. Then headed there. For some reason I thought it was on Walsh. Drove up and down Walsh. Decided next time I would let my car be smart for me and actually type in the address.

The third time I actually made it there. Hooray! It was last Tuesday and it was one of those crazy warm days last week. The place isn't really air conditioned, and 40 minutes of jumping about is warm work. But, I must say it's a good workout. I figured I'd be sore, but I wasn't. We even got to play catch with a partner while bouncing for part of it. It was mostly one of those, "Do this for 1 minute" kinds of aerobics classes, where you can't imagine how long one minute seems.

I stumbled out with the ground seeming impossibly solid, and went home. I could've gone right to bed and slept like a rock even though it was only 7:30 when I got home.

The good news is that they've started a 7pm class in addition to the 6pm session. This makes this significantly more likely I'll get there, because leaving work at 5 is just too unlikely for me to do with any regularity, and it really is a situation where you need to arrive 20 minutes before the session to get a spot in the class.

I'm thinking of going back on Tuesday. Anybody else want to go? It's just $5 for a guy to tell you to do hard things (knees to chest, push-ups on a trampoline, bounces across four trampolines, etc.) for 40 minutes while you bounce up and down. Pretty sweet deal.

Children of Men

For Mother's Day, we opted to watch a movie about a future world facing human infertility. I'd heard a lot of good reviews for Children of Men, but also a lot about the violence, so I was hesitant to watch it.

Unfortunately, I didn't find it especially compelling. The futuristic scenario didn't ring true for me. The primary dilemma - human infertility - was never really explored much. The why of what happened wasn't explained, and only seemed to affect humans and not other mammals. So that was a basic problem first off. Then the secondary dilemma didn't make sense - foreign immigration. In a society where you have a constantly dwindling population, why is immigration such an issue? So much so that massive resources are put to rounding up and deporting immigrants? Again, it doesn't make sense. The movie didn't take the time to explain how things had gotten that way, and for me it doesn't logically follow. The two main characters were just propelled from one person to the next, almost always leaving the last person that helped them dead in the dust, in a society gone mad where all human life is cheap and disposable and western civilization had transformed into a police state. I happen to think that if human infertility became so suddenly an overwhelming problem, that our society is natalistic enough to put most of its resources into chasing down the reasons, experimenting with previously fertile couples, and protecting the remaining children through puberty in highly controlled environments to ensure that maybe whatever is affecting the adult population can be prevented with the next generation. So, police state, maybe, but not likely aimed toward illegal immigrants.

Grr. I wanted it to be a better movie than it was. I wanted it to be a Gattaca type movie where I spent days in my head thinking over the sociological and ethical issues. Instead, it was just people getting their arms blown off or shot in the neck or otherwise executed.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Egyptian Astrology






Anubis



Clever, fatalist, deep. Sympathetic, generous, loving and perseverant in proving their view point

Colors: male: sienna, female: crimson
Compatible Signs:
Bastet, Isis
Dates:
May 8 - May 27, Jun 29 - Jul 13

Role: God of death and mummification
Appearance:
Jackal or a jackal-headed man
Sacred animals:
jackal


What is Your Egyptian Zodiac Sign?
Designed by CyberWarlock of Warlock's Quizzles and Quandaries


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Hot!

Mac laptops get so freaking hot! I'm trying to take notes in a meeting, but it's distracting me by burning my legs, but the table top is too high to type. Argh!

Books

So I finished The Historian last week, finally. Sadly, the ending was not so well developed as the rest of the book. But it's done, just two weeks tardy.

Continuing the vampire novel theme, I've also managed to read most of the Undead series by Mary Janice Davidson at night while reading The Historian at lunch. Whereas The Historian took two months of reading, wondering each time as I go to close the book that in an hour, I only read so very little, with the Undead series, it was like eating popcorn and the bowl was empty before I thought possible.

But what I've really been looking forward to arrived yesterday - Shanna's next book, Damsel Under Stress. Yesterday I sat there fretting over continuing to read Darcy Takes a Wife, or starting Damsel. But then I was just too busy at lunch so there was no reading. But they're all sitting there ready to taunt me again today.

Meanwhile, at bedtime I'm reading Wyrd Sisters, but not finding it terribly compelling. It's my second Terry Pratchett book, but I don't think I'm ever going to be a huge Prachett fan. He's too self-conscious of trying to be funny, which makes it a bit less funny.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Pirate-y Things!

Okay, so I now hold two tickets to see Pirates of the Carribean at 9:15 on my birthday, May 24th. This rocks. (Thanks Rick!)

Dinner at Johnny Rockets at 7pm. Movie at Camera 7 at 9:15. Buy your tickets now!

Pirate-y costumes are encouraged. Singing of Yo-Ho A Pirates Life For Me may happen. Coffee afters will likely happen at Coffee Society next to the theater. Yarrrrr!

Alameda Ceili

Reposted from Shauna's blog:

More details soon, but yes, we're on for Mondays, 8:00-11:00 p.m. at the Alameda Ballet Academy, 1402 Park Street, Alameda, $5 each* with or without the lesson.

[snip]
This week, Monday, May 14, will likely be a combination of live & canned music. We'll no doubt lean more & more toward live music as we can, but the occasional recording will sneak its way in - that way the musicians can dance a bit, too!

I'll start a branch off of my website for the purpose of publicizing... hopefully tomorrow evening. I'll post the link, of course, as soon as the first page goes up. Until then, thanks to everyone who made Monday night so very, very awesome, & also to those folks thinking fondly of us but unable to actually be there.

*$5 has been deemed a good base rate. You can pay less if you just can't afford that, or more if you want to be, & can afford to be, particularly supportive.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Dance Rebel

I had no desire for a coup nor a revolution, but there I was, dancing on Monday nights with 21 of my friends, definitely not at the Plough. We were treated to live music from Alex and Myra. We danced with enthusiasm on the wood floor, or the marley covered wood floor. We cheerfully paid the $5 cover rather than getting guilted into buying alcohol. And when it came time to try Fairy Reel, the dance that ended it all, we put on Disco Inferno and danced it burn, baby, burn.

Half of us went to La Pinata afterwards and discussed the future. Heidi called Will and got the low down on what happened at the Plough. Apparently the intermediate class was sparse and forming sets for those who know was tricky, but John was quite pleased. I think it may just be time for a split. We talked over dinner about whether we wanted to keep dancing on Mondays, or try some other night, to try to be conciliatory and not a direct affront to the Plough so that people wouldn't have to choose. Everyone had schedule conflicts on other evenings. Everyone had long ago reserved Monday nights for Irish dance. So, now we're looking at whether to continue at Alameda School of Dance or to move to the Oakland Veterans Hall. Neither of these options improve my commute especially, so I'm mostly agnostic. Oakland is easier for some and Alameda is easier for others. Having La Pinata on the same block is really nice though.

So, now I'm an accidental revolutionary.
As they say, "A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having!"

Living Beyond Your Limits

Wow.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Cleaner

I hadn't realized how dusty and dirty the bedroom had gotten until I started cleaning it yesterday. Intending to take an hour or two to tidy up beyond folding the laundry, it turned into an all out cleaning extravaganza going a full five hours. I threw out tons of old stuff from drawers, went through the hall cupboard and the underbed storage boxes, oiled the wood, cleaned the mirror, swept under the bed. I tidied up my side of the closet and offered an empty storage box to Rick, but he wasn't interested. His side of the closet still looks like an explosion. But when I woke up this morning, the wood was gleaming and beautiful instead of dingy and dusty, finding the right necklace was trivial, and my feet landed on clean hardwood instead of a random dustbunny. I had intended to clean the bedroom and my room, but that didn't happen, so I'll have to find some other time to do that this week, not to mention the bathroom. Housework is an endless chore, and don't even talk to me about the condition of the back yard. There just aren't enough hours in the day to keep up on it, and Rick has zero interest in yard work. And so it grows. And I'm just willing to live with it for the moment. It's time will come.

Better Now

Okay, last week was bad. I haven't been that depressed in a really long time.

I spent a long time contemplating the nature of respect and rudeness. John treated me rudely for my being rude, when you roll both of our perspectives into one sentence. What is rude or disrespectful is so subjective, more subjective than anything I've encountered to date. While I'd be the first to demand sharp footwork, straight arms, and attention to detail in a performance setting, this isn't at all my concern on a Monday night at the pub in Berkeley. Instead, I'm out to have fun, to see what we can do, to play and to dance as the spirit takes me. This was interpreted as offensively disrespectful, enough so that yelling at me in public was justified and appropriate in John's mind, even to the point of defending his actions later when Chris called him on it. It makes me worry that two people who have been traveling in such similar social worlds for so many years can't get along, can't even see each others issues or perspectives. What hope is there for conservative and liberal, black and white, Christian and pagan, Arab and American, gay and straight, to ever interact without offending one another? None, I suspect.

And speaking of gay and straight, the one time I came to tears about all this this week was Wednesday night after the gym. We stopped at Pizza My Heart for salad, and I was reflecting on this cute couple at the gym. I was stretching, and the couple was finishing abs and stretching out, and one was teasing the other about stretching, pushing his shoulders down in what was obviously affection and play. The one being shoved looked over to me, and I smiled approvingly, and they smiled back and we went on, but there was clearly a moment of checking on his part. I thought, "It's just so nice that they feel comfortable being mildly expressive in a setting like this, one dominated so heavily by manly men who do manly things with heavy weights. It gives me hope." But then I thought back to Monday, and how you can think you're safe and accepted as you are, and how quickly that illusion can be shattered.

I thought about Monday's events in comparison to other dancing and dance venues and how my behavior and comportment is so different in different places. At Fezziwigs, I'm likely to be the scold asking others to behave by Victorian and theatrical standards because it impacts the show that we're putting on. Meanwhile, at FNW, I'm just as likely to switch lead/follow mid-dance or try something experimental because the environment welcomes that. Until Monday, I'd always found the Starry Plough to be the kind of place that welcomed innovation and creativity, even this year working on new dances like Tricycle and new figures like the zipper hey. It always seemed the sort of place and the sort of crowd to push the boundaries of the figure dancing art form, and that experimental nature was something that kept me coming back again and again. I guess I overestimated that.

So I headed on up to Karfluki, made myself useful, working backstage providing food for the entertainers and running to the store, and listened to my all-time favorite live band, Tempest. What I've always love about Tempest is the fusion of traditional Celtic music and rock and roll. It honors the traditions while updating them and keeping them fresh. Cliff was there and tapped me for dancing. We danced a bunch of different styles, culminating in Cliff saying, "Hey, we should try Night Fever Line dance to this one." It was the right tempo, so we gave it a go. A couple near us remarked on not having seen/done that in 30 years. We cracked them up. So there I was, dancing Night Fever to a traditional reel, played on a double-necked electric mandolin, while a shaven-headed man with wild eyebrows played his electric fiddle in a Utilikilt. After Karfluki, I went to Davis and was met with many welcoming hails and much affection. Today I'm okay, almost whole again. I've lost something dear and familiar, but only the place, not the friends, and not the dance. Now I'm off to Alameda to dance with those friends, sometimes to traditional music, sometimes not. I think it's the right thing to do.

Dinner and a Movie!!!

I think I just figured out what I'm doing for my birthday. See, there was this kind of bummer thing - the new Pirates movie comes out the day after my birthday, but that's a really busy night, really busy weekend, blah blah blah. So, harumph, I'll work in something on Sunday.

Then I went to see if maybe the Camera Cinemas had times posted yet for Pirates on Sunday. They did, because they rock, and what's more, there's two showings on Thursday. Wait... what? But? I?

So I called to confirm. Yes, there are Pirates on my birthday. Yarrrr!

Right, plan out window. But the new plan is better!

I'll post final details here tomorrow or so.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Mai-Tais as Heatlh Food?

About a year ago, a Tiki lounge opened in Alameda. It sounded fun and I wanted to go some time (still haven't made it) so I signed on to their mailing list. The just sent me a link to this article today. I am amused.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Last Dance

(Post held til 3pm. Rumor had it that Patrick wanted to talk to me but I've gotten no email or phone call and he has both forms of contact information, so here's what happened.)

It was a good night at the Plough last night. I missed the lesson because I was trying to finish a comm plan, so I arrived after the class had formed. Patrick said they were just talking about me and how I didn't like Laura's Jig. I reminded him that that was Emily last week who said that. I like Laura's Jig. Terry wrote it for Laura Evensen a lifetime ago. It's not as pretty as things like Bronwyn, but it's not bad. They had a full set, so I stopped and talked with Rachel and crew who were working on a performance for PEERS. Then I headed back to the car to get Cynthia's pin from Disneyland and the music CD for Rachel.

This little tortoise-shell kitty was sitting on the sidewalk between me and my car. I asked, "Are you going to run, or are you a friendly kitty?" The kitty walked towards me and solicited attention. So I petted it and it purred and then it saw a couple of teenagers coming and spooked and ran into the street. So I went on to the car, got the stuff, and headed back. As I was walking back, it ran up to me again, so I knelt down and proceeded to pet it some more. Meanwhile Josh parked and Sarah walked up. Josh made a little joke about me and cats. The kitty had a red collar with a bell, but no tag, so I don't know who he/she was. Just friendly and sweet.

Back outside I helped out with the arches in the Galway reel. It's a good dance for performance if you get everyone doing it the same way. Rachel was thrilled with her music CD. I went inside and Josh was talking to a guy named Rex who was at the Plough for the first time. Josh was explaining about the lesson. Rex recognized me from Friday Night Waltz. I gave him the spiel about how the Plough is great for beginners, because even without the lesson, he'll be able to do 2 out of 3 dances tonight, because it will go Dance for Everyone, Dance for Those Who Know, and a waltz. He seemed a bit relieved. I made a mental note to remember to waltz with him later. His daughter was also there for the first time, she just two weeks shy of her 18th birthday, clearly concentrating on the lesson. I gave Cynthia her pin and she seemed very pleased. I wandered back outside to see how the lesson and the performance practice was going.

After a little more there, I wandered back in and played a hand of Fluxx with Elonwy and her friends. I won on the first turn using a special "Hebrew Knowledge" card. The second hand was a bit longer. I grabbed a half pint of cider from the bar, and Francis mentioned that she was raising money to send John to Ireland. She was going to book a nice bed and breakfast she found tomorrow. I thought about contributing, but didn't have more than six dollars on me at the moment.

And then there was dancing. Waltzing with Dave followed by a rather slow-paced High Caul Cap. During the break, Rachel went over 2 Hand Jig with the folks going to PEERS so that they'd all be doing the same pattern. They'd asked one of the musicians to play a short jig, and they'd said sure. She asked me to watch from the front to check for issues. Just as the musician was starting up, John said, "Okay break's over." I crossed back to the sideline where Jennifer said, "Well it's hard to believe the timing there wasn't intentional." The Laura's Jig went up and we couldn't find enough people to fill the set. Apparently most of the class had gone home. Quinn agreed to try it as long as it was called, but it had been a long time. So I grabbed Patrick who was planning to call from the side and told him he was in. We managed to get through it. The set below us did Hallucination. They made it through, but not one of the people dancing there had attended lessons in years. I made a snarky comment to Patrick about wishing folks would attend lessons. He agreed, pointing out odd footwork issues and such. Rachel cheered that she made it through. I rained on her parade, which wasn't kind. She made a bunch of defenses about the lessons and having learned it all, which is true, and yet not the point. In the last six months the class sizes have gone from small to barely able to muster a single set outside for a combined intermediate/advanced class. If we who think we know it don't show up, there's no way to bring up the level of dancing of the group, and no way to teach and learn new dances like Quinby's Farewell and Tracey's Tricycle Jig. Sam said a few months ago that I was the only woman who called polka sets. I looked at him like he was a space alien, but thinking it over, I'm the only advanced level woman who shows up regularly.

John called Fairy Reel. This is one of the very first Irish ceili dances I ever learned, fifteen years ago. Still love it. It's pretty and elegant. It's easy enough for beginners without being tedious for experienced dancers. Our first set was a bunch of advanced dancers, so we were goofing off and playing around and having fun while John did the run through, always staying on time, but being playful. Patrick joked with Quinn about Irish dancing, and we discussed placing the stick, no wait, 2x4 firmly up his butt. The band started up and we danced through the first segment. We were out after that, so I tapped Bob and we started doing a Night Fever line dance on the side while we waited for the next set to come through. John leaned over and said, "If you don't knock that off, I'm going to stop this dance right now." I was stunned. He went on, "There plenty of other places to do that crap, and this is a night of traditional Irish dancing and I hear about this from the owners all the time. They're a nice family from county Clare and this is just disrespectful." I haven't been spoken to like since... well, ever. I can't even remember my parents being that brusque and paternalistic. I decided it was time to go before I said something rude. He went on some more, further making his case about how we were rude and there was no place for this at the Plough and how this was traditional Irish dancing. I grabbed my sweater to go, but then realized that it would be terribly rude to leave my partners without a third to finish the dance. So I finished the dance. And then I left.

I've tried to wait out the nonsense of the past six+ months, hoping that things would smooth over, that we could all find some common ground. In theory, we all love the Plough and love the dancing, but John holds the power and he just doesn't want us there. At this point I think it would be better if he went around and hand picked who he wished would go away and just told us to our faces so that we didn't have to guess. And as far as being traditional, John even said last night that Laura's Jig was one of his favorites, and it's not traditional. So fine, be traditional, but then don't dance Chutney, Bronwyn, Laura's Jig, Lee's Demand, Quinby's Farewell, Hallucination Jig, Tracey's Tricycle Jig, Ironhand, or Berkeley Polka sets ever again. For thirty years, the Plough has bloomed and thrived on innovation in dancing. It's not strictly traditional Irish dance, trapped in a little orange book; it's a living, growing tradition that's founded on the traditional dances of Ireland, but which has grown into something more, something that only exists in Berkeley, while this sort of dancing has almost completely died out everywhere else. That innovation comes from people like Bob and Sam and myself who study more than one type of dance and synthesize from one form to the next. It comes from folks like Rachel and Alex who know the dances well enough to know where they can be played with without hurting the basic pattern and function of the dance. It comes from Patrick and Cynthia who are willing to take the elements and figures and put them together in a new way to make new dances. Meanwhile, John runs things operationally, managing the sound board and setting up tables and teaching the basics to the beginners and calling the dances, but I can't tell you the last time I really saw him dance and love it the way that those he despises love it. We love this dancing and we love dancing in general, and that love of dance comes out in our dancing. And I'm just so sad that the love of dance is not welcome in his world. But ultimately it is his world, and though I've been visiting it for the years since Terry died, I've clearly overstayed my welcome. It's time to go.