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Friday, August 31, 2007

The Law Versus Social Pressure

I've been idly contemplating the competing pressures of doing what is right/healthy/lawful versus doing what peers and social pressure demands.

In Hawaii, word was that there was heavy enforcement for speeding. When there wasn't a massive traffic jam screwing things up, people really did adhere to the 50 or 55 mph speed limits on the freeway. Even taxi drivers. This totally amazed me. Meanwhile back in California, I'll routinely be cruising along at 70 mph and getting dirty looks from those around me who I'm holding up by only breaking the law by five miles an hour. So for me on the road here, there's a twin pressure, and it's a balancing act to drive at a speed that is fast enough to not annoy those around me, but slow enough not to get picked of by a cop for speeding. So, I hover between 65-75, forever balancing those pressures. But keeping that balance is a stressor and I really wouldn't mind if we all agreed to follow the law. I don't need to travel at 70, 80, or 90 miles an hour. It just doesn't get me there that much faster. And I really hate the righteousness of the drivers who want to go faster and who speed around, glare, cut me off, and proceed to go tailgate the person in front of me with whom they repeat the process in a few minutes after that person fails to go as fast as the other driver demands.

Similarly, there's an article today about politics getting in the way of encouraging breast-feeding in America. But while many grok that breast milk is better for a baby than formula, our society doesn't make it easy for mothers to breast feed. There aren't spaces provided to do so very often, and doing it "out in public" or "in plain view" is so scandalous that others frequently make commentary, throw people out of stores, or even try to press charges for indecent exposure. So no matter how hard you press for people to breast feed, if it's terribly inconvenient, if they feel that they'll run into problems in the form of social pressure, and when there's an alternative, people will choose the path of least resistance, unless they are strong enough in their beliefs about breast feeding and rebellious enough to take the heat.

And what about when the law itself doesn't support our ideals. We all know we need to eat more fruits and vegetables, but fruits and veg are comparatively expensive because the farm bill has subsidized the production of empty calories in the form of wheat, corn and rice. So it's cheaper to buy highly processed things like Oreos that have a long shelf life, and we all generally do what is cheapest and easiest unless there's serious pressure to do something else.

What I haven't come to is a conclusion on what to do about it, other than to continue to slog forward and to provide social counter-pressure where I can. Anyone have any practical suggestions?

Crappity

Went and did the Works Waltz fundraiser last night. It went well, but was not really well attended. Doing this during Burning Man probably wasn't the best idea. But, it was fun.

What wasn't fun was getting back to my car which I parked at the corner of 2nd and William and finding that something seemed to be funny with my left side. Noticed it when I dropped Paul at his car. Took a look at home, but it was too dark to make much of it. Looked at it more closely this morning and sure enough, somebody hit my car. Hit and run with no note. Grand.

So I called the insurance company this morning and spoke to a lovely lady who got me info on a local body shop. The adjuster will call later. And poor little Shadow is wounded. We'll see how this impacts my plans for the next couple of weeks. Harumph.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Insufficient Reluctance

Throughout Dickens last year, I made it very clear that I'd be happy to help wherever I was needed, but that I had every intention of being an anonymous tea sorter at Fezziwigs. My consistent answer to "Who are you going to be next year?" has been "I'm going to be a nobody!"

However, this has failed to keep me from accruing responsibilities. Fred and I will be one of the three shift lead teams. I expect this to be loads of fun, usually easy work, and will give me an excuse to hang out with Frederik four hours a day. On Saturday, David asked if I'd be willing to be in charge of games. "Sure," says I, "whatever you need." Arthur caught this exchange and we'd laughed many times about how people become in charge of things. He proclaimed, "Insufficient reluctance!" A hearty laugh was had by all.

And so, my new personal tagline may be moving from Captain Oblivious to Insufficient Reluctance. (Oh who am I kidding - as if I'll ever shake Captain Oblivious.)

FYI - Harry Potter

I did finish Harry Potter on Monday by the way. The first half is tedious. The second half in non-stop. In a highly Whedonesque fashion, Rowling seemed hell bent on killing off everyone she could. If you want to chat more, ask in person.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Reminder: Waltz Into Works on Thursday!

Dance Party Fundraiser @ Works/San Jose
Thursday, August 30th, 7:30 - 11:00pm

Come join us at Works/San Jose gallery to enjoy a
night of dancing for a good cause!

Waltz, polka, swing, cha-cha, tango, and more--all in
a wonderful atmosphere, surrounded by contemporary
art. See the current show, "Exact-o!" and celebrate
all forms of art & creativity at this event.

Waltz lesson will be given at 7:30, open dancing at
8:00. Dances for all will be taught throughout the
night.

$10 donation to Works for admission

Works/San Jose
451 South First Street
San Jose, CA 95112
email volunteer@workssanjose.org for more info!

I'm Amused

I post a survey about toilet paper and I get 55 responses.
I post a survey about what I should wear every weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas and I get less than 10 responses.
Y'all crack me up.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dickens Dress - Survey

I'm changing characters at Dickens this year. I'm now Mrs. Summerson, a 30ish widow who works as a sorter at Mr. Fezziwig's warehouse. My father, Mr. Drinkum (occasionally played by Arthur when he can drop in), has worked for Fezziwig's forever, having been hired as a young man by Mr. Fezziwig's grandfather. He's also a widower, and has lived with me since I married Mr. Summerson ten years ago. Mr. Summerson he died in a roadway accident about five years ago. I inherited his house where my father and I live. Mr. Summerson's brother inherited the cartage business and never liked me, so hasn't left me with much of an income. So, I work at the warehouse to support my father and myself. Father works too, even though he's too old, but Mr. Fezziwig would never fire him. Mr. Summerson and I had planned to have children, but things hadn't worked out yet. So it's just me and Papa.

Well that's the basic plan anyway as of Saturday. Next step: get a dress. So in the search for something totally unrelated, I managed to stumble across Cumberland River Sutlery. I'd been planning to make a dress with Janice, but she lives up in Davis and I live down in San Jose, which was going to make fittings and such tricky, and having something just magically arrive in the mail pre-made sounds really just too lovely and low stress. So the only thing left to do is to decide which dress. Mrs. Summerson isn't wealthy, so these would all likely be worn with petticoats instead of hoops, and with a work apron over it. So here's the dresses I've narrowed it down to:

- Eggplant Calico
- Green & Gold
- Navy & Sage
- Red & Taupe

Most of these are a 28 inch waist. In my comfy corset, my waist is 26 1/2 inches. In my fancy corset, it's just under 25 1/2 inches. The purple calico is the one 26 inch waisted dress, but I figure taking a dress in a smidgen is easy, and having room for the layers is wise. I should probably get something that isn't purple since I've been purple for seven years. I was hoping for a lovely bright blue like this, but nothing in my size. So, what do you think? Which one is the best for Mrs. Summerson?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Browncoat Ball

Plane tickets - check.
Hotel room reserved - check.
Friends enlisted - check.
Browncoat Ball ticket purchased, Captain's Track - check.

With the last item on the list checked off, I'm ready to head to Philadelphia in a month for a weekend of revelry with Browncoats, including Shanna who I met at the first ball a few months before her book was published. Who knew then, back in 2004, what all would happen and how much the Browncoats would do and how glad I'd be to know them.

And after last year's hosting and months of research and preparation, this year, all I have to do is show up and enjoy it. It's going to be lovely. Lovely, relaxing, and fun.

Friday, August 24, 2007

New Bridge Opening!

For months we've watched the new eastbound span of the Benecia-Martinez bridge grow into existence and have waited for the shiny new lanes to open, but in the spirit of innovation, we get a new treat with the new bridge - open-road Fastrak lanes. We get to zip through at 55 mph and while Fastrak says "beep beep"! This will make the next trip to Sac more fun. Sadly, it's only going to make the Cordelia junction even uglier than it already is, but I'll take the trade off for now. At least that will put Cordelia higher on the list for getting updated sooner as well.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Waltz Into Works

I'm helping Miss Monica throw a fundraiser dance for Works/San Jose. It's a local San Jose art gallery, and this month they're showing Exacto Knife artwork. It's a great organization, and they're offering space for dancing. So if you can make it, it's just a $10 donation for admission and it should be a hoot. Dancing and set lists in the style of Friday Night Waltz, and since there's no Friday Night Waltz this week, it's perfect!

Dance Party Fundraiser @ Works/San Jose
Thursday, August 30th, 7:30 - 11:00pm

Come join us at Works/San Jose gallery to enjoy a
night of dancing for a good cause!

Waltz, polka, swing, cha-cha, tango, and more--all in
a wonderful atmosphere, surrounded by contemporary
art. See the current show, "Exact-o!" and celebrate
all forms of art & creativity at this event.

Waltz lesson will be given at 7:30, open dancing at
8:00. Dances for all will be taught throughout the
night.

$10 donation to Works for admission

Works/San Jose
451 South First Street
San Jose, CA 95112
email volunteer@workssanjose.org for more info!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ceili Profiteering

Oh, and as for profiteering from the ceili, y'all can bite me. I've put in countless hours, haven't gotten paid for a single one, and we've just got enough money in the bank to cover 2 months rent if things go badly for some reason, which is to say, the rest of the 3 month contract we just recommitted to. Having just finished paying for insurance for the year (and now knowing what we need to budget for that), we're trying to pay the musicians a tiny stipend/thank you. And now I'm researching ASCAP/BMI licensing so that they don't come knocking on our door with a lawsuit. Lord knows what that may cost. The ceili is still the cheapest night of dancing in the whole bay area and the cheapest dance lesson anywhere. If you think $5 is too much to ask, then stay home and watch tv because there's nothing else cheaper. I've been teaching, calling, pulling together music, tracking waivers, keeping a ledger, and doing countless other administrivia tasks week after week and I've not taken one penny for any of it. If you don't believe me, then just ask and I'll send you a copy of the ledger. It just breaks my heart that you can try to do something nice, try to keep something alive for the love of it alone, and that people are so willing to think you've nothing but the worst intentions.

I Love My Job

Just when I'm having a truly craptastic day that involved forgetting everything I was planning to bring to dinner tonight, getting cutoff and passed on the shoulder of the freeway this morning while trying to merge into traffic (by a truly crazy woman with handicapped plates), spilling soda down the front of my dress at lunch, hearing that there's a rumor about us profiteering from the ceili, and more, I go to my 3:00 meeting with Jim. I know that I'm not getting a raise this year. That was part of the negotiation when I took the job and I'm so totally okay with that. But Jim managed to carve out a little bonus for me (which I was also originally led to believe wasn't possible) and had the loveliest paragraph ever on the letter:
As I look back, I'm almost awed at the number of projects to which you have provided support and the quantity and quality of the work you produced as part of that support. The variety of that work is additionally impressive. I appreciate all your dedication and commitment during a very challenging and exciting time in IT Services. I thank you for all your hard work for the past months.

It feels so good right now to be appreciated just a little bit.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Spoiled By My Prius

Driving around in Hawaii this week, I realized how utterly spoiled I was by my Prius. Here's why:

- I kept walking up to the car and pulling the door handle and being surprised when nothing happened. Then I'd remember and dig my keys out of my purse. Shadow (my Prius) lights up when I walk up and opens the door when I tug on it.
- I'd throw my keys in my purse and then realize I needed them to lock the car, so I'd dig them back out to lock it instead of pushing the magic button on the door handle.
- I'd accelerate gently and the transmission would immediately drop to a lower gear. The Prius never seems to need to drop gear to go.
- Turning right on red, I'd accelerate sharply to merge into traffic. The car would respond eventually after making me very very nervous and probably pissing off the person behind me. The Prius is always zippy.
- I had to start the engine before I could go. I missed my Power button.
- When I shifted into gear, the car automatically locked all the doors. To get out while the car was stopped, you had to shift it back to Park. And to get the keys out, you had to shift to Park. Again, I missed my Power button.
- The radio didn't automatically turn on and off with the car. I had to turn it on and off separately every time.

So after work today I'm taking the Prius for a bath. My Shadow is a wonderful car and I love her. With the tree in the back yard dropping berries on her, she's all sticky and gooey, but she deserves to be as shiny as she truly is.

Returned From Hawaii

OMG so tired.

The wedding was lovely.

Work today is hard. Must stay upright.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Security Profiteering

For the Pearl Harbor Memorial sites, you're no longer allowed to bring in any bags of any sort - no purses, no camera bags, no nothing. It's for security reasons. Because Pearl Harbor is SUCH a big target nowadays. Um... right. (At Disneyland or other similar places that might actually be a target, you can bring in any size bag or backpack you want.)

Anyway, we were prepared. With wallet, keys, and cell phone in hand we headed in. On the way in there were big signs posted around: High Theft Area - Do Not Leave Valuables in Car. Well yah, because you've just insisted we all leave our bags in the car. But wait - there's a bag check. Don't leave things in your car; just check your bags - for three dollars per item. Holy highway robbery Batman!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Kitty on Vacation Too!

I called Fred the other day to see how Pixel was doing while we were gone. I didn't hear back until I got an email with this photo today. Yep, he's just fine.

And yes, he is king of the sofa.

Lost in Hawaii

Our first few hours in Hawaii were pretty idyllic, but overall, Hawaii isn't quite as relaxing as advertised. How's that? Well, the traffic is really bad. I've spent more time trapped in bumper to bumper traffic on the freeway this week than I have for the past year in the bay area (oh bless you my little Prius and your magic stickers, how I do love thee!). So traffic sucks. This was unexpected for me. I kinda figured it was an island so it'd be easy to get around and not get lost. Ha ha ha ha ha! Oh how I laugh now. Today was the first day I made it through without getting terribly lost. The first day we went back to the airport to get Rick's cell phone and to exchange our car since the first one had a burned out left hand turn signal. We managed to totally miss the exit and ended up near the H1/H2 junction about a dozen miles past the airport. We got off the freeway, and tried to turn around, but a U-turn wasn't allowed. So we bumbled through a neighborhood and turned around. We made it back to the airport, but then we got lost again returning to the hotel.

The next day we got lost going to the Dole Pineapple plantation. When we finally made it there it was way cool. We spent an hour and four minutes doing the maze. Then we sat down for some Dole Whip (just like Disneyland!!!) and lunch. We headed back, tried to make a pit stop at the Walmart in Pearl City for a few supplies, got lost in the suburbs, eventually found our way to Walmart, got some water, a razor, a pair of scissors, etc. and then got lost trying to find the freeway entrance. We found a freeway entrance where you could go on three different highways, but for the H1, you could only go in the wrong direction. This was where I really lost it. I got lost in another suburb and finally turned around where I found that you could only get on the H1 going the correct direction if you were coming from this side, but you couldn't have made a U-turn to do it. Gah!

Next we got lost on our way to drinks at Bar 55. We finally made it and I tried my first Tequila Sunrise (meh.) and soaked up a little sympathy. I've never gotten lost so frequently in my life, but a combination of poor signage, disappearing lanes, no U-turn signs, and just generally being totally unfamiliar with the area and I was feeling less than relaxed. But there were good friends and good company and it was nice, except for when Dave and Ellen and Sarah arrived and were told they couldn't stay because the 2 year old wasn't allowed. It was Sarah's birthday and we were planning to open presents and such. This was a huge bummer. I decided to follow them out, maybe go join them for dinner, but we hatched a plan to have a party at their condo later. I would get a cake from the St. Germaine bakery downstairs from the hotel, Eddie would bring the rum, and Dave would grab some strawberries and ice cream. Crisis resolved, I felt much better and went back to enjoy the party.

I managed to grab the last chocolate cake in the case at the bakery and got candles at the Food Pantry. Party was had, candles were lit, happy birthday was sung, and Sarah LOVED the quilt that Erik and Marissa got for her. Yay!

Tuesday started with a hike up Diamond Head. We got there no problem without getting lost. Hooray! It's a nice little walk up to the top and the view is spectacular. The wind was starting to blow pretty strong from the approaching hurricane, but that just made a warm day feel perfect. Back down at the bottom, we headed out to Wailoa Shave Ice. It really was lovely and powdery. Yum! We came back to the hotel and then all met up at Duke's for lunch. The group grew from 12 to 16 to 19 finally, so it took a lot of updates to the folks who were trying to seat us, and a bit longer to seat us than originally anticipated. I don't recall being that hungry in years. I ate through two full plates of food at the lunch buffet and still had room for a few bites of the Hula pie. After lunch we walked out to the beach and some folks set up in the sunny part of the beach. I followed Rick and Alex and Sherman to a shady spot, then headed across the street to the ABC store for an inner tube and a pair of goggles. Then I met back up with the others to go float around in the ocean for a while. It was so warm that it didn't make me squeal when the water hit my belly. We all talked about how this was so different from the ocean of our youth - on the east coast or in Northern California. Warm and gentle is so much better.

We started the next day by getting badly stuck in traffic (and only a little lost) on the way to the Polynesian Cultural Center. The cultural center was pretty impressive. Cousin Ben at the Hawaii section was a crack up and a very proud papa with a daughter on our national soccer team getting ready for the World Cup in Beijing. He taught us about Hawaiian pronunciation and Hawaiian musical instruments and the hula. We learned a little hula dance in the Hawaii section and got to learn a bit about spinning poi in the New Zealand section (and about how to hit myself in the face with poi). We also got to see what appeared to be a Samoan hazing ritual during the floating parade when the male Samoan dancers rocked the boat until they managed to land their boatswain in the water. He didn't look too happy and made one of the other guys push the boat the rest of the way. The Samoan cultural presentation was a hoot as well and we learned how to open a coconut. This will be useful later I'm sure.

Today we totally didn't get lost at all and only had to make one U-turn! Yay! We went to the USS Arizona memorial and to the mall and found the perfect bachelorette gifts at a store that doesn't exist according to their website. Tonight we're off to Marissa's bachelorette party. We're walking, so I expect to make it through the entire day without being lost. Hooray!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Ah Hawaii

We have been lei'd by Erik & Marissa and it smells so nice.

After that we headed out mai tais and pulled pork sandwiches for lunch.

A stroll through the market and Auntie and Sherman have matching Hawaiian shirt and a dress.

Now we're lounging with chocolate covered macadamia nuts for a dessert.

Life is good.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Dance

Some days I just have to wonder at the world. It really can be a great place. We can come together in the worst of circumstances. Our popular art trickles down to the lowest common denominator and we can create a thing of beauty from it.

Today's wonder at the glory of the human race is brought to you by the Prison Inmate's Thriller. In the Phillipines, Byron Garcia decided to try to do things a little differently, to try to build a little camaraderie and teamwork. He taught the prisoners some dance routines. And since the videos were posted on the web, the inmates also get a little bit of fame, just enough to encourage them to do more.

I look at the guys doing the Thriller moves I remember fondly from my youth. I have to wonder if my generation's love of the zombie genre stems in some part from our early memories of Thriller. And I look at the inmates dancing together in unison. They're doing something together. They're in prison for murder or drug charges or something but they are grabbing fifteen minutes of fame through dance. Encouraged to join a group activity, their lives are not just an utter waste. It just gives a girl hope for the world. We will tear ourselves and our society apart, but if some of us survive, we will always eventually take time to come together for the love of music and dance.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

So Glad To Have This Blog Thing

I'm writing up a demo for Stanford Desktop Tools and I need to take a bunch of Mac screenshots and I was having trouble remembering how. I searched the web and found a bunch of unhelpful results. Then I remembered I'd blogged about how crazy it was last time, and sure enough, I answered my own question. It's like a little time traveler came and said "command+shift+4+control+space bar" Woohoo!

Breszny

I love the Breszny horoscopes because unlike the traditional 3 liners in the paper, his are actually articulate, and though I don't expect he's predicting my future, he sure does offer a nice reminder of advice that is always a good idea:
GEMINI (May 21-June 20): "I do not wish to hear about the moon from someone who has not been there," wrote 19th-century wit Mark Twain. That's an extreme statement of how important it is to formulate conclusions based on first-hand knowledge rather than on hearsay and random opinions. In the coming weeks, this principle will be even more crucial to your mental health than it usually is. In my astrological opinion, you need to significantly increase the proportion of information you acquire through your direct perceptions, as well as from people who've had intimate contact with the things you're curious about.

Just yesterday I'd been ruminating on all of the ways a particular sticker I have can be applied this week. The sticker says "Don't hold strong opinions about things you don't understand." This is basically the same good advice and a good admonition both for self and for others.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Costume Geek Fun

I reviewed the first disc of Pride & Prejudice last week, and saw Becoming Jane with Rick on Friday night. I was ready to be Charlotte Lucas, to be the practical one who seeks not romance, but instead a comfortable situation where hopefully affection can grow.

Walking up to the Pride & Prejudice picnic on Saturday had the feel of a Seurat painting, though not quite that period. Indeed, a slightly earlier period.

David was once again my Papa, Sir Lucas.

David B. has more pictures available.

The locals couldn't quite make us out. One little boy was most put out that we were dancing on the walkway where he wanted to ride his bicycle and felt compelled to scold the dancers. Another set of folks out to walk the dog inquired where we were from. Once explained, he said, "Well thanks so much for picking our park. It's just lovely to see you all. So elegant."