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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Shake Shake Shake!

The current Earthquake List for northern California is kind of amusing. The bottom half of the list doesn't reference Alum Rock as a source point even once. The top half of the list has only 4 quakes that aren't based near Alum Rock, and 2 of those are presumed to be work at the local quarry. My neighborhood has been dancing a jig all day. (Poor Pixel!)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Whole Lotta Shakin'

At dinner tonight I felt the table shake a bit. I pondered whether or not it was a quake. Whenhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif no one else reacted and it didn't get worse, I wrote it off.

About ten minutes later we got a call from Sean. It was a quake.

About ten minutes later Rick called and said it was a 5.7 centered a few miles from our house. Home was okay, but some stuff was thrown around a bit.

About an hour later I came home and we started picking up. Lots of spices knocked over in the kitchen, bottles knocked of shelves, CDs knocked off in the living room, bunch of stuff knocked over in Rick's room, and one very freaked out little Pixel cat. He's super jumpy. So we fed him a treat and gave him water from the sink and checked the gas lines and the pipes in the basement and snuggled the kitty and gave him some Greenies and checked the foundation and the chimney for cracks and held the kitty close and gave him more water from the sink. The house threw things at him! It was very stressful! I think he'll be okay, but it's going to take a few days of the house not jumping around for him to feel comfortable again.

But we're okay here. The house is more or less intact. Just a little cleanup to do and a little prep for next time.

Every Day, Once a Day, Give Yourself a Present


I just love Amazon's little video celebrating all many of the coffee moments in Twin Peaks. The new box set is available now. Part of me wants to be good and ask for it for Christmas. Another part of me wants to buy it right now. Can I really be patient? Maybe...

Right or Wrong

Sometimes it's so much better to be wrong and to have all of your concerns invalidated than to be right.

It's been a long day of starting over on the data configuration design for Unanet.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Dickens To-Do List

The last weekend before Dickens kicks off has come and gone, but I still have a list of things to do.
- restock things box
- get 3 more curtain rods (dowels)
- make 2 more curtains (must get fabric first!)
- hem dress
- add hooks to waist
Yipe yipe yipe! And for some reason, the hemming is intimidating me. It's all pinned, but putting scissor to fabric is scary.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Pushing Daisies

I've figured out what Pushing Daisies trips in my head. It gives me the same sort of wonderment face that I get watching Amelie. It's just magical. It's a weekly dose of Amelie-type goodness but without the subtitles. I just hope it stays this good. This week's episode was perfect, including singing the little "Birdhouse in Your Soul" as they roll down the road chasing the revivified pigeon with the taxidermy wing.

Now the only thing I wonder is how nothing revivified by Ned ever seems to age (see Digby for an example), so what happens when Ned ages and Chuck stays young?

Traffic

I think it's going to be a little while before I get over the traffic jam in LA. Where previously, I see a sea of brake lights and I think, "Eh, no biggie, I'll get through it." now I see that sea of brake lights with a whole new dread. That dread is "Oh god, what if it's a five hour delay."

This morning I was tasked with getting bagels for the office. We have a rotating schedule so this happens about twice a year. I got up 45 minutes early, headed to Panera where they totally failed me by having no cheesy bagels and few other bagels left. So then I went to Noah's. When I made it back to the freeway, it had gone from cruising along to dead stopped, backed up on the on ramp. I busted a move and made it on to 85 instead, but the Fremont exit was backed up, so I went up to El Camino Real and took that most of the way, but then that had a lane closed so I ducked over to Foothill for the last leg. Finally made it to work 40 minutes later than planned.

But the dread when I saw that on ramp. It wasn't normal. It also happened one other evening on my way home - freeway stopped, and occasionally creeping along at 4 mph. Just the thought of being trapped a few miles and a few hours from my destination has a whole new level of dread for me. It's not good.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Good Story

Watched another episode of Journeyman. I have to say it's my second favorite new show for the year. The writing is really good. Rather than big over the top hysterical jealous reactions from the wife, we're watching her settle into this new reality. She doesn't like it, but she's dealing with it, and dealing with it in a more honest and realistic fashion than I've seen on TV in ages. This week's episode got into Dan's son figuring out what's going on, and there are two basic ways a seven year old kid could deal with it - freak out or think it's cool. It would be so easy to go with freak out, but they didn't. I was proud of the writers.

Plus, it's set in SF, and it's really SF rather than the pale pathetic imitation in the Bionic Woman. Seriously - for the Bionic Woman, just stop calling it San Francisco. It's mythical city X that's definitely not Canada, okay?

An aside: How the hell does a bartender afford that apartment in SF? And how the heck do two reporters, one who is no longer working to be a stay at home mom, afford a big single family house on a giant lot in SF proper? Come on guys! Argh. At least with the reporters I could rationalize by them having family money or investing wisely in the stock market, but still.

Anyway, Journeyman is good stuff. I'm totally curious about the tacheon researcher at Livermore. Jack's reactions are totally honest. And I can't wait to see what they do with the kid. If you're not watching this show, you might want to check it out. It's got room for greatness.

Random Web Obsession of the Moment

A new site has emerged in the style of The Hunger Site and The Breast Cancer Site, but with a much more clever hook. While these sites encourage you to come and click once a day with no real reason for your going there save for your altriusm and desire to see more advertising, FreeRice.com plays a vocabulary game with you. You answer some questions and it levels you, then feeds you more words at your level and adjusts your level down and up based on what you get right and wrong. It's fun, potentially educational, and keeps me clicking long after I'd forgotten about its predecessors. I'm hovering around a 46-47 most of the time (until I miss a few and end up back at level 41). Anyway, try it. You might enjoy it as much as I do.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Hidden Stanford

Stanford is not the easiest place to get to know. I've been here more than six years and I just today found my way to the fresh sushi bar on campus (as opposed to the pre-packed stuff in Tresidder) and the Walgreen's Pharmacy. Go figure.

Evie Touched My Chicken

Folsom Faire was fun this weekend. Sure, not everything went as planned. I lost a battle with a salami and probably should've gotten some stitches, but my finger is healing nicely, and I had the cutest Little Bunny Foo Foo bandage on Saturday. Sarah even made little tape ears for me. This totally rocked. The new scar will likely connect gracefully to the existing scar on my left forefinger that I've had since I was two.

Speaking of two year olds, we had an hour Sunday morning where Sara turned into Milton from Office Space. She kept walking up to anyone who might listen and saying, "Evie touched my chicken." First of all it took a little bit to decipher what she was saying. Possible variants included "Evie looked at my chicken." and "Evie licked my chicken." and "Evie took my chicken." I'm honestly not sure what the real truth was, all I know is that Sarah had gotten a foam chicken from the 15th anniversary party on Saturday night and she REALLY liked it and was totally distressed when Evie (Chris & Tara's 15 month old daughter) decided to infringe on the chicken's space. Chris finally decided to take a video of Sarah talking about the chicken. This will be gold for Sarah's teenage years.

Sarah took very good care of her chicken for the rest of the day, always carrying it around in a little basket. Later in the day, James donated a second chicken so that both Evie and Sarah could have a foam chicken. This was good.

Anyway, chicken drama included, it was a lovely faire. There had been enough rain during the week to ensure no dust, but not enough to turn the park into a mud pit.

FNW Halloween

The first Halloween costume event of the season was Friday Night Waltz. I wore my Dorothy outfit, ruby slippers and all. Anthony took pictures:


It was crowded. Richard is a great teacher with a very strong following. It was more crowded than I'd seen FNW in a while. The swing rueda mixer was fun, but the group kept setting up the circles as spirals or unconnected circles. It was frustrating, but we got through it. It just gives me visions of things I'll face a lot in the next few months at Dickens. I grabbed a fresh faced beginner for the Congress and led him through it. Turns out it was Louise's boyfriend and she was hoping he'd get a chance at "Ammy dance boot camp." I think that was a complement. Anyway, the boy did just fine and I expect to see him back again soon.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Pushing Daisies

I really dig this show. I want everything in Chuck's wardrobe. She has the most fabulous dresses. And the urge to bake pie is almost overwhelming (which led to more cobbler last night).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Disneyland Superpower

The best part most useful part of going to Disneyland with me is that when you say, "Hmmm, I should stop at the bathroom" I can point instantly to the nearest bathroom or the nicest nearby bathroom or the fastest nearby bathroom.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Star Wars Weekly

Star Wars the TV show. There was a time when I would've been excited about this, but now all that remains is dread. Oh George - how you disappointed me so!

Detour

So Friday night we headed down to Disneyland. We were making good time, about a half hour ahead of schedule when we noticed traffic coming to a halt. So we made our way to the nearest exit and started rerouting. We found the "Old Highway" and headed down it. It was fine for a while, but as we approached where the next freeway exit let out, it ground to a halt. Spinning the dial hoping to find a radio station with more information, we get 88.7 - the all traffic and weather station (no, really, I don't make this stuff up. It's L.A. When I lived there, there was an all show tunes station.). Anyway it says there are a bunch of accidents on the five. It gives us a glimpse of what we're about to deal with, but we're up in Santa Clarita, so as soon as the cloud cover shifted, we lost the station.

Finally we decided to try to find another alternate route. We made a U-turn while the big rig 100 yards ahead did the same. We drove out to a little neighborhood that cut through to the Sierra Highway. Winding our way around, we came up to a gate that it looked like the neighborhood had installed. It had 7 different chains and padlocks on it. It blocked the road totally. This was the part where I really wanted to have a big loud car instead of my quiet little Prius. While the map said this road went through, these neighbors took it on themselves to do a little traffic calming. I wanted to drive through honking my horn and yelling, "How do you like your quiet neighborhood now!" Jerks. Now I'm just thinking of notifying the fire department, because it didn't look like something that was done with permits.

Anyway, we made it out of that neighborhood and around another way to the Sierra Highway and found it in a bumper to bumper state as well. So, I gave up. It's nearly 3am and I'm tired. So I folded down the seats, grabbed a blanket, and went to sleep. A couple of hours later, traffic was no longer parked in front of the car, so we decided to try again. Maybe the freeway was open by now, right?

No luck. The traffic was stopped just a few hundred yards up the road. So we tried the 14. Cones blocked the entrance. We drove back toward the five. A sea of brake lights narrowed down to one lane near the next exit. We headed back down the Old Highway and decided to slog through. At least it was creeping along this time. So, at 2-3 miles per hour, we crept through the pass. Then I thought of tuning to AM radio to hear about what was going on. It was nearly five a.m. now and I quickly found an AM station with a traffic report. There was an accident in the truck bypass tunnel with at least 15 big rigs, five of which were on fire. The on-the-scene reporter had just arrived after getting stuck in the northbound traffic for the past five hours.

We passed under the freeway where this was all happening. Fire foam lined the side of the road like snow banks. Every few minutes we passed someone who'd stalled or run out of gas. Rick hopped out to help push one guy out of the road. We crept along and finally made it through. We got back on the five at Roxford and headed down the rest of the way to Anaheim with no traffic, checked into the motel, and fell into bed at 6:30am. Oof.

We'd been trying to decide whether or not to stay at Disneyland through Sunday night. Now it seemed like a really good idea. Later we heard that I-5 was expected to remain closed through at least Tuesday and possibly much longer if the heat had too badly damaged the tunnel.

But with a very rough start, we managed to have a lovely time at Disneyland with Paul and Karen and Crystal with cameo appearances by Justin and Monica. We rode the new Finding Nemo ride (which has very nifty lava) and did the Haunted Mansion Holiday and it was good. The drive home on I-5 on Monday went just fine. CalTrans managed to reopen the freeway that morning so we sailed on through. I even made it to Alameda for the ceili.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Good Rain

It's just a nice slow soaking rain out there right now, and has been for hours. Plip plop splatter patter. I like it.

ASL

I'm fairly certain I'm about to drop my ASL class. This isn't something I do. I take on a challenge and make the best of it until it's done. I will gripe and complain about it, but I'll get it done.

But I've found this class has issues. First is that we're required to do some "lab" work where we go in and watch videos and fill out sheets full of info. But the lab is only open limited hours, and all of those hours are between 9am and 5pm. So without taking a day off work, I can't do the labs. But then later we found out you could borrow the videos from the library. Trouble is, you can borrow one at a time (of 12), and they frequently don't have any in, and you have to return in them in 48 hours or pay a $1.50 per HOUR late fee. I can't imagine having twelve opportunities to stop by during library hours (not open on the weekend) and gamble on getting a DVD copy (some are VHS, and there's no waiting list either way), going home and watching it, and returning it in less than 2 days. So, either I take a day off work to go watch them all at one go in the lab (if that's even possible) or I skip this assignment. (The funny thing is that it would be just as easy to offer these videos online and have them restricted to those enrolled in the class, but that's a little too 21st century apparently.)

But the next issue is stickier. The teacher is deaf. This has been fine by and large. For the first day we had an interpreter to translate our questions and his answers. Since then we've been doing well using a mix of ASL, pantomime, and (on rare occasions) writing things on the board. So the communication aspect hasn't been a biggie. What has turned out to be a problem is how much time the teacher wastes on telling us stories about his wife and his life as a pastor and his travels. Not so much that it's not interesting and all, but it means we lack time to practice the signs we're supposed to learn. As for the actual curriculum, he demonstrates it once, and then moves on and usually in class we don't have time to practice beyond that initial introduction. At the end of each class, he admonishes us to practice, practice, practice on our own, but this is tough with only static diagrams and no collaboration to correct mistakes. We had our first quiz a week ago, and I had practiced, practiced, practiced, but it was a tough quiz, and I did better than most of the class with an 80%. Most students failed. As a teacher, this would've been a warning sign to me that things aren't coming across, but to him, it just meant we weren't practicing enough. He told us this as we went over it. (Sort of like doctors are the worst patients, those who know a lot about educational theory and practice make horrible students.)

Last night, he finally gave us 20 minutes to work together in small groups practicing. We started running through the vocabulary in chapters 5 & 6. We did the signs, helped each other correct signs or do ones we couldn't remember or had missed. Then after a few minutes he stopped us all and wrote on the board "WHAT YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND! NO VOICE IN CLASS!!!" He then proceeded to lecture us at length about how we were disrespectful to the deaf community and how in class we were never to speak and generally just sort of went off on us. He wrote RESPECT in big fat black letters on the board. I thought he had a lot of nerve to imply that a roomful of people wanting to learn the language of the deaf community had no respect for that community. All I could see was a teacher who had no respect for the various learning styles of his students. For me, repeating the word to associate the motion with the word in my brain is how I learn this so that later I can do it without needing to speak, but it's a critical part of the learning process for me. It's a classic reinforcement: read it, say it, do it. Works like a charm. But we're not allowed.

Since I'm only taking this class for my own edification and my own desire to learn, I hate losing that opportunity, but there are no other consequences to quitting. We've got a sub next week, so I think I'll show up one more time and get that much more information, then practice, practice, practice what I know and withdraw from the class. Maybe I'll take ASL again, but not in the fall quarter next time. The thought of trying to finish this class during Dickens season was just another bundle of hay on the camel's back.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Irony - Time Tracking

For as long as I can remember, one of my goals was to have a job where I didn't have to punch a time clock. Worked hard, got that, but guess what - in my chosen career path, you pretty much still have to track your time so that it can be billed to the right projects. At Ernst & Young, this meant dealing with truly horrific software that led me to computer abuse. Yes, I did actually hit it and scream at it, because after thwarting me by dumping my data before I left the client site, then doing the same stuff again when I got home and doing it on my very short weekend was just not okay. There are rules and laws that are supposed to keep a professional from having to do this right? Well yah, but it's time tracking not related to how I get paid so, no. And no I don't get paid for the overtime either. And there's no category to record the half hour spent on trying to enter all the hours of real work. Harumph.

But I left the consulting world behind, free of all that time tracking. I did the happy dance. Then Stanford IT installed Journyx and time tracking resumed and it sucked. The UI designer should be strung up and scrolled side to side until they die. Gah.

For my deep hatred of time tracking software, I got a gift from the karma fairy - a chance to implement time tracking software. It started well. It was fun to do the analysis and work out the structure and try to ensure that it was better than the time tracking stuff I'd used before. But then there was the re-org of doom. So I got to redo all the work. But it went live and life went on.

Then I changed jobs and had to use the old, horrible, sideways scrolling Journyx software again. The karma fairy laughed in the corner.

So this summer I get a call from one of the project managers. They're looking at changing tools for resource planning and time tracking and they're looking at Unanet.

So now, because I did not learn the lesson I was sent to learn last time, I am now working on implementing Unanet time tracking and resource planning again. Perhaps this time I will learn to love time tracking.

But when I went to enter my time for today in Journyx, I got about half way through, and then it wouldn't save my entries. I tried opening it again in another browser, but it says the server is not found, so I can't enter my four hours of working on time tracking analysis in the time tracking tool.

Yep, it's definitely time to go home!

Monday, October 08, 2007

New TV Shows

Maybe it was just me, but I didn't remember the boyfriend/surgeon dude dying in the pilot. I thought he was shot and wounded, but that help came and he was whisked off in an ambulance and so on. But then the opening scene of episode 2 was his funeral. What the heck? A major character/love interest dying is kind of a big thing to just gloss over like that. Still not impressed with the Bionic Woman.

On the other hand, I really enjoyed the first episode ("Pie-lette") of Pushing Daisies. It's sweet and quirky. I approve.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Apple Cobbler

Last night I had too much to do, but I had a bag of apples that begged, nay, demanded to become apple cobbler. So, I shirked on my ASL studying and borrowed an apple peeler-corer-slicer from Christyn and Brian (thank you for living so close!) and made yummy oatmeal crumble topped apple cobbler. It was frightfully easy.

The bag of apples were a gift from Josh from his weekend apple picking adventure. Every apple in the bag was different. Some were sweet like a Red Delicious. Others were tart like a Granny Smith. Others tasted unlike any apple I could identify, but oh those were the best! So, I peeled-cored-sliced them all and jumbled them together in a bowl. Then I tossed them with a mixture of brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, and flour. I dumped them into a small Pyrex baking dish and squirted a bit of lemon juice over it all. Then I added the oatmeal-crumb topping (much the same, but with butter and 3/4 cup of oatmeal as well. Then it was into the oven for 40 minutes.

What came out exceeded my expectations. The apples were extraordinary. Sweet and tangy. The crumb topping was like having your apple pie with a oatmeal cookie crust. I'm done for. I could've eaten the whole thing in one sitting save for wanting to have more tomorrow. Luckily, I don't have access to such fabulous apples all the time, so I have to ration this batch out through the weekend. But oh so good! Yum!

Woo! Woo!

This just makes me happy. Way too happy.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Auto-Drive

Here's to the military advancing technology that may one day help us all. I would love to have my car drive me to work while I sit back and read a book or nap. It should be possible. It's been predicted in so much sci-fi, but it's just not here yet. At the very least, we should all be able to approach a freeway entrance and have auto-drive take over and smooth the way. I suspect traffic would improve significantly if it wasn't all about individual decisions made by each driver (many of which are likely to be as poor as the folks involved in the 3 accidents I passed on the way to work this morning, including the guy who clearly lane-changed right into the wheel well of a big truck), but instead based on merging into a grid with everyone moving at a consistent speed and changing lanes minimally.

And again, it's interesting how much technology is pushed forward by the needs of two big spenders: the military and the porn industry. Interesting bedfellows.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Browncoat Ball 2007

It totally rocked. It was great to see old friends and make new ones. It was fabulous to stand back, enjoy, and say, "Y'all are doing a great job." It was true. They were doing a great job.

Philadelphia was more hip and happening than I expected. We had a lovely night of billiards on Friday, followed by a walking tour and museums on Saturday with the big ball on Saturday night. Everyone looked fabulous in all their finery. Also, Paul said it was a moral imperative to have a Philly Cheesesteak in Philadelphia, so that was our lunch at the Reading Terminal Market.

On Sunday we had breakfast and a mini-meeting with the Austin folks to chat and offer tips. Before heading out we hit the Betsy Ross House and walked past the "Hoop Skirt Factory Lofts". I wish we'd had time to go see the inside.

Next year: Browncoat Ball Austin.

Snicker

Ah, science at Stanford. So good that it's put to it's highest possible purpose.