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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Batter Blaster

I heard about the Batter Blaster weeks ago on Sam's LJ, and a quick look at the ingredients then made me want to try it. Now after too much time at work, the idea of coming home and being able to have one hot pancake to go with my dinner of 2 tangerines is really compelling. My new goal for the evening is to finish work before Andronico's closes and get some Batter Blaster on the way home.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It's Been A Noisy Evening

So I went to Campbell's tap class which was again really stressful but in a very physical way (which is okay, because it's different than work stress and totally gets my mind off of it). Then I went to the Treehouse and picked up dinner. Then I came back to the office and came in juggling my dinner and my purse and my shoes. And then I noticed the alarm sound. Oh god.

It's worse than the Jeopardy theme song. And while it's playing, I have to remember my 8 digit ID number (which I never use), and then be able to type in the last 5 digits of the 8 digit number.

I failed the first try.

I failed the second try.

And then the alarm went off. It's not a little bell or something vaguely gentle. It's all out multiple alarms, all clashing together and louder than a rock concert. I close my eyes. I still can't remember the number smoothly. So I walk down to my office (alarm still blaring), put down my dinner and my tap shoes (alarm still blaring), unlock the door (alarm still blaring), put my purse down (alarm still blaring), pull my ID card with my ID number on it out of my purse (alarm still blaring), walk back to the keypad and type in the number and press "SILENCE". Okay. So then I call the alarm company and notify them. And then I go collect my things from the hall and sit down and try to eat my dinner.

And now I'm supposed to get some work done, but I'm pretty sure this just jangled my last nerve.

Work Update

If this were school, I'd drop a class. I even know which class I'd drop. In a heartbeat. Do you ever have that class that takes up way more time than the units reflect and yet makes you feel like you can't possibly do it well anyway? Yeah, I've got that project.

But this isn't school, so instead I'm killing myself working too many hours and getting no respect from that project team. They seem to think they could do my job better and I'm damned near ready to tell them to give it a go.

But I digress.

Jo-Ann, my former roomie in Godzilla, has accepted the Campus Readiness position. This is the good news. The bad news is that she won't start until March 3rd. So I've got five more weeks of going it alone. I can't do five more weeks of working from 9am to 11pm. It won't work.

Monday, January 28, 2008


I guess we really did scare her off.
Dear Christopher and Ammy,

Thank you for interviewing me; I very much enjoyed talking with you both. After careful consideration, I've decided that the position is not the best fit for me.

Thanks once again for your time.



Thursday, January 24, 2008

Nature vs. Nurture?

In the longstanding battle between nature and nurture, nurture takes a hit with this article. If everyone in your family behaves a certain way, is it because they learned it from one another, or because they all have a similar genetic peculiarity? In this case, all of the men in the family who have the same defect on the X chromosome results in an MAOA deficiency, which in turn seems to lower IQ and increase aggression. (The women who carry it have a second X chromosome to balance things out.) Still, it's controversial, since it's all one family. Of course they could've just learned these aggressive behaviors from one another. There's a basic problem in that our starting assumption is that all men are created equal and that given the right environment, any one of us could rise to greatness. But is it true? What happens if we have to abandon that assumption? So many questions flow from there.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

So What's It Like?

So the interviewee asks, "So tell me about a day in your life." Um, okay, so here's today:
9:20 arrive. Coffee & Oatmeal while reading email.
- confirm no SSP for IEC on Friday
- deal with SIP issues
10:15 start testing Nortel 2001 doc
10:50 take Nortel doc to Nuriya and go over changes and issues
11:00 1 on 1 with manager
11:30 leave for SoE Ex Com meeting. Pick up projector en route.
Noon demo Zimbra to Engineering faculty and deans
1:15 walk back and drop off projector
1:24 realize there is no shot at lunch and opt for soda instead.
1:30 Remedy 7 meeting. Sponsor decides to go for current launch date even though we haven't tested everything yet and we're going live in 3 weeks.
2:45 arrive late to Big Fix meeting. Drive meeting mercilessly and get something productive done in 15 minutes.
3:00 meet with DDD managers on Unanet.
3:45 check email
4:00 interview Campus Readiness candidate
5:00 talk to Nuriya about Nortel doc updates
5:10 discuss interviewee with manager
5:30 go acquire food. Realize I was WAY too hungry.
6:30 final revisions to Nortel doc. Realize speed dial still doesn't work as documented. Hope to heck that this can be edited and printed in the morning before training at 2pm.
6:45 read email
7:00 go to Campbell's tap class. Holy crap terrifying! But good.
8:00 start on Tech Briefing for R7
10:40 send rough draft to Chris for review
11:00 go home and be ready to come back at 9 tomorrow.

Christopher asked me to stop because I was going to scare her off. Could be true, but it really is like this sometimes. There were days in August where all I had to do was watch an online training course, read my email, and think about updating the campus groups document and work on defining my job. Today wasn't that day though.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Stress Monkey!

When is a day off not a day off?
When you wake up trying to compose an email for one project and visualizing a presentation for another after dreaming about a third project going horribly badly. Then you get up, start working on stuff, and don't get as much done as you want.

And by 9:55 on Tuesday I was already stressed to capacity. Before the end of my 11am meeting, I just wanted to go hide in the bathroom and cry. (For the record, it was the email asking for a demo of Zimbra that they want me to do tomorrow for the Engineering faculty even though I haven't looked at Zimbra since last summer. That was the final straw.)

Eight projects is too much. Can't deal. I just keep thinking, "If I finish this one more thing, then this project will fade into background noise." But it keeps not working. The 9:55 call was from a project I thought I wouldn't have to look at again for at least a month. They need major documentation revisions before Friday because they built a new installer wrapper. And my Unanet meeting at 11 was supposed to be the project close meeting, and I walked away with two new pieces of documentation to create and the email assignment I knew I already had, plus I now need to schedule and hold a makeup training session for the stragglers.

At least my 4pm meeting is an interview for the second Campus Readiness person.

I will get through this. It will be a long week.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Happy Birthday MLKjr.

This story from the Kid Logic episode is still my favorite bit of This American Life:

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Don't get me wrong - I totally love the odd ducks who read my blog even though they've never met me, especially the ones who were drawn here by interest in something I wrote or was up to or something like that. It's the ones who seem to actively dislike me based solely on what they've read, yet keep coming back and reading and commenting; those are the ones that worry me just a tad.

As for the great breakfast hunt - Naglee Park Garage. If you've got a sweet tooth, there's nothing better than their French Toast. French toast is normally one of those things I skip at restaurants, but this is unnaturally good. It is described as "Vanilla bourbon bread pudding w/ whipped cream & maple syrup." Um, yah. Amazing stuff. And the other end of the breakfast spectrum is served by their inventive Bacon Spinich & Egg Lasagna. The noodles are replaced with scrambled egg. It's yummy beyond all reason. Bring a friend and split one of each.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Top 100

The 100 Greatest Quotes from fundamentalist christian chat rooms. Wog.

So here's an irony - I know I'm just begging for more pointless commentary on this post from the odd ducks who insist on reading and commenting on my blog even though they don't know me, apparently don't like me, and seem to dislike everything I stand for, and to them I just say, "Seriously, get a job. How can you possibly have that much spare time on your hands? Go read something that makes you happy!" And yet, I must admit that reading the above article does not make me happy. It makes me sad. It makes me awestruck. It makes me fear for the future since the ignorant and fundie are breeding far faster than the average.

So, in the interest of doing something that makes me happy:
Look! A puppy!

He's so cute I had to watch this three times today.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

That Didn't Take Long

I used to use Eudora when I first started at Stanford. Later I switched over to Outlook for a while but didn't find it very satisfying either, and then switched to Thunderbird. I figured email is email is email and most fat clients aren't that different. Right after the holidays I switched back to Eudora for the first time in a couple of years because I needed to relearn it for our planned move to Zimbra this year. Most of the campus is still on Eudora, many in the "you can pry it from my cold, dead fingers" kind of way. (We also still have some PINE users.) I was immediately taken aback by how limited it was. There was so much I wanted it to do that it just couldn't.

And then, after less than three weeks of use, it broke. It says my inbox is locked, it says my outbox is locked. It says my TOC is missing. It says that the big email I was working on could not be saved. (Luckily I do all of that sort of work in other documents first, then copy it to Notepad, then copy and paste it into the email program. I've been burned before.)

Luckily, I still had Thunderbird installed so I just went back to it and was able to send the big important message to all of the PG&E bill-payers on campus. I really was thinking that there wasn't that much difference between Thunderbird and Eudora, that they had a roughly similar feature set. But Thunderbird, like Gmail, has slowly added in features and I've quietly discovered them as I went. I didn't even notice the changes because it happened so gently and incrementally, I never had to put a lot of effort into learning a whole new system, but instead kept picking up little things along the way, either new or always there but unnoticed. It's amazing the difference in reaction to incremental change versus sharp break changes. I just wish that we could do all of our software rollouts like that on campus. But I guess if that were true, I'd be out of a job, since a huge part of my job is getting people to deal with these sharp transitions. Still, it's such a better model. I think that has a lot to do with why Mac users go along with the upgrades better - they're usually smaller and more incremental rather than things like going from XP to Vista where you have to totally relearn the system to accommodate the new paradigms. (The huge exception there being the move from old Mac to OSX.)

As ever, change is hard, especially big changes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Just can't quite keep up right now. Trying to have a sense of humor about it, but folks are noticing.

Monday, January 14, 2008

New Year Goal

I've been thinking a lot lately about how different people handle money. I'm the kind of person who started my first IRA when I was 22. The idea of having a retirement, hopefully a comfortable one, always seemed like something valuable to me. And then I'm reading the paper today while brewing my coffee and I come across this cautionary tale, and I'm reading the advice at the bottom and thinking, "Yes, must continue to be conservative. Need to get back to that six months mark again." I just never want to have to be in a place where I have to defer dental work or have to sell my house to survive. As Cynthia has said repeatedly, "There is great comfort in living within your means."

So I guess that's my current goal for the year - to find my way back to my financial comfort zone.


There's a special breed of housekeeping that comes from living in the same place for more than 3 years. It's not the basic vacuum, mop, clean the mirror, clean the toilet, scrub the bathtub kind of cleaning. It's the "Oh my god, how did this get so disgusting?" This weekend's adventures in housekeeping included emptying the plastic-ware cabinet and matching lids to containers and disposing of everything without a match. (Thank goodness our local recycling is so good!) It also involved scrubbing the bathroom walls to remove the accumulated dust. Dust? On a wall? Yup, and all nicely glued down from years of being steamed into place. Last weekend it was rolling out the fridge and cleaning under it, and on top of it, and on top of the dryer. It was also mopping the floors and treating it with a polish restorer. (Actual floor refinishing is still another few years off.) And really, I've been tackling these big household cleaning projects diligently since Christmas, and yes, it's looking better, but it's also amazing how much there is left to do.

The really odd part is this is usually the stuff you do when you move out from renting a place. Or at least, that's what I've always done until now, usually having lived places for 2-3 years and then moving on. Is this part of that whole growing up thing?

Friday, January 11, 2008


I've been really enjoying a web site called Shorpy. The site says:
´╗┐Shorpy is a blog about old photos and what life a hundred years ago was like: How people looked and what they did for a living, back when not having a job usually meant not eating.

It's really fascinating. Usually one picture a day really catches my attention.

The photo that totally left me inspecting the details today was from 1864.

The chair of the chap on the far right looks like something you could still easily purchase today (sort of director's chair style, but at chair height). We had those at home with gold canvas when I was a kid. And look at the guy second from the left. Interesting neckwear and haircut and so on.

A few days ago it was "Crossing Dearborn", a photo from 1938 of folks crossing an intersection in Chicago.

Look at the shoes, and the hair, and the purses and bags and hats and gloves.

There's a Live Journal feed if you're interested. Usually 8-10 pictures a day are posted.

What A To Do!

Left here about quarter to two last night.
What a to-do to die today at a quarter or two til two. A thing distinctly hard to say, but harder still to do.

Got home about 2:15. Into bed by 2:40. Lordy.

I'd say, "Let's not do that again" except that I'm once again intensely thankful for the winter closure, short as it was this year. I got up at 7:45, scurried about and was out the door by 8. Made it here in time for a bagel and coffee before my 9am SSP meeting. I called my Dad on the way in since I'd forgotten to call him yesterday and he's leaving for Iowa on Sunday. We chatted and I realized I was actually mostly functioning. A month ago a late night like this would've keeled me over, but after several days of sleeping as long as I wanted and generally staying close to home, I'm doing okay today. Heck, after bagel and coffee, I'm feeling better than most mornings this week.

So I gave my little presentation at the SSP meeting and that went well enough. Now I'm off to go talk Unanet. We'll see what I'm like at 3 o'clock but for right now, color me amazed.

Packing a Sleeping Bag

Okay, that's it. This weekend I'm packing a sleeping bag and bringing it to work. This is ridiculous.

I go home and fall down now. But gotta be back for a 9am meeting. Wish me a safe drive to and fro.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Had Tree in My Eye

So in mid-December, the city left us a little nasty-gram that said we had 14 days to prune our trees out front or they were going to charge us $143 fine and send someone to do it for us for a fee. They wanted me to trim the tree to clear 13 feet above the street on the street side and 8 feet up on the sidewalk side. For the record, these trees were planted less than 3 years ago and are not 13 feet tall. So I called and said that I couldn't comply because I wouldn't be home during daylight until after the 14 days had expired, and that it's the wrong time of year to prune trees, and that I can't prune it up 13 feet because it's not that tall.

The guy who answered was pretty understanding and gave me 30 days and said to prune, and to do what I could and they'd come and inspect and make recommendations.

So, on the Thursday after Christmas I donned my coat and headed out with pruning shears and made a bunch of cuts to the tree, thinning rubbing branches, cutting off some of the low hanging monkey tails, and generally shaping them and making it so you could safely walk under them on the sidewalk or park under them on the street. During this process, I was using the long handled pruning shears and looking up to see what I was doing. Two things I learned: 1. I need new long handled pruning shears because these come together when you cut through the branch and smash your knuckles; and 2. wear goggles to prune a tree. I got a bunch of tree in my eye. I came in to wash it out, try to find eye drops, but couldn't find any in the bathroom or in the Things box from Fezziwigs and finally gave up and figured my eye was watering sufficiently to work it out and it would feel better when it stopped hurting.

But the next day I realized that I still had a black spot on the inside of my lower eyelid. I figured it was a scratch and would heal. I concentrated on not rubbing it. Several days later, it did not further change size or shape and I realized it wasn't a scab, but a splinter. I continued to concentrate on not rubbing and finally called Kaiser after New Year's since it was clearly not getting better on its own. The advice nurse sent me immediately to Opthalmology, where I talked to a less than fully helpful receptionist who said I couldn't have the 4:15 appointment on Friday because that was reserved for same day emergencies. Tree in my eye seemed kind of like an emergency or at least urgent situation to me, but I said I'd call back on Friday morning regardless. And I continued to concentrate on not rubbing my eye while all the while hoping it would work it out on its own. By Friday, I'd gotten a full slate of meetings and couldn't make that 4:15 appointment even if they'd let me have it.

So I called back Monday morning when I got to the office and managed to get an appointment for Thursday at 10:30. I explained the situation to the nurse, and then the doc came in and I showed him and he said, "I have no idea how you've tolerated this for so long. Most people would be in the same day." Yeah, well, patient, I guess. He numbed the eye with a few drops and picked out the bit of tree with some fine-tipped tweezers. I've got to put antibiotic drops in 4 times a day for a week, but then it'll be all done. It already feels so much better, but I'm still concentrating on not rubbing my eye for a few more days.

The city better be happy with my tree pruning.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Evolution and America

Is it superstition? Is it ignorance? Is it a failure of educational system? Is it our valuation of being 'cool' as better than being smart or educated? Why do people in the Balkans have a better clue about the science behind evolutionary theory than the average American?

Adults were asked to respond to the statement: "Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals." The percentage of respondents who believed this to be true is marked in blue; those who believed it to be false, in red; and those who were not sure, in yellow.

Beyond that, why is it so hard to integrate faith and science in America? It's not like folks in Sweden, France, or the UK aren't Christians. If anything, they're more homogeneously belonging to a single Christian faith (per country), yet they can integrate their beliefs and the fact that the world is millions of years old while fundie Americans insist the world is just 6000 years old and have a Creation Museum.

I don't know. I don't get it. My wish for America is that we could come to a point where we read the words of the Bible as a text written by men and that we wouldn't take everything said by a man in a church as absolute truth that should never be questioned or integrated with other information sources in the world.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Birthday Planning

Just found out the new Indy movie will be coming out 2 days before my birthday. Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade opened on my birthday in 1989 when I was 15. This pretty much inaugurated the tradition of going to the movies for my birthday. Last year it was pirate-y goodness. This year, mark your calendars now for Thursday, May 22nd. Woohoo!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Winter Closure

Stanford's winter closure is a very cool thing. Everyone goes on vacation at once, so when you come back, there's not an avalanche of email to read or a horrific list of tasks pending or some really bad decisions you have to live with because you weren't there to say "Please don't do it!" This is very cool. The weird part is coming back and hitting the ground running.

I arrived back today having gotten out of bed before 10 for the first time in days. I immediately leapt into doing 3 different training sessions and weird project meeting where it was announced the project wasn't going to have a project manager and did an emergency update to Unanet and met about H&S and the Zimbra project and now at the end of my day I'm feeling like it was just a really long weekend. A really long, really nice weekend with a lot of housekeeping. Weird.