Almost there...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Monday - Epic Fail!

Okay, so Monday was one of those days where I couldn't move fast enough to make it all work. I had a system demo to do at 2 in an new environment. A morning of email exchanges didn't work out the problem with the Outlook connector until 2:05. Luckily, Jason saved my bacon on the big screen in front of the demo guests. Whew, but oh it would've been so much nicer to finish that like two hours earlier.

After that, I got back, started working on prep for the Calendar Migration Advisory Meeting, while working on burning some new CDs for ceili. Somehow I failed to finish both. I also didn't get the VoIP sticker text defined. Also, I forgot to arrange an instructor for the beginners so that the sub-group could rehearse for the Springfest, but a quick exchange with Fred fixed that. Meanwhile, Dave went over handlebars on his bike and wouldn't make it to ceili either, so now I really needed those CDs that aren't done. Attention turned to that, but I couldn't get them out fast enough. And before I knew it it was time to leave for ceili.

Run out the door, onto the freeway. All is fine (assuming this is a version of fine where I skip dinner) until I transition to 880, where the sign says there's an accident at Washington. Crap. Turns out, it was a really bad accident with pieces of metal that no longer resembled a car. A 25 minute delay means I'm about 20 minutes late to ceili. So are a bunch of other folks. A freeway call to Shauna means that she's started the lesson with a mixed group. Whew.

I kept on and kept on and ceili was fun, but oy I felt frizzy and frazzled at the end of all that. A small order of french fries and a chat with Bob on my way home helped make me less grumbly about the whole affair. After all, tomorrow is another day!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Too Fast!

Green Honda Civic hatchback comes roaring up my street, probably doing 50mph. Thinks I, "Where is there a cop when you need one. Stupid assholes. There's kids and cats that live on this street."

About the time my brain finishes that thought, a San Jose police car comes roaring up the street in hot pursuit of the assholes. I hope they get them before anyone dies.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Blue House - This time with pictures!

The house is very blue, but I'm getting used to that. What I'm still not certain about are the red shutters. I think I liked them better in white. The red matches the red in our living room. We're putting a new screen door on the front this weekend so that will add back a little more white as well.

Microwaves and Obesity

Looks like someone is doing the research on microwaves and obesity that I was curious to investigate a few years ago. Thanks to Carlo for pointing out the article.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Blue House/Orange Cat

My house is blue. So blue. I woke up in the middle of the night worrying about how blue it was (and a bunch of other dumb stuff). Luckily, Pixel was thrilled that I was up and took advantage to have a full scale snuggle-fest. He doesn't care that his house is blue. Perhaps he thinks it looks fetching against his gingery orange fur. Or maybe that's me. Really, I think he just thought "My human is awake and I can steal snuggles! Score!" I really love that little fuzzball. The unrestrained adoration is irresistible. We were both back asleep faster than I would've without him.

This morning I walked out front and looked at the house. At first, it's a little shocking getting used to the difference, but I think I like it. We'll see when it's all done. But it is really really blue.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Reasons I Stay

Got a note from a client today. She'd attended a meeting I was at a few weeks ago and she said:
As always, your presentation was informative, your ability to respond to questions clearly while avoiding too much technical jargon was impressive. You are a wonderful ambassador for the project!

Sure hope my head fits in the car on my way home.

Waltzing Cupcakes

Monday, April 14, 2008

Fresh Fruit Vending

I wish there was a fresh fruit vending machine like the other snack machines, only with something I actually want to eat like a Fuji apple or a banana. Sadly, these would take far more maintenance and would have a lot of spoilage, so I don't see it happening, but y'know, this is why we eat so much crap that's bad for us. We eat it because we're hungry and it's accessible. But dangit, I don't want chips, crackers, popcorn or cookies. I want a banana. Grumble.

Lovely Weekend

By Friday, I was all tuckered out, so instead of heading to the city for a party, I headed home and went to see Leatherheads. Pretty, pretty movie. Renee Zellwegger and George Clooney run the show, with Renee being charming and bold (for the era) and George being the dashing combination of Cary Grant and Clark Gable we've all grown to love. It's a classic screwball comedy, a bit uneven at times, but with some of the best art direction and costuming I've seen in ages.

Saturday I rose earlier than I wanted to to go to the paint store to talk to their designer. She managed to put me off long before she came to give me advice by openly denigrating the owner of the paint store and talking about how he's running the business into the ground. It cannot be an easy business to maintain in the Home Depot and Lowe's era, and I rather took offense at her talking with a customer that way. So, when her advice trended toward the opposite of my intentions for the house (go for a greyer blue or go for a tanner yellow), I wasn't impressed. I ran a few more errands and came home to do what I could do - pruning the bushes away from the house, pulling the ivy off the garage, moving the furnishings off the deck, and moving the wood pile away from the garage. After getting completely filthy, it was time to get neat and pretty for the party at Hare House.

Dressed to the nines with gold halter top dress, red nails, black patent heels, and hair in a nice wave, I headed up, fetching Sam along the way. It was great to see Claudia so enthusiastic about the beauty school she's attending. I offered my hair as a playground and hopefully we'll get together sometime in the next few weeks to test her new skills. At the end of the night, I followed Shauna home so that we could make it to the ceili workshop the next day.

Catherine and Stephanie are preparing for their Irish Dance teaching certifications and they need to practice teaching the traditional ceili dances. So we gathered for four hours and ran through a dozen dances. It was fabulous to learn more about the different styles and regional variations, and some of their stylings may come to the Monday ceili too. Certainly their variation on the M-F from High Caul Cap would make it much easier to teach. It was, indeed, a challenge to stifle all the extra twirls, pattycakes, and other "County Berkeley" variations that are unique to our style. I invited both Catherine and Stephanie to drop by anytime if they'd like to practice teaching/calling some more for the dances for everyone. I'm hoping they take us up on it.

As we left the ceili rehearsal, I stepped out into the sunny afternoon and my brain couldn't really comprehend that this was San Francisco in April. It wasn't foggy. It wasn't cool. It wasn't damp. It was warm and sunny and bright. Hunh? Go figure.

After that it was time to run home before heading to Ray's birthday party. I stopped in, grabbed Ray's stuff and wrapped it up appropriately in my BCB2004 bag. Ray's party was the perfect summer barbecue. As the light changed to the long shadows of late afternoon, I mentioned that I needed to head home to choose a paint color for my house. Several people took an immediate interest, and before I knew it I had 3 graphic designers consulting me on color choices. Somehow, I had managed to make "Pick Ammy's house color" a party game. So, the house shall be painted in Benjamin Moore with Blue Bayou (801), with white trim, and a red door and shutters on the front to match the living room (Tuscon Red 1300). I suspect this will likely inspire the proper naming of the house, which for years has settled for the "Kooky Kottage" but that never seemed right. I started making departure motions again to head home, but then Alex and Sherman showed up. It was nigh impossible to escape the Sherman snuggle vortex, but I finally made it home to do laundry and get ready for the week ahead.

Friday, April 11, 2008


I gave a campus Tech Briefing today. Oddly enough, it's the first time in the 7 years I've been at Stanford and the 1 1/2 years I've worked for/under my director that he's seen me give a public talk. He said I surprised him again. He's never seen me seem so poised. Talking to an audience utterly terrifies the man, and he's always known I'm totally okay with it, but it wasn't until he saw it that he realized what that meant. So even if I wasn't 100% happy with my performance today (note to self: write introduction info on the Demo Notes sheet so that you actually say those words before diving into the demo!), Jim said it was a revelation to him. Yay! I'm glad he got to see that side, because more often than I'd like, he sees the grumpy, disappointed, truthsome version of me that isn't my public face when I'm representing the organization. And poised is an awfully good adjective. I think I'll keep that close for the weekend.

Girls in the 30s

Great image on Shorpy today.

Check out those wide leg trousers! I sure wish I could buy those off the rack nowadays.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Fluorescents Bad!

Okay, seriously, why are we all being encouraged to switch to compact fluorescents? They are extremely hazardous if broken, and the mercury is a bigger issue as an environmental contaminant if most Americans start chucking their CF bulbs in the trash. You've gotta know that the average person is completely unaware of the hazards associated with the bulbs and totally ignorant to the idea that you can't just chuck them in the trash or recycling bin like a normal bulb.

I'm all for more efficient light sources, but how about we wait on this change until there's something that is safe, can be disposed of via normal means, and produces a pleasing light? Clearly that's just asking too much, but seriously, I'm not only not on this bandwagon, I'm ready to start defacing it to let others know about the issues.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

July 21st

Oh, and we have a date for the roll-out of the email and calendar project. After two weeks of debates about how fast we could do things, how we could compress timelines, and what delivery options were available, we decided to go forward with the fastest option with the most risk that we'd been trying to explain might not go well. With what seems like psychic powers, the launch is during the one week I wanted to take off all summer to go to dance camp in Prague. Oh well. Hopefully they'll do that again in another 2 or 3 years.

I need to figure out how I'm going to put a positive and supportive spin on this for the campus. I need to manage expectations. I need to finish my last APM course this week because it's the perfect topic (Leveraging the Customer Relationship) and then I'll have that certification out of the way and on to my resume. It's going to be rough around here for a good deal longer. I need to get my ducks lined up this month while I wait for the various gears to grind into place so that I can be fully effective in May and June.

It's A Training Issue

My least favorite phrase in the entire universe is "It's a training issue." 98% of the time, it's not actually a training issue. It's a degraded service issue the project team doesn't want to deal with, so it becomes my job to explain to the campus why things aren't going to work well or the way they expected and they have to learn to work around that. Yesterday I got a message with two things listed as training issues that really read to me much more like, "Um, sorry, we're not actually going to do what we promised because it's more important to us to deliver this in this fiscal year than to do it right, so just deal, okay?"

So my thought is, for the next project meeting for this project, I'd like to offer to bring pizza for everyone. When I bring it, it will be frozen pizza, still frozen. There won't be an oven or microwave in the room. And there also won't be any knives to cut the pizza. When people complain about that, I'll just say, "Oh, that's just a training issue. The work around it for us to each break off a chunk of pizza, walk down the hall to the kitchen, use the microwave or the toaster oven to heat it up (you've got options!), and then we'll continue the meeting here. You might miss something, and it's a bit of extra effort, but that shouldn't be a problem for you, right?"

Only I won't do it. But I did actually log into my account for the first time in 2 years yesterday.

Monday, April 07, 2008

NPR Got Me

Almost to work on Friday morning, not realizing the significance of the date, NPR made me cry. Their story about Bobby Kennedy on the campaign trail in Indianapolis was heart wrenching. Well done in the telling. It's two minutes of audio that reminds me of the power of radio.

I really hope Barack chooses a good running mate, because inspiring young leaders don't seem to live long in this country.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Water and Caffeine

I frequently feel just a little bad about my coffee and Diet Coke habit. For years, I was a water-only kind of girl, drinking 32-64 ounces a day, with a once in a while Caffeine Free Diet Coke for flavor. Then I started working on the e-Protocols project with its interminable project meetings - 3 or 4 hours discussing trivialities like whether or not the end of the question should be a colon or a period. No really. I was dozing off. At the same time, the closest lunch spot offered a refillable soda bucket and once it was purchased, refills were 50 cents forever. They had Diet Coke, but not Caffeine Free Diet Coke. Hmm. So I filled it up, day after day, and got awfully used to having my daily bucket of caffeine. I also have to admit it means I drink less plain water.

And here in my office, Tom brews a very nice, very strong pot of regular Peet's Coffee every morning. For a long time, I continued to drink decaf from the Flavia machine, but darned if that thing doesn't make Denny's coffee look good, so I've been blending the two for a half-caf morning beverage, thus increasing my daily caffeine by probably another 100 milligrams.

Last week delivered a lot of news that makes me feel a little less bad about my caffeine consumption. First, there's the "Daily Caffeine Protects Brain" article. Then there was the coverage of the water per day research. So now all I have to feel bad about is the carbonation and the artificial sweeteners. But, as vices go, these are not the end of the world. Now if I could just get over my attraction to french fries...