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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Forbidden Island for Jennifer's Birthday

It's bound to be a good evening when you walk in and are greeted by a flaming Mystery Bowl with six straws and told to sit down and have some.

And so it was. Forbidden Island wins again as my favorite place to go relax with friends while tasting unusual flavor combinations. I've never been a drinker and the whole concept of going to a bar to hang out has always seemed unappealing. Forbidden Island has been a surprise, because it is at once beautifully themed, has a menu that still allows me new experiments and multiple favorites every time, and is so comfortable that you don't feel any qualms about just settling in for hours on end with good friends.

And so we did. The birthday girl was treated to a mai tai on the house and the staff made no complaint about our ever expanding and sprawling group. Our server would pop by, ask if we needed anything, and bring us stuff as needed. I tried a China Clipper, which was a new and quite interesting taste treat. Then I went with the Missionary's Downfall, which Rachel described as the unholy lovechild of a mojito and a daqueri. Add to that some crab rangoons and spring rolls and I was a happy girl. It felt really really good to unwind with old friends in a safe, cozy place.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Academia With a Gas Mask

There was a Steampunk LARP listed on Sunday morning. I didn't get in per the game shuffler, but showed up regardless in the fond hope of extra space and was not disappointed. I ended up as Lillian Gallagher, the alchemist. The game had an interesting suggestion - the sheet tells you what the device you invented is called, and you make up what it does. This led to a really creative morning.

The Esochemical Filtration Unit was a device that filters the blood. Initial results were promising and I could successfully remove heavy metals - lead, mercury - from the bloodstream using a small device and quick procedure. I'd also had some success with biologicals, successfully tuning the device to remove the bacteria that causes cholera. I hoped to soon be able to tune it to treat the zombie plague and viral vampirism. The device was compact and portable and not prohibitively expensive. In fact, the cost of the procedure was generally completely offset by the value of the elemental mercury collected from the patients. With a few more years of research and refinement, I hoped to revolutionize the public health system.

But I was also hiding a terrible secret. I was a vampire, and my research was driven primarily in hope of restoring myself to humanity, as well as helping others. Meanwhile, I'd developed an elixir that masked my true identity from others who could normally tell that I was a dangerous vampire. Unfortunately, it didn't make me look human. It made me look like I had no aura at all. Worse luck, one of the other scientists was demonstrating his new camera that could photograph auras, and I wasn't sure if it would expose me as a fraud. When I didn't fall in line for the group photo, suddenly everyone was suspicious. That I had to keep drinking my elixir every 15 minutes didn't help matters either. Before long, much of the game centered on figuring out what the heck was up with me. By the half-time break, the other players were actively saying, "You're up to no good." and "I think you're a bad bad woman." I blinked, looked as innocent as possible, and professed my desire to help the poor and sick of this world for the greater vigor and productivity of the empire. I spent the next few hours lying through my teeth, trying desperately to hang on to my one goal of not revealing my vampire nature, while still trying to promote my device and win the competition.

Well, I didn't win the competition, but I didn't give up my secret to anyone and no one could prove a thing. After years in hiding, this weekend scientific meeting was a social experiment for me to see if I could pass in society, and well, it was time to go back into hiding for a while, maybe work on a complementary elixir to simulate a human aura. And it was definitely time to leave town.

At the end of the game, everyone else felt really bad about how much they'd picked on me. Truth be told, I'd had a really great time.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Birthday Part B

I awoke to greetings from my weekend roomies and headed downstairs to see if I made it into T & Danielle's game. Victorious, I headed back up to report the good news. In fact, everyone in the room who'd wanted in had gotten in. With a breakfast of a banana and a cookie, I headed down again to acquire coffee.

When the game started, T announced there were a few specifically female characters. Jennifer and I went for the first one, and I RoShamBo'd and won the town tramp. T cheerfully announced, "And a very happy birthday to you." I replied, "Yes, my parents are so proud."

In the game, I did alright at first, but then later proved to be the most ineffective FBI agent ever, unable to properly investigate my own identity. Perhaps foolishly, I played by their rules to spend a minimum of five minutes per room/building, thus after coming out of the first place, found the remaining five room/buildings in the room had been picked clean. Harumph. When I made it to the other room, everything was already picked through there as well. I never did figure out who I was, though I did try valiantly.

I headed out after the game to FNW and taught my ceili class. One of my favorite guests from Dickens took the class and just gushed about how easy I made it and, while it was a lot to learn, he felt I was really supportive. This really really made my day. I'd spent the prior week feeling like my teaching was unappreciated, so this was the best birthday present I could've gotten.

But I got other treats and surprises as well. Richard brought me flowers. Joreth sent cake (with berries and cream!) and wine with Emily & David. Scott got pie and ice cream for me. I was pivoted within an inch of my equilibrium by three different friends. There were two polka sets at once, with blame placed squarely on my shoulders. I felt like a pretty pretty princess being twirled and dipped by Christophe. All in all, it was just perfect.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Birthday Part A

Or Ammy's Birthday (Observed)

The day started out on an odd note, with me managing to stress out about a meeting that wasn't what I thought it was going to be. While fretting over that meeting, I forgot about another meeting. Arg. But, that aside, I pulled it together and went to the library for a Zimbra demo. Once again, there were actually ooohs and ohs. This is good. From there I biked over to the Multicultural Springfest and met up with the gang. And we danced. And Melanie took video:
- Galway
- Polka Set part 1
- Polka Set part 2
Our final set was actually Galway Reel for 6 in a Line, Fairy Reel, Hallucination Jig (shortened slightly), and a polka set of doom. It went really really really well. Everyone worked so hard for the past 6 weeks to get these dances looking sharp for the show and the first thing they said when we came off stage was, "Wow! That was amazing. We should've had you guys on way earlier!" So, hopefully we can do this again next year.

After getting some actual work done, I headed out to Camera 7 for pizza and Indiana Jones. The movie was a bit unfocused, but it had a good enough amount of that old Indy charm. After the movie, we all stood around and drove trucks through the plot holes, prop issues, and quirks of the movie, which was fun too. All in all, it was a lovely way to spend my birthday, and I get to do it again for real tomorrow at KublaCon and FNW in Oakland.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Birthday Plans

As mentioned before, the big plan is for an outing to Indy on Thursday at Camera 7, followed by dancing at FNW on Saturday (my actual birthday).

Some folks have asked about dinner before the movie. Since Johnny Rockets in Pruneyard has closed, I'm thinking that just grabbing a slice at Pizza My Heart sounds nice. Maybe a nice coffee at Coffee Society. I suspect I'll head to the theater around 6, and since the weather is scheduled to be lovely, I'll grab a slice and pull up a spot in the courtyard and start the queue. I'll bring a book and a few games. Please come join me if you like.

As for FNW, since Crepes Musette is playing, it's a little spendier than normal ($15). Sorry about that. I expect to be teaching ceili from 7-9, and dancing from 9-midnight.

Also, I haven't done anything like an evite or suchlike this year. If there are folks who say "Oh, I guess I'm not invited," please tell them they're being silly as I've managed to invite the whole world. For a very few (um... 2 maybe?) people that I know for certain don't read my blog, I actually mentioned it in person, but for everyone else, I hope word of mouth will suffice. Thirty-four isn't exactly a big milestone year and I don't feel like making a big fuss this time around.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Plastics Guide

I got an email from someone at Stanford asking about their lost Nalgene bottle. This once again tripped the question in my head about why the Nalgene bottle became so popular a few years ago. I was sure there must be something special about them that made people so eager to use them over other water bottles. Were they infused with anti-bacterial agents to keep the bottles from getting the funk? Nope. Were they special super non-toxic plastic? Apparently not.

But that did lead me to a special Guide to Plastics that is the most concise, straight forward thing I've seen on the subject. One page, and I feel like I can quickly and easily make decent choices about the plastics I use.

Tetris Makes You Smarter?

That's what the research says. So if you've got that afternoon brain meltdown and you just can't concentrate or get anything done, stop and play a little Tetris. It may just get your brain working a little harder and you may be able to apply that back to whatever you were trying to work on and just couldn't get through.

Marriage Ruling

I know I don't need to weigh in, but I can't really keep quiet either really. Yes, I'm happy to see this ruling. I honestly wish it could've waited until after November, since our last presidential election inadvertently became a gay marriage referendum. I'd like to see what the world thinks beyond a single issue, but oh well. I also hope it sticks this time. I'd hate to see more annulments.

But it's time to take back marriage from the hands of religious fanaticism. Marriage was a legal contract before it was ever about love or god. I know that nearly anyone who believes fervently in their religion won't believe me about this historical point. There's nothing I can do about that (except ask you to read a book). Perhaps the Mormans have it right - they call getting married getting sealed. That's their ceremony. This makes it significantly separate from the legal arrangement that is marriage, though generally those that get sealed also get the marriage certification as well.

Marriage, in a legal sense, is a package deal. It's like one of those deals from the phone company where it's cheaper to get the satellite, cell, home phone, flat-rate long distance, and internet service for $99, but if you got each thing individually it would cost way more. You can arrange most of the details of a marriage by working them out one by one via a lawyer, but there are some bonuses you can only get if you get the package. And that's why this is a legal battle. By and large, the homosexuals of the world don't want to take over your church. Heck, most of the gay couples I know ARE married in the eyes of their family and their god. They just want to be able to buy the package deal at the reduced price that's was previously only available to the hetero world.

And I'm glad they can now/again.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Color Research

Colors are one of those things I've always wondered about. Is my perception of blue the same as your perception of blue? Or if I were looking through your eyes or using your brain, would it be totally different? So much of color perception is relative. If I had a bazillion dollars and never had to work, this is one of those weird things I might go study.

Lucky for me, other people are doing the research for me. Today's interesting research article is about infant perception of color and how it differs from color perception after language acquisition.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Still love done. Stayed the extra hour to finish the inventory of 112 web pages Stanford has about email and calendar. Wrote an assessment statement for every page. Now to start the actual revision... tomorrow.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Per several readers suggestion, I tried Audacity first since it's free and easily downloadable. I'm running into a problem though - it doesn't seem to allow you to make marks/cuts/insertions in less than 1 second increments, and in terms of a dancing song, 1 second is a really long time. Am I missing how to get around this, or is this really a limitation?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Happy Anniversary

A year ago, John drove us from the Plough by scolding us like misbehaving children.

A year ago, Shauna and Chris put together a night of dancing in Alameda one week later. I unexpectedly found myself part of a coup we never planned or desired, but had been told we were instigating.

A year ago, the revolution was given a name. We considered others. We considered other venues. We considered a lot of things. And we danced.

This Monday we invite any and all to join us at the Alameda Ceili. We're hosting a special free night in honor of our anniversary. Bring a friend to try it out. I guarantee there will be a Fairy Reel - the dance that started it all. Heck, there might even be a real Night Fever line dance.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Meet the Robinsons

Can't tell you how much this makes me happy every time I stumble on it.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Ask Teh Intarwebs

I need some audio editing software. I'd like for it to be able to splice together tracks and slow down or speed up recordings. I can go for either Mac or Windows, but Windows would be more convenient since that's where the music is already stored. What do you recommend? Why?

Monday, May 05, 2008


I'm not feeling as resilient lately. I'm usually amazingly durable, spring back from being squashed down quickly, and can generally take a lot of pressure. But not so much right at the moment.

I just spammed 5921 people at Stanford.

There's a little radio button when you're setting up a mailing list that lets you decide whether or not they get a generic subscription announcement message. I had changed it from the default to not send the message. But something went wrong. In the copying and pasting of those address and the little adjustments to the list, somehow it must've switched back. So 5921 people got the generic, unhelpful message.

About 30 have replied and asked to be removed. I can't do that. They have to know about the changes.

Another 20-30 have written in to say something akin to "What's this list about?"

Another 10-15 have written in to say, "Oh yes, please do subscribe me to the list."

Four have used the subscribe function to subscribe an additional address.

I've spent my afternoon responding to all of them instead of reviewing and assessing the inventory of current web pages with mentions of email, calendar, or webmail. Can I has do-over? Plz? kthxbye.

And then, after all that to get prepared to send our first message to those users, I get a message from the project manager that says "There are some discussions going on about the migration timing" and to hold off on sending the message. Oh really? You mean that date we already told a few hundred people? (The one we said might be unrealistic?) Like I said, usually I'm a pretty tough cookie, but that was it. Squish.

Birthday Plans

It's May already? Oh my!

So my big plan for my birthday this year has two pieces. Part one is Indiana Jones at 8pm at the Camera 7. Part two is Friday Night Waltz on Saturday at Oakland Veterans Hall. This is on my actual birthday, and there's nothing I love more than dancing, so come join me for an evening of dancing. Crepes Musette will be the band for the evening and I'll be teaching Irish Ceili from 7-9pm. I'm also playing at KublaCon for the weekend and hoping for fun times there. Any and all are welcome for any part of this so long as you're willing to wish me a very happy birthday!

I Think I Chose Poorly...

Nicole asked if I could help again at the Karfluki Fest. "Sure!" says I not really thinking through the potential conflicts for the weekend. There was:
- the Maker Fair (that I'd wanted to finally see)
- the Pryankster Party/Rehearsal
- Friday Night Waltz (which I went to but left early - very hard to do when Richard DJs!)
- the PEERS Chicago Ball

It's that last one that I really really regret missing. It was a one time only thing. I've heard already that it was "The best PEERS event ever" and "The best theatricals PEERS has ever put on" and that "Lee Press-On was great and the Congress of Vienna was faboo!" and seen pictures and dangit, I really wanted to be there.

But the Karfluki Fest was good too. Plenty of good music. I was useful and appreciated. I worked really rather hard on Saturday, and didn't get out to see any of the bands until the Tempest 20th anniversary show. That show was fabulous - a 3 1/2 hour blow out set, with tons of past band members sitting in for a handful of songs and culminating 3 songs with fire dance choreography. Unfortunately, most of my dancing friends were elsewhere. A tour around the audience led me to find Kearny and Linda, Will and Laura, and Cliff, and Richard Page. Cliff and I had a few nice dances together. He's such a good sport about everything and we totally did Night Fever to a song that worked perfectly for it - each major phrase of the song sync'd exactly with the moves. The next day was significantly mellower and I headed out at the end of the Tempest acoustic set, with a brief stopover in Davis for Jamba Juice with Erik. Today I am so very tired though. I definitely need a good night of sleep to make up for the 5 or 6 hours of sleep I pulled Thursday through Sunday. And I also really want a teleporter, because if I had one, I could've magically popped over to San Mateo for a few hours and still made it back to help out on Sunday.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Tipsy at Work

My department does parties. It's a thing we do. We have a roving party that is First Friday Cocktails. It moves from office to office working it's way through DDD. I'm not much of a drinker, but my roommate and I were tasked with the May party, so we went Cinco de Mayo themed and made margaritas. I bought my first bottle of tequila, a margarita base, and a pound of strawberries. Add some Triple Sec and a blender from home and ta-da! Margaritas! Jo-Ann brought in glasses for everyone and chips and salsa and plantain chips and I brought cookies from the Pink Elephant. As it turns out, I'm not bad at making up margaritas, so most folks probably drank a bit more than usual. My boss had a couple of tequila shots in addition to his margaritas. Everyone complemented us on our party. It was quite a success.

But now I can't go home and I don't trust myself to do any real work. Hmm.

That's okay. I had meeting from 9am to 3pm without so much as a lunch break, and it's been a killer week all around, so I'll just catch up on a little Live Journal. Off to Friday Night Waltz in 2 hours to learn pivaloops.