Almost there...

Friday, July 31, 2009


Do you ever underestimate how long something is going to take to finish? I did. Oops.

Do you ever wish you had a sleeping bag and a change of clothes at the office? I do.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

New Glasses

After the last time I went hunting for new glasses, I'm pretty sure I overthought it. This time, I went for a more capricious approach. I found a pair I liked, found out there was a good discount, so ordered them on the spot. They arrived a week later and now I'm back to enjoying the ease of reading street signs and the crisp edges of leaves on the trees.
You like?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


It's hard to stay sad about your lame class and the instructor who won't make time for you to do the lab when you have the comedy stylings of Leeloo to entertain you.
She LOVES my grandpa's corn as much as I do. Probably more. I fed her some of the kernels and then let her have at the last few on the cob. She spent nearly a half an hour enjoying chewing on the corn cob, sucking off ever last glorious piece of corn. I finally had to stop and take pictures.

After shower time, she was there waiting for me to get out, now well trained that she can get picked up only after I dry both legs, waiting sort-of patiently with eyes like Puss-in-Boots. Bedtime snuggles are next.

Don't get me wrong - Pixel is great too. Love him to pieces. Wouldn't trade him for anything. But Leeloo still just has these moments of "I'm small and you must LOOOOOOOVE me!"

Friday, July 24, 2009

Playing the Country Music Backwards

Well, I got my computer back, my grandma is doing well, I have to take a day off on Monday, and Caroline baked me cookies.

My computer is in a slightly funky state. Not everything was backed up. I have no music anymore. The front latch won't close, but Jeremy is going to try to fix that next week. I'm relearning to use the Command key instead of the Control key. This is the dumbest Mac/Windows detente. I don't care what y'all call it, but could it please be the same key in the same place on both systems? M'kay thanks. What I can say is that all of my work related stuff is pretty much right where I left it. This is a huge relief.

Grandma had a rough first day the nursing home, but she's doing much better now. She decided to stay because the physical therapy was so worthwhile. I'm headed up to visit tomorrow after Fezziwig's rehearsal. Also, grandpa's peach tree is ready and yummy peaches await me. I am a girl utterly spoiled on good fruits and veg and the store bought peach I ate today was a poor substitute for Grandpa's peaches. Last night's dinner was a whole tomato (from Grandpa's garden), a few sprigs of basil, and 4 ounces of fresh mozzarella tossed with some balsamic vinegar. Yummy. Grandpa's garden is made of awesome.

At Social Tank on Wednesday, Jeff threw me to the floor and rubbed my back. I didn't realize how much it was aching til I got up the next morning and felt Much Better. Thanks Jeff! Also, social with people was really nice.

I had a payroll question on Wednesday, whereupon the payroll guy pointed out that since we switched systems a couple months ago, my maximum accrual is now actually 400 hours, and the system maintains that, so unless I take a day off between now and next Friday, I'll lose hours of vacation. My initial reaction was "But I can't take time off now!" But then I looked at my calendar and there weren't actually meetings scheduled for Monday, so I told my boss that I'd have to take it off or lose the time and he said, "Have fun!" So I scheduled a car appointment and I have big plans for the sleeping. The sleeping will be fabulous.

Then I got to work this morning and there was a bag hanging on my door. Caroline from Alumni/Development asked me earlier in the week what my favorite sort of cookie was. I said, "The one that makes it so that I don't have to sign into GMail everytime I check my mail, but that's probably not quite what you mean." I then suggested that I'm a huge fan of the basic Toll House cookies. The bag contained something on the order of 2 dozen fabulously delicious chocolate chip cookies. They're baked just right, still kinda chewy, with not too many chips to totally overwhelm the cookies. The card said,
A small token of thanks for the special sessions you conducted at the Alumni Center. They were all appreciated and I've thoroughly enjoyed working with oyu on this project. Everything was shiny because of you. Thanks again! Caroline
Yay! So breakfast was cookies and coffee. Terrible, I know, but so tasty. I walked the halls of Spruce around 4 and offered cookies to folks. No one could resist a second cookie. I now have a much more respectable amount of cookies to take home with me.

I also met with my presentation coach. She actually forced my boss to come watch me teaching, and he admitted to her that I was a good presenter, about 90% of what he'd like me to be, with just the removal of a few words (awesome, bummer, and groovy) from my vocabulary I'd be great. He does not like style nor flair. So be it. She wants me to wear boxier suit jackets with a yoked back. I'm not sure I'm hip to that one. I'll try it, but I've got broad hips, broad shoulders, and a small waist. Hourglass figures and boxy don't go well together.

So everything is looking up. I'm buried at the office, but that just keeps me honest. I'd rather be buried than bored any day.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Experiencing the Healthcare System

How hard is it to take good care of my grandma? Apparently far too difficult for the professionals to handle well. We're experiencing the nursing home nightmare. Without getting into details that would embarrass my grandma, suffice to say that we're trying to get her home as soon as possible, even if that means we all need to be there to care for her. No one should have to beg to wash their hands before being served dinner. Basic cleanliness would seem a minimum standard, but that's not how it is. I'm sick to death of her being mistreated, and I'm so grateful that she's got us to fight for her.

Also, everyone has to stop trying to test out our health care system at once. At the office, Nuriya's husband is suddenly very ill. Mice's Dad got hit by a car and is in the hospital. Erik's friend had to have emergency surgery in Seattle. Heck, I even ordered a pair of Justin Lacers on eBay (since I danced through the bottom of mine on the 4th of July), and the woman I ordered them from said it would take her few days to ship them because her mom had to go in for emergency surgery.

Anyhow, hopefully we can spring grandma from the clutches of the evil nursing home and get a physical therapist to come visit her at home. She's the nicest patient anyone will ever have to deal with, and she's motivated to improve her health, so you'd think she'd have no problems. Sadly, you'd be wrong.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Killing the Will to Learn

Absolutely everyone has been great a out me running off to take care of Grandma, save for my instructor for my voice class. He's playing the classic role of the no accommodations teacher. I've been that teacher. I know the drill, but when I'm that teacher, I live up to the expectations I set for others. This instructor canceled my first appointment for lab, so I rescheduled for the following week. Then he asked to change again. I swapped again. Before I left on Tuesday, I asked for contact info in case I needed to cancel because my Grandma was in the ER. He gave me an email address, so I emailed first thing on Wednesday, hoping he'd see it. When I didn't hear back I sent a follow-up on Saturday. He said we'd discuss it in class on Tuesday. Tonight he said he'd waited for me on Wednesday. I said that I'd emailed early on Wednesday since that was the only contact information I had. He said I could come in Saturday to make up the lab, but I've got a site review for the wedding, a Fezzi rehearsal, and then I'm going to visit Grandma, hopefully at home by then. He said he didn't have any other options. Well, fine, then I guess I can't do the lab for the class if you're going to be like that.

The funny thing is, it really is a teacher thing. There's this level of "Do it on my schedule" that doesn't exist in the rest of the world I live in. Everywhere else there are options and time and ways to ask for exceptions. Heck, even the IRS will let you file for an extension on doing your taxes. So why is it that school is so inflexible? I used to toe that line myself. If you had to turn something in late to me, it would cost you points, or passes, or heck, maybe it just couldn't be turned in late. Why is this sort of bullying of the student so normal and expected in education? I'm sure it consistently kills the will to learn. I remember the day I had to tell one of my students (Claudia) that she'd been absent so many times she couldn't possibly pass the class. She came from a Mexican family where her mom expected her to stay home from school to watch the younger kids fairly often. It did terrible things to her education, but being told 2/3rds of the way through the semester that no matter what she did to make up work, she couldn't pass the class due to absences because of school policy certainly killed the last shred of interest that girl had in school. And she was bright. It broke my heart at the time, and I still feel bad about it now ten years later.

Anyway, gotta say, I didn't much feel like singing after that conversation. Oh well.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Absent Ammy - Update

Grandma had her hernia surgery today so hopefully we're turning the corner to recovery. Most of the health professionals she's worked with have been amazingly caring and conscientious, but last night's nurse would be better served to become an auto-mechanic because cars don't feel pain when you're frustrated and taking it out on them. Hasty, abrupt, and self-centered are not qualities you want in someone caring for your grandma. It was a long night, and the kind that reminds me why I'm here instead of letting others take care of her.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Absent Ammy

Just a brief note to anyone who thinks I'm going to show up somewhere in the next few days: I won't be where you expect me. Grandma is in the hospital. I'll be there with her. Wish her a speedy recovery.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Make Your Own Reality

Years ago, I decided that if I was going to have something negative to say, I had to follow up with finding the silver lining. Turns out, this is a pretty damned good strategy. It always leaves me focused on the positive, even if sometimes, I kind of have to force it. I'm noted at work for being the one to say, "It'll all work out just fine." After years of system implementations where there seem to be completely insurmountable problems, I have to stop myself from getting sucked into fretting about it, because either the issues get worked out or the project gets delayed or the initial feedback when we launch is enough to raise my concerns higher than I could do on my own and it gets fixed soon after.

My old boss Jim has a philosophy that if he saw a problem, someone else probably saw it too, and most of the time he would stand back and let someone else make the fuss. When he did have to be the one to make the fuss, his stuff got more attention than someone who was always making the big deal about the little issue. I've been applying this to my personal life as well as my work life, and it's really working for me. Just because I see an issue, doesn't mean I have to make a big fuss right now. Either it will work itself out, someone else will stick their neck out, or I'll decide it's gone on long enough and I'll step up. It's a really good mechanism for me, because it also allows me time to figure out the best approach to a situation rather than the first approach that occurs to me.

The net result is that I'm a lot happier than I used to be. It's not that things don't bother me. It's not that I don't see problems. It's that there always has to be an upside of some kind that I can focus on, and some things just don't have to be *my* problem.

The thing is, we make our own realities to a large degree. Have you seen Louis CK talking about how everything is amazing and nobody's happy? It's really true.

As it turns out, the research agrees. Venting your anger doesn't actually make you feel better. So screaming at the person annoying you or screaming at the walls or breaking things doesn't make it better. Want to be happier? Just get out of the situation, move on, distract yourself, or find some upside. Believe it or not, "studies show that even an artificially induced smile brings about happier emotions, and a recent experiment suggested that people who use Botox are less prone to anger, because they can’t make angry faces." Today I stumbled on another particularly fascinating article about a study that suggests "people can take active steps to elevate their moods by deliberately thinking about how an event is surprising." This one also plays directly into my habit of being surprised by the good things and celebrating them. Change your perspective to change how you feel. The way you're seeing it may just make you miserable, but you have a choice. This goes for wallowing in misery just as much as anger.

The world is the world. We've all got problems. What you can change is how you react to it. What you choose to focus on is your experience of the world. Make choices that make you happier rather than more miserable. I know (I *know*) that's not always easy, but it's worth it in the long run.


When I don't have a meeting to kick me out of the house early in the morning, Leeloo often gets her way and grabs some extra snuggle time, pinning me in bed with purrs and kneading and so on. If I do get up, she follows me around with her sleepy face on and purrs and cries at the same time. This often leads to me picking her up and comforting her for several minutes as I brush my teeth or putter around. Turns out, she's a classic example of a cat manipulating her owner with a soliciting purr. She's a love, but she's not subtle. Humans got suckered by cats 10,000 years ago, and the cats have figured out how to make things work for them ever since, with the minor exception of those annoying doorknobs that keep them sequestered. Luckily, these masters of manipulation know how to get their way. On the plus side, we do know how to turn them into blithering fools as well with just a wee bit of catnip.
Such a shame they don't like each other, right?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Trader Joe's!

I'm sure most of you have heard me say it: I'd starve to death without Trader Joe. He's my hero. He feeds me yummy foods without a lot of random additives and does it for very reasonable prices, usually much cheaper than lower quality food at Safeway or Lucky.

This morning I rose and remembered I hadn't made lunch for the week, so I shuffled into the kitchen and pulled out the frozen Chicken Tikka Masala entree from Trader Joe's for lunch. OMG Yummy!!! Plus, it totally scratched my itch for Indian food for $3 instead of the $12 I'd have to drop to go out to lunch. Thank you Trader Joe!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

DSL vs. Cable

So my home phone broke. Not the phone line, the actual physical phone. I got to thinking about whether or not I needed a home phone. I really kind of don't need it.

I started looking into the cost of DSL without a phone line. It's definitely still more expensive than my basic phone line and basic DSL. Then I went and looked at what adding cable modem service to my existing cable service. Turns out that they're doing a special to make it $33 for a year. After a year it goes to $42.95. Now here's the thing, my DSL service, including a phone line, costs less than $35 a month, so even the discounted cable modem service is more expensive (after taxes and random other fees) will come in at more than what I'm paying now. And my current service comes with a free land line! I'm sure this business model makes sense when folks can't get DSL at their house, but otherwise, why would I opt for cable modem service instead of my DSL plus phone line? I don't get it.

But I guess I should get a new home phone, preferably a boring old corded one that will work in emergencies when the cell phones will likely be overloaded. Anybody got one good for an old hand-me-down?


I went to Alex's bridal shower this morning. It was a lovely day in the backyard in Alameda. I didn't really think about sunscreen. Oops.

I went to another party afterwards and by the time I left, folks were asking if I needed aloe. I thought I had some at home, but driving home I started doubting that so I figured I'd stop at Target and grab some fresh aloe. When the other folks in the aisles stare and one random customer says, "Well that's quite a sunburn you've got there!" that's when you know your goose is cooked. Big oops. Oh well. Early to bed tonight!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Ask the Internet!

Howdy y'all! You've helped me with so many weird tech issues in the past, I just can't resist asking. This is about the iPhone 3.0 software.

We're experiencing a weird issue in that meetings that are declined from an iPhone now disappear. This wasn't true in 2.0, but seems to happen only in 3.0. Is this a feature or a bug? Are they supposed to disappear? There's a secondary problem that the meeting's status is not getting properly updated on the server. It's getting marked tentative on the server. This is odd, but not nearly as puzzling as meeting just up and disappears from the phone when you decline... unless it's on purpose. It's possible. There's an argument for "I don't want to see it if I declined it," but it's just different from past behavior.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Day One

Day one on the new calendar system is going well with no more than the expected hitches and hiccups. I've been training since 9 a.m. and just sat down at my desk for the first time today. I'm already exhausted, but there's email to read (and to write), checkpoint meetings to attend, and prep for tomorrow's classes. There is no driving to Alameda for me tonight. I suspect there will be easy frozen food at home and early to bed.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

It's All Done

It went like this.

The migration completed. We moved 6000 accounts from Sundial to Stanford Calendar. I emailed them all to let them know it was all done.

Then we decorated the truck for Fezziwigs. There was more pine garland than any truck should ever have. It was absurd and adorable.

There was a trip to Forbidden Island. My ninjas are awesome.

We pulled the truck into place and waited for the parade to start. Then we danced, walked, marched and ran a little to keep up. I think Kai liked it the best. His favorite pillow held him for the whole way.

We returned to Casa de Fezziwig. We undecorated the truck. I returned it to San Jose. I went to the barbecue at Hare House. Then I fell asleep right after fireworks.

Today was leisurely lunch at Fuzio. The Firecracker Pork Fusili is still my favorite. The raspberry lemonade was pretty good too. Then I made a few quick calls to folks with easy support requests so that they'd have answers as soon as they arrived on Monday. Now it's time for a nap. It's all done. All of it. I totally survived the convergence of my calendar migration and the organization of the Fezzis in the parade. Go me!

Friday, July 03, 2009

The Price is Right - The Next Generation

It's been years since I've seen The Price is Right, but I totally loved that show when I was a kid, especially when home sick at Grandma's house. Watching it this morning, after the end of the Bob Barker era, now with Drew Cary, I'm struck by what a showman Bob Barker really was. He took every game, every prize, and every contestant totally seriously. Drew Cary lets you see that these things are goofy. On the Card Game, he says, "And I cut the cards... I don't know why, I just do it." He messed up on someone's job and he did the self-deprecating nerd voice my generation is so famous for. He's one of us. But I don't one of me hosting the Price is Right. I want that superior old man who treats every goofy game as the most important moment in their lives. Interesting.

The bizarre meta-question that simmers along with this thought in my head is the question of whether my training audiences want me, or do they want the superior old man too? Very interesting.

Thursday, July 02, 2009


I think I've earned a merit badge for resilience this week.

Hard drive is totally dead. I have a loaner with no data, but a lovely web browser that will get me through the weekend. Having trouble with retrieving data from the backup, but not in an "it's not there" way, just in a not communicating, not being able to get into the web site kind of way. Meh. I shall deal. New hard drive should arrive in a week.

The main portion of the migration completed ahead of schedule. Adam and Yue are fixing items that had errors and manually tweaking some access rights for resources. The whole thing may be done by 10 a.m. tomorrow, save for the communications that will need to follow. This is AWESOME!!!

Still no clue what caused the late-night malfunction of my smoke detector. Sure hope that doesn't happen again tonight.

Meanwhile, prep for the parade continues apace. Tonight I shall climb up to the attic to pack up my costume.

It stopped being hot after Monday. Sleeping is much more fun when it's less than 80 degrees in my house.

These are the weeks that remind me just what I'm capable of managing. I am mighty!


Migration is going well. We're 37% of the way done now.

I went to my 10 a.m. class and my computer wouldn't boot up. It said, "Whir, click." A panicky HelpSU ticket was submitted and it is confirmed: hard drive failure. Yep, Macs: they just work. They work like every other computer, which is to say, not when it's most important.

So, on the biggest weekend of the year for me professionally, the weekend where I need instant access to all of the materials I've created, the weekend where I need everything to go well, I don't have access to any of my files or applications. Awesome.

I will not panic.

It will all be fine.

It will all work out.

I'm going to go teach another class using my roommate's computer. Luckily, it's a lunch time class, so Jo-Ann is going to go have a nice leisurely lunch while I'm gone.

All Alone

Rarely, but sometimes, I hate rattling around this old house by myself. I miss having someone to reassure me when things go bump in the night.

At around 12:30, the smoke detector went off with three loud peals, then stopped. I was up and on my feet instantly, trying to figure out the source, the cause, and the next thing to do. No smell of smoke. No sign of cause. I walked through the house slowly turning all of the lights on. I crept around, ensuring all the dark corners were peered into. Leeloo wanted to be held, so I carried her around for a second pass around the house. The only thing remotely odd is that the dryer door is open. Odd, but no smell of burning, no obvious issue.

So now I sit, wishing the internet would entertain me or talk me down or tell me a bedtime story. I'm awake. WIDE awake. And I don't have a clue what could've caused it. And I don't know how to sleep not knowing that.