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Friday, January 30, 2009

Fruity Oaty Bars!

I'm eating a Nature Valley Trail Mix bar. It's what we wrapped new labels on for the Browncoat Ball and distributed as Fruity Oaty Bars. Mmmm... tastes like nostalgia.

Rassafrassa Grumble Grr

I'm having a really bad day at work. It's the kind that makes me want to quit. Can't do that though. I've got a mortgage.

Instead, smiles were nearly forcibly generated by this:


which reminded me of this (which always makes me smile):


Okay, now back to testing version 5.0.12.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It's When?

I don't really do the sports thing, but it still came as a surprise when about ten minutes ago, I realized for the first time that the Superbowl is this weekend. This Sunday even. Go figure.

Meanwhile, I'm planning to host a clothing swap at 2pm that day. If you're one of the many ladies I forgot to invite (or didn't have an email address for!), ping me and come on down, unless you're busy with that Superbowl thing.

I still don't know what time the Superbowl is. Weird.

Was it really really quiet this year, or was it just me? I mean, usually I get the the tip-off that it's coming up just in my day-to-day grocery shopping.

For the record, the Academy Awards are on February 22nd. I couldn't remember when that was either, so now I know.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Update

Several folks in the last couple of weeks have asked, "So what have you been up to lately?"

Well, it's January. January is traditionally the time that of year that I don't do anything per se. I underplan and try to have some free time. Strangely, this year, it's worked. Mostly.

I've been taking Night Club Two-Step from Richard. He announced he needed extra ladies, and I'd never taken it, so I signed up. It's the most basic class I've taken in years, but it's sort of fascinating to watch (and learn from) the teaching style rather than focusing on learning the dance. There's not a lot of new for me in the dance form itself, but watching Richard be very gentle with beginners is marvelous. For all that he totally pushes us in the intermediate/advanced classes, he is so reassuring with the beginners. It's charming.

I've looked into the Learning, Design, and Technology Masters program at Stanford, but I've missed the application deadline for this year, so I'll get prepped to apply next year. Even if it doesn't work out, it's nice to know that there is a program focused on my area of interest that could conceivably give me some further expertise.

At work, the email side of the system is rolled out, and we're waiting for some enhancements and bug fixes before proceeding with the calendar migration. There's a replacement to the voicemail system project ramping up and a Cisco VOIP rollout. We're also retiring our Usenet servers since it will save $40k a year. I'm trying to figure out what folks are still using it. I have asked all the geeks I know who might still have a reason, but the answer has been universally, "Nope, I moved on from that years ago." That leaves me with the die-hards who love it for some reason that's very very important to them. No matter what I say or do, they will hate that their pet thing is being taken away.

I have the two cutest kitties in the world who want nothing more than to spend all day curled up against me. It's hard to argue with that sort of unrestrained affection. This leads to movies at home on the sofa. Tropic Thunder was better than I expected. Netflix delivered Repo! the Genetic Opera today. That should be fun. I also saw The Sting for the first time in preparation for the Sting Swing Ball. It was great, but I was also reminded of how much filmmaking has changed in the past 30 years. Allow me to just say thank you to Lucas for his innovations in sound. The foley work in the Sting was so bad as to be distracting from the story. Apparently, everyone in the 30s wears tap shoes on the street.

There's all the usual things - Alameda Ceili, EE, Social Tank, Friday Night Waltz. There's too much driving and lots of good times with friends. Next month is back to full scale busy with Dundracon, BayCeltic festival, Gaskells, and such. For right now, I'm just sitting back, enjoying being happy and warm and loved.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Grumble

I'm sitting, waiting, for a meeting I don't know why I'm having, after spending twenty minutes to find the meeting, after driving to Redwood City. The person I'm supposed to meet isn't here and hasn't called. Not a happy camper. The project manager who added this to my calendar so urgently yesterday just lost the last shred of respect I had for her.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bay Celtic

The Bay Celtic festival rises again on February 21st. Last year this was awesome, especially since we got acquainted with Culann's Hounds for the first time. Did I mention awesome - yeah! So, dance classes, Tempest, Culann's Hounds, and more. Dancey dancey fun fun fun!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Daily Alzheimer's Prevention

I'm a coffee addict. Even when I wasn't consuming daily caffeine, I still had my daily cup of decaf coffee. There's something just so wonderful about a good cup of coffee.

Most of my dancer friends refer to ibuprofen as Vitamin I. It's always the first thing I have to restock in the Things Box at Fezziwigs. I turn to ibuprofen whenever I have cramps or injure myself. It always treats me right.

So years ago, a study came out linking ibuprofen use with decreased liklihood of Alzheimer's. This made me feel a bit less bad about all the ibuprofen I was consuming at the time to manage my ankle injury. Another study confirming that came out earlier this year. Today, I bumble onto news that coffee consumption is also linked to a reduced incidence of Alzheimer's and dementia.

So let me get this straight - these two things in my life that are often denigrated as bad habits or bad for me may actually help me keep my mind in my old age? I'll drink to that! Mmmm... that's good joe.

(I know, I know, ulcers, acid, stains on teeth, blah blah blah. Just let me enjoy my damned cup of coffee alright?)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

On Being Cliquish

A year or so ago, we had a kerfuffle early in the Dickens season where one of the new recruits for Fezziwigs accused us Fezzis of being "cliquish and mean". I know we’re not mean to folks intentionally (though you never can tell how someone will take something you say), so that leaves the cliquish part to ponder. Since then I've been randomly meditating on what it means to be cliquish. It's not the first time that Fezzis has been described that way, but what does cliquish really mean? In high school, I always knew I wasn't part of the cliques the popular kids were in. So now to be on the inside of the clique (or of something that's perceived that way), what is it exactly?

Fezziwigs is a bit like going off to war. You become closer to folks than you ever would under normal circumstances because each day is it's own battle against having enough people to spread the work, avoiding disasters, picking up and carrying on when one soldier falls, and having folks completely fall apart or spectacularly rise above and beyond the call of duty. You see people at their best and at their worst over the course of the run. At the end of it, you have some amazing shared experiences to remember and stories to tell.

So looking at what defines a clique, wikipedia says:
A clique is an exclusive group of people who share common interests, views, purposes, or patterns of behavior. A clique is a subset of individuals from a larger group, who are more closely identified with one another than the remaining members of the group, and who exchange something among themselves, such as friendship, affection, or information. A clique has an informal structure, and it is composed of more than two people. All the members of the group have some type of relationship with one another, and thus the group is tightly knit together as a type of social network.


So yeah, that's us, more or less. We are cliquish. But it carries such a venomous connotation that isn't remotely defined there. Ultimately, we Fezzis have a weird subset of common interests: historical costume, vintage dance, and a spirit of volunteerism. But we aren't exclusive. Anyone who shares those interests is more than encouraged (begged, cajoled, and conned is more like it) into joining us in our special madness.

And I freely admit that we do play favorites. Those that seem to be always there, always ready to leap in and do whatever needs doing, and always ready to support others rather than always being in need of support, and always ready to do what we do with a loud, clear voice do get more respect and attention than others. It is favoritism, but it's pretty benign and merit-based favoritism in my opinion. Oddly, a lot of what we do at Fezzis requires having enough of a voice to adequately announce dances, teach dances, do Stagecoach, read telegrams, or (heavens forfend) step in for Mr. Fezziwig, Belle, or Ebenezer (or someone else in tableau). But even some of those folks without a big voice get noticed and have the full love of the cast for the thousand other ways they contribute to Fezziwigs.

More recently, my EE girls have been described as cliquish. My initial reaction is once again to react against the negative connotations of the word, but in reality, it’s an even more apt description than of Fezziwigs. We are exclusive. Estrogen Evening started because Elizabeth wanted to see more of us outside of Dickens, more than just in the winter season. So she invited five girlfriends to join her for dinner once a month. We added a book swap to dinner and even made up some rules like “Thou shalt bring a book to trade or return or, if it's really bad, burn” and “Hostess has the right to change the date if necessary.” And so, for the past four years or so, we’ve been getting together, noshing, trading books, and catching up on each others lives on a monthly basis. It is exclusive because we find that a group of six is just right for each of us to get a turn to tell a tale, and it’s also about the limit for easy seating at a restaurant or at each other’s houses.

So yes, we are in fact, the very definition of a clique. And yet, we didn’t intend it to be so and we don’t regret it and will not change it. There have been ups and downs over the years, but I’ve got to say, I absolutely depended on these ladies last year. And I also knew that no matter what happened, no matter how bad it got, I could turn to any one of them and say, “Um, things are bad. Help?” And they would be at my side in a heartbeat. When fathers died, we sent flowers. When moving happened, we helped. When escape was required, an escape route was graciously laid out. We work hard to take care of each other, and now, having done it for a few years, we trust each other deeply.

And that’s really the root of the matter. We’ve been friends for so long and we have things in common at a level that gives us a lot of short hand and a lot of inside jokes. Heck, Elizabeth and I have been friends for 14 years and I was her bridesmaid 10 years ago. We have lived through it all together. And though the term isn’t as long with the other ladies, it’s as valued. It must look terribly inaccessible from the outside, but we worked hard, laughed hard, and survived much to get to this point with one another.

So, after my high school years where cliques were bad things that other people did and that I was excluded from, I’m redefining this in my head. My cliques are some of the most valuable, healthiest things in my life. Yes, at least one is exclusive, but so many other elements of my life are so completely inclusive that I need to draw a boundary here because I couldn’t provide the level of support I do for more than five women.

Finally, I just have to say, if you want what we have, come join Fezziwigs. All are welcome (well, almost). If you want a monthly dinner with your girlfriends, invite them out and make it happen. There isn’t anything special about how we got here other than starting it and continuing to do it for a long time.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Round-up

This weekend was spent in Davis, planning for the Evil League of Evil game at DunDraCon. It shall be awesome. First there was game planning and that was followed by costume shopping. For some odd reason, cowboy stuff is kind of hard to find right now, so if anyone has an old pair of cowboy boots or a cowboy hat or a leather vest I could borrow (that would kind of maybe fit), let me know. We shall be the Bad Horse Chorus. There will be singing. You've been warned.

Sunday I came home to two kitties who missed me and missed having their litter cleaned out daily. On the one hand, I'm very glad the two of them get along so very well. On the other hand, both of them trying to use the litter box at the same time while I'm in the middle of scooping it was a level of welcome-home comedy I wasn't really expecting. What I also found when I came home was a copy of Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog on DVD in my mail slot. It was a present from a Cute Boy. Excited bounding around the house ensued followed by doing my post-Fezziwigs evening of caring for my feet. I watched the musical commentary followed by the featurettes followed by the filmmaker commentary, all while trimming and buffing my feet and toes. It was the perfect excuse to be on the sofa for 2 hours.

Monday I gave blood and opted to skip ceili. I went home with ambitions toward cooking dinner, cooking some reheatable meals for the week, and vacuuming the house. I remembered that Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox was waiting for me at the San Jose Library. I jumped back in the car and ran to the library and four minutes later had my book-on-CD in my hot little hand. Gee thanks San Jose; I'm so glad you keep the library open til 8! Dinner was made: Chicken Tikka Masala with green beans. Yum Yum! Plus there were two leftover servings for food for the week, so I moved on to vacuuming while listening to Artemis Fowl. 2 1/2 hours later, the house was vacuumed, laundry was washed, dishes were cycled through the dishwasher, and I'd burned through two discs of the story. That's an awesome way to keep me on task while cleaning.

Monday, January 12, 2009

No Ceili for Me Tonight

The vampires called and begged to suck my blood again. I agreed. I went. I got stabbed and I got drained. And it didn't go especially easily, so I wandered off to find lunch with my arm rather unhappy about the whole process. At least they bought me a movie for my trouble (coupons for AMC). But ow stabby! And then once the stabby, the blood not coming out very well, so the wiggle wiggle. I hate the wiggle. Going home to pamper myself tonight. I forsee chicken tikka masala for dinner.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Slaggy Butt

So this week, this getting up and going to work and being productive thing, well, it's been hard. It's also been cold outside, so I've been opting to eat left over black-eyed peas and snack on dry cereal rather than going out to forage for lunch on campus. But today, I finally decided that I really should pry bum from chair and go hit the stairs and grab a soda. The caffeine was calling, but really, I was jonesing for a trip outside and up to see the views around Clark Center. It's just really pretty up there at the top. You can see quite a ways. Today was blue sky poking through puffy white and grey clouds and lots of evergreen tree tops.

I went and grabbed my soda after the stairs, and opted for one additional trip up and down on one side just because it felt good before. Okay, now to finish a video on sorting and searching.

Pear-Shaped

No, I have not spent hours fretting over my beefy bottom. I learned to love my ghetto booty years ago. More and more, it turns out my bubble butt is likely pretty healthy. The type of fat cell is apparently doing actual good rather than harm. Go figure.

(Sure, I could stand to lose 5-10 pounds, but that's more because there are dresses in my closet I really want to wear, not for health at this point.)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Euclidian Orientation vs. Left/Right Landmark

In other science news, I really enjoyed reading this article positing "Never Ask A Gay Man For Directions." The writing style rose well above the usual dry-as-matzo, just-the-facts-ma'am style that usually characterizes science news and moved right on into amusing. The long and the short of it is that there are statistically significant differences in the neural makeup between heterosexual and homosexual brains, but your mileage may vary. Also, lesbians seem to get the short shrift because they (statistically speaking) don't get the verbal skills a woman gets, but also don't get the upsides that hetero males get. Too bad for them.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Science News

And then sometimes, science news makes you very sad. How about a nice longitudinal study that shows that cell phone users "are 50 percent more likely than non-users to develop brain tumors." And what do they define as a cell phone user? Someone who makes one call, once a week. Those of us chatting away for longer are probably totally screwed.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Brr...

Stanford shuts down for the two weeks around the holidays. This ostensibly saves them money on heat and electricity and whatnot. The downside is that no one came to turn the heat back on before people arrived for work this morning. It's the kind of cold in here that I usually only experience in Quintette. Every surface and every object is permeated with cold. It's not just cold, it's radiating cold, and the radiator will take a day or two to thaw it out.

Luckily, Jo-Ann and I are the kind of gals who have space heaters, so our office is the one warm refuge in the building. Coworkers keep dropping in to snuggle up to our heaters and remember how nice it was to be at home and warm for the last 2 weeks.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Time's Up

Do I really have to go back to work tomorrow? Do I really have to get out of bed at 7am? That's at least four hours earlier than I've been awake in a week.

These are the days that make people play the lottery. Nothing sounds nicer than to continue this lovely lazy vacation. I'm sure I'd get tired of it eventually, but another week sounds too nice right now.