Almost there...

Friday, October 30, 2009

It Made My Day

Just walked up to my office and noticed a box in my mail slot. It was a box of See's Candy. Opening the card, it said, "Hey!! Bet your new manager never brings you your favorite See's Candy! CCK" My old manager, through all our ups and downs, could never be faulted for not paying attention. He did indeed remember that the dark chocolate vanilla cremes are my favorite.

At the end of the day, he really is a good guy. Not my best manager ever, but a really decent person.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Newsweek Multimedia

Newsweek has started publishing in an interesting format on their web site. They're doing photo essays, sometimes narrated slide shows, on topics. This is remarkably innovative for a print magazine.

The first one I noticed was on early Star Trek Conventions. What was interesting there was how the early fan stuff was frequently motivated by women. Previously, I'd actually assumed that the Browncoats were a bit unusual in how women-driven the fan groups were. Turns out that's a totally false assumption. The male Trek geek is just so much easier to make fun of, so I suspect that's why that is what is portrayed in parodies. And really, having been to Comic-con and had more than one little fanboy walk up to the mike and ask a super-specific question about a single episode or request that an actor read back a line. They make everyone in the audience groan. But these little dorks aren't what makes the fandom work. It's folks like Arielle or Amy Lund or Beth who say, "You know what we should do..." and make stuff happen. Stuff like thousands of dollars raised for charity and giant gatherings organized.

Today's nifty nugget was on the history of birth control. My favorite detail in that essay was that H. G. Wells said in 1931 that in 100 years time, Margaret Sanger's work would grow to be "the most influential of its time." He was so very right.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Airship Ventures

And as if I needed another reason to be impressed with the place I live, today's fabulously fun example of why I live in the best place on earth is the local airship tours. You too can ride in a zeppelin, or heck, learn to fly one, if you can afford it.

For the record, I can't afford it, but it goes firmly onto my wishlist of things I'd like to try... someday.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Weekend Redux

Do you ever have those weekends that remind you why you live exactly where you do? I had that this weekend.

Friday was Friday Night Waltz where my Arielle and I dressed up as each other.
which one is which?
I don't know if amused anyone else as much as it amused us, but I had a blast. I danced myself senseless and came home and flopped into bed.

Waking to a lovely morning, lifting up to see Pixel and Leeloo curled up together, I finally made it out of bed. We finished Erik's Buffy education over a bowl of homemade eggplant soup and some Pain au Levain. Venturing forth, we had dinner with David and Emily and friends to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Theirs is still one of my favorite weddings. It was pulled together in two months and yet was beautiful and simple and everything a wedding should be without the fuss of a year's planning. After dinner, we drove to the other side of Lake Merritt for the Gaskell Ball for more fabulous dress-up and dancing.

Spending the night at Alex & Sherman's, we headed to Ole's for breakfast, pulling off cardigans and putting on sunglasses in the warm October sun while we waited in line. Waffles were consumed and a crossword was solved before sending the boys home to play video games while Alex & I visited the Alameda Vintage Clothing and Style Festival at the Elks Lodge. We bumped into several of our favorite people there and I found a dress in heavy burgandy satin that fit like it was made for me and only cost $25. Add to that a hat that looked like Jane had cut my hair just to have me wear this one hat, and I made it out relatively inexpensively. Alexandria found some gloves for Dickens and a tux shirt for Sherman.

After that we ran to Heraldo's Welcome Home party. After touring Japan for the past few months on his bicycle, it was lovely to hear some of his adventures over a bit of tea and sake and an endless supply of treats from Trader Joe's that Anna kept pulling out of the oven.

From there, we headed back to Hayward for Spaghetti Sunday. More than the usual feast emerged with homemade pumpkin pie from Frederik, and homemade banana cream and coconut cream pie from Sarah. Add to that, Magenta's pumpkin fondue and roasted cauliflower and a feast was had to go with hours of fabulous conversation with good friends.

Home again to share a little time on the sofa with the kitties and watch Dollhouse. Finally! Finally Dollhouse is awesome! This episode was dark, but worth every moment. It moved the primary story arc along, but told us all about a single episode, a brief shining moment that deepened our understanding of every character it touched. But it was dark. Oh so very dark. Consequently, we were forced to follow up with an episode of How I Met Your Mother. Tantrum!!!
TANTRUM!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Grr...

Dear Pandora,
It's October. Knock it off with the Christmas tunes. I know Dickens is the impending doom on the horizon. I know. I know! Stop making it worse! No, I haven't started my Christmas shopping. STFU! Even if I might like this song in December, it's getting a big ol' thumbs down right now.

'k bye

Monday, October 19, 2009

Staying at Stanford

Got a new manager officially today. So far, so good. I have reason to believe this will be a good working relationship for both of us. Stanford continues to be good to me. When I get tired, it renews itself for me. I'm working on some good projects and a couple of messy ones, but it'll all work out. It always does. I like it here. I never planned to work here for so long, but it will be nine years in a couple of months. Wacky.

Does The Flu Shot Matter?

It's that time again where everyone says, "Go get the flu shot!" And every year, I dither and debate. Every year I dawdle. Frequently I miss out for lack of supply or early outages. Still, I don't usually get the flu. I seem to have some mutant immune system that keeps me more healthy than average, allowing me to dance with hundreds of strangers over four weekends in December and not get sick. The last time I got really really sick during Dickens was in 2000, and I blame that more on the airplanes I took to and fro from Dallas while working for EY during Dickens season than on Dickens. And even then, it wasn't the flu.

I'm not in a high-risk group for the flu, nor do I live with anyone in a high-risk group, so as flu vax supplies run low, I'm more than willing to step aside and let it go to those for whom it may really matter.

But then I read this article about the efficacy of the flu vaccine on mortality rates, and I just have... doubts. Does the flu vaccine really do much good? Are there other things our public health system should be ramping up to focus on, like say, a really serious campaign for all the other vaccines? You know, the ones that give us a lifetime of immunity to illnesses we could encounter at any time, rather than for a short four month flu season before becoming obsolete.

Now let me be abundantly clear here: I am pro-vaccination. Very very pro-vax. Give me my measles, mumps, rubella vax! Give me my tetanus shot! Give me a polio vaccine. Heck, I just wish they'd had the chicken pox vax and the HPV vax in time to help me. It's too late for me, but trust me, if I ever have a child, that child will be well and truly vaccinated for all the recommended vaccines. (And no, it will not cause autism. You have to be willfully ignorant to believe that.)

I just worry that there's little room left for middle ground here. If I skip the seasonal flu vaccine, am I lumped in with the crazy anti-vaxxers? I worry that this is yet another situation where only polar opinions are welcome. If you're not with us, you're against us. Why does it always seem to come down to two parties on either side of a giant canyon with slippery slopes separating each side?

I may go ahead and get the Swine Flu vax when it's available since that particular strain has seemed to have more staying power than its kin. But that doesn't keep me from my doubts. Nagging little questions. Wondering if we're worrying about the right things. Too many people are willing to drive everywhere because they're afraid of dying in a plane crash, though one look at the statistics will tell you how foolish that is. Are we inadvertently driving ourselves into a greater health risk?

Aggressively Affectionate

Perhaps this is unkind, but I'm going to totally out my cat. Cats are supposed to be aloof and dignified right? Not mine. Pixel is a goober. He's an aggressively affectionate goober with a hair fetish. Kevin and Rachel came to pick me up last night for a trip to Swank Farms. Pixel LOVES Rachel's hair. It's the best thing ever. So he hops up on her back and starts giving her the full loving.

Now, this clip is only 30 seconds or so, but imagine that we had time to have the discussion about, "Hey, maybe we should get this on video?" then dig out Kev's iPhone, then select the app and start filming. After the video ends, he's nowhere near ready to hop down and be civilized, dignified, or aloof, but we encourage him to hop down regardless so that we can get on our way. Walking out to the car, Rachel mentions that her hair is a bit soggy.

I love the big ol' goober, and I'm glad that so many of my friends are willing to tolerate his unrestrained affections, but I do wonder if the cat mafia will be out to explain a few things to him when they catch wind of this.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Forlorn For Fabric Shopping

I find myself wanting to do a bit of small alteration to an existing Dickens costume for my new role as Valda Schultze from The Begum's Millions. I haven't started any sewing yet, but I've utterly lost patience with the process.

There's just no joy in fabric shopping anymore. A trip through Hancock's was disappointing. The clerk said they don't carry taffeta anymore because it is unpopular. Okay... So seeking trims instead, I find a bland array mostly intended for upholstery. Giving up there I head to JoAnn knowing my luck won't likely improve. But to my great surprise, I find some steel grey taffeta on sale for the holidays. But then I have to check out. First, wait in line for cutting, then wait in an even longer line to pay. Five minutes to find what I wanted; 50 minutes to exit the store.

Long enough to type this entire post on my iPhone while just waiting to check out, and still have time to go browse Facebook while I wait.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I'm not a racist but...

Holy freaking crap, what year is it again????
Interracial Couple Denied Marriage License By Louisiana Judge
"I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way."

Pardon me while I hide in the rarefied world that is the San Francisco Bay Area.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Adding Noise

I remember years ago watching Gattaca and thinking their electric cars made silly noises, because I'd heard electric cars and they weren't that loud, but that the audience wouldn't believe a quiet car, so they added extra sound.

No, turns out Gattaca probably had it right. Car makers are getting cowed into adding noise to electric and hybrid vehicles for the safety of pedestrians. (Yeah, you know, the pedestrians with their iPod earbuds in, crossing diagonally across the street in front of me at Stanford, paying no mind to the fact that the road is actually used by cars as well. But I digress...)

For the record, my hybrid does make noise, it's just not a standard engine noise when it's on electric. It makes a high pitched whine that goes up in pitch with the speed. Folks are going to have to learn to listen for different noises, because even normal combustion engine vehicles have gotten much quieter over the years. Listening to my dad's van or the Mustang down the street will tell you that.

Additionally, drivers and pedestrians need to pay attention to one another, not go merrily on their way as if they own the street, because seriously, neither one does. (And not you either, you crazy bicyclists!)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dancey Dancey Fun Fun Fun!

Oh Richard knows how to get my feet to his classes! The new Tuesday night series was announced today. I've already signed up for the 9 p.m. Fifties Bop and Disco Hustle. Now I'm just trying to figure out if there's any way I can afford the 8 p.m. Lindy class as well.

For anyone who needs a good grounding in the basics, he's teaching a straight up Intro to Waltz at 7 p.m. as well.

Cuidado Llamas!

For some odd reason, there are a lot of llamas along I-5 between here and Portland. This led to lots of llamas commentary, including Paul introducing me to his favorite Monty Python sketch:


(This cracked me up, but I still think the fish slapping dance is my favorite.)


I was also put in mind of the Llama llama song.


Anyway, suffice to say, there's been a lot of sudden llama outbursts in the past week. Carry on.

Looking Up

Speaking of nice things I like, this works for me:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

You Are What You Eat

I used my blood donation coupons tonight to get out to finally see Julie and Julia and I just loved it. Everyone has cooed about Meryl Streep, but I still adore Amy Adams and even the frumpy haircut and duds couldn't conceal the extreme inner cutie.

I have to say, I really enjoyed watching a movie about two marriages succeeding. I'm busy reading Rebecca right now, and I just really want to slap the main character and demand that she grow a spine. Her insecurities are destroying her life and her marriage and it makes me want to scream. (And another character just needs to be pushed down the stairs.)

And everyone is cheering about Glee, but the characters aren't anyone I want to know more about. The cheer coach especially made it nigh impossible to get through a single episode.

Ultimately I'll never enjoy stories about awful people nearly as much as I enjoy stories about people who are likeable and, better yet, with whom I can feel some common spirit. These two characters had such strong relationships with their partners and it was just magical to watch. I came out of this movie wanting to snuggle the Cute Boy, but sadly, he's 3000 miles away celebrating his brother's wedding.

So I came home from Julie and Julia and made myself a yummy dinner - Port Salut cheese sauce over blanched broccoli and baguette slices pan-toasted in a little Kerrygold butter. You can't go to see that movie and not come out wanting to make an above-average meal. So rather than leftovers or something frozen, I made a nice supper. They brought out better elements in me. I like that.

You are what you consume, and most of the time, I'd rather gobble up good stories and good food and good friends and good times whenever I can.

Friday, October 09, 2009

AT&T FAIL!

AT&T is freaking me out. First, my bill was higher than normal, so I tried to log in to see my bill. I click on the link in the email they sent telling me my balance and try to log in. They sent it to my gmail account, so I try using that address when they ask me for an address. Turns out that's wrong. So I try several alternate addresses, then realize there's probably an account that comes with my service. I try that and it says I've been locked out "for my security." Right.

So I try to call them and end up talking to an agent who doesn't have much of a clue who says there's a third party charge on my bill. I say, "How is that possible?" She wanders around for a bit and says it's all allowed. I say it most certainly is not and ask to talk to her manager.

He's a nice chap who actually explained it. He said it's a thing that happens, and to be sure to always check your bill, and that a lot of people don't so these companies get away with it. I'm still not sure why it's in any way okay for an external company to add charges to my phone bill, but there was something about FCC regulations that just made me more anxious and uncomfortable.

Meanwhile, I still can't get into the web site to see the bill for myself. I'm locked out of the site for my security. The nice chap transfers me back to the dim bulb on his staff and she transfers me to the DSL tech support department, which can't really help me. I explain my problem, the Indian chap on the other end gets confused. Eventually, he tries to transfer me and hangs up on me. Sigh.

Then I try back on the web site. Still can't get in. Still can't see my bill.

So then I try calling the mysterious 3rd party: Enhanced Billing Services. The number is not accessible in my area. It's an 800 number that's limited to service in other areas of the country.

So I call back again to let them know I can't possibly call the folks who are clearly scamming me. Several transfers later, I talk to a nice guy in billing who notes this on the account and gives me wishes of hopes for the best.

But ultimately, I'm now pretty uncomfortable with AT&T. How do I get DSL service without a land line? Comcast wants to charge me twice what I pay for DSL, so that's not a great option, but on the flip side, they sure haven't mucked up my account like this.

EDIT: Oooh. Comcast now offers an economy service for $24.99. Looks like it may be time to kiss the land line goodbye.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

On Marriage Equality

Our lives are about those we love and those we call family. I read things like this, and it just brings me to tears. A quick golden rule test would tell you to let people see their loved ones when they're gravely ill.

These sorts of situations illustrate why marriage (in the eyes of our government) should be for everyone. It is a tidy little package of rights and responsibilities that most folks know how to handle. But I also fall into that group of folks who feels weird about considering getting married when other friends and loved ones are not allowed. This week, Dan Savage cleared the air on this one for me, saying, "Get married, make a donation to the fight for marriage equality, and encourage your guests to do the same." He said that at the ceremony he was at last week, it went like this:
I think you should consider lifting one of the readings from my friends' ceremony.

"Marriage is a vital social institution," the reading began. "The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life's momentous acts of self-definition."

So touching, so true, and so universal—who could argue with those sentiments? Everyone at the wedding was nodding. And the reading continued...

"It is undoubtedly for these concrete reasons, as well as for its intimately personal significance, that civil marriage has long been termed a 'civil right.' Without the right to choose to marry, one is excluded from the full range of human experience."

After the reading—which was done by a gay friend of the couple—the officiant identified the source: It was from the 2003 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage in that state.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Decadance

I went to Decadance auditions on a whim tonight. I'm still amazed at that group and how much they manage to press into their dances. Their audition piece was a combination of Salsa and Hip-Hop. They're an amazingly talented group of folks with a passion for fusing dance forms together into something new and doing it with a smile. I suspect I'll not make the cut. I kept up fine in the salsa section, even without a working knowledge of salsa, but floundered in the hip hop section. I'm no good at memorizing choreography rapidly with only counts of 8 to go on. I need actual calls for a while to get my footing. Still, it was fun.

I wore my new polka dot skirt from Evangeline's and I have to say it performed beautifully. It is made of twirly goodness.