Almost there...

Sunday, January 31, 2010

And then Jane fixed my hair...

Last month there was an exciting experiment in chemicals on my head. A little bit lighter became very very light in front and dark in the back.

Through all positive raves and swallowed negative remarks, through growing it out a bit and seeing the effect my roots had on the situation, through attempting to layer on other color and getting mixed results, the one thing that became abundantly clear was that I was in over my head.

So Saturday, when I dragged a herd to get haircuts with Jane, I told Jane that she was welcome to work her magic on it all and get me back to ground zero where I can do my own maintenance of the roots. So now, I have had my hair washed and trimmed and deep conditioned and color corrected and highlighted. It was expensive, but lordy it feels good to not feel like I've got a nice head of hair instead of a head full of Oops.

Friday, January 29, 2010

I Just Wanna Dance

Oh my. Just fell in love with a music video. The first minute or so is a little slow paced, but oh lordy, the rest of it is glorious.


P.S. Suzi - this one's for you!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Love for El Goog

Dear Google,
I know it's supposed to be Apple's Big Day, what with the announcement of the iPad and all. All feminine hygiene jokes aside, I just wanted to say that you're awesome. It's not the seven gigs of free space I get for email or that you now default to https so that folks don't accidentally transmit clear text. No, it wasn't that I can now store any type of document in my Google Docs, though that was pretty cool. No, today what I'm loving you for is the ability to make free Google Voice calls and texts from my iPhone. You made it so easy. And now I'll never go over my minutes ever again.

Thanks for not being evil. You're really good at it.
Ammy

Employment Maintenance

So I spent a bit over an hour this morning doing maintenance work on my life as a Stanford Employee.

I fasted overnight to do the BeWell Health Assessment. A few years ago, the health insurance companies started giving big discounts if your employees submit some basic health data. In return, we get discounted exercise classes on campus and a hundred bucks for our trouble. Previously this involved filling out a survey. This year, they upped the ante and wanted blood. So, I let them stab me, and weigh me, and measure me. All the while, there's a vague niggling discomfort with this as an expectation, but I'm rolling with it this year and hoping to take a nice Zumba class in the spring.

Overall, my numbers make the health people smile. Right now I'm about 12 pounds overweight from my ideal, but everything else - blood pressure, pulse, cholesterol, glucose, waist size - are all numbers that make health folks very very happy. They ask me about exercise and I tell them about dancing, and invite them to try it sometime.

After finishing up there, I headed over to the transportation office to pick up my Go Pass and Eco Pass which get me free travel on VTA (bus, light rail, and Dumbo Express) and CalTrain. Sadly, they can't seem to sync up these annual passes with the same time we get our annual parking permit, so there's a twice a year interaction with P&TS, but on a random Wednesday morning, there weren't any lines, so I was in and out in ten minutes.

Now back at my desk after pedaling across campus again, I'm waiting for my ears to thaw out while I enjoy my cup of coffee, too much delayed for my preference, but oh so warm and welcome.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Good Stuff

I'm in the process of retiring my old Tivo, with the intention of reselling it for the cost of the lifetime service contract (actually less - a new lifetime contract is $399 and I was hoping to get $300). Anyway, it's a great Tivo that has served me well for 8 years. The weird thing is that there a few really old recordings I don't much want to give up and I can't find them on DVD.

The first is the 2004 Opening Ceremonies for the Olympics in Greece. It's the most beautiful tour through Greek art history come to life. Amazing stuff. So it's 4 hours of ceremony for a 20 minute segment I'd like to rescue. Unfortunately, it has the world's worst color commentary from Katie Couric and another sports dude making jokes about things like how the Parthenon looks like the Wicked Witch's house in the Wizard of Oz. (It was, in point of fact, Dorothy's house, but yeah, it's like that.) I'll probably give up and delete that shortly because it just can't seem to be had in NTSC format on DVD. C'est la vie.

The other thing was that I still had copies of most of the episodes of Journeyman. I loved that show. Now, I'd cheerfully pay to download the episodes from Amazon (which was available at one time). Or I'd pay for a DVD set. I've been signed up on Amazon for years to let me know when one is available for pre-order. Or I'd record them again if they were available in reruns. But it was a victim of the Writer's Strike and less than stellar ratings and NBC does not make it available to anyone at all at any cost. Harumph. Add to that, my copies are fuzzy/snowy due to a cable connection issue at the time. I rewatched one episode recently and it's just a bit painful. I was just about ready to give up on them forever.

So I went to the Fezzi Cast Party on Saturday. When James arrived, he handed me three discs of Journeyman on DVD. I was understandably confused. Turns out, Erik had posted about these misadventures on his blog in a special "Not Ammy" filter. He'd been working out how to get me a proper copy of the Journeyman series. With many thank yous to both James and Erik, I curled up with the first disc last night and was not disappointed.

Journeyman is a bit of a more complicated sort of Quantum Leap. The guy is traveling through time, clearly tasked with fixing things, but it just starts randomly happening to him. He gets a headache, and suddenly he's transported from his current location, to some place, some time in the past. This causes him to jump out at all sorts of inconvenient moments - while he's sleeping, while he's watching his kid in a crowd, and while he's driving. His wife gets to cope with this. The first episode is a little uneven. It's a bit slow-paced at times. But the end is just glorious. By the end of the episode, his wife is ready to leave him, but the last time he traveled, he left himself a time capsule, buried in their backyard and he proceeds to come home, and while in the process of being thrown out on his ear, apologizes profusely for "not being the man you married," but promising he'll always come home to her. It's perfectly executed. But it doesn't actually make this easier to cope with. He's disappearing regularly. It's affecting his work. It's affecting his relationship with his son. Add to that, he keeps bumping into his girlfriend in the past, who is also a time traveler and didn't actually die in that plane crash. And his wife is his brother's ex-girlfriend who the dead girlfriend knew. Complicated!!!

While NBC is scrambling to fill their shiny new 10 p.m. hole, I wish they'd look at this one again. Since I know I won't get that wish, I'll enjoy my few episodes and treasure the crystal clear clarity and no commercials on the DVDs (until NBC wants to sell me a legal copy).

Monday, January 25, 2010

Memorial Musings

There's nothing like going to a friend's memorial to make you contemplate what you'd like to see where it being held for you. Me, I'd hope my title of Chief Dance Instigator would be celebrated. A night of irreverent and joyful dancing to my favorite dance tunes would far better suit me. There would be waltzing to Dennis Leary's "I'm an Asshole" and polka to "Dead Man's Party" and off the wall ceili dancing with an extended Fairy Reel to "Disco Inferno" and jigs to "River's Dance." Hopefully Dave would be there to summon a band for some traditional tunes and Bob and Tracey would lead everyone in the Night Fever line dance. There'd be a celebration of the different forms of swing from Charleston to Lindy to East Coast to Fifties Bandstand to 70s Hustle. Above all, in the end, I'd still want to make sure I got everyone up to celebrate the pure joy of dancing.

Now hopefully it will be another fifty years of happy, healthy dancing and friends and games and teaching and learning before I really have to consider such things, but today I'm acutely aware that I don't get to choose, and the ones we lose along the way are the ones we least expect.

An Eventful Weekend

It's a rare weekend that involves quite this many events, but I ran the gambit from cast party to memorial to baby shower, with dancing, overnighting with friends, brunch, and a movie night to round out every waking hour of the weekend.

Can I have a day off to recover from my weekend?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Because I Needed More Cat Drama?

We're still working on integrating Pixel and Leeloo and Fleck and Pepper. It's had its ups and downs. We're trying a strategy this week to see if Fleck could use a little vacation in an only-cat household. He's staying with Alex and Sherman for a week. He's been woefully unhappy, so we're at a loss for what to do for him since he's neither happy locked up in the blue room nor happy sharing the house with others. There have even been occasional skirmishes between Fleck and Pepper in the blue room, though I have to wonder if that's Pepper being fed up with his incessant whining and finally just hitting him. I worry though that it may be Fleck taking his frustrations out on Pepper. Oy. Pepper meanwhile has been a love and is happy to share space with Pixel and Leeloo as long as it involves being blissed out on catnip and getting a share of the fishy treat.

Meanwhile, Leeloo woke me up twice last night trying to barf. Hopefully this was a one-time aberration and she didn't really eat something else inappropriate. A couple more days of that and she's going back to the vet for more x-rays or ultrasound.

But, tonight, I sat down to work on a communications plan for the Trio project at work, the one thing I just couldn't manage to finish last week. I hear a cat crying outside. Pixel and Leeloo are obviously staring at this cat. I peek out the window and see this cute little grey and white striped tabby staring back at me. I grab a bowl of dry food to take out to him. Turns out he's friendly. Really really friendly. He's more interested in being petted than eating kind of friendly. Oh boy. Then I notice the bite on his tail. He's been mixing it up with the feral population. I've heard fights outside for a week or so, and I'm pretty sure he's the source. He's the new guy on the block that everyone else is telling, "Move along buddy. This is our turf."

So now there's a snuggly tabby that needs medical attention, and I can't just go back inside and ignore it. A quick shout out to Rachel to get her best recommendation, and then packing him off to the shelter. He was very sad about being in a cat carrier in a car, but I slipped a bowl of gooshy food in with him and he ate it all by the time we arrived. Paperwork filled out and cat surrendered, I'm hoping for the best. He was a very sweet boy who was clearly getting wailed on by the locals.

But seriously, enough with the cat drama!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Dollhouse

Season 2 of Dollhouse has been awesome, especially *after* it got canceled. Watching this week's second to last episode, I thought, "Geez, Joss should work under this kind of pressure all the time!" Trick is, if he started developing a story knowing he only had 13-26 hours to tell it, it probably wouldn't work, but when he thinks he may have a few times that amount, then gets pressured into telling it faster, then I think genius may ensue.

We only got around to watching "Getting Closer" (episode 11) on Thursday. We found ourselves speechless, mouths agape. After giving ourselves a half-hour to recover, we watched How I Met Your Mother, which proceeded to burst into a musical. Good television is not a lost art, it's just a little tricky to find amongst all the flotsam.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Google China

The quake in Haiti is overshadowing another big news event yesterday where Google gave China an ultimatum - no more censoring or we're out of here.

All I can say is: Well played Google!

For years, Google took a lot of heat for censoring their search results in China. The thing is, if they hadn't, China would've never tasted the Google experience. Now they have, and the loss will be harder than if they'd never had it at all. After three years in China, Google played it's trump card, and the Chinese government will need to do a lot of backpedaling if they decide to ban Google.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Drupal Camp

I've bumped into several aspiring Drupalers in recent history. Looks like Stanford is hosting an event.

KHAAAAN!

Wednesday night as I'm leaving Wendy and Jeff's place, Erik says, "Oh did you tell them?" And I said, "Oh no! On the way over, we saw the best license plate!"

Wendy said, "Was it the little black car with the NAZGUL plate?" Jeff nods knowingly.

I blunder on, too excited about my own sighting to fully absorb what she just said and how I now will be watching for that one too. "No, better! It was a Prius with the license plate K-H-A-A-A-A-N!"

We then had a brief chat about the optimal number of As in Khan when searching Google.

'kthxbye

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Cell Phones for Brain Health?

Just when I thought I was done, a friend posts this article about cell phones fighting Alzheimer's Disease. This goes firmly in the category of things I wasn't expecting to read. Even when I clicked it, I assumed that it was a human study that would focus on the cognitive behaviors of older adults with and without cell phones, but no, it's an animal study. The mice were exposed to radio waves and it kept them from building up beta-amyloid deposits. It turns out what many assumed would cause cancer may actually be saving us from a miserable end. Weird.

And also, science is awesome.

Bits and Pieces


The brown hair dye overlay came out less than fully brown. Such is the way of it. Work conversations have been had, so there's no further incentive to tinker with it for 3-4 weeks when I'll see what it looks like with a quarter/half-inch grown out.

Meanwhile, science news has been piling up.

If you want to lose weight, training yourself to eat more slowly may help. I note that my metabolism shifted again last year (especially the second half of the year!) and I now need to trim down again. Harumph. Ten pounds should be doable if I do it now rather than later. Per Josh and Magenta's success, I'm trying MyFitnessPal.com. This week I'm focusing on consciousness - recording my food and exercise habits. Next week I'll start working on cutting back. So far, I'm finding on days when I "eat normally," I'm generally not overeating and eating plenty of healthy food. It's the days that I go out, allow myself a treat, or catch-as-catch-can that account for the overages that have built up over time. I also need to get back to a regular exercise routine. Regular dancing must be found closer to home, or I need to take up another form of exercise. Still, dancing has always worked best for me, and I love the strength and power I feel in my body after a month of Dickens. But, research is pointing to endurance training as a way to preserve your telomeres, so maybe I should be training for a marathon instead?

The big news of the day yesterday was the new Google Nexus. I saw Paul's at Gaskell. It was a very pretty device. HTC has been working on various phones with Google for over a year, and they've finally reached a second-generation type of device. The G1 wasn't enough to rock Apple's boat, but I suspect this one may be the device that pushes Apple to do more. We'll see. As much as I love the idea of speech-to-text field entry, the real news is the change of business model. Google is forcing the issue of separating the hardware purchase from the service provider.

Meanwhile, back in the science news, there's the fascinating article about the breed of hominids that was probably quite a bit smarter than us. I was left wondering if our interpretation of the classic alien is some sort of extant racial memory of this race. Or if it was more like Kilowatt from Space Chimps. Or if they were remembered as gods (Greek, Egyptian, etc.). Or if they just bumped into humans and got killed like a bunch of nerds at a frat party. Anyhoo, it's fodder for a whole bunch of science fiction (reconstruction cloning stories, what if they'd survived stories, etc.).

Speaking of science fiction, remember how River Tam was all messed up because of what they'd done to her amygdala? Yeah, maybe they'd altered it to keep from noticing additional carbon dioxide building up, which allowed her to be the crazy calm assassin she was so good at being. Yeah, well, who knows. Take a deep breath and relax.

Meanwhile, I was reading an article about how we're swayed so easily by those around us, and how much of our judgment is influenced by others. Yet, once again, it's not a bad thing. It's just how we're wired. If we work with it rather than against it, then all is well, and technology races to meet our needs daily (and it always has!). Cory Doctorow puts it elegantly in an article about stupid things you should avoid saying about social media.

Okay, now, with many tabs closed, I go back to work.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Hair Update

I realized tonight at Josh and Magenta's place that if I went to work with glowing yellow-orange hair, I'd have the same conversation all day tomorrow at work. I gave it a quick rinsing over with a light brown when I got home to take the edge off. Perhaps at some future date (perhaps soon even) when it's not the first day back after two weeks off work, I'll plan and prepare my colleagues for such a change. But just as we don't like it when Mr. Fezziwig suddenly implies that he might be retiring as director, I don't like blindsiding my coworkers after the holidays. Light brown is far less shocking than yellow.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

P.S.

And also, so far, the blonde has gotten lots of positive reviews. I'm trying to decide whether to nuke it tomorrow (before going back to work on Monday) or if I should leave it. Not sure yet...

Happy New Year!

The latter half of 2009 was filled with more stress and sadness than I've faced in a long time. 2009 was so very fired.

So far, 2010 has involved good times with good friends, some settling in at home, and two fun movies. I hope it continues this way.

New Year's Eve was lovely and low-keyed, with a few friends over at home.

Plans this month include dancing, dim sum, a memorial, a cast party, dinner with friends, and cat integration.

I love my friends. I love my ninjas. I love my cats. I love the Cute Boy. I love my family. I love my Fezziwig's family. Here's hoping for a whole lot of awesome on twenty-ten.