Thursday, July 31, 2003

Golly, every time I pick up a newspaper I remember why I generally don't. I suppose one ought to keep track of what one's crazy leaders are doing, though.

What I read today is that Bush is looking at legislation to define marriage as between a man and a woman only. Now I admit that I don't know the details of any existing laws about gay rights, but reading Bush's comments was just scary. First off, he says "I believe a marriage is between a man and a woman. And I think we ought to codify that one way or the other." Apparently freedom of belief means that the president is free to make his personal beliefs into a law. Maybe he's hoping that the rest of us just happen to freely believe the same thing. Later on, apparently trying to make it look like he's not being discriminatory, he says "I think it's very important for our society to respect each individual, to welcome those with good hearts, to be a welcoming country. On the other hand, that does not mean that somebody like me needs to compromise on issues such as marriage." So while his own marriage will probably not be affected in the least regardless of how this turns out, he feels like he can deny all homosexual couples the right to any marriage at all, just so his values won't be compromised. Two people who want to get married and aren't allowed to may have to compromise all over the place, but apparently that doesn't count because they aren't "somebody like" Bush. It sounds so absolutely ridiculous to me that I'm not even sure how I would argue with him if I had him right here in the room. We differ in some assumption so basic that I'd have to think for a while before I could figure out how to get underneath it.

Anyway, sorry for that somewhat out of character post. That article just really annoyed me. Like I said, I don't really have any good knowledge on what the current state of things is for homosexual couples, but regardless, it's just frightening to see how our president thinks sometimes. Sheesh.
I wanted to go to the Irish session tonight, but I don't know if I'll make it. I got home from work and now I just feel tired. I've also got letters to write, books to read, and a cozy room to do it all in. So we'll see. If I get re-energized I'll go play music, but I'm doubting it. (My apologies for such an enthralling blog entry. I'm sure the suspense is just killing you all.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

I got home tonight and found a handwritten note stuck under one of fRed's windshield wipers. It said "If you are interested in selling your car. Please call {name1} or {name2} at {phonenumber}. Thank you". Punctuation aside, it made me curious: what made someone interested in my car in particular? I mean, I like him, but I see no reason some random person would. He doesn't even look good right now, he's so filthy. Hmm. I wonder if they know something I don't. Maybe years ago, thieves hid a bunch of loot in the door panels to avoid getting caught with it, and they've only now managed to track it down again, knowing that whatever's hidden there will far outweigh the cost of the car. I should do a thorough search.
The visit last night was much fun, as always. I wish Greg and Shaleece didn't live so far away, so we could see them more often. We also got to meet Shaleece's mom, who's quite a kick as well. Curtis taught us a new card game he had invented, called Compression, which I thought was very cool. (Not only the game itself which was good, but also just the fact that he would bother to sit down and create one at all.) I only got called Greg once, amazingly enough. I was quite impressed. (Mom avoided the problem entirely by calling me "honey" all night, which is sort of cheating.)

Greg also told me about, which I want to check out sometime. It sounds like sort of a catch-and-release program for books. It could be a really neat thing if you've got enough people in an area doing it.

Oh, and here's something else that came up last night that I want to know more about. I read something once where the author mentioned in passing that there was scientific evidence of some sort that there had once been only a single human language in existence. Shaleece has heard the same thing, too, but we don't know what that evidence is or where it came from. Anyone ever heard about this? It's got me kind of curious, mostly because I want to know how they figure out something like that. I'll have to try to look it up sometime. Not now, though. Time to go to work.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Today my throat was hurting and I was starting to wonder if I was getting sick. But other than that I was feeling fine. So I was confused until I realized that it must be from singing for two hours yesterday. That particular sensation is so rare for me I didn't even recognize it. :-)

Greg and Shaleece are visiting from New York, so I'm going to go see them at Monee and Pa's tomorrow. Yay! The Gr's will be sowing confusion once again....

Sunday, July 27, 2003

My friends, if you should ever find this world is not your home,
You've lost your faith in God or man and think you're all alone,
Or else you've met such happiness that music fills your heart,
Whether you are feeling joy or woe sing from The Sacred Harp.
- Finest Kind, Fa-Sol-La

Wow, shape note singing was actually a lot of fun. The people there were really nice and friendly, plus it turned out I knew one of them and recognized a couple others from Camp Harmony, so that helped. It was a pretty small group -- two people per part. I got to be a bass! (I've always wanted to be a bass, but I still need a few more low notes to be a good one). The other guy singing bass was very good, so it helped to be singing with him. I started getting the shape/syllable system a bit better towards the end, at least for major keys. Minors were harder. I think it was a really good level of difficulty for me, though. Not so hard to be discouraging, but still challenging, so it will help my sight singing and my ear a lot. It's still pretty much takes all my concentration just to get most of my notes and most of the words at the right times, but hopefully I'll get better at that and eventually be able to listen to what the other parts are doing as well. I'm planning on going to the next one in two weeks, and then the week after that there's some big gathering in Santa Cruz which I might check out. Fun fun.

Oh, and I want to start doing some Irish sessions once in a while again. I haven't been to Patrick's in over a year, so maybe I'll do that again. And someone else today told me about another one in Sunnyvale that I might try, though it's not until next month. That would be fun, too. I've been less folky and more classical (at least as far as my piano skills will allow) recently so it might be nice to shift the balance a little bit.
The contradance last night was pretty good, but I was reminded of how much the music can really make or break a dance. The band was good at what they did, but old-timey music just doesn't really do it for me. They pretty much just had one sound, without even any different arrangements, and no contrasting tune changes or anything. And I hate to say it, but if I'm not paying close attention, all old-timey tunes sound alike (I know, I know, just like all Irish, Klezmer or Ethiopian tuba tunes sound alike if you don't know the style at all). Irish bands and such will at least play sets of tunes in different keys, so even if you're one of those people who doesn't pay a ton of attention to the music, or doesn't know Irish or whatever, you can at least catch the changes, which increases the energy. And of course the absolute best bands can play all sorts of different things, in lots of different styles, instruments combinations, etc. They're the ones that can keep you dancing effortlessly all night. Last night it was a bit of work for me to keep my energy up. Oh well.

Dad's stopping by for a short visit today. Yay! Then this afternoon my adventure will be attempting shape note singing. I haven't really done it before (well, okay, a couple songs at Camp Harmony two years ago), I'm not at all confident about my singing, and I doubt I'll know anyone there. So it'll be a bit of a challenge just to get myself to go, but hopefully it will turn out to be fun, too.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Happy Birthday, Cristie!

Friday, July 25, 2003

I used a bit of my day off today to explore the Redwood City library, which I hadn't been to before. That's a nice branch, and I made a couple very nice finds. One was Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, which I've been wanting to read for a while. That's providing some fun laughs, not to mention balancing the other things I've been reading, like St. Augustine. I also finally found a recording of that Bach violin fugue, played on a violin (I'd only heard the version on the Modern Mandolin Quartet CD). I really do like that piece, and I've been working on it for the last week or two (on mandolin, not violin -- that way I have a chance at least). I think I may even be improving. It's certainly a good workout for the fingers.

I greatly enjoyed watching Amélie for the second time last night. I think that a lot of what makes it so wonderful is her imagination and how little bits of magic just sort of follow her around. That's the sort of thing I'd like to have more of in my life. That movie's chock full of waltz music, too... always a plus.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

As Tina pointed out, they seem to have already taken down the listing for the job I got. I think they were going to be hiring multiple people for that position, so I must have been the last one. Anyway, like I said, it's a customer service job, and it involves things like troubleshooting users' problems, creating documentation, and keeping the engineers connected to what the users want/need. The ad used words like "excellent," "passionate," and "escalate," which sound a bit overly glamorous, but whatever. I think it will be good.

Meanwhile, of course, I'm still finishing up the current temp job. Today I got one delay taken care of, which allowed me to finally get 8,000 letters in the mail. That was a relief -- that cubicle just wasn't big enough for the 8,001 of us. Now, though, I'm stuck waiting on something else. I've done basically everything I can do for the next project short of actually getting it done, while we wait for some lollygagger somewhere to get a letter approved. We don't know when that will be, so they sent me home today for a three day weekend. Normally I'd be a bit annoyed at that (at not getting paid and the tossing around of temps, not at the vacation) but since I know I'll have a better, longer job soon, I don't mind so much. And I can always find something good to do with my time.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

I got the job! Talk about fast turn-around time. My first phone interview was less than a week ago. My real, in person, interview was only yesterday. It actually felt like about the best interview I've ever had, and I guess it was, since it got the quickest and best response. So I'm pretty happy. Wow. I get to work at Google... I get to work with the Blogger team... this is so cool. Sorry I haven't been posting much about it here. Ordinarily I would have, but since it's a blogger job and the interviewers would therefore be looking at my blog, I figured it was best to just not mention it. But now that everything's sorted out, I can say a bit more. The job listing is here if you want to see it. It's basically a customer service support sort of job. It's temp-to-hire, so I'll work on a contract basis for a few months and if everything goes well, I'll eventually go permanent. I'm starting a week from Monday, on August 4th. It'll be fun to be back at Google again, this time in a job I'm excited about (as opposed to filing papers for the legal department). Yay! Thank you to everyone who helped out with Google contacts, giving encouragement and just generally rooting for me. You're all wonderful.
Happy Birthday, Dani!

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Hmm. The VA dance seems to have disappeared. This is very disappointing. I wonder if it's gone for good or if the schedule has just changed or something? So instead of that I poked my head in at the tango lesson happening at Roble, but ended up not feeling very tango-y. What I feel like is playing some fiddle tunes. I'd say that's a pretty far cry from tango.

I had a good interview today. I'm actually applying for a job with Blogger, at Google. This is very cool. Further details as events warrant.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Going to the Doghouse last night was fun. I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I did the few times I went last summer. Plus, I danced with something like a dozen complete strangers, which is a lot for me. I think I'm getting better at that, or I was for a while last night anyway. And I had several remarkably fun dances following Justin (thank you, Justin!). I think I enjoy following far too much, considering I usually have to lead. :-) Oh well. As I've noticed before at the Doghouse, I feel like my swing dancing improves simply by being there, around lots of other good dancers. Some of that is from watching other people (some of them are just fascinating to watch) and some is probably just the energy of the place, and the fact that it's nothing but swing all night. I need to start going there more often. Like the hustle club dances, it's sad not to have any waltzes but at least I like swing a lot more than I like hustle.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

No dancing for me last night, but I had a lovely visit with Mom instead, that included much reading of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. For some reason, I really like reading that book out loud. I've read the beginning (first few chapters at least) to several different people, but have never actually finished the whole thing with anybody. Probably because I don't have a regular storytime-someone these days. But I might get through the whole thing with Mom, since we're actually about 2/3 of the way through it already.

Today we had lunch at Rossmoor with Grandma Jackie, Aunt Pat and cousin Aprill. We also got our new passes for getting into Rossmoor, and they're absolutely horrid. Instead of little cards we can carry in our wallets, we now have to have big ugly bar-code stickers on our windows. It's ridiculous. I could sort of imagine it being reasonable for residents who go in and out all the time, but not for guests. I wonder if I could peel the sticker off, paste it on a piece of paper or something and just wave it in front of the scanning machine at the gate. I'd have to wait to see how the system works, though (it's not in effect for a couple more months).

Friday, July 18, 2003

Music of the day: Bach. I've been listening to the Mass in B minor all morning. All that counterpoint makes me want to learn to sing harmony. (Well, I wanted to anyway, but this reminds me.) I wonder if I could find a place to do shape note singing around here? That might be a good way to work on both harmony and sight singing. I wish now that I could take all my music theory classes again, just for the ear training. I didn't appreciate that enough when I had it (I hated it, actually :-}).

Challenge of the day: Getting through work with only one opposable thumb. My right one is hurting, even though I spent most of yesterday being left handed. The weekend will arrive none to soon.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

I saw Amélie for the first time tonight. What an absolutely delightful movie. I was laughing out loud sometimes just at the sheer imagination and creativity of it all. Thank you Miriam, for my late birthday present.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Well, the hustle dancing last night wasn't quite as scary as it could have been. It was good having lots of friends there, and the lesson was a bit more accessible than the ones I found there last summer (though the amount of actual stuff I ended up getting out of it was fairly small). The teacher was really good. He's the one who always makes me think that if you could personify a brick wall into a really good dancer, it would be him. He was great to watch, as were many of the people there. Somewhat intimidatingly so, actually. So I danced a few dances with my friends, watched a lot, and got tired early. I tire out faster with dances I'm not very good at, and it didn't help that I had been up earlier that morning and worked longer. Also, while I like hustle music in moderate doses, three or four hours of it is a bit much pounding for my brain to take. I was really pining for a nice, lyrical waltz by the end. Oh well. I'd like to go some more, and maybe gradually build up a small amount of competence, but I may also need to start taking my own car. Carpooling is great (thank you, Jeremy!), but staying until midnight is a bit much for me. Next week, though, I think I'll go to the VA dance.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Today was actually as good a day as could be expected, given the current temp job. I felt clever for finally figuring out why we had been having such trouble with the printer. Also, having a new person there with me makes it much easier to face down 8,000 envelopes. Also, I discovered the break room -- complete with ice cream bars -- hidden away in the back of the office. (No one ever thinks to tell temps about these things.) Also, my supervisor is getting in to work earlier this week, which means I can, too. This is good because it means I can make up the time I'll lose for my phone interview (!) on Thursday, plus I can go home at a nicer time in the evenings. For this week, anyway.

There was another dance-dilemma for me in deciding where to go tonight. Dance events seem to be just landing right on top of each other these days. The debate this time was between the Hustle club in Campbell and the VA Hospital dance that George and Tina and I went to a lot last summer. Then George also pointed out that there's swing dancing to be had at Swing Central on Tuesday nights, too. So many choices. But the first two were the main contenders. I'm trying the hustle tonight to see if it scares me as much as it did last summer (the people there are in an entirely different world of hustle, far beyond me). But I want to go back to the VA dances again once in a while, too. Maybe next week.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Well, I've been able to work somewhat more normally today, at least inasmuch as I am no longer being actively thwarted by machines. Also, it has finally been realized here that there's really much more than one temp's worth of stuff to be done, so I'll have another guy in here tomorrow to help out. This is a good thing.

My hands get a bit worn out from stuffing envelopes all day, but I think they're still in good enough shape to play a bit of mandolin. I've started working on the Bach violin fugue in G minor that's on the Modern Mandolin Quartet CD. That's such a beautiful piece, but it's by far the hardest thing I've ever tried on the mandolin. Fiddle tunes just don't compare. So it's a good challenge.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

So that turned out to be a pretty good choice after all, for various reasons. Though I missed dancing will the friends who went to the Doghouse, there were still a few Stanford people and other friends at the contra. And I made a potentially very useful job contact with one of them. Yay for dancing friends who work cool places. Plus, the music was great. Laura Light and George Paul were out here from Virginia. At first I wasn't that thrilled; it was just piano and fiddle and the first couple sets weren't all that exciting. But once they got going -- wow, it was awesome. They even played a swing dance (Laura sang "Blue Skies"), right in the middle of the first half, which almost never happens. And lots of the tunes were pretty swingy. So it was a good mix. I probably wouldn't have gotten any fiddle tunes or contradances at the Doghouse. :-)
Well, the decision of the day today was whether to go to the Doghouse or the contradance, and contra won this time around. I've been wanting to go swing dancing recently, but the music at the contra should be good tonight and I don't feel like having quite as late a night as the Doghouse would be. Plus, I still don't know what's going to happen to the contra when they get booted out of the Y in late August, so I figure I ought to make sure to get to all the dances I can until then. Maybe I'll go to the Doghouse next weekend, or some other 1st or 3rd Saturday.

I managed to do some clean-up and organizing today that I had been meaning to get to for a while. Sadly, my room does not look remarkably different. Hmph. But it's better than it was, and I feel a bit more sorted out in my head, at least.

Friday, July 11, 2003

Seldom have I been kept so busy accomplishing so little. And the day's not even over yet! Still so much more inefficiency to cram in before I leave work....

Just for the record, this isn't my fault. A lot of it is the printer, which advertises itself as printing 10 pages/minute but has been performing at more like 5 minutes/page today. Literally. Plus, I have to wait on other people for other documents and blah blah blah blah blah. Oh well. Yay for Friday.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Various random notes:

I've had short hair for a year now. Wow. In a way, I still feel like a long haired person with short hair, but at least I do think I look like myself (I didn't in the very beginning).

Mere Christianity was a great book. I highly recommend it.

I think I'll try biking to work tomorrow. I don't much care for biking the 101 overpass, but other than that, it's not a bad ride, so it's probably worth doing. The exercise is good for me and besides, fRed doesn't deserve these piddling little commutes.

Work is tedious. Thank goodness for music. It's Ginastera right now.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

So it turns out that I'm working again at the same place I did last week. I think it's interesting that they hired me as a word processor, even though they actually have me doing very little word processing. Mostly I've been putting together big mailings for surveys they do. But I'm getting paid a lot more than I probably would be if they had told the agency they wanted someone to stuff envelopes. So that's cool. On the other hand, I'm stuffing envelopes, so that's not so cool. And the next batch coming up tomorrow is going to be immense. Thank goodness for CD players and headphones. So anyway, it'll be nice to know where my income is coming from for a least a couple more weeks, but I'll still be looking forward to moving on as soon as possible.
I got to watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in Spanish last night. That was pretty fun. I actually understood a fair amount, though it helped that I had seen it in English before, and read the book in both languages.

I noticed that the basilisk actually looks rather more like a legless lizard than a snake. Where's Lacey when I need to make pit-tag jokes?

Monday, July 07, 2003

All better now. fRed has a new ignition switch, I have $200 less than I did yesterday, and we're both home safe and sound. All's well that ends well.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Well, I'm still here, and it looks like I will be until sometime tomorrow. The one car shop open on Sundays checked the battery, alternator and whatnot, said they were all fine and that there's probably something going on in the fuel system or ignition. But they aren't able to do that kind of work there, so I have to wait until tomorrow to take it to someone else. Grr. Luckily, as I said, I'm not working tomorrow. So hopefully it will get fixed quickly and I can just drive home. If it's going to take a while though, I'll have to find my way home on BART and CalTrain, bike to work for a few days, and get back here when I can. This is all very frustrating.

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Well, I had a lovely day up here in Berkeley today with Mom. Unfortunately, I'm still here, rather than back home. One minute I was happily cruising down the freeway and the next, I was unhappily cruising down the freeway, with no power, fRed having just died. So there I was, coasting at 60 mph and deccelerating rapidly, 10:00 at night, with five lanes of traffic rushing around me. I managed to get over to the side safely (through three of the lanes) and call AAA. The tow truck actually showed up fairly quickly, and took me back here to Mom's place. The tow truck driver was a fairly nice guy. Sort of hard to understand, but he seemed to be singing an old toothpaste commercial involving a train that was apparently very funny. Anyway, I hope we can get fRed fixed tomorrow, but I don't know what the chances are on a Sunday. Luckily, I don't have to be at work again until Tuesday, but hopefully things will get sorted out sooner than that.
There was an itty-bitty Friday Night Waltz last night. You'd almost have thought there was something else going on or something. Sheesh. And lots of extra leads. Luckily, we had a fair contingent of guys who like to follow. I think I may have danced a good half of my dances with guys, including lots of polkas with Bob and a fun, three-person rotating swing (to schottische music) with John and Heraldo. Unfortunately, my knee started giving me trouble after a while, so I danced less towards the end. It's ridiculous -- I dance for seven days straight at Waltz Week, then rest for another week, and only now does anything start hurting. Oh well. I think it's better this morning, though I haven't tried dancing on it yet.

Today I'm going up to Berkeley to visit Mom and go used-book store questing. Fun fun.

Friday, July 04, 2003

Happy Birthday, Jessica!
Happy 4th of July, everyone!

I read The Little Prince last night. I think I read it once when I was younger and didn't care for it much, didn't understand it. It's entirely different now. What a beautiful book.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

I finally got around to downloading Faith Hill's song "Cry" last night. My first encounter with it was last week sometime, in an over-full car of people singing along with the radio. A happy sort of memory for a not-so-happy sort of song. But it's a good song. I think I identify with a lot, though not all, of it. More than I'm proud of, anyway.

But it's a good cross-step waltz, which is more to the point of what I had been meaning to write. I was trying to go to sleep last night and it just wouldn't leave me alone. It was just crying out for a choreography, and I finally had to get up and start writing down ideas just to get them out of my head. Then I spent another half hour or so, well after I should have been asleep, turning the light back on every few minutes to write something else down. I'm not sure that all the ideas are very good, though, and most of them wouldn't be very useful outside of a choreography (i.e. they'd be hard or impossible to lead and follow). But some could be interesting. Unfortunately, when I listened to the song again this morning, I found that I had been choreographing much more to my own interpretation of the music in my head than to the actual recording. Sigh.

I think I learned a bit about why my brain keeps me awake so often, though. How often does it get to just sit quietly and apply imagination to something with no distractions? Even as a relatively introverted sort of person, I don't just sit and think very much. I read, or I write, or I get distracted with other things. Journaling is often the closest I get, and even that has the distraction of trying to make coherent sentences and write them down. And even if I had sat down and deliberately tried to spend some time choreographing something last night before bed there's a good chance I would have just frozen, going "uh oh... now I'm supposed to be coming up with ideas." But in bed there's no distractions and no pressure so my brain goes out and has a field day. Even sometimes when I'm completely worn out and tired, I'll try to go to sleep and that one little bit will wake up and start ticking again. Very strange.
Happy Birthday, Curtis!

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

I'm doing Wednesday nights volunteering at Project Read again, now that I'm not officially working there anymore. It's nice to not be entirely gone.
Happy Birthday, Grandma Marian!
Happy Birthday, Brian!

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Journals are wonderful things. I love how, once in a while, I can sit down to write about something I'd been pondering and then find myself learning things I didn't know I knew. I don't know how it works, but I'm not complaining.
Word of the day: resistentialism. I had various supposedly inanimate objects attempting to thwart me through out my day at work. Grr.

I finished Holes last night. It was a lot more lightweight than Harry Potter, but a very good story. I also liked the reliance on onions. I've been looking for a perfect food like that -- talk about a low maintenance way to feed yourself! I wonder what people at Safeway would think if they saw me coming in and just buying a huge sack of onions every week? Hmm, and I wonder what my dance partners, or people at work, would think if I ate them? Okay, scratch that. :-)