Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Year End Catch Up

I'm about to head out to Camp Harmony tomorrow, as is usual for this time of year. Before I do, though, I wanted to breeze quickly through some of the good stuff from the last busy two weeks:
  • Hearing Chanticleer perform in MemChu with Rowyn and Sandra. Chanticleer is an all-male chorus, but they still sing alto and soprano parts, and they're incredible. Especially in MemChu. One of my favorite bits was in Arvo Pärt's Sieben Magnificat Antiphone when they just settled in and sat on a minor second until the whole church just vibrated with it. Mmmmm.
  • Going to the Christmas Revels with Mom. This was my first time actually going to the Revels, though I've been listening to the music for years. I loved Shira's opening with God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen on the fiddle, and Geoff Hoyle being hilarious throughout, and the old favorites like Lord of the Dance, and the Abbotts Bromley Horn Dance. And of course, I got to see and hear my favorite alto in the chorus.
  • Waldon-Lieber-Edwards-Atkisson Christmas. After some heroic rescheduling on Dad and Betty Lue's part, Lacey and I got to go to this conflict-free. And we made delicious egg nog, which I still intend to try as ice cream someday.
  • Friday Night Waltz and "Friday" Night Waltz. After a couple weeks of being sick and/or busy, it was quite nice to be dancing again. The Saturday one had a live band playing excellent renditions of many of my favorite waltzes.
  • Boone-Haas Christmas. White elephant gift exchanges are usually more fun for the exchanging than for the gifts, but this time I ended up with a game that I've actually gotten some fun out of already. Also, Rowyn got to come along at the last minute and short circuit her brain trying to learn the names of 20 different relatives all at once.
  • Christmas itself. Quite mellow after the parties of the preceding weekend.
  • Planning my time off. It's actually being rather trickier to schedule some things than I'd expected, considering I'll be unemployed in a couple months, which ought to make it easy. But with Lacey attending a school and me a wedding, we might not end up taking our trip together after all. Plans are all still in the vague stage, though.
  • Getting ready for Harmony. Hmm, have I done this yet? I probably should....
I've had various other blog posts queuing up in my head recently, but not quite making it out. Some may see the light of day in January, and others will probably just as well not. For now, I'm leaving the world of computers behind to go dance, sing, and play out in the redwoods for 5 days. Happy new year!

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Next Big Change

This year has been a time of many changes for me, some of which get blogged about in more detail than others. But this is one that's currently making the rounds of announcements: I'm going to be leaving my job at Google.

When: The timeline for this isn't rushed. Taking various factors into consideration, I'll probably be finishing up early- or mid-February. Exact date still TBD.

Why: The simple answer is just that it's time for a change. I still think Google is a great place to be, but it's a great place that I've been for nearly 4.5 years now. I could conceivably switch to a different sort of job here, but at this point I want more of a change even than that. I also just want to take a break for a few months before deciding what's next on the job front. (So no, I'm not just trying to be like my sister.)

What: For now I'm planning on leaving most of the time unstructured, but it's certainly not going to be all lazying around kinda time. Among the various things I'd like to do are....
  • Music. I'd especially like to work on singing, ear training, composing, and piano.
  • Art. I want to draw more, work on my wall, maybe think of other fun projects.
  • Writing. I don't know about doing another novel, but I'd kind of like to try my hand at some short stories. There's a continuing studies class next quarter on writing micro fiction, which might be fun to take.
  • Volunteering. Probably more stuff through Hands On Bay Area, or other groups I find.
  • Travel. I'm still in the planning stages for a volunteer trip. Might even consider the Prague vintage dance week if I'm still footloose come July.
  • Meditation. A conversation with Case today made me think a meditation retreat might be interesting to try.
  • Cooking. Okay, this one might be a stretch, but if weaning myself off Google food doesn't get me learning to cook, nothing will.
  • Outdoorsiness. Find some nice places to go hiking or camping or something.
  • Dancing. This is one thing I'm actually getting about the right amount of already, so I don't really need more of it, but hopefully I'll keep it up.
  • Reading. Again, I do kinda enough of this, but a bit more wouldn't hurt.
  • Redesign my blog. If I come up with a cool idea, it might be fun.
I tried to narrow that list down, really. Well, okay, not much.

Anyway, I don't know where this will all end up, but I'm sure it will be interesting. I've done it before, deliberately flinging myself into the jobless void like this, and it worked out quite well. So it'll all be good.

Reminder: I work at Google but speak for myself. I have no job offers, stock tips, or trade secrets to share with you. Go here for help with Blogger and here for help with Reader.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Living Room Wall Update

Living Room Wall It's been over a year since my last update on this project, so here's a new picture. (Previously: 1, 2, 3.) There are also a couple more photos showing it in a little bit more context. It's not growing very rapidly these days, but I just recently put up a new batch, starting on the tertiary color finally. The blue has a lot of filling out to do still, though. Unfortunately, I'm running into paper procurement problems, getting more of the blue to match. I think I have to buy a whole pad of assorted colors art paper just to get a few sheets of the blue I want. Should have thought of that when I was picking it out originally.

Anyway, if you happen to be feeling creative (or wondering what to get me for Christmas :-) remember that this is an audience-participation activity. And "2" is the magic number: The only two rules are that it be 2-dimensional and 2x2 inches. The illustrious list of contributors so far includes Lacey, Pa, Quena, Miriam, Antonia, Emily, and Jenny. Yay for them!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

One Month Post-LASIK Checkup

I went in this morning for my one-month checkup. My vision is still pretty much where it was on the day after surgery -- 20/20 in my right eye, and slightly better in my left. My right is healing a tad slower, though, so it might yet catch up. Not that the difference is really noticeable in day-to-day life, of course. The doctor could tell that I had gotten something in my right eye recently, as it was slightly scratched, but no big deal. The corneal flap itself is healing nicely, as it should.

I'm still taking pretty regular eye drops, though the frequency is diminishing as my eyes get better at taking care of themselves. Apparently the thing about the dryness isn't due to a problem with the tear ducts. Rather, nerves in the cornea get damaged during surgery, and until those are fully regrown, your eyes have a harder time telling how much moisture they need to produce. The time to restore the nerves varies from person to person. The doctor also gave me a sample of some different, gel-like eye drops that should be better (i.e. longer lasting) for nighttime use.

The various side effects I mentioned earlier are mostly gone. No more noticeable night halos. Computer screens and books stay in focus properly, so I don't get eye strain as easily. And I'm hardly ever reaching to take off glasses I'm not wearing. In fact, it's even gotten to the point where I think pictures of myself with glasses look odd.

I've been very good about not rubbing my eyes (which I'm supposed to keep up for at least another month, though it's a good policy in general). In the beginning, I was so hyper-aware of my eyes all the time that it wasn't actually at all difficult to remember not to rub them. Nowadays my eyes just feel normal the majority of the time, but I've already built up enough of a habit that I've still managed to avoid any lapses. Even just seeing other people rub their eyes makes me squirm sometimes, until I remind myself that they didn't just have LASIK recently.

Earlier on, around week 2 or so, I noticed that I had a light red spot on my right eye, just above the iris. I called the doctor's office and described it, but they weren't too worried, since it wasn't hurting, oozing, spreading, or affecting my vision. If any of that changed, I was supposed to go in and get it checked out, but otherwise it was expected to go away on its own within a few weeks. It was gone entirely in about 2 weeks, I think.

So all is well. I don't have any more scheduled checkups, and this'll probably be all for the blog chronicling of it, unless something else unexpected comes up. But hopefully it won't, since things are in pretty good shape here.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Short List

I have several modes of music listening, from putting my whole library or large genres on shuffle, to focusing on specific artists and actually listening to entire albums in order. Lately I've been more conscious of my "Short List" mode, where I get three or four songs together and just play them repeatedly as a set. There are breaks in between to preserve the sense of order from a continuous loop, and I might listen to other music or just have silence then, but I come back and play the set many times a day until it's time to move on to the next one.

Short Lists can be themed sometimes, such as all dance music, like this set from quite a while ago that I still remember because I was stuck on it for so long:
  • Big & Rich: Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy (polka)
  • Kelly Clarkson: Breakaway (waltz)
  • Indigo Swing: Blue Suit Boogie (swing)
More often they're collections of recently-discovered music, so I'm frequently in this mode when I'm scouting out new stuff. Like this previously blogged list, courtesy of my recommendations:
  • Hank Williams, Sr: Honky Tonk Blues
  • Reel Big Fish: She Has a Girlfriend Now
  • The Smiths: Bigmouth Strikes Again
The ordering within a list is specific, but I'm not always sure how I choose it. The songs are often exceedingly different (as above) but I think that just makes it more interesting as they developed relationships in my mind from repeatedly juxtaposed listenings. Here's the current, somewhat motley, collection:
  • Colby Caillat: Bubbly
  • Geoff Byrd: Elusive Butterfly
  • Mika: Grace Kelly
  • The Vincent Black Shadow: Metro
There's also the question of number. Three is usually the right amount, but this list has four songs in it because I was unable to squeeze out either of the two middle ones. (The bookenders of a set are usually non-negotiable.) Unfortunately, I have the next Short List starting to form already, when I'm not entirely done with the current one. Here's what's coming up:
  • Indigo Girls: Fill It Up Again
  • Sugababes: Hole in the Head
  • Joan Osborne: St. Teresa
Though I don't know if the middle one will stay or get booted for something else (again, the middle position tends to be weakest). There are some Bowling for Soup songs that might get swapped in. I tried tacking this list on to the current one, but seven songs is really just too much for a Short List. So I'm in a transitional stage right now, which feels weird.

Credit (and thanks!) where due: This current flood of new music recommendations is coming mostly from Rowyn. Props also go to Bandanna Bob for introducing me to "Metro" at Faster Polka a few weeks ago (it's a good swing).