Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Rehab Deprogramming Therapy

The smart thing to do would have been to take a solid break from all work after quitting my job. Like take the whole summer off and ride my bike around town like I did when I was 10. Go on local photo safaris. Write a book. Read all my Calvin & Hobbes and Mutts books. Do stacks of crossword puzzles.

Or just sit and do nothing at all.

I still feel tired. Worn out. Happier, but not yet recharged or totally rehabbed. The tank still feels empty. I could sleep for a year. That place was so toxic and debilitating. It was like drinking just enough poison every day to get sick, but not enough to kill you.

So, I'm trying to work in a little down time where I can. On the days when I can do laundry, keep up on the dishes, take a walk, shop, go out to lunch, play with a camera, make dinner, and tidy up a room, it feels miles away from email, work and meetings. I'd have never guessed that being all wifey could feel so good.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Mrs. Butterfingers

My motor skills have gone on vacation this week. If you've ever dropped your keys repeatedly like any other Special Needs sort-of person, you know there's nothing you can do about it. You can swear, which I readily do while trying to keep a hold of my keys, and that's about it.

So far this week I've scraped my car into the side of the house; dragged the side of my knee into the corner of the coffee table; spilled a soda all over a shirt I wore for jury duty; walked into the refrigerator; dropped flour on the floor; almost locked myself out of my car; almost dropped my laptop onto the floor; and tripped over my laptop's AC cable, causing a big commotion that disturbed the cats and resulted in Ninja biting me on the toe after I sat back down to get my bearings.

Now, lest you think I'm suffering from dozens of mini strokes every other hour, this is a typical symptom of my PMS. Lots of women experience the same sort of thing. Just another example of how hormones can be evil and wrong.

Thankfully, my car's rear view mirror flipped back into the correct position, though it's not entirely stable in its socket and now sports daring red racing stripes on the side. My knee and shoulder are fine after bumping into furniture, and somehow I put my keys on top of my car at the courthouse when I was fumbling to get my bag, jacket and book out of the car when the door decided to close itself, locked.

The shirt I wore for jury duty was one of those nice, polyester/no-iron deelies that repels liquids, so I caught a huge break there. That doesn't help the fact that the soda I had, which was supposed to be a medium, was so freaking huge it wouldn't fit in the cup holder.

And maybe subconsciously I tried to drop my laptop and whip it off the table by tripping on the cord because I just bought a new one and I know it won't be too much longer that I'll have to wait 5 minutes for it to start up, or continually repair my wireless connection to get online, or wait for the cursor to return when typing an email and the words stop appearing because it's checking mail and can't do both at the same time.

But I guess if my period doesn't come in the next week or so it's time to get a crash helmet.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"Juror Number Ten..."

"...You're excused."

One of the nicest things I've ever heard. I was willing to do my civic duty, but after enduring too many hours of endless, repetitive questions from gasbag lawyers, I didn't want anything to do with any of it. What a huge waste of time and money. I should have read sites like this before ever showing up.

I thought it was interesting that they dismissed a lot of potential jurors with a background in technology or with white collar jobs for a carjacking trial. I found out from a friend of mine that I should have never been considered for the panel because I'm self-employed, but I need to do some research so I know how to handle that in the future.

This judge said the only way anyone could be excused for a financial hardship was to show tax returns and pay stubs. As my friend said, that doesn't show the full financial picture, and as an independent contractor, if you don't work, you don't get paid - that should be the end of the story - release me!

The prosecutor repeatedly asked the different jurors if they would have a problem with testimony from a police officer who lied to a suspect in order to collect information. She also kept asking people if they realized that this trial was not "CSI." WHAT? This is NOT CSI Hayward? Oh well fuck this. I'm leaving.

She probably excused me because I didn't laugh at her jokes. Or maybe it was my comments about police officers being mostly good but some are assholes, and if her case is relying solely on the testimony from cops who lied in order to gather information, I may not find that convincing and find the defendant not guilty.

When she called my number & name and told me I was excused, I had to force myself to not run from the courtroom. It felt a lot like quitting my job - I'm FREE! I wanted to see a movie, go shopping, paint a masterpiece, go to the beach - everything - right that minute.

I was just so happy to get home and back to my new routine. I'm shutting off the alarm clock for the rest of the summer.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Working for Uncle Ben

My other half joined the Family Lucas this week and is a producer on an upcoming blockbuster game. All that BS at his last job was a wonderful gift. Had that not happened, he may not have thought about moving on at this time, so, thanks guys!

We took a walk around the LucasArts campus last weekend and afterwards I told David it's been really nice and to write when he could. If I worked there I don't think I'd come home very often. It's a gorgeous place. Makes EA's "campus" look like a mental asylum, which it was some days, but mostly it was fun.

Our group had BBQ's in the parking lot with lots of sidewalk chalk and bizarre drawings; found giant blanket penises on chairs, courtesy of a fellow producer with an incredible gift for fabric origami; and created the [insert name here]-cam in the hallway so we could see when a particularly annoying product guy was on his way into our department; and then my favorite bit of shenanigans...

There was one guy in marketing who made it his job to ruin every day for me, to be a total pig asshole about everything, all the time. We used to call him Fred Flinstone because not only was he just as stupid as Fred, his head was just as block-shaped. One day I came back from meetings and told everyone what a total dick he'd been to me, again.

My coworkers were (and are) a fiercely loyal group, and if you mess with one of us, you've messed with all of us. They'd become as fed up as I was at how this guy was treating me and our group's role on projects. They consoled me and I felt better for having such good people around me, then I headed home.

The next day I came in and heard a wonderful story about Fred's sudden computer trouble. Fred came in that morning and fired up his machine and instead of seeing the classic Farrah Fawcett poster on his desktop, he saw a gorgeous, sweaty gay porn model wearing only a towel - over his shoulder.

And all of his desktop files had been renamed to things like NAMBLA, men_on_men, and so on. Things that would surely disturb this block-headed, homophobic, MCP.

Confounded by the state of his computer, he called IT to "fix" it. He didn't realize all the changes were cosmetic and he may have hoped IT could find out who played the prank. While IT combed through his files to see what was accessed and how, they found a certain pornographic story that had been accessed at the same time the changes were made.

When Fred realized his dirty little secret wasn't secret anymore, he backed off on the idea of lodging a complaint. But he did come by our department on the verge of tears to demand that our programmers be punished, which of course they weren't, because all they'd done is balance out the karma a little. It was one of the best days ever.

After he left we read his story - which we'll never know if he downloaded or tried to write - and it was so bad, we cried from laughing. I mean, if he wrote it, good for him for trying, but on your WORK computer? That was our Fred. If he didn't write it, whoa. Just because it's online doesn't mean it should be downloaded.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Summer is Better with Coffee

I feel like a kid fresh out of school on summer vacation, but it's taken a few days to feel the joy. I spent most of the weekend fighting sinus trouble & migraine-ish headaches, then Monday was busy with meetings / social activities with another migrainey headache in the background, and early this morning was my first foray into the obligation of jury duty.

When the judge told us this morning (after only a few hours of waiting / roll call / waiting / sitting / waiting / listening) that we would be released after filling out a questionnaire, I felt like you do when you find out a nasty 4-hour afternoon meeting gets canceled. Giddy. Drunk on free time.

I was anxious to get some caffeine into my system, as I'd made the big mistake of not grabbing ANY coffee this morning on my way to Hey-Ward. I would also be able to take care of a dozen things I couldn't get to last week or over the weekend.

I couldn't tolerate much coffee yesterday, thanks to Mister Migraine, so I thought I wouldn't need any this morning - I didn't feel any withdrawals yesterday so today I should be fine, right?

So not right. Yesterday I had little Miss Vicodin working on the migraine, and Miss Vicodin doesn't need little things like caffeine getting in her way. She works alone and is amazingly effective, if not a bit dampening.

Mmm... calming, soothing, fuzzy Vicodin blanket.

Sorry - where was I? Yes - caffeine - right. So 2 hours into the waiting-to-be-called-a-thon I realized I'd made a big mistake. I asked the folks at the counter if there might be time to sneak downstairs & grab coffee and the woman said "Oh no, we're going to get the call any minute now and even if you did get it, you'd have to dump it" (because you can't take it into the courtroom with you). Drats.

She wasn't lying about the call - it came about 5 minutes later, so we all filed downstairs to the courtroom to meet the judge and find out what's next. It took about an hour for the judge to give us all the details of the type of trial, how the jury will be selected, courtroom hours, parking, our obligation to serve on a jury, and that we're WELCOME TO BRING our COFFEE or other non-alcoholic beverages INTO THE COURT ROOM. Bracka fracka bracka!!!

Then they handed out the 14-page questionnaire, which I rocketed through and might elicit additional questioning by the lawyers next week, because I was totally WITHOUT CAFFEINE at that time - something that's happened only twice before in the past 27 years.

I said some things about law enforcement and incarceration - nothing any other envelope-pushing young adult hasn't gone through. It could get me kicked right off the list and that wouldn't be so bad, but at this point I wouldn't mind doing my duty. The judge seems cool and they had a surprisingly efficient way of dealing with 150 people in a few hours. But geek that I am, on the way home I was thinking of ways some things could be streamlined and done online.

Anyway, I raced to Peet's and topped off, got home & packed up my mom's b-day gift (which she should have opened yesterday), paid a few bills, went to the store, caught up on email and had lunch. With caffeine again running through my veins, all is right in the world. The migraine is finally gone (for this month) and it should be smooth sailing, at least until next Monday when I go back to court & find out what they thought of my questionnaire.

Monday, July 16, 2007

I Heart Freelancing

I just wish I could do more of it. I had one day (today) to attend a great lunch meeting with a new project team and later to catch up with good friends, and tomorrow at 8 fucking 30 a.m. I get to report for jury duty.

How belligerent should one be to be dismissed from jury duty, but not arrested? Or should I just seem retarded? Maybe I'll just keep saying "Everyone's always guilty."

Now I can't afford to be a juror. If I don't work, I don't get paid - $15 a day doesn't even cover my gas to/from the courthouse. Who are they kidding? And I desperately need to do laundry and a hundred other things.

Not only that, but I can't tell my new clients that after they waited for me to get back from a 2-week vacation, then waited another 2 weeks for me to finish up at my last job, they'll have to wait for me to get through a trial? That would suck a major amount of ass.

I could say I'm breast feeding something and can't serve until a certain date, or that I have to change my parents' diapers 12 times a day, or get a medical excuse. I'm leaning toward the diapers story.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Too Direct?

Soo... tomorrow is my last day, and today I was asked to give input on a sticky situation they're trying to improve. It's only been a problem for 2+ years. Better late than ignore it forever, right?

But still, I'm happy to help. There's a huge advantage to solving the problem, and the solution is simple if you have the authority to make the call. And I love to make things better.

The problem is... primarily one guy. His boss, too, but they can easily be considered the same person, give or take a few things. That's oversimplifying to some degree - there are a number of factors contributing to the problem, but at its core is the unproductive behavior of one or two people.

The thing is, it's gotta be OK to stand up and say exactly what the issues are and how they might be fixed, even if that means saying a person, or a person's behavior is the problem. There comes a time when saying "we need to improve collaboration and communication" isn't going to solve the problem.

Why is there so much fear around stating exactly what (or who) the problem is? To use a sports analogy, if the pitcher on a baseball team decides he's also going to play shortstop, first base and manager, would that player be allowed to continue that shit unchecked?

Not a chance. The manager would step in and set him straight or cut him loose, because he has a job to do and if he's not going to do it, they'll get someone who will, and they already have good players working in the other positions. And to let him go unchecked destroys the unity and productivity of the team.

It's crazy that this situation has continued for so long, obviously a detriment to the company and its productivity, but if they finally end up fixing it, then it wasn't a total loss. Better late than dance around it for another 2 years. I wish them luck and hope it all works out.

Friday, July 06, 2007

"I Remember Everything"

The new Bourne trailer looks good. The first two books were entertaining, though really dated. I liked the movies better. Never got around to reading the third book. I think I'll just enjoy the movie.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Independence Day

big blue sky in alameda, ca

It's official. I handed in my resignation and I'm going back to consulting. You know the story, "I want to spend more time with my family."

It's true. My cats and parrot need me - I've missed a lot of great milestones. Like when Neo started marking David's favorite chair, or when Ninja made his first escape into the backyard undetected for hours. Or when Nikita began (occasionally) meowing like a cat instead of a kitten, at the early age of 36 months.

And Henry - Henry's been such a trouper. He puts a smile on his beak, but he still refuses to say "good morning!" after 8 long years of hearing it every morning. He knows it will never be a good morning as long as I have to leave him every day. Poor baby.

Now we'll have plenty of time to work on the complete suite of coffee-slurping sounds. Not just the sound of slurping coffee from the mug, but also the lip smack and "ahhhh" that trails the slurping. We're close, but there's much work left to do.

And maybe now I can finally clean out and reorganize my office (for the umpteenth time). Maybe vacuum something. Do a load of laundry once a month. Lose 20lbs. - you know, all those easy little things there never seems to be any time for when held down by The Man.

It was just time to leave Bluee behind for good.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Holy crap - "Domino" is one of the worst movies ever ever made.

It's not bad enough to be good - it's just stinky stanky. I don't know why I kept watching it. Damn you HBO and your no commercials.

I guess I had to see for myself where it could possibly be going, thinking it might start making sense. At one point someone mentioned something about a ferret on meth - I think that was the writer. None of it made any sense and Keira tried so hard to be cool it was painful.

Otherwise, it was chock full of capable talent. Christopher Walken, Jacqueline Bissett, Delroy Lindo, Dabney Coleman, Lucy Liu, Tom Waits, and some bit players who did a good job. It could have been smart & funny if the director hadn't tried to make it a coolness contest.

Oh, and the worst thing - the ending was a total bite on True Romance (which was probably bitten from another movie). Did Tony think we wouldn't notice he used the same ending he'd shot before? Lame.

But in other news, my cold/flu/coughing phlegm-fest is on its way out, thanks to a truckload of vitamin C. Oh, and I fucking hate the 4th of July and the fucking idiots who light off noisy fireworks at 10 o'fucking clock at night.

It wasn't some kid, it was the kid's stupid father who should know better, setting off firecrackers, high-pitched whistling shit and other exploding crap. And why isn't the kid in bed already? Man, I'm totally on the fast track to shouting at people from the front porch to get the hell out of my yard.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Tracking Diane

As in, Diane Guerrazzi from KTVU's 10 O'Clock News. This is a photo of the back of her head, in line just ahead of me to enter the dining room on the Dawn Princess. The Dawn Princess is where I just spent 10 days on a cruise to Alaska.

Never been on a cruise before and didn't know what to expect, other than the part about living in a tiny cabin. Thankfully I had no seasickness to deal with, but there were a couple of nights I didn't sleep well thinking, Is it happening now? Are we listing? Have we just hit an iceberg?

Then there was the show the first night after dinner. Sitting in the dark theater with singers and dancers frolicking all over the stage, the same thought - This is when it happens... when we're all trapped in this dark theater, distracted by the show - this is when the hull rips open and we flip over and Shelly Winters flies through the stained glass ceiling...

Of course that didn't happen, but it could have. Anything can happen. I like to be prepared for all possibilities. But what I wasn't prepared for was seeing Diane Guerrazzi at a shop in Ketchikan.

I turned around to leave the store and almost plowed her over. In that split second she seemed to recognize the look on my face that said Heeeyyyy... I know you... you're that reporter. She looked back at me with an expression that said Uh, yeah, it's me and I take vacations just like everyone else.

But it had all happened so fast, I wasn't sure if it was really her. When I got back on the boat I told everyone in my family I was sure I'd spotted her, but couldn't know if she was on our boat. There was another large cruise ship in town. As luck would have it, we saw her queue up to get back onto our boat.

The best way to find out if it's really the person you spotted is to have a family member yell her last name from the veranda then quickly duck away while you watch through your camera's zoom lens. She didn't look up, but her husband/traveling companion/personal man servant whipped his head up towards our veranda. We all ducked, giggling and feeling very proud of our detective skills.

The rest of the trip became all about tracking Diane. Is she grazing the Lido Deck buffet? Relaxing in a hot tub? Throwing craps in the casino? Walking briskly on the Promenade Deck? Doing shots at one of the many bars? Cutting a rug in the disco? So many possibilities.