On Christmas Eve Santa Claus wanted to upgrade my wife from a Nexus 5 to a Nexus 5X, only to find the SIM card was too big! Google brought him to a helpful web site, and that jolly old elf took scissors and a file and trimmed that card down freehand like some kind of old school Unix SysAdmin.
“Cry Havoc and let loose that lady’s ladle!”
I work in the Bishop Ranch Office Megaplex. It is an enchanted dominion of beige and white office buildings, stretching two miles through the heart of San Ramon, CA. Our own building has a variation on a theme of steel and glass and fountains with abstract steel sculpture. We have a suite on one of the five stories, my private office has a view of Mount Diablo, and any time I pace the walkways around the open inner court I can spy somewhere the lady assigned to keep our spotless shiny building clean, dusting a steel handrail or some other task critical to structural shinyness.
It is like something out of Star Trek. We even have aliens: smaller, browner Indians from somewhere deep inside Mexico, who are always outdoors, somewhere around the complex, planting flowers, fixing the fountains, replacing shrubbery with other shrubbery. I’m told that every few months the plants in the lobby are replaced with other plants. Some plants are plastic, some plants are organic. All the plants share a common destiny: they will only stay a while in our lobby, before moving on, probably to another lobby.
When I started here in November they had opened a new cafe in our local complex, which was replacing the cafe that had been there previously. This cafe is called the Lost Ladle, and I have bought many morning pastries and lunch time sandwiches there. Good quality, good value, and some friendly faces. I’m told that it was better than the cafe that was there before.
This morning my pastry was half price. Today is their last day. In a couple of weeks, a new cafe, the Cactus Cafe, will open in its place. Rotated out of the complex, some Alliterative Alternative, to keep my own race of pasty-faced desk jockeys from becoming too complacent or bored with our office environment. Or something like that. I suspect the space is contracted out and whomever is there is often underbid. Anyway, for better or for worse, it shakes up my view of my little planet.
I am a year away from thirty. Twenty eight has gone well. I have married, and I have moved from a good job to a better job. I spent a fair amout of twenty eight with a looking-over-the-shoulder paranoia, or skepticism, or lack of confidence, left over from the tumultuous work experiences of previous years. I can kind of feel that slipping away now. I have started thinking the big thoughts again about what is possible, and what the opportunities are. My brain is starting to roll back in to that optimism about what grand things are afoot, and what I can do as part of the perpetual technological revolution, whether it be creating some Next Big Thing, supporting a company, merely sitting back and observing the bustle up close, or simply collecting a few bucks while making preparations to retreat to some Shangri La that would be a good place to raise kids.
This is how I used to think, back around the first time Bush had become president. And I think that if these things are to happen then I am in a better position to engage them . . . a little more patience, a lot more experience, and with Yayoi, I hope, more inclined toward stability. Here’s to the next round!
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So, Christmas was awesome. But here I will kvetch about the return trip.
I got a good deal on Southwest Airlines for a one-way flight. Unfortunately, Southwest doesn’t fly to San Francisco, so I booked for San Jose. When I got to the airport, I tried the automated check-in thingy: credit card … okay … flight number? Gee, well, I have that … okay … confirmation code?
Look, silly computer, if you know my name and my flight number, what need have you of a string of random digits? (more…)
Two years ago, I spent Christmas in the South of Thailand, but not on the coast. I heard Phuket, on the Indian Ocean, got hit hard. I had stayed several days mid-December, 2002 at a place in Kata, which was very nice. I was curious if I could get any news of Kata. Well, the Seattle Times has a dispatch from a tourist. The destruction in Thailand’s tourist areas has been severe:
Tonight I went to Patong again. It’s the largest beach and shopping area and where the largest group of tourists are. It’s about a mile long and four blocks deep and full of big stores and small shops. Big hotels. The Sheraton and everything — and I mean everything — is destroyed.
The author is visiting ex-pats in the local hospitals. Thailand’s public health system is not the greatest, and being in a foreign country in bad times just adds to the stress. And there is plenty of tragedy to go around:
The first room we went in was a young Swedish man with a major cut all the way down his leg. His Thai wife was sitting next to him with a large bandage on her chin. We asked him how he was doing, and he said that this was nothing because they had lost their 3-month-old daughter. Just washed away. The woman just started crying uncontrollably. It was heart wrenching. We gave them a hug, and they were very appreciative that we came by.
Read the article. Thailand, America, wherever, we are all so many peas in the same pod. (more…)
I am recovering from a sick day, listening to NPR mid-day. I have always thought that “Talk of the Nation” is lame, but:
CALLER: What can common listeners do?
HOST: Every last one of our listeners is extraordinary!
CALLER: What could the extraordinary listeners do today about climate change? Call their air-quality districts? That’s just a rhetorical question.
They’re just trying to remind us working stiffs what exciting days we are missing out on.
Several minutes later the Guest mentions that you could WALK TO THE STORE insted of driving. That is what I have been doing ever since I asked myself what I could do . . .
I can tell, this is going to be a very silly work week.
The work week before a major holiday is always very silly.
And I don’t mean silly lalala let’s photocopy our buttocks while downloading eggnog, I mean silly as in vendors splitting up their product lines and Word documents misplaced in CVS silly.
But it is only three days for me, so, I can take it.
Let’s see …
- A steamer or milk frother, and/or a french press.
- Perhaps an IKEA Gift Certificate?
- Amos Oz “A Tale of Love and Darkness”
- John Stewart “America” (Maybe for Yayoi. :)
(Yes, I can run Windows software.)
- “Tropico 2: Pirate Cove” may actually be a better, and cheaper, game.
There may be some very interesting gift ideas for people at http://www.jlist.com/ which imports interesting things from Japan, including lots of cute stuff.
More to come …
When I am elected Dictator, there will be a three-day work week! The weekend will be two days, and one day for the Sabbath. The beauty of this is that you can alternate everyone’s schedule so that you always have someone at work.
Yes, if you do the math, the week will come out to six days. We can have twelve months, but they will be thirty days apiece, or five weeks. At the end of the year there will be a five-day Holiday, that will be six days on leap years.
Also, daylight savings time will be abolished, as will time zones. Everyone will use GMT, and know what the offset for true noon is in their locality. When people have to make arrangements, they will not have to do any calculations, because time will be the same everywhere. And the first thing you’ll be told upon arriving in town is what time they normally eat lunch. After all, there is really no more important human activity than eating lunch.
In times of austerity, when we need more productivity, we can extend working days to four or even five, as long as we observe a Sabbath day. And the pious types will be happy because one day in six will be for God, which is more than one day in seven.
Anyway, I return now to the incumbent paradigm, which has me working!
Dinner tonight? Hummus, pita, and raisins.
The hummus I made myself — chickpeas, a.k.a. “Garbanzo Beans” and olive oil, combined with a potato masher. Bland, but probably healthy, and a lot cheaper than eating out, which I have done a lot lately.
I have to cancel Yayoi’s plane ticket. Due to school schedule complications, she can not come out with me after Christmas.
P. S. Ooohh, thanks for a pita recipe, Mike!
I have just booked two one-way tickets to San Jose, for the Sunday after Christmas. This year, for Christmas, I get to bring my bride to California with me.
I may be on the car rental thing another month or two as Uncle John may wish to hang on to my wheels for a February road trip to New Mexico. Not a bad deal. The cost of shipping the car is comparable to renting a car for six weeks. And it would be neat to show him California. He could possibly even transport my bike, which saves the hassle of carrying it on the airplane.
Well, my spirits are definitely up. As I just sang to my coworker, “All I want for Christmas is my … Ya yo i!”
So, Walnut Creek and San Ramon are in the valley between mountains. It is tricky to tune in San Francisco’s public radio station — I can usually get a better signal from Sacramento, which is scary. Anyway, I had to drive to work today and on the ride back, I found that KPFA, just over the hill in Berkeley, has a plenty good signal for me to tune in to. Pacifica makes NPR sound like Fox, but this evening they were talking the history of United States relations with Iran.
Beats the crappy jazz coming out of Sacramento after about 8pm. KPFA insted switches to Greatful Dead covers on Wednesday nights. What this may lack in quality is made up for by its eclecticism. I hope the morning show helps me come around to consciousness tomorrow morning. They ought to have more edge in the voice than Bob Edwards or whomever is calling out the NPR News now that I haven’t been paying too much attention anymore.
It is weird, because I have never had a manager before who spoke with me on a daily basis about what I was doing at work. At first it seems intrusive, but really, this is the way it should be. Especially for a new employee, it is good to have somebody providing direction. And, for the first time, I have a job where communicating what I am doing is simply a part of routine.
Hopefully this new adventure will turn out to have an even better pay-off than I had reasonably imagined.
Oh, and I have DSL at home now. And off-line e-mail on the laptop, so I can catch up whilst riding the bus. I bought a desk and a very good chair the other day, with adjustable back height and almost-high-enough lumbar support. I have to assemble the desk though, which I’ll do after work this evening before some heavy network maintenance tonight.
Things are coming together. And Yayoi can probably make it right after Christmas, which is good.
Well, a job came through in California. This time I haven’t even time to load up the wagon and creep across the continent — I fly out Tuesday and start on Wednesday.
More money, more responsility, more suburbia. Yayoi’s keen on the weather and the great abundance of Asian culture. I’m keen on taking over the reigns at a tightly-run, open source enterprize.
But I will miss Chicago.
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