Aug. 1st, 2010 09:41 pm
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Entirely-too-exciting discovery of the day: when getting doored (http://google.com/search?q=doored for those who haven't had the pleasure), the really fun part actually isn't the split second where you see what's about to happen, or the flying through the air or even the hitting the ground... it's actually the moment afterwards where you realize: oh, okay, now I am prone in exactly the oncoming traffic that I was trying to stay out of. Awesome.

My solution (shrieking more or less non-stop till I got myself out of harm's way) seemed to work, although it kinda disconcerted the dude who doored me.

I walked away -- rolled away, even, on my bike, though I'm bruised and shaken and it's misaligned -- but we are both more or less intact, which I gather makes me very lucky. Whew. More taking the lane for me in future.
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Running early in the morning = six hours of headache afterwards. Bah. Dear body, why do you punish me when I am only trying to take care of you?

(Previously and elsewhere: "a couple blocks on the map in California is very different than a couple blocks on the map in Boston".)
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Dear Self:

Happy is something you achieve, not something you are given. Nobody is going to bring it to you on a plate. It probably wouldn't be satisfying if they did anyways. You build it yourself, and that's not a bad thing.

You deserve it (really! yes you do!) and there is nothing wrong with pursuing it.

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I am, sadly, not a terribly minimalistic person at the best of times -- but never less so than when packing. Yes, I absolutely do need both boots and sneakers. And I don't know that I won't have occasion to dress up so I should bring something nice. It might be cold and it might be hot and it might rain. I might want to read this book on the plane (or this one or this one or this one or this one). At this point I'm just patting myself on the back for deciding that no, I don't need to bring two computers...
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What do you think, do I need this?

In other news, the other day I got a "... but actually I think you had the right instinct there" from a coworker after a discussion of my approach to a kinda ambiguous design choice that I had made a sorta-wrong call on, and it totally made my day. Which made me think about seriously how much I respect my coworkers and am lucky to work with them, which was a good thing -- a nice counterbalance to some of the frustration I've been wrestling with lately. Hurrah, good place to work.

And in other other news, I think my week of Not Quite Sick Just Really Tired All The Time is just about over! Extra hurrah! I ought to celebrate by getting back on the climbing walls...
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The roommates are all three home for the holidays, so I basically have the apartment to myself for two solid weeks.

Pros: it's very quiet, and I can get away with being a total slob.

Cons: it's very quiet, and I can get away with being a total slob.
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23 years old -- 24 next February -- and STILL I can't watch anything remotely scary and expect to be able to get to sleep afterwards. Yeah, I am totally rocking the Real Grownup thing here.
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When you lose your keys, where are they? So far mine are not in any of the usual places, including but not limited to: the bedside table where they are supposed to be, the pockets of anything I wore at any point yesterday, any of my shoes (what? it's happened before), the bottom of the laundry pile in my closet, among the cushions of any of the couches, my bed (provide your own suggestive comment here ____ ), the top of my dresser, the edges of my dresser drawers where they would fall if placed on the edge of the dresser, the floor near my dresser or table, the mail desk, the bathrooms, the windowsills ... And they have to be in my apartment, because I let myself in with them yesterday. Grrrr.
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ME: "[Little sister], would you disown me if I decided I wanted to be Doctor Who for Halloween?"

LITTLE SISTER: "No, but only because nobody would have any idea who you were supposed to be."
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My new knitting project: this. (Hey, still a beginner here.) I figure by the time I'm done I'll have learned to pick up stitches properly, right?
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Things I Have Done Within An Hour Of Arriving Home Tonight:
* Moved a dresser (really not as heavy as I was informed it was going to be)
* Got the toilet to stop flooding; diagnosed why + how not to in the future
* Set mousetraps (since apparently I am the only one who knows how to operate the mechanical ones)

I am also (though not yet today) the go-to person for opening stubborn jars, disposing of insects, and fixing the dish disposal, from which I can only conclude that of all of us I am definitely The Woman Of The House. [Which is a nice balance to that "i buy shoes to lose weight" thing from last month.]
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Things That I Appreciate Way More Fully Now Than I Did Several Years Ago, A Vastly Incomplete List That Makes Me Pretty Happy Anyways

* Long showers
* Fresh laundry
* Dark chocolate
* Constructive criticism
* Non-fiction
* Orange juice
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omg worst work day ever. i hate opensocial. and shindig. and gadgets. and rpcs. and safari 3. and the internet.

time to go bake my troubles away.
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Today on my bike ride home, I caught myself thinking "when I make it down to 70 kilo, I'll reward myself with shoes." Which basically wins the award for most stereotypically girly thought in a while. (Might be these though, which I kinda suspect loses the girl-points again.)

And meanwhile in gender issues, I realized the other day that we're now down to I think six female engineers in my office counting me, which is kinda sad given the double or triple digit number of total engineers in the office. In the "see something broken? well, fix it" engineering spirit, I'm thinking the solution for me is getting involved in our recruiting, probably -- because while I think the type of girl who goes into comp sci and sticks with it already isn't going to be intimidated by a room full of just men, I also think it's good for everyone, men and women, to be aware that there really really are women in our eng organization. Visibility and whatnot, right? Active women eng is a step in the journey towards the world where it's just as normal for a girl to be a software engineer as a teacher or salesperson or secretary or whatever other popular female occupational stereotypes there are. Was reminded by a conversation with one of aforementioned other women eng that it is totally valuable to me personally and selfishly to have other women around in engineering, which is causing the vague "s'pose I should get involved" thoughts to bubble up my priority list slowly. Still behind "finish this damn feature", but getting there...

Oh, and anyone got favorite laptop recommendations? My dearly beloved Thinkpad T43 is clearly about to bite it (currently whacking it in the exact right spot is required to make it get un-stalled, and that strategy clearly can only work for so long) and I'm debating what to get next. It's got to have a good (preferably full-size) keyboard and it's got to be sturdy, which argues for another Thinkpad; I'm debating cheap and big and desktop-replacementy versus small and light and limited (would have to get a usb optical drive, probably? or hell, a desktop media center machine for that sort of stuff) but portable. The Roommate has an X300 that I'm kind of eying -- but do I really need ultraportable? I've never minded hauling this one around all that much... hmm.
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An excerpt from a conversation among my coworkers today [who are parents of one, two, and one-expecting-another-soon kids]:

"So my daughters picked up this annoying meme from the neighbors' kids -- they think there's fairies in the garden, and they leave notes for the fairies. And it's not like the tooth fairy where they come running up to you going 'daddy daddy I lost a tooth' and you know it's under their pillow -- you have to search the entire backyard for notes to reply to."

"Well, you don't have to respond to the notes. It's an object lesson... on how fairies don't exist."

"Or you could respond to only one of the two kids' notes."

"When the other kid asks why the fairies don't answer her notes, you tell her 'because fairies don't exist'."

"And when people tell you you're a bad parent, you ask, 'yes, but to which child?'"


Jul. 5th, 2009 07:12 pm
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I wanted to saute zucchini from the farmer's market I trekked to on Friday, and didn't have oil and was way too lazy to go back to the store, when I remembered some cooking advice I got from a coworker a while back. He claimed his secret to awesome cooking was: "any time the recipe says saute, instead I fry a couple pieces of bacon and then saute in the leftover fat.... And eat the bacon."

Predictably, this did in fact lead to EPIC WIN. Although I do feel slightly less virtuous about zucchini for dinner now.

Let's not go into why I have bacon on hand more reliably than cooking oil.
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So there was a two-day class at work this week that I would've liked to have taken -- supposed to be a big hands-on overview of how lots of the moving parts of infrastructure at the company fit together. But the higher-ups on my team have really been pushing for the feature I'm working on to get done, and I don't blame them, so I didn't try to do it.

(This is the part where I digress and mention as background that I have weird deep fears about being too pushy or too forward, due to all sorts of awesome irrelevant reasons.)

Instead I mentioned briefly to the tech lead on my team that the next time the class was in town, I would really like to have the time to do it, but I understood that this wasn't the right time so I wasn't going to try now. He was totally encouraging (I heart my tech lead) and next time I will. (In some ways it might be better -- I'm told it was poorly run this time.)

This afternoon I talked to my manager, and said in passing that I was a little sad that I didn't feel like I had the time to do this right now. I told him that I'd said I'd like to do it next time. He has a really good response, and it basically boils down to this: the approach I took is actually kind of sucky for both me and my tech lead in a bunch of ways. (No, my manager did not phrase it as "kind of sucky".) Being that indirect about it means that ultimately I'm not asking for what I actually want -- I'm giving up on it without talking about it, I'm not even letting my tech lead have the chance to say yes or no. My manager offered instead as a suggestion on how to approach this: "Hi, there's this class I want to take, but I'm worried about how it will interact with getting this feature out. What do you think?" Make it a question. Which is not all that different, and still totally in my comfort zone, and yet way better -- makes it a conversation, still makes it clear that I know there are conflicts and maybe we won't be able to work them out, but directly addresses what I want rather than preemptively skipping over it and to some second-choice option that's not really what I'm driving at. This makes a lot of sense, and I wish I'd figured it out myself. But I think this is another good thing about working with + for people who know their stuff -- in the same way as I get to absorb technical knowledge left and right, it's a pretty awesome way to learn about communication too.

It's a good point in general. Ask for what I want. Not some six-degrees-separated thing that I think would be the best compromise. Don't make people guess what I'm really aiming at.

He also said that "talking about things should always be okay". Which is AWESOME. And which maybe I should have known, but is really good to hear anyways. And that everyone lives somewhere along the aggressive <------> non-demanding spectrum, and I land far enough to the non-demanding side that I shouldn't be afraid to go a bit farther towards the norm. (At work, at least.)

(On the downside, said feature is STILL NOT DONE. Gaaaaaaah. And I got blindsided twice on big-picture questions about it, one a question about timelines from tl+pm, and one just a "give me the overview" question from manager -- I think I've let myself lean too much on the more senior guy who's working on this feature with me. On the one hand, that's why he's getting paid the big(ger) bucks and I think this is supposed to be a Leadership Experience for him; on the other hand, curiosity about the big picture has always always been a driving force and an asset for me, and I shouldn't let myself fall to the backseat just because someone else is supposed to be in charge of laying out our route. Meh. Another, different, technical communication skill to learn, I guess? Thinking on one's feet?)
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You know how sometimes people accidentally run checks through the wash (and then kick themselves for it)?

I do nothing by halves. Tonight I ran my whole checkbook through the wash.

(Yeah, I know it's not as bad, since I can just get more checks, but I thought it was pretty funny.)
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Books I have read recently and liked:

A Fire upon the Deep -- awesome thinky ideasy scifi; file under thinking-about-thinking
A Deepness in the Sky -- prequel-sort-of to Fire upon the Deep; file under what-is-human
Obedience -- strange and meta mystery novel, I got totally caught up in it and finished it in an afternoon
The Demon's Lexicon -- YA fantasy, funny with strong characters and awesome ending
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies -- It does what it says on the box

Currently rereading Cyteen; would totally love to loan any of that list (except A Deepness in the Sky, which I borrowed from someone else) to anyone interested in reading them and within easy in-person loaning distance; wondering if this is a useful way to get my friends to read stuff I think is awesome and talk with me about it?
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The Roommate, a born southern belle, comes home yesterday night from dinner with a (non-romantic) gentleman acquaintance of hers and makes a beeline for my room. I put my keyboard aside and listen to her explain her evening. The punchline goes like this: "And you'll be proud of me," she says happily, "I offered to pay for dinner."
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