Friday, August 29, 2008

My heart's still I'm Berkeley

It's pretty flippin awesome here. I swear I haven't seen a cloud for
my whole California trip.

Everyone says I should return to California. I'm inclined to believe

Monday, August 25, 2008

2 days at home: still alive.

So I've been thinking. I'm not quite sure why I chose now to come back for a week and a half. I mean, to my credit, I am getting to enjoy cloudless sun while Seattlers are dealing with rain. The typical, constant, rain. And I do get to have one day off for free without even taking a vacation day, on account of Labor Day being one of my vacation days. But, everyone in the south bay is working. A good chunk of folks have already gone back to their respective colleges. Well, namely Meg. But all the Berkeley folk have also gone back because for them the schoolingtimes have already begun again. This leaves me with loads of time during the day and nobody to see. I do hang with my brother, which is cool, but essentially it leaves me with the whole Everyone-At-Home-On-Different-Computers dynamic that I deliberately left. In a house with the air conditioner cranking out the cold like it's got something to prove. And a dude who still hasn't learned how to chew with his mouth closed. Gah I hate it here. But I've been fighting it. On Sunday I had a great day. Country Potato Wrap at Cafe Adrias. Mini golf at Golfland, for 7 holes in one (41 total score for 18 holes. Pretty freakin epic). Then badminton with Laura (cheapo set: $60) during which we destroyed all 3 birdies that came with it. Also some cheap-ass ball game that amounted to little more than a colorful plastic & rubber ball version of throwing soap-on-a-rope at a towel rack. Needless to say, we played that once. Mostly because my dad wanted to play it. Then it was back home for dinner & birthday stuff. I know what you're thinking: "Oh my, is it your birthday? I totally forgot, but will now act like I did remember." Or the more attention-paying of you will be thinking, "Wait. Your birthday is in early July. Did your parents forget this badly, or did you concoct some scheme to convince them that yet another year had passed and they owed you even more gifts?" Well, neither is true. Turns out, when I didn't send them a wish list of what I wanted for my birthday, they couldn't figure out what to get me, so didn't get me anything. This was so I could come down and celebrate my birthday with them. Oh, and also, they got almost nothing from the list I did eventually send them. So no list next year. They can just deal with it. I still haven't quite figured out what I'm going to do with myself for the rest of the week. I'm thinking I'll head up to Berkeley for 4 or 5 days or so. Probably Wed or Thur through until Monday. Not sure where I'll sleep, but it'll be better than the crap futon that I'm on now. Oh yeah, that's right. I don't actually have a room to sleep in here. So I'm sleeping on the old futon in the old computer room. Lovely. But tomorrow afternoon will be a pool party at Lisa's. That will be fun. Yay for that.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Long day.

Up since 5 or so.
Pretty uneventful flight.
Afternoon was an awesome BBQ.
Dinner was fancy Italian.

So tired now.

A year and a day

They say you should try new things for a year and a day. 366 days of
commitment and then you can reflect on your experience in its
entirety and see if you want to keep with it.
Today is that day. I've been at Microsoft living in downtown Seattle
for a year an a day. As I left the office today I cleaned up a bit.
Left my desk nice and tidy. Tied up all the loose ends of my work to
be sure it's well taken care of while I'm away in California. It felt
like I wasn't going to come back, and it was actually goodbye.
There are lots of things to think about. Do I like what I'm doing? Do
I like where I'm living? Do I like where my life is going in general?
Am I happy? All so seemingly simple but fairly complex to answer
I love what I'm doing now. I've wanted to write code for the browser
since I was little. It's also not the backend work I was doing before,
where I was truly lost. This week I kicked ass figuring out some
complex rendering issues and javascript compatibility problems. Stuff
that users can see in weeks or months, not never.
And Seattle's not that bad a place to live either. There is a vibrant
Ultimate community, there's tons of nice people, and I can almost
always find something to so here. The weather does take some
adjustment, but I've been spoiled in that regard so far.
But there is something missing. I've been putting myself out there
trying to meet people, but after a year and a day I haven't really
made that strong of a connection with anyone. My fruitless pursuit of
ladies aside, the folks I hang out with in my free time are usually
limited to the single activity we share a common interest in.
It's not a blanketing true statement. I've gone to bars with the folks
I eat Thai food with. I've gone to parties with ultimate players. I've
gone to karaoke with coworkers. But it's limited to these group plans
where more often than not I need to organize them. It's not someone
calling me up because they're bored and wanna hang out.
My friends in Seattle are nowhere near as close to me as my friends in
So things have come full circle: a year and a day. My trip to
California for the next week and a half will give me time to reconnect
with those I don't see, and to reflect on my chosen path. If I were to
never return to Seattle, I doubt it would pain me as much as if I were
never to return to California. But, to be fair, California has a
pretty sizable head start.
We shall see. California, here I come.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Boo on that

I had a stressful day.
Flight for California leaves on Saturday morning.
I haven't packed.
I have a day to finish 2 work items.

Tomorrow will suck.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It's my city -- it'll rain if it wants to.

Summer must be over. I have no problem with that.

I think the real trouble with the rains comes from the difference between expectation and reality. In California, the expectation is that it will be sunny. And if it does begin to rain, the expectation is that it won't be for long. Most of the time, that's spot on.

Coming from that mindset to one were it's raining almost all the time isn't easy. Although when I first came here a year ago, I didn't think it was so bad. I was told to expect rain, but the summer lingered. There was decent sun and warm days. It wasn't too bad. And when the rain & clouds finally did begin to set in, I was already off to a good start, because I had been expecting them for some time.

It really got to be bad in June. Because in my mind, June is summer. June + July + August = summer. Those are the three months that there will be good weather and it will absolutely happen. No question about it. And my summer mentality is essentially equivalent to California mentality: it can be crappy for a day but really there's no way it'll last longer than that.

Thinking that for a month of June rain was absolutely shitty. And for all but the 2 weeks in July where it was constantly nice, the clouds & bits of rain persisted.

Then there's today. It's still August. Still part of what I like to call "summer". And it rained. On & off, all day actually. But it had a different feel to it. The same feel that it did when I first got here and it did begin to rain. The "Ah, my arch-nemesis, I see we meet again," "I'll take you on, your bullets cannot harm me," "Is that the best you can do" kind of adversarial attitude I normally only associate with Ultimate.

Actually, that's one of the ways I fought it. I made the effort to play Ultimate today. It was pretty damn good, although I left early because I really do have tons of work to get done by Friday.

But yes. My expectation now is that I won't see the sun in Seattle for months. I can only hope daily battles with my arch-nemesis can keep me entertained until next Summer.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"Kicker" is a dangerous word

Last week, my product group shipped SV3, which is secret Microsoftese for our 3rd major update to the Office Live Workspace service. (For those untrained in Microsoftese, all the words are 3-4 characters, all capital letters, and probably a descriptive acronym whose original meaning has since been completely lost.) But point being, it's an important milestone, so time to celebrate.
On Friday, we had our ship party. Cake, beer, food, whathaveyou. The services world is great because we have these on the order of months rather than the order of years.
But today was the special Dev team treat. The Dev Manager, Sam, took us all out to lunch. And not just lunch--Thai food. 
I was really energetic for some reason. Part of it was because I was getting free Thai food for lunch. Part of it was also the fact that, including the Dev meeting right prior to lunch, there was going to be about 3 consecutive hours during the day where I got no actual work done. When I only have until Friday to get all my work done through the end of the month so I can go on vacation. But yes! Excited!
The lunch was good Fun. Oscar made a napkin-man out of the place settings. Julia made some ridiculous claim that I didn't set up David for like 5 consecutive "that's what she said" jokes at the last Friday Unwind, which I totally did. David agrees. I explained to Rick what a rickroll was. Good times.
When I was looking at the menu, my eyes were caught by the bottom of the drinks section. I had already ordered a Thai Iced Tea, but this drink sounded about 150% more awesome. It was called the Thai Tea Kicker. Just linger on that name for a moment: Thai Tea Kicker. It's like Chuck Norris just bitchslapped you while grinning and holding a tasty beverage. DON'T YOU WANT THAT BEVERAGE NOW?
Well needless to say my curiosity was piqued. So I read on. Oh, crap. Apparently it was an alcoholic drink. Because this was the Alcoholic Drinks section. Of the Drinks menu. Crap. Not only do I need a new menu now, but additionally I probably shouldn't try this new potentially balls-to-the-wall awesome drink, because it's about 12:30pm on a Tuesday. The story of this drink should have probably ended there.
But it didn't.
In passing I mention the drink to Rick, who was also entranced by its aura of awesome. "Well, maybe if we split one afterwards, that would be okay. Half of a drink's not going to get you ineber.. inebray.. drunk." I love it when more senior devs encourage me to do what my own internal detectors tell me is a Bad Idea.
So once our appetizers and main meal have come and gone, and others are ordering Fried Banana and Chocolate Raspberry-something, I order our Thai Tea Kicker. The waitress pauses. "That's an alcoholic drink." "Yes," I reply. After another moments hesitation she goes off to put in the dessert orders and bring Rick & myself back a tasty beverage. 
When it comes back, it almost looks like a Thai Iced Tea. The top looks the right color, but the rest looks like they've already mixed the sweet milk in with the tea part. Not quite so elegant, but I'm still looking forward to it. 
And then we taste it.
Ugh! Really? This is what I had been waiting for? It was as if Chuck Norris had dropped the drink on his foot, began hopping as he held his injured foot in his hands, only to slip on the now-all-over-the-floor crap beverage and hit his head on the nearby coffee table. There was simply too much alcohol in it. The alcohol dulled the bitter bite of the tea and all but muted the sweetness of the milk. And it didn't really replace it with any great flavor. Just This-Will-Get-You-Drunk-Quick fumes wafting out of a glass that wishes it were as good as Thai Iced Tea. At least if they had used cheaper liquor, or something sharper, then, while probably being a worse drink, I'd at least feel it was worthy of being named Kicker. 
As I told my old officemate Justin: I didn't find it to be bad exactly, it just wasn't an $8 cocktail. At best it was some half-assed concoction thrown together at one of the classier Ultimate parties that actually has liquor. If it was that kind of party setting, I would have finished it. But since it wasn't that tasty, and I did need to get some work done after lunch, I left the drink mostly untouched.
Rick didn't even give it a second thought. After his first sip, he simply remarked "Oh, that's terrible" and didn't want any more of it. I had 4 sips because I really wanted it to work.
My mind's still intrigued tho. It looks like if I want to have a good Thai-Iced-Tea based alcoholic drink, that I might need to figure out how to make one for myself...

Tales of Little Imporance

I'm sitting here, as I have before, and I will again, and as I am now, currently, at this very instant, without a good idea of what to write. It's hardly a foreign problem, although I'm sure this problem has been had while writing in foreign languages or foreign lands. I want to say something of interest, of relevance, of importance. But above all else, I don't want to say nothing. Nothing is as boring as nothing said. I thought for a moment. I've been in Seattle for almost a year. I've been at Microsoft for almost a year. There's at least a year's worth of stories that have happened to me. Something must have been interesting enough to be relevant to your interests. To be important enough for me to take the time to go through, remember it, chose an arbitrary order of words from a rather limited phrasebook to aptly describe that occurrence, and then put it on the internet. And actually, much like how you find love when you least expect it, all this writing about not having anything to write about has reminded me of a few excellent stories to tell. Potlatch with the GDGFK memorial team. The After Lunch Coffee Club. How I created the Friday Unwind. My overarching struggle to find a place in the world where I can't stand socially being out of college but academically couldn't be happier. Adventures with Nate & Coop, adventures to Sasquach with Diane. My perpetual quest to be a bit more religious but never finding time I want to dedicate to that pursuit. The Intern Game, or How I Stayed Up All Weekend Making Interns Do Puzzles. Then there are the Tales of Little Importance. I saw Casey on the bus today. Some random dude IM'd me. My left eyebrow aches just enough for it to be weird. These are the true secrets, the gems of our existance. Someone else can recount the stories -- they were there (or should have been, becuase it was probably awesome). Nobody knows the tiny little crazy things that bounce around in my head all day. Which don't make for interesting details. But they should make good stories. I'll tell you them later. I sleep now.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Memory's a funny thing

I found an old blog of mine yesterday. My first blog was an OpenDiary -- that's long gone since they only kept things around if you kept updating. That was also in an age where I backed up to my local disk in case something I put on the internet was lost. Ah, what an age.
Anyway. No, I'm talking about my Xanga, Which I seem to have used throughout the later years of high school. And despite all my last few entries being along the lines of "Sorry I haven't updated more often" and "You should really read my livejournal, I update that all the time", there's some quality content in there. Not only was I a struggling adolescent, but I was also a struggling adolescent with moments of literary genius. I was trying posts of different structures, different narrative tones, and an absurdly large amount of personification and metaphors. 
I still do the personification thing, but rarely. Metaphors are all but gone from my blog posts.
Well, actually, my blog posts have been gone as of late too. But this is a first step towards fixing that. Anyway.
Point being, I read through all of it and was up til like 4am. It was pretty awesome. There are some sweet quotes I salvaged that may once again see the light of day. But more than that it was amazing to read something from the perspective of a 17-year old me. I mean, of all the other people in the world, I'm really the only one who can truly understand the experience this writer is speaking from. Because I've walked in his shoes. Because they were also mine.
More amazing was the fact that my brain still stores all the memories I had from high school. All of it. Every single flippin detail. It just needs to be prodded to remember. Every little experience I wrote about I could almost relive as I read it. It was actually tough to read some of the bits about I had to go to Tahoe again for a goddamn week because my folks wanted to put me to work and--- GAH my parents suck. And if it weren't for the internet, I might've forgotten just how much they suck. I also could've done without remembering my senior prom. That was a house Tragedy with a side of Death Threat. 
Anyways. Point being: I need to write more about the mundane things. A: because once I lower the bar of blog topics to mundane things I'll have to get better at writing again to make them interesting. And B: because I might look back and see that this was the important part of my life that's worth remembering. 
Not really though. It's pretty mundane.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


I wrote this long entry about how cool I is to blog with pictures from
my iPhone, an then I go so fast the iPhone loses the email entirely.
Way to go, Apple.


Let's see what happens.