November 30, 2007

Because bootleg is best

When I first started this job, my right shoulder hurt from a combo of biking mishaps and holding my arm up to desk height to move the mouse. I set up an ergonomic consult with the woman from HR. She ordered a $350 drop down keyboard/mouse tray and a stand to raise the monitor. We have custom made desks here in the design department. The keyboard arrived and was completely unsuitable for the desk. I returned it and figured out that I could put a clipboard in my lap and use that for the mouse. My shoulder problems went away.

My chair was uncomfortable but not horrible. After two months though, it was truly awful. My lower back hurt all the time and my shoulders were sloping toward ugly old lady land. Last Friday I brought in my balance ball. I'd used this at home for a seat and loved it. All week now, I've heard variations on "Are you sitting on a ball?!", but it's been great. The best part? I'm developing some killer ab muscles.

Anyone else have bootleg office solutions? The cheaper but better way to make it work?

November 27, 2007

Das Leben ist gut

Copying Rachel...

I'm thankful for a wonderful and varied Thanksgiving week:

-For a job that decided to give us Friday as a holiday without using up a PTO day.

-For wonderful Pakistani food (though the wait to order truly made it feel like we were in another country...).

-For the chance to finally see Into the Wild. A movie that truly makes you feel thankful for life, warmth and a good family.

-For the chance to see Jrex's cousins and uncle in San Francisco Friday night. I'm thankful that I spent $60 on three kids books (Extreme Dinosaurs and How Many racked up the cost) since they turned around and gave me a Dior purse.

-I'm very thankful that Jrex's cousin owns a GREAT Korean restaurant just north of Golden Gate park. As I told Jrex, of all the 'typical' immigrant business to own, I'm very glad to have a restaurant in the family instead of a dry cleaner or a store.

-For the chance to hang out with one of my close friends for the weekend. And for her dog-walking abilities when we abandoned her both Friday night and all day Saturday.

-For access to an Urgent Care center and the news that instead of gall stones or kidney stones, it was just severe constipation.

-For the chance to bike into the Presidio and picnic on the beach under the Golden Gate bridge with another couple. For so many great friends after such a short time here. For both on-line and real-life community.

November 22, 2007

Vacation, Baby!

A husband in research=very rare vacations. The last time we had extended time off together was our cross-country drive! He's found a lull in the mouse-driven schedule and I just booked us for six nights in Montecito Sequoia Lodge nestled in the heart of Kings Canyon National Park. For half the price of Yosemite, we get just as many views. The Lodge sounds somewhat basic, but gourmet hot breakfast and dinner is included for less than $100 a night. We can bring a cooler of lunch food and be good to go. Also included (I think) is gear for winter activities: snow shoes, snow tubes, ice skates and snow boards.

Jrex loves winter camping and has been trying to get me to join him for years. I figure a heated lodge with a hot tub is as close as I want to get (for now). I'm doing the happy vacation dance in my head. We even have good friends who are overjoyed to act on their dog fantasy and will host Muttola for free. We just cook them a great surf and turf feast to say thanks.

Thanksgiving? My wonderful friend, Ms. Sword, is here. We're continuing the Christmas Day tradition we started with her last year--Kabob & Curry for the best tandoori chicken ever! Why wash dishes when you can go to the movies?

Hope you all have a wonderful day!

November 17, 2007

God Thoughts

On my silent retreat two weeks ago, I had an idea for a ritual to help me focus during my time with God. On a small table in the corner of the living room, facing away from whatever mess, a candle stands waiting. Before I start praying, I light the candle. To end my quiet time, I have to choose to blow out the candle. It’s just enough of a pause to check if ‘our’ time is done that I can usually override the random impulses I get to jump up and clean the house (or water a plant, or do a pedicure).

Two nights ago I read Lamentations. It made me want to learn Hebrew so I could really ‘get it’. It’s a five-section poem that Jeremiah wrote about Jerusalem’s defeat. Each section begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet; the third chapter has three sections in it. The poem is an outpouring of grief with hope embedded in its center, yet the form of the poetry is strict and mathematical. I love that paradox.

Because of that reading, I found myself this morning thanking God for His passionate love. Because he loves passionately, he gets angry, he gets hurt and jealous, he dances around his love, he laughs, he sits in silence, he embraces, he weeps, he covers, he delights. It’s the WHOLE package. I realized that a chunk of the theology in American churches is because we are uncomfortable with certain emotions. We think it’s bad to express anger; therefore God would never do something so tacky. We are uncomfortable with big, messy, passionate living; therefore God must also be contained and polite. I was so glad and thankful that he doesn’t fit our box. Instead he calls us to come outside and learn again to play and to love him as passionately as he loves us.

November 15, 2007

This one's for you, Mr. Body Part

In case anyone is wondering (Dad) why the blog is a bit more weekly than daily, it's 10:15 pm and I'm still at work. Jrex is on his way to pick me up. (well, I just called again and he'd fallen asleep instead of heading out...)

Monday and Tuesday we were finishing up the crank and turn for the Adbe Gala. Over the weekend a poor freelancer had to cover for me (well, he's much richer now!). I'm SO glad I missed the last round of the 'fire drill'. Most of the time I work with a different account. I can organize and drive it at my own pace. Anything with Adbe means dealing with my creative director. Who is not. Creative. or a Director. He procrastinates and thrives on the high of all nighters. Ugh!

The good part is that they liked what we came up with and the freelancer did a great job. On Monday night I was here late finishing up that whole mess for a Tuesday client presentation. I whipped out something for a proposed viral marketing portion of the party. Stickers for the walls in the garage, etc. It looks like they might take that and run with it for the entire party identity.

Tonight, I'm here trying to finish up the Look and Feel for a conference that doesn't happen until MAY. Yes. Next year. What's the rush? The woman who approves look and feel is about to leave for maternity leave (as in next Wednesday the 21st). Her boss is due back from maternity leave December 1st. The Boss is married to someone who owns an ad agency. We need to get the look and feel somewhat locked in with someone who knows me and loves my work before The Boss hands it off to her husband. I don't fancy spending 5 months as a production artist, so I'm trying to stake my design territory while I still can.

What's the question? Yes. I'm exhausted. And still have to keep cranking it out.

Hmm? I do still enjoy my job. I really like designing things. The pace here is so fast that I don't have time to second guess myself, and thus far, my gut instincts seem to be working out fairly well.

The other question? Yes. I'm going to stop blathering on now.

November 12, 2007


On Thursday, SmartGirl picked me up at 1:30 and we drove off for the weekend. On our way to a four-day retreat in beautiful "Cow-Town" California (aka Vacaville), we stopped off at the Jelly Belly factory for a tour.
As we put on our paper hats and joined a shuffling line gazing at video screens and looking down at acres of jelly beans, I did wonder if we were going to be trapped in a Willy Wonka movie. My big regret is not buying the pepper or sausage jelly beans that I tried. They actually tasted 'right' while still being jelly beans! They've produced a Harry Potter series of jelly beans, including dirt and bugar flavors. I did NOT try those.

Sunday we wandered home with stops at the Outlet Mall and Walnut Creek, CA. The retreat was good, but I don't have a lot of words for it. As with the silent retreat, there are things I need to mull over a bit. My biggest take-away is that I'm on the right track, which is always comforting.

I arrived home at 4:15 pm to find Jrex toiling in the kitchen. We've joined a new Supper Club with three other couples. At 6:30 we were due at their house for an Italian food dinner. Jrex assembled an anti-pasti plate as well as ricotta eggplant rolls covered in homemade red sauce for our appetizer course. He bought some pre-dinner Italian wine (Prosecco? No idea). When we arrived with the food, people kept looking at me as they asked what things were. I shrugged and pointed to Jrex, "Ask the chef. I have no idea!"

Next month we've decided to do a 'favorite Christmas dish' theme. It's not my family's recipe, but I've got a great garlic mashed potato recipe and I'll do hot mulled cider and apple crisp in honor of Mom (Dad's only 'real' recipe is corned beef and hash--I'm not a fan).

November 6, 2007


This morning I had to walk the dog before dashing out to catch the train. I was in my usual assortment of bike commuter based oddities: from the waist up, the formal side of business casual. From the waist down, nylon pants, sneakers and an orange pants clip.

As usual the mutt just had to select the best ivy patch in which to hide her 'stuff'. She picked an area near a really busy intersection. As usual, I had to venture on a treasure hunt in a stranger's ivy patch to clean up after her (she's become a snob--grass is no longer an acceptable medium for her business).

When we were done, I tried to hurry across the street before the truck that was barreling towards us. Muttola kept stopping in the middle of the road to try to nip her own back. I rushed us both across the street and then checked what was bothering her. Two yellow jackets were trying to burrow into her fur! I grabbed a stick and started trying to dig them out without pissing them off. I'm running late, freaked out that the dog is about to get stung, cussing at the yellowjackets and pushing a stick around in her fur. I must have looked like a maniac trying to beat her dog on the side of the road!

I've never heard of bees burrowing into a dog! They didn't seem angry, just seeking a cozy dark place. Fortunately, the mutt doesn't seem to have been stung and I made my train, but if you read another blog that mentions the Maniac of Menlo Park, you'll know The Rest of the Story.

November 4, 2007

Silence can feel like a warm cozy blanket

On Saturday, I joined 18 other people from my church for a silent retreat. It was great to have some time alone with the Lord to reflect on where I've been and where he wants me to be. I'm not ready to talk about the details since I find that if I talk about stuff I'm supposed to act on, I end up just talking and not doing. So, I'm going to try to do first and talk later.

If a picture is worth a thousand words though, maybe you can figure out my weekend from the following pictures (some of them were just cause things were pretty, some are significant.)