We were at Mel's in Placerville and figuring out how to play 'grandma got run over by a reindeer' on the jukebox when I realized I got 3 messages on my lousy cellphone. They were from Tomasso. The way up to South Lake Tahoe on HI 50 was smooth, some snow on the ground at about 5000 ft, no traffic. Tahoe wasnt cold and the shops were open. M and A bought stuff again at Patagonia but I've always preferred North Face designs and colors. But this year, they didnt have any cute sweats. All for the better. I've spent enough money buying new clothes this year. Almost 2 years to the day since we were at South Tahoe, and last time we were stunned by the new developments, the new gondola to Heavenly, the new timeshares and upscale shops, the ice rink and cinema. And I remember I was doing my Multimedia class homework at the Embassy Suites. This time around, no homework to worry about. We dined again at Kalani, the Hawaiian Japanese restaurant. My rack of lamb was fantastic, and we ordered another round of spicy tuna rolls. Christmas day found us driving on the west side of the lake, going up to Squaw Village. We wanted to take the cable car up to the ski area to ice skate but the cable car was closed. It was a windy day and quite chilly. So we hung out on the village with gingerbread latte from Starbucks and taking photos of the village. It was a quick get away and we had a white Christmas. The Hippoblog reminded me I was quite depressed last year at this time. This year, I was quite calm although bone tired having put in 17 hrs at work on Friday. It was therapeutic going to Tahoe. It was refreshing. However, the Christmas spirit seemed to be missing. I havent gotten any season greetings from anyone up there, not even from the hotel staff, which was unusual. Whatever happened to xmas?
A long day flying from Kahului to Kona to Honolulu to SFO. I was never one to be happy to go home. I'm a vagabond in nature and happiest away from home. I took one last long look at the West Maui Mtns and my beloved sugarcanes on my way to the airport. I've tried to hold in my tears when IslandAir took off. Back at Kona I didnt want to let go. I bid a silent farewell to Mauna Kea. Dunno when I'd be back. As the HawaiianAir plane ascended into the blue sky, the view below diminished into a pool of green and black lava rocks, and with it my joy and peace. Back to my dull uninteresting life in a dry cold place.
Driving to Hana was my original plan. But since being here, I just couldnt handle any more emotions so I've decided to dedicate the morning to Haleakala. First order of business was to have Portuguese sausage and rice at McDonald. My favourable island breakfast. Since I was in Oahu last, there's no longer any guava juice at Hawaiian MickyDee. Shame! Holding another Portuguese sausage plate, the girl said 'another Portuguese', and I stepped up to the counter. Hee hee. Another Portuguese indeed! I sat outside, poured soya sauce over the sticky rice, cut the linguica into manageable bite sizes, and mixed them with the scrambled egg, and sipped my coffee. I could still hear the distant waves and smell the sea from where I was. That's truly paradise! With my iPod blasting, the road to Haleakala was filled with sugarcane plains, mountain views, then purest white clouds and absolutely blue sky above them. Truly paradise! At about 7000 ft the crater floor showed itself. Amazing red and amber colors top the cinder cones which once upon a time had been pyroclastic. No time for any serious hike down the crater and at a little over 10,000 ft on the summit, I was beginning to feel lightheaded with an imminent headache approaching. So I went back down to town. Last dinner on the island was at the Tommy Bahama's Tropical Grill in Wailea with Laura and Ben. The food was good. It would probably take another year at least before I came back and see them. Thank you Tom for the suggestion. Got an emotional high here but I needed it. Gosh, I love Maui!
14 years is a long time. As Island Air 1148 cut through Maui descending to Kahului, I could see Haleakala sprawling below me. The familiar tradewinds picked up and the Dash 8 37 seater bounced a little. Soon as I stepped down on Maui soil, I wanted to kiss the ground. Instead, I leaped in the air. I could not hold the joy inside me. I feel so much for this island. It was a clear day and behind the airport, the volcano shows itself plainly. "Today is a good day to drive to the summit" said Laura. Driving to the hotel, I saw my old carpets of sugarcane, moving with the wind. The smell, the sounds, the tastes, the wind, the humidity, the mountains, all reminded me of long ago. Drove to Wailea to window-shop and admire the new developments there. Later, Laura took me to the Maluaka beach where she and Ben got married. A secluded cove, with warm shallow water, few people, and little surf. I floated there on the clear sea, with alternating warm and cold undercurrents. On impulse, in the late afternoon, I drove to Lahaina with the glorious orange sun setting on my left and the Mauna Kahalawai (West Maui Mtns) on my right. I've forgotten how spectacularly beautiful this drive was. Lahaina Front st was packed with tourists. It was already dark by the time I reached it, and being alone, I didnt feel like staying for dinner. So it was a quick hello and goodbye. I just had to see it. That night sitting in my private lanai overlooking the Pacific, listening to the distant sound of the waves breaking upon the shore, I thought of him.
I got so emotional. It wasnt what the pastor was saying but the sight of the love birds beholding each other. I was happy for them. The wedding was a big reunion of friends I havent seen in a long time, and people I've heard of and seen pictures of and wanted to meet for a long time. In the morning M and I shopped at the Kona International market for local crafts. Then lunch at the Buba Forrest (run Forrest run!). Then to the Hilton and slowly people started appearing at the chapel. Hugs and more hugs and I was almost in tears. What makes life worthwhile is that once in a while you get to see your friends who live far from us but always so close to our hearts. And seeing them all, all in good health, and radiantly happy to be there, and they just wanted to know how I've been, and we just talked and talked. Finally the bridal procession started and my tears began to roll down my cheeks. The sun began to move down the horizon leaving streaks of amber and gold in the sky, the sound and smell of the Pacific, the surf slowly crashing on the black shore, the palm trees blowing with the wind, a perfect setting for a romantic wedding. Later, after the meal was partaken and speeches by the best man and maid-of-honor done, to everyone surprise, Tom dedicated a toast to all who were not present, fathers from both sides who were no longer with us, mothers who couldnt make it, Tom's sister Sue whose ashes were scattered off the Kona coast a few years ago, and then friends who came from far away such as Janet who turned bright red, and all those who through the years hung around him for better and for worse, and the blessing of a beautiful daughter. We drank to all that and I thought the dedication really put a meaningful touch to the occasion. Then it was time to be totally silly. We danced the night away. We let go of our bashfulness and inhibition. We loved the playlist Tom and Amelia put together and upon each favorite song, we made fools of ourselves on the dance floor. Later Cathy and I had a nice chat about relationships and raising children. It was always so good to talk to her, always so open and understanding. When our alloted time ran out, and lights were off, the problem we all had was 'how to get out of here? how to get back to my room?'. Gosh, this place is so big, it's scary! That night I couldnt sleep. Even with the amount of drinking I had, my mind just wouldnt let me call it a day. Images of reunion with my dear friends kept flashing on my mind. When will be the next time when all of us would be together again?
Driving to Volcano and to Hilo was what I had wanted. But the hike to the lava flow proved particularly difficult this year, and since I didnt feel like doing anything else in Volcano, we decided not to go to the Hilo side. Instead, we drove north and stopped at Waimea for a bit of natural air conditioning. The highlight of the day was dinner at the Kona Brewery. Nice place. With outside seating (what else?). We had 3 pizzas: 3 mushrooms, greek and pesto. One of the best pizzas I've ever had. Truly! And of course the Hippo had to sample the local beer. No Sprite mixed in. I really cant remember which I liked the best - the Hula I think, but the Fire Rock Pale Ale was good too. I just remember I didnt like the Lilikoi. Here I finally met the legendary Lou, Laura's brother. Been seeing his photographs for a long time now and finally met him in the flesh. Handsome young man, extremely nice and polite. I like him a lot. His girlfriend Daron was also there. Extremely friendly and I felt like I've known her for a long time. She has the rare gift that makes you feel right at home with her. Then back to the condo to see Tom one last time as a bachelor. They were practicing the dance, and we took a few photographs to remember how Tom 'used' to look like while still a bachelor. Tomorrow is the big day, what we came to the Big Island for. I couldnt wait!
Although my heart belongs to another island, the black volcanic rocks of the Big Island always gave me a sense of awe. There's something about driving up and down Hi 19 on the Kona side. The views of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, spreading out enormously, the clear Pacific and the black pu'us! Oh! I parked the rental in front of Bvlgary and Maria was surprised I made it there so quick (hey, it's the Hippo!). We had lunch at the Hilton by the pool with the waterfalls and drove down to check out my otherwise hotel, the Sheraton in Keahou. On our way back to Waikoloa, we stopped at the farmer's market in Kona and picked up some tropical fruit for the party tonight. Papaya, star fruit, guava and a big whole pineapple. I wore the orange and brown dress that Maria got me from Singapore to Tom's "Bachelor's party". When Doug opened the door for us, the site was a total delight. Janet leaped out to hug me. We havent seen each other for 7 years! Then Laura appeared and Ben followed with a gentle bear hug. Everyone was there and eager to hear my adventure trying to leave SFO. The food was from Costco and all good. We had tri-tip, salmon, macaroni salad, which Laura showed me how to eat the Maui way, mixing it with sticky rice, sushi and lots of fruit and of course wine. With my favorite Blackstone Merlot in a crystal glass in hand, I wandered from buddy to buddy to catch up with all. Of course I brought my stuffy. It was small Leo's turn but in haste I left him back at the house, so I brought small Snowie instead, who happened to be staying with grandma. Tom's bet was the snow leopard (which by the way, I didnt have) and upon laying eyes on Snowie, thought he won. So I had to explain that Snowie is a white tiger instead, so he really didnt win. And Karen just laughed! After the meal and visiting, most of the guests departed and the remaining intimate group stayed around the coffee table and chatted. The iPod was playing the wedding playlist and Doug dimmed the lights. Except for a fire burning in the background, the ambience was perfect. With the Merlot now in my head, I felt relaxed and happy amidst good company in paradise.
"we apologize for the delay!" said the flight attendant when we finally landed in Honolulu. It was a tiring horrendous day trying to fly out of SFO. As soon as the plane took off, the Hippo, who was sitting next to the right engine, heard a loud noise and instantly thought something must be wrong. Then I noticed the plane circling above SF. Strange! Soon the captain said we're returning to SFO because a bird got sucked in to the right engine. It was a smart move! None of us wanted to fly over the Pacific with a dead bird in the engine. We learned later than an enormous gull got in to the engine and knocked out a third of the fan blade. The plane was appropriately named Nene (Hawaiian goose). Another hour went by before we were told Hawaiian Airlines would fly another 767 from Seattle and the new departure time was now 4PM. We had 6 hours to wait! I thought of going back to my parents to have lunch. But we were offered $10 worth for lunch, and I just didnt fell like Bart'in out to the city and back. So, with the rest of the passengers, I hung out at the airport. When the plane finally arrived at the gate, we applauded. By then we made friends with each other. When we were finally onboard the new plane, the captain said "scene 1 take 2, and no more birds!". We finally landed in HNL around 9PM. Still in the state of confusion, we were told all inter-island flights had already taken off for the day, and so Hawaiian put us all in a cheap hotel, next to the airport, the Honolulu Airport hotel. Instead of spending the day in sunny and warm Waikoloa among friends, and the night in a comfy timeshare, I spent the day in a stuffy airport and the night alone in the worst hotel I've ever been. The cups were made of paper and smelled like coffee, the carpet was damp, and the towels smelled of armpits. I missed a day in the Big Island. But all was not lost. I called and got to chat with June. I actually forgot to bring her phone number but luckily she was listed on the local phone book. It's been many many long years since I heard her voice. She was surprised I was spending the night in Honolulu. And Hawaiian gave us a $200 voucher for the delay. It was a good gesture since the incident was not their fault. And this gave me another excuse to fly to Hawaii again within the year. Not altogether a bad deal!
Nobody told me it was soooooo much fun! The Hippo absolutely loved it! We had 2 good practices at the Redwood City Marina (she got really sore after the first practice, exercising the muscles she didnt know she had!) and when the day of the race came, San Francisco welcomed us with the unusual warmth of the brilliant sun. Actually winning the race had been a brief timid imagination for me. Pure dream I allowed myself only to contemplate. Now that we actually won and took home the trophy and gold medals was more than a dream come true. Yeeeee haaaaa! Grad school had started so the Hippo has no time to do anything else but study; otherwise Ken's offer to find me a team to join would have been accepted wholeheartedly.
AlphaDetail, 2nd year dragon novice dragon boat team came to Treasure
Island to participate in the 11th annual San Francisco Dragon Boat
Festival and went home winners of Novice Division D. For their efforts
they took home a spectacular ebony trophy, and 27 dazzling gold medals.
Congratulations AlphaDetail on yet another fun filled dragon boat
excursion. I hope that everybody had a great time. Our trend is
directionally upward as we beat 2 teams last year, and 5 teams this
year. I calculate that our talented paddling team had 25 members that
took paddle in hand, and the average number of practices was only 1.
The potential is yet to be tapped!
The weather on Treasure Island was very nice, a bit windy on the water,
but on land it was comfortable. There were over a dozen edible treats
vendors, and a selection of merchandise booths to visit. The kids got
to visit "DragonLand" a place where kids can go to do some arts and
crafts as well as play a few games. A stage showcased all sorts of
local talented performers from Taiko, to Tahitian dancing.
The AD races went as follows: in the morning we came in 5th, less than a
half second behind the fourth place boat. In the mid-day semi finals AD
went out with a full crew and romped into 4th again only a half second
behind the boat in front of them. That placed us into the Division D
finals where even though we were a few paddlers short of a crew we
fought into the stiff head wind. The competition was close as everybody
came of the starting line but AlphaDetail forged a straight line slowly
and steady pulling in front of the challengers 10 strokes at a time to
win the heat by over a second! It was an exciting race for sure.
at Dave&Buster's in Milpitas. Among other things, I've suggested doing orienteering as it's fun and great for team building. Or virtual (or real) bowling, or kareoke, or ice skating, or wall climbing, but all was squashed. Somone mentioned D&B and suddenly everyone agreed. I wasnt totally keen on the idea of spending an afternoon inside an arcade and drinking beer (not my idea of team building!) but once I was there (and with a bit of alchool in my system - cocobanana colada!) I actually had fun - especially when someone else was paying for the booz, food and games! It brought out the kid in me again (what, the Hippo needs no external stimuli to bring out the kid in her!!!) and reminded me how much I enjoyed playing games! There was my favorite game where I won all my stuffies (horse racing, you roll a ball, it falls into a pocket and your horsie or camel moves), skeeball, video bowling, and we won some tickets, not enough to get anything significant, so we blew all our free cards on the wheel of fortune, which we found gave the most tickets, and ended up with enough tickets to get us a stuffy mascot, 2 footballs and 2 stuffies for Sarah's upcoming twins. Thus ended our offsite, lots of $$$ blown, nothing in respect to team building, but we dont need it. As a team, I think TechOps is doing real well!
Our first house warming party. Tomasso bought us a BBQ grill (thank you! we'll promise not to use it to warm the house!) and we had more sausages, beer and wine that we could partake. No one was admitted without a hat or a wig. Alex spray painted his hair blue.
Pictures (Hippo was, as usual, bad, she forgot to take pictures again! and Karen, I'll get you next time - Hawaii? and Joe and Co Ltd, we'll do real Pictionary next time but I still dont think what you drew looked like a padlock!):
After reading John Spencer's blog on the Planetary Society, the Hippo was almost convinced of Pluto's miniature status. Especially when he mentioned Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, yes, 'furniture of the mind'. It gets me every time. But I'm sticking with my view of Pluto if nothing for pure sentimental values.
We're all moved in! As much as I like our new home, my heart seems to be elsewhere (my heart is always elsewhere!). I dont quite feel right at home yet although the place is comfortable, roomy, with lots of stairs the Hippo can run up and down like a mad kid. The view is gorgeous, and the moon was red last night. But somehow it just aint home. Not quite home. And I simply just dunno why! E from work grew up in San Carlos and told me all about the hiking trails, places to eat, ways to get around in the area, hometown days which last for days and block off downtown streets all the way to Britany. Last night A and I saw the first Star Wars trilogy on tape, made fun of the dialogs and plots and alien languages. Why do we like it so? Soon he'll be gone and the house would be just much quieter. I'll miss him. And J might be moving in next door which was rather strange because we each found the place separately. Is this bad karma? And I've just stumbled on Ondrej's picture on the travel site. Dunno if it was taken before or after I've met him, but he looks a bit older, slimmer and definitely more handsome. I wonder how he's doing and what the heck he is doing right now. I remember the evenings in Romania in his company. School will commence in 2 weeks and end in 7 and I'll be occupied again, this time with lots of writing. I hope I'll enjoy graduate school and not waste my money, time and energy. I really dunno what I'm doing this for. Also 7 weeks countdown to the wedding! I cant wait to be in the warm tropical volcanic island! I will do nothing but sip Fanta and listen to Pilot - Strange Way and Sky High - on my iPod, and reminisce. [She must be getting really old...]
I dunno what's with these so called humans ... they like to pigeonhole everything! I've been orbiting the Sun longer than these miniscule microbes had been on 'that' rock. I've been observing their evolution while doing my routine orbit. Although I admire their tenacity and perseverance in trying to discover the origin of everything (including themselves), sometimes it just aint right what they do, like hitting my dear friend Tempel1 with tons of dynamites. Man, that hurts! And what do they care? All in the name of science they say. Tempel1 came limping back and bitching about having her rear blown up and photographs taken of her without consent! And they seem to have a fattish on size! Sure, I'm tiny as compared to almighty master Jupiter, and I'm not gonna grow any bigger, but hey, I'm every part of 'their' solar system, definitely a veteran, and a loyal one too. So what if my orbit is a bit eccentric? I like to take a slightly different angle on my routes sometimes and get closer to Neptune for a bit of gossip. I've contributed to the system as much as any other 'planet' who's been my neighbors wayyyyyyyy before these egocentric microbes even show signs of life. I think I deserve every bit to be classified as a full blown planet and now demoting me and calling me a dwarf for no apparent reason is just down right humiliating. My sidekick and dear pal Charon and all my Kuiper Belt friends say so too. What did I do to deserve that?
* Pluto - the 9TH PLANET !
PS - I dont think I'd welcome New Horizons when it comes to study me. I think I will go slightly off orbit to avoid it!
Today I realized what I left behind for good was really something still close to my heart. This afternoon Keith gave us the database schema walkthru. Thru his well articulated and logical presentation, I've heard familiar terms that long ago used to excite me, design principles and data normalization that I used to pronounce daily. Gosh, I miss that stuff! I looked around the room and I doubted if half the people there knew what a view or a foreign key was. In a dream like state, I saw myself discussing stored procedures, triggers and load balancing. Reminiscing ... in another life, another time, another place ...
Later in the afternoon Erik, Mike and I walked to Target in search of snacks. On our way, we made fun of Erik's 'hollish' background and Mike said he wanted to go to Scandinavia. I told them how I've wanted to go to Lebanon for chic Beirut for a long time, but could find no one who dared go with me. Inside Target, we each found what our hearts desired and Mike got his Starbucks lowfat full vanilla coffee. On our way back, we dug in our purchases and started munching, each with his/her own cookie. The day was warm and the sun simply brilliant. It reminded me of the High School days when we used to get our cheap cookies and hang out on Mission St after school. I mentioned as much and they both smiled, each with his own reminiscence. Strange how life sometimes offers you a bit of tranquility and enjoyment amidst all the high power confusion and decision making. I havent been feeling well, plus all the stress of finding a bed, moving house, lab tests, getting tires for the Rodeo and registering for graduate school, I was pretty much a mess lately. Then suddenly, a few minutes to enjoy the sun and the warm day with 2 good looking and fun guys, sharing chitchat and simple cookies, was more than a gift from heaven.
Friday night, it was late I was walking you home We got down to the gate And I was dreaming of the night Would it turn out right How to tell you girl I wanna build my world around you Tell you that it's true I wanna make you understand I'm talkin' about a lifetime plan
That's the way it began, we were hand in hand Glenn Miller's Band was better than before We yelled and screamed for more And the Porter tunes "Night and Day" Made us dance across the room It ended all too soon And on the way back home I promised you'd never be alone
Hurry, don't be late I can hardly wait I said to myself when we're old We'll go dancing in the dark Walking through the park and reminiscing (Graham Goble)
The Hippo missed it all! As usual when there's fun, I'm not there. So the best I can do is to bring you the pictures of Heather's WWDC Apple Campus Bash after _bash party. Seeing faces I recognize, people I used to work with, almost brought tears to my eyes (not again!!! :-) The consolation is they all looked so happy and having fun. And another Hippo year without MacWorld and WWDC. Apple and NASA, 2 great places, and my honor to have worked there and be part of these out-of-this-world, wacky, intelligent and insanely exciting people. Enjoy the pictures!
The fire alarm went off, the cops were called and everyone's alter ego made an appearance ...
feeling uneasy or is it fear of change? after over 6 years, I'm finally moving out. who would have known I would stay this long? After battling with job situation, finally earning my living again and be able to stand on my own 2 feet and now finding a place to live, suddenly I'm scared to move. I've grown too comfortable here even with the daily shouts, impatience, bad smells, hassle of having to take care of everything, driving them around, I thought I was tired of this place, or was it just that I've grown accustomed to it? I guess I'm too old to be playing this game. The place is nice, a bit far from the rest of the world, but roomy and I can have my own dishes, my books and shoes, the type of food I like, and finally free to do as I please. Dunno what tomorrow will bring but I need to summon my old adventurous spirit back and confront the world on my own again. I used to like it so why not like it again? I no longer know what I want, or what I like ... I'm simply tired of life!
I just want November to be here quickly so I can be in Hawaii even though it would just a rush little break.
Our company's first soccer practise today. Needless to say Hippo's team got totally pounded ! Bike shorts, over sized t-shirt, Nike tennis shoes, and neon socks didnt help! We started out kicking a few balls, threw a few frisbies and footballs to warm up. We're all horribly outta shape. I found out I couldnt even dribble that darn ball! Never mind running with it while being pursued by others. It was hot even after 6PM and after about 7 minutes of running, defending and trying to goal, we began to smell each others' sweat! We tripped, fell over, stumbled, and missed the goal. Half way through our 20 minutes game, I gave up and needed a sub. 5-2 that's how we lost! Sigh. But I had a lot of fun, and we'll do it again next week. Cant wait. Revenge would be sweet!
This time at Vegas was more exploration in the surrounding area than casino hopping. Which was good because on previous visits we simply walked ourselves to death from casino to casino and blew our money away on video poker. The drive back home was clearly another nightmare from hell. The traffic on I150 was heavy. I was falling sleep at the wheels while looking for Baja Fresh around Barstow. We drove past the exit and had to double back (lots of U turns and double backs on this trip!). After lunch Maria took over the wheels. It seemed like an eternity and we made frequent stops before reaching home. We arrived around 11p to return the van. Then Saffy found his sunglasses on the front seat! I felt drained and exhausted. Road trip to Vegas had never taken this long. I felt drained, dusty and sweaty. Gosh, am I finally getting old ?
We had wanted to drive out to the Valley of Fire the day before but since it rained in the morning we opted to do shopping instead. So today we drove north to this park. But Saffy wanted to go back to the outlets and see if he could recover his sunglasses. He couldnt find them but we did some more shopping. For lunch we drove back to Vegas, to our favorable cafe at Wynn. The soup and sandwiches there are very good, although expensive (everything at Wynn is expensive!). We caught the last of the Portugal vs France game and saw, sadly, Portugal losing. Then we made our way to the Valley of Fire. It wasnt a bad decision to go there in the late afternoon as the day was clearer and hotter than the previous days. We stopped at the campground near the Arch Rock to have our picnic juice and saw some incredible rock formations. Then we stopped at the Atlatl Rock to view the Petroglyhps. I stayed behind in the nice AC'd van!
Atlatl Rock campground with Poodle Rock
Saffy with rock
Today was truly a day at the desert. The air was stuffy and hot and I realized I no longer like hot weather.
The day before went smoothly without any incidents. I thought hell left us. We drove to the Red Rock Canyon in the morning and it rained.
A stormy day at Red Rock Canyon
The rain smelled almost tropically and it came down straight and refreshing. I love these American parks. That's what Chris called them unnaturally natural. One 10 mile scenic loop, paved, where one never had to leave the car. We did the scenic drive and saw truly iron rich red harden sand dunes.
M and Saffy at Calico Hills
road to Calico Hills
Scenic road showing Wilson Cliffs
The afternoon was spent at the premium outlet stores. We discovered that we didnt need to take the freeway. It was really just a few blocks from our timeshare on the strip. It's been a long time since I had any money to buy myself anything, and so I went crazy buying clothes. I've almost forgotten what it was like to be able to afford to buy things! Oh that rotten feeling! Then back at the timeshare we made ourselves ready for the early buffet and then the show. Saffy then announced he left his prescription sunglasses at the outlets. He wanted to run back and retrieve them. M didnt like the idea because the outlets are in downtown Vegas, a notoriously dangerous, crime infested area. I suggested a taxi. Saffy didnt want it. So it was maor upset time which almost ruined the otherwise almost perfect day. In the end, Safy went to dinner grumpy. I offered to help pay for a pair of new sunglasses. We did had a wonderful buffet at Paris. After that, it was the Cirque du Soleil Ka show at MGM Grand and I was stunned by the size of the theater, the props and the creativity of the stage and the show. Modern Chinese Opera, acrobats and a fantastic stage that not only rotates horizontally but tilts vertically where the performers could actually do wall climbing. It was simply astonishing and I never ceased to admire the originality of Cirque du Soleil. I thoroughly enjoyed the show even tho we got some rowdy and tall people sitting right in front us. We actually got pretty good seats, almost at the center, but way in the back. What we missed though were the fireworks which later we discovered werent all that spectacular.
hell began when we discovered a crack on the rental van's windshield. We were on upper Market, heading towards the Bay Bridge. We decided to call Hertz and were told to return to the rental office for a van exchange, so we went back to SFO. I already got used to the brand new KIA, roomy, clean and smooth riding. The new one, although the same model but older, seemed less roomy, and a bit beaten up. The brakes, we found out later, were a bit worn and squeaked when pressed and caused the van to shake. It was already 3:30 when we finally got out of SFO. The Saturday afternoon traffic on I80 was, as usual, bad, so by the time we got to South Lake Tahoe and checked in at the Forest Suites, it was already dark. We did a quick walk around the casinos (Caesar's Palace is no more, it's now called Bluemont!) and returned to our shabby 1br suite with damp carpet and no dishwasher. It's been a little over a year since we were at South Lake Tahoe. Last year, we discovered the new Heavenly gondola, the new village, and Embassy Suites. This time we stayed at the place I've sworn never to return. Nothing much was changed.
Hell continued with an early morning phone call. Saffy's group was leaving and we got to pick him up at Squaw Valley right away. We frantically packed and I went without breakfast. I was sorely pissed. The drive along the west shore was gorgeous in the morning and we got to the north shore after 10AM but Saffy's group was still there. I've never been to the Olympic Village before. It has nice shops and condos. Wonderful mountain backdrop. We had breakfast at the Starbucks and then we were ready to head to Truckee and then to Reno to take HI95 to Vegas when M discovered she left her laptop at the Forest Suites. So it was double back to the South shores and by the time we recovered the laptop and were ready to head down south it was already 2:30p.
hell did not leave us when we made the bad decision to cut throw 120 from 395. The road was curvy with lots of ups and downs, 2000ft apart. We were almost out of gas and completely out of water in the middle of the desert in high summer. So we decided to cut south to Bishop and continued down 395. It was 8p when we finally entered Death Valley. The road was long but paved, flat and smooth and spectacularly scenic. By 9p we stopped at Stovepipes for gas. The furnace heat was still there even when it was pitch dark. Saffy took over the wheels and drove like mad on 95. I was stuck at the back of the van with Giant Snowie and looking out the window to black nothing except a few stars and a half moon in the dark sky. Not much in terms of civilization, just desert outside the window. It felt lonely and abandoned. My iPod was in my bag behind the seat. Nothing to do, nothing to look at, and nothing came to imagination, nothing to daydream about. We finally made it to Vegas at 11:30p when Saffy made a wrong turn and went the opposite direction of the strip. It was midnight when we finally pulled up in front of the Hilton Resort. Mad house all around, with crowds still checking in. The parking lot was completely full. The only self parking alternative was on a dirt road. Or vallet parking. M got upset because she didnt want to park the rental on dirt. But the first night vallet parking was free so we went for it. We were all exhausted from being on the road for an entire day and I was hoping hell would finally end. A road trip to Vegas has never taken this long!
I wasnt wrong in learning InDesign. This powerful baby can make a PDF that contains bookmarks, links to jump to different pages and external links, and even embed a QT or SWF files! These apps are getting better and better! Just think of what this summer would bring: Hippo eBooks! My original thought was just to make my travel journals into eBooks. And now I can attach links to the web page _and_ even include a Flash movie! Forget about taking any more classes this summer. This summer the Hippo will be busy making interactive eBooks! Holy summer this would be! Last year I was having fun doing PHP and enjoying NASA and Multimedia classes and learning Flash. This year I'm playing with Flash AND getting paid, and making eBooks. Can life get any better? Btw, Happy sweet 18 Saffy!
Last week I completed my very first survey! And it was fun! Instead of the Linux prompt starring at my face, now every morning I'm greeted by the Flash authoring environment. Beyond my wildest dreams! How would I even imagine, last year when I walked into Sandi's MM Tools class that it would ignite a love/hate relationship with Flash that culminated to a year long love affair with increasing enthusiasm, passion, fun and sometimes frustration, and now finally resulted in a job working with Flash! It's almost karma! I only hope this is not a career suicide!
I'm finally officially off the VL project. I think I've milked everything out of this project. Making Larry's acquaintance was the ace. Learning from a JS/Ajax guru is inspiring and least to say, lucky to know someone who knows these things - comes in very very handy! :-) Gosh, I've learned so much doing this project. And then there's Alibata! A gorgeous design that lends itself perfect for a 2 column with CSS. With a bit of JS thrown in. Why do I love doing these things? Every night I just cant wait to come home and start working on the pages, with the iPod playing my favorite tunes. The work at Detail is great but a perfect job would be coding websites. I never get enough of it. Yeah, explore and experiment, learn and grow! I wish more would come my way. Then there's Natorius Flash site! I remember that Steve guy at Paypal ranking passion. Passion isnt to think of ways to make HTML better. Passion is simply loving it so much, one wouldnt mind dying doing it!
All day I was comparing my last place with this one. Mahogany wood paneling and furniture, hardwood floors, high back leather chairs in the conference rooms, wall high windows with a clear spectacular view of the bay, fridge full of sodas and water, tea and coffee, and most of all, cubes! Someone actually asked about the culture of my last place. Was it a joke? There are companies like Detail and then there's EPGY! What a world of difference! There, took me almost 2 months just to get a cube, ants, unisex bathrooms, rooms with keys, working out in the open with no privacy, no structure and anything goes, unprofessional (they even made me paid for my own farewell lunch, but they (someone rather) did get me a farewell card), and disorganized ... gosh, sometimes I think I was really stupid to even allow myself to get into a situation like that. But now, all seems back to normal and Detail really sounds like a perfect place to work. And the all day orientation was comprehensive, informative and exhausting. Everything from the vision/mission of the company to every department functions, the talk about the pharmaceutical industry, demos of Details product offerings, engineering, and IT, and breakfast and lunch, all paid for the next 4 days! And we got Godiva chockies, a pen with a USB stick, sweat shirt and pocket notebook on top of everything else. Is it finally my luck or simply my turn after years of pain and suffering, unemployment, major disappointment and an internship at my age and experience? I cant wait to get my hands on Flash!!!
Emotions almost topped me over today. I was touched! I never knew I would feel something leaving today. I had wanted my salvation so bad, and worked hard to get it and today was my last day at Stanford. They produced a card signed by all I came in contact with in my short 2 months stay there. A even invited herself to lunch. I didnt know I was liked. During my short stay, I had explored a bit of the campus, close to Ventura Hall. I had a little taste of actually how nice the campus was, the different eateries, and I shall miss the walks. I had wanted so bad to get out of there, I neglected the large windows in room 1, the gorgeous golf course, the green and the students halls. Grad style of working is not for me, but I can say I had experienced it. I do not regret leaving. But being sentimental in nature, my heart bled a little. I made friends and I hope they would remember me. I think I was good to all and had made an honest effort to bring some sanity to the place. And I left the wiki legacy, and hope I made an impression. 2 farewells in 5 months! What am I doing to my life? Is it career suicide or just that times have changed? I no longer know.
Today I gave my notice! D had a 5 minutes panic attack. AV came and told me 'dont leave! can I go with you?'. Poor AV, I feel so sorry for her, caught in the middle of all that shit! How can she work for someone like R? M didnt have much of any reaction but I guess he'd always guessed I'd be gone as soon as I have something better. I am not sorry at all to leave these people. So Stanford was short for me but I've always known it's just not for me. Now suddenly it's a like a big burden had been lifted off my shoulders and the sun shines brighter and I even feel more like myself and started to enjoy life a little better and back at doing my own projects which I enjoy immensely. Strange how a little job can affect your whole outlook in life. I realized I'm one of those people who cant really separate job from life totally. If I'm not happy with my job, all the rest of my life is affected and I simply cant function. I had so many bad jobs before and each had put a stop to my life until I got something better and then life resumed. I hope now that I'd be satisfied and reasonably happy with this new one and go on with life. There's so much I've put on hold until my job situation is settle. And now, I need to pick up where I left off and continue. I cant wait to start working at my new place and do the things I'd planned to do. I'm tired of being unhappy and lost. I hope I'd be happy this time!
Today I wandered through the Stanford Cantor Arts Center Museum and was awestuck! I never knew there was a museum on campus. Both A and R had told me about it and had been there, and yesterday I had a very expensive soup+salad ($12!!!!) at the Cool cafe just outside the building with M. We browsed the souvenier shop and then just paid the museum a brief visit. I saw the Roman and Egyptian galleries and wanted to go back to explore them more leisurerly. So today I went back by myself.
The building is fantastically beautiful with murals all around depicting different eras and the galleries inside were cool and the displays expertly positioned. I went through every room but lingered longer in the sections closer to my heart.
The Ancient Mediterranean collection contained Egyptian artworks dating from the Pre-Dynastic period to the New Kingdom and even a mummy. Then there were the Mycenaean, Corinthian, seals, cuneiform, and figurative tablets from Mesopotamia and Roman sculptures. My heart leaped with delight.
Then I came upon the gallery of paintings. Among which, the Cathedral of st xxxx caught my eye. Haunting place. And many others that unfortunately I didnt bring pen and paper to write down the names of the artists. I regretted that and I need to go back for another round.
Then accidently I came out by the back door and had to walk around the front to get myself oriented and thus I discovered the Rodin garden. So that was where L was talking about. I dont much care for modern sculptures and dont really like Rodin but today I finally saw where the outdoor museum was.
Wow, it had been a great feast to my eyes. Gotta go back!
Today A resigned!!! I'm feeling vulnerable and left behind because I relied on him to make me get through the day each day. Somehow with him leaving, it forces me to look at my own situation which is getting more desperate by the day. I so envy him going to Adobe and making real money and no longer has to deal with the unprofessionalism at work. It was a mistake to take this job. I did it to myself! But the sad part of it all is, I knew what I was getting into. Why did I do it? In retrospect, it was self sabbatage all over again. Sigh. Looking back at the postings here, I did say about resilience. Well, I only wish I can get something very soon. I've moved into his cube and already life at work feels a little better. At least I'm more comfortable having my own little space and privacy. Feels a bit more like a real work place! J continues to be out because of carpal tunel and I miss his wits. So it's just M and me again, like the beginning.
Wow, so I've been battling with CSS for 2 weeks and then this girl from my class just stepped in and found a solution. And now my class project (L's portfolio) is working on all browsers!!! These students at Foothill are just amazing! Who would spend so much time helping a fellow student? So much energy and enthusiasm in the class and so many talented, intelligent, positive attitude, fun and supportive helpful people that I've never seen. And this is why I take classes! I enjoy the classes soooooo much and feel a bit down when one is nearing its end. The classes are not so much to learn anything new but to meet intelligent students, hoping their energy, intelligence, experience and enthusiasm could rub off on me. This is how I live and get enjoyment from in life. I could only wish my job could be so enjoyable! I learn so much more from fellow students than from the instructors. I didnt think I've actually learned too much from the course material itself as I've learned from the students. Amazing work they produced! Kinda makes one wonder how come they are taking classes where they could be out there making big bucks. And like L said, I just cant figure out how people who dont know anything could get jobs and be out there making tons of money! This world is wacked!
... of 3 guys. A, our QA, finally showed up to work today and D already got him a to-do list. I think we overwhelmed him a bit. He's used to telecommuting and today I told him the newbie had to take out the garbage every night. He laughed and said 'I bet you're tired of doing it for the whole week!' and I responded 'yeah, and I couldnt wait for you to show up!'. M practically talked him to death and A just took off early. I've discovered today that some girl last year only showed up to work on her first day and they never saw her again! This is indeed a difficult place to get used to. You have to be quite resilient to stick around. So now I'm in a room with 3 guys. And so the group is complete. Let's see how long we'd last ...
"What color did you pick for your chair, Hip?" Oops, I forgot the color. Our boss told us to look through the Ikea catalog and pick a desk and a chair. All three of us picked the same chair but J decided on a green one and M chose the beige. "I'm sending him an email. Would you like me to tell him what color you want?" asked M. Green is my favorite color so I said I'd go with green. "So, you're gonna side with J!" M said. "And would you feel hurt if I go with green?" I asked. "Well" said M, "I'd be angry but not outwardly, I'd just keep my anger to myself" joked M. So I felt bad. I didnt want M to be angry with me, showing it or not. "Pick whatever color you want Hip" said J. "But I dont want to upset M" I said. "It depends if you care about us or not, if you think we're a friend or what." J said. And I do. I like them both. I've only known them for a week (and J for only 3 days since he only works part-time) but they're both nice guys, easy to get along, funny and helpful and I already like them. So I said "I do care about you. I like you both! and I dont want you guys to think I like one more than the other!" So I've decided to go neutral.
Strange how this turned out to be. I was missing the NAS bunch and felt kinda lonely having only M to content with, even though he really is a very nice guy. But on Wed morning, suddenly J appeared and took my breath away. He's gorgeous! They took me to a nice eatery on campus and I've discovered they went to the same school in Chicago and J got M to come out here to work. They're both very polite young men, nice gentlemen (they open doors for me!), engaging conversationalists and very helpful at work (Java dudes!). We had nice discussions and laughs. J possesses these burning blue eyes that sometimes rest on you in a special way. M is very personable without being annoying, tall, skinny and good looking. I really enjoy sharing the room with them and I feel very comfortable with them. They're both easy going and didnt mind a lot of things. We dont like flourescent lights and so we work in the dark after 5PM (we use halogen lamps instead). But the room has lots of windows and today we hovered by the windows to see the hail pouring down in the faint light. It was quite romantic actually! And today with the chair color episode, I've discovered they could be playful too.
I knew I was late. I forgot how hard it was to find a parking space in downtown Sunnyvale at lunchtime. My cell rang and it was Lisa wondering where the heck I was. "I'm here, just looking for a parking." I said.
When I came out of Dish Dash after failing to find the group, Harout was there at the door waiting for me. Nice kid, most handsome and with a cheerful personality. He's just transferred to DTS, and who knows, perhaps someday he'd get to take over my messy code and drive DTS to web 3. He loves to script (Mr Scriptor) and will go somewhere in life. It was always pleasant to run into him.
It was another jolt of energy to see the gang again, all sitting around the long table. And then the gifts started coming. Don brought each a box of See's Candies for Lisa and me. We kidnapped his CatBert (hm, now that Lisa cleaned up her desk, where the heck did she hide CatBert?) and demanded chocolate for his safe return. And Don delivered but I'm not so sure now he would get CatBert back! Then we each got a fleece NASA jacket from the group. Oh boy, I went to a shopping spree at the NASA souvenir shop on Tuesday before my discount expired, and I got myself exactly the same jacket! On a last thought, I also grabbed the Shuttle model which I'm planning on displaying on my desk on the new job. Then there were more gifts. Ryan made each one of us an organic cotton T-shirt with the DTS logo (Apple logo with NASA on top). I had wanted one of these T-shirts for a long time and been nagging him to make me one. Now it was a most pleasant surprise to finally get one! But Lisa and I had our own little surprise for everyone.
So we ate and chatted and laughed and insulted each other as usual. Then Lisa brought out the penguins. We spent an entire weekend making Linux penguins with the Apple logo and letters DTS on it, for everyone. That's 15 of them! We wanted something special to remember us by and thought a DTS mascot would be perfect. We donwloaded the pattern from somewhere, and I cut the fabric and she sewed them. Herbert thought we were crazy and Vil just laughed without making any comments. Each penguin came out slightly different which was kinda nice and unique if you ask me. Or you can blame on Hippo's cutting abilities! At one point I've asked Lisa if she could make one that resembled a hippo! Intelligently, she ignored my request! And now the whole gang just burst out laughing at our ingenious idea but really they loved it. I, who is the tiniest and skinniest of all, from all people ended up with a chubby one (my penguin needs to go on a diet!). Next came the name of the DTS mascot. Ryan thought we should use Borg designations: 3 of 12 of DTS of NAS. Yeah, just think of Cath barking: 5 of 12, get over here! Heather said we should use icelandic names like Bjorn and I said Knut sounded more techie. But we should come up with something linux+apple+nas, and since Tux is the Linux penguin, so maybe it should be Tax? Nax? Linax? So we held up our penguins and took a group photograph.
When we departed, there was again another round of hugs (and some wont let go!). I'll sure miss this group like no other.
Come Monday, a new life, new people, new work, new place ... and distant memories ...
"wishing I knew when ...
we'll never have to say goodbye again ..."
This morning I saw a huge gorgeous rainbow on 85 and in the afternoon I found it again right above Moffett Field. I drove past the wind tunnel like I did so many mornings before but today my eyes lingered on it nostalgically. Next time I see it it would not be from inside the Base. It was an emotional day. When I turned in my NASA badge, it suddenly dawn on me this was it. Not until that moment, my leave seemed surreal. When I said goodbye to Cath, she was teary eyes. Heather sang 'tell me it isnt so' all morning and I just couldnt keep back my tears. Strange how after 9 years at Apple, I didnt cry when I left. I've grown to love the NAS bunch so much. And this was just a part-time job. I simply cant imagine my daily routine without Don's insults, without Lisa's goofiness, without Ryan's quick responses, without Heather's continuous saga of life mishaps, without Veronica's gentle voice. Stranger still how I didnt even want this internship a little over a year ago and it had turned out to be the best job I've ever had. I still remember how happy I felt when I drove home on the first Friday after starting the internship. I've completed my first job in PHP and felt so good about myself. A satisfaction I havent felt in a long long time. Ryan said today I've inspired him to fly web 2, yelling and screaming. He said without me Web DTS would still be in the dark ages. I told him it was because he gave me free reins and so I was able to explore and experiment and learn and grow. He really is an awesome guy. It really was an honor and a good fortune to be able to be part of this intelligent and fun group. I told Cath today every one of her staff is a jewel. If the rest of all my working life is bad, I'd be happy and content with having this one experience.
DTS ROCKS !!!!!
2005 was probably one of the best years in my life as I worked, learned much, and played even harder than ever, at NAS, taken Multimedia and design classes, and Flash'd all the way through the year, making new friends and getting into trouble. And 2005 brought Japan and Sicilia to my reality and Tomaso's family reunion in Sorrento, oh, Italia again! So much memories ...
And now, the closing of one chapter, and the beginning of another ...
Alex said love was like a drug addiction. And the kid was so right!
When Love is here, when you can communicate with it, hear it talking, Love is total ecstasy. When Love is gone and you can no longer talk to it, communicate with it, then Love is absolue agony. Gosh how I miss him, his voice, his words!
I dont want to leave NAS. I knew all along that some day I had to but when that day finally arrives, I'm shattered. Specially knowing where I'm going aint so cool! Why does life never offer something good forever or even would last a long long time? Why is fun so short? I'm not looking forward to the new job. But in life, you gotta do what you gotta do and it aint always what you want. In my case, it's never what I want. I'll try my darnest to make it fun, but I expect it would be difficult.
So soon it would be the end of a good chapter and the beginning of another ... I just want to hug something/someone warm and big and cry ...
Ah what can the Hippo say! New Year but so far it did not bring any good news. Still at NAS doing the same old same old. No prospect of a new job yet! However, the year of the dog brought not one but 2 delightful surprises. I've waited patiently and gave up as usual. And then bang! And I didnt even realized it was the Chinese New Year! Thank you Dog! And I'm happy! I think I'm gonna have a new friend but I'm not totally sure. He's rather strange and that's why I like him. New Taproot gig had started and just today I've installed the easyPHPCalendar and had some fun. Hope to do and learn more. Also finally got the online portfolio done and the Flash version almost done. On he school front, Web Design class is promising. I'm already learning about sketching and colors. Looked through so many websites I'm blind! Hopefully this is the year of RSS, Ajax, Ruby on Rails, and much more. Hopefully that job at Stanford would come through but I highly doubt it. Havent heard from them yet. It's really more of a sys admin than web development, but at this point I'd love to work there. Strange life is! 7 years ago I had the perfect opportunity and I turned it down. What would had been if I've accepted it? Would it mean no Vicinity, no clients, no layoff, no unemployment and therefore no Flash and no NASA and no Google and no There? But I made the choice. I'm not regretting it. As hard as it was/is. Karma!