Zapped eyes (LASIK)

As a birthday present to myself, I got LASIK. My eyeglasses prescription had stabilized quite awhile back. The changes had been minor and often just to justify new glasses for insurance purposes. After talking to some friends at work who had done it, I decided to go ahead and take the plunge. I ended up getting it done at Sharpe Vision in Bellevue. I’ve had quite a few folks ask for details about how it went and what was involved, while other friends (and notably, DH) are particularly squigged by any discussion of something happening to an eye. I’m writing this blog post to describe the procedure in detail for those who want to know.

When I went in for the consult, they spent a ton of time trying to measure my cornea thickness. My eyes were not cooperating with the machine-based measurement, and it took several tries for that to work out. They also numbed my eyes right then and used a manual device to measure the thickness and also to check on my tear production and eye dryness. My eyes had some dryness, not uncommon for computer users. My thickness was pretty normal, though, so normal LASIK was an option for me. (versus PRK which is used for certain circumstances, or some people opt for it based on what they want) The doctor explained what the procedure would be like, showed me what range of results I could expect (target, a little worse, a little better), what the “halos” would look like, etc. I felt very informed by the time I left the consult.

The doctor had recommended I use eye drops a few times a day in the week preceding the appointment as well as several times a day following, so I stocked up on eye drops from Amazon before going in. There’s also a set of prescription eye drops that you get for preventing infection and helping your eyes heal, which Sharpe Vision offers as a combo drop. The combo drop gets used 4 times a day for a week following the exam.

On the evening before the surgery, I was getting nervous. DH reassured me by saying that in the worst case scenario, at least I’d get a puppy. I ended up taking Duffy with me to the surgery so I’d have something to hold onto during. (You can bring a small stuffed animal into the room with you.)

DH drove me over to the office. Seattle was scheduled to get a typhoon during the weekend. It had been raining for 2 days straight, and that morning, the wind had kicked up so Lake Washington was in a tizzy as we crossed. (We were really glad for the new bridge!) We went into the office and hung out in the waiting room. I got a nametag that identified me and noted that I was having LASIK in both eyes (L.O.U.). I arranged my “post-op” supplies: combo drop prescription, other drops, and sunglasses. While we were waiting, we saw one person finish up and leave. Then, they opened the blinds for the procedure room, and I was able to watch someone else going through the procedure. (DH opted to head down the hall and look at other things instead.) I also had some chamomile tea and honey to calm my nerves while I waited. Then, they took me back to the pre-exam room. They went over the post-op care I needed to do and did some quick exams. I signed a few forms for consent to care, and I opted to have the blinds closed during my procedure (mainly to spare DH).

Sharpe Vision also gives you some valium by default (you can opt out) to help relax you before the procedure, so they gave me my dose, and I sat in the exam room hugging Duffy and relaxing with my tea. Dr. Sharpe (the surgeon) came in and talked me through what to expect (which I’ll describe as it happened in this narrative, but just know that I knew what was coming at every point). He also did a quick eye exam on me (the good ol’ “this one or this one? 1 or 2?”) to make sure that the target prescription we were using was correct and accurate. After that was done, they gave me a bunch of numbing drops. The first numbing drops stung (she warned me), but then they kicked in and it didn’t sting. There were two more sets of drops that went in, also for numbing and moisture.

A few minutes later, I went into the surgery room. They had closed the blinds before I went in, so I didn’t get to see or wave to DH (the only thing I regret about deciding to close the blinds). And I laid down on the table, which was very comfy and padded.

What follows are the specific details of the surgery, so only expand if knowing those details won’t bother you.

[spoiler=”LASIK details inside”]

Once I was laying on the table, the first thing was that the doc put more drops in my eyes and covered one eye to work on the other one. This first part was the most painful part, and it was over in less than a minute, probably less than 30 seconds. Basically, they put a big ring tube thing on your face and it both presses on your face around your eye and creates suction to hold your eye in place. This is for the part where the laser (my LASIK was all laser, so no blades were used) cuts the flap in your cornea (which is why they need to measure your corneal thickness in the pre-exam). As the doc had warned me, it was a bit painful and then things kind of went black. (Or, in my case, a dark field of brightly colored tiny stars…really quite beautiful). The doc had warned me about this in particular, because he said it’s the scariest part, that it might feel like I’ve lost my sight, but it’s just temporary. Then, the suction machine was removed, and I could see from that eye again, albeit blurrily. The doctor added a bunch more drops and then the suction machine was placed on the other eye and that eye was covered up. The process was repeated. I did have a little more trouble on that side, mainly because my eye was kind of fighting the suction and trying to look away, so the doctor had to tell me to relax and try to just let myself look at nothing. That finished up just like the other one, with more drops, and then the next step was the shaping.

So for the shaping, there’s a few things. The flap is pushed back, and then the laser starts shaping your cornea based on what your prescription requires. Dr. Sharpe described this as hearing something that sounds like a bug zapper over and over again and possibly smelling something like light smoke. For me, I’d had a laser filling done before (at Lakeside Dental in IL), and the smell was pretty much the same. I mean, it’s a laser, and it’s using heat to remove something, so there’s a little smell. It’s not bad…just like when you just blew out a match or something, or if you’ve ever used a match to burn up a ball of hair from your hairbrush, it’s like that. While it’s happening, there’s a light you look at, and sometimes the light moves. When the light moves, you move your eye to follow the light. The laser is checking on your eye’s position something like 4000 times a minute to make sure that it’s getting the right spot. Technology! Woo! And then once the laser finishes (really fast), the doc adds a ton more eye drops, flips the flap back down, and then you do the next eye…same thing all over again.

And the doc and the optical assistant are right there throughout, and they kind of keep contact with you and talk to you, so it’s very comforting. Honestly, getting a filling is way more unpleasant (okay, maybe not a laser filling, but the normal kind). Even just a normal dental cleaning is way more unpleasant. You don’t feel any pain at any point, *except* that suction part that I mentioned…and then it’s kind of like someone is very slowly pushing your skull back, so it’s a lot of pressure. But, even that is over so fast that it’s not bad.

After the second eye is done, they helped me get up and off the table. I could already see better than I typically could without my glasses (better than I saw things when I walked into the room). They guided me over to the typical optometrist looks as your eyes machine, and the doctor checked to make sure things looked good in terms of the flap being placed correctly.

[/spoiler]

The whole thing takes about 15 minutes, maybe a little less. I was back out in the lobby and ready to go, and DH was startled by how quickly I was done. And, aside from everything seeming overly bright, I was already seeing pretty well at that point. The light sensitivity feels to me a bit like when you get your pupils dilated and everything just feels overly bright and a little out of focus, but you can still see.

heading home after LASIK
heading home after LASIK

I put on my rockstar sunglasses, and we headed home, by way of the Chick-Fil-A for my reward lunch. (Nuggets!)

The worst part of recovery that day was that I wasn’t supposed to look at screens (no phone, no TV, no tablet) and I wasn’t supposed to read. That left very little to entertain me. The doctor had given me one cold compress patch and I had prepared another, and they had told me that the cold compress as soon as you get home does wonders for making things feel better.

cold compresses
cold compresses

So, I covered up my eyes with cold compresses and a sleepy mask and curled up in bed. DH hung out with me. We listened to Michelle Obama’s amazing speech (that I’d saved for this time period), and then I had saved up a bunch of podcasts to listen to, so we set up one of those while I rested. Eventually, I drifted off to sleep, and DH went upstairs. A couple of hours later, I woke up feeling bleary-eyed. My eyes also felt swollen and sore. The doctor’s office had given me drops called “comfort drops” (basically numbing drops) to put in, so I added some of those (with DH’s help, because I kept missing), and a few seconds later, the soreness went away.

[spoiler=”More details about what my eyes felt like inside”]

Aside from the swelling and soreness (which is normal…in fact, some people can’t even open their eyes because of the swelling), the feeling that you have is best described as feeling like you have a giant eyelash stuck in your eye. That’s basically the cut and where it’s healing. And, it’s worse if your eyes get dry, so you end up wanting to put drops in your eyes all the time (which is good for them). The cut is also why you get halos and some light sensitivity for awhile afterward. That eyelash feeling is still bugging me but less and less every day and mostly just if my eyes get dry.

[/spoiler]

rocking my sunglasses the evening after LASIK
rocking my sunglasses the evening after LASIK

I got up, put my sunglasses on, and wandered upstairs. I put my compresses in the freezer to get cool and grabbed an ice pack to wrap in a washcloth and lay on my eyes. I relaxed on the couch for a bit, and then I went back downstairs and set up my phone with a headset so I could voice call people and chat on the phone for awhile. And by around 8pm, I was actually feeling fine. The optical assistant who had prepped me had said that was normal, that around 7-8 hours after surgery, you’ll suddenly feel fine, like magic, and that’s exactly what happened. It was like my eyes just waited for a timer to go off before deciding they were fine.

We invited some friends over for board games, since that was something I could do. The next day, I went to a checkup in the morning. They tested my vision, and I was 20/20 in one eye and almost 20/20 in the other eye, and they said I was at 95% of target. I was cleared to drive, and I’ll have another follow-up in 30 days to see how things have settled and if I need any adjustments. We decided to go play Bridge in the afternoon. I wore sunglasses a lot for most of the weekend, and I’m still putting them on around the office or elsewhere if things are bright or I just want some extra protection. Dust and other things are still a particular hazard for the first week, so I’m not using any moisturizers or soaps around my eyes right now.

morning after LASIK, first glasses-free selfie
morning after LASIK, first glasses-free selfie

And, of course, I’m putting drops in all the time. That’s pretty much it. I can see most things pretty well. Things that are backlit (computer screens, phone, etc.) are a bit tougher and fuzzier, but that’s getting better already and will probably clear up entirely in a week or so. From my office window, I can see tiny houses across the sound, and I can see the antennas on top of Queen Anne clearly.

To help me remember to take breaks and use my drops at work, I installed this app on my work laptop called Eyeleo, which has a cute lion tell me to take a break and do an eye exercise or look away from my monitor for awhile. It also forces me to periodically take a long break to stretch and look at other things. That wasn’t recommended by the doc or anything…I just wanted an app to help me remember to take breaks.

work selfie
work selfie

I’ll update this post again at the 30 day exam with any details or news, but generally, at this point, I’m mainly wishing I’d done this sooner. I never had a pressing need to get LASIK. I don’t do sports or anything that makes glasses annoying. But there’s just a thousand tiny conveniences that you have when you’re not wearing glasses. At the same time, I feel a bit unprotected without something on my face right now (sunglasses help), and I still find myself panicking because I can’t find my glasses.

My location history is NOT off, Maps.

tl;dr – the fix for this problem is to go to your Google Apps admin console (admin.google.com), sign in if needed. Then, at the bottom of your dashboard, click More Controls > Apps > Additional Google Services. Then, remove the “featured” filter by clicking the X on the grey filter bar. Scroll down to Web History (yes, even though it’s prompting you about location history, it’s actually web history that’s to blame.) and turn that on for your domain.

I recently (in the past week) started having an issue with my Android phone wherein GMaps was convinced that my location history was off. It prompted me to turn it on and would not do any navigation until I turned it on, despite being able to find both me and the spots I was looking for without it. I could not figure out what was causing this issue, but Bing Maps navigation managed to work without it, so I just switched to that at the time.

If you clicked the message that said location history was off, it tried to open a webview that would fail to load. Since I couldn’t get that to load, I puttered over to my Android phone’s settings to look at location history settings. Sure enough, I found them and my phone said they were on both for Maps and generally. So, wtf.

The culprit, I figured, could have been a Google Maps update or a recent Android update on my Moto X to 4.4.4. Yet, searching for location history issues associated with all of those things came up fruitless. I did eventually find some old issues (2013 or earlier) that others using Google Apps For Your Domain (GAFYD) aka Google Apps for Business aka Google Apps for Work were encountering. I’m a GAFYD user, grandfathered in for free from long ago. So, easy peasy, I should be able to switch to my non-GAFYD account in Maps and resolve, right? No dice. Because my primary Android login is my GAFYD account, it wouldn’t let me switch permanently, so I didn’t consider that a real fix.

Yesterday, I finally got the link to load. Turns out it was taking you to Google’s History settings webpage, which I only peripherally knew existed. That page showed a web history setting to share my Chrome web history to improve my device. Sure, go for it. (I don’t use Chrome on desktop or mobile. Firefox all the way, baby!) On that page, it wouldn’t let me change it because “Based on your organization’s current settings, this feature is disabled. If your administrator changes this in the future, your choice here will be honored.” ::sigh:: But at least this gave me a specific error to search. Searching for that error was fruitless, though. Since the page talked about web history, though, it gave me the idea to search for that along with GAFYD and all its names through history, which eventually led me to this page and a solution. The instructions on that page are actually out of date, though, so scroll back up to the tl;dr at the top of this page for updated instructions on how to resolve this pesky and poorly explained error in Google Maps for Android.

Then, once you’re done, contemplate why Google has decided to block you from using navigation (which doesn’t need your web history) until you turn on web history. From reading some other things, I suspect that it’s because Google is trying to use your web history to make its location searches more accurate and enable voice searching features, which is a good thing to do. However, cutting off access to an unrelated service to force customers into allowing that setting is a major dick move. My guess is that the business case for the searching features (which is probably based on selling advertising targeted by location) demanded that they get high compliance, and so they held navigation hostage in order to do so.

Greener pastures

For the past two weeks, I’ve been having nightmares about survival planning during a zombie attack. In the nightmare, I’m in a large building, and I have to figure out where is the best place to wait for the zombie attack to come. The feeling is that we have to survive until morning, that rescue will come then, so I need to decide where I can fortify best. It’s like a Left 4 Dead level, except that I have no weapons and a lot of innocent people to try to protect. Lots of people want to stay at the front desk, but I know those large glass-paned windows won’t hold up. I head for the second floor of the three floor building, to a nearly window-less room. I barricade me and anyone coming with me inside. We have food and water. We hear the attack starting below, the commotion. The building is rattled by explosions. And I wait…I wait for them to make it inside, because deep down I know that rescue isn’t coming.

It doesn’t take a psych major to figure out where this is coming from. I’ve had a gut feeling for a few weeks that my job was being eliminated as part of the fallout from the acquisition. Waiting for news, holding on decisions about travel and other plans, has been excruciating. Today, I got the official news that I’m no longer needed there. Honestly, I’m glad to not be waiting anymore, and between severance, savings, and a wide network of possibilities, I’m not worried about the future.

I’ve worked at the same company for the past 13 years (lucky number!). I’ve held lots of different jobs, some for longer than others. I know enough about my industry to be able to easily step into another position elsewhere with a similar company. I’ve spent much of the past few years cursing my CEO’s poor strategy and execution (he was gone as of early summer). When the acquisition happened, I was hopeful. I liked what they were saying. However, I have to say that in the past few months, my hope dwindled. I saw similar poor decisions. Moreso, I saw decisions that I felt were based on favoritism more than careful thought. I also noticed that I was being left out of meetings, no longer in long term planning sessions (my cited strength, really), and that people who normally ask for me to join meetings weren’t. That was my first sign that my days at the company were numbered. My position wasn’t relevant to the new management; they didn’t see value in it. And, to be honest, given their plan, I agree. Call it being in the wrong place in the wrong time…or call it not being in the right place…doesn’t matter. Even though my performance reviews have always been stellar, I’m at home today reading through an exit packet.

It’s the end of an era for me, but I can’t say I’m entirely sad nor entirely happy. I look forward to what’s next. I know there are better things out there for me, and I’m looking forward to finding them. I may do something entirely different. I may have to move. What I know for sure is that I have lots of time to travel, and I’ll be doing that for awhile unless something really spectacular catches my eye.

Thermostats

A couple of companies are trying to re-invent the thermostat. There’s lots of good reasons to fix it. It’s not connected to your home and life in a way that it feels like it should be. It’s frequently accessed by lots of people, of all ages and technology levels. It has significant influence over your annual home costs and energy usage.

None of these new fancy pants solutions will work for me. I really wish they would, but they don’t. To me, they screw it up fundamentally.

First, no one needs to understand degrees. I shouldn’t need to know or appreciate the difference between 70 degrees and 71 degrees. Chances are, I can’t tell the difference. When I approach my thermostat, I’m not looking to know a fine level of temperature detail. I go to the thermostat because I want it to be warmer or colder, period. So, first, the main thing it needs to have is a quick way to adjust warmer or cooler.

Second, ideally, I shouldn’t need to tell it whether I want heat or AC or even just fan functions. It should be able to, using my home’s internet connection, figure out where it is and get the local weather. That should be enough to tell it whether it should be on heat or AC, or perhaps whether it should suggest to me that I leave a window open and turn the fan on.

Third, there does need to be programming and automation but these thermostats are all doing it wrong. It doesn’t need to be based on time; it needs to be based on who is home. Ideally, you create a means of knowing who is home (an NFC check-in at the doorways would work, but there’s other ways) and automatically respond to it. Less ideally, you give me a quick way to tell the thermostat whether I’m “home” or “away”. Some people will be able to set home vs. away on a schedule, and that can be an option, but several times a year at least (and almost all the time for us), that schedule will be *wrong*, so no matter what, you need to give a quick way to set home or away. And even more so, if you provide a remote access app for smartphones or PCs, I need to be able to tell it that I’ll be home at X time and to prep the house accordingly. That is the most frequent thing I will do, so it should be up front and easy. Really, once you figure out “home” and “away”, everything else is advanced settings for scheduling and automation. I can envision conditions like “If living room lights are on, I am home” or “If fridge is opened, I am home” that would help automate the system. With smartphones thrown into the mix, you could add checks like “if I’m in my car and in motion on a weekday, I’m on my way home” or “if I have a calendar notice where location is not home, I’m not home”. The point being that the thermostats out there today screw it up by assuming that people follow a standard pattern in a week, when people don’t really work that way. They follow a schedule that they’ve set on some calendar somewhere which may or may not cycle weekly, monthly, or at all. So…back to my point, your first step is home or away. Second step is a way to figure out which of those is true, which could be any one of a number of ways.

Finally, there should be a simple setup system at the beginning of use (which can be re-done later somehow if needed) that asks or figures out:

  • Do you tend to prefer warmer rooms or colder rooms?
  • Would you rather be very energy efficient or very comfortable?
  • Do you have a family member (such as a pet) that is in the house most or all of the time, even when you’re away? (and potentially some drill-down based on this answer)

The first item helps it figure out a baseline to start with (that later learns and is tweaked by tapping warmer or cooler). The second item determines how responsive it should be to requests. The last item tells it how inhospitable it can make your environment when you’re away. Someone with pets, particularly amphibians, reptiles, or fish, needs the house to be kept at a certain temperature no matter what. The same is true of someone with a bedridden or house-confined family member.

You can get super-fancy with this, with smartphone integration, sensors, per-user settings, etc., or you can get super-simple with just a warmer/cooler button. Either way, giving more individually programmable days and bigger fancier screens just complicates things. And automatically trying to guess a schedule doesn’t help either. They need to step back and think about what the user does with a thermostat rather than looking at what thermostats do right now.

I want a pony!

If there is one thing I’m sick of at work, it’s the “I want a pony!” syndrome. Kids want ponies, because they don’t understand that having a pony requires lots of money and lots of time and effort. All the kid thinks about is how awesome the pony will be once they have it. Yet, for some reason, senior leaders seem to fall into this trap. It gets worse when they decide they want a pony that flies. Then, when you explain to them that ponies don’t fly, they say to give them a regular pony. And when you then explain that regular ponies cost money and time, they look at you blankly and re-state the desire for a pony.

My favorite part is when the person goes to the classic argument used by children the world over: “But, [insert a friend’s name here] is getting a pony!” Nevermind that there is no confirmation that a friend is getting a pony, nor that the pony will be the same…and even if so, that means the friend is investing the aforementioned time and money, somehow. The friend isn’t magically getting a no-maintenance pony that flies.

Ponies sometimes happen around here. Sometimes, the ponies even fly. But, ponies never happen without time and money.

Company Bucket List

I have a list in my head of the top five companies I’d like to work for, someday. This doesn’t necessarily mean I’m unhappy with where I am now; this is just like a bucket list of companies. I figured I’d post it for fun. Without further ado, here it is, in no particular order:

  • Google
  • Amazon
  • Disney
  • Zappos (which is part of Amazon now, but still operating independently)
  • Microsoft

What will be fun is to look back at this in five years to see if it’s the same. 🙂

Still not hungry

In the past 36 hours, I have eaten:
* 3 marshmallow peeps (chocolate reindeer)
* 1 southern chicken sandwich from McDonald’s
* 4 holiday cookies

And that’s it. Work has been so hectic that I’ve barely had time to pee, much less eat…and then I had to run to class last night (hence managing to grab a sandwich from McD’s, which did make me a little late to class), which meant that by the time I got home, it was really too late to eat. This morning, I skipped breakfast because of a presentation that needed polishing ASAP…and spent the whole damn day working on that same presentation at the expense of everything else that needed to get done.

Oh, by the way, I still have work to do. I’m just taking a break while some things I need are being assembled. 🙂 And I’ve ordered a pizza.

In other news, for those who don’t watch the twitter feed, my dear husband did it again. I guess we’re going to the Dominican Republic in Feb. Here’s where we’re staying: http://foxyurl.com/N3J

Taipei Trip

So, I’ll be leaving town this Friday evening to go to Taipei again. 🙂 I’m looking forward to it. On the plus side, the timing is good in that I’m not in school yet (still on summer break that week). Also, the food is just so darn good over there. I could easily live off of that food, and, by and large, it’s better for me, too. On the minus side, I’m missing spending a week with my adorable nephew (AN1)…and I’m really heartbroken about that, more than I expected to be, but DH and I are thinking that I will go with them to deliver AN1 back home, thus giving me at least the fun of a long road trip with him. Also, if I can manage to not be too jet lagged, we can have some fun the day before he leaves.

That having been said, I already know that I will have 1-2 days of tourist time in Taipei. My flight arrives at 5am Taipei time on Sunday, and I need to make sure I stay awake that day to combat jet lag. So, for that day, I will definitely be doing some tourist things. I’m thinking about making a reservation for the hot springs in Beitou. I could almost go straight there from the airport and save my company some TWDs in the process (as even the most luxurious room in Beitou is 1000TWD less than my hotel in Taipei). But, I don’t know. I’ve heard mixed reviews of the hot springs, and, particularly during the summer, the hot water might not be as appealing. So, unless I just get a burr up my butt to take the MRT out there, I’ll probably stay near the hotel. The Hyatt hotel in Taipei is awesome, and I can spend that day doing nearby activities, like shopping and museums, or enjoying the hotel amenities (indoor pool, really nice gym overlooking the city).

I also don’t have any meetings scheduled on Monday, so that will probably end up being a light work day, leaving me time in the evening for activities or shopping.

Speaking of shopping, were there any souvenirs that anyone reading this blog wanted from Taipei that they didn’t get last time? Also, is there anyone who wants to be on my postcard list for this trip that isn’t normally on my list? 🙂

Potential Silence

I just wanted to generally give a heads’ up that we may go into a period of silence (or very rare posting) on the blog over the next few months. Twitter will probably get updated more often, just because I can update it from more places…and the micro-blogging lends itself to quick moments of news. Also, for anyone who also follows me under my RL name on Facebook, I am barely on there anymore. You’re better off here. 🙂 There’s too many people on Facebook that I can’t share things with…namely folks from work.

Anyways, I’m working on a work project with huge visibility (I presented directly to our CEO today), and it is a ton of work. I’m also back to doing more sporadic daytrip-style travel. The project I’m on is cool, and I enjoy working on it, but it keeps me busy. I’m working beyond 50 hour weeks these days.

On top of that, the class that I’m in for school this term is very demanding. We have a large amount of reading every week, plus a paper and presentation due every week. Point being, I’m going to be swamped for the next 10 weeks (school term) at least. It’s very likely that I’ll be swamped until fall with work, too. So, if you are not seeing frequent updates here, I’m just bogged down. Check Twitter for the latest in mini-posting, and I’ll post longer things here as I’m able.

In other news, I got an A in my last class. The perfect 4.0 GPA continues! 🙂 And, our sign arrived for the Pooh room…click for the picture!

Wow, I’m old…and unaccomplished :(

I just picked out my service award gift for 10 years of being with my company. I decided on a dress watch (runners up were necklaces…there were several non-jewelry items on the list, too, but nothing I really wanted).

Still…I’m old. And I feel like only doubling my salary in ten years of work is not so great of an accomplishment. My life plan had me much farther along by now, and in all fairness, my progression has gotten screwed by 3 different things that were all out of my control (one manager leaving during a promotion cycle, the new manager being one I don’t mesh with and couldn’t get to budge, and then a re-org before I could really get going at my next job), which has left me in the same grade level for 4 years. Things as they are, though, I suppose I should be happy I haven’t managed to zero out my salary.

Time Travel

As many of you have noticed, the blog has gone back in time to catch up on posts from our (very awesome, wanna go back NOW) Disney trip. As such, I skipped over quite a few events that would normally warrant a blog post. I don’t want to spend another month re-capping, so below is a one paragraph, catch-all summary of the things that were, January 2009. As is fitting for anything dealing with time travel, I shall start with Lost

Lost is back on! Desmond’s baby named Charlie, the others speak Latin, woohoo! B* made me a cake with a Dharma logo. It was delicious…disappeared very quickly, did Ben turn the wheel, shift cake through time? Obama officially president, yay! Didn’t care about inauguration until the day it was on, then was sad I couldn’t watch live and had to work instead. Re-org’d at work into new group but otherwise similar. Got one estimate for the pipe burst repairs from the guy(s) who did our basement, liked their work, but the painting estimate alone was higher than was to paint whole basement. Something smells funny in Denmark, yo. Business name is of the form, [name] the [job]er…which led to Joe-the-plumber, bob-the-builder joking between DH and I. DH has been working odd hours at his second job. Very stressful. Ran Survivor at Mensa AGOG. Had to scramble to get to the minimum ten to play, but once we got there, it was AWESOME. Everyone had bonzer good time. Yay. Knee has been hurting alot lately. Also, period has been irregular. (Not related.) WTF is up with me? Wish knee would stop hurting. But yet, I will be going skiing on Saturday, yay! And knee can just suck on that, thank you very much. Pancake continues to be adorable kitteh. Races me up the stairs. I almost won last night, but only because he let me have a 5 step head start. Thought L4D was an evil time suck, but then Mr. Moo introduced me to Braid, which now is on my bedroom xbox (not mytsukata gamertag). Damn you, Mr. Moo! Got special L4D achievement last night for blowing the witch’s head off, Cr0wnd! Sweet. So cold outside. But weather Saturday promises to be ski-awesome. Found giant and strange fruit at the store, called Pomelo, is huge and we could kill a small child with it, but we won’t. Instead, will eat. Also got some honey tangerines. Enjoying finding and trying out new fruits. Finished second term of class, am 12.5% done with MBA. Group project ended much better than it started. Next term, taking two classes: Effective Leadership *coughbullshitcough* and Negotiations & Conflict Management (win win win). Hoping negotiations will make me awesome at negotiation such that I can help Mensa with hotel negotiation stuff. Will speak quietly so they have to lean in, then will change meeting location suddenly without notice…then will threaten to kill their daughter. 🙂 Oh and how did Frogurt’s shirt fit Sawyer? Nonsense.

First Lostie to catch the embedded (very subtle) clue in the style of Lost gets something nifty, though I’m not sure what. Adoration? That’s nifty, right?

Pet Peeve: The “Did you see the e-mail?” e-mail

I see no point to the “Did you see my/her/his e-mail?” e-mail, nor its close cousin, the “Please respond to my/his/her e-mail,” e-mail. It is particularly vexing when received less than 24 hours after the original mail, and it’s downright annoying when received less than 8 hours after the original mail.

If I *did* see the e-mail, presumably, I’m working on responding to it. Perhaps I’m trying to gather information. Perhaps I’m waiting to confirm a piece of data. Perhaps I just want to let my thoughts settle to make sure that you get a good response. Either way, the e-mail is in progress. Sending another e-mail just means that either I have to ignore the second e-mail or spend time replying to it that could have been spent on the original task.

If I didn’t see the e-mail, there’s no guarantee that I’ll see this one. Thus, you’re better off just picking up the phone and giving me a call. This saves us both an e-mail.

The only reason I can see for this kind of e-mail is if the deadline for a needed response has been missed or has changed, or if the original e-mail wasn’t clear about who should respond (i.e., was sent to a large list, and the lead is now directing who should respond). (In the former case, I think a phone call may be warranted, just in case the original e-mail was missed or not received.)

Productive!

Stuff done today:

  • Lots of work, including making peace with a guy who’d been bugging me…worked straight through lunch even and ended up eating “lunch” at 4pm
  • DMV: Renewed driver’s license, renewed plates, finally changed name on title of car (2+ years post-marriage) and filed the release of lien paperwork from (blush) 3+ years ago
  • Got halfway through Dewey while at the DMV (BTW, Amazon owes me commission. I’ve turned into quite the Kindle promoter while out and about!)
  • Had dinner with B* at Panera and laughed often and heartily. Bought 30 cookies for tomorrow at work, as per the usual tradition. (Eat a cookie and make me younger!)
  • Updated the ThirtyCon page with addresses and detailed info. Also created an AWESOME google map of ThirtyCon events with amusing (to me) icons for each item. 🙂
  • While eating with B*, got briefly interrupted by a HOT law-knowing guy who chatted with me for a bit. Wish I wasn’t such a dork and could have flirted properly.
  • Cajoled B* into going to Target with me (in the pouring rain). Got thoroughly wet trying to run into Target while wearing clogs. More laughing. Oh, and the purpose of going to Target was, in part, to buy some towels. Hee.
  • Came home, unpacked car, and proceeded to the Kitten room. The Kitten room, for those who haven’t had the tour, is our smallest guest bedroom, so named because the previous owners’ daughter had that room and had it painted purple and adorned with a kitten border. The Kitten room also serves as my backup closet. I keep all my dresses in there (my closet in the bedroom doesn’t have anywhere to hang dresses), as well as seasonal gear (e.g., ski clothes) and out-of-season clothes.
  • Cleaned the hell out of that room! Yeah! Bee-yotch! You just got served! Packed up stuff in boxes, hung up dresses, labelled crates, sorted through and organized the stuffed animals, moved the bed/cot combo to where it made sense, and started laundry for the sheets and linens. Also created 2 bags of donations and 2 giant boxes of trash.
  • Danced to my iPod! Shakira’s Hips Don’t Lie started it.

Woohoo!

Going back to work blues

I’m really not looking forward to going back to work “normally.” I’ve been working from home this past week, and my home office in our basement is *way* better than my work office. Because my old (from 1999) 19″ CRT died, I now have a spiffy 22″ widescreen LCD for my home office. I do like my work keyboard and mouse better than my (older) ones at home, but otherwise, home is better. I have a speakerphone on my desk, absolute privacy, and a quick walk to/from the bathroom and fridge. I don’t have to pay a ridiculous amount for soda, and I also have lots of other options (e.g., water, tea, grape juice). I have a warm and playful Pancake to keep me company, who lays next to me and purrs. I don’t have to commute or worry about traffic or gas or bringing lunch…it’s all right here.

Most of all, when I need a break or lunch, I just head upstairs, click on the Tivo or start up a show on my personal computer, and relax. I wear whatever I want, which, for this week, is loose PJ pants or dresses. I sleep in a bit, shower when I have a break (or take a bath so I can multitask), and I eat when I’m ready rather than when the parking lot madness allows.

I do like getting to see and interact with people at the office, but it’s so cozy here! Honestly, I’d use this week as a jumping point to ask my boss about becoming a remote worker part-time, but he fought so hard to get me my cube (and it’s a nice cube, much better than my old one) that I’d feel shabby giving it up so soon.

Typhoons & other fun things

Even though it’s still pretty hot and humid here, my walk to work this morning was made better thanks to wind gusts. It reminded me of Chicago, honestly. I have those cool wind gusts thanks to typhoon Fung-Wong (Phoenix), which is sitting over the southern part of Taiwan. It’s making the southern part of the island rainy, but it’s keeping Taipei cool and windy. 🙂

It is so beautiful here. It reminds me of Hawaii in some ways. The mountains are rounded and rolling, covered in green. The sky is bright blue with wispy clouds. I’ll start a Taipei album over in the gallery tonight, I hope. Last night, we went out after dinner and stayed out pretty late, so I was zonked by the time I got back to the room. We had gone to Dozo for dinner. (The garlic beef mentioned in that review is quite delicious!) That was only after the Hyatt, though.

Hmm…this is a story worth telling, I think. So, I’m here with a colleague from work, who shall be known as BH in this post. Because he comes here very often, he’s on the list at the Hyatt for access to their VIP lounge on an upper floor. I and “E”, another gal from our company (different group but also here this week and also staying at the Hyatt), have been meeting him up there, having a drink or two, and then going to dinner. The VIP lounge has a liquor cabinet, a fridge full of sodas, some games, and usually some light snacks. I’ve been taking advantage of their endless supply of Coke Zero. 🙂 Anyways, the first night, we all went in together and there was no problem, but last night, when we did the exact same procedure, the staff of the lounge insisted on charging BH for the two of us. He waved it off, no biggie…until they brought the check for around NT$1500 for each of us. (That’s around $45 per person.) Now, our company is covering all of this, but that doesn’t stop us from being righteously indignant over the cost. So, we figure we need to get our money’s worth, right? 🙂 Well, the money’s worth ended up being around 4 sodas for me, intermixed with 2 highball glasses filled with Absolut vodka (oh okay…a few cubes of ice in there), garnished with a lime. E got her money’s worth from a fairly large number of Heinekens. Then, we went to dinner with a larger group of folks from our company that had formed.

Dozo is known for beer bongs. They are around four feet tall, as wide as a 2-liter coke bottle, and they bring them to the table with a little tap at the bottom. Not being a beer person, I didn’t indulge, but the rest of the table did. I had a drink called a Ninja instead…sake, midori, and lime juice…mine was made bottomless by BH, so I was never lacking. So, by the end of our stay at Dozo (around 11:30pm?) the table had 2 beer bongs, and I had my fair share of Ninjas. Then, we went to a place near the hotel called the Tavern, which was a little pub with a pool table in the back. I didn’t shut the place down as my colleagues did. I had a couple of shots (lemon drop and a thing called a scooby snack…banana liqueur, rum, chocolate, whipped cream…some other stuff, maybe…it was a “double” shot), and I ended up leaving around 2am, having decided that I needed to get some amount of sleep. I walked back to the hotel alone (it wasn’t far, and the hotel is easy to spot thanks to the Taipei 101 next door), which suited me as I was having people overload. I took a quick shower (twice daily showers are a must here), read for awhile before bed (I have a book series I’m addicted to on the kindle…more on that later), having finally figured out how to work the reading lights above the bed (there’s a control box on the alarm clock), and went to sleep around 3am.

I slept in a bit today (until 8:30), read some more, and then dragged myself out of bed to get ready and be at the office by 10am. I walked to the office on my own (BH had beaten me there…I’d been warned that he runs on zero sleep when he’s here), which was nice because I didn’t feel bad about stopping to take photos. My walk to the office goes past the Taiwan Discovery Center and Taipei City Hall. Sadly, it doesn’t go past breakfast, so my tummy is rumbling right about now. 🙂

We’re going to the suburbs this afternoon, to visit a vendor. It’ll be my first time riding the MRT, so that should be fun.

What’s Mandarin for procrastination?

I need to pack. I leave for Taipei, Taiwan (by way of a long-ish layover at LAX) at roughly 8amCT on Saturday, meaning I need to leave the house by 6:15am. Tomorrow night, I’m going to Ravinia with friends, so I need to pack tonight.

I’m still debating as to whether to take a taxi to/from the airport or to park. Parking at the airport will be $96, plus mileage to/from generally runs the company around $24 round trip. Taxi cost including tip is around $58 each way. The nice part about the taxi is that if I’m jet lagged and out of it when I get in on the 10th, I don’t have to drive. The bad part is that the wait for a taxi at ORD always sucks. If you make a reservation in advance, you get a good rate, but I’ve yet to have the taxi company be there within fifteen minutes of me calling…which is ridiculous given how many taxis are at the airport. If my car is there, I can be out of the airport within fifteen minutes.

I’m also debating about which suitcase to take. (I know that this stuff is trivial. But typing it up is at least getting me in a mood to pack.) My usual long trip bag got broken on our Vegas trip, and since the nearest repair shop is 20+ miles away, it’s not repaired yet. It has three wheels instead of the four that it should have, so it’s off balance when it’s sitting down, but you can drag it on the back two wheels almost like you would a normal, non-spinner suitcase. Alternatively, I could take my black rolling duffel, which is a bit less comfortable to drag, but it doesn’t have a balance issue.

In other news, I might have to go out to Seattle toward the end of the week that I get back from Taiwan. Fun!

As part of my procrastination, I’ve been studying my basic Mandarin books and online courses. I’ve memorized how to say hello, goodbye, and how to introduce myself. I’m still working on how to ask if you speak English (and understand the response), how to say something like, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand,” and how to order food/drinks. I want to learn some basic navigation things, too, like:
* Please help me hail a taxi.
* Please point to the nearest train station.
* Please help me find someone who speaks English.

(In case you can’t tell, my choice of phrases is heavily influenced by watching The Amazing Race. 🙂 )

I’m using Mango Languages as my online tutor and formal lesson, and I’m using Speak E-Z Chinese as my more advanced reference guide. Oh, and I’ve learned how to say fuck as both an exclamation and as a verb. 🙂 Hee.

Now, it is true that Taiwan, and Taipei in particular, is one of the most American-friendly Asian countries. English is part of the school curriculum, albeit at the level that Spanish is in American schools. There’s also many, many American companies with offices there, so English is widely spoken by expatriates and their colleagues. But, I consider this a great opportunity to learn something new.

I will say, it fucks with me majorly that Japanese and Chinese are similar but not the same. In Japanese, you take a normal sentence structure and add ka to make it a question. In Mandarin Chinese, it’s the same gist but the question syllable is ma. Also, the connector syllables (that turn a word into an adverb or modifier) are similar but not the same. I guess it’s good in the sense that I’m used to the grammatical structure, but I find myself doing this weird hybrid Japanese-Chinese stuff.

I need to watch Firefly on the trip over, maybe. 🙂 That’ll help with my Chinese cursing, ma? 🙂

Something a bit sad?

If you look back in the archives at this post, I could have posted it last month and it would have been almost totally accurate. Yet, the post was made about 3.5 years ago.

I guess the good news is that I’m finally making progress. I’ll start up at LFGSM this fall, assuming my (science love him) former manager can manage to get a SIGNED recommendation letter over to them. So far, he managed to miss the deadline by a month and then sent a letter not in the template they wanted and unsigned…and that only happened because I was texting him every other day to remind him.