Top Down? Top Down!

When I arrived at track practice tonight, Doyle, Brynne and Warren approached me.
"You just drove here with the top down."


"But you never drive your car with the top down."

"She did last Friday. She had the top down last Friday night."

"She did."



My mother reads my site

So, what happens when you discover your mother is reading your site and catching up on all the gossip that's fit to print?

You cringe, and think, "Uh oh, do I need to go back and edit some posts?"

So, then what happens when your mom takes note of her only daughter freezing her ass off in San Franscisco?

Easy, she buys her a sweater.

I now have, "My momma loves me, this I know, 'cause she bought me this yellow!" running through my head.

Curse those elementary school religious diddies!

Lessons from a light soul

Ah, the lessons taught to me this week, may I remember them next week, too.

Lesson 1:

    "Top up or top down?"

    "You live in California. Top down! I'll always say top down!"

Experience life. Let the wind blow through your hair.

Lesson 2:

    "You know how her car was broken into? Well, nothing of hers was stolen, but we later realized that two of my bags were stolen."

    "What?!? That sucks! What did you lose?"

    "I lost ... but, eh, it's okay. I deal well with loss."

Material possessions can be replaced. If they're lost, accept their loss and move on.

Lesson 3:

    "I think people are the greatest fun."

Alright, here's the big one.

I'm not sure when or where I grew into suspecting people first, trusting them second. Certainly after college (I'd have to guess Amerigon if I were to guess at the source of much of my cynicism and suspicion). I probably had seeds of mistrust born from the awkwardness and self-consciousness of adolescense, but they didn't take root until that first "real world" job.

But having those (even tiny) suspicions meant I immediately put up a barrier between myself and everyone I met. I certainly wasn't open to learning who these people were, what motivated them, what interesting problems they were solving, what joys they found.

When I started dating Kris, he was amazed at how bitter I was at the world. He would teasingly mock me for my bitterness: "Life's not fair. The world is out to get you. Blah, blah, blah. So, can we move on?"

Step one, in learning the world isn't so bad.

Why he stuck with me through that step is beyond me.

Eventually, I figured this place isn't so bad. Ultimate, with its open and welcoming community, helped a lot. The group of friends from ultimate, acquaintances through best friends, fluctuated, but was always full of amazing people.

Step two, in learning the world has some good people in it, if you know where to look.

And then there's this week's final lesson.

It's a lesson I was finally open to receiving. That I could stand a door and say hello to a hundred people I had no idea who they were (but who, for the most part, seemed to know each other) amazes me a bit. Doesn't surprise Kris, though, who seems to think I'm a social butterfly (at least when I try to leave from an ultimate tournament and it takes me 45 minutes to cross 3 fields).

I'm comfortable around people I know. But for the first time, perhaps ever, I was (almost) comfortable around people I didn't know.

I think step three of this week's third lesson will take a little longer to sink in. At least I've started.

The third lesson?

People are the greatest fun.

The great mysteries in life

Pretty much all through my public education experience, I detested gym class, recess, physical activity in general. Imagine the clutziest, most awkward, skinny girl you can imagine (don't forget the glasses and braces!), and you're pretty close to me.


The memories!


Anyway, in junior high, I had, like all my classmates, gym class three times a week. The best time to have gym class was, of course, first period. Having it first period meant I could sleep until 7:40, roll out of bed, pull on my gym clothes, and walk to school which was all of 80 yards from my back door.

After gym class, I would take my shower (and I was the only girl who actually showered after gym class, complete with soap, shampoo and a towel that actually had to dry something), and head to class.

Maximum sleep. Efficient schedule.

One particular day, I had my gym shoes in hand and wandered over to the gym. I went to tie my shoes, they were like the early Nike shoes: dark blue with a white shwoosh, when I noticed something in the laces. Puzzled, I loosened the laces to look better.

Inside the tongue, between the laces was some crap I couldn't identify. It was light in color, maybe tan, soft, relatively odorless. I had absolutely no idea what the stuff was, but I couldn't tie my shoes with it in there, so I asked my teacher if I could go clean my shoes, and left to do so.

Oh, darn, I missed the first part of class while I washed out my shoes.

And I had to wash them out fully. Once I opened the laces, I realized the stuff was all over them, and even down to the toes. What the heck was this stuff? It was all over these shoes.

Puzzled, I went to gym class, wet shoes and all.

Fast forward 12+ years.

My mother, my little brother and I are sitting around talking about who knows what. At some point, we started talking about major illnesses and the like. Which, of course, turns the conversation to nausea and vomitting. Who knows why, that's just what we were talking about.

My little brother then turned to me and said, "Yeah, like that time I threw up into your gym shoes."


Blink. Blink.

"You what?"

"Yeah, your blue Nikes. I tried to clean it up. Not sure how well I did though."

Mom was looking back and forth between the two of us.

"That was vomit?"

"Huh? I thought you knew."

"Oh, gross!"

For over a decade I had absolutely no idea what the heck that stuff was in my shoes. I cleaned it up and went on with life, only to find out many, many years later what the heck it was.

I had run in my brother's vomit.

The Smith Factor

What is it with Smith boys? I'd really like to know. Because as far as I can tell, Smith boys are all blessed with dynamic personalities (and a hint of insanity, which we'll call the Smith Factor).

Andy Smith falls smack dab in the middle of my Smith men data points (which currently consist of Mark, Kyle, and Kevin). I'm not sure if the Smith insanity extends to the Smith women, so Heidi is currently safe. Maybe the Smith Factor follows the men's side of the family, as the stupidity gene follows the men's side of the (admittedly fictional) Simpsons.

Certain people in this world have a dynamic personality that a simply attracts people to them (like moths to bright lights, if a cliche is needed). Bharat has one; so does Ariel (geez, does Ariel have one). Kim Wasson's 12 year old daughter, Ceili, is the only female I've met that has one. Mark Smith has one, too.

And so does Andy.

I'm not sure if the dynamic personality is necessarily based on the ability to lead, though that I'm sure it is factor. Being inspiring is definitely a factor. A positive outlook on life (the world is a good place, the glass is half full) is another factor. I'm struggling to define exactly what it is, I've never been able to explain it well.

In the end, it's just damn attractive.

Mike tells me I'm not supposed to admit that. Kris might agree.

As a woman working in technology, apparently admitting attraction is bad, bad, bad. Maybe as a woman, I'm not supposed to admit that at all, I don't know. Given Andy says any edits I make show up in the various RSS readers (Who reads this site anyway? You're all crazy! This is for me, dammit!), once I post that, it's out there.


Cockroach effect

Damn, I really need to upgrade. I need to tag for real. Bah. This weekend I'll be heading to the colo. Enough whining.

Of course, upgrading means I'll have to go through and retag all my posts. Sigh.

I read about a study done years ago with cockroaches and competitiveness. In the study, the speed of a single cockroach's walk from one end of a chute/corridor/walkway to the other. After the times were recorded, two cockroaches were placed in the chute and were again timed.

The second time the cockroaches were timed, they were much faster. The introduction of another caused both to speed up, presumably in competition.

The cockroach effect is very much a person effect, too. And not in just, say, sports. Cars driving on the freeway will speed up when another car is going to pass (on the right or the left, actually), people will move more quickly to reach a line more quickly than another person walking to the line, joggers will run faster if there's an audience, small things like that.

Tonight, in a true example of a cockroach effect, I ran the neighborhood loop in 19:31, including a stop for a twisted ankle and two slowdowns to figure out what was going on.

Of course, not dragging Annie the whole way might have helped my time.

Kris went for the run with me tonight, offering to drag, er, walk, er, trot Annie along the way. After about a quarter mile, he asked, "Is this your normal pace?" I hemmed and hawwed, then admitted, that no, he was being my cockroach, pushing me along faster.

Considering I ran the loop on today's snack of champions (two slices of butter pound cake) 6 minutes faster than just a week ago, I'm happy my fitness is coming back. The stretches and strength training are helping my legs considerably.

Ultimate Fighter 2 starts tonight!

Hot fscking damn!

Ultimate Fighter 2 starts tonight! Whoo hoo!

Yes, I have every intention of spending Monday nights with the welters (Joe, Luke, Josh, Sammy (Sammy? WTF?), Melvin (Melvin?), Kenny, Anthony, Marcus and Jorge) and the heavies (Tom, Mike, Rob, Seth, Keith, Brad, Rashand, Kerry and Eli).

All I ask from you boys is this: please, please, please have personalities! Leben rocked because he was crazy and a big baby at the same time. And Diego? He does yoga and still kicks ass. BTW, Koscheck sucks.

Matt Hughes (31, 5'9", the most dominant 170 pounder of all time, current world champion and pound for pound the greatest UFC fighter, evar) and Rich Franklin (30, 6'1", didn't come from any martial arts background and, yet, is the current UFC middleweight world champion (and on the card when Liddell fought Couture at the end of the first season of UF)) are the coaches. This'll be fun.


The first line at the house, "No one pisses on my bed!" Ode to Leben.

Yay Tivo!

Update: No! No! No! There's Right Guard Extreme product placement in the show. Oh, the horror!

Update 2: What the? 5 minutes at a 5 mile per hour pace, followed by 5 minutes each of 6 miles per hour, 7 miles per hour, 8 miles per hour, 9 miles per hour and finally 10 miles per hour. A 30 minute run. Puh-leaze! Even I can make it through the first 20 minutes of that one without breaking a sweat. Those last five minutes? Okay, I'd have issues. But that first five minutes at a 12 minute mile pace better not break you.

Decompression after BarCamp

My most linkful post ever!

Did I mention I don't like linking to other sites for fear the links will turn into a 404 (must finish my mirror module!).

So, my first thought for this post title was "back to the real world", but it's a redundant title and, apparently, a recurring theme.

Today was the last day of BarCamp and I'm exhausted. As one of maybe 10 people who stayed overnight both days, and without a Thermarest (how did I forget my Thermarest? Forgetting that was worse than forgetting my Wacom), my hips have floor bruises from sleeping on my side on the floor.

Okay, not really. But that floor was hard.

And I couldn't stand the lack of showers for two days in a row. Somehow, the sponge bath just won't cut it for two days. I drove home and showered this morning. Aaaaaaah. And I couldn't stay all the way through the end, as I had practice (fortunately close) at 3:00. So sad, to miss the last 4 hours, plus FooCamp meet up at a (I'm guessing) noisy bar. Shucky darn.

An amazing weekend. I'm unbelievably happy I went. I met so many people whose sites I've visited, bookmarked, followed and enjoyed (even a Hodson!). I learned, once again, that this world is terribly small. Many of the people knew each other either from previous conferences, friendships, jobs or projects. Fortunately, not knowing most of the people meant I had little fear meeting them. Though, admittedly, I had met some of them last Tuesday.

On Friday, one of Andy's and Chris' worries was about sessions filling up nicely: would they have too many or too few? I countered, if there are too few, the space could be filled with small birds-of-a-feather discussions; if they are too many, people can meet up later, create groups outside, or, to be perfectly honest, decide not to present. In other words, the sessions will even themselves out.

I was mostly right, but a bit wrong. There were actually a ton of sessions, several (not one, but many more) people commenting they wanted to present, but there were no time slots left. The ad-hoc way of creating sessions meant pretty much every slot had multiple good sessions/topics at once. Which then meant we had to choose which one to go to.


Because that meant, we were almost guaranteed to miss out on interesting topics.

For example, I managed to miss the Women in Tech session, presented by Eris Stassi (yay! figured out how to spell her name!), though I managed to attend most of the follow up session, a women run open source project.

The Microformats session from Ryan and Kevin was a good introduction to the topic, though the room was incredibly stuffy and hot. I think that everyone was sweating by the session end.

I need to check out my notes on the rest of the sessions I attended. Some were great, others interesting, all totally full of energy and enthusiasm.

Happily for the weekend, I met many really cool people. I'd trade no sleep for the chance to meet all the people I met again.

Heading to practice afterward was a mini culture shock. Going from disk talk to disc talk (or talking tech to running my ass off) was transitioning between two subcultures, each with somewhat well-defined, but very different, accepted behaviour. And I love both of them, but they are different. Easiest example: I'm more likely to grab a teammate's butt than a BarCamp attendee's.

Especially if said attendee is Scoble.

For example.

High Maintenance

I find meetings with large groups of people fascinating. The interactions between people and among groups have to be one of the most interesting things to observe.

Individual behaviour in a group is also interesting to watch. Some people rise to the occasion (I love watching Ben schmooze a crowd), others freak out. Some thrive with the stress, others complain and whither.

Depending on the circumstances, I can go either way. I'm more to the stress and flee side of the range until I become comfortable with the group. I certainly can't work a room like Ben, nor can I be "on" like Andy (and I wonder if anyone can switch as quickly as he can), but given the right situation, I can hold my own.

For the first night of BarCamp, Messina asked me to greet people as they came in, let them know what was up, and ask them to sign our scroll with their names and hand-drawn pictures of themselves. How could this possibly be a better situation? I do well one-on-one, where large crowds overwhelm me (in as much as I have to fight every fiber of my being desiring to run away, flee, hide out on the sidelines and watch), and I get to meet each and every person one and one as they merge into the crowd.


It was also the perfect opportunity to watch interactions of various people in the crowd.

For the most part, the tech crowd is completely different from the ultimate crowd. Where ultimate is about athletic performance, bonding as a team, throwing discs, running hard, goofing off, revelation of intensely personal details that would embarass me if the revelations weren't to my teammates, and flashing breasts (hmmmmmmm.... should I delete that?), the tech crowd is about talking tech (well, duh!), work, and interesting problems. There's no discussion of breasts (really!), or personal details (work related is okay, family if you know the person, the size of your breasts? no way). There's no physical contact, no hugs, no cheers, no butt slaps, no high-fives, no holding hands, no shoulder-to-shoulder huddle and cheer. Tech is strange, and sometimes terribly lonely.

That's the general idea of the differences between the two groups. The individuals, well, that's a different story.

At a previous job (one of many, many of them), a coworker was this worked up, can never have any fun, uptight (yes, redundant, I know), always busy, life-is-hard, high strung woman. Nothing was ever quite right for her. Life was difficult. Things didn't work out the way she wanted them to. Ever.

Tragically, she was a poor communicator, too. Which made things worse for her boyfriend, another coworker, who became her ex soon after I started working with them. I became closer to him, as she was an emotional vampire, terribly draining and hard to be around.

You see where this is going?

From my perspective as an outsider with respect to all the relationships these people share (the longest I've actually known any of these people is 4 days at this point, with Messina being the slight exception, having met him in passing 2 and a half months ago, and Kaliya about 6 months ago in Berkeley at a talk for Greg), and recognizing said perspective is completely coloured by my experiences and that I really don't know these people at all, one of the people here reminds me of this woman ex-coworker. Everything needs to be perfect, she's not happy if there's something to do, she's completely stressed, and bringing down everyone around her.

Yep. She's high maintenance.

I did my best to help her out. I smiled. When she complained in my presence, I countered with offers of help and suggestions (that were actually reasonable suggestions). When she stressed, I asked if I could help. When she freaked, I stepped aside. Her personality was exactly like that ex-coworker's personality, to the point of near flashbacks for me.


May I never become high maintenance.


Chow down!

I really need to move this site to my other server so that I can upgrade the software so that I can start tagging my posts, so that I can go through all my posts and hide the ones that are way too personal, so that I can let the search engines back in.

Until then...

Another successful communal dinner tonight. Instead of our usual 10 people, however, I invited 19 people over for dinner. The usual suspects came: Heather, Vinny, Chris, Kris, Mark, Megan, Chookie, Martha and even Tyler (who showed up on time, whoo)! No Brynne, though. The new folks included Adam, Stephanie, Mike, Kate, Liza and Maeryn (though admittedly those last two didn't actually eat anything), Elizabeth, Heidi, John and cousin Mike P.

Mike P!

Visiting again! The best cousin in all the world. I think he visits Kris more than I visit my mom.

I really need to visit my mom more.

Tonight's dinner was plum stuffed pork with rice and salad. I started really late in cooking it, so Heather helped me out. Heidi helped with the salad. As the recipe was a new one for me, there was the chance (perhaps a small one, but still a chance) it wouldn't be good. Fortunately, it turned out well, and everyone liked it.

Well, those who ate it did.

When serving pork, always prepare for vegetarians and kosher friends.

When people asked what to bring, I said wine or dessert. In the end, we had an extra, oh, four bottles of wine and enough dessert to put on ten pounds.

Per hip.

I love these people.

I talked about both SuperHappyDevHouse (Code Jam, baby!) and BarCamp. I asked around to see if any of my geek friends (pretty much all the men in the room, actually), if they were interested in going, but all declined. "From 7 on Friday until 2 on Sunday? Geez!"

When I asked if I could go, Mark offered, "I would send her to BarCamp with a backpack, and a salami."

And Kris responded, "I think a summer sausage instead."

Whoo! That means, I'm heading to BarCamp!

With a summer sausage! And a backpack!

The great news of the evening, however, we heard at the end of the night, delivered ever so casually by Mark.

"Hey, Megan's pregnant."


*blink* *blink*


A baby Smith! A baby Smith! Whoo hoo! The bestest news!

Of course, now that I think about it, this news explains Mark's hesitant answer on the way home from Chico to the question, "So, Mark, when are you and Megan planning on having kids?"

"Well, we're not sure. We're enjoying ourselves too much right now. Some day."

Welcome to Someday. It's a great day!