Sunday, August 27, 2006

The theme of this past week has most decidedly been Old Friends. In each and every case, it was wonderful to catch up. Writing and calling works... but being present with someone is so much more powerful. It's similar to, but even better than, seeing original artwork or hearing live music or going to the ballet.

Without further grandiose ado, here are the fabulous friends I got to see, live and in person, this past week. It all started in San Francisco.
- On Saturday, Chad came up from LA for the SL convention, so we got to catch up during dinner that night.
- On Sunday, after the the convention was over and all the Sheep had scattered, I headed over to Mavis and Nia's house. I can't remember the last time I saw them, so it was wonderful to reconnect.
- On Monday, I met Sue for lunch and then she and Mavis and I took in Telegraph Hill and other parts of SF.
- On Monday night, I BARTed out to Pixar to hang out with Mike, who I've had almost no contact with since he left DC last year. Lovely to see him enjoying his job and his surroundings so much.

I got back to DC on Tuesday morning, and on Tuesday afternoon I had coffee with Abby!
- Tuesday night was my first BRDM practice in ages, so it sort of felt like I was reuniting with long-lost friends.
- On Wednesday I reunited with Delafield over a leisurely dinner on the front porch.
- On Thursday, I had lunch with Beth - we were fellow math majors and HPs at Wellesey. I don't think I've seen her since graduation.
- On Friday, I went to Jazz in the Garden for the first time in a loooong time, and then a bunch of Wonderbredders went to see the Capitol Steps. I don't get to see that crew much anymore, so they sort of count as old friends. At least for the theme of the week.

The only old friends of the weekend were inanimate, but still exciting.
- On Saturday, I stuck the hard drive from my old, dead laptop into an external enclosure, plugged it into my lovely new MacBook, and found all kinds of music that I haven't listened to since I was in Rome. Rock on! There were a bunch of photos from Italy that I haven't looked at for ages.
- Today, I picked up my violin for the first time since Kate and Jaime's wedding. They're still holding my shoulder rest hostage in Brooklyn (which I suspect is a wiley plot to get me to go up and visit them), so my posture was a little awkward, and my fingers were clumsy, but it felt good nonetheless.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Good-bye CA!

I couldn't have had a nicer last day in San Francisco. I forgot how tired I was!

I woke up to Abby's voice inviting me to lunch, as she's in DC these days! Still muddled with sleep, I tried to tell her about my crazy Spinal Tap dream, and then we figured out a coffee date. I can't wait.

I left the house around 8, made my way to Berkeley no problem, and met with an admissions officer in the Information School. Good, informative stuff. But at this point, I think I'd rather just keep working for the Electric Sheep than take time off for school.

I met Sue (my former boss from the Wellesley Library Conservation Lab) for lunch at noon at the Ferry Building, and we got each other caught up on our jobs. Note to self: must remember to send her some machinima of Second Life; she was pretty curious about it all.

Mavis joined us after that, and we went up to Coit Tower. We got to take an Italian streetcar there! I guess San Francisco uses all kinds of historic streetcars from cities around the world. Very cool. And what a cool job it would be to be a streetcar mechanic in SF! So we got to see the amazing views from the tower, which made me homesick/impatient for Enger Tower in Duluth, and then we wandered down some lovely staircases and back towards the center of the city.

Bus delays diverted us from seeing the Palace of Fine Arts, but we had a nice walk though the Civic Center area of town instead and got to check out the nice public library. Sue headed home after that, and I picked up my luggage from Mavis's apartment and took off for Pixar to visit Mike. Mike who is still listed in my phone as Mike Beer, because when we exchanged numbers at Bohemian Caverns ages ago, he told me his middle name was beer. I think it's true.

I got to Pixar shortly before six (and got a snack from the proverbial milk and cereal kichen! Way cool.). I got the personalized tour of the building, which is filled with great movie- and non-movie-related artwork, and kicked myself for not having seen The Incredible or Cars. I even got to see the server room. Boy do their graphics take a lot of computing power! We got dinner, we tossed my frisbee around on the lush lush lawn, we convinced me that San Francisco really is a fantastic place to live. Now I'm at Oakland airport waiting for a delayed red-eye back to DC. Tired and happy.

Thanks so much to all of my hosts this week - Sibley, Mavis and Nia and Maya, Sue and Mike.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Second Part of the California Report

Time for a wrap-up of the rest of the week.

Wednesday was the day the rest of the Sheep descended on Santa Cruz. I finally got to meet DNA, Cory and Mak, Mark and Flipper and Jennyfur. The flights worked out, the rental cars worked out, the hotels (mostly) worked out; it was nice to see the logistics fall into place. And I was even feeling healthy enough to go for a run in the afternoon! We all gathered into one non-virtual place for dinner. We ordered pizza and drank beer and celebrated the launch of the project. Not too late though, because there were a bunch of people who were worn out from traveling.

Thursday was the first day that I felt like Sibley's vision for this company meeting finally came to fruition: Every one of the Sheep came out to his house, and we spent the whole day together. A big part of the day was spent on introductions. Instead of asking each person to talk about himself, Sibley gave a brief introduction to each one and then asked others to add information. It ended up taking a long time, but being entirely worth it. We heard about their strengths as employees, their characteristics as friends, a handful of funny stories, interesting personal histories, etc. It made me realize what an amazing group of people I work with.

We took a break at noon to tour The Mystery Spot, which is quite close to Sibley's house. It was wonderful. Our tour guide was nice and ironic about the hokiness of it all, but the illusions and experiments were still super fun to see.

In the afternoon, we broke up into smaller groups. I really would have liked to stay for one of them but did grocery duty instead. Fortunatly, Mark went with me, and his company made the trip much more enjoyable/less lonely. We got back to the ranch around 6, and Sibley and I started cooking up a nice big batch of Groundnut Stew: rice, vegetables, peanut butter, spice. I was a little disappointed that I wasn't on the porch drinking beer with the rest of the flock, but only a little. I got to talk to Scott, ate my stew, enjoyed a massage (Sibley hired one of his massage-therapist tenants to come over for 3 hours. Brilliant.), and then headed up the hill for a company campfire. Sibley talked about our mission/vision/direction, and then we all told jokes and roasted marshmallows. I have a pretty good job, don't you think?

We left Santa Cruz on Friday morning and stopped by Yahoo! HQ on our way to San Fran. They had invited Sibley to come in for one of their regular Friday lunchtime talks, and he asked if he could bring 18 people with him. They obliged. As a result, we got to hear Sibley and Giff and Jerry wax eloquent on what Second Life is about and what our company is about, and we got to watch DNA, Cory, Mak and Giff build things in-world. It was incredible. Inspiring. I can't wait to get in there and try to build something cooler than a pair of cubes stuck together.

We had lunch in the Yahoo! cafeteria (where all the espresso drinks are free!), and then continued north. We checked into the hotel (which took a little sorting out), relaxed for a bit (I finally cleaned off the last of my chipped silver toenail polish! Only to reveal bruised toenails underneath! Rock on!), picked up our fantastic glow-in-the-dark Electric Sheep Company t-shirts from Amanda, and left for the opening party of the second annual Second Life Community Convention. I spend very litte time in Second Life, and I don't have any non-Sheep friends in-world right now, so I didn't think I'd have much fun at the party. Au contraire, I had a great time. I got to meet a bunch of cool people, including some of the Lindens (who sort of like celebrities, because they actually work for Linden Labs, the creators of SL). Just about everyone I introduced myself to had something nice to say about the Electric Sheep... I felt like I was a part of a little celebrity clique too. It helped that a bunch of us were in our fabulous matching t-shirts, of course. The absolute best part of the night was DNA's DJing and the rest of the Sheep dancing. He plays awesome music, and we are a bunch of awesome dancers. Such a great bonding experience. When he was done, we all headed back to the hotel for pizza and beer and, quickly, bed.

We spent all day Saturday at the convention, mostly listening to various panels. And I got my first taste of networking! Nancy, the publisher of New Moon magazine, mentioned that it might be interesting to give new Moon a virtual presence, so I made a point of talking to Kim A. of The Magicians about her work for Global Kids in SL. Kim introduced me to Claudia Linden, who heads up the education stuff at Linden Labs. Both Claudia and another one of The Magicians had heard of New Moon and said very nice things about it, so it was neat to tell them that I was a founder. :-) Who knows if anything will happen with this; the SL teen grid is only open to kids aged 13 and above, so that cuts out the majority of the New Moon audience. But there are so many cool directions that it could go! In any case, I hope some of the older New Moonies get to check out the Global Kids island.

At the end of the day, we headed back to our hotel, met up with Chad, who had just flown in from LA, and all went out for dinner. It was lovely. I got to catch up with him, he got to meet a bunch of Sheep, we all got to debrief on the conference. Afterwards, I hung out with Sibley and Morton and Chad at the hotel while others hit up the convention afterparty. No regrets.

Today is winding to a wonderfully peaceful close. We got a late start, since most people didn't get to bed until 5 or 6 in the morning. We breakfasted at Lori's Diner, checked out of the hotel, and made our way to the convention only to discover that all the sessions we were interested in attending we either already over or all filled up. So we went to Starbucks, which quickly became our unofficial headquarters as more and more Sheep filtered in. We caffeinated, worked, gossiped, and designed quilts. (I'm working on designing one for Scott and I, and I got Morton interested in designing one for Kim to sew.) We all parted ways after that. Most people headed to the airport, and I headed to Mavis and Nia's house. Now the evening is winding to a wonderfully peaceful close. It's been great hanging out with Mavis and her roommate Maya. We had dinner, and now we're sitting in a very quiet living room.

I'm jealous of all the Sheep who will be home tomorrow. That's not to say I'm not looking forward to seeing more of San Francisco (and more of my SF friends) tomorrow, because I am. Absolutely. But it's going to be one more long day in a series of long days. That's not to say they haven't been long in good ways, because they have. I've learned so much about the Sheep and about SL, and I'm incredibly motivated to go home and work on ESC projects and spend more time in SL. I feel nice and invigorated in that respect. It's been a successful trip that way for a lot of people, and we're already trying to figure out when we can do it next.

But my headcold is on the offensive again, and for now I just want to go home to Delafield and the office and BRDM and my routine.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Tame Adventures in... Santa Cruz: The Surfing Capitol of the World!

Uf da, it's been a long week already. Between long flights, late nights, errand-running, crisis-averting, jet lag and a head cold, I'm beat. Sick too.

We're nearing the end of our second full day in Santa Cruz. The Sheep assigned to a particularly large and stressful project that's launching on Wednesday (tomorrow!) came out here on Sunday night so that they could all be together during the final push. Unfortunately, the working conditions have been less than ideal. Namely, trying to find adequate internet connectivity has slowed things down and sent Sheep wandering from library to coffee shop to, finally, the Comfort Inn. I don't know if it's bad luck, or if it's the result of so many Sheep trying to use so much bandwidth all at once, but whatever network they found eventually crashed.

Meanwhile, Sibley and I set up shop. Foiled in our attempts to buy a new generator, we borrowed a bigger, older, heavier one from one of his tenants and rolled it up the driveway to the main house. After the satellite internet connection was successfully installed, we drove into town, enjoyed a great lunch at the Saturn Cafe, and roamed around Santa Cruz, picking up flatware and silverware at the Goodwill, groceries at Safeway, towels, duct tape, and other sundries at various locations. We got home by 6, refrigerated the appropriate groceries, and napped. A seriously unconscious hour-long nap. We met the rest of the Sheep for an 8 pm Thai dinner and accompanied them back to their hotel for a few more hours of work. Sibley and I left them around midnight, after the internet inevitably "broke" and no one could do any more work.

I got lots of sleep last night - I was tired enough for a post-breakfast nap - and finally woke up when Sibley roused me at 10:30, saying the Sheep were on their way home. He taught me how to fire up the generator and then took off to buy the new one. The Sheep arrived, got all set up with power cords and internet, things were looking good (finally), and then we ran out of gas - no electricity, no modem. No internet, no work. Four poor souls went back to town to try their luck with the various internet cafes they had experimented with on Monday, Sibley returned and restored electricity, and an aura of calm descended.

Even though it's still pretty light outside, the living room has become pretty dim, and I'm ready to give my pressurized head, dripping nose and aching body another nap.

Before I do that, though, I should comment on what great people my coworkers are. Despite all the stresses they've been under, they've been overwhelmingly positive and optimistic. I was nervous about this trip, about fitting in with the Sheep. My work is generally unrelated to theirs, and during the company meeting in DC last month I felt like kind of an outsider. These days, though, whatever exclusion I felt has vanished, and I'm really enjoying the opportunity to get to know my coworkers (as well as their work) a lot better. Tomorrow, the rest of the Sheep will be joining us, including some I haven't met before. I'm excited. :-)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Friday morning state of mind.

From today's Writer's Almanac:
It's the birthday of short-story writer Andre Dubus, (books by this author) born in Lake Charles, Louisiana (1936). He wrote stories about regular people like bartenders, mechanics, and waitresses in collections such as The Cage Keeper and Other Stories (1989) and Dancing after Hours (1996). In 1986, after publishing several books of short stories, Dubus stopped to help a woman and a man stranded on the side of the highway, and he was hit by a passing car. He saved the woman's life by throwing her out of the way, but he lost one of his legs and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair. He said, "Some of my characters now feel more grateful about simple things—breathing, buying groceries, sunlight, because I do." He also said, "We don't have to live great lives, we just have to understand and survive the ones we've got."
I feel good today. Put-together. Scott and I spent last night unpacking and getting our room in order, and even though there's still a lot to do, it makes a huge difference. I feel like I belong there now. I went to pilates this morning, and it's only 71°F out, and Edith Piaf is on the radio.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Ta Daaaa!

All my stuff is at Delafield! We made great time - an hour to deliver the beds, two and a half hours to load the truck, and less than an hour to unload it. (Many thanks to Jay for his help!) We were in bed by 11.

It definitely feels like my stuff is invading Scott's room, rather than it being the case that our room needs to be unpacked. I'm definitely looking forward to getting things straightened out tomorrow and over the weekend.

I'd tackle it tonight, but I get to go to BRDM practice instead, in our *beautifully* cooled-down weather. It's gorgeous outside! We're starting to revamp our warm-ups at practice. The typical jog around the field followed by 10 minutes of static stretching just isn't very effective, so I led the team in an active warm-up (basically, the standard Crossfit warm-up), and it went over pretty well. Tonight I'm going to try leading one developed by a trainer in Boston specifically for an Ultimate team. It looks long and complicated, so I think we'll be learning it a few steps at a time. Fun stuff though!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Today's the Day!

After work today, Scott's picking up a moving van, and we're emptying out Chez Limon!

The first item on our agenda is to deliver the beds to a lovely woman in Georgetown who agreed to buy both of them. This is a huge relief. I could store them at Delafield, but selling them is much better. Hooray for Craigslist!

Next up is loading up the van with the rest of my (and Margo's) stuff. Here's hoping the van fits in the alley so we can take things out through the garage rather than through the akward front entrance.

And then we'll drive "home" and unload! It's weird to think of Delafield as "our house" and Scott's room as "our room."

I think that's enough for one night. I'll save the big clean-up for later.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Moving - progress report

Yesterday was good and hard and productive and disgusting and extremely satisfying.

Scott and I spent the morning cleaning up Chez Limon, straightening things up so it looks nice for prospective renters. I started some of the deep cleaning and packed up one big duffle bag full of clothes that I won't need for a few more months. Around two o'clock, I headed up to Delafield, where Scott and Jay were purging the basement storage spaces. They managed to extract a moldy old couch that had been stuck down there for years. They got to attack it with crowbars. Pretty cathartic.

Then we attacked the garage, which was full of past residents' moldy books, moldy furniture, moldy clothing, and plenty of evidence of rat infestation - scurrying noises, nests, feces, and a headless carcass. We pulled out tons of junk and organized the rest. It was a pretty amazing transformation. I wish I had brought my camera along for "before" and "after" pictures. The junk will all get picked up on Monday, as will two living room chairs, since we're replacing them with the chairs from my apartment. (Praise be to 1-800-GOT-JUNK).

I think we finished around 7:30, at which point I finally got to shower, and Scott and I sat down to a lovely salmon and curried vegetable dinner. We stayed awake just long enough to watch Steve Martin in The Jerk, and then slept soundly.

Today's the day to pack up my room. Monday night I'll do the kitchen. Tuesday night we're renting a truck, so we'll move things then or Wednesday morning. I think all of my furniture has a home, except for the futon. Seems like the market's saturated with futons these days.

A quick cooking note - beets are great! We included them in our dinner last night, and they dyed the whole dish red. It was beautiful, so I want to cook more stuff with them. Coincidentally, I got a letter from Robin last week that included a recipe for a beet pancake! I'll let you know how it is... when I get around to making it. It's not exactly a top priority these days.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Moving. Ugh.

The exciting work news of the week is that our DC office is moving to a new building at the end of August. We’ll be over on 19th Street, between L and M. I’m delighted! It’s a better location (1 block from my gym, 2 blocks from Scott, 3 blocks from Dupont Circle), and I’ll have real office furniture – i.e. drawers to put things in a desk to spread out on. Jonah and I won’t be working on top of each other anymore! My view won’t be as interesting – another building instead of the entrance to the Hilton – but at least I’ll still have a window and natural light.

First, though, I have to/get to move into Delafield. I’m excited, but I’m already feeling a little stressed by how much there is to do. And I don’t even have that much stuff! I just hate packing. I suddenly have a much greater respect for those people I’ve helped move in this past year.

Other stuff…
Last night was the first BRDM practice after a month-long hiatus. I’d only played once since Potlatch. My throws were rusty, and it was super hot out, but besides that I felt really good, and not too out of shape. My left hamstring felt too tight, but it’s better today. It’s just something I need to keep an eye on, warm up properly beforehand, and stretch out adequately afterwards.
We had a nice big group dinner at Froggy Bottom afterwards. We were sitting outside (under an awning) when the storm broke and our heat wave finally came to an end. Today is still warm, but much more comfortable than yesterday.

Tonight I get to have dinner with Team Dinner Party. I’m bringing the cold cucumber soup, and we’re going to grill things!

That’s it. Have a good weekend!
OK Go - Here It Goes Again

Three minutes of four guys dancing on treadmills. Brilliant choreography. And great music too! Happy Friday everyone!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

New Moon has a blog!

New Moon is the magazine I worked for when I was in middle school and high school. I'd lost touch with those friends for a while, but recently MySpace reunited us. It's really an incredible magazine; if you know any girls between the ages of 8 and 14, you should buy a subscription for her. Here's the website,, and here's a brief history of the magazine. (I'm quoted in the fourth paragraph!) And here's the blog!

Now New Moon needs an island on Second Life, eh?

Tidal River in Ogunquit

My back is to the ocean, and I'm looking across the tidal river at Scott's grandmother's house. I think hers is the one right in the center of the photo, obscured by trees. (Click on the picture to enlarge it.)

Second Life on CBS Evening News

It's a fluffy story, but it's still pretty cool that CBS did something on virtual worlds. No mention of the Electric Sheep Company, but there is reference to Regina Spektor, the singer I wrote about last week! I'll have to look her up in-world.