stef_tm: Stef looking to her right suspiciously (door)
Work begins on the house on Monday; just put 1k down as a deposit.
The emergency fund is being tapped, but that's why it exists.

Meeting the painter on Saturday.

Need to sell many items: bookcases, living room furniture (leather! fabulous!), two queen sized beds.

I will keep my recliner and bicycles. A woman has her limits ;-)
stef_tm: Stef looking to her right suspiciously (Default)
In early May I bought a new car (pictured.) It is a 2011 Jetta SportsWagen TDI Diesel. The seats are “leatherette” (read: vinyl, not a song by Grace Jones) in a neutral beige. The color is apparently the choice of manufacturers this season – a rich blue. The mileage is comparable to my previous car, a 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid, for highway. Significantly less for city and mixed driving. It has air conditioning, heated seats, integrated navigation, blue-tooth capability, and satellite radio.

The amount of consternation this decision caused was likely a significant annoyance to my gf, my friends, and the auto broker for most of April. My opinion flipped and flopped faster than an old money Republican politician at a Tea Party convention. This is not how I usually make decisions – in the past, I would simply review the data and decide. For particularly troublesome decisions I would create a table with weighting criteria and sum my way to the solution. Whatever corresponded to the cell that satisfied (max Ai:An) was the decision and I would not consider it again. No tossing, no turning. Textbook Myers-Briggs ENTJ “more comfortable after making a decision.”

When friends asked me about my new found ambivalence I claimed no knowledge of its origin. Today I took a short stroll after work and realized that’s simply not true. I know. Of course I know.

In 2009, my world turned upside down. I’ll spare you the details but my place in the world changed. Or, I should say, I could no longer believe the narrative my mind created about the world and my place in that narrative. My perception changed.

Having grown up in a Christian tradition and well versed in the New Testament, these words came to me when I reflected on this change: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (That’s 1 Corinthians 13:12 for those keeping score at home.)

My life is now informed by my Buddhist practice. What comes to minds are Ajahn Chah’s three simple words: annica, dukkha, anatta (impermanence, suffering, no self.)

What does either have to do with making decisions – or how do they related to Great Life Changing Event (GLCE) of 2009? Reality. Seeing reality. The fact that a GLCE took place in 2009 meant I was not present to what was happening in life. There was no switch which was flipped, no lightning bolt from the sky. No drunk driver crashing into the old Honda head on, no cancer diagnosis after a routine physical. Had I been paying attention, I would have seen conditions changing, deteriorating. I actively ignored the details and did not acknowledge the times the hair stood up on the back of my neck, the moments when a sense of “this is not right” overwhelmed me.

As I walked among the plants turning to seed in the August heat I realized my ambivalence in decision making was borne out of no longer trusting my judgment. If I didn’t see that the bright light at the end of the tunnel was in fact the proverbial train coming my way, how could I trust myself with a five figure purchase?

LOGIC FAIL. This is a fallacy; there was no issue with my judgment. The issue was noticing. Looking at things plainly, not through a glass darkly. Being open to the nature of reality – it’s impermanence, its suffering, and the fact that there is no immutable unchanging Thing (or Self.)

Perhaps the following assumption is premature but I’m sure life will offer an opportunity to test it soon: I suspect I may return to my prior decision making style. Even if I don’t, at least I’ll be aware I haven’t.
stef_tm: Stef looking to her right suspiciously (Default)
...a new car!
2011 Jetta Sportswagen TDI Diesel

42 mpg on the highway last weekend!

Really glad folks like [ profile] curiouseve convinced me to treat myself.
stef_tm: Stef looking to her right suspiciously (Default)
From my other blog at Feel free to comment here or there.

Friday morning my gf was getting ready for spin class and I decided to go jogging (good call considering I broke my right foot yesterday, but that’s another blog post.)

It’s been cold for Northern California so I threw on black tights, a black long-sleeved running turtleneck, and was already wearing black socks. As she brushed her teeth, I walked up behind her and grabbed her in a bear-hug saying, “Chubby Ninja beats you up, steals your lunch money.”

I didn’t quite look like a chubby ninja – no sword or head covering, but it was sobering to take a realistic look at myself in the mirror. Not bad for forty-two, definite room for work.

It’s odd becoming a middle-aged athlete. There are advantages – working joints, for example. No high school or college nagging injuries. No youthful metrics to woefully fail to meet. I work out with hard-core jocks – women who were varsity athletes at their Division One schools. Ladies who can run 20 miles on a lark, hike 15 miles though the Sierras in an afternoon, or cycle double centuries for fun. It keeps me honest. They know the pitfalls of training, the rigors of nutrition and just as talented musicians jam with anyone, they’ve invited me into their inner circle despite my naiveté and low VO2 max.

Gf left to be brutalized by a small woman whose resting heart rate is below 45 beats per minute and I decided to head home and run along the constructed arroyo behind my house. I live in what is Sunnyvale, California’s closest equivalent to the ‘hood which means I ran on a raised berm, next to an electric transmission station where the homeless have dragged couches for summer relaxation, spray painting “don’t piss here” on a fence enclosing a public utility box. I was alone under the gray, foreboding sky. For a moment I was concerned for my safety, thinking people would blame me if I were to get jumped; the hubris of wanting to be outside and by myself.

I jogged past the Santa Clara Water Authority No Trespassing sign. There was a slight hum from the transmission line resonating above me and my ragged breath matched the cadence of my feet on the gravel below. Three quarters of a mile until another fence, turn around, and run back. Some of my friends find my hood depressing - the rows of “modular homes” (read: trailers) with little vegetation discouraging. It was all I could afford given turn of century Silicon Valley home prices and my objection to commuting more than 20 minutes to work. My neighbors are mostly older and retired. A few families have moved in – recent immigrants with young children. It’s been a good place to live and a tiny tax write-off. I feel safe there, next to the light rail and two major highways. I grew up three-quarters of a mile from the Pentagon and am used to the fuzzy line between urban living and suburban sprawl.

As I jogged back toward the entrance I noticed the arroyo had running water from the recent rains. There were several mallards and their drab mates swimming against the flow. Further upstream was an egret. His yellow beak probed the air and his surprisingly large black feet were a few inches underwater. A plastic bread bag and some water bottles lay just a few feet from him, a filthy juxtaposition to his white plume. My heart sank. So few places for water fowl, seeking refuge behind the trailer park in what amounts to a glorified ditch. I shook off the dark thoughts as the egret eyed me suspiciously.

“Chubby Ninja should clean up this arroyo”, I thought, wondering how I could scale the steep concrete walls. I made a note to ask my friend Peter, who would engineer a solution if one wasn’t immediately available. I may not have a sword, but I do have black nitrile gloves. I turned left and ran along the John W. Christian Greenbelt to Lakewood Park. I passed two people, a young teenager wearing an iPod and an elderly asian woman carrying a small grocery bag. We nodded our hellos and I turned around, sneaking past the old Advanced Devices semiconductor fab long closed, surrounded by a tall chain link fence. My cardio threshold expended I walked into the park, noticing the Christmas lights and a few new cars. Chubby Ninja took a shower and then went to San Francisco for a New Year’s Eve dinner.
stef_tm: Stef looking to her right suspiciously (Default)
12/27 - Back at work. Taking care of administrative stuff - NDAs, expense reports. Lunch with [ profile] peters67 then a walk around a local park with Max. This evening is spin class, then writing.

12/26 - Christmas celebration w/my gf. Exchanged gifts and had a lovely homemade dinner. Proof I love her? I went to Fry's the day after Christmas to pick up stocking stuffers. We met at spin class at 8:30am and grabbed coffee before parting ways to wrap presents and run errands.

12/25 - Flew back from IAH after having champagne and cookies with gf's parents. Outstanding homemade omlet courtesy of gf's siser-in-law in the morning, lots of hugs from the 5 and 2.5 year olds.

12/24 - Family x-mas dinner with gf's family in Houston; in the morning went to the gym. In the afternoon went to the gun store (!) and the Challenger 7 memorial park. Wrapped presents. Everyone loved their books! Submitted grades for the Fall semester.

12/23 - Up late; Goode's BBQ (which should be called Damn Goode - omg, yum) for a late lunch then the insanity that is Borders bookstore two days before Christmas.

12/22 - Successful business meeting. Great NY pizza. Long wait at LaGuardia made short by friendly conversation at bar and friendly TSA agents. Flight back to Houston seemed long and hot; ate dinner in First Class - big mistake, got food poisoning. D'oh!

12/21 - SJC to IAH to LGA; nice hotel in Long Island with an outstanding gym. Quiet dinner and a phone conversation with the business development team. Not much sleep on 12/20 and not much sleep that night either.

12/20 - Prep for business meeting and home to find the power out. Power returns and celebrate by watching Hoarders and eating homemade chocolate chip cookies. An odd combination!
stef_tm: Stef looking to her right suspiciously (suburbs)
Yesterday I could not longer take being building bound by my cold. Instead, I took a hike at Rancho San Antonio, a county park.

About eight minutes into my hike:

more pics here )

The air was cool and the trail damp; the hilly route I chose insured good cardio. At the end decided to tack on a bit more mileage; six plus miles coming up against twilight and the deadline for the parking lot gate. Let's say the last mile and half was significantly faster than the rest! It did absolutely nothing for my cold but definitely lifted my spirits.

The morning started out slowly; I'm tuckered out from this cold. Came into work at lunchtime, had a meeting, someone left a homemade carmel on my desk. Can't complain!

How are you?
stef_tm: Stef looking to her right suspiciously (Default)
A short day at work - the morning began with our group meeting one of the South American business development managers who specializes in undersea products. Spent most of the day on expense reports and scheduling teleconferences. I left in the early afternoon to attend a student's master's thesis proposal. He had an outstanding presentation; he was one of my students during his undergrad work and it's been fun watching him graduate, get a job, return to school and grow as a scientist.

One of the members of his committee works in the chemistry department and we had a chance to get introduced; we have several areas of common interest and will meet after the semester to discuss collaborating. Our student is working on dye-sensitive solar cells and there is some good work that can be done in that area.

Tomorrow I'm scheduled for a chest x-ray as the doctor suspects pneumonia. That would be a first for me. I hope I can download the image, but I suspect Kaiser won't allow that - they didn't upload my broken finger, the bastards.
stef_tm: Stef looking to her right suspiciously (Default)
My housemate made homemade chicken soup for me which was very kind - my horrible head cold has been affected by gravity and now is a moderate head cold and a mild chest cold. I'm a bit afraid to consider where it's going next. My gf has suggested Pho for dinner. At least I'll be well hydrated. Came home to work after a teleconference to my east coast colleagues. I owe my boss some business development material and this is one area I find troubling - creating projections with no data. It's easy to stumble into irrational optimism.

Happy folks are posting more on LJ - [ profile] crm17 comes to mind. I miss the community we had and I'm seeking more than the drive by graffiti of Facebook (to steal C's words!)

It's World AIDS Day - the epidemic is far from over - 33 Million people worldwide are infected, including 2.5 Million children. If you have the resources, please considering donating to an HIV/AIDS related charity. You can always sponsor me for the 2011 AIDS Lifecycle Ride from SF to LA -->

If resources aren't available, would you kindly consider reposting my link to your F-list or communities?

I've started changing a few things as we're 7 months from the ride. I've stopped drinking alcohol (too many calories) and I've stopped eating sugar (minus dark chocolate because I will not give up all vices.) In addition to my regular workout routine I have a minimum of 12 miles of riding per day in December; that's going up to 24 miles per day in January and 36 miles per day in February. The easiest way to reduce the amount of weight I have to carry up the hills of California is to remove it directly from my ass, despite the fine cushioning it provides.

Better get back to my business models. How is your day?


Aug. 8th, 2009 11:16 am
stef_tm: Stef looking to her right suspiciously (Default)
The post-break up funk is beginning to lift; I met with friends yesterday for art crawl and Grant used a word that suggested a sudden change and I described it as an ebb. Gradual, not very noticeable (especially to me) - though [ profile] peters67 and Diane tell me they can see dramatic change.

My humor and my energy are returning.

Now I need to face reality and finish the divorce paperwork. The state of California wants every detail about my finances and it's a PDF-palooza.

Art crawl was distinctly different from the one in June (they took July off) - it was overwhelmingly mediocre, with the exception of the Chicano exhibit at the Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana (funny what a *juried* show can produce.)

Here is a piece by Ester Hernadez:

It is always a pleasure seeing [ profile] joedecker's photographs at Kaleid.

This afternoon I pick up my puppy from my friend (and dog trainer) Brian then meet a friend for shopping in the East Bay.

Hope you are well!


Jun. 23rd, 2009 02:30 am
stef_tm: Stef looking to her right suspiciously (Default)
An interesting day.
- Helped my ex move out the last of her things. Her new studio is very nice. The cats are gone, too. It's quiet.
- Rearranged my bedroom to improve the layout. Feng Shui does make a difference apparently - it's so much more relaxed and seems like there's more space.
- Downsizing is happening at work; I am being cut to 3 days a week. My company has a very short runway left. Despite 14.5 years in Silicon Valley, this is a first for me. On a happy note, I received two calls from recruiters today.
- I immediately took some cost cutting measures including the garden clean up and design. It's sweat equity for me.
- I guess I'm supposed to take this news poorly as many of my friends were all OMGWTFBBQ!!!1! and I was grateful it's not zero days a week. Maybe I haven't absorbed the news fully.
stef_tm: Stef looking to her right suspiciously (Default)
Attended a South Bay business networking event tonight for LBT women where I was the featured speaker. I spoke for ~ 5-10 minutes and there was ~ 10min of Q&A. Received positive feedback and exchanged business cards with a half dozen women. I also won a door prize - a 25.00 gift certificate to Catch restaurant in the Castro. I'm allergic to seafood but I'm sure there are other options.

Best business name there: Lady Parts Automotive Services. They're in Redwood City and hold educational workshops monthly; the co-owners and a staff member attended - funny, committed folks. I plan to take my car there for 120K service.

Work is good fun right now; hope we get to keep the doors open. One of my employees had to leave work early today because his parents experienced a home invasion; fortunately, they're safe. Just terrifying. He was so nonplussed when leaving, I thought he was off to an appointment at first and just being funny. It took me a second to notice tears in his eyes.

After the talk I came home to find 2 dead rats in the back yard. The poison I placed under the house is working (some rats decided to move in - yuck.) I am no fan of dead rodents so I called [ profile] peters67 to help me dispose of them (would hate for a stray cat to have them for dinner.) He was bemused to see me dashing around the yard going "ewwwww" and "eeeeek". Afterward we stopped off at Lowe's and I bought a lamp to replace one in the bedroom and then sat on the couch and told stories and laughed.

A nice day. My coworker's family is safe, I met some new acquaintances (and a few old ones) at the mixer, and got to laugh with my dear friend.
stef_tm: Stef looking to her right suspiciously (Default)
I had a lovely breakfast with Hez this morning. Somehow I managed to lose my prescription sunglasses between the car and the restaurant. We hung out at her clinic afterward where I gave her a tour of and our friend Brian stopped by to have one of his dogs adjusted (Hez is a chiropractor.) Max got to hangout with his cousin Frank in the front yard of the clinic and there was much barking at the people walking to the Santa Clara farmer's market.

Santa Clara's trees are sending pollen *everywhere* and my allergies got hit hard; I can only imagine how [ profile] iceblink is doing - hope you're okay! Sunnyvale is nearly as bad; I saw a neighbor sweeping up the pollen from in front of his house. He was wearing a mask and was covered in a fine, green dust. I just did the nasal irrigation thing and will repeat as necessary. It's not pretty, but it's affective.

I'm donating blood in an hour and beginning enrollment as an apheresis donor. If you're local and type O, A-, B- Stanford blood center needs you. I'm B+ but they'll take my blood, too.

This evening I hope to get some of B's insurance reimbursement started, work on my lecture for Monday, and will go to the lab to do some microscopy. Tomorrow we're attending the UU church and I'm going to meet with my friends Brenda and Ruth. More lecture writing and microscopy work. Also need to write two final exams. Both exams will be conceptual - muhahahahaha.

The best part of the weekend? The gym. Yep, going back after a 2 week break. I can barely wait.
The short-bursts that take place during strength training are very useful for mood management. I'd prefer cardio to be a nice hike with my heart rate monitor, but I fear I'd sneeze off the top of my head. Thank you modern science for air conditioning and HEPA filters. If things get very bad, I'll go take a nap in the cleanroom at work.

What's your weekend look like?
stef_tm: Stef looking to her right suspiciously (Default)
- I will be attending Mrs' appointment later today to take notes and assist. This is a good thing.

- Yesterday I had a high-profile presentation at work; it was scheduled for one hour and I called time at two hours and fifteen minutes. Literally have a dozen new experiments on deck. It's going to be a very busy summer, and I am grateful to (1) have a job, (2) have a job I enjoy immensely and (3) manage a strong team who are also lovely friends.

- Yesterday I attended the leadership meeting of the local ASQ chapter. I really like my geeky quality colleagues. They're so fun and nerdy - and committed. We gave away 8 scholarships to students transferring from 2 year to 4 year colleges; originally 1200.00 each. Not a lot, but every bit helps. Someone suggested we up that to 1500.00 and take the $ from our member scholarship fund. It passed unanimously. I love this group's commitment to the great community.

- This past week I've had a lot of grief. Frequently wept. Last night I cried for about two hours and then it was as if a fever, or a storm, broke. Felt cleansed and let go of the sadness. Much love to [ profile] peters67, Diane, Hez, JO, and my niece, [ profile] k_e_5810 for carrying me through this time.
stef_tm: Stef looking to her right suspiciously (Default)
Hi all,
I'll trim the list tomorrow - what a weekend. Without going into too much detail, my wife's health issues continue. Week 17 of our journey. Much love from my support community this weekend.

Special highlights:
- Mexican food and (watching) karaoke with Heather S on Saturday. The food was good, the beer was cold, and there were two outrageously good singers; one sounded identical to James Taylor and the other to Jim Morrison. Lots of 70s music.
- The usual suspects at Mongolian BBQ Sunday; this time the discussion was business - we're beginning a small research company of our own in our spare time. Decision made tonight: LLC for type and everyone decided the name I chose sucked. We have one week to identify our moniker Home life seeped into the conversation and some tears were shed. I received hugs. What an amazing group of people, each with their own special skill sets, networks, approach. Held together by the glue of geekiness and snark with a wee bit of greed as a catalyst.
- Many phone calls from my parents who are so concerned that they're drawing straws on who will visit. I told them to stay home! Perhaps we'll visit them in June.
- Nice phone call with my niece, Kate, and nephew, J. Also spoke to my sister-in-law.
- Diane is coming to visit next weekend! Happy hour will be off the hook!

If you are local, don't forget the latest edition of Booze and Schmooze Friday May 1st - The Stimulus Package Edition! Here's a link:

discussion of no-meds and weight change )

Late this evening I went to the gym, made my wife dinner, organized her medication for the week, did wee bit of cleaning (laundry, dishes, trash) and am ready for sleep.

Never finished that lecture; I'll be up at 6AM to do so.

Busy week

Apr. 25th, 2009 05:09 pm
stef_tm: Stef looking to her right suspiciously (Default)
Another busy week with experiments, lectures, meeting with students, and family health issues.
Friday I had to the chance to crunch data while listening to a webcast of the Dalai Lama's Santa Barbara talk.

It's good to interleave electroclash with dharma. Many wonderful sites and teachers out there - youtube has a good number as well.

Tomorrow I have 3 (!) lectures to write and at least a half day of microscopy. Officially celebrating the weekend by having dinner with my friend Heather S.
stef_tm: Stef looking to her right suspiciously (Default)
details here )
A wonderful day. Happy to be here.


stef_tm: Stef looking to her right suspiciously (Default)

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