Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Dream Log

I find myself working at google, but it mostly involves sitting at cafeteria/cafe benches with some old timers, talking about a position called "Total Enrichment" which only five people had been promoted to. According to some of them, it meant that those that were promoted couldn't be constructive or productive in an ordered setting, so they're given salary to goof off. The other perspectives are that not having any order or direction allowed the most creative people to find the right things to work on.

(this dream was surely prompted by a conversation at dinner last night about a friend-of-a-friend who got lost in the chaos at google, and an earlier conversation with a libertarian co-worker)

Edit: I remembered, also, that ascending to "Total Enrichment" required going to classes and seminars, which, consciously, reminds me of scientology.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

separation anxiety

I feel like i'm being given a second chance at learning something i didn't learn when i was 16 (or maybe 17).

Back then, i fell completely head-over-heels in love with someone without really knowing them. We seemed to grow closer, without ever having a "dating" relationship, and one day they handed me a letter which basically said "it was nice knowing you, but our time of interaction is over: please leave me alone now."

I spent days in, near, or well past tears, wondering what it was about myself that they found so detestable, so utterly disgusting that they couldn't interact with me anymore. I couldn't really function at school and really didn't want to be around anyone.

I've felt this way recently, and though the circumstances are different, the final action ("go away, don't talk to me anymore") is equivalent.

What's the lesson here? It can't possibly be that i shouldn't get close to people. Is it that i shouldn't be so reliant on the approval of others for self-image? As social beings, i'm not sure it's possible to escape the need for validation of some kind. What's the lesson here? It can't possibly be that i shouldn't care what someone i love thinks or feels.

What's the lesson here?

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Minerva (the motorcycle i ride) passed the 17K mile mark today.
While i haven't put all those miles on her, i've put most of them on, and can pretty closely match my riding miles to those on Minerva (there have been a couple of other bikes, which compensates for the miles that Lisa put on Minerva early on).

17 thousand miles doesn't seem like much to most drivers of cars; a year or two of driving for the average city dweller. It seems so much farther on two wheels, and certainly more enjoyable and memorable. Somehow the mountains between San Francisco and Portland seem more vivid through a helmet visor than they do through a windshield in my memories.

Things are even more vivid on a bicycle, though. So, here's to hoping i can make it to 1700 miles on my bicycle in the near future.

Monday, November 06, 2006


After over three weeks of being in a constant state of near-tears (and, often, well passing the place where tears flow and finding the valley of racking sobs), it was good to have a weekend and a day of feeling ok.

In looking back over the last month of my life, i see more pain resulting from cowardice and supplication than would have resulted from fighting. I've learned that conflict can be productive, and doesn't have to mean that everyone loses. Sometimes, maybe more times than not, avoiding a fight (and by fighting, i just mean being brave and honest, even in the face of conflict) leads to more hurt than just dealing plainly with the conflict.

After being on top of the world and feeling like i'd reached a place of acceptance today, i have cause to look back at my shameful silence and burn in my own fear.

I wish i had a way to convey an apology to those i have wronged with my lack of support, i wish that i could ignore requests for privacy and space and deliver an apology, and i wish that it didn't feel like a violation of boundaries to want to do so.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Fado show

November 12th, the day before my birthday, i'm planning on going to a Fado show. My dad may or may not be one of the guitarists; he's played for the performer on tours before, but isn't currently listed as one of the musicians on the concert website.

I'm not sure why Fado gets lumped together with Jazz. It's much more like... well, it's not really like anything, but it isn't like Jazz. The performers can do a small amount of improvisation within a framework, but that kind of thing is usually reserved for smaller venues and often not performed publicly at all. In any case, i happen to like Fado quite a bit, and like introducing it to others.

I've sent mail to some folks, but thought that i may have missed a few. If you're interested in going to this event with a large-ish group around me, let me know and if i haven't acquired a group of tickets yet, i'll add you to the bunch.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

the before time. the long-long ago

I used to work for actually, more than that, it was a huge part of my identity. A part i've purged mostly from my memory. Someone forwarded a link to jwz's collection of netscape/mozilla photos, and i couldn't resist looking through them. I found myself surprised to see some pictures of me there. Mostly from the meeting at netscape (RIP, may AOL cease performing necrophilia on you) where the mozilla.organs were introduced, and the concepts of the new, open development process were laid out to the engineering team. You'll notice, also, if you ever see me these days, that i still wear the same shoes, though they're re-soled.

There's also a good one of me being really depressed in a meeting after the AOL buyout. It turned out, i think, to be a better thing for in the long run, but it was a depressing end to the business life of a great place to work.

Fortunately for me, i keep finding fantastic places to work.

Friday, July 21, 2006


Pixar is throwing a small car show (as it does every year) today. Free food, helicopter landing in the soccer field, fancy cars, and car-themed movies showing in the theatre.

I'm holed up in my office. Partially because i have a deadline to make, and partially because i really don't want to be around anyone else right now. Something that i should have seen coming has happened, and due to my obliviousness i feel like a trapdoor has opened under my heart, and now it's sitting in my stomach being digested.

I have so much to be thankful for... I have to keep remembering that, or I'm not going to want to be around anyone for a long while.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

90 degree rotation

Of monitors makes a huge difference in how readable documents, source code, and webpages are... at least with displays that aren't square. Having my monitors in portrait configuration feels a little weird, but any time i'm reading or writing (which is just about all i do) having more vertical space is better than having more horizontal space. I recommend anyone that does a lot of computer reading/writing try it!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

new old feelings

My father tried calling late last week; he claims he left no message, but Andy says sie heard two messages from him on voicemail. Sie forgot to tell me he called for a day or so, and we were near Guerneville at that point, and i had no cell coverage. Upon returning to radio-wave-bathed civilization, I get a voicemail from him piteously crying for some word from me, to let him know everything is alright.

This from my father, the man who taught me (by example) that you should really just relax about calling people you love; that if something's wrong, people will call. Also the man who i felt abandoned by as a child (maybe not through any fault, just by circumstance). I think as he ages, as our extended family shrinks over time, he's starting to feel the weight of his choices, and is maybe projecting his newfound need for family closeness at me. I love my dad, and thought that i had long ago accepted his foibles and wouldn't be rattled by his hypocrisy.

Dropping Antonio at daycare this morning, he gave me a look as i stood at the door waving goodbye, and the look spoke volumes to me. It said "Why are you leaving? I'm your only child and my life is racing by, and you only spend a fraction of it with me. Why are you leaving?" I am, in so many ways, just like my father, just like my other parents. I just want to know how to keep Antonio from feeling the way i did... he's too young to understand why dad has to be away, and even if he could, wouldn't he be justified in feeling abandoned (at least emotionally) anyway?

This world is cruel. Even when we want to do the best for someone, we leave them scarred and scared and feeling alone.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

it's called a "lay zer"

I'm surpised terrorists haven't used them to bring down planes over the UK!

Friday, March 31, 2006

Dream Log

Andy and i have a moment of tension that doesn't get resolved, and i rush off to get on an airplane; i'm on the plane with a male acquaintance or good friend, but i can't remember who. The plane is buffeted about by strong winds, which i normally love, but this time makes me feel uneasy. The plane eventually nicks a building or maybe a high-tension power line tower, and goes down. I have just enough time to think of what a jerk i was before we're all smeared on the ground.

As i die, i feel the energy released from every single cell in my body as it dies; i feel heat unlike any fever, and feel my consciousness leave the physical. I am filled with love, and even the regret i felt right before i died goes away. I know everything is going to be fine.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Dream Log

As part of my Krav Maga (very light, one-class-per-week) training, Keith (the head of security at Pixar, and the instructor of the class) had me undergo something that seemed more like hazing than training, and had me take an ambien and see how long i could keep my elbows off the floor.

The setting for the dream was, i think, the gazebo/classroom from River's dream in Serenity.

I took the challenge very seriously, and fought off the effects of the ambien, and various temptations to sleep, in addition to some more physical challenges in the form of people trying to force me to the ground. I refused to lay down. I ended up getting very paranoid in my sleepless state, and woke up before i actually ended the challenge, feeling very smug.

Then, i realized i was in bed, and my elbows were down.

What does it mean to dream about not sleeping? About succeeding at something that, while you're sleeping and when you awake, you are a total failure at?

Friday, March 24, 2006

chocolate in bed

Despite every delicious thing that had happened the night before, the best part of the date came when i brought coffee and chocolate to them in bed the next morning.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Dream Log

I had a dream last night that Andy (and maybe John) conspired to track down my old friend from elementary school, Mike O'Neil. My brain had age-changed his appearance, but left enough similarities there that i would recognize him.

We hugged and started catching up, and that's all i can recall.

I think that's why today i've felt so disconnected. I'm realizing how few friends i have from my time growing up. Paul and Mike are the only two i miss. I think i can still get back in touch with Paul; each time we've tried to reconnect, time and family obligations seem to get in the way.

Mike, though, has been missing for much longer. Or maybe i've been missing.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Being Ill Is Not Fun

Today felt like a complete waste of time at work today. I can't tell if it's the dayquil or the cold making my head too foggy to debug code.

The weekend was also hampered mightily by illness, though it didn't manage to ruin the Big Work Party this weekend. Seeing everyone in formal getup blew me away. Dressing in formal getup gave me much pleasure, as well. Perhaps Andy and I will attend more formal-attire events in the future, now that we have a bit more wardrobe support for it.

Had to cancel sunday's fun activity because i couldn't talk... still can barely talk. Ended up visiting family with Antonio and doing tech support for their poor, unfirewalled microsoft computers. One of the many positive aspects of visiting my family, though, is being stuffed to the gills with really, really tasty food.

It'll give me a heart attack by the time i'm 60, but i will have seriously enjoyed living.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Easy come, easy go

Andy had to turn down a job offer today because the employer was offering below prevailing wage for electrical, and the Local 6 rep reminded her that she really shouldn't work for less than she's worth. It's a valid point, it's just unfortunate that there are no actual, you know, jobs being offered through the union hall lately (where lately is the last 6 months).

The union is great, and i support her for making the decision she made, we're just in kind of an unfortunate bind of having to pay for day care just in case she gets called for a job... because if we don't, we won't have daycare when the job call comes in.

Really what I'm sad about, and i think i speak for Andy too, is that we won't have access to the cool plastic mold-form making tools and woodshop.

Dream Log

I had to watch as my underwater city was attacked and destroyed, despite the valiant efforts of my niece, Penny (i guess that makes me inspector gadget?). Antonio survived, as did Andy, but i remember waking up sad that my niece, Penny, was no longer with us.

This could take some analysis.

Friday, March 03, 2006


Work has been cranking this week, very very busy.

Spent an evening out last night with a friend i haven't had a chance to talk with much, and it was great to just sit and talk and then walk around and look at art. I think it was very good for both of us to get out, and just relax and reconnect.

I have made a lot of emotional progress with respect to my grandfather in the last couple of weeks. I no longer burst into tears when i think about him, or about him being gone, or whenever i happen to see a picture of him. I actually smile when i contemplate his existence and the influence he had on the world, and on my life specifically. I know he is either no longer a conscious entity, or he exists somewhere else, in some other state, in his blissed out calm, and either way i know he'd want, or would have wanted, people to be happy for having known him, and not missing out on the living yet to be done.

Thanks to everyone who helped me by just listening and talking.

Andy got a facilities job offer from an art school. She needs to check with her union before taking it, just to make sure she won't be ejected for taking the work. Hopefully it will work out, because the union is really not providing any work for her at all, and it stresses her out staying home.

In gardening news, Andy's garden has yielded its first potatoes. Yum!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Funeral (and wake)

Andy, Antonio and i were late leaving for the funeral. The night before we had rushed home from the Rosary and Mass because of illness. I wasn't sure i was feeling up for going to the Funeral, and was almost sure that Andy wouldn't be going. She surprised me by saying she felt better, and was up for driving down with me. By the time all this was worked out, i didn't think we had time to make it to the funeral home before the procession left for the the cemetary. Fortunately, i know where it is, having been there for four funerals and numerous visits on various birthdays of the departed.

We made it there, Andy driving because it was my turn to be ill and because i was growing more distraught as the morning went on. We arrived before the procession, by about ten or fifteen minutes, and followed along with them to the mausoleum. My grandfather surprised me by wanting to be put in the armário (cabinet) rather than be buried in the earth.

This funeral was like the other four i had been to at this cemetary. All the usual suspects of my extended family. People i saw, at most, once a year. Sometimes once every five years. People who i recognized but i could not name. Some people who i couldn't even recognize, but who still seemed familiar. Cousins and their families and friends of the family. My grandfather's only living brother was there, of course. Another of the brothers, Joe, died within the last few months, and i wonder if David is going to depart soon as well.

Having Antonio there to run around and be rambunctious saved me from complete despair, and i think helped my father and grandmother as well. The priest was quite supportive of the little whirlwind of life running around as he gave his talk. The service was quite short, i think at the request of my family. It seemed like it was done within five minutes of people being seated, and when the priest said "this concludes the services" i think most of those in attendance were a little shell-shocked.

The entombment was meant to be close family only, but of course everyone else hung around for it. I don't think they meant to be rude, but they certainly didn't pick up on the hint that it wasn't generally announced, and the priest said "you can go home now," and that the close family were individually asked to walk to the armário. The crowd moved together and watched as they put the coffin into its place. I watched Antonio run around and yell at things in the morning sun.

After the casket was in place, the workman started putting in the mortarboard and caulking, and it seemed like enough was enough. People started trickling away to the plaza outside the mausoleum, where people lingered and consoled the grieving for what seemed like a long time in relation to the ceremony itself, but was in reality just ten or fifteen minutes. I re-acquainted myself with a man i met when i was a boy, when i went fishing with my grandfather. He was a young man, possibly a teenager, at the time, and didn't speak that much english. I didn't recognize him at first, but seeing him reminded me of that fishing trip, and i was glad he was there.

We had planned on going home directly after exchanging things with my mom, because we didn't want to get people sick at my grandmother's house, but we ended up staying. I'm not sure why, exactly, and we didn't talk about it. We just ended up staying. Despite having not announced a wake of any kind, much of the extended family arrived, with food and drink, and stayed into the evening. The grandkids all stayed in a separate room, with Andy (and sometimes Antonio). I don't think we wanted to be around a lot of people, so we left that for our parents. I'm sure i dozed off in the chair i sat in... and i know i just stared off into space most of the time i was awake. I've been doing that a lot since then, too.

I feel like an outsider to that family, like i feel in most social settings... i don't really understand the customs and i don't speak the language, and really don't hold a lot of the same views of life. I feel like my dad is much the same, but he's allowed because he's a rebellious musician. I wonder if my grandfather ever felt that way, if it's something that runs in the family. In any case, when we left, i felt like one more large family event had gone by and that i hadn't done the proper thing by them.

I drove us home, as Andy had taken ill again, and contemplated going to work the next day.


Today i can't concentrate or remember much of anything. I don't know how to deal with this other than to ride it out and keep talking to people. Simultaneously, the only thing that i want to do is curl into a small ball and sob.

Andy suggested i seek therapy to deal with this. It's a good suggestion, since i've always had issues with death and the concepts around cessation of being.

I've been wanting to write more about the funeral and wake, and i will. Just not right now.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Viewing, Rosary, Mass (Funeral and wake another time)

I didn't imagine on Monday that today all of these things would be done already.

Tuesday night we visited my family in Mountain View, and learned that all the formalities of death would be done by Thursday. Andy had offered our services for producing the programs for the events; apparently, while the funeral home offers such services, the prices they charge are inordinately high. It cost us a few hours of effort, but I think everyone agrees the personalization we put into it was worth it.

I notified work that I'd be gone for the days, and then did my best to get ready for it. Fortunately, i still possess a suit or two i can fit into. I don't know why i was so fixated on wardrobe, my grandfather wouldn't have cared if i had worn a sweater and jeans. I know i don't really care that much for my extended family's opinion. Perhaps i felt like i needed to look well for my grandmother, for my father. I have thought in the past that i didn't really realize my place in my family, but i feel i'm starting to. I feel like a tenuous link in my familial chain, connecting its past with its future. I feel fortunate that my grandfather got to see the future of his family before he died.

After the programs were made and the family attired properly, we headed down. We made it to the house before anyone else was even dressed; I took my aunt, who had made all the arrangements, to the funeral home to make sure the body looked ok. Seeing the shell of the Giant from my youth lying still in the wooden box reminded me of the other two viewings i had been to in this very same funeral. We were greeted by one of the owners of the funeral home, who dealt with us very brusquely. We asked for his advice of where to put programs and flowers and pictures and the guest book we brought, and he pointed out that "the family was going to take care of all of that." As if, because we didn't pay enough, he couldn't deign to say "this is where people will come in." I understand these places offer their expertise as a service for hire, and i have no idea how much money was spent for their services to begin with, but it seems like someone in his business would have more tact than that. I felt like we were trapped in an episode of six feet under.

We decided, upon seeing the body, that the lips were too pink, and we asked to speak with the cosmetologist to correct it. We had to wait for an hour (an hour after the viewing started!) to speak to him. I decided that grandma should probably not come until after all the corrections were made. My father showed up when just my aunt and i were there. The three of us had a chance to grieve together, which was good. I hadn't had a chance just let go, and for some reason i felt comfortable doing it with them, and they needed to be able to do so as well. I had expected to have this experience with my dad when we first saw each other at the airport, but it didn't happen until we were both there in the presence of the lifeless husk of our shared ancestor. My aunt probably hadn't had a chance to let go since it happened, as she had busied herself with making the necessary arrangements. I can't say it felt good, but it certainly felt necessary.

I went back to the house and waited to take my grandmother to the viewing. She wanted to go near the end, and i can't say i blamed her at all. Andy had gotten very quesy in the early afternoon... Antonio had given us both a present in the form of a stomach bug. We're still recovering, and it peaked in intensity for Andy between the viewing and the Rosary. I think because i hadn't had much of an appetite and hadn't eaten that much, i was spared the worst of it. In any case, we ended up taking turns taking care of Antonio (along with my mom) during the Rosary: he refused to sit still or be quiet. We arrived too late for me to be a pallbearer, which made me a little sad. We had to leave immedately after the mass because of the sickness, and didn't get a chance to meet with the extended family... I would get to see them all the next day, which i will write about later.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Adeus, avô

This past Sunday, February 12, 2006, my grandfather, Antonio, passed away. He's the first grandparent I've lost to death. While I am loathe to depict him as more loved than the other parents of my parents, he arguably has had the biggest effect on my outlook on life. My Omi in Switzerland taught me many things: don't put more food on your plate than you'll eat, wash the dishes when you're done, recycle, save when you can, and walk whenever possible. Opa is a little more distant, less hands-on. Avó Maria taught me things as well, but her way of looking at the world never really was echoed by my own heart.

While I don't speak that much Portuguese, I understand enough to know that as long as I've known him Avô Antonio never had a hateful or spiteful thing to say. Some of his notions regarding the unknowability of history (because, hey, were you there to see it? How do you know it really happened?) I found amusing. He gave a lot of time to contemplation; He had that understanding and empathy that so many people don't have, that allows you to see past the immediacy of situations and recognize life as a brief, fleeting opportunity to take care of one another.

Growing up, I always assumed that he had always been this way. When i was a toddler, he was a Giant to me. A Giant who always gave me a smile and a reassuring pat on the head or shoulders. A man stronger than any other i knew, and also gentler. He seemed to live utterly without fear. As I got older and started out on career paths that demanded long hours, and little time for family, he advised me to work to live, not live to work. I am told by family that the one time in my life i had been spanked, it was by his hand. Just a single swat from him was all it took for me to start behaving: not only on that day, but in perpetuity. Even in my young mind, I recognized that he wouldn't have struck me unless I had really done something wrong.

I discovered only much, much later in life that he hadn't always been this benevolent, kindhearted man. Stories i have heard of his youth are completely foreign to my conception of him. They are stories of an angry, even violent, man. Hearing these stories made me feel bad for my grandmother, my father, and his siblings. The more I thought about it, though, the more I appreciated the enormous change my grandfather made. He became someone completely different, in part because i think circumstances in his life forced him to reasses how he lived and behaved, the kind of example he set for the people around him.

He had devoted his life to caring for his daughter Alita, who is developmentally disabled and requires constant care. I think that drive is what kept his heart beating as long as it has, and I think in large part contributed to the dramatic changes he made in his outlook and treatment of others. His only concern in the last few years was taking care of her, and making sure that she would continue to be looked after when he died.

By accounts, he died in his sleep. He sat down in a comfy chair, dozed off, and for whatever reason, decided to stay asleep. When i first heard the news, it was described to me as "collapsing" followed by attempted resuscitation by the EMTs. I had, in my mind, imagined him walking down the hall and falling down... followed up by having current applied across his chest to try and get his heart to beat again. Not the peaceful end I had always imagined for him, but a frightening, painful struggle against the approaching end. It kept me up Sunday night, imagining my fearless, kind, strong grandfather scared and hurt at the end. To hear that he passed with a slight smile on his face put me at ease, and gives me some solace when i contemplate his absence in my life.

I will likely write more over the next couple of days as more thoughts come to me in my sobbing fits. I will talk about his numerous professions, his optimism, the effect aging had on his ability to be physically active. About his family and how much we'll all miss him.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Radio can be fun

Yesterday Andy and i heard an ad for Mighty Leaf Tea and couldn't help laughing uncontrollably at various phrases used. We are children in big bodies, when "loose leaf," "mighty leaf teabags," and "full bodied flavor" all elicit howls. For those who haven't heard yet, Angie is going by Andy these days, in a long-desired effort to ungender her name. Most people i tell about this disagree that Andy is a gender-neutral name, but i think she's ok with it being on the masculine side. She's definitely planning on having chest surgery, but i think that's the extent of the body modification she's going to undergo. It's not that she wants to be a man, it's just that she doesn't feel the need to carry around a bunch of extra weight she finds utterly (udderly?) pointless. When Antonio is done with them, i think she will be, too.

Andy has fully recovered from her post-pregnancy-minor-complication surgery; She's
healthy enough to go to the Union hall to wait for work, and healthy enough to go to the gym and exercise, and go out on dates. She's really enjoying SF; not having to explain the term "poly" to people helps immensely.

New Year's Resolution

This year, i told myself, i will learn an instrument. For some reason, i feel the need to start at the beginning and learn to read sheet music. Progress is elusive: i know what the lines on the sheets of music represent, but i still have a hard time remembering the notation for note durations. When i was young, i knew this better than i know it now. I could even play a recorder reasonably near what the notes on the page instructed. Where did that go? The same place my fluent Portuguese went, i suppose. I hope that some remnant is buried in my brain, but i fear that it's all been flushed from memory.

On the other hand, i'm starting to remember c++, which is slightly more critical. I also have a great relationship with Antonio, which is highest on my list of priorities.

So that's what the ISO setting means!

It only took 14 months, but i've finally started using the manual features of my spiffy camera. I knew there had to be a way to take low-light pictures, i just never bothered tweaking the settings by hand. The camera does so much automatically, i figured "it will adjust for low light when i turn the flash off, right?" Well, not so much. That seems like something it should be easy to put into the software: Turn off the flash, bump up the ISO setting (which is the digital equivalent of having "faster" film). Alas, no. The next step is figuring out how to make that setting persistent, since most of my pictures are indoors and relatively low light.