Friday, December 30, 2005

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like

On the Tuesday before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, because I went to Champa with CL, JL, GA, EB and MP. We had a very good time and I got to have my pad thai with shrimp fix. It was too late at night for Thai iced tea, unfortunately. We were concerned, because Champa has started having a live jazz band play every Tuesday night and we though it might inhibit conversation, but it turned out that it wasn't that bad and we sat in the back. Afterwards, we headed over to Barnes and Noble. Given how crowded the one at Southpoint one was the previous weekend, I was surprised to see that there weren't many people at the Brier Creek one. That was good for us. I had a decaf cafe mocha with skim. Shocking.

I had been planning to make macaroons or brownies for the Duke University Library Staff Association (DULSA) Christmas party, but I got back much too late. I had to take purchased stollen instead. The party was fun. AJ helped me get through to the Gothic Reading Room, which I'd never seen before. There was catered barbecue and chicken and people brought desserts. It was all very good. There were karaoke Christmas carols and everything was very festive. No, I didn't sing.

One night when I got home, either Wednesday or Thursday, there were flowers from CL and JL waiting for me at my front door. It was 27F out, so the alstrloemarias were frozen and according to my answering machine message it had been outside for 2 hours, but it perked up amazingly well. It's a very pretty arrangement and I've enjoyed it all week.

Thursday morning I had to get up to test the Blackboard system at 6am. Old courses were moved to a different file system during the middle of the night so I needed to verify that everything was all right. It was. Around lunchtime NP and I tried out Cafe Zen at the American Tobacco Campus. While my dragon roll wasn't nearly as good as a Kurama wizard roll, it was still very good and had lots of avacado. They passed my mackerel test quite well. The service was horribly slow, but that might have been because they were short staffed so close to Christmas. NP told me all about his recent trip to South Africa, which was very interesting and entertaining.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Movies, Magnets and Macaroons

Last Saturday, I went to AC's house for a holiday party. Several people from CIT and SISS were there, so it was a lot of fun. It was also neat to see AC's beautiful new house. It has neat half-circular, circular and trapezoidal shaped windows, beautiful maple hardwood floors and a well thought out floorplan. The party was potluck, so there was a lot of great food. All of the coconut macaroons that I took got eaten, except for one.

Sunday, I went over to GM's. He, AE and I watched Gosford Park. That was a really good movie. It was a little hard to follow at the beginning, because there are so many characters and they look similar or at least have similar hairstyles. We were watching it on a 19" television, which may have made it more challenging. This is definitely a good and complicated a move that I would like to see again, just to see what I missed.

We had a minor ice storm and a lot of rain during the week, so I ended up going into work an hour late a couple of times. That turned out to be fortuitous on Friday, because I got a high priority page and would have ordinarily been driving when I received it.

Yesterday, I met GM and AE at Southpoint to see the new Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire. Southpoint is not a good place to go this time of year, because there were more people and cars there than could physically buy their merchandise. In fact, just getting in the parking lot at all was difficult. It turned out that they had removed the Harry Potter showing time that we had planned to go to, so we ended up seeing The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe instead. I'd been wanting to see that, too, so that was okay with me. We went to Barnes and Noble, but we didn't want anything there badly enough to wait in line to pay for it. We stopped by the Toll House Cookie Store beforehand, because that was less crowded than most places and ran into LA and some of her friends. We talked to her for a bit before AE noticed that we were going to be late for the movie, if we didn't get going. In fact, we were very lucky to get seats where we could all sit together.

Afterwards, JH met all of us at Rockfish. I got my oyster fix and we had a great time. GM gave sterling silver earrings to AE and me. Mine are interesting because the earwire is effectively part of the design of the earring, because it swirls around it. Those of you who wear earrings can probably guess they they are tricky to put on. I may have to allow some extra time in the morning to put them on, but they are very pretty. JH gave me a cool belated birthday present, a Geomag set. Basically, it's 64 steel balls and 120 small pole magnets, which you can use to build geometric shapes. I've already built some structurally unsound blobs and the the design in the photos. If I don't blog much in the next few weeks, it would be safe to assume that I'm still working on a buckyball.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Must Have Been Having Fun

I forgot to mention that on November 30th, I actually escaped work briefly and went to the final DBM networking lunch at the IBM site. As you may or may not recall, because I may or may not have spelled this out, DBM was the career couseling center with which all laid off IBM employees in RTP (and possibly other sites) had the option of working. Well, Wednesday of last week was their last day, because they were outbid by another company. It was a fun, because I got to catch up with many of the members of our "job club" and see the DBM staff once again. They had a lovely spread for us to eat, too.

This week I've been taking a couple of short courses on Mercury Quality Center Test Director and Mercury QuickTest Professional. We've had a very good, enthusiastic and knowledgeable instuctor, so it's been a good class. The tools seem potentially useful, but I don't know how long it will take to incorporate them into our own processes and systems. On Sunday and Monday, the weather was rainy and cold, so travel was very unpleasant. Since then, that's been ok, too, although a little chilly.

Yesterday was my actual birthday. It felt like a big deal the whole day, even though it was quite anticlimactic after Saturday's party. 30 years just seems like a long time and the last 15 years or so have gone by incredibly fast. I haven't thought about it much today, though, so that's good. Last night, my parents and I went to Kurama where we had sushi. I enjoy having the warm wizard rolls and eel, so it's nice to get it in the actual restaurant occasionally rather than always getting takeout.

Later last night, I got a call from an old friend, RA, who used to be a babysitter (or "kid"sitter as I used to say). It was very nice to hear from her. She said she hadn't seen me in 17 years and to me it just seems like just the other day. How did that happen?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Maturity is on the Way

Tonight is the last night that I will be in my 20s. Tomorrow, I will be magically transformed and feel like an adult.


Sunday, December 04, 2005

30th Birthday Party

Last night, I hosted my 30th birthday party, which was a load of fun and quite exhausting. My mom got me the the beautiful roses in the photos.

Friday night, after I got home from work and the Duke Computer Science Christmas party, I immediately started baking chocolate chip cookies. The next morning I started making two batches of coconut macaroons and two batches of brownies in between frenzied bouts of cleaning. My parents helped me out a tremendous amount with cleaning and preparing food that my mom picked up at Sam's, CostCo, Around the World Market and Wellspring.

I think approximately 32 people came to the party, including lots of friends from both Duke and IBM. I even got to see CL and JL's new Mini. We had a nice round of juggling, but don't think JH was pleased with my progress since I believe my juggling skills have actually regressed since we had our last juggling get together. Of course, I suspect that was also the last time I practiced. Several people brought great gifts, even though my invitation clearly said that they only needed to bring their date and a return receipt.

I just watched one of the most incredible endings to a Duke basketball game in non-tournament play that I've ever seen. I was sure Duke was going to lose to Virginia Tech, but Dockery pulled it off!