Tuesday Oct 12, 2010

This blog is no longer active

I thought I would keep up blogging here when I moved most of my content to a personally owned blog, but that just hasn't happened. If you'd like to continue following me, please point your browsers to my new site.

Sunday Jul 18, 2010

Team Salty Dawgs Did It!!!!!!

Wow! In one of the most amazing experiences of my life, I completed over 100 miles with my fabulous teammates in the American Lung Association's Breathe Easy Ride. I raised $4300 and the team raised $7656 (before any corporate matching) to help make lung disease walk the plank!

Since January, I had ridden over 1600 miles on my road bike, but still nothing could've prepared me for this. It was intense, exhilarating, heart breaking, exhausting, difficult and full of joy, laughter and unexpected camaraderie. My team was my pack. I could not have done it without their physical and emotional support, and the amazing support of all of you who donated to my ride and sent me inspiring letters.

A misfit team of current Oracle and former Sun employees, all with different abilities and skills, started leaving the parking lot at the Sonoma Mountain Village about 5:40AM on June 26th onto the foggy and desolate roads of Rhonert Park. I left first, as I am the slowest rider on the team, and found myself riding amazingly fast accompanied only by horses and cows, trying to get as many miles under my belt before my team caught up with me. The air was thick with fog and quite cool, and I quickly warmed up as I was maintaining speeds over 15 mph.

Mark, Richard & John caught up with me after nearly a half an hour, apparently wondering where I'd gotten off to as they were not expecting that sort of speed from me... and warned me not to spend all my energy too soon. :-) Mike & Bryn were the last group to leave the parking lot, and inadvertently followed some 66 mile riders and started off on the wrong path - bypassing the rest of the team completely...until later.

As per my plan, I spent only the minimal amount of time at the first two rest stops - just stuffing my face with potatoes (YUM! roasted with rosemary!) and fruit, reloading my Cytomax and topping up my water. At the third rest stop, we had a surprise: Mike! Poor Mike was getting over a bad cold and just couldn't keep Bryn's pace, but this was good for us as we now had 5 people in our pack!

The weather stayed on our side, remaining cool, foggy and overcast until about 10 AM when the Sun just started to peak through. The five of us maintained time trial positions (single file line, each rider right on the back wheel of the one in front), taking turns at the front. While I am used to drafting with one or two people, the formation with this group of 5 riders had us moving like the wind! At our 4th rest stop (55 miles in), we were still maintaining an average speed over 15mph, even with several moderate climbs past us. We were cool, fresh and all felt great!

Then came Coleman Road. As we started the climb, John & Mike got out ahead of us, missed a turn and went 5 miles out of the way before realizing their mistake. Richard, Mark and I slowly climbed up this steep and soul crushing road, when lo-and-behold, down came Bryn! Curious as to why he was going the wrong way, we stopped only to discover that when he finished his descent to the coast and reached HWY1, it was so impassible with fog, his only option was to turn around and climb back up Coleman Road.

Bryn regaled us with tales of rough road and cattle grates before continuing onto his own personal journey, but not even his warnings could prepare us for what lay ahead. I could've used my mountain bike, the roads were so rough and twisty (and why on earth were there so many cattle grates?!?! WHY!?!)... heck, I could've used a car. It was brutal, desolate, frightening and beautiful.

When we reached HWY1 about 70 miles in, it was foggy, but we had at least a quarter mile of visibility, so Mark, Richard and I persevered ahead - little did we know poor John was back on track and doing that terrible climb alone, even though he'd already done an extra 500 feet/10 miles on his detour. It was noon, and I foolishly thought that I could do 30 miles in just under 2 more hours....

The climb out of the coast and back to the valley was unbearable. My legs were tired. I was hungry & thirsty. Fortunately, Mark had been carrying around extra food & water all day - as there were more than 30 miles of intense climbing and scary descents between rest stops! Mark was happy to lose the extra weight, and Richard & I were happy to have food and water :-)

For those of you who are curious, we were following (in reverse) the Tour de California route - yes, serious climbs for professional riders. The pavement was graffiti'd with ALLEZ, ALLEZ, ALLEZ and various rider's names.

After finishing our descent into the valley, we found Mike, who had backtracked on the route in order to skip the Coleman climb (since he'd done that bonus 10 miles with John), yet still get 100 miles in.

When we arrived at the 5th rest stop at mile 82 a bedraggled mess, happily greeted by volunteers from the Salvation Army with warm roasted potatoes, nuts, and ice cold water. The sun was out by then and we were all getting tired. As the four of us pulled out of the rest stop, we spotted John pulling in. Knowing he'd catch up, we continued on. At this point, every little hill just killed me. I'd have to immediately drop into granny gear and just use every ounce of energy I had just to keep spinning my legs. My quadriceps were burning. My IT-bands were on fire. I could only think of all the support I had and I knew I had to finish. Mark, knowing how important this was to me, literally pushed me up the remaining hills, even though he was beyond exhausted himself.

Terrified of being removed by SAG for taking so long, as the ALA said would happen, I just kept spinning, making it to the 93 mile rest stop just as they were closing. They gave us some fig bars and cold water and we were on our way again - this time with John!

Somewhere on those last 10 miles, Mark, Richard and I got separated from the group when we had to wait an insanely long time to turn left at a T-intersection. As the three of us were on final approach, Richard ran over a small drill bit that managed to pierce the wheel and slide \*into\* the spoke. Mark & Richard weren't sure if they were going to get that drill bit out, so I pushed on ahead.... and missed a turn, getting lost with 103 miles completed.

In the end, I rode 105.5 miles, Average speed 13.2mph, 8 hours of riding, 10 hours total door-to-door, burned 4544 calories and climbed about 6500 feet.

The most difficult thing I've ever done. I'm still recovering. Thank you everyone! Thank you!

Tuesday May 18, 2010

Now Appearing in Gypsy!

Sorry for the long delay since my last post - I've been busy rehearsing for my opening of Gypsy at Hillbarn Theater in Foster City!

I'm playing the role of Miss Cratchitt in Act I and Renee in Act II, and having a blast! I haven't been on stage at Hillbarn since I appeared as Minnie Fae in Hello Dolly several years ago.  It's a great production with an amazing cast and crew!

Annmarie Martin is amazing as Mama Rose and inspiring to me as an actress. When I have my scenes with her, I feel a passion and character connection that forces me to be perfectly on my game and in the scene.  She's a total pro - literally! Not to mention an incredibly nice person who does some amazing knitting and crochette. Oh, and she's an avid Sharks fan - check her out singing the Canadian and American national anthems in the Shark tank!

Every actor I'm sharing the Hillbarn stage with are taking the production very seriously - always in character, hair & makeup always done as designed, costumes kept nice, and engaged in the scene - even if they don't even have any lines.

And the crew.... first of all, it's the first time I've ever been on a show with an entirely female run crew! [1] Yay, women techies! They are super organized - everything just runs smoothly. Sets are where they need to be and props are always in the right place.  Thank you, Joey, Rosie, Haley, Aya, and Andrea!

Beyond the run crew, the orchestra is spot on; the sound guy, Steven, monitors the levels perfectly throughout the show; sets are repaired as needed by our fantastic set designer/builder, Lee Basham; gorgeous costumes from Shannon & Mae; lovely hair-dos from Dee & Kathleen; and things run smoothly thanks to producer Lee Foster!

If you get a chance, please come see the show - we've been selling out nearly every night, so buy your tickets sooner than later! Let them know you're coming to see me. It's a wonderful production - you won't be disappointed!

[1] Nick, our fill-in techie, is not a woman and still really awesome!

Tuesday Mar 23, 2010

OpenSolaris Constitution passed, new OGB voted in... and thanks!

I am so happy to be able to write that the new OpenSolaris constitution has received a strong majority of votes and was ratified by the community!  While I was still frustrated that we didn't get closer to 90% turnout, since becoming a member of the electorate is voluntary and comes with only one responsibility: voting, but I was thrilled to hit a new high for OpenSolaris elections of 71% voter turnout!

Thank you, everyone, for taking the time out of your schedule to participate and make this happen. I am happy for the entire 2010/2011 OGB: 

  • Dennis Clarke
  • Moinak Ghosh
  • Teresa Giacomini
  • Simon Phipps
  • John Plocher
  • Joerg Schilling
  • Peter Tribble

I think they'll all do a great job, especially under the terms of the new constitution!

It was with great pleasure I was able to serve on the board for this past year. I learned many things about myself, some good - some bad, and how better to work with others, when we are not necessarily seeking a common goal. I loved meeting community members, working to fix our problems, identifying things for future OGBs and shaping our community. I feel I have grown and matured in ways I could've never imagined and thank all of you for letting me participate so closely in the governance of your community.

While time commitments didn't let me re-run for the OGB, I am excited about the new board and wish them all luck! I'm sure they'll do a great job.

Thursday Mar 18, 2010

OpenSolaris Election for new OGB and New Constitution is open now!

The OpenSolaris community elections are well underway, yet we are still very low (in my opinion) with the number of people that have actually cast ballots!  Everyone who has accepted a core contributor grant is expected to cast a ballot, though it is not required that you vote for both the candidates and the constitution in order to have a valid ballot.  Out of the 428 eligible voters, only 270 have cast a vote.

The out going OpenSolaris Governing Board (OGB) worked very hard on the new constitution which requires a majority of the eligible voters to approve it in order to pass. While more than a majority have logged in a cast a ballot, we missed passing last years constitution by only a handful of votes, so I'd really like to see our number of voters hitting 300-350.  Really, there's not much else a core contributor grant gives you, right now, in the community other than the right to vote in the annual election.

So, if you are a core contributor (or not sure if you are or not), please hop on over to the polling place and cast your ballot in this critical election. (if you're not eligible, the system won't let you vote ;)

Thank you! Valerie

Friday Mar 12, 2010

A Crack in the Mirror

A few months ago, I started a second blog that was simply just a mirror of this one. While I am certainly welcome to continue doing my personal blogs on this site, I feel it's time to find a more appropriate home for my beer, theater and book reviews, travel notes, and life observations. So, to keep in touch with what I'm up to on a personal level, please head on over to blogger.

I will still certainly put personal observations on security and privacy here. Additionally, all entries posted here will still be mirrored on blogger.

And speaking of security observations, I cannot believe how insanely fast these guys installed an ATM skimmer. Makes me glad that I usually use the ATMs on the Sun campus.  In theory, fewer criminals should have access to ours :)

Wednesday Mar 10, 2010

Dan Roberts on OpenSolaris ... or Something Useful in our meeting!

As part of the existing OpenSolaris constitution, we (the OpenSolaris Governing Board) are required to hold an annual "meeting" before the election in order for the election to be valid.  While, generally, this involves a fetch a rock exercise of core contributors (aka "members") logging into the forum, announcing themselves, then logging off, we do occasionally have useful and interesting conversations here. (and before you comment how silly that requirement is, please note that we have a new proposed constitution at this year's election that removes the annual meeting requirement).

Peter Tribble invited Dan Roberts to our virtual meeting the day after it started, and he joined and was very forthcoming about Oracle and their thoughts on OpenSolaris and Solaris:

"Oracle is investing more in Solaris than Sun did prior to the acquisition, and will continue to contribute technologies to OpenSolaris, as Oracle already does for many other open source projects."

While not all questions could be answered at that time, I was very pleased to see the community being engaged and concerns listened to.

Tuesday Feb 23, 2010

Nominations for OpenSolaris Governing Board 2010-2011 are open!

The current OGB is taking nominations for the next OGB who will be in office from April 1, 2010 until April 1, 2011.  Serving on the OGB has been an enlightening and very interesting experience!  Nominations are just open until March 1, so please don't delay in nominating yourself or others you think would do a good job on this board.

A tip of the hat to my colleague, Peter Tribble,  for already writing up all the gory details! Please check out his blog for more information.

Friday Jan 15, 2010

TADA Presents Godspell!

We were lucky enough to catch one of the final dress rehearsals for TADA!'s musical, Godspell! TADA!'s group of "Blue Plaid Players" put on an annual production to raise money for the performing arts at Presentation High School in San Jose.  This year's cast is full of teachers and alums from the school, along with a few parents and just happy actors. With such a motley collection, you might think the performance would be subpar - but it wasn't!

I had originally thought they had brought in ringers for Jesus and John the Baptist/Judas, but Chris Cozart (Jesus) and Eric Buell (John the Baptist/Judas) are both teachers from Presentation! Who knew the halls of this Catholic girl's school was holding so much talent!

I loved the costumes, by Diana DieBold, which were very eclectic and reminiscent of the Original production of Godspell in 1970.  Director Jim Houle took the usual liberties with the script by updating a few scenes. One demonstrates the pitfalls of greed with a recent flash back to the housing debacle, and the prodigal son was retold with ... Star Wars characters!  Great lighting from Heather Kenyon, too.

Other standout performers included Kristen Gradwohl, Kris Heiser, Dave Coldren, Scott King... well, and everyone else in the cast! If you get a chance to catch this show, it opens on January 16th and runs through January 24th.

Friday Jan 08, 2010

Goodbye, Grandma Dianne

2009 was a bad year for the women I called Grandma. I lost Grandma-ma (mother's mom) on January 1, 2009. Grandma Dianne, my father's stepmother, passed on December 30, 2009, after a long battle with osteoporosis and COPD, at the age of 87.

Some would say she wasn't my grandmother at all, as we had no blood ties, but to me she was the only grandmother I ever knew on my dad's side.  My dad's mother, Ginny (aka Munner to my siblings) died when my mother was pregnant with me, so I never met her (though I heard many wonderful stories about her).

I have many happy childhood memories of staying at Grandma Dianne's house, and walking through the woods with Grandaddy and visiting with my cousins, Leslie and Mike, that lived nearby.  Grandma Dianne always had a few pesky, yet photogenic, raccoons living in the woods behind the house - we loved to watch them as children. Grandaddy passed away in 1981, but we still visited Dianne often for years to come.

After I moved away to school, I couldn't visit, but regularly exchanged lengthy letters with Grandma Dianne. She often included pictures of her dogs and shared stories of her youth, and I was always so happy to see a note from her in my dorm mail box.

As the years went by, Dianne stopped replying to my correspondence, but did tell my mother how happy she was to receive them. She was embarrassed of how much her hand writing had deteriorated, so I started calling her instead.  It was always nice to talk to her, as she would reminisce about Grandaddy (Danny, to her), her sister and father, her beloved dogs: Missy, Daisy and a charcoal colored one she had as a girl, and about her travels to England as a young woman.  She was always excited to hear about the shows I was in or had recently seen and all of the trips I had been taking, always asking for more pictures.

She spoke frequently of how much she loved her 6 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren, even though some of the great-grandchildren lived far away and she never got to see them in person.

This year for Christmas, my parents gave me Grandma Dianne's china.  I was pretty sure this china was passed down from her English ancestors, but when I called her to thank her for them, she was already too weak to answer the phone.

I will miss my phone calls with her. To me, she was always my grandmother.

Wednesday Dec 23, 2009

How Doctors Think: A review

How Doctors Think How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a phenomenal book that changed the way I looked at every doctor's visit I've ever had, along with questioning at least one diagnosis from my past.

Groopman told story after story about how once one doctor gives you a diagnosis, most other doctors will shut down their "cognitive reasoning" and never question that diagnosis and will keep trying to treat something you may not have. In some stories, this resulted in the death of a patient. He also talks about how physician lore and influence from drug and device companies perpetuate incorrect diagnoses and treatments.

For a personal example of a bad diagnosis sticking, I was diagnosed with carpel tunnel syndrome by a nurse practitioner who referred me to an orthopedic surgeon, who confirmed the diagnosis and was ready to operate. I then was lucky to meet my friend's cousin, a Harvard Med student, who within moments said "you don't even have the right symptoms for carpel tunnel - you have a pinched nerve in your neck and any surgery to your wrist would just cause you more pain and discomfort". My problem was corrected by a series of chiropractic adjustments - no surgery and now I'm pain free (and have been for years).

One poignant set of examples in the book that really stuck with me was about spinal fusion surgeries - these are very common and are well reimbursed by insurance companies, yet there is little evidence that they cure low back and extremity pain. There is little follow up done by the actual surgeons to see how the procedure impacted quality of life, and when follow up is done and the patient hasn't improved, they are simply told "well, you're one of the people this treatment doesn't help". Basically, if you don't have a spinal tumor or an actual broken back, back surgery probably won't help and will likely make things worse!

Groopman keeps things real by even referencing his own mistakes.

This book isn't a scary book, but rather one that gets you to think more about your own health and teaches you how to communicate with your doctor to help them keep out of the cognitive traps and really question what \*else\* could be wrong with you.

It is a must read for everyone! Really!

Thank you, Stormy, for recommending this. I wish I had read it years before!

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday Dec 22, 2009

Sun Carolers do it again!

The Sun Carolers did it again this year, touring the campus and delighting our fellow employees!  This year was different, though - it was caught on video!

The first, video by Bruce Kerr & audio by Jack SwartzThe 12 Bugs of Christmas!

These other two were recorded by Deirdre Straughan and feature "I'll Be Home For Christmas", "Merry Christmas, Happy New Year" (ala Hallelujah chorus), "Carol of the Bells", "Jingle Bells", "Hanukah, Oh, Hanukah" (partial), and "Let it Snow". Enjoy!

'Tis the Season for Giving

This is the time of year that we all get pinged by charities hoping to talk us all into a last minute charitable (and in the US, tax-deductible) donation. Separating the wheat from the chaff is a challenge, but with sites like Charity Navigator, it's easier than ever before.

Then along came Jen Yates, of Cake Wrecks fame,  and she's doing the coolest thing: using her massive quantity of blog followers to do GOOD! For 14 days this month, Jen and her husband are selecting a charity to give at least $200 to and asking her minions\^H... followers to each give just a dollar to these same charities that she has prescreened for us. It is so inspiring to see how many wells for clean water will be available now, how many children will have meals, how many homes can be built, etc. just due to this super simple plan.  Jen's appeals appear at the end of each of her daily wreckports, and are neither preachy nor too pleading.

I've found myself giving a few dollars each day to each of these charities - and am so impressed at how quickly a lot of people just giving a bit can add up so fast! Jen's even made a "round-up" page if you want to catch up on the giving!

In addition to those charities, I've lent my support this season to Second Harvest Food Bank, The Family Giving Tree, Heifer International, West Valley Light Opera, Purdue University (Women in Science & Computer Science funds), and the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition.

It seems in this day and age, everyone needs a little bit more help to stay afloat. If you can, help out the Cake Wrecks charity drive - even a dollar or two adds up when enough people participate. Where are you giving this season?

Wednesday Dec 16, 2009

Number of women on staff == "Best Place To Work" ?

I've read countless "Best Place to Work" lists over the years, and usually happy to find Sun on those lists (and knowing when it was missing that the people compiling the list obviously asked the wrong questions if they missed a wonderful company like this one).

The latest list I saw today, posted on Brazen Careerist's site, took a different approach - while specifically looking for companies that would be attractive to Gen Y (aka Millennials) - the looked at companies that offered a lot of flexibility. Realizing that nearly every company now-a-days self reports as being very flexible, the authors decided to use the metric of number of women employed being close to at least 50%.The rationalization was that women wouldn't tolerate a company that didn't offer true flexibility.

My first response was, "Cool! Who doesn't want to work with more women?!", and then I remembered that my teams have always been the exception (often with near 50% women, and never an all white team) - not sure why that is, are women just more attracted to security?  But I digress...I know my personal experience is not the norm.

Sun wasn't on that list. In fact, only two tech companies (Google & Yahoo) were, and I realized, that's probably because the saturation of women in technology is nowhere near 50%, so even tech companies that are very flexible and have "lots" (as a relative term) of women would not have qualified for this list.  What do you think? Should we be using a different metric for gender equality for tech companies? or just hope that the trend reverses and women start joining the tech force in droves?

Sun is a fantastic place to work and very flexible, btw, as recognized by many other lists - and by me :)

Tuesday Dec 15, 2009

Team Salty Dawgs Rides Again! Can you do it?

It may seem a bit early... but if you don't have plans for June 26, 2010, how about coming up to wine country with us and riding 30, 66, or 100 miles to raise money for the American Lung Association!? We'll make lung disease walk the plank! Argh, mateys! :)

Why am I bringing this up now? You can save $20 on the registration fee by registering before December 31, 2009. So, it's only $30 right now! The ride is wonderful and the support is great. Minimum fund raising is $150 - but you have more than 6 months to do it in, so it'll be easy!

This is my first year attempting 100 miles - I may end up only doing 66, but I'm going to train for the 100 and hopefully pull it off!  I'm a slow rider, though...but anyone that wants to join the team can know that you can ride faster with Mark :)

So, what do you say? Ready to ride?! Sign up on the team page!


Valerie's former weblog. The new one can be found at http://bubbva.blogspot.com/


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