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This blog is no longer active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.

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 :)



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.


Tuesday Dec 22, 2009

'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 :)

Wednesday Dec 09, 2009

Monk's Kettle: November Beer Pairing Dinner!

I can't think of a better reason to take the train up to San Francisco than the Monk's Kettle's Beer Pairing dinner.  My second (or was it third?) beer dinner there was the November 4th event hosted by Firestone Walker Brewing Company.  We all got comfortable and finished our happy hour beers (note to self: happy hour beer not necessary when dinner comes with 6 beers) in our seats along the kitchen. It took me awhile to write this up, as I left my notes there and had to return again to retrieve them (for December's dinner). :)

Our host welcomed us and quickly told us, "No driving. The training wheels are off. These are real beers," and beer service began! All of these beers were barrel aged and got their primary fermentation in oak barrels, and they got stronger as the night went on.

We started with a nice English style pale ale poured from the cask, Double Barrel Ale. It was light and fruity, coming in at a nice 5%. This was paired with a delightful crostini with white bean puree and olive tapenade. YUM! This small amuse-bouche was delicious and a great way to start.

The salad course was served with a saison, Lil' Opal. We learned that this beer was actually an accident when it was created when a batch of Big Opal ended up too much sugar. I love happy little surprises like this!  We all loved this beer, for its lemony and sweet flavor, with just a touch of hoppiness.  My friend Lucas said, "It tastes like when doves cry". An unexpected and apt 80s references. but... then the salad came. The salad itself (red Belgian endives, baby letuces, shaved red onion, pomegranate seeds and feta) was delicious, but the "Lil' Opal Vinaigrette" did not pair well with the beer, changing the flavor to a distinctly PBR taste.  Not terrible, but nowhere near as good as the beer tasted without the food. In the future, I hope that Chef Kevin stays away from vinegar in these dinners.

My favorite course was the house-cured bacon stuffed dates drizzled with a balsamic reduction and topped with pickled shallots, served with house made cheddar bread. They came with Walker's Reserve, a very robust porter. Four pounds of oatmeal go into each barrel, along with chocolate malt and cascade hops. The beer I could've repeated this course several times - delicious!

(Yes, I know Balsamic is a vinegar, but in this reduction, it was sweet and not acidic.)

The main course was "A Drunken Lamb, A Rare Bird" - the lamb leg had been marinated in the beer that was paired with the course, Black Xantus, and came out very tender and the match was made in heaven.  The Black Xantus was a Russian Imperial Stout, made with Mexican coffee which made for a slightly bitter, but very nice, flavor. This is a beer that can really get you in trouble, coming in at 11% ABV!

For dessert, the scrumptious chocolate fondant cake was served hot with a side of Chantilly cream and mint.  There were also some "drunken Fuyu persimmons", but they had been left in the "cheap" bourbon a bit too long and we couldn't really eat them.

The bonus? Dessert came with two beers! Yay! Abucus, which was an American Barleywine coming in at 12% ABV, paired wonderfully with the chocolate cake, with its own dark cherry and chocolate flavors soaring when enjoyed together with the cake.  I also enjoyed the Firestone Twelve (which had been cellared for one year), another 12% ABV.  The Twelve had been aged in bourbon and brandy barrels, and then blended.

I really enjoy these dinners, as there is no rush, service is outstanding, and you get to hear directly from the brewers so you fall in love with the beer as much as they have. And while the event is not rushed, the staff is aware that we've all come via public transport and we always finish with time to pay the bill and get to the Caltrain station. :)

Wednesday Sep 30, 2009

Blog about to explode... in a good way...

In case you hadn't noticed yet, I'm in beautiful Tucson, AZ staying at the wonderful JW Marriot Starr Pass Resort for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. I'm an official blogger, plus I just like to use my blog as a way to take notes for sessions I'm not even the officially assigned blogger. What this means is that I'm about to have MANY posts over the next few days. The should all be under the GHC09 feed, and I'll try to start all the subjects with "GHC09" as well, in case you aren't interested. I should be back to irregularly scheduled and randomly themed blog posts by next week. :-)

Friday Aug 14, 2009

Mirror-Mirror

You haven't entered an alternate universe where evil men that look like your friends except they have goatees.... I've just mirrored by blog. Okay, I just created the account on blogger  and Katy Dickinson’s daughter, Jessica Dickinson Goodman, took my extracted entries and comments from 5 years of blogging and got my mirror on blogger.

Jessica was easy to work with and completed the move in just a couple of hours, fixing it up so it looked oh so nice.

For those of you that read my posts via Facebook as "notes" won't notice anything different. Most of you probably don't even know you're reading my blog right now. Gotta love this Web 2.0 stuff! :-)

Tuesday Aug 11, 2009

Firkin Friday!

We finally made it to the Tied House's First Friday Firkin last week. In case you don't know, "firkin" refers to the size of the barrel the beer is made in.  These once a month pleasures are made in the style of Real Ale - all the carbonation is a natural by product of the fermentation process with no CO2 added. This month's firkin was a nice, light, brown ale. Low in alcohol (3.8% ABV) and high in flavor. It was smooth, with only a slight hint of hops and served in proper pint sized glasses to boot!

The only downsides, really, were that the pints were not always full (illegal in Britain!) and the firkin was rolled in right before tapping, so each glass ended up with yeast in the bottom. I don't like to drink the yeast, because I'll end up with a headache.

Buyer beware, as expected, the firkin pints were not subject to normal happy hour pricing. No complaints on that, though, as the beer was worth every penny!


Friday Aug 07, 2009

Monk's Kettle Beer Pairing Dinner

Made it up to San Francisco this week to the Monk's Kettle's once a month beer pairing dinner.  This month featured the brews from the Bruery. The food was delicious, service was great and the company was fantastic, what could possibly make this a better night out? Oh, that's right, the amazing beers!

I was glad my friend Phil had warned me about the size of the meal, so we just had a very light salad for lunch, no afternoon snacks and I avoided the tempting bread basket at the table when we arrived.

The founder of the Bruery, Patrick Rue, was in attendance and introduced us to each beer as it was served. It was cool hearing about their humble roots as a home brewer and how they've developed so many new recipes as well as attempting to bring back old styles.  The Bruery is just over a year old, and I haven't had much luck finding them here in the south bay (quoth the BevMo employee, "I'm sorry, \*which\* brewery are you looking for?").

The first course was organic bibb lettuce with fresh tarragon, chervil, parsley and fried capers, paired with Hottenroth Berliner Weisse. The salad was delicious, but a bit of work to cut into and a bit too much for the plate it was served on, as we all had trouble with flying lettuce and splashing dressing :)  The beer, at a light 3.1% ABV, was super refreshing with a delightful lemon flavor. It reminded me of what I think Mike's Hard Lemonade should taste like (hint: not like syrup ...). It was delicious and I could easily see myself sipping on that on a lazy summer afternoon. (speaking of fried capers - they tasted almost like bacon! they were so good, and seemingly no semblance of vinegar on them)

For the second course, we had pan seared local halibut, crayfish risotto cake, a Sausalito Springs watercress salad and an organic pesto beurre blanc.  When I looked at the menu in advance, I was not particularly excited by this course, not being a huge halibut fan, but was surprised when the fish came perfectly cooked (neither dry nor gooey) and loved the sauce!  This was paired with the Trade Winds Tripel (8.1% ABV), which is apparently made with Thai Basil. You could catch the basil on the nose, but the taste was much lighter.

The third course was Blue de Sassenage, fresh slices of pear, spiced almonds, organic honey and toasted bread.  I'm always a fan of a cheese course, so no complaints here! We all wished the "spices" used on the almonds were listed, as they were quite tasty. We were guessing paprika and brown sugar. This was paired with Humulus Lager (India Pale Lager, 7.2% ABV). This was much lighter than a pale ale, and apparently made with rice to make it an American style lager. Patrick assured us, though, that rice is not a cheep beer making ingredient, as it is often referred to, as it costs him more than his hops.  I'm not a big fan of hoppy beers, but Mark was more than happy to finish the last half of my beer.

The fourth course was what we'd all been waiting for: 'Black Orchard' marinated short ribs, roasted garlic potato puree, haricot vert, and a 'Black Orchard' demi glace. This was all paired with the Black Orchard beer from the Bruery (5.7% ABV).  These ribs had been marinated in the Black Orchard beer with bay leaves and garlic for 24 hours, before being braised for 5 hours (with a mixture made of Black Orchard beer, chicken stock and brown sugar). These spare ribs were phenomenal!  The Black Orchard beer (yes, that Orchard, as in Apple Orchard, not Orchid) was my favorite one of the evening. A nice brown ale, soft and smooth, slightly sweet, and a crisp after taste.

Dessert was house made ice cream sandwiches with a 'Papier' chocolate sauce. This was served with two beers: Papier (first anniversary old style ale, 17.5% ABV) and Black Tuesday (bourbon aged imperial stout - 19.5%). Both beers were really good, though I would have to say that I loved the chocolaty flavor of the Black Tuesday the best. And who wouldn't like a beer named after the start of the Great Depression that sells for $30/bottle? ;-)

Anyone else make it up here for the event? I can't wait for the next one! This is a great way to discover how beer can make food better and to discover small craft breweries.

Wednesday Jul 08, 2009

The Triumph of Women's Suffrage

Mr. Robert P. J. Cooney, Jr. came to Sun Microsystems today to talk to the Women@Sun group about the triumphant women's suffrage movement in the United States that took more than 60 years to gain success. Sixty years! Just for women to get the right to vote!  [1] Mr. Cooney became interested in this movement in the 1970s when attending school to become a graphic artist, when he realized the large prejudice that women needed to overcome and that they were able to do this in a nonviolent way.

This was such a difficult task, as the women had to convince men that not only were women prepared to vote, but that women were educated and informed. Only men could decide whether or not to grant women the right to vote, and many of these men were ignorant, uneducated and even illiterate.  A difficult task at hand, indeed!

Suffragists started with parades in different states to raise awareness of their concerns, along with organizing peaceful rallies. Getting women to join in these events was difficult, as many were afraid that their participation would be seen as too forward by the men and scare the men off of giving them the vote even more, but the suffragists knew they could not be silent. They need to be seen to be heard.

The US Supreme Court had ruled that it was an issue that should be decided by the states, so the women had to levy campaigns in each and every state, a very arduous process indeed! These campaigns were most successful in the progressive west. East of the Mississippi, the only suffrage many women could get was the ability to vote only for school boards and other small, local positions.

Susan B. Anthony strongly believed it was really a federal issue, and began the push for a federal amendment to the US Constitution. Unfortunately, she died before seeing this come to pass, after 45 years of tireless effort on her part.  Fortunately, there were other women ready to take up the task at hand and push the movement forward, even in times of war.

The women found they were ignored by both major political parties, so their took their parades to the democratic and republican conventions. At one of them, the women actually had a silent, still "parade" - where they all wore white with golden jewelry and parasols and lined the street and stood silently while the delegates were participating in their own march down that same street. The eerie silence had great impact on those delegates, bringing the rights of women to the forefront of their minds.

When the suffragists were not getting momentum they wanted at the national level, they began to leverage their vote in the western states to oust seated national politicians, targeting, in particular, the democratic party. I find this an interesting historic note, as the democrat party is now associated with women's rights, but apparently the turn of the 19th century told a different story.

Mr. Cooney has documented this in his book, Winning the Vote: The Triumph of the American Woman Suffrage Movement, which is filled with outstanding images of the buttons and posters the suffragists made, as well as pictures of the rallies and events and documentation of the cruel treatment several women received for protesting peacefully outside of the White House during World War I.

Mt. Cooney is an eloquent speaker and I really look forward to reading his book in the up coming weeks, but all of this reminds me that all over the world today, women still do not have the right to vote and have themselves represented. It's so disturbing to me, because it seems like such an inalienable right. How can we be citizens and pay taxes and not vote? But, if it took more than 60 years to make such thing a documented right in a progressive country like our own, it may be many more lifetimes before women the world over have these same freedoms and the same voice. Let's hope it comes sooner than later, for all of our sakes.

[1] As pointed out during the Q&A session, not all women gained the right to vote in all states in 1920.  For many women of color, particularly those that lived in the south, that quest took another 40 years, where they had to fight along side their brothers and fathers to get the same equal representation.

Wednesday Jun 03, 2009

Like a lemming, I'm on twitter now

Taking the lead from my friend Valerie and prodding from Richard, I now exist on twitter!  You can follow me using bubbva

I feel like such a dork blogging about my twitter feed. Perhaps I should've facebooked about it instead. ha!

and, yes, I know that lemmings really don't follow each other off of cliffs and that it was a myth created and propogated by Disney.


Thursday May 28, 2009

Discussion on Women in Technology at 49ers Academy in East Palo Alto

Katy Dickinson and I presented on our journeys that led us to careers in technology at the San Francisco 49ers Academy in East Palo Alto on Tuesday. The students had such diverse backgrounds and career goals themselves, which made for quite a fun visit!  This particular group is focusing on women in science and technology roles and even keep their own blog, Girls' Tyme

I talked about my early career aspirations to be a waitress or a record store manager, and why I was so glad I got my degree and moved into the technical arena! There are so many more opportunities - and really, how many record stores are there left? Not a good career path (and while I started my restaurant career, I never got moved up out of the kitchen where I was a car-hop....).


Thursday May 07, 2009

Garden is planted, PBWC was attended!

With the amazing help of my mother-in-law, the tomatoes (cherry, Better Boy, Roma and Early Girl), basil, parsley, oregano, marjoram, basil, parsely, sage, jalapeños, yolo wonder bell peppers, serano chilis, and marigolds are in the ground or in the Earth Boxes! (and for you Simon & Garfunkel fans, the rosemary & thyme from last year are still prospering) Most of those were started from seed in little peet pots, except the oregano, marjoram, Roma and Early Girl tomatoes.

I went to the Professional BusinessWomen of California Conference yesterday in San Francisco at the Moscone Center. It was intense! What a wonderful program! I will have several blog entries from that event over the next week (based on my 13 pages of notes - double sided!)

Monday Apr 27, 2009

Happy Birthday, Blogs.sun.com!

Can you believe it? Blogs.sun.com is 5 years old!  I felt that I was "late to the game", but now 4.5 years after my first post, I guess that's just noise. I've enjoyed having this outlet to share my theater experiences, work experiences, pitfalls and successes with all of you over the years and really appreciate the support, feedback and sympathy I've gotten from so many people!

I see I haven't been great at keeping up with my "frequent" updates... I guess we all always have ways to improve! (and I know for sure that I have more things to improve than just my blogging frequency!)

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

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