Thursday Jul 05, 2007

June, I hardly even knew ya...

Wow, what a month!

First, and most importantly,  Mark & I tied the knot on June 2!  It's a lot of work planning a large event from across the country, but it all just turned out so perfectly!  We were married in Foster Park's Bridal Glen in Fort Wayne, IN - we couldn't have pulled it all off without the amazing help of all of our family and close friends.

After we got married, we ran off to NYC and Sonoma, CA to honeymoon for a couple of weeks. It was relaxing not being online, riding our bikes and enjoying long leisurely dinners with just the two of us.

In the middle of June, I returned to the office to find a backlog of several thousand emails. I've made a dent into them, but if you sent me something & never heard back - please try again!

I've been busy with work related to FIPS-140-2 certification of the Solaris Cryptographic Framework and fringe work related to making SUNWcry and SUNWcryr more accessible to the masses.  I'll write up more about that once I know where we stand.

After all of that, I decided I'd captain Team Salty Dawgs again for the American Lung Association's 2 Rock Breathe Easy ride.  It nearly killed me, but I did nearly reach my fund raising goal. Just a bit more & I'd be there.  I do appreciate all the incredibly generous pledges I did get this year - the overall generosity of Sun employee's never ceases to amaze me!

I did the ride last Saturday - 66 miles in 5 hours and 10 minutes of ride time (6 hours and 16 minutes including breaks), 12.8 mph was my average speed, and I burned about 2500 calories. I'd really like to improve that time for next year so that I can get back in time to enjoy the post-ride festivities!  As of now, I'll just try to get rolling about 40 minutes earlier ;-)


Wednesday Jan 24, 2007

Fiesta del Mar is now a limited time engagement

Woe is me, the best Mexican restaurant this side of the Mexican border now has a limited lifetime in Mountain View, its home for the last 16 years.  Normally, I would not be so up in arms about a restaurant closing, but this little place has always made us feel at home, has the most polite and friendly servers and clientelle, unlimited home-made salsa & chips, and delicious hearty entrees that cause a Pavlovian reaction just thinking about them - and this restaurant has done nothing wrong!

A friend of mine noted that this is just capitalism at work, and that my objectivist college background should enable me to see past the loss of this fine establishment, and rejoice in the redevelopment of this into office space.  While that may be true, I just can't get past how this closure seems inherently unfair.  The business itself is thriving! Customers come from as far away as Dublin & San Francisco on a regular basis.  Even when visiting on a Tuesday night, an hour long wait is not unusual.  The staff will happily make you a pitcher of margaritas to bide your time until a table opens up, where they will promptly serve you - all the while engaging you in conversation or teaching you some Spanish, if you're so inclined.

This would be different if the business was failing and someone was coming into Mountain View to revitalize this space, but that's not the case.  As a resident of this fine city, I think it's imperative that we try to keep local flair and flavor, to continue to bring visitors and revenue into the city.

I'm not sure what I can do, but I hope to figure it out soon - any advice?

Friday Dec 08, 2006

Where does the time go?

I honestly keep meaning to keep this blog more current, but it seems I get distracted doing other work around the office. Oops!  Let's see some recent interesting events:

\* In June I had an excellent plastic surgeon (a \*real\* surgeon, not like the Intern that was useless) remove a giant cell tumor from the tip of my finger.  I was told this would not affect my ability to work.  Um, let's see - had to keep my hand elevated for 72 hours & type one handed.  That was just a bit difficult.  At least it's good to know that those type of tumors are completely benign, but unfortunately very common for women in my age group and are likely to reoccur.  It was a relatively painless surgery, though, and my finger is better than before!

\* In July I complained to my eye doctor about blurred vision I'd had for the previous month or so.  An exam showed that my left lens was indeed not strong enough, but a detailed exam with the contacts out showed that my prescription had not changed.  The problem?  An entire box of mislabled contact lenses.  I verified this by using a left lens from another box that I had picked up at the same time: vision problem cleared.  My eye doctor said she'd never heard of any such thing happening, but I figure if I can buy CDs from a store with the wrong music recorded on it, why not the wrong lens in the container?  I'm glad to know I'm not quickly going blind.

 \* In August we bought a house. Wow, very different than renting!  I think I should buy stock in the major DIY stores in our area.

 \* We hosted for Thanksgiving again, this time our group included a vegetarian and a vegan!  Mark made them a nutloaf to go with the veggies (all cooked in olive oil instead of butter) and everyone seemed to have a good time, though I do think I saw the vegetarian grab one of the bacon wrapped sausage appetizers!  I made my first pies from scratch (okay, store bought crusts) and they came out really well.

 \* At work over all these months, I've been busy with Solaris 10 updates, bugtracking issues, working on smartcard related stuff (more on that later) and doing a lot work with the elfsign command.

Speaking of elfsign, I've got more work to do in that arena. Unfortunately, the work I'm doing is all around US export compliance and the source is still closed.  We're constantly in touch with legal hoping things will change, but I'm not holding my breath at this point.

Friday Apr 21, 2006

Dive Bar tour of Mountain View!

Last Saturday night, my friends and I embarked on a walking tour of the dive bars on El Camino in Mountain View.  We started out at the 101 Club, only to find that this very classic Mountain View dive had closed its doors just a couple of months ago.  Pity.

So we walked up to Ugly's.  Ugly's had a surprisingly modern digital jukebox, playing jazz, rock, country - well, a bit of everything!  The bartender was very friendly & quick, and the drinks were reasonably priced.  They have lots of good beer, including Fat Tire, on tap.  It was a small & cozy place, but we didn't stay long because there were more bars to explore!

Next we hit Ron's Farmhouse. True to its name, it had a country theme inside, though it was definitely not a country western club. It was Karaoke night at the Farmhouse, which will always bring out an ecclectic crowd.  The rotations were short, the song selection was good and the singers were, well, Karaoke singers.  I don't think any of us should be expecting recording contracts any time soon ;-).  This was a large place, with snacks on the bar.  The drinks were tasty and again reasonably priced, but no beer on tap.

We've previously toured the dive bars on Middlefield Road, but I feel there are many more we just need to walk in and see what's inside.  My favorite is probably still Fred's Place. Big bar, imports on tap, friendly bartenders and a pool table. :)

Since then I've been trying to get caught up & trying to nurse my grandmother's cat, Queenie, back to health. Unfortunately, he had FIP which is untreatable and fatal.  We lost Queenie Tuesday morning, just after finally receiving a diagnosis. He will be sorely missed.

Tuesday Jan 03, 2006

Ah, a new year!

Back in the office again.  Having a "winter break" at Sun US is great. Time to totally unwind, and not too many emails when you get back. :-)

I ventured back to the midwest for the holidays to visit my family, and see a couple of friends.  The weather was much more mild than it is here in the SF Bay area and the gas was more expensive - not exactly what I was expecting!  As always, it was a great joy to see my family, especially my niece & nephews (who are growing like weeds)!  These kids are growing up in a completely different world than I did.  As soon as I'd take any of their pictures, they'd immediately run up to me and demand: "Let me see it now, ok?"  No more waiting to finish a role of film and sending it off for processing, just "now". It's a good thing they are so cute.

Now that Solaris 10 Update 1 is out the door, I will get to start focusing more on Solaris Cryptographic Framework stuff again. Yippee!  All the same, I know I promised to go into more detail about how Solaris updates are created and I will... really!

Friday Oct 07, 2005

Levi Leipheimer & Godspell!

Had a GREAT bike ride with Levi Leipheimer on Wednesday, a reward for being one of the top 10 fundraisers for last spring's American Lung Associations bike4breath.  What a fun day!  pictures will be posted soon!

And tonight Godspell opens!  I'm very nervous, but I know we're ready.  We've rehearsed hard, and last night's dress rehearsal went really well.  Anyone in the South San Francisco Bay Area should come down and see us at the Sunnyvale Congregational Church.  I'm working with STOC (Studio Theatre of California) for the first time, and it's been a great experience.

Wednesday Sep 28, 2005

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Wave Magazine VIPs and More!

Wow, what a week I've had - several brushes with local and international celebrities.  Today, Sun Microsystems hosted a town hall for Arnold Schwarzenegger on our Menlo Park campus, in the courtyard.  It was \*very\* hot out today, but it was pretty cool to get to meet Govenor Schwarzenegger in person and get to shake his hand.  I certainly do not agree with all of his politics, but that was the cool thing: attendees were not chosen by political affiliation, but just by business unit.

This past Saturday, I was lucky enough to get invited to a Wave Magazine VIP party at the Buddha Lounge in downtown Mountain View, to celebrate the birthday of Wave editor-in-chief, John Newlin.  While there, I got to not only meet Mr. Newlin, but also Bill Hargreaves, VP of something cool, and feature writer Seanbaby.   (OK, so I already knew Bill and that's how I got into the party, but still, it's the first time I've seen him since he was promoted to VP).  The Wave really knows how to throw a party!

And next week ... I get to meet Levi Leipheimer!  Oh, and my production of Godspell! opens in Sunnyvale. Please come see it if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area! Rehearsals have been a bear, but the show is totally coming together.

Thursday Apr 28, 2005

Useless surgeons

I have a supposed ganglion cyst in the tip of my middle finger.  Not everyone can feel it, but I can feel it all the time. It bothers me when I open the refrigerator.  It bothers me when I'm driving. It bothers me sometimes even while I'm typing.  I saw a nurse about it about a month ago at Kaiser (CA based HMO), who referred me to a surgeon to have the cyst aspirated.  I finally got into see the surgeon and after a very long wait, and this resident examined the finger and started sticking a syringe into it.  We're all naturally raised to not question authority, particularly doctors, so it took all the nerve I had to point out to her that she was not injecting the syringe anywhere near where the cyst was.  It turns out, she hadn't felt the cyst at all during the examination!  She was just jabbing my finger randomly, hoping to hit tht thing I was complaining about! Exasperated, she begrudgingly agreed to get another syringe and try again.... and she missed again (but this time insisted that she didn't).  She told me I had only two remaining options: surgery, which has a high risk of nerve damage (not a good thing for a finger!); or ignore it.  Hmpf.  I think I'll wait until my doctor is back from her maternity leave and ask for a referral to a \*different\* surgeon.

Thursday Apr 21, 2005

My mom's cancer

My mom is a lung cancer survivor and she sent me a link to an online (for now) comic about one family coping with their mother having lung cancer, simply put as My Mom's Cancer.  My mother was lucky and hers did not spread to her brain, and she's also a nonsmoker (never has smoked, but she's been around it her whole life), but there are so many parallels to this guys story. 

My mom's cancer was also found by just dumb luck.  She had a fall and broke her leg.  Considering it was not a bad fall, her doctor was concerned that she may have been osteoperatic (she is) and may have broken other bones, so she went in for a series of x-rays.  The leg was the only bone broken, so she went home to heal up.

Months later, she went back to work.  Because she is a nurse and happens to work in the same hospital where her leg was set, she asked to look at her own x-rays just out of curiosity. Looking at her chest film, she noticed something strange in her left lung and found notes from the radiologist suggesting to her primary care physician that follow-up was needed about the discrepancy in her lung.  It was cancer. Her doctor had never mentioned it.

Suddenly her shortness of breath and repeated respiratory infections made sense.

Because of the broken leg and my mother following up on her own x-rays, the cancer was found very early and it was operable.   Sounds easy, doesn't it?  Not really.  Her oncologist removed half of her left lung to make sure nothing spread or was missed.  That's a very invasive surgery, and even 4 years later my mother still has nerve pain.  The road to recovery was not short or easy.

Anyways, reading that comic sort of brought all the memories back.  I was living far away from my mom at the time, so I was only there for the surgery.  My sisters were there for all of the other very difficult times, and I'm so glad for that.  I'm doing a bike ride this summer to raise funds for the American Lung Association - hopefully money I raise now can help prevent more people from having to go through this.

Tuesday Mar 15, 2005

Squirels, cats and bats - oh my!

Ok, so for a long time now, I've been plagued by the squirels that live on my roof and love to run across the cable wires to the apartment across the alley.  I'm not bothered by the squirels themselves, but rather by my cat who is fascinated with them - and with trying to attack them.  This wouldn't be a problem if she could watch the squirels from another room, but she has to be in the same room as me at all times.  Squirels get up much earlier in the morning than I like to, which means I have to listen to my cat meowing and pawing at the window and blinds first thing in the morning.

Katy (the cat) gets really wound up by these squirels and will often try to actually jump at them, as she does not understand the concept of gravity and windows.  One early morning last summer, she took off running at full speed at a squirel on the wire and hit the screen.  I had just recentlly gotten new windows and when she hit the screen, instead of stopping her like my old screens did, she FLEW out the second story window to a concrete alley below.  I grabbed my glasses and ran full speed out the door and down the stairs in my pajamas, thankfully finding a perfectly terrified but healthy cat.  She's an indoor only beast, and the big wide outside was just more than she could handle.  I think these new screens are somehow fire safety, or something, because they pop out of the window \*so\* easily.

Now, you would think she would've learned a valuable lesson about gravity and the sysiphian nature of her attack on the squirels.  Nope.  She's just as much a squirel fanatic as before. Only now, I have to make sure I don't open the window wide enough for her to knock the screen out, and instead she rams herself against the window.

Then it gets worse. 

Last night, I notice she's going apeshit over something she can see out of the window of my bedroom and everytime I drag her into another room, she goes running (full speed) back to the bedroom to the window. So, I go into my room and look out the window and see little dark flashes going by the window.  Turning off the lights confirmed my suspicions: bats.  Lots of them.  Now my cat has something to "chase", in my bedroom, at all hours when I might possibly want to sleep.  I hope bats are just seasonal. \*ugh\*

Tuesday Feb 22, 2005


Just got back from an amazingly beautiful weekend in Seattle.  After the rough week here at Sun last week, it was good to get away for  a few days.  We stayed with a couple of my college friends at their new house - very impressive! Lots of eating , drinking, walking and shopping occurred, along with the obligatory trips to Pike Place Market and the Space Needle.  As always, meals out in Seattle were fantastic.  We went out to the People's Pub on Friday night and tasted nearly every one of the outstanding beers they had on tap, Saturday was the Snappy Dragon and Sunday was half price wine night at Calypso.  The jerk spiced ribs at Calypso were delicious!  The only, um, odd note is: don't trust the new public toilets on the water front.  The sensors for determining if they are occupied or not do not always work, and there is no button at all for \*closing\* the doors if they are opened at an inopportune time. \*hmpf\*

Thursday Feb 10, 2005

Email, sleep and a couch warming party

Had an interesting weekend, looked into mutt for mailreading again, alas, it doesn't meet all of my needs (most importantly, being able to have more than one active composition open at the same time), so I'll stick with dtmail & pine for now.  The search for a much less lame mailreader continues.

Saturday started out with an incredible lecture on sleep and the brain at Stanford, featuring Professors Dement and Kushida.  Wow!  I never would've thought sleep could be so interesting. Both speakers were energetic and interesting.

Dr. Kushida extensively covered obstructive sleep apnea, different types of insomnia (including things to help treat this yourself - like, you should never lay awake in  bed for more than 20 minutes. If that happens, get out of bed and do something in a different room that will make you drowsy and only then return to bed), narcolepsy and violent somnambulisms (sleep screaming, running, driving and killing).

Dr. Dement is a pioneer in sleep research and is the doctor who actually discovered REM sleep, which he noted is common in all mammals. There was a lot of information about REM and what happens to the brain after you fall asleep. For instance, the brain keeps sending signals to your body - it's only due to REM paralysis that you normally don't act out your dreams in the real world.   He also covered, in depth, the concept of "sleep debt".  Simply stated, sleep debt accumulates the more days you go without a full night's sleep, and one good night's sleep does not make up for all of your missed sleep. I've always felt that this was true, but so many of my friends said that it wasn't possible to accumulate a lack of sleep. Dr. Dement presented some very compelling evidence (including a study done at NIMH that accidentally proved his hypothesis that sleep debt existed), so I'm going to follow his advice and try to get just a bit more sleep every night.

And as a strange highlight this week, I went to my friend Val's house for her "couch warming party," where her Swedish friend, Lina, made us delicious Swedish meatballs, mashed popotatoes and herring pie.  I was surprised, the herring pie was really good! At the party, I ran into a fan of Professor Dement who has now loaned me the book "The Promise of Sleep," Dr. Dements attempt at educating the general public about sleep and why it is so important.

Update 1 is rolling right along, still generating tons of emails.  Most of the features targeting this release have been reviewed and are just "soaking" waiting to integrate.  There will be a few driver updates later, but it's still exciting to see things progressing this far.  It's a lot of work being a tech lead, but very interesting.

Wednesday Dec 22, 2004


It's finally quieting down around here for the holidays.  I hope to be able to catch up on email over the next couple of days.  My inbox has essentially exploded recently - I'm up to 1400 unread messages!  Nevermind my personal email.  I've been unsubscribing myself from several aliases, because I just don't have time to keep up.  I can't even think about netnews anymore. \*ugh\* 

Wednesday Dec 08, 2004


In response to some recent comments... No, Martin, I have not learned to juggle yet, though Tobin took your lessons to heart and is quite good now. I think he's ready for fire. Nobody had a camera to capture my cat in the office, but she'll be back I'm sure. And yes, I'll take a beer if I ever make it to Amsterdam. ;-)

Work on solaris10_update1 is moving steadily forward and is keeping me busy. We haven't opened our gate yet, which is when the real excitement begins!

Tuesday Nov 30, 2004


So, where would a cat be happier: in an apartment where the carpet was being cleaned, or with me in my office. I guessed in my office, and it seems to be a good bet so far. This is her second day here, as the carpet cleaners failed to show up yesterday. Since cats do mostly sleep all day, it probably doesn't matter where she is.

Valerie's former weblog. The new one can be found at


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