Skiing

Went skiing for the first time this past Saturday. I would best describe skiing as minutes of sitting (or standing) followed by seconds of terror.

..well, maybe the last part is an exaggeration. But it is a lot of waiting on things to bring you up high. I had a lesson, which ended up being a great idea, and spent the day in the beginner’s area at Snowshoe. That area has enough variation (and both a magic carpet and a real ski lift) that I didn’t feel a need to actually attempt a green route.

Overall, I think it went well. I only fell three times during the day, and all three times were from a stop. (I was trying to turn around and got my poles tangled up with my skis.) Spent the day mostly making sure I could control my speed and direction… I think the most terrifying moment was when I went down the steepest hill in the area head on (instead of going side to side like I should have), but I didn’t die, and I didn’t fall, and I managed to slow down and stop once I got to flatter ground again, so that was good.

Still, I don’t think I’ll go skiing again. Besides the general disinterest and cost, there’s also the fact that there’s just so much else that happens around skiing. Even if you ignore the driving-to-the-place part and associated logistics, there’s just a lot of equipment to get on and stumble around in. If I want to glide and feel out of control on my feet, I’d rather go ice skating, which just involves putting skates on. :)

Also the hotel we stayed at the morning before had this awesome machine.

Also also cheese bag.

More photos are at my photos site.

Blargh (politics, work, life)

It’s been a horrific week, both in politics and in work, but at least I’m home.

On the politics front, it goes without saying that this administration has been absolutely insane, hypocritical, dysfunctional, and ruthless in its actions regardless of (or perhaps in spite of) facts, reason, and the law.
I’ve been donating $300 a month to the ACLU, and will likely raise it next month, as well as making sporadic donations to the EFF and maintaining an NYT subscription. If you have the financial means to help, I encourage you to make some donations as well, particularly to the ACLU, which has already played a role in part of the immigration ban being stayed.
Also consider some more locally-impacting charities that will directly help your area. Here again is my list of charities (as well as suggestions by friends).

Seen on Facebook (via Greg): John McCain, Dick Cheney, Michael Moore, and the Pope are all on the same side right now.
I guess that’s how you know your administration is batshit insane. :\

On the work front, we’ve had a rather disastrous release filled with e-releases and customer cases… and the release isn’t even half deployed yet. I feel really bad for my manager, who has to deal with all this as well as pressure from upper management… and particularly bad because a lot of the issues that came up came up in features I built and designed. To be fair, the features themselves are working exactly as expected, and we put in existing toggles for customers that have problems. But due to either oversights or underestimates on the sheer magnitude of impacted customers, we’re having to pull out or tweak the features anyway.
Le sigh.

Things are depressing so here are some photos.


The new Apple store in Chandler is really pretty. (Also the outside of the store has no indication in any way that it’s an Apple store, but I guess it’s pretty obvious from the interior.)

I guess they have to clean escalators somehow…

Ikea is doing that “kids draw things and we make them into stuffed animals” thing again.

Pretty.

I also brought back a lot of TCGs (including my entire collection of Pokemon cards and X-Files cards, and my remaining WoW cards) and have been sorting them and generally assembling decks. I now have assembled WoW “booster” packs to do a booster draft (limited card selection to 4 different classes so drafting won’t be insane) and assembled two X-Files TCG decks, and will be making Pokemon and Case Closed decks as the next thing. Yay for TCGs?

Edit: Woke up feeling unhappy this morning, and I wanted to use up my company match for their FY, so gave another $1500 to the ACLU. Take that, Trump.

Life

It’s been an interesting January.

Returned to work last Thursday, the 5th. It was a standard no-meetings Thursday, so I was expecting it to be pretty quiet, but instead I got thrown into a P0 bug and several other problems related to the release that had just gone out.

Friday started out as a much more laid-back day, until lunch time, when I got a call from my mom, which resulted in me booking a flight to Phoenix less than 3 hours before it took off, and rushing to the airport.
If you know me, you know I’m the kind of person that likes trips planned far in advance, and has all logistics worked out, and gets to the airport hours before boarding to make sure I have no surprises. So this was a particularly new kind of stress, although it worked out fine in the end.




So now I’m unexpectedly in Phoenix for a couple of weeks. It’s nice seeing friends here again, but otherwise life has been fairly monotonous outside of work, which continues to be stressful.



Although work at least has been more design-y and meeting-y than code-y, which has been good given I’m on a slower connection here using my manager’s box for development work. Sometimes I don’t realize how much I love having a box physically with me until I have to remote to one to work from Phoenix.

New Year, PWSA, LJ sadness

It’s a new year. Yay. life’s photo journal and stats pages have been brought up to date. (Also the new daily photo project continues, which I’m honestly surprised by.)

The PWSA continues to be incompetent. We’ve had repeated billing problems where they bill incorrectly based on a correct meter reading. (For example, a meter reading of “18” bills us for 18,000 gallons of usage, instead of subtracting from the previous month’s reading of “17” and billing us for 1,000 gallons of usage.) This issue seems to be getting harder and harder to resolve each time, culminating in this month where I went down to the service center in person, and ended up with a rude supervisor and a submitted (paper) letter that apparently schedules a formal meeting with an appeals board…? That’s still ongoing, so yay for incompetent public departments.
Seriously, this issue has stressed me out so much that there have been multiple days where I feel like we should just sell the house and rent again to not have to deal with them.
Blargh.

In other depressing news, Livejournal apparently recently moved their servers to Russia, which is causing an exodus of users from it to Dreamwidth. This makes me sad for a lot of reasons.
I’ve previously talked about how I hate social media and miss long-form writing. Livejournal was my first real “community” (before Facebook really took off as a way to share life updates). I got to know so many people better through LJ. That community has been mostly dead for years, but the few remaining people on it will probably move away now as well.
Also going through and deleting all of the posts reminded me of how much people used to interact, on a deeper level than just “liking” your photo of breakfast or whatever. We used to really engage with people. Stupid social media.

I’ve mentioned before that I like having control of my data (it’s why I use WordPress installed on webserver that I pay for). So in a lot of ways, I feel vindicated that I use this (and syndicate over to LJ) instead of primarily using LJ. On the other hand, LJ’s fine-grained access controls were particularly useful for things I didn’t think I should be posting publicly. So I’ve had to go through today and delete hundreds of posts of things I hadn’t posted publicly in this journal. I guess that’s no guarantee that the data is gone (they probably have backups), but at least it makes me feel better about it.

Anyway, yay for friends and board games and rock band?

Donations

If this election has you as freaked out as it has me, there are a lot of good causes you can donate to to make sure these upcoming 4 years aren’t terrible for those less fortunate or more vulnerable than you, and to continue to advance progressive causes. Because, when the government won’t, private organizations will have to, but they can’t without us.

Here’s a list of my top priorities, in roughly priority order

  • The ACLU or the ACLU Foundation to help ensure the rights of minorities are not trampled upon
    (The foundation is tax-deductable… there’s information about the differences here)
  • The EFF to help ensure net neutrality and protection against spying and electronic surveillance
  • Feeding America or a local food bank to help ensure those in need will not be devastated by cuts to SNAP
  • Enviornmental Defense Fund or Sierra Club to help protect the environment
  • The New York Times (online subscription, which you don’t have to use) to support quality journalism and reporting
    (Or some quality local paper, which you can either take delivery of or do an online-only subscription to give them more of the money)

Many of these are also tax-deductable, and your company may match your donation, which would be an excellent way to increase the impact of your contribution.

Also, putting my money where my mouth is, I made a $300 donation to the ACLU Foundation today, matched by Salesforce (and will continue to do so, to various organizations in that list, going forward). I encourage you to do the same, in whatever amount you can manage, toward whatever causes you feel are important to you.

Does anyone have any other recommendations for charities that would be good to support at this time?

Edit: Some organizations suggested by FB friends are Lambda Legal, Planned Parenthood, Southern Poverty Law Center, National Domestic Worker’s Alliance, NAACP, Doctors Without Borders, RAINN, Slyvia Rivera Law Project, National Immigration Law Center, EarthJustice, Pittsburgh AIDS Taskforce, ProPublica, Mother Jones, the Transgender Law Center, and the Trevor Project.