Friday, July 28, 2006

Tangshan earthquake

Year: 1976, Month July, Day 28th, Time 3:42am
Place: Tang Shan, 250 miles from Beijing.

The earth shook, killing nearly a quarter million people, many of them in their sleep. Many more injured and rescued in their underwear, hundreds of thousands of children became orphans. Millions were homeless in the storms after the quake, the pouring rain lasted for days.

I was a small child then, along with my brother, living with our nanny in a one room home near the Beijing Railroad station. Nanny was also taking care of a baby at the time, I don't remember how old he was, only that he cried a lot and had to be carried all the time.

In that day and place, taking care of a baby means having the baby living with the nanny during the week, parents only saw the baby on weekends. My brother and I took buses across town to go home and see our parents every Saturday.

The night before the quake, I was out with some kiddie friends at a movie and didn't come home and go to sleep until after 11 -- which was allowed since we were on summer vacation. Nanny woke up first at the first hint of the shock, she yelled at my brother to get up, handed him the baby, and told him to run to the street. He ran out half asleep, no shirt, no shoes.

Nanny couldn't wake me up, couldn't carry me, so she stayed with me till I woke up when the quake was over. Later she told my mom, "I take care of your child for you, when she's in danger, I'll die with her." Next day my mom picked me up to stay with her at the hotel where she worked (sort of fancy concentration camp), but left my brother behind to take care of Nanny and the baby, he was no more than 13 or 14.

One of my mom's uncles lost his son in the quake. His wife woke up and saved her son, but didn't have a chance to save her husband. They were all sleeping in the same bed. That was the only loss in my family.

We camped out for months, for fear of more quakes, and didn't have a regular school campus for over a year, until they fixed up the damaged classrooms. We held classes in people's yards, empty storage rooms, even on the side of a street. The teachers were so happy to have real blackboard again.

Yarn Harlot

My knitting friends will think that I'm totally ignorant -- I didn't know Yarn Harlot has her own book out. I have read At Knit's End (at some point even owned two copies), and have recently seen Knitting Rules in the book store. What I didn't know was that Stephanie Pearl-McPhee has published a book in the namesake of her infamous blog, not until last night when I saw it at Yarn Dogs that is. To those of you knittingly challenged, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is a knitter, writer from Canada. I first saw her writing on Knitlist, one of the first and biggest online knitting groups, now she has her blog and has now written three books. Her books are not the "follow my instructions and let me show you how to knit and tell you a few stories" kind of books, she writes humor, dissects a knitter's hoarding mind, shows the world how dangerous an obsessive compulsive knitter can be. Bookclub, consider you are warned!

Monday, July 24, 2006


for having electricity for the past week for having air-conditioning installed last summer for my healthy child that enjoys his summer camp for my husband who cooked dinners every night for the past week for having the opportunity to work in an air-conditioned building for seeing blue sky and bright sunlight every morning to cheer me up for having two sleepy old dogs that can't wait for the humans to leave the house so they can nap for having enough yarn for the next 20 years (to be conservative) for having three pairs of good reading glasses so I can read wherever I happen to be in the house for knowing that the heat wave will be over some day (they say tomorrow, wanna bet?)

Friday, July 21, 2006

Fringe Benefits

This week I'm consulting at a start up in Santa Clara. Engineers work late, so they cater dinner every night. Besides that there are also free bagels and donuts on Friday morning. Free soda and water (bubbled and no bubble). If you don't feel like dealing with the bottles, there is a regular water dispenser as well, for hot and cold bottled water -- unlike some more environmentally friendly big companies that only provide filtered water, which also happens to be cheaper. The grounds in this business park is very very nice, and the buildings are small since most companies are very small, so you get to park the car right outside the entrance. There is no big garage that's a mile from your office. I don't drink coffee, but since some of my friends do, I learned that Peet's is much superior to Starbucks. Netflix has Peets, and a small competitor of BEA called Tibco in Palo Alto. Netflix has free soda and bottled water, but for hot tea you have to settle with the filtered stuff. They have free hot and cold cereals as well, pump up the sugar. Free popcorn in the first floor breakroom, but you have to make it yourself in the big machine. Cisco has or had free popcorn in individual bags, along with free soda and bottled water. Not to mention the nice (not free) day care facility on site and free gym. Cisco has been sponsoring the Vasona Christmas light show for the past couple of years and they let Cisco badge holders (employees and contractors) go in for free one weekend in the early December. Octel used to have free popcorns as well, and had someone make them in the afternoon in the big machine. They also had a free subscription of Mercury News for each floor, but Lucent cancelled the subscription for second and third floor in my building to cut cost. They did let us keep our Friday morning bagels and donuts. Veritas Mountain View campus has espresso machines in the break room. Just a fraction of the super nice campus.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Bosses are idiots -- this one anyway

I had my share of good bosses and some bad bosses. There was an accounting manager in my early days that wrote me up in my review for being five minutes late in the morning. But there are by far more positive examples to offset them. There was Kathleen hired me at Octel (the voicemail equipment company bought by Lucent), showed me her appreciation in my passion in international work; and there was Rose that hired me at BEA, after my three-year hiatus from the work force, at the bottom of the economy, gave me the chance to get back on track; and then there was my mentor at BEA, guided me to a promotion which jump started my assorted adventures since last year. My ex-manager at BEA takes the cake. When you are unemployed, double unemployed, people don't call you back (or don't call you at all) for the jobs you are interested in, running out of medical benefits, you tend to start "network", diligently. So logically I go back to the companies and the managers I worked for before, that I respect and expect them to lend me a helping hand. First, I called this manager, he was not aware of any openings but asked me to send him my resume any way and he'll look around. Second, couple of days later I found on an opening in HIS own area. I wrote him a very sincere email, please, pretty please, consider me. Third, he replied, confirmed he was the hiring manager; but (the BUT) I don't have experience using the particular software application. Excuse, big fat lie. And he very kindly referred me to HR. Fourth, I talked to his staff, confirmed the application is not hard to learn, then wrote him again, pleading my case. And by the way in case I failed to qualify for any opening at BEA, would you please be my reference? Fifth and final, he came back today and politely said, my competitions are "super users" of the software, and they have the "desired skill-set". How people are afraid of making mistakes. They want to take the safe route, hire the people that can do the work in front of their noses, and that will more than likely the end of the ability as well. Somewhere someone believes that a good analyst is not a super user, a machine operator.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Feeling hairless

I lost mine and Henry's social security cards last year when my car was broken into and my purse was stolen. I've been dragging my feet to apply for the replacement cards. Now that I've got plenty of time in my hands, I finally filled out the forms and headed to the local office. My driver's license is a few years old and the picture was taken when I was pregnant. I was a bit younger, with long hair, and dare I say, glowing with all that hormone. So when the girl sitting behind the counter in the SSA office asked me, upon inspecting my driver's license, "Is this your daughter?" -- I was speachless. Remind me it's a bad idea stop coloring my hair!!! Oh do I miss my hair :-(

Knitting Retreat

Tomorrow is our semi annual knitting retreat in Ben Lomand. I only go on Saturday while others stay for the weekend. It's deep in the Santa Cruz mountains, no phone, no email, no TV, just knitting and chatting with friends. It will be a nice escape from the heat in the valley. My guys have a full day planned as well. It's a rare chance for them to be on their own in a long time.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Going for the long drag

Officially signed up with ProMatch today. This is the networking group sponsored by EDD in Sunnyvale, most service high tech workers -- engineers, managers, high tech workers changing careers or moving back to US after long term oversees jobs. A few years ago they had to keep a five months waiting list, with over 400 active members in the organization, but now they only have about 100 people, and everyone has to volunteer minimum four hours a week to keep it running. So far everyone is telling me "It's going to be easy!" "Revenue is hot!" "It's a hot market out there!" Until that fat job lands in my lap, I'm not taking it easy. Day 3 of duel unemployment family. It's actually kinda nice, in a way. We've always complained that we don't spend enough time together; now with Henry in Summer Camp full time, we take walks, talk, read, even watch movies in the afternoon. I don't mind this at all. Now just need some rich daddy to pay the mortgage and health care ......

Monday, July 10, 2006

Update on Knitting

Frode finished! The back is in the previous "hair" post, here is the front. I was very much dreading the sewing part, since it's drop shoulder and I have to figure out where the sleeves fit.

Then I started swatching for DeColores -- this is going to be a knit-along with my knitting friend Cris. The colors in the Silk Garden is coming along nicely, a very fun project.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Hair, Long and Short of it

I was born bald, and it took the first few months of my life to grow a thin layer of baby hair. When I was eight months old, my parents sent me to a new nanny, who believed that baby hair had to be shaved off so the "real" hair could come in. So at the end of the day when my dad went to pick me up, wala! no more baby hair! he cried at the sight of my bald head. I had long hair since I can remember, it's one of the only things my parents agreed on, might be the only thing. Sometimes it's as short as shoulder length, or as long as waist length. This picture was taken last year when we went to Legoland, the hair had been about this length for almost all my adulthood. I've also had gray hair since whenever, well, probably late teens. In the more recent years I've had it colored, since, according to a hair stylist, I have a young face and why let the gray hair age me. Earlier this year, I finally got fed up with all the chemicals, and decided to take the plunge and stop the coloring. To minimize the two tone effect while my own color grows out, I planned to have my hair cut short, in stages. First cut resulted in my profile picture. We cut about seven or eight inches off, made it a long bob.About six weeks later, the second cut took off another three or four inches in the back, into a stylish short bob. The stylist really hesitated with the front, so it ended up sort of an A line. Final cut! Another few inches off, and all is left is my own color! I'm still not used to seeing this person in the mirror, may never will. After the cut the stylist congratulated me for taking it through. He's seen other women trying to quit coloring, only end up dreading the cut and going back to coloring, one even cried in the chair after the hair cut. Well, I'm just glad it's all over and now just need to grow my hair out again. Please send me the hair growing vibes! I miss the weight on my back!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

July 4th Parade

Yesterday we went on the Aptos parade with Santa Cruz Pugs. Here are some of the pictures I took, there were so many pugs and other cute dogs -- westies, scotties, daschunds, little black Trinket type of mixes. We left Bucky at home for fear that the drive and walk will tire him too much, next year he's going in the stroller.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Who's reading my blog?

I want to do this once in awhile, to be cautious, since I'm putting lots of personal information on the web, and because I'm curious. There are quite a few hits on this blog every day, some from first time visitors, some from repeat visitors, and some are direct hits, which means you have book marked my site. I'd like to know who you are, what you like about me -- you must like something here if you keep coming back :-) Drop me a note, I don't bite :-)