Saturday, March 23, 2002

The Price of Hubris, Apparently, is a Tower of Babel

So, I finally stepped down off my personal moral pedestal about accepting financial help from government institutions and filed for unemployment about 10 days ago. Ish. Shudder.

Right. So, I'm minding my own business after sending someone, somewhere, a government-y form, and telling my work ethic bloody independent minded "we take care of our own" streak to shut up and pass the Top Ramen, when I get back an answer, of a sort.

Oh, yeah, sure, of a sort. I get four, count 'em four (4) things, documents, packets, forms, whatever, in the mail from wherever these things come from within the great State of California.

In Spanish.

You read that right. Spanish. Which amused me rather at the time, because I know a lot of Latin from being a scientist and just interested in languages, and I can recognize a few things in Spanish. But it's not like I know it or anything, and it is most certain I can't read Bureaucratese in what is to me an unknown tongue. I admit to an edge of irritation too, at having to figure out who to call in order to rectify the situation. But this, all this, I set aside to fly to San Diego for a hopefully-unemployment-negating encounter.

I find now that one of these linguistically inpenetrable documents included a message telling me to expect a followup call today, which of course, fell on deaf ears [blind eyeballs? whatever], to inquire about a couple of my answers to the initial form I filled out.

I remain blissfully ignorant until the phone rings this morning and I answer, all of which goes something like this:

irritating[*] cell phone ring

me, fumbling with CD player to pause music

me, dashing for cell phone on windowsill, pushing button with my little pink paw and saying, "Hello?"


This is Sidra

Hi, I'm calling from [something EDD department] regarding your interview today.


That was me, the witty one.

And, of course, this is how I find out to expect a phone interview with someone from the EDD, today. The subject of which was actually pretty innocuous, so now that I reflect back on it, I'm kind of glad I didn't know to expect it. 'Cause then I would have just worried.

We get things straightened out regarding my need for documents in a language I actually know, and this lady [whose name was apparently transmitted during the intial blast of incomprehensiblity at the beginning of our call] asks me the questions she called to ask, and explained a few things, but only after chastising me for "waiting so long to return my something-something form". To which I very politely did not answer "bite me", but instead explained the minor issue of a language barrier and that I had been out of town chasing down a job, while my voice said, all on its own I assure you, a matter of tone and timbre I had nothing to do with, "back off, strange woman calling me on Saturday morning to talk too fast while I'm trying to listen to Itzhak Perlman play Mozart". I mean, really, with that in the player, be glad I picked up the phone at all. If it had been Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, I would not have bothered.

Anyway. I'm supposed to get new forms sometime soon...and I will oh-so-solemnly immolate the little bits of dead trees if they arrive in Vietnamese.

The moral of my story? Oh, there isn't one, don't worry about it. Except maybe to study more foreign languages, kids!

[*] All cell phones have irritating rings. But, you knew that already.

Oh, Stupidity!

Check out the 101 Dumbest Moments in Business, from

Friday, March 22, 2002

Waiting for the Shoe to Drop

But in a good way. I had the best interview I've had in years with a delight of a company [they build telecom hardware and as a result do voice over IP stuff, among other things, and I can tell I'm going to be obsessed about that very topic for some time to come -- it makes so much sense what they're doing? In light of the kind of robust distributed computing you can do these days? And the Internet? Boy, honey, does it ever.]


I liked them. A lot. And the feeling was seriously mutual.

I flew down to San Diego on Monday night, stayed with Janis [inagurating her new hide-a-bed couch, like, actual grownup furniture, I almost couldn't sleep], went in and interviewed Tuesday, flew home that night[*], and have been poking around online looking for apartments in San Diego ever since. Looks pretty serious, kiddies. I love the Bay Area, but when the chips are down [and as far as I'm concerned, when it comes to the ol' career, the chips are always down] I go where the jobs are, bay-bee.

The Interview [cue dramatic music, roll tape, aaaaaaaaand Action!]:

Met the head of MIS, whose minion I will become if all goes well, and we talked over several internal support tools he wants built/maintained/improved. This is a web application development position I was interviewing for, by the way. Much of what we discussed involves standard issues of interdepartmental communication that I've tackled before. One of their biggest things with which they want to deal right away is a problem I've already solved, and have the code, open source, on my laptop, like, right this second. I've been remiss and haven't stuck it up on SourceForge yet. My bad.

Chatted with HR, very nice lady, for about a half hour.

Moved onto the Veep who I actually met in a hallway at a different company, which just goes to show that a small small small small world it really is sometimes, and we hit it off like ham and eggs. We chit-chatted on quite a number of things.

I got a great author recommendation out of the head of MIS, CD, to wit, Guy Gavriel Kay, who wrote a trilogy, and I paraphrase, which does not suffer by comparison to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. That's a pretty impressive statement, so I schlepped to the library yesterday and picked up the specific trilogy in question and started it. So far, so good.

And here I am now, not-quite-twiddling-my-thumbs, waiting.

[*] A gentleman celebrating his 81st birthday experienced chest pains during the flight, and paramedics came aboard for him after we grounded in San Jose to whisk him away. On his birthday. Bleah. I do hope he's all right.

The 911 Call

That's the name of a screenplay, by yours truly. I just finished the second real draft [after the first round of mentor comments] after having a stack of marked-up copies sitting to my right for months. Anyway, I'm pleased with the level of improvement. I've definitely worked up the dialogue in the last act way better, and so I'll probably print it out and send back to J&M and ask them to put their Actor/Director/TeacherHats back on and give me more feedback.

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Cool TV

Better yet, awesome TV. I was never a big Law and Order fan, I've watched it occasionally, that was about all, and I was kind of put off by the spinoffs. I've seen one or two eps of SVU and 2? 3? episodes of Criminal Intent, with Vincent D'onofrio and Kathryn Erbe. This past Sunday's episode, about a felon who gets killed and 400K of robbery money that had never been recovered, absolutely knocked me on my cute li'l tuckus.

I am in awe. Beautiful writing and stellar performances, there were two segments that stood out so beautifully -- one when Erbe and D'onofrio pull a good cop/bad cop on this woman who is the key to their investigation, and piss her off so impressively to get her to reveal more than she intended, and the very end when D'onofrio is "talking down", so to speak, the guy responsible for murder.
Compassionate, apparently guileless, it was just amazing.

Well done, folks, well done.

Monday, March 18, 2002



"The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than
the British or Americans. On the other hand, the French eat a lot of
fat and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
Conclusion: Eat what you like. It's speaking English that kills you."

Own this remark? Tell me.

Sunday, March 17, 2002

In The Paramecia Department

Don't look at me too funny, but along with my various other obsessions, I have a thing about bugs. No, no, not those kind, the other ones: communicable disease. My fave are the filoviruses [Ebola, Marburg], but I have a new appreciation for the long under-appreciated tularemia and other bacteria as well.

Sigh. So many possible careers, so little time.

If you're interested on keeping your finger on the pulse of the world, disease-wise, consider subscribing to the Weekly Epidemiological Record.

Fascinating stuff. It amazes me that we even manage to live at all, sometimes.

The Weekly Epidemiological Record (WER) serves as an essential instrument for the rapid and accurate dissemination of epidemiological information on cases and outbreaks of diseases under the International Health Regulations, other communicable diseases of public health importance, including the newly emerging or re-emerging infections, non-communicable diseases and other health problems.

The WER is distributed every Friday in a bilingual English/French edition.

To SUBSCRIBE: please send a message to with the command "subscribe wer-reh" as the only text of the message. To add an address other than the one from which you are sending the request, give that address in the command, e.g."subscribe wer-reh".