April 29, 2003

My Birthday

Overall, I had a great day yesterday. Gary and I had done most of the celebrating during the weekend, so it was a rather laid-back birthday. My dad called first thing in the morning and we talked for a few minutes before I had to go get ready for work. My aunt Kathy had written to me to say that she thought one shouldn't have to work on one's birthday. Maybe, but since everyone else has to work, it's sometimes being more fun at work than being by myself.

A few people in my group took me out for lunch (another benefit of going to work); we went to a Japanese restaurant for sushi and teriyaki. Joana, whom I knew from Incyte, also gave me a "Bridal Bargains" book. Looks like I need to get serious about this wedding stuff now! The rest of the group couldn't make it, so we're going out again on Friday (I like to extend my birthday for as long as possible.) They gave me a bottle of champagne, which I should put in the fridge this morning for spontaneous consumption.

After lunch, when we got back to work, there was a big basket of flowers and a balloon at the front desk. I wasn't going to even bother to see if it was for me (I didn't think it would be) but my friends insisted. And hey, wow, it's for me! Of course we all automatically assumed it was from Gary, but when I got to my desk and opened the card, I was surprised to see that it was from my sister Melinda and her hamster Winnie! She had been very clever about looking up my work address without me finding out (to the point of me worrying that she had sent my gift to Incyte by accident.) I was so touched...I wasn't expected flowers, and getting them from my sister was just awesome!

flowers from Melinda
I couldn't get a good picture of the balloon, but the flowers are beautiful. The pink flamingos in the background (you can barely see one on the right side) were a birthday present from my other sister from a few years ago.

Gary had to work late yesterday (mandatory overtime Mondays and Wednesdays through May) so I had the house to myself when I got home. Which was just as well, because I talked to my mom, my aunt Kathy, my step-mother, and both my sisters! I finally got a chance to eat (leftover orzo salad and veggies from Sunday's party, good stuff) a bit before Gary got home. We had cake and ice cream, finishing off a pint of Swiss Vanilla Almond, but leaving a lot of cake for today. To end the day I opened presents.

Only a few people's presents had arrived, so I won't elaborate too much on what I got. The weirdest thing was from my mom. It's a small green rubbery plastic object, about the size of bar of soap; it came in a box that proclaimed it was a "Golla Buttmobile." It's made in Finland. We have no idea what it is, but my guess is that it's an ashtray. There is a website on the box, but Gary and I are each going to bring it into work and play a guessing game with our friends before we look it up. The neatest thing that was actually useful was from my dad. It's called a "stapless" and it attaches up to 4 sheets of paper together without staples. It cuts a small slit and a tab in the paper, then folds the tab over and into the slit. Hard to describe, but it works really well. It really makes me wonder about where people go shopping for me!

Now my birthday is over, but there's a little more celebration to come. Gary bought me headphones, which should arrive tomorrow. And some time this week he's taking me out for dinner, since he couldn't yesterday. And eventually we'll have a party, which won't be for my birthday (since it's too late) but should be fun anyway.

Posted by Jen at 07:46 AM | Comments (1)

April 27, 2003

My Birthday Weekend

I'm turning 32 tomorrow! Or, as we say around here, 100000 (which is significant, because today is the last day I am 11111 years old, in binary.)

We didn't have a big party this year because Gary thought he might have to work on the weekends in April. So instead he took me birthday present shopping yesterday, and today we invited a few friends over for lunch.

The shopping started as a trip to Palo Alto to retrieve my car (I had left it at Crystal D over night after Deborah's party.) We went to Stanford Mall for lunch (they have a great hotdog grill) and Gary bought me some clothes (entirely to my surprise...I had planned on getting everything myself, but he insisted. But I can't wear any of it until tomorrow.) I asked for headphones for my birthday, so we thought we'd look for some places to try them out. As it turned out, he wound up buying them online, as the local place was nearly twice as expensive.

Last night in preparation for today's mini-party, we made chocolate-chip oatmeal cookies. This turned into quite an ordeal. It cost us 4 sticks of butter and a chopstick! Luckily Gary didn't do permanent damage to his thumb. While the cookies were baking we watched the Osbournes, which we both decided was the stupidest thing we'd ever seen. I can almost see why people like it, since it's so stupid as to be unbelievable. It's hard to know how much of it is acting and how much is real (I mean, these people couldn't wipe up a spill on the stove!) I feel I've seen enough to hold an intelligent conversation about the show, if that's even possible.

The lunch party was a totally last-minute affair. I wanted to do something, but inviting a dozen people over was just not in the picture. John and Eva and their two sons, Derek and Max, came over, as did Vladimir and Cornelia and their 6 month old daughter Thea. I gave Thea the strawberry cap I knitted for her a couple of weeks ago. She seemed to like it, and since Cornelia ate so many strawberries during her pregnancy, it was a fitting gift.


The party was lots of fun. We had an antipasto salad, an orzo salad, steak and porkchops, and grilled marinated veggies. Luckily the weather held out for us (it's been raining on and off all week) and we could grill outside. John and Eva brought a bottle of Wente merlot, and we opened the bottle of Andretti cab that we got last weekend (a little too soon, we decided.) And for dessert we had a raspberry chiffon cake, ice cream, fruit, and the aforementioned cookies. Yum! Gary used 6 candles on the cake, but it took a long time before any of our guests could figure out he had marked out 32 in binary.

Derek played Connect Four against most of the adults, with Max occassionally helping place a checker in the holder. We watched and talked about Thea a lot. She can now stay sitting up by herself for quite a long time, and can roll onto her stomach. The boys played with her a little bit, making funny faces and noises for her. She laughed really loudly over and over again, giving the kind of terrific instant gratification little kids don't usually get from adults.

I got a Zen Art palatte from Vladimiar and Cornelia. You can "paint" on the paper with water, and the characters disappear after a couple of minutes. I took Chinese calligraphy in college, and I'll have to do some practicing now. I can't even remember how to write my own name in Chinese (how embarrassing!) I got some beautiful flowers and a few great cards from John and Eva and each of the kids (Derek wrote it out himself; he writes the letter J exactly the way I did when I was his age.)

Eventually all the kids got tired, or messy, or fussy, so we said our goodbyes. Gary took a nap, I cleared off the table, and now it's getting dark. Now all I need to decide is whether to have cake or cookies for dinner. :)

Posted by Jen at 06:52 PM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2003

Moving to Texas

We went to a going away party last night for a former colleague of mine. Deborah was laid off from Incyte at the same time I was; she found a job in Texas with her former thesis advisor, working on bioterrorism. It sounds like a government funded start-up. Her boss is still a full-time professor, and hired her to help get the company up and running, adding her background in both academia and industry, as well as her scientific expertise. She says she is excited about the job, happy about being able to work with her former advisor. I think she's a little nervous about moving to Texas, though, and away from her friends here in California.

It was an interesting party. I knew over half the people there, and recognized most of the others as current or former Incyter people. There was a lot of talk of finding jobs, both from employed and unemployed. I know of only 3 people who have found jobs in the Bay Area, and that includes me! I know of a half-dozen more who have moved to the East Coast, Southern California, Canada, or Texas to work. And I know of even more who haven't found jobs and are sticking it out here. Unfortunately it's expensive to live in the Bay Area, and the job market hasn't improved at all in the past 6 months.

I think having a party soon would be a good idea, before all my friends move away to Texas and Canada.

Posted by Jen at 07:47 AM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2003


We had a blackout last night. The power went out a little after 8, and didn't come back on until 10.30. It was one of Gary's long days at work, so he was on his way home; I had just finished eating leftover pierogis from Easter.

We tested out the emergency radio my mom gave us a few years ago. The flashlight worked great, the radio preferred AM over FM. But, since this happened in Fremont, there was nothing in the news about it. If this were Oakland or San Francisco, we would have heard about it.

We decided to drive, carefully, around the neighborhood to get an idea of how widespread the problem was. Gary had thought the power was only out in our small neighborhood, but as we drove around we realized it extended all the way back to the hills, and from 880/Fremont to Thornton Ave. There was a bad accident at the Fremont and 880 off-ramp intersection. Presumably someone had just come flying through the intersection, not realizing that there used to be lights there (or maybe just not paying attention, since there are signs telling you there's a light.)

The weird part of the driving experience was when we came to areas that had power. It seemed like the gas stations and fast-food places, which is mostly what we saw, had far more many lights on than they needed. It looked almost as if they had turned on extra lights just to flaunt the fact that they could.

Gary and I lit candles at home and hung out, talking about what might have caused the blackout, and wondering what appliances might still work without power (probably our range, we decided, and maybe the hot water heater.) We thought as home owners we should know these things, but we didn't bother to find out (we figured if the power was still off the next day, then we would learn.)

The power came back on around 10.30. Gary played a video game and I watched him until I fell asleep.

I had a hard time finding any mention of the power loss in the area papers this morning. The Argus (our local) had a short article. No one knows why the power went out (which is what I am most interested in.) And I suspect that by the time they figure it out, I will have forgotten that I wanted to know in the first place!

Posted by Jen at 07:43 AM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2003

Easter Sunday

We didn't go to Church. We didn't even have a large traditional afternoon meal (we did that on Saturday.) We had a french toast (or is that freedom toast?) brunch with fried ham leftover from the day before. We did talk about religion, though, and tried to work out the story of Easter without consulting the Bible or the Internet. I think we did ok.

Then we played mini-golf.


The course we went to isn't the typical mini-golf course. This one, the only one in Napa, was small and cramped. There was no one playing when we got there, so we had the place to ourselves for the first half. I did terribly. I forget the ending scores, but Gary Sr. and Emily beat both me and Gary, and Gary beat me by over 10 points. At this course, it's not so much a game of skill as it is a game of chance, although skill does come in handy.

After the game we went to Napa's downtown district for a snack. They had recently opened a new restaurant/fancy grocery/hotel/luxury hang-out place. It was sort of quaint, but in a very contrived way. You could tell that everything was brand new, except the buildings which were part of what had been the warehouse district. It was as if they were trying to create some hip culture where none had been, and decided to forego the incubation period that those places (e.g. Greenwich Village, Paris, etc.) really need to succeed. We stopped at a deli for gourmet sodas, and then to a great bakery for cupcakes. The bakery had once been inside a warehouse, and had some sort of grinder or hopper contraption in the middle of the room. None of us could figure out how it worked, although Gary determined that one part was a brake (for what, though, we don't know.)

After getting home we helped Gary Sr move his futon collection around. He has two, and both were in the wrong part of the house (they had been moved while his floor was being redone.) Gary and I half complained and half teased his dad about the futons. It seemed to us that we were moving his original futon from one area to the next several times a year. He says this was the last move, that this is where the futons would live for now on. We'll see how long this lasts. :)

It actually took all four of us to accomplish this task, mainly because we were trying to move one futon from an outside building to the main bulding via the window, and the other futon from the garage to the outside building. Luckily it didn't rain on us, and the futons fit through all the doorways and windows.

Posted by Jen at 08:18 AM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2003

Our Easter Weekend

Gary and I went up to Napa to visit Gary's dad and Emily for the Easter weekend. They had decided it would be better to have Easter dinner on Saturday afternoon, instead of Sunday, to give us more flexiblility in getting home Sunday.

We started the day's events with a visit to the Andretti winery, which was having a new release party. It's a nice winery; very small, but cosy and not too crowded. The wine wasn't bad; Gary and I bought a bottle of the new cabernet.

Meanwhile, the ham we were going to have for dinner was slowly heating up back home. When we got back it was exactly at the perfect temperature, so we finished up the rest of the food while it rested. In addition to ham we had pierogis that Emily made (her special family recipe), green bean casserole, salad, and a challah bread shaped like a rabbit, or maybe it was a snail.

We ate. A lot. For dessert Gary Sr. had bought 4 rabbit shaped coconut cakes. I didn't eat mine (well, I took a bite and decided I didn't like it.) So I proposed we go on a walk and head to Foster's Freeze for an ice cream. This was our undoing! The walk was great, the ice cream less so. I splurged on a chocolate malt, Gary got a dipped cone, and Emily got a regular cone (Gary Sr was smart and didn't have anything. On the other hand, he ate his entire bunny-coconut cake.) By the time we got back home, I had the start of the worse stomach-ache.

We spent the rest of the evening recuperating from our feast. Gary slept on the floor while Emily and I talked about my new job. Eventually Gary Sr and Emily got tired and went back to Emily's place to sleep. I swore as I went to sleep that I would never eat that much again!

Posted by Jen at 10:18 AM | Comments (0)

April 18, 2003

Go Jen!

Hey! It's my new blog!

Posted by Jen at 09:07 PM | Comments (0)