Chen hates weddings

Birthday again

I'm 30 this time. Surprisingly, I'm feeling my age. In the way my balance shifts after 2 beers and the tiny little lines I see around my eyes in the mirror each morning. As my grandma used to say - Aging is a bummer, but far better than the alternative.

This year I raced for the first time, did weight work, drummed, rode 100 miles, did the dirt series course, started meditating on regular basis, presented at NoCoug twice and HotSos once, wrote a paper, joined NoCoug board, had 4 different team leads, found a todo management system that seems to work, jogged, regretted past decisions, started paying attention.

Next year I'll dance, play the piano, learn yoga. Write another paper, maybe two. Visualize information. Teach. Socialize. Read research papers. Ride far away mountains. Visit Amsterdam and New-Amsterdam too. Probably a lot more.

Birthday day itself was nice - Omer and I went on our annual birthday ride. I got birthday gift from mother nature - highly annoying burn from poison oak. But it was still a good ride. Celebrated with Omer by buying a keyboard and going to a nice restaurant in my favorite town. Celebrated with a good friend at the pub, and even enjoyed a game party with old and new friends.
Chen hates weddings

A meme so silly that I could not resist

(none of these work, which I find endlessly amusing)

1. WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother's & father's middle names)

Null Rochester

2. NASCAR NAME: (first name of your mother's dad, father's dad )

Erwin Othniel

3. STAR WARS NAME: (the first 2 letters of your last name, first 4 letters of your first name)


4.DETECTIVE NAME: (fav color, fav animal)

Purple Heron

5. SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you live)

Rochester Cupertino

6. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd fav color, fav alcoholic drink, add "THE" to the beginning)

Black Quantro

7. FLY NAME: (first 2 letters of 1st name, last 2 letters of your last name)


8. GANGSTA NAME: ( fav ice cream flavor, fav cookie):

Green tea shortbread

9.ROCK STAR NAME: (current pet's name, current street name)

Null Bret

10. PORN NAME: (1st pet, street you grew up on)

Simba Hahaganah
Chen hates weddings

Birthday Gifts

I'm so grateful for all the wonderful things that happened for my birthday!

Wonderful new bikes from my amazing, caring, loving and financially irresponsible husband.
And a terrific morning ride with my favorite riding partners.
Fashionable bag delivered to my doorstep from my father's family.
Phonecalls from family.
Nice messages in facebook from colleagues.
Far-away friends saying happy birthday in messenger.
And friends calling to say "I love you".
Realizing once again that male friends never ever remember birthdays.
And realizing that last year was a good one, and the next one will be even better.

After almost 30 years of living, I'm finally starting to love myself. Tonight I'll drink to that.
Chen hates weddings

(no subject)

North California is burning. 1000 fires are raging all over the area. I know many people who were evacuated from their homes, and hope that their home will still be there to return to.
The air is full of smoke. It is difficult to breath and it looks like the weather is constantly cloudy and foggy. The smell is horrible, but after few days, I got used to it. I still wake up every morning with taste of ash in my mouth.

As compensation, we have beautiful blood-red sunsets.
Chen hates weddings

(no subject)

Difficult times seem to stress the difference between what is real and what is just an illusion.
The real friends call every day to make sure I'm ok and tell me I can call them any time. They are there for me, and give me the love and support I need to go through this.
Anything else is not love, it is a dream and illusion.
Chen hates weddings

(no subject)

My grandmother, Miriam Gedalia, died yesterday. Friday, May 2nd 2008. She was dying for the last 6 month, and I am glad it is finally over. I miss her terribly.

Old memories are floating to the surface one by one. Playing checkers, playing card games, breakfast in bed, singing in the rain. Weekend in Tel-Aviv. Weekend in paris. My grandmother getting drunk on champagne.

I never figured out what was her favorite food. Actually, it was very difficult finding out her preferences and opinions on any topic. She was not opinionated, she prefered to accomodate other people, make those close to her happy. She liked what I liked, ate what I ate.

It is also difficult to know how clever she was. Unlike everyone else, she didn't try to make herself appear smarter or prettier. I can't tell if her naivette was real or a good act. I could never tell if she let me win when we played games together. Sometimes she hinted that it was better not to let others know how smart you really are. Let them underestimate you, she said, they make more mistakes that way. She firmly believed in living below her means, no one has to know how much money you have, and you don't want to make other people envious.

My grandmother taught me how to cook, but then she told me not to bother because I can buy good ready made food at the market. She also gave me good sex advice - in the summer, you do it only when you have to. She tried to give me good martial advice as well, how to keep my husband happy.
Don't let your husband go to a conference alone was on top of the list. She religiously followed this advice all her life, traveling with her husband to conferences all over the world. While he talked and listened to lectures, she visited all of Europe, much of the US, Japan, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand. Sending us photos and bringing gifts from every location. I think she liked Japan the most.

My grandmother was a good person. Always listening to others. Even strangers could tell that about her, and they would find her in line to the bank, in the clinic, in the supermarket. They told her their stories, and she always listened patiently, never speaking of her trouble. She did everything she could to make others happy. Without a thought to herself. No expense was too high, nothing was too difficult. I could tell million stories that demonstrate this, but when I try, it always sounds like people were taking advantage of her. It seemed that way to me too at the time. But now I'm not sure this was the case. Maybe she really loved making others happy, and she enjoyed making herself usefull for her family. Its difficult to tell, with her.

The emptiness left in my life now that she is gone is unbelievable. The only person I trusted, the only person who looked after my interests, the only person who was unconditionally kind and loving to me. It is difficult for me to imagine life without her. No words can express how much I miss her.
Chen hates weddings

(no subject)

Reviewing the Fall:
I put Sharona's tiny puppet in my cube - I'm not sure if it counts as decorating.
I drew a lot, and improved a lot, and I barely threw away anything.
I hiked, less than I wanted to, but it was great. The bay area is so beautifull in the fall, and we even learned that we find many mushrooms on every hike.
I didn't listen to Jazz. Just didn't feel like it. I'm still listening mostly to filk, my current favorite is Gwen Knighton.
I didn't make mushroom rissotto, but I made the worlds most amazing mushroom pasta. Real resturant quality. I'm so proud!
New friend... That is more difficult. I definitely got closer to some people I know here, which is cool. But the real friend I've found is yet another long distance friendship. Must be my Karma or something.
Read long books slowly - I think I finally got the knack of actually reading books instead of inhaling them.
Read technical books - it didn't work that well, I'm just beginning a technical book.
Red wine - oh yes, I want more :-)
Review last years accomplishments and mistakes - well, here's a mistake for you. I should have written down my thoughts, because they evaporated by now. Also, I've discovered that contemplation is a moving target. Like housework, it is never finished. I keep getting new insights.
Say goodbye to grandmother - I did. And just in time. I saw her last less than a month ago, and when I talked to her yesterday I was very glad I rescheduled my trip to Israel, because due to heavy medication she is barely herself anymore.
Vacation near Mt Shasta - Oh yes, I want more :-)
Visit Israel - It was the best of times, it was the worse of times... But I managed to see most of my friends and not get divorced.
Visit Museums - not even one.
Wear eyeliner - It turns out that wearing eyeliner is easy, remembering to remove it at night is the tricky part.
Yoga once a week - not even once. And due to bad weather I also stopped cycling. I must find fun activity for the winter before I lose my fitness.

But the really remarkable things that happened were not planned, which is even better. I went to Oracle OpenWorld, met many great people, heard many cool presentations, and renewed my passion for life in general and hackery in particular. Since OOW, I feel like I'm 18 again (including the bad parts - moodswings and tendency to manipulate people), but I also feel much more myself and alive than I did in the last few years.

Winter plans will follow, and maybe plans for 2008 as well.
Chen hates weddings

(no subject)

Been at the Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton today, after last nights rains ruined our hopes for quality mountain biking.

Although the observatory is easily visible from San Jose, it took us over an hour to get there. The road is long, narrow and very twisted. Some sections are also very steep. These qualities make it a natural cycling Mecca, and indeed on the way there we've seen more bikes than cars. I'd say that these people are crazy, but I'm looking forward to the day that I'll be a good enough cyclist to try it myself. I really envy these cyclists for being so much in shape, and so determined.

The observator itself is like a steampunk dream. It was built in 1888 by a rich eccentric from San Fracisco, and it is unlike anything I've ever heard of. The telescope sits in a large round hall. You'll want to use it to see different sections of the sky, so naturally the ceiling has to rotate and open. Now, the telescope itself is one of the largest refraction telescopes in existance and weights 300 tons, but it is so perfectly balanced that you can actually direct it by hand to the place you want to watch. Now depending on the angle of the telescope, the eye piece can be at different heights, which can be difficult for the observer. The observatory designers solved this problem by making the entire floor of the hall (and its a large one) an elevator. The observer stands on the floor and the floor goes up and down around the telescope. All this is powered by water pumps. Isn't it amazing?
The depressing thing is that we could not actually try the telescope. Trying it would require registering for the observatory summer program, and the demand is so huge that there is a lottery to see who would actually get to do it.

The observatory also has a large modern telescope. One of the neat things about the modern telescope is that they use a lazer to generate a pseudo-star in the sky, and since they know what the laser star should look like, they can use it to know how the image is distorted by the atmosphere and correct the distortion using special mirrors. In addition they are currently building a new system that will use the telescope to automatically search for planets. Apperantly, until 10 years ago, no one knew if there are other planets outside the solar system. In the last ten years they found 106 planets and they want more.

Another strange thing about the observatory is that since it is so remote, the people who work there also live there. The astronomers don't live there, they just download the data, but there are 35 people who do live there - telescope technicians, cleaners, tour guides, etc. The lady I talked to has lived there for 27 years. Could be nice in a way, but living an hour away from the nearest pub would be dangerous for my nerves.