Monday, March 31, 2008

You Would Think I Would Have Something To Say

After all this time away. But you would be wrong. Or maybe not.

I had a crazy busy week getting ready for Easter, between the church stuff and the art exhibit stuff, and then I pretty much just took last week off. Of everything. I didn't even read blogs last week. That's bad.

I did have a job interview last week, which theoretically, if anyone is still reading, you might be interested in. I had a face to face interview with the company I talked to before. Hmmm, I thought I had said more about this, but apparently not. So here's a little bit of the story:

Tech company, based in Taiwan, wants an interface to American company (really two companies, but mainly one). My friend who works at the main American company recommends me for the job. The Taiwanese company interviews me via phone and discovers that I am not a terrifically technical engineer (no surprise to anyone who knows me or who has read my resume).

Fast forward a few weeks, when I get to meet one of the guys from Taiwan, who is in town on business. That occurs last Wednesday. My first thought, because I'm oh-so-observant, is, "my, you're tall!" Because somehow I wasn't expecting the very lovely Taiwanese gentleman to top six feet. Maybe that's just me. But then, I look up at everyone -- I'm really short.

So we have a nice long visit, which is blessedly devoid of technical content. He is delightfully honest about the interview process, my place in it, and all that, and since he would be my manager, I am quite favorably impressed.

Their decision process is going to take longer than I would like (unless I end up with another offer that forces them to decide faster), but that's not so bad.

And in other news, it would appear I have bred not a Rice Owl, but a Texas Aggie. Whoooooop! Er, um, I mean, I'm very sorry my older son wasn't admitted to Rice. But FOOTBALL!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Glutted with Glass

That's right. I'm tired of my torch.

Or I would be anyway, except I bought some new glass and haven't made any beads with it yet.

Maybe I'm just tired. Maybe agreeing to go to work at a church three weeks before Easter wasn't the smartest thing I've ever done. That, plus this art exhibit, may kill me.

But I've got some bead pictures for ya! Yes ma'am, I do! (And if you're a sir, I apologize heartily, Brian.)

If you're tired of bead pics, or any pics for that matter since that's all I've done recently, oh well. That's all I have energy for this week. Once we're through Easter -- which should be amazing at my church -- I should be back in full mediocrity.

First I'd like to show you the basketballs. These were made at the request of Coach Jenny, and I finally got around to making them. The one in the back is the dud I made before I looked at an actual basketball (moron that I am), and the other two have authentic basketball markings, although they're less round. They were more round when I started, but all the glass I added for the black markings made them oblong. Go figure.

These beads are all sort of "miscellaneous." I made a cross for Easter, of course. The ones to the left and right of the cross were just fun colors and patterns. The cube bead in front is an improvement on a bead I made and liked a few months ago. It doesn't photograph terribly well though -- it's better in person. Pretty much everyone who has seen it wants it, which means it will probably get broken in the exhibit. Easy enough to recreate though, so no big deal. The metallic spots are made with a glass that starts out black, and the black burns off to leave the metallic color. Pretty nifty.

The flat bead in the center is the first flower I ever made. There's a different flower on the back. It turned out really well; I was pleased. The one on the left won't be in the exhibit because the clear coating (it's called an "encased" bead) isn't even; it's all lumpy-bumpy. It's supposed to be beautifully smooth. It would be a great bead if the encasing had come out well, but encasing is difficult, and I don't do it well yet (nor does my friend who's much more talented than I, which makes me feel a little better). The two similar ones on the right are ones that I've tried before; the one on the bottom turned out the best of any that I've done, so it will be in the show. The one on top with turquoise and purple/pink will also not be exhibited. The purple/pink color is colloquially known as EDP, or Evil Devitrifying Purple because of the pond scum it leaves on the surface of the bead. This was my second attempt with it, and it did its thing. So the only two in this pic that will be in the exhibit are the two at the bottom.

This pic includes my first attempt at using EDP (the bead at the top). One way to prevent the pond scum effect is to encase the bead in clear, which I did here, but the purple crawled out through the encasing and left pond scum all over the bead anyway. Bleah. So the other two stripey cylinder beads on the left and right were attempts to replicate the idea of that bead without the pond scum. I will probably only exhibit the one on the left. Of the three round beads clustered in the middle, I will probably acid etch the upper one and the one on the right (you can see that effect in the next picture). All three will be in the show. I may re-take a pic of them after the etch, depending on how it turns out. I may also etch the pond scummed one to see if it looks ok etched, and if it does, I may exhibit it as well.

The flat bead in this pic has been acid etched. It just removes the "shiny" from the bead, so it has a matte finish. This is great for some beads and disastrous for others, so you have to know when to use it. I probably don't use it nearly enough. The others are also variations on the swirl theme. Swirling a bead leaves it completely misshapen. If it looks interesting that way, sometimes I leave it, like the pink and brown one on the left and the green and brown one on the right. Interestingly, I didn't use brown glass in the one on the left; that's just how the colors blended.

Last but not least, everyone's favorites: the animals. I've made frog beads before and posted pics, so that shouldn't be anything new, but this is my first fish, and I was quite pleased with him (her? it?). It took almost an hour and a half to make that bead, so I'm pretty sure that one will be on a necklace belonging to me when this show is over. I'm not nearly so attached to froggy #6, though.

And that's it for today. I hope you've enjoyed the bead extravaganza. If not, well, come back. I'll talk about something else next time.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

New York, New York!

On our last full day, we went to the museum -- the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the Met. Here's where it is... pretty nice neighborhood.

And here's what it looks like. Or part of it anyway. It's pretty impressively large. We (or at least I) had hoped to get to at least one other museum, particularly since we'd been to the Met before, but no such luck. We took a lot more pictures than I'm showing (no flash, of course).

You might recognize this painting by Monet (my favorite Impressionist).

And this is a recognizable pointillist painting; I think this is the one from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."

I was quite impressed by this helmet; it was made from one piece of metal.

And these are -- if you can believe this -- nose clips. If you think modern women suffer for fashion, think again!

This was my favorite item all day -- it's a modern sculpture made by someone who studied under the masters in Venice and Murano. Go figure I'd pick out the glass thing, huh? But man, I wish I could do this. I told Robert I was going to have to go apprentice now -- see ya in ten years or so! Bummer having to apprentice in Venice, huh?

That's it for the museum pics. The rest of the pics are our friends we hung out with while we were there.

This first guy is Ted, who we know from World of Warcraft (yes, we met him on the interweb). He works too much but appears to be sane otherwise. Here you see him in his natural habitat: working when he should be playing.

And this is me with Ted when we were out to dinner. He was giving the waiter a really hard time. We were telling him to lay off, and then the waiter started giving him a hard time in return. We loved that waiter.

Ted HATES having his picture taken, which is why there are no smiles, but he's just so cute you could pinch his cheek, isn't he?

These are our friends Laura and Kyle (between me on the right and my hubby Robert on the left). I've actually known Laura since I was about 12. Laura and Kyle live in Manhattan but are making noises about moving somewhere more sane. I'm voting Austin, which means I better start finding them a house...

And this is my friend Michelle who we stayed with. She gets the honored "saved the best for last" spot. We somehow never got a pic of her handsome and debonair hubby Mike with her on this trip, so I settled for this. Shell and I have been friends for probably 15 years or so. She's a keeper, and another one I wish didn't live quite so far away -- although it was awesome to have a place to stay. Thanks, Shell and Mike!

NYC Pics Aplenty!

OK, at long last here are the promised pics. There are a ton of them, so I'm doing some in this post and the rest in another post.

I'll start with the Times Square pics that Blogger wouldn't let me post the other day. First up is an M&M ad that was sort of memorable.

This is a classic tourist view of Times Square, including the Virgin Megastore, where we shopped for touristy things including a t-shirt featuring a map of the Manhattan subway system.

I think hubby was standing in roughly the same spot, facing the other direction for this shot. The number of lights and ads in that area is just insane.

On Monday, March 3, hubby and I went walking around all over the far southern end of Manhattan. We started near Ground Zero, where Robert took this pic of the sphere that used to be in the World Trade Center plaza. We remembered it -- the last time we were in NYC, we stood on the WTC -- six weeks and a day before it came down. September 11th was pretty sobering for us, of course.

These yahoos were posing with tourists. There were actually three of them, but it was hard to get all three in the picture. Naturally, they were yelling at us for taking a picture and not giving them money. Ah, America!

The REAL statue -- much more dignified, don't you think?

There's also a monument in that area that I don't remember seeing before. This is what it's for.

This is that plaque in context.

This is the entire monument (actually, we may be missing one of the pillars; again, it was hard to get the entire thing in one picture). The eagle statue is in the center of the picture, which should give you an idea of scale, as should the people walking around.

This is Ground Zero, a.k.a. a giant hole in the ground right now. They're working on construction. This pic was taken from the second story of a Burger King, which is about the best view into the pit that you can find. See the covered wagon looking thing? The next pic was taken over there. That is the entrance into the subway station that used to be under the WTC.

So under the covered wagon, there are brochures, a list of the people who died on September 11, and the plan for the area, which is what is in this shot.

After we finished near Ground Zero, we walked a bit. This is apparently City Hall, which is (perhaps not coincidentally) in City Hall Park. Apparently you'd be intimately familiar with this if you watch "Law and Order," which I don't.

I wanted a pic of the glass staircase in the Apple store in Soho. Apparently the employees don't take kindly to picture taking in their store, as you can see from the expression on the gentleman on the left.

And last but not least, if you park anywhere in the country other than Manhattan or maybe San Francisco, this will just blow your mind. This is how parking is done all over the city -- they even stack 'em three and four tall in places. This isn't even a garage; it's just a parking lot. Makes me appreciate my two-car garage!

I'm Easily Persuaded

One vote (from my sister, no less) will do it for me. I'm happy to post all my NY pics -- and in fact, I've even resized and cropped them so they're all ready to go. Unfortunately, I'm on the wrong computer, so I can't post them from here. Sorry!

I also owe y'all pics of all the beads I've been making for the show this weekend. I haven't taken those pics yet, but I will...

Friday, March 14, 2008

Falling Behind. On Life.

Yyyyyyyyyyeah. How does this work, again? I write things here and people come here and read them?

Not if I go away for a week at a time, you don't. Bleah.

This week's schedule:

Monday: work, then small group (creative arts small group, the fine folks bringing you the art exhibit next weekend. Always fun).

Tuesday: work, then working on the torch making beads for said art exhibit.

Wednesday: took the day off to prepare for a contract job explaining project management and Microsoft Project to a friend from church who owns a civil engineering firm in town. Was supposed to have small group, but it was canceled, so I actually goofed off playing World of Warcraft (they've forgotten who I am, too -- it's not just you folks!).

Thursday: work, then presentation for aforementioned contract job.

Friday: workworkfreelunchwork. Look for "real" job. Post to blog.

So here we are at Friday, and I still haven't posted all my New York stuff. Should I bother at this point? Does anyone care?

I have pics that I took at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in the south end of Manhattan (the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, stuff like that), and a few of friends that we saw (Laura and Kyle, the opera singers; Shell, who we stayed with; and Ted, our friend from World of Warcraft who objects to having his picture taken). Oh, and the ones from Times Square that Blogger refused to let me post in my last post.

If you're interested in the continuing NYC saga, speak up and I will happily finish it up. Silence means you don't care (or you can comment and tell me to shaddup if you like). Let your voice be heard! I promise your vote counts for more here than in the electoral process!

Monday, March 10, 2008

NYC, part 2

On Sunday March 2nd we went to a Broadway matinee. We stood in line at the TKTS booth in Times Square and got tickets to "November," a new play starring Nathan Lane, who I adore. (I only wish I could have seen "The Producers" the last time I was in NYC, but there was no way to land those tickets then.)

"November" consisted of 5 cast members and probably a lighting person. No sound -- not even microphones -- and no music of any kind. No set changes. It was pretty bare bones. The entire play ran less than an hour and a half, including intermission. Nathan Lane played the President just before an election he's almost sure to lose. Most of the dialogue is between him and his advisor and is really rapid fire, like "Moonlighting" only more so. I'm pretty sure they insulted every group it's possible to insult, so they were at least fair. It was very, very funny but also quite profane (I heard people complaining about the language on the way out of the theater). We enjoyed it. I unfortunately had a migraine and had taken meds, which make me really sleepy, which is why I don't remember more -- I was trying really hard to keep my eyes open! I kept telling myself "it's Nathan Lane... paid lots of money to be here..." but it just doesn't make much difference when you're that tired. Anyway, the funny outweighed the profanity in my book.

Before the show, we grabbed pizza at a neighborhood place, which was pretty good. Once the show was over, we headed back to Mike and Shell's place to chill out. I think Shell, who is a fabulous cook, made dinner that night. Robert went back to Times Square to take pictures after dark. I was uninterested in any more walking around -- my legs had pretty much had it by then.

Here are a few of the requisite Times Square pics. I'll spare you the ones of the Naked Cowboy (he isn't quite naked, but this is still a family friendly website -- you'll have to go see him for yourself if you're curious).

*tries multiple times to load pics; Google fails monumentally*

Sorry guys. But you've all seen Times Square before, right?

I'll hopefully post the missing pics, plus more details soon.

Oh, and my church is doing an art exhibition, which will consist mainly of large, um, things. But they've given me a small wall space to display beads. So now I'm trying to come up with beads that are consistent with an "Alive Again" sort of theme without being too Easter-y (the exhibition will run past Easter). I made a few things today... again, pics will have to wait thanks to the Google snafu. I'd love to hear what y'all think when I post them though.

And Jenny? I do need to get around to trying a basketball bead. Just haven't had a spare minute yet. I'll get there...

Friday, March 7, 2008

NYC, Friday and Saturday

We got to the city late on Friday night. The flight got to the area early, but naturally we had to circle several times before we landed. We were on Jet Blue, so I was watching the little TV in the seat back in front of me, and the signal dropped at the same point in the circle every time. You only THINK there's a commercial on every five minutes. I can tell you that there's not.

Our lovely hostess Michelle (known to her good friends as Shell) picked us up at the airport and drove us back to Manhattan in a cold rain. You just haven't experienced traffic joy until you've been in NYC in the rain. The potholes, the honking, the other drivers who think the white lines are merely suggestions... all these things conspire to make for a truly memorable experience. Have I mentioned how Austin traffic is really not that bad? Now would be a good time to say that.

We arrived at the apartment (or close to the apartment; you park where you can) and carried our bags up two very narrow flights of stairs to their place. Mike and Shell live in a great building. There's a vet on the first floor, and the second and third floors are each one apartment. The neighbors below them are friends of theirs who moved in after they did, so it's a friendly little building. There was an unfortunate odor from downstairs for parts of our visit, but I'll just let you use your imagination for that and say no more about it.

On Saturday morning, Shell and I weren't feeling particularly motivated to move. Hubby is a morning person and likes to GOGOGOGOGO on vacation, so he and Mike went to Central Park for a stroll (his "stroll" speed is faster than I really care to walk most of the time). Here are some of the pics he took while he was out:

This first picture just looks cold to me. Brrr.

This one was taken down a street near Mike and Shell's place, although their apartment is not shown here.

This is a view to the west of Central Park from inside the park. He also took pictures looking east, but they didn't come out as well.

Saturday night we went to see two bands: a Meat Loaf tribute band (the headliner) and a Billy Joel tribute band (the opener). Groan if you will, but they were all fantastic musicians, and both singers were amazing mimics. A good time was had by all.

Thus ends Chapter One of the Manhattan Saga. If I could keep my eyes open you might get more... maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I'm Back... Sorta

There will be pictures, I promise. I'm off the plane and back home. Clearly I wasn't organized enough (or, more correctly, didn't take the time) to post while I was in Manhattan, but I will tell you all about it as soon as the travel migraine subsides.

Tomorrow I have an 8am phone interview with a whole panel of Taiwanese people (at least theoretically -- I didn't answer their email while I was gone either and didn't see it until this morning), plus I head back to work. Busy times. But I'll get some pics up and tell y'all about the fun we had in the big city. Good stuff.

Now for an email to Taiwan. And a large nap. In MY OWN BED. Which I lovelovelove.