All work and no play.

I've been extra-busy with work: writing up a lot of things in anticipation of the team transition, trying to wrap things up before I go on leave, onboarding new hires, doing some recruiting (including an evening event), throwing myself into "20%" work, and performance reviews yet again.

There's a new pool near my office, so I have another swim option. This pool is warmer than the others, so I'm using it to do a lot more exercises. I had lunch with S, who was visiting. The lemon tree is budding prolifically, and my orchids bloomed! We also have new peas, basil, and cilantro. (Photos.)


A few new things on this site.

Well, a few new old things on this site to be more precise. I've been slowly reading through my old writings and posting some of them. So if for some reason you've been dying to read short stories and poems that I wrote in middle school or math papers I wrote in high school, you're in luck.


Changes afoot.

There are a couple of big changes at work. First, my team, which has been paired with a team in Dublin, is slowly transitioning to working with a team in Sydney. Second, I'm going on leave for a couple of months starting in April. I don't have any specific plans yet, just getting more rest and focusing on healing. And I have lots of interesting projects to keep me super-busy until then.

We've had unseasonably warm weather, and I've been enjoying long swims and making ice cream. In other recent happenings, I had breakfast with K, bought a lot of chocolate with Karl, saw a lunar eclipse, and heard Ellen Pao speak at work.


A different tropical vacation.

Karl and I joined some friends for a quick trip to Kaua'i. We stayed in Kapa'a, and I swam most mornings in the protected ponds at Lydgate Beach. We caravanned up to Hanalei one day, where I had a great swim in Hanalei Bay. I started at the pier and swam about half the length of the beach and back. I also had a quick snorkel/swim at Poipu, and swam in a few swimming pools. The water was colder than I'm used to (mid- to upper- 70s F), and I wore a vest during most of my swims.

We ate a variety of food, including lots of fruit from the Kealia Farm Market, saimin, sushi burritos, Mexican food and New Mexican food, and a group dinner at JO2.

Other highlights included Chocolat Hanalei (I got dark chocolate turtles), nighttime star-gazing, and a catamaran sail along the Na Pali coast with dolphins.



Back in California.

It's always something of a shock coming back to California and work in January after holidays in the VI, some years more than others. Things move so quickly here, and there's always something. Somehow I almost immediately slip back into my work life as if I'd never been gone: projects and meetings and all manner of things with an air of urgency around them and the hope that I am making a positive impact.

Outside of work, Karl's family visited for several day, and we spent evenings together, including one in which R cooked dinner.



There was the usual vacation stuff. Swimming Magens once or twice a day. I love ocean swimming. It's so different than pool swimming, especially when I use hand fins or snorkel. Some of the sea grass is gone or buried, but there are still turtles! I saw fewer birds, conch shells, crabs, and rays than usual, too many moon jellyfish (they are mostly harmless, but huge), one sand dollar, and a brittle starfish when I swam out to Little Magens. And I didn't see, but definitely felt, the noseeums, which meant I spent little time on the shore.

The beach itself is different. There was tremendous tree loss, and there's now a row of new palms and seagrape trees, supported by scaffolding as they root. The slope of the beach is different, and there's a temporary concession at shed 4 while the old concession is rebuilt. We switched our routine and settled at what is usually the touristy end of the beach. Considering it was peak season, the beach was empty-empty, and we went later in the morning than we would have if we were trying to avoid crowds. There were fewer tourists (although they still made for a crowded umbrella-ful section of the beach) but even more strikingly, fewer locals and beach parties. But it's still Magens.

I didn't see much of the rest of the island, but the roads were in better condition than I expected (which is to say, similar to how they were when I learned to drive, which was also shortly after a hurricane). We checked out a few other beaches. Sadly, the mangroves in the Mandahl Bay Salt Pond really took a beating. We went to the Humane Society (okay, I take back what I said about the road conditions), to the car mechanics, out for ice cream, and grocery shopping a few times. I did manage to avoid going in Home Depot. There were linemen everywhere. It's coming to come.

We had dinners with M & P and M & K and ate minimal canned food. We played pinochle. I napped and did physical therapy and used the limited phone/Internet sparingly (I didn't even bring my work computer with me). Mostly, I kept busy with house projects: clearing the patio; sorting my old stuff into keep, donate, and throw out; reading through and digitizing some of my old journals and class papers (wow, I used to write a lot!); assembling file cabinets; going to the dumpster many times and making arrangements to get an onsite dumpster; getting people to clear out the last of the cottage (removing furniture, bagging sheet rock walls, separating wood from metal, etc); getting an abandoned car removed .... You know, the usual Caribbean vacation activities.

I took far too many photos. What can I say? I'm a sucker for bucket trucks and commingled new tree growth and rubble.


It's almost Christmas. Which means it's time for holiday parties. I went to two holiday parties at museums: the first at the Exploratorium and the second at The Tech Museum. Karl and I also went to a German Holiday Market. I'm doing a bunch of year-end things, like finishing up half-read books (yes, I really did mostly read a book Italian!), getting rid of things I don't need, juicing lemons, and routine medical appointments. And swimming of course.

I finally posted photos from the last few months: garden and everything else.



This Thanksgiving I am thankful that, with the addition of new drugs, my foot pain is less than it was a year ago, and that I am regaining more mobility. I am thankful that I saw so many old friends this year. I am thankful that I have a job/salary that enable me to contribute to many causes I care about. I am thankful that my parents were away when Irma and Maria hit, that (although their apartment was lost) their house still stands and they were treated to an electrified holiday, and that the beach is still nice.


Cloud Spanner Multi-Region!

Cloud Spanner keeps getting better and better.


A month and some.

Work has been one thing after another. I finished performance reviews, then did headcount planning, and then drafted a service roadmap for the next year. This past week we had a summit with lots of visitors, which made for a long but somewhat energizing week.

I've been active with the disability alliance as well. In October I went to a summit, where I met some other disability alliance leads, as well as leads from many other groups and sites. Then there was the company-wide accessibility week, for which I organized a wheelchair rollthrough, with people borrowing wheelchairs from several buildings. People seem to have both enjoyed and learned from the experience, so I think it was a success.

I'm still swimming, but I've missed quite a few days between avoiding smoke from nearby fires, having some long work days, and it being less convenient to swim now that it's too cold to swim at home and is darker in the evenings. Instead, I've shifted to having some longer swims, especially on weekends.

It's citrus season. We have the first of many ripe lemons and limes and some not-yet-ripe tangerines. We've juiced some of the lemons, and I see much sorbet-making in my future. We retired the small tomato plants this weekend and are waiting for the last of the large tomatoes to ripen before retiring them. We still have several peppers and a lot of basil.

I've been a homebody for a couple of months really. In the past several weeks, I had lunches with S and V, went swimming with C, and went to I's birthday party. This weekend Karl and I saw a performance of Avenue Q.

Two months post-storm, recovery continues in the Virgin Islands. There are a huge number of power crews working on restoring electricity. At the end of October, the first parts of St John got power, and the curfew was lifted on all islands. This month D-SNAP assistance became available, and cruise ships started arriving in limited numbers. Magens Bay has been cleaned up and reopened! There are fewer trees, but it's still beautiful. Meanwhile in Puerto Rico, Loon is helping to restore communications.

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