Saturday, November 19, 2011

 A heading off to his first cotillion class in his new suit (and tie and shoes)
 Q thought the suit was great for dress up. He subsequently talked us into buying him his own jacket (which at $30 from Target I was willing to participate esp when he contributed $20)
A thought he looked pretty cool in his suit too. He was cooler after we removed the tag on the sleeve...
A recently turned 12. Wednesday was his Cotillion ball - held at the Grand Ballroom at the Embassy Suites with all the other 6th graders at his school. Friday was his first "dance" at school. We were surprised he agreed to go although when a buddy called today the conversation went like this "Why weren't you at the dance last night dude? Did you hear the news? Will kissed Emma for a looong time. She didn't look happy afterward. And some kid got glow stick goo in his eye and the ambulance had to come". Well he had fun. Didn't actually dance of course. I got to "chaperone" one of the Cotillion classes. The one where they were finishing off learning the tango and were introduced to the Cha Cha Cha. My son has no aptitude at all. They kids were very cute. I thought it incredibly ambitious to teach a new dance each week - including Rhumba and Waltz (2 of his favorites) and Swing. He does think they are basically all the same... And dancing with 40 or so partners a night was fine. It helps that basically the whole school does it. He liked the "eating etiquette" classes the best. They even had cucumber sandwiches at the grand ball. 

On another note - a year or 2 ago a buddy of his had his birthday at an Embassy Suites. One down south of the city. This one for the dance was north of the city. A thought that it was the same place and couldn't believe it when we told him not so - that they just looked alike. Exactly alike. He couldn't believe they could build a building just like another... 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

This morning I stood in the Colma BART parking lot with a dozen other silent denizens awaiting our anonymous silver coach with the black leather seats. I was just pondering that I would never have imagined I would end up here. Architecture offices tend to be smaller funkier things without luxuries of coaches or excellent healthcare that removes your appendix for a mere $200. I also just received email notification that due to good business year we would all get an extra 3 days vacation for the whole week of Thanksgiving. Nice.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dinner was at Room at the Park Hyatt Hotel. Pretty much across the street from our hotel - but we had to go down and through the subway station to cross the road - it is a very major road. The plan had been to sit outside in the courtyard - and as the temp was in the 70s that would have been lovely - but the late afternoon lightning storm had made it too soggy. We ate bar food in the bar (chinese bar food but bar food). Food was tasty but heavy on the meat/duck/chicken and not much else. We put away a couple bottles of wine and a couple people had cocktails. We ended up with only 6 of us in our group - which worked out fine as I don't think we could have put more people at the table. The bar was very mellow when we got there but when we left at 10:30 there was a decent line to get in and live music and dancing. Apparently one of our party was there until after 3 (closing time?) and then headed out elsewhere - he will be project manager when we build our Shanghai office but used to live in Beijing so was partying with old friends.

Flight was supposed to leave at noon. I had a nice breakfast on the top floor - 80. Would have been a nice view if you could see very far. Discovered plane was rescheduled to leave at 4 so met up with the co-workers and got in a decent meeting after all. Dana and I had lunch together - the rest of the crew headed out to grab a bite at Starbucks. I didn't want to leave China w/out having a decent meal (not counting my nice breakfast - which was buffet style although I did try dragon fruit - nothing special - white with black kiwi like seeds throughout). Fook Lam Moon was where we ended up. Website says it is Hong Kong restaurant - close enough! We ordered several appetizers and dim sum and a noodle dish. Much too much food but all was excellent. We left for the airport around 2:30. Taxis for the ride - about 45 min - cost only about $10. Such a deal. I spent $80 getting to Heathrow. The airport is pretty cool. I like the ceiling. It wasn't very well air conditioned and we found it a bit too warm. Never nice heading to the plane all sticky. Our flight got delayed until 4:30 and then they had us go to another gate then told us no plane. Try again later. Mechanical problems. Plane finally was rescheduled for 8:30 p.m. on a different plane. We hung out later in the 1st class - instead of business - lounge. Not much different but less crowded. When we did finally board the plane they let all the premier members (not sure what they are called - but people who rack up obscene amounts of miles). I swear it was the bulk of the passengers. Too crazy. There were only about 10 of us for "business" that hadn't been in that group. We got to go next. This was best plane yet. United. Full lay down seats. Large TV monitor with personal control - that worked. Flight attendants not as attendant as the British Airlines and not many sweets or snacks to try between meals. We got same meal we were schedule for - dinner (or lunch?) followed by breakfast just before arrival. Considering that we arrived after 4 p.m. SF time I thought breakfast was a lame meal to be served. I got home around 6 p.m. Hungry. Good to be home but I'm still tired...

Here’s a link to my Beijing hotel – China World Summit Wing by the Shangri-La Hotel group. I’m in town for a day between 3 days in London and flying home to CA.

Love the hotel. I’m on 71st floor. If Beijing wasn’t so smoggy the view would be amazing. In the direction my room faces (appears to be west – into the setting sun) there are many multi-story buildings as far as I can see – but they are maybe 20 stories high – not 80 stories like this one – so view is unobstructed. There is a very major road just out front and since location of Tianimen Square was pointed out to me earlier I can see where it is from here. I am remarkably not tempted to head out and walk around since (at least from here) the city appears to be populated by big buildings without much interest at the ground level. I did head out with our people to tour a space where we will build an office – it is further down the street toward Tienamen.

The room is very spacious – especially compared to Europe or NYC hotels. I am also very impressed that in my desk drawer are such useful items as stapler, eraser, scissors, tape etc. They also have speaker/charger for my iPhone and multi-country power converters. On my table is a box with an apple, some Chinese treats, and a lovely large chocolate I have been nibbling away at. It has dried fruit and nuts on top as well as a few pieces of marshmallow. Curious but tasty.

There is a place for my suitcase. Multiple closets. The bathroom has such amenities stashed away as a razor. I have a shower with both rain head and hand held. I have a separate large tub with bath salts – perhaps for later this evening.

I had some free time between meeting and dinner (also a meeting). I’ve caught up on emails but also took advantage of the pool on the 80th floor. A large infinity edge pool, nice lounge furniture, bottles of water. In my locker I found plastic slides for my feet and a scrumptious robe. The towels were by far the nicest I’ve used at a hotel. I had the place to myself except for a couple of ladies diligently scrubbing the floor. The pool was a tad cool for me (I’m not really a lap person) so I headed to the Jacuzzi. I think it was women only. There were 2 stainless steel loungers in the water with jets that could be activated under them. Between them was “shoulder” jet coming from the wall should you wish (I did). The Jacuzzi was also infinity style with water pouring over onto river rocks. Heading back toward the locker were 2 saunas – regular and herbal steam. Between them was “ice bath” – a big bowl of ice – felt good. More excellent showers and a nice powder room. There was a spin dryer for my wet suit and more bottles of water. This is a life I could get used to.

When I first arrived my taxi driver left me off at the wrong hotel. I had to walk to this one – it seemed like a very long walk through the largest mall I have ever been in. The mall near the other hotel was filled with very high end stores like Prada. Later on it turned more into regular USA mall with such stores as American Apparel and Nine West. I haven’t really seen anything that screams “China”.

When I visited London, Paris, and even New York I kept thinking “would love to bring the family”. I don’t think that here. I am sure there are places in China I would love to visit as a tourist – and Beijing might well be as well if you hit up the temples etc. I particularly liked London as it was such a nice mix of historic with some modern inserts. It was a great city to enjoy on foot – and I had great weather both trips. I have a lot of photos from England. I took an early morning walk on Tuesday before meeting Maggie at the site and then Wednesday ended up being mostly a free day (to my surprise). I did some work but did much more walking.

In London I stayed at St Martin’s Lane. I had stayed there on my last visit. It is a very “hip” place. On my first visit I was quite annoyed that I couldn’t get it cool enough in my room (thermostat was behind a door). The desk was pretty much shoved against the window – including the chair. There wasn’t much room to get around the bed. They had fun customizable colored light above the bed but I couldn’t leave it on without leaving the glowing TV stand on too – which was too bright for sleeping. The bathroom was lovely with architecture quite well done although I didn’t like that the shower went to the ceiling in all directions so there was no where to hang a towel. I also thought the fact that you needed an extension cord to use the hair dryer in the bathroom a poor oversight. The linens and bed were nice. This trip I had to move to Charing Cross Hotel the 2nd night. Turns out it was about 2 short blocks from the first hotel and the building was essentially attached to the Charing Cross subway station. I liked the building initially but it wasn’t as well designed as St Martins either in public areas or in details in bathroom etc in your room. It also had a very funky way to get to your room – up one elevator, over an enclosed bridge across a street, back down an elevator, down a couple of stairs and finally to my room.

I had a good – and quick – dinner in the hotel restaurant at St Martins. Charing Cross seemed aimed at large conventions and didn’t tempt me. I found a Thai place that had quite a crowd still when I got there after 9 p.m. but it was perhaps the worst curry I’d ever had.

Both hotels were near Covent Garden and Trafalger Square right by some play houses. Tuesday morning I walked down Trafalger Square then saw Big Ben and headed down until I reached Parliament. I had run out of time and hustled back along the river front. Wednesday I went back to Covent Garden and wandered around some of the smaller perimeter streets. I then checked up and decided to head across the river at Embarkment (a nice pedestrian and train bridge). Turned out to be a great decision. The river walk was lovely – filled with people and art and color on a nice warm sunny day. I did make it down to the Tate Modern. I rested my weary feet outside at their cafĂ© for a very nice chicken breast over lentil meal. Then it was time to try to see a little of the museum. I didn’t get through all the galleries but quite a few. My morning plan had been to perhaps take the boat to the Tate Britian then walk back along a different stretch of the river. Poor planning led me to realize that boat only goes about once an hour and I had completely run out of time. I high tailed it back along the river to catch a taxi to the airport.

Almost missed my plane. Our gate was A10 – but turns out A10 had several lettered gates. I was sitting down at A10b but the bus was leaving from A10e. Hmm. Then it was a several mile bus ride to get from terminal 5 to some other terminal – and we then had to walk outside and schlep my bag up the stairs to the plane. Really? At Heathrow?

Took British Air. The seats were designed to alternate front and back. Which seemed pretty nifty when you realized it enabled them to give you quite a bit of privacy (complete with privacy screen that went up and down between you and your neighbor) and seat design also provided ability to lay completely flat. So I actually got my best sleep ever. Still only about 3 hours total I’m guessing. They also had personal controlled video monitors – unlike the United Flights I’ve been on where all the movies are on a loop. Sadly their system wasn’t working so the movies were on a loop… I had a much tastier curry on the plane than I had had the night before. BA also had plenty of chocolate snacks to choose from (vs only tiny Toblerones in United that always run out).

When I set this trip up I was rather surprised to discover that each leg of the trip – CA to UK to China to CA is approx 10 hours. Don’t know why that surprised me – I think it might have to do with the way we often see our maps drawn with Russia divided into pieces and spread out. I don’t sleep well on planes so my theory is that I’ll just be really tired and then stay up until bedtime wherever I land and then get a good night sleep. I think it would be a good plan if I was remotely better sleeper. Or if I had remembered to bring the original Nyquil that I meant to bring. Not because I’m sick but because it tends to knock me out.

Didn’t have lunch today so am really looking forward to dinner. Just got a call that coworker is back from the tours so we’ll meet up with everyone soon – around 7:30 p.m.  They fed me breakfast on the plane around 7:30 a.m. – that was a long time ago…

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Like the wide angle distortion? I kind of do. Here is main entrance to my new company. Of course I work across town and not on main campus - hence I don't get to enjoy the large cafeteria, the gym etc. I do get an espresso bar. And shuttle bus.
Feb 21st was my official first day at the big A. I had been on loan from my architectural firm since late October. Sadly the office is almost 60 miles from my home - altho about half the trip is down 280 - a lovely stretch of freeway (unlike the very unlovely 101). I was lobbying for a "work at home a couple days a week" but didn't manage to get it. Did get nice bump up in salary, some stock, some very good perks, better than usual vacation, and a job I'd already test driven and quite liked. Currently I am the one and only employee primarily responsible for the offices for the people who design and run the stores - otherwise known as the Retail group. There is enough work that it looks like we hope to hire another me and a "coordinator" (assistant). I certainly have enough work to share but am not exactly sure how I would divvy up the work. By geo region? US vs the World? Or which ever project is up next? I like my job a lot. I am essentially a middle-man (woman). I represent my "clients" (the Retail folk who in general are pretty great people) and I am also the "client". We have a whole Facilities team that is responsible for project managing any new buildings - both US based and abroad. They hire the architects, put together the budget and schedule, and get the contractors. My title is "project manager" as well but I really interface primarily between my Retail clients and the Facilities Manager and the architects (mostly my old firm) along with a little interaction with the contractor as well. I get to be design arbiter to some extent although I defer to my boss when I'm not clear on what his "vision" might be. My boss also has responsibilities for design of most of the stores. He used to also do the office design - back when it was one office at a time. I haven't really counted up how many offices I have in play at the moment - but far more than 1. On our road have 1 under construction, 3 about to start, 2 in leasing negotiations, and 2 more that have remodel work that should start in the next couple of months. Need to do work in NY, Shanghai and Beijing as well as minor work in Paris and Frankfurt. Something is going on in Boston and Sydney and have question marks in about 5 other cities. Currently have a UK project under construction and need to do some remediation work on another. You have to have a really solid reliable team behind you with that extent of work. I do but they are now stretched too thin as well and none of us are doing the absolute best work we could do. We march on.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Appendix. A useless organ.

I was lucky enough to be the ER's "mystery patient" - or at least my 3 ER Drs. Friday I woke with a little pain but went to work. My commute is over an hour. Got there and realized I probably should head home while I could still drive - clearly my insides weren't happy. Only had to stop once (conveniently placed mall) on the way home. Huddled in a ball all afternoon but participated in a couple of conference calls. Didn't sleep much all night for the pain. Decided it was Urgent Care for sure but changed my mind to ER. Drove myself there at 9:30 as P & A had last basketball game of the season. At 10:30 I was still writhing in the waiting room but by around 11 I had a room and pain meds were soon forthcoming along with anti-nasea (which I didn't have too much of) and a Cat Scan. Scan was inconclusive but pain meds allowed me to walk upright for first time in 24 hours. Onto an Ultrasound. Still inconclusive. Clearly inflammation down around the old fallopian tubes but not sure what was going on. Had to hang out in the hall on a gurney for a couple of hours - worse part of that was no call button for more meds. 7 p.m. I was just about to be wheeled upstairs when the boys arrived so they went up to my room with me. I was started on some good antibiotics and told we'd talk again in the a.m.

Sunday a.m. the surgeon gave me 2 choices. 1) take anti-biotics and wait and see or 2) schedule a laparscopic exploratory surgery and take out my appendix while at it. I heard that I could probably go home the day after the surgery. I opted for surgery. 3 more people ahead of me in line so that meant sometime late afternoon or evening. Around 5 p.m. I was prepped and ready to go.

Report at 7:30 or so when I woke up was that the tip of my appendix had ruptured way down by the fallopian tubes where it had no business hanging out. Phew. Glad I opted for the surgery.

Monday I was promoted to liquid diet. Unbelievable how great that is after no liquid since Saturday morning. I had been moved from my tranquil window view solo room while in surgery to the bathroom side of a double - and no view due to roommate's curtain. I wasn't convinced about that trade. The eventual upside was that my roommate turned out to be a sad plight that made me feel positively bursting with good health. She was 22, on holiday from UK with her boyfriend, and her appendix had ruptured on Wednesday. They took her into surgery pretty promptly after she was admitted on Saturday and she had travel insurance at least. So she had her surgery a day and a half before mine but hers was not laparoscopic. She was still not on liquid by Tuesday mid-day. She was clearly in so much more pain than me. My IV meds were pretty good. The Sat/Sun one - dilaudid I thought pretty great. Worked within 5 or 10 min. Very relaxing and great pain relief. Made me drowsy which I appreciated in the hospital waiting around. After surgery I was moved onto morphine. Sunday night wasn't much fun as they had my legs in massaging things and that and morphine make you quite hot. I went from 2 blankets the previous night to 1/2 a sheet and the sweats. Morphine however did not at all cloud the faculties. I conducted quite a bit of work on Monday via email and phone without breaking my stride except for the periodic strolls around the floor (fortunately a relatively small floor!). A friend came to visit for a long while in the morning which was much appreciated.

Monday night I was weened from IV pain med (though not the IV) to vicodin. Best thing about that was a fair amount of sleep. No way did I want that as a day time drug when I wasn't really in too much pain at all. Hospitals aren't great for sleep. They want your "vitals" every couple of hours and of course all the hydration results in plenty of bathroom time. Also need to change the IV drugs or fluid. And then your roommate is getting all of the above as well. They also like to introduce themselves and give you a quick examine during shift change in the middle of the night.

I didn't love my IVs. Not at all. Some of them were quite painful. First one was installed in the crook of my right arm. Dumb place. Eventually started leaking. Next one on back of lower arm on left side. Eventually that one went bad and leaked a whole bunch of (painful) fluid all into my arm instead of vein. Then 2 aborted tries. Finally last one on right arm close to wrist. My arms were getting very painful. Not sure what I would have done if I had to stay a few more days.

Tuesday a.m. Dr came and told me I could go. Go forth and eat anything I wanted (although I might want to start slow). I thought I was in great shape. Until I made mistake of refusing the wheelchair and walked all the way to the car. And bounced in the passenger seat all the way home. Stopped off at store for a little popcorn and soup. 2 things I thought I might like. Was exhausted when I got home to my surprise and not feeling very well. I did manage some work in the hospital and a little late in the day. Tuesday night just having P roll around in bed didn't feel good. I finally resorted to the last pain med they gave me - Norco. Not a bad drug. Did make me drowsy.

Having my intestines try to get up to speed again has been quite unpleasant. Much worse that I would have expected - or longer. I'm now here Thursday still having waves of cramping from my bowels that make it seem at times like having a stomach bug. But I am getting better. I just don't have the really sad girl to compare myself to any more to make myself feel great in comparison. She still has an international flight home. I have a comfy home and family. Glad it is over and I'm on the mend. Glad it wasn't worse.

I do think about fact that in a different era I would have just died. 44 and that's all. Happy to be here.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Foxy thought we must be setting out Christmas eve treats just for her! The kids had arranged the carrots just so for the reindeer and the cookies, marshmallows and milk the Ole St Nick.