28 June 2007

Self-Evaluation Part II: Conceited Boogaloo

Turned in my self-evaluation yesterday, and it turns out I wasn't too far off in my thinking. Always a good thing. It still is a tough thing to write and then hear your faults, even if it is well-intentioned. It is also hard to defend things without sounding too defensive.

I think my first ever evaluation scarred me. I was totally caught off guard, in large part because my manager didn't really have time to be managing me, and I had gotten thrown on his plate, so to speak, through a company restructuring that turned out really detrimental for me. I don't think I really talked to my boss much until the day of my evaluation, where I was told I was unmotivated and was showing signs of a bad attitude. Which were fair points, but, in fairness to me...when I started the office was about 10 people, and had blossomed to 25. I was still answering phones, managing the office (i.e. facilities work), doing all the support and some billable work, and after asking for help, was kind of ignored. So, of course I wouldn't be motivated. I saw no way out. Either way, a little hint when the problems started to arise would have been helpful. Needless to say, that was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back, and I quit shortly after.

Since then, I always have a feeling of dread during review time, even though I have been fairly lucky to have good managerial relationships. The scars, going on 9 years now, are slow to heal, though!

27 June 2007


Is there anything harder than evaluating yourself? Especially without sounding like a blowhard or too self-deprecating?

It is review time here at work, and I am working on my performance check in. I am finding it difficult...do I rank myself really high and then get knocked down? Or do I rank myself too low and hurt myself that way?

Such a fine line to walk...I am really not sure!

26 June 2007

Pajama Time!

Sitting at the airport preparing for a redeye, I started to wonder...is there anything cuter than kids running around in their little PJs?

On my flight, there were a bunch of little ones in their footie sleepers, tiring themselves out, much to the delight of their parents, I am sure, before getting on the flight. Often times, you see them dashing down the hall, their parents in close tow, diapered-bootie wiggling as they laugh and run by.

It makes me wish I, too, could wear little footie pajamas and be able to curl up and sleep on the flight.

25 June 2007

I [Heart] Canadian TV

Currently, I am sitting at the Toronto airport, waiting for my flight back home...I just paid 6$ for a horrible tasting parfait (my favorite thing from Starbucks). Ick. But that's not my point here.

I discovered on this trip that Canada has some crazy, and fun, television shows. Yes, they have many of the typical American shows, but they also have this station called Slice which seems to show only random Canadian reality shows. Maybe we have these shows in the US, but I've never seen them.

There is this one show called "Rich Bride, Poor Bride." Where they find these brides I have no idea. This one woman had a budget of 45K$, agreed upon by her & her fiancee. The final cost of the wedding was around 70K$. She thought she actually saved money because her fiancee had assumed she would spend closer to 100K$. Neither of them seemed too concerned, but still...25K over your budget? Yikes. Last time I was here, I saw that show, and the bride was one that kept shouting about it being "her" day and that she should get anything she wanted.

There was also a show about weight loss, where it followed someone rather heavy trying to lose weight. This particular episode featured a woman trying to make the right changes for her health and that of her family, and her husband was so jealous when she started "looking good" that he would openly try to sabotage her, leaving a whole pizza out right in the kitchen and guilt tripping her when he had to "come home after working his ass off all day to take care of the kids so she could work out." Awesome.

Then, on HGTV, they have way better shows (and a maple leaf over the logo)...tons of home makeovers, restaurant makeovers, room makeovers. It seems to be all reality shows, rather than the DIY-type shows the American HGTV shows.

It looks like Canadians are even more obsessed with reality TV. And I love it!

24 June 2007

PPP Blog Roll

It's that time again!

Learn a little about PC gaming at Step Ya Game Up.

Mrs. Rugged gives you the 411 on her life.

Check out Tip Tail, a blog full of dog tips...and a little advertising that goes to a good dog-forward cause.

Quite possibly the cutest template I have ever seen, listen as Helen Chatters.

What's going on in Eric Lander's Life?

A lovely new art blog at Aaron Aleli.

21 June 2007


Today I am tired. I was in a pretty good mood. Then it hit me. I am tired. Tired of what, you ask?

Tired of having to wake up earlier than I want
Tired of being in a hotel
Tired of being cold
Tired of going to work

Tired of not getting things right
Tired of none of my clothes fitting

Tired of my life

Tired. Just tired.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame, Eh

On Tuesday night, I got the opportunity to go to a Blue Jays game. I know they aren't the best team in baseball, or super popular around here, but I was pretty excited. One of the things I'd like to do before I die is hit all the baseball parks. I am very, very far off from doing this, but each time I travel, I try to make a dent in the list.

I am lucky enough to have some baseball connections, so we got free tickets with great seats. We arrived at the bottom of the 1st inning...kind of a bummer because I would have liked to see them perform the two national anthems, and the Jays were already down by 3. The game continued much in this same vein, with the Dodgers just pounding in runs almost every inning. Despite the huge stadium (Rogers Centre is really big!), the atmosphere was almost one of a minor league game. There were crazy giveaways every inning, a weird pepper race, and the fans constantly on the big screen (I don't see that happen every inning at most games I go to).

The night was beautiful; although it had been a stormy day, it was warm enough at night for them to leave the dome open. So, one more stadium down!

20 June 2007

Eating Around Toronto

One of the things that surprises me about Toronto, and I'm not sure why, is the variety of food found here. The other night, my coworker wanted to go to a particular Jamaican restaurant. We must have passed 2 or 3 before arriving at Irie Food Joint. I don't even know of 1 Jamaican place in SF, much less more than that.

Irie was fantastic. Great drinks, delicious roti and some of the best plantains I have ever eaten. When we first walked in, the manager (owner?) asked if we would like menus. I responded, "That would be helpful." After it was out of my mouth I realized how snotty that sounded, but he just laughed and said, "I like you already." We got to sit outside on the patio, it was such a lovely night that we didn't need the heaters or jackets. I love that about Toronto!

19 June 2007

Forever Flux

Leigh, a fantastic PPP postie, has a new blog, Eternal Flux.

I love the title, and I think most people can relate (and, if you can't, you are sure lucky!). The blog is full of fun memes that not only give you insight into Leigh, but also make you think about how you would answer the same thing. Who is your hero this week? What are the ten most awesome things about you? What do you think is the perfect evening temperature?

I am always fascinated by what people put on their blogs. This is a pretty unique way, in my opinion, of allowing us into her life without telling us TOO much.

So fun! I suggest you check it out.

Wake Up Call

I arrived yesterday into Toronto, after a lovely red eye Sunday night. The nice thing about red eyes is that they allow me to get on schedule much quicker; because I am already tired by around 9pm, I can get right to bed and up at a normal time, rather than being up until 2am and only getting about 4 hours of sleep.

All was well at my hotel...until, at 6am this morning, I was awoken by a horrible sound. Unsure of what it was, and thinking it was perhaps the alarm clock (that I hadn't set), I frantically threw my hand around searching for the snooze button. When that didn't work, I looked for my Blackberry, which I was using as an alarm clock. Nope, still not the case. As a few minutes passed I realized that it was the fire alarm.

Since it was 6am, no other instructions had been announced and the front desk wasn't answering, I threw on a jacket, grabbed my purse and headed out. The guy across from me opened his door wearing nothing but boxers, but wisely went back in and dressed before evacuating. Down 34 flights of stairs I went, sniffing for fire and feeling for heat. Still, no announcements came, so I thought it may be serious.

After getting down to the bottom, I wandered back into the lobby, where most of the other guests were hanging out. Apparently, there was no fire, but there was now a malfunctioning alarm system. After about 45 minutes, the alarm went off, and we all headed to the elevators... which were also malfunctioning. Not knowing when they would work again, I decided to hoof it back up the 34 floors, thus negating my need for the gym.

What a way to start the day!

18 June 2007

SFO no.

Usually when I travel, I go on United, and, as such, use the United terminal at SFO. It is fine, nothing spectacular...but after my security experience just now...well, it seems outstanding, especially the special security line for those with airline status. (Elitist? Maybe. But I have put in my time!)

I am flying out to Toronto, and am on a codeshare flight with Air Canada (I always try to fly for miles...all about the free flights and upgrades!). Air Canada is in a terminal with Alaska, Airtran, and Continental. The check in was fine, but then I approached the security. The little sign said, "5-10 minutes from this point." I entered security way past that point, so figured I would fly right through.

This was not to be.

I don't know if it was because it is a Sunday night, or because these airlines don't cater so much to the business traveler, but the lines moved so slowly you would have thought every person was flying for the first time. Because it is Sunday night after a kind of busy weekend, and I am tired, my patience was very thin. It took at least 20 minutes, which doesn't seem like a long time, but when you are getting stabbed in the back by some lady's pillow, and someone else is reeking like smoke so badly your eyes are watering, 20 minutes is an eternity.

I appreciate the need for security lines. I have yet to figure out how me taking out my laptop, taking off my shoes, and stripping off my jacket/sweater/anything one layer out from my skin really makes me safer. I wouldn't mind all this security in the least if it was really making us safer. To me, it seems it just perpetuates the state of fear in which we've all lived since 9/11. Security has not improved since I flew on 9/15/2001. There are just more rules.

So, if you're flying out of SFO, especially Terminal 1, make sure to bring a few extra minutes and a lot of extra patience.

(and...apparently, it just became ok to POLISH YOUR NAILS in the terminal. Her nail polish must have been in her little quart-sized ziploc bag)

17 June 2007

North Beach Festival

The "June Gloom" of San Francisco is upon us, which means one thing...festival season. Two weeks ago was the Union Street Fair, last weekend was the Haight Street Fair, and this weekend is my favorite, the North Beach Festival.

For me, any chance to hang out in North Beach is a plus. As an Italian-American, I love seeing all the old Italians hanging out, reminding me of my Papa and his friends. I love the smells, the little bakeries that have been around for years and years, pumping out classic focaccia or pasta. And the Italian language is still alive there, from the corner cafe to the fancy restaurants. (on a side, on the Sopranos they mentioned Little Italy in New York has shrunk to one block. I hope this doesn't happen in San Francisco)

The North Beach Festival, like many of the others here, closes down several streets and boasts a myriad of vendors hocking their wares. I have gone for several years, usually attending a party or two on my way down then parking it in Washington Square with some frosty beverages, talking to people and listening to music. Last year, however, this changed.

My grandfather passed away just a year ago this week, about 4 days before Father's Day. He had been sick, but death always has a shocking element to it. My father decided the way he wanted to spend his Father's Day was in the Italian part of SF. A friend of his had gone on and on about how much fun the NBF was, and Dad wanted to try it out. He loved it, and wanted to do it again this year, on Saturday, though, this time.

I was a little worried! Saturday is the crazy day there. Drunk people all over the place, crowds spilling from every bar...my parents would never go for this! Luckily, I forgot how early they like to get moving. I met them around 10.30am, we walked around, and at about 11am, we headed into my Dad's favorite bar, Gino & Carlos. While it wasn't packed, the bar was already lined with regulars. And they invited us right in. My dad was so funny, telling everyone about his kids who are now "real" Italians, with papers and all. I know he was thinking about my Papa (we went into the church and he started tearing up as he said a little prayer), but I think they were good thoughts. When the bartender passed around focaccia, we all reminisced about the homemade stuff we usually had.

The fact that this festival makes my dad so happy, and thus my mom so happy, makes it that much more special to me. The weather was typical San Francisco...overcast, grey, foggy, but that didn't damper our spirits. I like to think that when the sun did finally come out, it was all the old Italians upstairs, including my Papa, smiling down at us.

16 June 2007

Lest We Forget...

I wonder...do mother's sometimes, just for a moment, forget that they are moms? Suppose the kids have been quiet for a while, she gets lost in her thoughts, and suddenly there's a sound and she realizes, wow, I haven't thought about the kids for a while?

This sometimes happens to me with Luca. I love this doggie with all my heart. But sometimes, I totally blank on the fact that I am a pet owner. I'll be sitting at home, and suddenly he'll move, and I remember, oh yeah, there is something else living here with me. Or I'll want to go out, and it dawns on me that I have a little bit at home that needs me to take him for a walk.

I am not comparing dogs to kids, not really. I justI don't have anything else that totally depends on me the way Luca does. He is my "kid." It still surprises me that I have this living creature depend on me. Will that shock wear off? I doubt it. I assume, that should I ever have a kiddo, the shock will only get stronger.

Book Review: Suite Francaise

I went into the local bookstore looking for a particular book. When they didn't have it, I wandered over to the "Customer Recommendation" rack to see what my fellow City dwellers had to say. Suite Francaise caught my eye with its intriguing front image.

Written by Irene Nemirovsky, a Jewish writer living in France who was eventually killed at Auschwitz, Suite Francaise takes place during WWII, starting with the evacuation of Paris and subsequent German occupation. From the beginning, you feel like you are in the trenches with the evacuees. You can feel the basic human instincts of all these people, from the rich family who first hands out bonbons to other children, naively thinking they'd be able to buy more, to the middle-class couple who gets left behind due to a greedy boss and his shrill mistress, to the wealthy older man who siphons gas from a young, in love couple who he has encouraged to take a walk. The reader can feel the confusion, and eventual desperation, as the characters realize that this isn't a quick thing, that money won't bring back their loved ones, or buy them food when none is available. You can also feel the conflict of happiness when some of the characters return to Paris, knowing that others are perishing not-too-far away.

The second half of the book, Dolce, explores the occupation. How do you live every day hating the person staying in the room next door? How do you balance loyalty to your country, husband, father, while becoming friends with the enemy? How do you deal with the inner turmoil of the monster becoming the object of your affection? Nemirovsky eloquently delves into the human psyche, that we are not programmed to hate, that, rather, we are able to adapt and even love conditions that may seem unfathomable to the casual observer.

What struck me most about this book was the epilogue. Rather than just a small notation on the author and the story, it gives great insight to the writer. The author's daughters, after years of not being able to look in their mother's notebooks, shared a piece of her with the reader. We get to see all of her notes, her whole process in developing the book, and where she planned to take each character. It was fascinating. Beyond that, the book includes the author's correspondence during the war to her publisher, trying to get her royalties. You can see the timeline of the war through these letters, how it became harder and harder for a Jewish person to make a living. We get to see her very last letter to her family, then her husband's desperate pleas to find her. It is a first-person account of something we rarely read in a history book.

This book was a true surprise to me. I wish I had found such a treasure earlier.

15 June 2007

Fade to Black

So much has been written this week about the Sopranos and the final episode. was it good? Horrible? A cop out? When I first watched it, I thought, what the hell? That's it? But, upon reflection, I actually liked it. Would venture, almost, that it was a stroke of brilliance.

At any rate, that's not why I came to blog about it. I came into this show a little late in the game. I believe my old roommate watched it, so I started watching it with her, and from there I was hooked. Some of the story lines didn't make sense until I caught up on them via reruns and On Demand, but the attention to detail and the way the storylines were intertwined was amazing.

What really struck me was how it depicted the family. As an Italian-American, I identified with a lot of the more traditional aspects. Many times, Tony reminded me of my father (who shares his name)...not in the mafia-related things, but in the way he handled his kids, the way he always had to have the last word, the nostalgia he often experienced, and the way he struggled with controlling his emotions and keeping control of his life. I identified (a little bit) with Meadow, a little Italian princess who sometimes couldn't make sense of her parents, and whose parents often wondered where she came from. AJ did not remind me of my brother, but, rather, the way he was handled was reminiscent of him and the other Italian sons I know.

There were a lot of little things that struck true, little things that would go unnoticed to those of another culture, things that I won't go into in detail. But I knew, by watching it, the creator knew what he was doing. And because of that, in large part, I trust that he knew what he was doing as he went to black, and I'll keep on believing.

The Week is Over

I couldn't be happier that this week is over.

It was so busy, it flew by; but at the same time, it seemed to go on forever.

Next week my company is attending the Cannes festival, and I have been working hard on getting the logistics of our presence taken care of. It consumed my work life, it seems, for the past few weeks. I think this was the case, in large part, because while I was doing all the behind the scenes planning, I am not attending. And my manager, who is attending, is going to be so busy while there, I wanted to make my end of things (the booth presence) as easy as possible.

I think I did everything I could to make it easy, so hopefully things will go smoothly. I will sure breath a sigh of relief when the whole thing's a wrap.

14 June 2007

Ear Plugs, anyone?

Last night, what I thought would be a nice dinner out with my colleagues turned into a tone-deaf, song fest at the local karaoke bar. When we first arrived, we were the only people in the place. Which was great for helping us get warmed up. I kicked my evening off with a little Britney "Oops, I Did it Again." Love that song. My coworkers, not a shy bunch, got up with songs like The Gambler, Should I Stay or Should I Go, and I'm a Barbie Girl.

Then the night really got interesting. There were several duets, including "Summer Love," and a time machine rendition of "Girlfriend," by Pebbles (um...I would like to say I was not the one singing that one, but I cannot say that truthfully). Then, despite my protests, my coworkers got up and did "American Pie." If ever a long, drawn out karaoke song there ever was, this was it.

I took that as my cue to leave. And, at 12.30am on a school night, I am sure glad I did!

11 June 2007

Seen Around Safeway

Three biker-types in the deli area, discussing sandwiches for a good 15 minutes.

Another woman at the deli counter, asking for 3 slices of turkey, to put on her 39 cent roll.

Several workers shouting from aisle to aisle about some party that night and getting faded.

A young woman telling her daughter, "Beyonce, you don't need to grabbing on everything."

Reeling over the fact that someone actually named their daughter Beyonce.

At the checkout...a man/woman with several bags of food, suddenly, after being rung up and paying, that the salad ingredients s/he had purchased totaled 47$. Had s/he not noticed how many items s/he had put into the cart? Not looked at the prices at all? Then walked off in a huff after the poor checker refunded her/his money.

All in a day's supermarket visit.

08 June 2007

Silence of the Morning

I may have written about this in the past, but the urge hit me again this morning again. Having a dog means getting up early in the morning, and hitting the streets before most people have even hit the snooze alarm for the first time.

There is something magical about that time in the morning. It could be cold outside, or the sun could just be breaking, but there is a peace that comes with the silence. I walk up the hill to the park, which sits high above the city and affords a fantastic view. I can survey both the bay and the neighborhoods to the south. It is beautiful as the sun begins to break through the clouds and fog, as the noise starts to rise.

I don't know what it is, but I so enjoy it. I may get a little bored with the walking, or tired, but when I see the beautiful place that I get to call home, it all changes, and reminds me of what's good in life.

Ladies in Park

The other morning I was walking Luca. As it gets a little boring sometimes, just walking with the dog. He is not the best conversationalist, and listening to music gets a little old. So, this particular morning, I found myself listening in on another set of walkers' conversation.

The walkers were two older women, friends, I think, just from seeing each other at the park. They were talking about a movie they had both seen (I am not sure which one). And the way they were talking, it made me think that things don't change so much when you get older. They were talking about romance, gossiping about how a particular actress looked in the movie, laughing together about how silly they were being.

It is little experiences like these that make me think how much we all have in common. I wish, with all the hate in this world, that we could remember, deep down, we're all very similar.

06 June 2007


It seems, that, ever since I became a homeowner, that there is always something to clean. I know I cleaned a lot at my old place, but this seems to not only take me forever, but need to happen over and over!

Granted, my new place is about twice the size of my old place, and now I have a dog, but I still don't get it. I feel like I could clean every day and still not be caught up.

I try to split it into various phases. On a rotation, every other week I work on the kitchen, living room, bedroom or bathtub. Between the weeks, I just try to keep things neat.

It is something they don't put in the homeowner's manual, though, how much work it is just on a superficial level. Nevermind the other upkeep a real homeowner has to do (like gardening, garbage, roof...things we don't have to worry about in a condo)!