Monday, October 31, 2005

You got a fast car

YAY! The Garnet Red Audi A3 is now mine. I will call him Otto, to pay respect to his German heritage.

After we test drove it today, we were just going to go home. I spent the better part of the day researching other local dealers' inventories to find a car closer to what I was looking for, without all the extra options. Of course, the salesman wanted to keep us there. His manager came out and essentially asked "What can I do to get you into this car today?". I tried not to look at TJ because I knew I would bust out laughing.

We held firm to our price (our max price from yesterday) and also told him we wouldn't pay any of those extra charges like "PDI" or "dealer prep", etc. Oddly enough, without a lot of hassle today, they accepted it!

It has navigation, sport suspension, premium Bose audio, 6 CD changer, heated seats, sunroof, and a first aid kit. Unfortunately since it's not officially insured yet, TJ made me drive it straight home.

Otto is now resting in the garage. I will pass on any welcoming comments you have for him :)

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Drivin' in my car

Today was a test-driving, attempted car buying sort of day. I say attempted because at the end of the day, I do not have a new car.

I test drove the Mazda 3 first. Sadly, it wasn't that different from driving my Saturn. (And, as TJ pointed out, it would be about $20,000 cheaper just to keep driving the Saturn.) It felt like driving a rental car - fine, but not particularly interesting or fun. And it was super loud and somewhat plasticky inside the car.

As I expected, I loved the Audi A3. We test drove the "Premium" package, and it was very nice, right down to the heated seats and individual climate control. You can barely tell when it shifts gears and the gauges are just so cool looking. Very plushy.

However, I want the navigation system, and that's pretty hard to find. The dealer had *one* in stock, but it also had a sunroof, and a cold weather package, which we definitely don't need here in Seattle.

So given that, and all the research we did, TJ and I made them an offer of what the MSRP would have been for the car we wanted. After the usual haggling and "let me go ask my manager" idiocy, we came out with no deal. (And one very confusing bargaining round where the guy came back and asked if we were willing to pay more than the last price he offered us...) So we left and promised to return tomorrow because we still need to test drive the Sport version. I guess he was ok letting us go since we were planning to come back.

Somewhat disappointing, but not a big deal. We'll test drive the Sport version tomorrow and possibly offer a little more $ for the one on the lot. If that doesn't work out, we'll order one. The only issue I have is that we'll likely end up paying pretty close to MSRP that way. And that makes me feel like I'm getting ripped off. But at least then, it'll be exactly the car I want.

In the meantime, I'll check with other local dealers about what they have in stock. Fortunately there are 7 Audi dealers within 200 miles of where we live, so it might be a productive search.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Times like these you learn to live again

So much has happened since my last post but I'm currently occupied by my excitement about potentially getting a new car! I've had the vague intention to start looking for a replacement for the Crappy Saturn in 2006. TJ and I went out looking today.

I was all set to get the hatchback Mazda 3, because it's cute, cheap, and I can trick it out like the tuner girl I secretly want to be.

TJ saw an Audi S4 station wagon thingy and made me go to the Audi dealer. That's when I saw him! The Audi A3. He's perfect. Just the right mix of swanky and utilitarian. Peanut and Spike will fit in there if they need to, because it's a hatchback and the back seats fold down. There's a navigation system, a Bose sound system, and the neato red interior displays. I think I will name him "Beagle" if I get him. Kind of depends on what color he is, though.

Tomorrow we'll test drive both cars. I think TJ is kind of freaked out about making such a big decision so quickly, so he'll probably make me wait a couple of days. I guess that's the compromise one must make when married. :D

Saturday, October 22, 2005

We're halfway there

Bon Jovi is coming to Seattle in March! I'm still bummed about not being able to see them on their "Slippery When Wet" tour in 1987. I was 12, and my parents thought I was too young to go.

I had to wait until I was 13 to go to my first concert, which was David Lee Roth and Poison at Pittsburgh's Civic Arena. The tickets were only $17.75. Dang. I'd still pay $17.75 to see Poison today.

I did finally get to see Bon Jovi in 1995 when I was in college, in L.A. I was a bit offended by the giant blow up dolls but I guess that's 80s heavy metal cheese for you...

I shouldn't be posting now. I'm in class. Unfortunately our instructor lectures about the same stuff that's in the reading, and I've taken enough writing courses that I've heard all of this stuff at least twice before. This isn't exactly a Technical Writing class as much as it is a general writing class. All of our assignment topics are about technical subjects, which at least gives me some practice writing for a technical audience.

We got our first assignment back today, graded. I got a B-. Boo. The good news is that I have a chance to rewrite it before handing in the final draft. The bad news is that I thought it was decent, and based on the instructor comments, now needs to be completely rewritten. It's his first time teaching the course and apparently we're his "Beta testers" so if the assignment writeups aren't clear, we're paying the price.

I'd be less cranky about this if I hadn't spent every day since 9/26 at work. Rewriting every assignment 3 times isn't something I was really counting on. On the other hand, I just wrote a paper comparing different programming languages and had a great time getting an overview of them via some web research and interviewing my friend Dave via email.

My next paper is about why there are so few women in software development. I found a fantastic study done at Carnegie Mellon a few years ago where they interviewed all the women in the department (those who stayed and those who changed majors) and studied all the factors that contribute to the skewed ratio.

My decision *not* to major in CS at Caltech falls right into this study. (Bummer to be so predictable!) It was the self-confidence issue and the "those guys have so much more experience than I do" argument. Damn. Maybe if I had read something similar at the time, or talked to someone about it, I would have chosen it anyway. Then again, I'd probably *still* be at Tech, trying to pass AMa 95. That was one advantage of majoring in Biology and Chemistry - neither major required that horrendous class.

Another interesting point made in the study was that they found women with a good support system (family, middle class or higher) were more likely to drop out as things got more difficult, while those who felt like they had no choice but to work through it, persisted and were successful because they worked so hard. The authors also made the point that in certain Asian cultures, the value of hard work and repetitive drills, extensive studying, etc. is clearly emphasized, and students from those cultures are much more likely just to stick with it and work hard to reach their goals.

So I am really glad to get a second chance now. And I'm in a good place at work where I love my job. So all in all, Life is Good.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Brand New Day

Quick post before I need to Start my Day. (And go back to work!)

I am missing the Seahawks game this week and next in order to work. TJ is going today with his friend John from work, who's from Texas (I think they're playing Houston, but I'm not sure).

Looking for something funny? Here's what they call the @ sign in other languages. Thanks to Richard for pointing this out - it's really amusing, especially the language (Thai?) in which they call it something that translates to "the wiggling worm-like character".

I got about 9 hours of sleep last night. Yum! I made myself promise I'd finish my presentation slides before I went to bed. I started working on them around 2pm yesterday (already had a skeleton of a deck before that!) and didn't finish until 12 midnight. I seriously underestimated how long it would take, but I'm pretty happy with the results, except for a few minor changes I need to make.

OK, back to work. Today I get to set up the Website we use to communicate with our customers. That should be fun and not too challenging, as Microsoft already has a configurable tool where I just "plug in" the content I want to appear on the site. Yay for easy things.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

How long have I been sleeping?

Ugh. It's crunch time at work. The customer event I've been vaguely planning since March is now less than 2 weeks away. I've spent nearly every waking moment for the past 3 weeks at work, doing work at home, or thinking about work (in the shower, before bed, when I wake up in the morning). Which is sort of cool because it's been a while since I've been this motivated about my job. And I have always worked well under pressure. But I'm not sure I can keep this up through Oct 27, when the event ends, so I'm trying to take it easy a bit and not stay at work until 11pm every night.

Oh, and on the off chance I'm not working, I'm doing homework for my class. I'm not sure why I actively sign up for that kind of punishment...

So if I haven't called you in a while (hi Amma and Appa!) or responded to your email, that's why. I'll be back in the real world on Oct 28.

If you want to see what Suz has been doing while she's been at MIT, check this out.


Friday, October 07, 2005

It's taken me all this time

Now that I'm finally done with all my homework for my class (last minute of course), I can post here without feeling too guilty.

The next few weeks are going to be insane. I am planning a huge customer training event at work, and getting all the details nailed down is huge work. Not to mention I need to put together a couple of presentations for it and make sure everyone else is doing their stuff. It's kind of like planning my wedding all over again, except this time my livelihood depends on it and my entire team is watching whether I can pull it off. (no pressure or anything...)

I met with my writing group for Happy Hour on Wednesday. They seem like a decent bunch of guys. (Then again, would I really say otherwise, out here on the Internet?) :) I just finished reviewing their papers for the first assignment we had to do. Fortunately it was a short one, so it took less than an hour to read all three and jot down some notes about each one. It's kind of a neat exercise since it makes me think about my own paper as well. We'll see how the "exchanging feedback" part goes tomorrow. Hopefully it won't be too painful.

I found out that one of my co-workers has a brother that went to high school with TJ (in Arizona) *and* she and her husband live in the house that's diagonally behind ours. Very freaky. Apparently one day she saw TJ chasing Spike through her yard since that's where he likes to go when he escapes. I guess I should be careful if I ever decide to have a loud tirade about work with the windows open...

I watched the TiVo'd finale of "So You Think You Can Dance" today. I can't believe Nick won! Melody is so much better. Ugh, I am a slave to these reality TV "talent" shows.

Now that Rock Star: INXS is over, I'm not sure what to watch!! Nathalie is going to try to get us tickets for the INXS concert in Seattle, which is in January. Woo hoo!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

You're no problem at all

Class turned out to be ok. The four hours went by much quicker than expected and OneNote performed admirably as a note-taking tool.

We had to form 4-person "writing groups" on our own, which is kind of weird in a classroom full of people that don't know each other. Oddly enough, I did know one person in class - he was in my last group at Microsoft and was part of a group of folks I went to lunch with occasionally. So we decided to be in the same group and found 2 other guys looking for some more people.

I gotta say, group projects terrify me. I'm just more of an independent worker. But none of our assignments are actually group efforts. We each write up the assignment for the week and our writing group reviews it and provides feedback. That I can handle. So far it's working out pretty well - one of the guys set up a Yahoo! Groups site for us to post messages and our drafts. Yay for technology. Oh, and we're planning to go to Happy Hour this week. It works better for me if I'm comfortable with the people who are trashing my writing ;).

The class seemed to be mostly "non-traditional" students, or at least people who aren't 20 years old. So that was cool. And the other students seem pretty interested and motivated. I am really glad I'm only taking one class - I've already spent a couple of hours on the reading and homework, and I'm not even halfway done. I've got two writing assignments to complete this week, which shouldn't be too difficult, but I also have a ton of reading in the 3 (!) required textbooks we have. I think it's going to be a lot of work, but not terribly difficult. (Unless the prof thinks my writing sucks, in which case it's going to be a long and painful quarter.)

I'm having flashbacks to that stupid remedial composition class I had to take at Caltech, when something like 60% of my class got stuck in ESL or remedial English for no apparent reason. The best was the native English speakers who had to take ESL. I wasn't that unfortunate.

Did some cooking today with so-so results. Annie's white cheddar mac 'n' cheese with some fresh steamed broccoli came out pretty dry for some reason. I guess being all-natural has its drawbacks - no chemicals to make the sauce nice and gooey. I also steamed some vegetables in soy sauce and rice vinegar with garlic and ginger, but they didn't taste too good. And I baked the beets I got in the Pioneer Organics box. I think I just don't like beets unless they're the marinated ones you find in the salad bar. Well, at least I have food for this coming week, which is going to be crazy busy.

Here's a special shout out to Kristin who's moving back to DC in a week. I'm sad that she'll be so far away again, but hope she likes her new job better!


Saturday, October 01, 2005

Let's get it started in here

I'm sitting in the classroom, waiting for my first day of school to start. So far I'm the only girl, and there are about 7 other people here. The classroom is very nice - the whole campus is brand-new, so there's a place to plug in my laptop and they use tables instead of those annoying individual desks.

The cool thing is that I can just connect to the UW wireless network automatically - nothing to configure on my laptop. Awesome. But also bad. If the class gets too boring I will probably end up surfing the Internet. Very distracting.

Well, class starts in 4 minutes so I better get going. More later! (If I'm not comatose after a 4 hour lecture, that is.)

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