December 22, 1997 -- Pushing Limits

Well, so much for good intentions. I even, at one point, asked Carl for access and he gave it to me, but I was too tired to write more than a phrase. Well, okay, so there was also the little interruption to listen to the phone message from John, who was calling, Friday night, to ask about Christmas shopping for a package that had to make it to San Diego for Christmas. So I called him back and lost all train of thought and was so tired that I just gave up and crawled into the nice bed Carl had for me and fell deeply asleep for the next few hours.

It's somewhat sobering to realize that I still have the ability to push myself beyond reasonable physical limits. Thought that'd kinda go away with old age, or something, but for the last month or so, what with work and worry and everything, it's been a steady drain on my sleep bank account, and the last week was the hardest.

I *very* rarely work an entire week. I usually take at least one day off, as it's often necessary, by that time, to stock back up on my sleep and get myself rested to hit the next week running. It's one of those lessons that made no sense when I was younger, but that little requirement that there be one day of rest in the Commandments really makes a lot of practical sense when I'm getting too caught up in the needs of working for my daily bread or the next Land Rover. And the weekend before traveling down to San Jose was one where I violated it, in part because, amusingly enough, our church needed me to work as a deacon. Mostly, though, it was to fulfil the needs of the final delivery on one product and finish off a second.

Both of which were delivered at the same time, in the Bay Area by different people, to some of the same companies.

So Dan and John and I were all in the area at the same time, so John and I shared a hotel room for the time that we overlapped on trips. That was fun and interesting as well, and likely money saving for the company as all my expenses were being charged to Data I/O because I was fulfilling one of their contracts. It was fun to work with both of them as they're both very good at what they do. Dan's one of the good managers I've worked for, the other was Don Flaherty, but he went on to another startup.

What was more fun, though, were the dinners, talking about he future, talking through ideas, taking the paths of imagination and walking them to see what's next. That is always a treat.

One really funny thing is that the car that I rented from Avis. When I hopped off the plane and wandered over to rental car areas, the lady at the desk kinda grinned and immediately filled out the slot number for the car I was to get, and then did all the paperwork. She cheerfully wished me a good trip and I walked out to the car. An Indian gentlemen escorted me to my car and then kinda looked at it, and looked at me and blinked. I blinked as well. The car was exactly the color of my hair.

That made me giggle a lot.

Also, it turned out that the CEO and President and upper echelon folks of Minc were also in the Bay Area. They arrived sometime around Wednesday night and had meetings on Thursday. What really was funny was that we met them at the breakfast place we'd found. So all eight of us ate together. It was on the order of a Denny's, cheap, good food quickly. I couldn't have *imagined* the CEO of Data I/O being caught dead in such a place, but with the eight of us it was almostly like family. Jokes and laughter and some business talk, of course, and plenty of thought. That was very, very good to find out.

Also turned out that they'd all stayed at a Motel 6! That was very keen. We didn't mention that Data I/O had put the three of us in the Hilton. Yeesh. A different way of doing business, and I like what they do, a lot more.

So it all went well.

Though, I'll also admit that I don't sleep all that well in hotels, so I kinda added to my sleep debt as I went along, including worrying more than I probably needed to about presentations I was making. But they turned out pretty good, and it seems that they were pleased, so that helped.

Thursday night John and Dan flew back home, so I was left on my own, but Earl, Chrisber, Carl, and Gretchen all invited me to play a game with them that night. So I went. It was mostly about three girls and Mundo Cani, a lugubrious Elven dog shamen, at a Filipino beach B&B having a vacation that gets interrupted by a ghost, a missing girl, and dozens of odd rumor connections that have to do with the owners of the B&B and the goings-ons in an ex-tanker become research ship right off the shore of their island. It only got more complicated from there.

So much so that at 2am we still hadn't gotten to a decisive ending; and I had to get up at 6:30 am to do training some more the next morning. So we decided, with Earl's encouragement, to break up the game then and go our separate ways. Gretchen, being a most wonderful person, lent me the keys to her apartment on hearing that I was planing to try and catch up on some of the sleep by sleeping in my rental car before turning it in and getting picked up again by Carl.

So the next morning, I made it up, made it through class, made it to a really lovely lunch date with Cera with really astonishingly good sushi, and then went to Gretchen's, called Carl to say that I'd likely be an hour later to the airport, and then crashed on Gretchen's guest bed. The alarm went off about as soon as I thought my head touched the pillow. But I felt a little better...

Carl got me and we then played U.N. Peace and I got to play Whirlwind again. And in the first move of combat, she got her hands on a grenade launcher. The rest was chaos.

It was good. It was fun, and it lasted 'til about 2am, but it didn't hurt as much as the previous one, for me, at least. Mike had a shuttle to the airport picking him up around 4:30am, so he wasn't likely to be getting any sleep any time soon, and still had to pack, get his house cleaned up and so shoo'ed us out by then. Gretchen asked if we wanted to go to coffee, but Carl was sane for the both of us and said, no, we wanted to be fresh for the next day's game with Bruce.

So we got back, and I got about 7 hours of sleep, which felt very good indeed. Carl got less because he was chivalrous and used the shower and bathroom first, to let me sleep a bit more before waking me so that I could get ready. We got breakfast at McDonalds and then drove back to Mountain View in very good time, so that we were about ten minutes ahead of schedule when we went by the Frye's on Lawrence. So we stopped to pick up a keyboard for me.

Now those of you who know Frye's will laugh at the optimism of getting into and out of a Frye's the week before Christmas in Silicon Valley in less than ten minutes. Frye's is nearly like a bulk market store for electronics in the Valley of Electronic geeks. In other words, Silicon Mecca. It's huge and has everything, and one can buy nearly anything. So it was, as expected, crowded, including a parking lot that was so full it took us minutes to even get past it all to find a clear spot.

But we went in, and all weekend, up to this point Carl had been debating getting a Sony PlayStation, so I got my keyboard, we went to look at the PlayStations and I offered to get him Tomb Raider II for Christmas. He called me evil, so I had to do it. *grin* So he bought the Station, and also bought all the games, for himself, and asked me to just get him the second player control for Christmas for him. That was nice of him, and we went out fairly quickly after that, as he told me that I was entirely evil to have done that to him. That got me to giggle quite a lot. I was to get my payback later though. *grin*.

The evening's exercise was to take the new Shadowring mechanics system that the Carl, Brad, Bryant and Gretchen had put together and abuse it. To make the numbers crunch as high as possible and make all the characters in bad taste, i.e. in ways where they are nearly impossibly powerful in some sense. Mostly to see what abuses the system might be prone to and how to deal with those abuses. The run itself because awfully simple after we all applied good planning, nice data runs, and some basic munchkinism to it and it went like clockwork. Though there were a lot of things that could have gone wrong, nothing did, and we still had a few abilities and people left to deal with extra problems. It was great fun to watch the system work even when badly stretched.

So we now have a team of Shadowrunners that we really want to play again. Oops. That's the problem with putting that much together.

Dinner was rushed, we got to see a few other members of the Horde, but had a 9:45 showing of Tomorrow Never Dies to get to, so we had quick and very good Mexican, ran to the theater and sat talking over the mechanics and the game in the lobby of the movie theater for an hour so we'd get good seats. It wasn't like we were going to do anything else. The movie was *great* and the balance of the action between Brosnan and Michelle Yeoh was extraordinarily well done. Brosnin was much better in this one than the previous one, so that was *cool* to see.

So at midnight we get out, and they lure me to go to Lyon's coffeehouse and have coffee. We added food and more random talk until about 1:30am. Which is when we went to Gretchen's and watched the first of three Alley McBeal tapes. Three tapes. Yeah. Three hours. And I was already dying from lack of sleep. Was tired enough that the asthma cough was coming in whenever I moved, which was about when I finally realized, you know, I really ought to rest some.

So we decided to get me home after the first tape. And it was very keen to see, and it was worth the extra time awake to see it. It was a fun program, but I was very, very glad when we finally got to Carl's place and I could finally crash. Though I'll also say that simply talking with Carl on the rides to and from his place, was a lot of fun, too. I enjoyed that a lot even dead tired. And Carl was understanding and even woke me up a bit later the next morning. And having just about eight hours felt just... *amazingly* good.

We got to the local waffle place at noon, had really great waffles and then Carl took me to the airport, dropped me off as prelude to watching the rest of the tapes with Gretchen and Brad and I got back to Seattle okay. John picked me up just fine with soccer gear in the back of the car and we zoomed to the field. Only to discover that we weren't in the championship playoffs, our manager had made a mistake and forgot to call us about it. Oops. It was actually a very good thing, all in all, though, as both John and I were utterly exhausted, so we had dinner at the Golden Wok and went home, where I brushed Fezzik, made much of him, and then we went to bed.

Zzzzzzzzzzz... Sleep is *good*.

Yeesh. In every way I've ever seen, Minc is better to its people than Data I/O has been. We all, everyone of us, got a Christmas bonus today. It's surprising to be treated *well*. Sadly so, in some ways.

You know, I never knew what a $100 bill looked like before today.

© 1997 by Liralen Li

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