October 19, 2000
I got to have pumpkin pie for breakfast too. Now that is the life.
First thing in the morning was an extra cross-functional product team meeting to go over bugs. I got another one assigned to me, and it was fairly straightforward, still it's more stuff to do that's above the scheduled things, and this kind of research does definitely take time.
When the meeting was over at 10, I went and packed all my stuff and got into the car and went out to north Boulder, where Michele practices her massage therapy. She specializes on pregnant women and I was interested in finding out how that differed from what CeLena did. I arrived early for my 10:30 appointment in order to fill out a general health form and saw her go back with a prospective client and show her all the equipment and environment. It seems that a number of her clients have delivered lately, the usual spat of summer and early fall babies. Seems to be relatively rare to have a winter baby, I guess because there is so much else to do in the spring?
Anyway... she brought me back and the first, obvious difference was the massage table. Michele had an articulated pneumatic table with adjustable heights and everything. It was contoured to hold the human body in a variety of positions and there was a pile of shaped pillows to add support in various ways. That was pretty cool. She also had one of those exercise balls for sitting on if I didn't want the chair, and it proved to be surprisingly sturdy, steady and, most of all, comfortable. It surprised me, and I may well have to look for one of these as I could feel how it took the pressure off my sitting joints. We went over the health history in detail, including all the areas that I felt that I needed her to work on, because they were exceptionally tight after being almost a month and a half without any massage therapy at all. As usual, I was having problems with my wrists, my lower back, and shoulders. She noted that those were normal places for problems as the uterus and the baby gained weight, compressing lymph systems and adding load to joints not used to the extra load. She did note that pregnancy is a time of great change for the body, and the swift changes are difficult for the body to accommodate comfortably.
Michele is very much more gentle than CeLena is, but no less effective. Instead of just digging into sore muscles she actually had an interesting technique that allowed the muscles to relax on their own with a little patience and proper positioning. The lack of pain was unfamiliar, but very welcome, as I wasn't sure if I wanted to endure the work over that CeLena does. Michele also used a great amount of massage oil and lotion, which distributed to pressure evenly and smoothly over the muscles she was working on, there was no sticking or snagging on dry areas. She also did an intriguing addition, using an herbal pregnancy salve that was supposed to help stretching belly skin be more comfortable and more elastic. That was just a gentle open palm rubbing that felt really nice.
The table and supporting pillows made everything very comfortable, and most of the work that she did on my back she did while I was on my sides. My hips and the supporting muscles and tendons of my lower back were painfully tight from all the sitting I've been doing and the extra work that they had to do in order to balance the extra weight of my upper body. We worked through those patiently, and I was very happy to find that the massage really did help loosen everything up to the point where nothing hurt anymore. That was the main reason I had decided to go. When we were done I was a melted critter, a little fuzzy around the edges and totally relaxed.
It felt really good, and when I return to work I ate my lunch at my desk, and then started everything I needed to do in order to merge about 40 files into the development branch. The big trick with the entire job was that most of those files weren't changed by myself, so I couldn't know if they were actually correct or not. I also had a meeting at 2:00, so was able to set up the environment I needed and all the files I needed to be able to sit down with Ryan and go over the correctness of the merge.
We actually did quite well, going through everything thoroughly, including sometimes looking at the target file to make sure that everything was as we intended. It was extremely detailed work, and almost too intensive to do for really long stretches. We managed to get through the changes that we had done, and I checked everything in.
As I went to get more tea, Dan saw me in the hallway and said, "It's now obvious." Given that I was wearing leggings and a fairly tight T-shirt under a large flannel shirt, it really was far more obvious now that I am pregnant. I grinned at him and agreed. It's interesting to realize that it is far more obvious now, and that in a month it will be even more so.
Given my concerns about herbal teas before my last fish check, I've taken to drinking teas that I have decaffeinated myself. Most of the studies done about coffee and tea have said that the only harmful substances in them is the amount of caffeine. Upton Teas had a small article in one of their catalogs that said that most teas can be decaffeinated by immersing them in hot water for twenty to thirty seconds before pouring out that hot water and then steeping the tea normally. I've found that it works, I don't get any of the caffeine jitters, and I do get the full body of all the tea taste. The really excellent thing about finding, were rediscovering, this technique is that I now get to use the entire body of my rare teas and enjoy them without any guilt. It's given me back all my rare greens, oolongs, and black teas, and all the tastes that I've been missing since even before the pregnancy. With the cold weather coming on, I've been very comforted by my teas.
There is also something soothing about the ritual of making tea in a small teapot. Something that a tea bag just can't touch, for me. My small, brown Chatsford teapot is perfect for the small ritual, and when I got back to my desk I was sipping a citrusy Darjeeling very happily. I took some time to organize all of my work, copy my work directories onto a zip disk, and get ready to work at home tomorrow. I had a couple sets of minutes to transcribe from my handwritten notes, and my hands were in bad enough shape that I wanted to try the new NaturallySpeaking 5.0 on them. There were also notes from old user interviews that needed to be transcribed some time, so that other usability testing folks could use them as examples of what user data actually looks like. Finally, there were design documents I needed to organize and write. Luckily, all this meant that I didn't have to bring my machine home, because the home machine had all the dictation software, and for my design documentation it was enough for me to have my code sources on disk simply for reference.
John had to work fairly late, as he had a meeting that went until 6:30 PM. I was entirely unupset given my morning jaunt. With the extra time I was able to get a few more things done. He came fairly quickly to my cubicle after he was done, as he knew I was probably hungry, and asked if I wanted to go with him to a pub in Boulder. Most of the rest of his group was going to be there, and we had never been to the Sun Pub before. Local folks said that the food and beer there was good, so we decided to go.
When we arrived we found that most of the people had already left, Rick and Trudi were still there as they were in the same meeting John had been, and they had put Trudi's name in for a table for four as they assumed that John and I would come to eat. Rick has been with Xilinx since 1986, and the stories he had to tell of the early days and all the subsequent times for the company were very intriguing. It sounds like the founding company had been wise to start, understanding some of the importance of software in enabling the usage of our hardware. Trudi is a very enthusiastic and energetic testing engineer, and it was really cool to watch and listen to her expound on the needed and cost effectiveness of good testing. We all stood around and talked for awhile at the bar as we waited for our table, and when we sat and ordered, the food was fairly quick to arrive. The food was as good as reported, and I was able to make the unusual choice of having the chili cheeseburger with a spinach salad on the side instead of french fries or chips. The salad was all fresh spinach with walnuts and huge chunks of beautiful blue cheese, and the blue cheese dressing was a wonderful accompaniment. I did steal a few of John's fries as well, but enjoyed my salad thoroughly.
John had an interesting question for both of them, "What is the one thing you would do to improve how Xilinx does things?" Rick wanted tighter control over hardware schedules. Trudi thought hiring more qualified people would help. I thought about it for awhile and wanted every engineer to actually sit down with a customer and watch while a customer tried to run our software.
It was nearly nine by the time we actually made it home. Fezzik greeted us enthusiastically, and dove into his dinner happily. I'm glad to see that he is still doing well. The lymph nodes in his throat are definitely down, though the node in his rear left leg is still fairly large it isn't hard anymore. Tomorrow should be interesting, especially since John organized a group lunch tomorrow at China Gourmet. I'll probably leave from home at the same time that they leave from work.
Sleep was a far easier thing with my entire body more relaxed and out of pain.
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