Thursday, September 30, 2010

GHC10: Are You a Salmon, Too? BoF

This BoF, on gender discrimination and sexual harassment, started out in a very interactive style, when the panelists asked us to discuss amongst ourselves the following question: "When you asked to go to this conference, did people ask you 'When are they going to have a conference for men?'"  While nobody sitting around me got that exact response, we had various levels of questions from colleagues and management, like, "It's a women's conference, obviously not technical", "why do you need to go to a conference for women?", "why do you want to study hardware, I didn't think girl's were interested in that".

Sharon Mason, Rochester Institute of Technology, started out asking all of us to think about the experiences they were going to share with us and what we would do in these situations. Saying nothing, when you're confronted, is not the best option. This became a very interactive session.

Kristen Kielbasa, University of Albany student, gave us our first taste of strange behaviour from male colleagues. She was asked where she had just gotten some chocolates from, and when she responded "at the awards event for women", and her colleague responded, "Oh, we don't care about women". I guess even the enticement of free chocolate isn't enough to get a man to care about someone he works with every day.

Once the comments started coming from the audience, it became clear that it wasn't necessarily that these men don't care about women, as an individual, but that they don't understand how isolated women can be in technology careers and comments like that are not funny, but hurtful and further isolating. Some advice for responding to the above man were, "Does your mother know that?", "Why should 50% of the population make decisions for 100% of the technology user base?", "Why did you say that? What did you mean?"  Great conversation openers so the person you're talking to can think more about their own comments and start a discussion.

Sharon Mason, was involved with organizing a women in technology group lunch and a male fellow student said, sarcastically, "I'm glad my tuition is going to fund women's lunch. When do we get to have a men in computing lunch?"  Her response, which I think is fantastic, "Anyone, male or female, that supports women in technology are welcome to attend our lunches."

Jennifer Goodall, State University of New York, Albany, had a note in her .signature about the women in technology group she is involved in and it was included in an unrelated email she sent to a listserv. She received five bizarre email responses from men on the list, not at all about the message she sent, but about her .signature.  One of them said that it wasn't necessary for women to be paid the same as men, because they can just marry a man that makes more money than they do to supplement their income!

The general opinion of women in the room was that some people cannot be won over, are aggressive towards women in general, and are only looking for a reaction.  Though some did think that it may be a chance to take it as an opportunity to educate by asking an open ended question, like "what do you mean by that? Why do you think that we don't need more women in technology?"

As more women came up to share their stories, it became painfully clear that sexism and misogyny in the workplace and in universities are alive and well in present day. Some of the stories are clearly men that don't realize what they are saying may be hurtful or make women feel more uncomfortable, like "Wow, I can't believe there's a woman here."  Others are truly horrifying, especially when many of these men are just claiming that it's all just a joke, said in fun. I heard things like: "We only hired you because you're cute," "Someone might lose their job over this project, it's okay if it's you because your husband can take care of you", "I heard you like 'meat'".

Things to keep in mind, often women get higher grades and graduate at higher rates. We aren't dumb, we just hear it often enough in university and work settings and can start to believe it. Others recommend having the facts available, like "women don't actually have different admission standards than men at this school", "there are lots of women that made great technology advances, like ..."

Lesson for men: If you have to keep saying, "I was only kidding", "I only say this sort of stuff around you because I know you're cool with it", "Encouraging technical women just furthers the diversity gap", etc, please realize it is hurting and discouraging women. It seems these types of wounds take a long time to heal and may have permanent damage on retention of women in technology.

GHC10: Cloudy with a Chance of Security, Another perspective

I was excited to see one of the women I had breakfast with, Gerlinde Zibulski (SAP, AG), on the panel, as we were already having fascinating discussions on security and data privacy this morning.  Other panelists include Kore Koubourlis (Microsoft), Linda Berardi (StraTerra Partners, LLC), and Alyssa Henry (Amazon Simple Storage Service).

This panel starts out with a great explanation of cloud computing: you pay for what you use, not for provisioning the system. Great for smaller companies that want to be able to change platforms or other directions quickly.  Customers can focus on doing work, not trying to piece together a system from scratch.

When it comes to security and privacy, you need to think about things like how long can I store this data? How securely does this data need to be stored? What countries can this data be stored in?  Compliance obligations can make this that much more complicated.

By storing your data in the cloud, you can leverage resources of the cloud, like disaster recovery set up, backups, penetration testing, etc. While individual organizations may say they'd like to do these types of things, and they might even have plans to do so, cloud providers have to have this all set up before they even put the cloud online. This is what you're buying from them, it's part of the service.

A funny thing is, while people are often afraid of putting things in the cloud, they actually discover that they have a much better idea of what is happening in the cloud with all the logging than they do for their internal network. There is a big problem with these internal unknown server, with the lack of logs and analysis: you might be paying people to maintain servers and applications that are over provisioned or just not used! True, you could add this type of auditing to your internal servers and applications, but will you?

Because cloud computing was so criticized a few years ago due to inadequate security, you'll often find the security on these servers is much better than anything you would provision yourself. Cloud providers know now that they are being constantly scrutinized, so they have to be secure. The panelist put forth the supposition that they are more secure than anyone's internal servers, but that does kind of miss the point that at least internal servers are... internal :-)

Overall an interesting talk, though I would've like to hear more about how they secured their clouds (where instead there was a lot of why), but it's great seeing so many women that work in security in just one morning!

GHC10: Role of Usability in Security

Heather Richter Lipford, from University of North Carolina (Charlotte) and a high school class mate of mine, started out by surveying the audience to see how many bad habits those of us that should know better have: password reuse, falling for phishing, or getting a virus (lots of hands came up).  This is known as the weakest link property, where the people are the weakest link - but could it be because the systems are too hard to use? (this is a reoccurring theme at this conference, it seems). Ms Lipford asks, how to improve this? Consider ease of learning, ability to perform the task quickly, have a low user error rate and high user retention over time.

Some possible solutions to things like phishing would be to have spoof warnings in browsers, but it needs to be something that users will not only notice, but understand what it means. Unfortunately, people are now thinking that things like seeing the lock icon in the browser means the site is legitimate - when all it means is that the site is secure.  Phishing sites, it turns out, can use encryption, too.  Oops!

Dr. Lipford's research is showing that users greatly underestimate the risks and negative outcomes of their behaviour, particularly when it comes to balancing short term gain vs long term risks.

Mary Ellen Zurko, from IBM, talked to us about her specialty in cloud computing. She noted that she's seen a change in how customers interact with IBM. Years ago, customers trusted that vendors would make the product secure and they simply wanted to know about features. Nowadays, customers want to know how the system will be secured and how their data will be protected. This comes up a lot when it comes to cloud computing, perhaps because the data is no longer centrally located and people feel more vulnerable.

More recently, people have a growing concern about keeping their email address private than a decade ago, this is a strange concept for me, but the thought of no spam is nice ....

What is usable security?  UI designers need to be thinking about this usable security early in the design, make sure it's obvious and available to everyone, and avoiding surprises by anticipating future changes and addressing confusion and make sure you handle user mistakes.

Diana K. Smetters, from PARC/Google, started out by noting that more than 50% of the certificates on the Internet are wrong (this could be because they are expired, site address mismatch, invalid, etc), so all "rational" users who actually want to use the Internet are going to always click through!

You've got to meet the users half way (or more than that). For example, phishing attacks are a mismatch problem.  The browser doesn't know the user's intent, ie they don't know you don't want to go to the evil PayPal imitation site. One approach to this is to not use general purpose browsers for accessing sites like banks, but rather an application - but that only works if you can get the users to use the application! [Side note: not to mention having cross platform support.]

You have no idea what a user will find difficult, unless you do an actual usability study. You have to give up on what you think would be good for the user (no matter how right you know you are) and you have to think about all types of users.

Dr. Lipford came back to expand this to to privacy as well. She talked about photo sharing sites, where other people upload and tag photos of you. The problem is that you may not want to have these photos linked to your profile or online identity. The problem is very complicated, because it may not be that you don't want to share the photo at all, but just not necessarily share it with everyone in your network. It's not just strangers that people don't want to share with - it could be that you don't want people you work with to see you drinking that giant beer at a friend's party.  The thing is, even people who have had problems with photo sharing in the  past, still continue to share photos, because this is something we as humans love to do.

Dr. Lipford is working with her students on coming up with a photo sharing application that allows two-way feedback between the owner of the photo and the person tagged in it. That is, the tagged person could restrict who could see the photo and request to the owner that the photo be removed.

The panel recommends the book Security and Usability, O'Reilly 2005, and the Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security, for further information on this topic, and mostly to keep in mind that usability and security go hand in hand and need to be designed in from the beginning.

GHC10: Thursday Welcome/Keynote, Another Perspective

After entertaining us with a great video filmed at last year's Grace Hopper conference, they let us know that this year's conference sold out even before the early bird registration was meant to close and they still ended up with over 2100 attendees! WOW! I am so glad I registered early so I could be  part of the tenth Grace Hopper celebration!

Duy-Loan T. Le, from Texas Instruments, moved to America when she was 12 years old and didn't speak English. By the age of 16, she had not only mastered the language, but was graduating high school as valedictorian!  After being elected the first female senior fellow at TI, she vowed that she wouldn't be "first and last" and gave herself 15 years to help make another woman a senior fellow. Eight years later, she's still working on this goal...

Ms. Le talked about the great struggle of arriving here, becoming, in essence, deaf and dumb, as she didn't speak the language. She started working by babysitting and doing translation work, struggling to learn her school lessons at the same time as learning the language.  Through all of that, she somehow managed to graduate early. Continuing on that track, she graduated from college with her engineering degree cum laude at 19 years old.  By the time she was 20, she'd purchased her first house, bought her mother a house and gotten married.

During her first business trip to Japan in 1985, she noted that there were no women in the workforce. Any women seen were cleaning or serving tea. She asked us to imagine the look on the face of all those men when she introduced herself as the senior engineer that had been sent there to train them :-)

Realizing that she couldn't begin training these men with their preconceived notions, she spent the first two weeks of her four month stint learning about her hosts and her host country, and teaching them about herself as well.  She found that once they got to know her as a person and as an engineer, she was able to finally proceed with the training she'd been sent there to do.

Even with all this new technology we have at our fingertips, the only real way to build relationships, according to Le, is by starting the relationship with good old fashioned face to face. There was something she had been working of for two months, that had totally stalled. It was resolved in two hours once she flew out to the person she was working with.  You need to remember that it's not technology we're working with - it's people!

In order to successfully collaborate across the boundary of people, you need to have respect for those people, what they bring to the table and what they need.  Doing this will help you attain your goals and get respect from those you are working with.

What a very inspiring speaker!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

GHC10: Collaborative Risktaking

Getting a bunch of engineers into a giant ballroom after a wonderful lunch filled with great conversation is hard. After much wrangling, we all got at tables of 10 and Dee McCrorey started us off with a really fun video taking a look back at women in technology and famous risk taking women.

Right off the bat, we're being asked to take risks at this conference: meet (and follow-up) with 20 new people, dance, and get interviewed for the Anita Borg Institute archives (and possibly used in future ABI events).  I've been meeting lots of very interesting women and getting business cards (or connecting my super cute Poken to theirs) - but will I follow-up?  Right now I'm going to say yes... check back with me :-)

Dee started talking about how the business world has drastically changed. For the first time, there are multiple generations working together on the same projects and that is changing the workplace as ideas are quickly exchanged.  Old style companies treat their people as exploitable, let legality stifle innovation and only focus on ROI, but that type of management style will not work in this new world of business.

In order to survive in this new world, you need to innovate, collaborate, be willing to take risks, be bold, responsible and able to measure your results.

At this point, we did our group activities at our tables. We started with scoring our pre-work, a worksheet on our risk taking style.  It was a strangely scored test, and we were all, apparently, responsible risk takers. :-) We were next supposed to do a team challenge, but instead my table started working on our own personal/career time lines...oops [Side note: several of us had trouble remembering order of events, except for the very tragic or very happy - ie weddings and deaths. The time line would've been excellent pre-work.]

Dee then brought up a calculus concept: an inflection point. This concept can be applied to your own personal and career peaks and valleys - these inflection points are personal and/or organizational shifts with the power to transform our lives (for better or worse). If you don't learn how to identify when these changes are coming down the pipeline, you are at risk for making a bad decision or poor career move that you'll have to work a long time to recover from.

Our next exercise was to work on our Optimum Change Cycle worksheet, which I had a lot of trouble with. Because I couldn't remember all my peaks and valleys from over the last 3 years, my time line was incomplete so then I had a tough time with everything that built onto that.  Fortunately, our table mentor gave me tips to work around this which helped me relax and get more into the activities. Dee, and others, were all talking about their personal cycle - for example, Dee said she is on a two year cycle - she needs some sort of change, or she might start sabotaging herself or career.  I don't think I have to have change on any cycle, as I'm often quite content to "stay the course".  I mean, really, I've been at Sun (Oracle now) for 14 years, and working on the same team since 2002. [Side note: one advantage of working at a really large company is that you can change jobs without losing accrued vacation and benefits, heck, you can even change your job without changing managers!]

As I was listening to my table mates, I got to thinking - I am not change adverse and can happily role with the punches, but I don't often seek it out. Does that mean my ship doesn't have a rudder?  Or is it something much simpler than that - a few years back, I lost my biggest advocate in our organization. Thing is, I didn't even know he was advocating for me behind the scenes, helping me get interesting projects as well as promotions. It was actually more than a year after he left that I noticed something was different, and my manager explained what I had lost.  So, what can I do?  Seek a new one out? Become my own advocate? Combination of both?

All that said, Dee says we've got to build safety nets, like networks of people to help and support you in your risks (the greater the risk, the greater your network needs to be). Beware of filling your network with just birds of a feather type folks, instead you want an innovation tribe - a diverse mix of people that can give you a mix of opinions.  Doing so should allow you to make better decisions more quickly.

Make sure you share the experience with others and feedback to your network of support. This can be down with short videos, emails, blogs, etc.

Towards the end of the session, our table mentor asked about how the session impacted us and what we'd do with what we learned. My table mate, Misti, mentioned that she realized she could really benefit from a semi-annual self assessment of her career and life - to look for those inflection points and make sure she's on track with her goals. I think that's a great idea and am going to commit to doing that for myself.  A lot of being a good and responsible risk taker means being aware of what you bring to the table and supplementing what you lack with a network of support.

What did you get as a take-away from this workshop?

GHC10: PhD Forum 3 UI/Education: another perspective

I love the PhD forums, as you get 2-3 short presentations on fascinating new work

In this session, Laurian C Vega started with her presentation on Usable Security in Practice: Collaborative Management of Electronic & Physical Personal Information. Ms. Vega is taking a unique stance of data security: that it's not the user that is the weakest link, but the systems that make it difficult for the user to act in a secure manner. For example, one government agency she spoke to had an application that required 60 different passwords to use it fully. Now, there's no way someone is going to remember that many passwords, so users will work around this by writing things down or reusing passwords. Systems need to be made with security and usability in mind.

She went to physicians' offices and childcare facilities in rural Virginia to see how they managed their data records. She found many still used paper, but in some ways it was more secure than digital records. Obviously, nothing was online, so that threat was eliminated, and the physical records were very strictly controlled, typically by the physician themselves or by the director of the childcare facility. The downside of such a system, though, is that archives and "backups" (ie photocopies) often end up stored in someone's basement, where access is not controlled.  So, there is something to be learned from the old way - both practices to initiate and to avoid!

Katherine Panciera presented In the Beginning: The Early Lives of Users in Online Communities. She had read a paper, Becoming Wikipedian, which talked about the evolution of a Wikipedia editor, showing that the more edits people performed, the more involved they got in the community. She wanted to see what she could learn about the users of online communities and how their behaviour would change over time. Much of her research so far has been on users of an interesting bike website, Cyclopath.  So far, she's found that power users actually show themselves within their first few days of using the site. It'll be interesting to see what further research shows.

Our last speaker was Lijun Ni presented Building Professional Identity as Computer Science Teachers. Apparently there is a lack of teachers in this country  that can teach computer science to high school students. For example, the entire state of Georgia has only 72 CS teachers! I wouldn't have even known about this problem, as it seems all the high schools (and even some of the middle schools) in the San Francisco Bay area all have CS teachers. Heck, even my high school in Indiana (R Nelson Snider) had a math/CS teacher back in 1990.

Ni's research shows that a major contribution to this is teacher retention - 46% of teachers leave the profession after only 5 years! This is so surprising to me, as it seems they are only working about as long as it took them to get their initial qualification to teach! The other major issue is that teachers who do stay are very resistant to change in their curriculum. Makes me wonder if anyone is still teaching Basic in high schools?

Ni's furthering her research to try to resolve those problems, and it seems she has a lot of work ahead of her.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Getting Ready for Grace Hopper 2010!

I am unbelievably excited about the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing event happening next week in Atlanta, GA! My bag is packed... well, over packed... need to fix that. I've got my laptop upgraded and set up to access my new mail server and my new business cards with my new phone number arrived this week! I put new batteries in my Dymo label maker and have two extra sets of tape for it - you'll be able to find it at the community table so you can add extra information to your badge (like your twitter feed, etc). I looked at the conference schedule and have already made myself a personal schedule with all the rooms for all the sessions I want to attend.  I need to make sure I don't forget my chargers and extra laptop battery.  Packed tea and my travel kettle and I pre-ordered a travel mug from the conference, so no need to bring my own. Oh, and my rain jacket, as thunderstorms are in the forecast!

I am really looking forward to attending the PhD forums on Wednesday, before the big conference kick off happens, and I'm thrilled that usability forums include issues like how usability impacts security of the entire system. I'll be sure to post my notes right away (unlike PBWC, GHC has prolific wireless access, so live blogging is easy).

I've already started connecting with other attendees, thanks to the twitter lists that @ghc is maintaining.

What are you looking forward to? Anything other unusual items to pack?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Beers (and Bears) of Yosemite

I had the great fortune of making it up to Yosemite 3 times this summer.  Yosemite is the most beautiful place I've ever been, and you can't beat a campground within walking distance to a bar!

Yosemite bars serve Mammoth Brewing Company brews on tap, and you can also purchase them in every grocery store we checked (okay, that was just the one in Curry Village...).  I haven't seen Mammoth beers out here in the bay area, so was excited to try them the first weekend we were out.  I ordered myself a Double Nut Brown and my husband an Epic IPA.   The brown was a nice typical brown (which just might be my new favorite style of beer), rich, nutty, slightly sweet without being syrupy, with an incredibly smooth finish.  The Epic was much too bitter for me, typical of American brewers pushing for stronger & stronger flavored IPAs (as opposed to, in my opinion, nice flavors).  Much like its flavor, the beer itself was very strong. Of course, American bars so rarely list the ABV, so we didn't know 'til my poor husband woke up the next morning with a terrible hangover.

When we asked the barmaid on our next visit about the ABV, she believed the brown was close to 5 or 5.5% and the IPA, being EPIC, was closer to 8 or 9%.  Yikes, a warning would've been nice!

On another stay, we also tried the Mammoth Brewing Company Amber - lots of flavor in this one, a bit of honey,  caramel, hops and lots more carbonation (not necessarily a good thing when you are at altitude).

I didn't get to see any bears in their natural habitat this year, but did have the misfortune of camping at a site with a loose bear locker.  This black bear had obviously learned that if he banged on this locker, he could often get the food out. We had it padlocked, so that method didn't work, but didn't stop him from knocking on the locker. Fortunately, our neighbors chased him out of the site (we were in our tent).  The next night he came back, and this time I got to help with the chasing!  On the last day of that trip, the rangers treed that bear and we had a quiet night of sleep. This is when I'm glad we don't camp in grizzly country! *whew*


So, on Tuesday morning, I went in for my reevaluation of my partial tear in my quadricep tendon - and the PA from Orthopedics said I could take the torture device, I mean, knee immobilizer off! No more crutches! Now I have a cane! I need some more decorations on it, though, it's pretty boring with just a couple of dinosaur and OpenSolaris stickers.

The best part is? I can wear jeans again! It was getting pretty cold to be wearing skirts (I couldn't wear tights or leggings, either, because the knee immobilizer had to be directly against the skin).

Actually, the truly best part is I can now sit in a chair like a normal person. The pain in my back and healthy leg are starting to recede now that awkward angle sitting (either sitting on the edge of the chair so my foot could rest on the ground or with my leg up on the CPU and the leg brace digging painfully into the back of my leg) and bizarre pirate walk are done with.

I started rehab on Tuesday and am learning how to walk again. I never thought I'd be one of those people that didn't move the opposite arm to the leg that's going forward (I've heard a dozen dance choreographers yell at people for this), but here I am consciously telling myself to move my left arm as my right leg goes forward. I guess walking with crutches for a month creates some weird coping mechanisms!

Thank you all for your good thoughts - I can bend my knee to 90 degrees - hopefully more as the rehab continues!

Monday, September 20, 2010

PBWC: Lunch Session with Safra Catz

One of the coolest things about this year's Professional Business Women of California conference was getting to hear Safra Catz, co-president of Oracle, give the luncheon keynote. As a recent Oracle employee, it was great to hear one of our fearless leaders speak so candidly to business women.

Catz didn't shy away from making comments about the Sun acquisition from the get go, when she introduced Oracle as a "30 year old software, well, now hardware, company". She went on to note, when it came to acquisitions, "I feel like Larry Ellison's personal shopper and I'm exhausted" and that she was very happy that Oracle was able to get Sun before anyone else did.

Catz shared her top ten list of things she wished someone had told her about earlier in her career:
  1. You can never be #1 by chasing #1. What is #2? The first loser. Aim to be best and be willing to work outside of the box to achieve it.
  2. Scale matters - the more customers you have the more you can spread your cost, but scale is different than size.
  3. Focus on what your real business is. Bigger is not better and you shouldn't expand and acquire things just for the sake of "growth" - target only areas that make sense for your business.
  4. If it doesn't make sense... it doesn't make sense! She prefers an acronym free zone and people that speak plainly and question things that don't make sense.
  5. Don't stand still. Making a few mistakes is better than making no decisions at all.
  6. Don't stand still, but don't chase fashion. Stick to your core.
  7. If you don't ask, you don't get. The only way to be certain that the answer will be "no" is to not ask at all.
  8. Just because everything can be put online doesn't mean it should be.
  9. Integrity is a perishable asset. You can recover from being stupid, but not from lying.
  10. The difference between having long term success or not is knowing you didn't do it alone.
Hearing Catz speak gave me a great insight into my new corporate home, and I'll try to keep her lessons in mind. Is there anything you'd add to this list? Things you wish people had told you sooner? (or, things people had told you but you really wished you'd listened to them?)

Something I continue to remind myself: try not to hold a person's past mistakes against them, and certainly don't hold your bad mood against them, either! What else?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Faultline Brewery

Had a work lunch at Faultline in Sunnyvale yesterday, which meant I didn't really have an opportunity to try all of their beers... but I did get to enjoy the cask conditioned Pale Ale. Unlike many Pales lurking in the marketplace right now, this brew had lively hops without overwhelming bitterness. It came in at a nice 5% ABV and the pint glass was even nearly full. It paired well with the daily special of blackened cod served over penne pasta with alfredo sauce, peas and bits of real bacon. The beer balanced out the spice of the dish and made for a very tasty lunch. Service was superb, especially for such a large group.

I did get to try the Belgian Abby style beer as well that a friend was drinking. Lots of citrus and a fine finish. I definitely want to go back so I can have a full pint of that.

This delightful Pale Ale brings up a great point: if you're a local brewer, you really need to invest in a beer engine (or two) to serve up cask conditioned beers. The natural carbonation and cellar temperature cannot be beat for enjoying a pint.

Friday, September 3, 2010


These last few weeks have been a big lesson in adapting for me. Vertigo, knee immobilizer, and an office move.

Life as an Oracle employee is finally sinking in - things are different. Some things are better, some are ... well, different. Packing up my old office in Menlo Park was quite a walk down memory lane - I found old CDROMs full of SunScreen source code, old Solaris install media, cards from friends, pictures of family, and stacks of old design notes.

I've moved around a lot in my years as a Sun employee, but my very first office was a double window office in Menlo Park (MPK17) overlooking the foothills - probably my favorite office to date. From there I went into Palo Alto (PAL1), Mountain View (MTV21), back to Menlo Park (MPK18) then back to my favorite building, MPK17. I moved back into Menlo Park 17 right after September 11th. Everything seemed so surreal, joining the OS group and working on a product with a seemingly endlessly large team. I couldn't believe how strict the integration standards were (and now, as a CRT advocate I enforce these and as chair I document them), nor how large the scope of our overall project was.

I sat across from a woman, Renee. And over the next 9 years, even as our offices moved, we were still across the hall from each other.

Now I'm in Santa Clara. I still have one box left to unpack. Renee is on the other side of the building, not too far, but not shouting distance either (of course, the rest of the people around me are probably grateful for this). The commute is nicer, though I'm further from my friends in San Francisco. I think I'll like it here.

About two weeks ago, I sat up from a massage and suddenly found the room spinning. No matter how long I sat, it wouldn't stop. Hours later I found myself visiting a doctor at Kaiser who diagnosed me with Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) which is a vague diagnosis which basically means: "Something in your inner ear relocated. You're dizzy and you're just going to have to learn your new spatial environment". He performed the Epley Maneuver and gave me some exercises to do. So, I've been adapting to my new inner ear. It's taken awhile, but the dizzy spells are very infrequent and typically only happen when I turn my head upside down (like when drying my hair!). So, yoga is right out... oh, it was anyways....that knee immobilizer....

Apparently during my 105-mile bike ride for the American Lung Association, I partially tore the tendon that attaches my knee to my quadriceps. This knee has always had a tight quad, so swelling in my knee wasn't unusual. After a few weeks, though, of having it swell up every time I tried yoga or short bike rides, I made my way to Kaiser. Initial x-rays showed a perfectly healthy knee, but the MRI (which I had to wait more than 2 weeks for) showed the tear. Now I'm in a knee immobilizer. The device goes from just above the ankle to most of the way up the thigh. It needs to be worn directly on the skin, 24 hours a day. This means no jeans! I can wear short-shorts or skirts. Thank goodness I have a lot of skirts! I can walk with crutches (which results in sore ribs/hands/shoulders), or kinda like a pirate (which results in sore back). I alternate. I'm adapting.

I have a long recovery ahead of me. I can already see the muscle in the effected leg melting away. I don't know when I'll be able to ride my bike again. I'm so afraid I won't be able to. I am already tired of driving everywhere. I don't even want to think about skiing - I can't miss out on ski season, too!

As much as I want to feel sorry for myself and have a great big pity party, I realize that I am very fortunate to have medical care and an incredibly supportive husband who has been doing most of the driving and taking care of the house. I can put Renee on speed dial. I can adapt.