May 27, 2010

That Feels Great!

I took on an emergency client last weekend. I had to shuffle some family obligations, but it was a friend of a friend who needed some help and it was just the type of thing that I know how to do. We were able to get a good result on a very fast timeline.

Today, I received the following email:

Attached is the press release as promised.

Thanks again for everything, you were a life saver! I look forward to getting your bill :-)

I'm fairly certain it's going to be a long time before someone tells me they look forward to getting my bill again.

So, I'm savoring the moment. In fact, right now, I couldn't be more happy with my decision to become a solo practitioner.

May 25, 2010

Happy Feet

So, my empirical study continues with a visit to Happy Day Spa in Sacramento.

I took my Mom for a belated Mother's Day treat on Sunday. She thanked me multiple times. Yay!

Much like my experience last week, this visit confirmed that reflexology-based foot massages that are actually full body massages in hiding are still my latest guilty pleasure. If you find one near you, please let me know and I'll see what I can do to combine a visit with you and a test. You know, in the name of scientific research.

My hypothesis: Reflexology-based foot soak massage shops are the most undervalued massage service available in California today.

I shall test as many as I can find to see if perhaps they vary in quality, cleanliness, lack of sketchy-massage-parlorness and that only some are truly undervalued and others are actually not worth the $30 (typical price, including tip) for the hour.

For a control group, I'm using my historical massage experience with traditional massage shops in the bay area. If you think you've got a high value massage service I should include in the test, please send it my way!

As for Happy Day Spa sacramento, the chairs were not as cool as the ones at my local joint, so we had to sit on the footstools for the back and shoulder massage at the end rather than laying flat on our stomachs. But, both Mom's masseuse and mine were very skillful and the open room was relatively quiet with whispers from the masseuses and instrumental musac.

We both left relaxed. Mom bought a 10-pack (which she will use at the new branch opening up closer to her home), which gets the price down to $18 per massage. After I complete my local survey, I suspect I may opt into a similar arrangement.

May 18, 2010

Latest Guilty Pleasure

So, ever since I discovered the $25 1 hour face, arm, leg, back massage/foot soak/reflexology combo available from our local Chinese Reflexology/Massage Joint, I've been thinking about when I can go back.

But, then I learned there's actually a competitor near 99 Ranch, and I do need to stock up on Asian food.

Clearly, a scientific comparison is in order.

But, in the name of science, why stop with Mountain View? Apparently, there are several options in San Jose, Cupertino, and even, potentially, one in my childhood hometown.

I shall report back.

May 14, 2010

Sili Valley Week

I had a very stereotypical valley week.

Monday and Tuesday, I woke, worked out, worked for my start-up clients and fit in networking lunches. Monday, after a particularly frustrating morning, I also fit in a pre-lunch visit to Happy Feet in their new Mountain View location (Oh! How awesome are lazy boys interbred with massage tables for you to lay upon while beaten to a relaxed pulp by shiatsu-accupressure-influenced hands until your feet are removed for the hot water bath, treated to reflexology and you are finally turned to your belly for the final 20 minutes of back of the body massage/pressure, all in silent common room? Holy grail of massage value -- I'm telling you. Of course, there's no speaking to the masseuse in anything other than Mandarin, but no need, at least for me.)

Wednesday, I volunteered all day as a broken-Spanish (mine, not theirs) translator for a Puerto Rican team of adorably awesome high-schoolers at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, and then we hosted a BBQ for visiting Argentinian students (the PR team had to stay with their chaperons -- apparently, we do not appear trustworthy. [grin]).

Thursday, I worked more and attended the Google Annual Shareholder meeting.

And today, I woke to work for an hour and a half, then I took my favorite Friday yoga class, met with a former colleague for lunch in downtown San Jose, and worked from the Hacker Dojo in the afternoon (because I had too much work to do to attend the PhD defense of a friend at Stanford that E was able to attend).

This weekend? I've got a long run with E2 in Santa Cruz tomorrow AM while E bikes along the coast with J. Then we've got a wine tasting lunch in the Santa Cruz Mountain Wine Region at Beauregard and a 40th birthday party for a good work-friend in Palo Alto in the evening.

In short, I am in awe of the chaos and fast-paced life that we live. But, at the same time, we can do nothing more than appreciate the beauty and balance and lifestyle we can enjoy where we live. And I aim to do just that.

May 9, 2010

A Sort-of-Hellish Sunday

After Yesterday's Bliss, I should have known I was in for a long day.

But, I had no idea, so I woke at a reasonable hour and put on my workout clothes and tried to lace my new running shoes from Zappos. Alas, the top right eyelet was broken on my left shoe. So, I sat at the computer, printed a return label, packaged up the shoes for return, and put on my old shoes.

Then, it started to rain.

So, instead of the planned workout, I started the day by filing an amendment to our taxes due as a result of receiving a corrected form 1099-Div from Ameritrade. 2 hours and multiple forms later, we were entitled to $8 from the Feds, and $3 from the state. I would have just let them keep the money if I could have kept my 2 hours. Seriously...

In the course of updating our forms, some financial investigations led me to realize that paying quarterly taxes wasn't just a requirement this year (which I knew), but we were *already late*, since I earned money in March, which is Q1, and estimated payments for Q1 were due in April. Good times.

So, I calculated those, printed the vouchers, and had the fun conversation with E about the big check we needed to write, like a month ago, (and the upcoming one of equal value in 5 weeks).

Somewhere in there, I fit in a quick trip to the farmer's market in the rain. Sadly, I confirmed that the good tomatoes are just not available yet.

At least I got some good asparagus spears, delicious strawberries, swiss chard, dill & fresh bread! Oh, and a kumamoto oyster from the fresh shucked-in-front-of-you oyster tent -- I consoled myself from the rain and taxes with the treat and justified it by reminding myself that oyster season would be over soon.

Where was I? Oh, yes, lamenting about my horrid day. Ignore the blissful break of the farmer's market and feel sorrow for me as I returned to my office and sat before the beast of Quickbooks for at least 5 hours. For about 4 weeks (February-ish), I incurred expenses on behalf of the business before I had a business bank account or business credit card. Reconciling and accounting for, and repaying myself for those amounts was the exact opposite of fun, I assure you. I am now very understanding of the reason for ridiculously detailed expense reports. I cannot wait to have enough business to justify handing the bookkeeping back to my bookkeeper.

Anyways, in the grand scheme of things, it really wasn't that bad of a day at all. Taxes are paid, tax payments and future due dates are known (instead of unknown dreads), bookkeeping is current, shoes will be returned and new ones are on their way, and while the run didn't happen, I did manage to fit in a 4 mile walk while chatting with R.

In short, it was a productive day, but nowhere near as cool as yesterday.
Recipe for A Perfect Saturday

Wake early, rested, to perfect weather and a quick enjoyable view of the garden on the way out the door.

Get coffee and head to a beautiful local 10K. See local friends you didn't know would be there, meet their baby, and catch up for half an hour before the race. Run harder than you expected through hills to catch much better views than you realized were available. At the point where you most want to walk up the steps cut in the trail, encounter a mom with a jogging stroller who gives you the perfect excuse to walk and help her carry the stroller up the steps.

Long shower.

Bike downtown with E for a 2-hour outdoor brunch in perfect weather with wine at a local mediterranean food restaurant.


Watch a hilariously cheesy movie where English is spoken in hell, Spanish on earth, and French in heaven while shelling fava beans that you harvested from the remaining plants before they were sacrificed for the compost pile (see the tall plants in the front box that are falling over? They are now a memory.)


Continue to shell fava beans while watching an hour of the Ken Burns documentary on the National Parks.

(Good thing favas fix nitrogen into the soil and plant matter for great composting. Because otherwise, the labor necessary to get to the edible portion would not be worth the ridiculous work of shelling and re-shelling. Here's the entire take after about 2.5 hours of lazy work by me, aka post de-podding, but pre-2nd shelling of the skin:)


Prepare an impromptu dinner of angel hair pasta and pesto made from random bits of deliciousness that were hiding in the kitchen (antipasti, croutons, 5 chili preserves, anchovies, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, what?).

Eat pasta and continue to enjoy the National Parks documentary. Fall asleep to images of beautiful nature on husband's lap.

Eventually move to the bed. Sleep. Well.


May 7, 2010

Vicarious Adventure

A friend of mine is packing up all of her stuff and moving to Homer, Alaska to work this summer.

I'm going to enjoy reading about her travels, and bet you might too.

So, if you're looking for some entertainment this summer check out Clarke Photo Goes to Alaska.

May 5, 2010

Whatever You Do, Do It Well

Brother came home with donuts yesterday. Not just any donuts, however, Psycho Donuts:


Yes, those are individually placed and frosted Captain Crunchberries, graham crackers, and oreos.

Apparently, they take their marketing fairly seriously, and they have a padded room.

I pretty much never eat dessert at home. But, I enjoyed a donut for dessert, and it was amazing.