An old new beginning

30 08 2011

After three years of wandering I’m returning to my roots. Next Tuesday is my first day at Oracle, where I’ll be the technical lead on the Mac OS X port of OpenJDK for Oracle. This may sound like I’m staging a coup, but I’m not going to be taking anything away from Mike Swingler, Bino George, and everyone else who has been hard at work on the core of the Mac port. I will be starting on the non-open parts of the JDK, which means the Java Plugin and Web Start, and then looking into bundled application support.

I don’t expect to be working by myself on this for long — we still need engineers who know Objective-C and Cocoa and have a good background in Java. Search Oracle’s recruitment site for more details; I’ll add links in the next day or so. We are actively recruiting for these positions, so please don’t hesitate to ask for more information. Candidates who can work in the Santa Clara, CA, office are preferred.

For those of you who have known me over the years, this may not sound like a new challenge, but it is. I’d like to think of it as picking up where I left off rather than returning to an old job. And, hopefully, I will have cool things to write about again as time goes on.


A breath of fresh air

8 04 2009

Hmmm.. I haven’t been writing much lately. Not that I was all that prolific to begin with, but three months is a while. I guess it took me longer to recover from that surgery than I thought.

Well, I can happily say that it was worth the agony, because I’m now breathing better than ever and the spring allergy season was the mildest I think I’ve had in ages. If you have been thinking you need this surgery I highly recommend you get it done.

Having said that, it not like the recovery wasn’t without excitement, however. I stupidly got on a plane for Europe about 3 weeks after the operation and got a bad nosebleed that required an emergency room visit. I really should have waited until after the new year to have it done, but it’s all over now.

Rabid porcupines? No, drowning in a slime pit is more like it.

5 12 2008

It’s not a well-documented rule of blogging, but there does seem to be an unwritten rule that when you have a quality-of-life-improving medical procedure, you need to write about it. So, that’s what I’m going to do this evening.

Almost every year for the past 15 years or so, I’ve had a sinus infection at some point during the winter months. Usually in February I catch a cold that seems to linger on for a week and a half, and then I go to the doctor and get two weeks of antibiotics. When I moved to California, I thought ‘hey, there’s no winter here to speak of, so maybe it won’t happen this year.’ Wrong. Last February I had my worst bout of sinusitis ever, which turned into a nasty case of acute bronchitis on top of it all. I think I missed a good week of work and ever since then I have felt like I have been breathing through two cocktail straws glued to my nostrils.

So after regular, daily blasts of Flonase into my nose and getting no relief I finally went to an otolaryngologist. He looked into my nose and 30 seconds later said “Is one side of your nose consistently more blocked than the other?” Well, yes, come to think of it… “Did you ever have any accidents when you were younger? A broken nose or fist fight?”

Shortly after he said that, the TiVo that is my mind rewound to 29 years ago.

My brother and I are nine years apart. That means I was right around 11 years old when he was learning to walk. One summer afternoon I was lying on the floor in our living room, and he was on the couch. Somehow we decided it would be fun for him to roll off the couch, and then I would catch him as he rolled off, and gently land him on the floor like an airplane. He then climbed back up on the couch and we did this over and over for about an hour.

To this day I don’t know exactly what happened next. The TV may have been on and he got distracted. Maybe his legs gave out and he lost his balance. But the next thing I knew, all 28 pounds of him had sat squarely on my nose, and I ran to the bathroom to see what happened. It didn’t really hurt at the time. In fact, I think I wound up giving him a hug because I saw that one side of my nose was completely clear and I was breathing so well for the first time in a long time. Little did I know…

“You have a badly deviated septum,” the doctor continued, “and your turbinates have swollen to compensate for the change in volume. That’s why you get an infection – you can’t clear out the mucus that collects in your sinuses.”

So, on Wednesday I had a septoplasty and turbinate reduction at Eden Hospital in Castro Valley. I’ve had a number of surgical procedures done over the years, and this one went better than any I’ve ever had. Everyone was a pleasure to work with, I didn’t get sick from the anesthesia, and the anesthesiologist actually put in the IV without (significant) pain on the first try.

That’s not to say I feel great, however. At the moment I feel like I’ve been punched in the nose and teeth. I still need to flush out my nose with saline every hour, which helps a little bit, but what I really want to do is blow my nose, but I can’t do that because if I do so much as graze my nose with anything I’m about ready to jump through the roof, let alone blow out the splints. I have to breathe through my mouth, which after about 2 minutes feels like you’re eating wads of cotton.

The doctor sure makes it sound easy. “You’ll feel awful when you go home, and will be pretty much out of it on Thursday, but by Friday you’ll feel like reading email or even doing some work. On Monday you’ll be back to work.” To this I say HA!! I’m now at Day 3, post-surgery, and I don’t feel dramatically better than I did my first night at home. I’m hoping it’s a case of needing to get worse before it gets better, but right now I’m nowhere near better than before. I’ll see how I feel again on Thursday when the splints come out.

Resist the urge…

11 10 2008

When we lived in Ohio, I envied homes with a built-in sprinkler system. The little heads that popped up and delivered a perfect circle of water to your piece of the Western Reserve. The ‘pfft, pfft, pfft’ of an impact sprinkler doing its job on a Saturday morning. And, to top it all off, a timer. Not just any mechanical timer, either, but a mini computer that turns on each carefully designed zone of the system, because you don’t have enough water pressure to water the whole yard and your flowers all at once.

Granted, you could only use it about 8 months out of the year, and even then I can’t recall a summer where it was dry enough to warrant regular, automated watering. Sure, come July or early August the grass would start to look a bit straw-like, and Dick Goddard would remind you at the end of the forecast that it’s probably a good time to get out the sprinkler, but if you had one of those in-ground systems, well, you, my friend, would be all set. Heck, Cleveland Heights even gave us a rebate on our water bill if we promised that we were watering our lawns in the summer, which drove up the usage. “Go ahead and water” seemed to be the message, “because we’ve got a whole Great Lake next us, so there’s plenty more where that came from.”

Well, I got my wish. If you have read this far, though, you know that the rest of this post is going to be one of those ‘be careful what you wish for’ tales, so if you live in one of those hip, transit-oriented developments or think lawn is a four-letter word, you might want to just go read Daily Kos or, if you want something useful out of your blog perusal, try Unclutterer.

We do not have a big yard here in Pleasanton. The entire lot is 7400 sf, and about half of that is grass. As California developments go, however, it’s fairly large. That’s because we live at the end of a cul-de-sac, and have a wide, wedge-shaped lot. We have a decent amount of privacy, and enough room for our daughter to play and for the dog to run around.

The yard came with an in-ground sprinkler system. Two zones in the front cover the grass and shrubs, and four in the back cover two halves of the grass plus two sets of shrub zones. When we moved in the geek part of me thought this was the greatest thing in the world. The previous owners put in a new controller that lets you water any hour of the day or night, for however long you want, and then every 2 or more days, if that’s what you need. And, one trip down the irrigation aisle at Lowe’s with its wide variety of sprayers, shrub heads, valves, and other assorted accessories is all it takes to get your creative homeowner juices flowing.

Well, what turned out to be the coolest thing when we moved in is slowly becoming the bane of my existence. To date I have replaced 4 of the pop-up sprinklers that were broken in some way, dug up and re-piped one of the 3/4″ supply lines to one of the impulse sprinklers I snapped off in a fit of frustration, and tomorrow I need to replace a diaphragm on one of the valves, which has started leaking all the time as opposed to the small pinhole squirt it had a few weeks ago. It does this even when I shut off the valve to the entire system, which is really starting to concern me. Two of the remaining impulse heads are somewhat broken because the don’t retract all the way into the ground, and due to overgrown shrubs, don’t water all of the parts of the grass they were designed to cover. I suspect they are filled with tree roots, like the one I accidentally ripped out of the ground a few weeks ago because it was installed in a physically impossible orientation next to a birch tree that decided it would tap into the free water with its root system. (just how do you screw in/out an 18-inch tall sprinkler in a space surrounded by 1/2″ thick tree roots?)

Maintaining the system isn’t too tough as the sprinklers just screw into the holes in the ground and PVC pipe is pretty easy to cut and connect with cement, but I keep thinking that there’s got to be a better system. Any repair involves careful digging so you don’t break any of the surrounding lines, and new sprinklers seem to have a high failure rate. I’ve had to return at least half of the new ones I bought because they don’t pop up or otherwise leak out the top.

When all is said and done, it’s probably a good thing we have it because given how dry it’s been this year everything would be dead by now. I’m also not interested in dragging out a hose every couple of days, so the convenience factor can’t be ignored, but the hassle doesn’t seem to justify the results. Of course, I haven’t yet found a way to run the controller from the computer yet, but once I do, I may forget all of the hassles I’ve had up to this point.

Are we there yet?

23 07 2008

This is our last day in Cupertino, and my last internet access until Friday, assuming one of my new neighbors still hasn’t figured out how to set the password on their wireless router. We bought a home in Pleasanton, about 45 minutes away from Cupertino.

I knew very little about the East Bay until about three months ago. About five years ago I visited my friend Rob in Walnut Creek and then Antioch, and it seemed ridiculously far away at the time. I guess Antioch still qualifies as ridiculously far away, but now that I work in San Francisco it doesn’t seem so bad. We’ll be pretty close to the Dublin/Pleasanton BART, which means more scootering and hopefully less stress getting to and from work.

Why Pleasanton? Lots of reasons: closer to work, excellent schools, and prices have fallen to just moderately expensive as opposed to “are you out of your freakin’ mind???” We also like the downtown area and the more-open, small-town feeling we realized we were missing here in the south bay. Our new home doesn’t have the 12,000 square-foot lot we had in Cleveland Heights (thank goodness) but we do have enough space that we won’t feel like we’re trying to not bother our neighbors all the time. Another nice feature: we haven’t even moved in yet and have already met all but one of our neighbors in the cul-de-sac. In the year we’ve been here I think we’ve only met our immediate neighbor, and even then we only have a passing hello now and then.

We can’t complain too much about Cupertino. The couple who owns our place are very nice, and were were happy with Julia’s school. But for all the talk about Cupertino schools, I’m not convinced they’re worth bidding over $1 million on an ordinary suburban home to get into. Maybe we haven’t been here long enough to see what other California public schools are like by comparison, but the so-called best of California doesn’t seem to be dramatically better than the best in the Cleveland area.

I really hope we can stay here at least until Julia graduates. The whole Pleasanton Unified district appears to be in good shape, from kindergarten through 12th, so I think that’s a good possibility. Here’s hoping the economy holds up well enough that both Sandy and I can continue to work here.

Welcome to California…

23 07 2008

Let me say up front that this is not an anti-immigration/anti-Hispanic, or anti-whatever post. I hope it won’t turn into the first of a ‘moving is hell’ saga, either.

Today I got another reminder that eight years of German in high school and college only prepared me for the occasional side trip to the German parts of Switzerland when I visit my in-laws and not living in California in 2008. Learning Spanish may be a good idea.

We are moving tomorrow and we decided to do all of the packing ourselves except for the kitchen. (This turned out to be a surprisingly good idea, as it gave us a chance to clean out the junk we couldn’t get rid of in Ohio.) Today, the moving company sent two men out to do the packing, but we didn’t need everything to be packed. LIke what, you might ask? Things like manuals for the appliances, the microwave oven that came with the house, information about the new locks we installed on the back door, and oh yes, my security badge! So, I put them aside with pieces of paper that said ‘don’t pack’ written in fluorescent green marker. Sure enough, everything got packed into a box because they didn’t read the instructions. And some things were left unpacked for no good reason.

So, unpacking and setting up the new kitchen is now first priority Thursday afternoon. What is Spanish for ‘Don’t pack this, please’?

Is the election over?

25 02 2008

For whatever reason, I never got around to writing about the Feb. 5th primary. I guess I’ve had enough time to cool off, so I can write about it a bit more even-handedly than if I wrote this on election night. I had to get up at 5:15 a.m., which I think entitles me to $100 right there.

Things went fairly well until about 4pm. Setup was fine, and we processed voters without much difficulty, though we had more provisional voters than I expected. Fortunately we had enough clerks that someone could take them over to another table to fill out the envelope so other voters could just vote.

About 4 p.m. I realized we had been going through the Democratic ballots at a pretty rapid pace, so I called up the county hotline and said ‘send us 50 more ballots.’ About an hour later they arrived, but they were photocopies of a sample ballot, so we couldn’t give anyone the tear-off receipt. We used up the main pile of English/Spanish, then went through the Vietnamese, Tagalog and Chinese, and then started on the photocopied versions. It then took us about 8 voters later to notice that they sent us the wrong ballots! Someone said ‘where’s the Cupertino city council race?’ and I saw that instead we were sent a ballot for the Democrats, state issues and East San Jose Union schools.

After another phone call we were then told, ‘okay, use your non-partisan ballots and then tell people to write in who they want for the Democratic nominee’, which we all thought was nuts, but that’s the order we got.

Finally, the field inspector came around 6:30 p.m. or so and brought more of the right photocopied ballots, and said, ‘hmph, if you called me first I would have told you to use the e-voting machine, since that gives you an infinite supply of ballots!’

Gaahhhh! Well, yes, that makes sense now, but a week earlier we were told that we really don’t want to let people use them — unless they insisted. So, which is it?

If it had been a closer election I think I would have been more upset about what happened, but that doesn’t change the fact that there has to be a better way to do this. Maybe the general election will go smoother, since each polling place will only need one kind of ballot instead of the 28 different ballots we needed for this primary.

All complaining aside, however, I will say that I worked with an excellent crew of volunteers who had all been election officers before, and that their experience certainly made it much easier for me to do my job as precinct inspector. I think I will do it again in June and November; it remains to be seen whether I can spare the time when the election comes.