8.30.2008

Molokini Magic

We are in Maui on our first official "family vacation" since having Alex, and everything is going fabulously. Today Nick and I went diving (Alex stayed with a delightful French nanny from the Nanny Connection). I was really really nervous the entire day before, since this is my first dive in three years, and my first dive below 20 feet. Luckily, 20 feet deep in Monterey Bay -- where I'd done all my diving thus far -- is actually (as far as I can tell) harder than 80 feet in Maui. The descent and ascent are definitely more challenging because of the additional pressure on your ears. But with 100 feet of visibility, it's hard to feel too claustrophobic or fearful, and our guide, Matt from Prodiver Maui, was completely attentive and helped me feel very confident and secure that everything would be fine. And despite having practiced clearing my mask (where you open your mask underwater to flush out water that's seeped in) ad nauseum the day before while we were snorkeling, I didn't have any problems down below and really didn't have to touch it. I'd been incredibly stressed out that I might have to do that at 60 feet (the lowest I planned to go on the dive) so I wanted to make sure I could do it. But the boat guys made sure my mask had defogger and was fitting properly, and nothing happened to disrupt the seal during the dive, so thankfully I didn't have to test my mask-clearing skills at depth. 

What was amazing was how before I knew it I was down at 80 feet, enjoying the scenery, breathing comfortably, and being really, really, really proud of myself for not letting fear get the best of me. First thing in the morning, when I'd woken up, I was considering canceling the dive out of total paranoia. As we were driving to Kihei in the Maui morning darkness, "Spirit in the Sky" came on the radio and I honestly thought it was sign that something was going to go horribly wrong on the dive. I knew that was a crazy thought, but that's what partaking in adventure sports will do to an overthinker. Luckily, every other song on the radio was harmless -- that helped me chill. It also helped that I knew I was prepared, having reviewed my dive book meticulously the day before. I was diving with one of the best outfits in Maui. I had spent a few days in the water snorkeling, getting familiar with my gear again and just orienting myself. And really, who lets fear keep them from doing cool stuff? Not me! 

(For the record, I wasn't crazy enough not to notice that "Spirit in the Sky" is a really cool song with awesomely simple-sounding composition and production. And it's by a guy named Norman Greenbaum. Good for Norman Greenbaum for not changing that name. And according to Wikipedia, he lives in Petaluma! Wikipedia sure is handy.)

The resort where we're staying, the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas, is a very family-friendly place -- there are children everywhere, so we haven't once felt like Alex was bothering anyone's quiet, contemplative moment. We did have the typical arrival snafu, when they tried to stick us in basically the worst room in the resort and then were largely impervious to any requests for legitimate customer service (more on that later -- Expedia is to blame as much as Westin and they'll both be hearing from us). But it's great having two rooms plus a kitchen and balcony (and washer/dryer!), and Alex loves the kiddie pool. Plus, the beach is steps away, with gentle, warm water and fantastic snorkeling. We've having a pretty great time.

Plus, did I mention I went scuba diving to 80 feet?

8.24.2008

More Work Time Fun

In case you don't already read my other blog, the latest entry (first in four months...sad!) chronicles a recent prank we pulled starring downtown SF's hippest new lunch joint, Chef Dennis Leary's The Sentinel.

8.10.2008

Field Trips for Grown-Ups: Starbucks!

It's part three in the series! (here are links to part 1: Pixar! and part 2: Google!)

Now, going to get coffee with your coworkers doesn't traditionally qualify as a field trip. Usually, this is just something you do to pass the morning or break up the afternoon. We have a little crew that goes pretty religiously every day around 10 or 10:15 am. The baristas know us by name, and if one of us is going to be late or get coffee elsewhere, we usually text our core crew members so they don't wait around. It's a fun morning ritual.

The reason this counts as a Field Trip for Grown-Ups is that we switched things up a little last week. On Friday, we decided to use an extra Starbucks trip as a coping mechanism for a late-afternoon meeting (I'm never very awake on Friday afternoons to begin with, and even less so if I have to be mentally present at a meeting). The best part? We had these coupons for free coffee that one of our designers had printed out. The coupon specifically mentioned that you had to print it, and we followed the directions, so we each had our own piece of paper (woe to the trees). It did occur to me, right as we were leaving, that I should bring my wallet. The coupon's offer--a completely free drink, no purchase necessary or strings attached--seemed a little too good to be true. But everyone said not to worry. They'd studied the fine print, and we were in the clear!

We all excitedly trotted off down the block, our treasured pieces of paper fluttering in the wind. Mo almost lost hers when it blew away, but she braved oncoming traffic to save it. Our rather large posse reminded me of a bunch third-graders waiting in line to get on the bus, clutching their precious permission slips that granted them one day of freedom away from the classroom. We were laughing and happy as we discussed what drinks we were going to get. Drinks we never normally considered ordering because real possibilities. A Frappucino with whipped cream? One of the fancy new Vivanno concoctions? Lemonade? A Green Tea Latte? Iced or Hot? Regular...or decaf? (It was, after all, our second trip that day to Starbucks.) The menu was our oyster. Our future was an open book, bright and promising.

It only took a second for the baristas to crush our childish notions.

"That coupon's fraudulent," one of them said compassionately. "We got an email about it from management."

Suddenly, everyone was aghast. The mood change was palpable -- you could feel the sad shock rippling through our group. Mo looked at me and said I'd been right to be suspicious. I was mad that I hadn't brought my wallet. We debated staying or leaving, but ultimately decided to get the drinks anyway. I was going to need another caffeine shot to help me cope with not just the meeting but the disappointment. We got to the register and ordered our drinks. I was looking to one of my coworkers to see if I could borrow money when the barista told me not to worry about it.

"It's on us," he said.

"Really?" I responded. "But... why?"

"You guys are such loyal customers, and you were all so excited when you got here," he said, sounding like he really, genuinely cared. "We didn't want you to leave disappointed."

Starbucks may be a chain, but I can't say that my local branch downtown doesn't have a heart. And thanks to that second cup -- I'd gone with a simple iced coffee, since they were comping us -- the meeting didn't seem so bad after all.