binary girl: the secret blog



okay, that is enough brain injury for one lifetime

January 20th, 2015

This morning at 7, Katie woke up with the classic signs of a migraine: pain in the front of her head, light/sound sensitivity, and nausea. So, I gave her some motrin, put her in our darkened bedroom with a vomit bucket, and tried to get myself and Max ready for the day while Brandon walked the dogs and then helped me with her. She nearly immediately started vomiting, though, and I called the doctor’s office to ask them if there were any rescue meds for migraines when they asked me if she’d ever been diagnosed with them.

“No,” I said, “I’ve had them since I was young and she’s showing all the signs I’d expect. But… she did have this fall yesterday…”

They told me to try giving her some tylenol since an hour had passed, and to push fluids in case she was dehydrated, but she was conked out. By 11, though, Brandon told me that she was vomiting every 30 min and he decided to call our pediatrician. He took her in and at noon they decided that she needed to get to urgent care.

After it turned out that this urgent care didn’t have a cat scan machine for kids, they sent her to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. Result? Katie had a concussion from a fall that happened at around 3pm the day before, and she hadn’t shown signs at all until she woke the next day. (Before I tell you what happened, please enjoy this blog/lj post about the last time Katie decided to injure her brain, during which I believed briefly that my kid had died right in front of my eyes.)

So at Stafford Park in Redwood City, they have this thing that is essentially a fixed zipline. In order to get Katie or Max high enough to hold on, we have to almost put them on our shoulders, which we have done numerous times. Katie asked me to help her, and the first time I did, she yelled at me (Katie screams primarily via yelling) for holding on to her too long. Since she is kick-ass at monkey bars, I thought she knew what she was talking about, so I put her on, and pushed her one way (and she hit the end pretty hard, so her body sort of flew to the side, making it clear to me I needed to be less pushy). I then pushed her more softly the other way. Then I pushed her back the first way again, and she suddenly was face-down in the tanbark. She was PISSED AS HELL and also crying, because she was hurt and she told me that it was my fault she’d fallen because she’d told me to stop and I hadn’t. (This could very possibly be true, but I was behind her so if she did, I simply didn’t hear her.) So, I was holding her on the ground, she was crying and telling me she hates me, and I could see that the bridge of her nose was red, and I checked her mouth to make sure she wasn’t hurt and I even thought for a second that I should check her eyes but she was totally alert and unlike the way she was the last time she had a concussion.

We went home, and the kids hung out and played and Katie ate a great dinner (considering the fact that it was a fish dish that neither of the kids liked), and she hit the hot tub, and had a bath, and was totally normal except that I could see a little bruising on her nose and I was actually worried that Katie was going to end up with a couple of black eyes. She freaked out about that, a little, until I showed her how concealer worked and said that we could use it if we needed to. And then she went to sleep and slept all night.

So, the moral of this story is: your kid may not show signs of concussion for more than 15 hours after the injury, and that will make you feel like twice the jerkface parent because a) you were part of the reason they got hurt and then b) you jumped entirely to the wrong conclusion about why the heck they were crying and hurt.

(In other news, Max was again stellar in helping — gold star for Mr. Blondiepants. And Brandon got to take care of his most favorite patient, and go with her to two hospitals. The hardest that I had to deal with was the guilt, the guilt, helping her this morning while she was hurting, the guilt, and then trying to entertain her tonight when she wasn’t allowed screens, books, or much of any activity, to let her brain rest. Oh yeah, and the guilt.)

Also, while he’ll probably never read this, shout-out to my boss, who was trying to convince me constantly today to go to the hospital with her and B. (I declined because I wanted to be able to get out and get Max easily, and because I just started crying when I thought about how this was, ostensibly, my fault. Jewish+Catholic guilt, yo, it’s the stuff.)

one more fancy eye thing

January 19th, 2015

Everyone knows I’m seriously blind (my glasses are -12.25 diopters or so, my contacts -10.50). But now, I will be part of the small contingent of folk who get to wear contacts (to correct my high myopia) AND glasses (because now I see double!).

My dad told me he didn’t have prism lenses until he was in is 50s. I feel some weird sense of accomplishment having overtaken all of his eye weirdness (other than cataracts) before I hit 40. BAM!

The sad thing is that this has become a huge problem for me over a series of months (which feels pretty fast, actually). I liken it to trying to look at stuff while constantly being drunk (except for all the fun side-effects of drunkenness); I’ve been driving and typing with one eye closed to try to ease out of the constant nausea I’m getting. I hope, though, that the glasses mean that I don’t get so motion sick!

Yahoo acquires BrightRoll

January 19th, 2015

At Levi's stadium!

On Fri Yahoo gave us onesies and I just realized it is hooded. OMG.

That seems awfully official!

I'm imagining myself... as a bunny.

my opinion on Jamberry nails

January 10th, 2015

I’m not a nail blogger. I’m not even a nail art aficionado — I am just a nail polish enthusiast, with a collection of over 375 polishes (approximating from the spreadsheet I have). So, it’s natural that a lot of my friends who are not “into” nail polish have asked me my opinion on Jamberry nails.

Jamberry is essentially a MLM company where people/representatives sell sheets of nail wraps that use heat for application and can stay on upwards of a week or more. They cost around $15 a sheet (not including deals or special orders).

I have a number of sheets that either were given to me, or which I purchased myself. After repeated experiences, here are some reasons why I dislike Jamberry and would not purchase from them in the future (outside of a charity fundraiser or the like):

Most nail wraps that I’ve tried are either polish (OPI, Sally Hansen, Inoco) or stickers (Kiss). OPI no longer sells theirs, but in general, most of these sets run under $10 — around the same price as a high-end polish (I consider Chanel to be luxury, if that is helpful in understanding what I consider high-end). If Jamberry were somehow much easier to apply than normal nail strips, I wouldn’t find the $15 outlandish. (To be clear: you can typically get 2-3 applications out of any wraps, including Jamberry. A bottle of nail polish would net you at least 10 applications.)

To apply Jamberry, you do essentially what you would do with any other nail wrap: find the right size, cut it down slightly to fit your nail, stick it on, and smooth it out. Jamberry throws in one additional step: using a hairdryer to increase the pliability of the vinyl and “help” it adhere to your nail. (Protip: really, the second application of heat allows the wrap to relax again so you can try to get a better fit.) However, these are not EASY to apply by any means right out of the gate, and paired with the cost, this makes them a no-go for me. I’ve worn many sets of wraps and still, the second application of Jamberry for me was as terrible as if I’d never tried any wrap before: they are hard to line up with the cuticle when they are warm (because they’re soft and floppy), and filing them at the top for a clean edge also isn’t the easiest (read: I have yet to be able to do it, and the fact that I see YouTube videos out there for hacks to get them to apply better means I’m not the only one). Knowing that this application cost about $4-5 hurts, mentally.

However, to be fair: they do look good at a distance.

Now, in terms of wearability, I have never had an entire application last me a week. I’ve had certain nails last that long, for sure, but I’ve lost a complete nail within 1-2 days and I’ve also had them start to peel up around the edges in days, getting caught on hair and the like.

And can we get over the “no time to polish” bit? Seche Vite and other quick-dry topcoats mean that you can get your nails dry in 30s flat. I’ve been able to polish my nails with my kids bugging me well before the invent of no-dry applications.

Nail Damage
The other big selling point for these wraps is that they do not cause nail damage. I am here to tell you: my nails peel. And when I remove Jamberry, using heat (the way that you’re supposed to), they’ve caused peeling damage in the middle of my nail plate each and every time I’ve used them. Since I polish regularly, I fill this with a ridge-filler or another protein coat to protect as well as I can until it grows out, but it’s something to note.

Recently, I participated in a Jamberry party where the hostess told people that the “proper” way to remove them is with coconut oil, and that using the heat/peel method would damage your nails. Considering the fact that the Jamberry website and the back of the packages tout the heat or acetone methods, this is terrible and hacky.

I love that the internet is allowing my SAHM friends to find a source of income for themselves while allowing them to raise their children the way that they believe best. I think that is actually a reason TO like Jamberry — they’ve found another niche in this market (Scentsy and Partylite, anyone?), the women who sell with them strongly believe in the company, and they see real benefit from representing Jamberry. However, I dislike MLM in general, and the way that people tend to behave so much like… salespeople when repping. I dislike it even more when this behavior comes from people who I consider myself friendly with, because it becomes a relationship strain, in my opinion, when my friends start to look to me to help them supplement their income.

So, now when you ask me about Jamberry, I can just point you here, to explain my views on them. If you like them and they work for you, however, I’m thrilled — buy what you like!

My new desk lamp, courtesy of Brandon!

January 8th, 2015

My new desk lamp, courtesy of Brandon!

I’m a huge love of Tetris, and always have been. This was my Christmas present from Brandon — the pieces all separate and light up when they touch. It’s awesome!

work birthday shenanigans

January 8th, 2015

Best office ever!

This stuff is awesome.

We, without fail, get celebratory food items for people’s birthdays, but since mine was on the Friday of a five-day weekend (because of NYE), I didn’t expect that I would be covered! I was truly touched and surprised, even more so when one of the engineers on my team presented me with some delicious Polish vodka he got for me in Chicago when visiting his family. My BrightRoll family is really awesome. <3

And then this happened outside Slider Bar…

January 5th, 2015

And then this happened outside Slider Bar...

I met the vmware office mascot and he is FUZZY (and named Georgie).

An old Alison letter

January 5th, 2015

I really have no excuse other than "lack of ritalin".

Elyssa brought this to my birthday dinner and it was hilarious and awesome to see it — I really had no idea that the letters I wrote at that time (I was 14) were so fragmented, but I definitely still have an affinity for Rick Astley (and I have all of my old albums). I believe the “Chris” in question was Chris Mills, who I met through Sari when I was in middle school.

I probably wore out my exclamation point on that typewriter.

old photo catch-up

January 5th, 2015

Breakfast of champions.

Super strong!

Birthday shenanigans: expanding the portrait wall

The dogs do not trust the selfie stick.

Max selfie

Katie selfie

things no one asks you if you’re a male engineer, 1 of a series

December 30th, 2014

Since I joined BrightRoll, I’ve been hosting our bi-weekly all-hands engineering demos, where each of our five engineering teams presents their demos for the last sprint to the rest of the department plus anyone else in the company who is interested. (I was actually tasked with re-imagining them, since everyone involved hated how they were going… I think they’re in a really good place now, from the feedback I’ve gotten!) That means that each week I work with our A/V techs on setting up the presentation itself, the remote sharing, etc.

So, at the holiday party, one of the newer techs who I’ve been working with for a few months asks me: “Are you like, the [admin] of the Palo Alto office?”


My response: “No, I’m the [eng manager guy 1] or [eng manager guy 2] of Palo Alto.”

He looked stunned. But someone please explain to me the rationale behind thinking that an admin runs engineering demos?


December 29th, 2014

I don’t think we’ve had a really good staycation in a while, so this holiday break was definitely welcome. and unexpectedly wonderful. I appreciated the opportunity to not really have things planned out with the kids — even their TKD, swim, and gymnastics classes were canceled for the most part, so having unscheduled time with them was great.

Things we did included:

– Brandon and Katie took their TKD belt tests. They’re both yellow-white now, and Brandon was invited to the Black Belt Club (provided that his parents approve of this). Hee. Katie is actually doing much better in class now that Brandon is there with her, and he has an opportunity to work out himself with either a coach or another dad, so he’s not stuck to her side the whole time.
– Katie and I went to The Nutcracker with my mom, sister, and Riley. The Nutcracker itself was fun. The stuff that came afterwards is covered in a post that barely anyone can read because it’s locked down, yo.
– Random nighttime drives around to look at lights, with hot chocolate and cookies, in PJs. The first time, we came across a street dubbed Candy Cane Lane (Dewey St. in RWC) and we ended up going there purposefully a second time! (It’s a smaller version of the insanity that happens in San Carlos on Eucalyptus.)
– We went to Happy Hollow with Casey. The kids were totally amazing that day and it was a super fun time. :D The kids totally adore Casey, and I loved having time to catch up with her.
– We took the kids on the Niles Canyon holiday train, because our friends Carolyn and Peter were amazing enough to coordinate it so we could all sit together in a caboose! Both of them really enjoyed it, even though they were pretty maxed out by the end.
– Jordan, Elyssa, and Lexi came over; having a day with old friends is always wonderful.

Christmas itself was awesome. The kids were amazing about the presents they gave each other, and us, and the ones they received; it was a little more difficult when we went to my parents’ house later, because having all four cousins together made it a little more grabby-grabby (but not awfully so).

Overall, I think the best gift we gave each other was being together for the week; I got to learn more about their personalities and I finally settled into a more adept version of myself as a parent by the time that it ended. It’s hard sometimes to realize just how big they’ve gotten, because they still feel very little to me, and having time to “turn no into yes” and experience more of what makes them individuals is rewarding.

The world’s nicest mom said she’d color this.

December 29th, 2014

The world's nicest mom said she'd color this.

He REALLY likes what we got for Tyler.

December 29th, 2014

He REALLY likes what we got for Tyler.

Feeling too hot, literally. :(

December 29th, 2014

Feeling too hot, literally. :(

A day out!

December 29th, 2014

A day out!

Holiday party goodness!

December 19th, 2014

Holiday party goodness!


December 19th, 2014


Sweet as heck shirt that Tom got me because he’s rad!

December 19th, 2014

Sweet as heck shirt that Tom got me because he's rad!

Katie, without prompt, explained Hanukkah to Max and I tonight. <3

December 19th, 2014

Katie, without prompt, explained Hanukkah to Max and I tonight. <3

rain and drought

December 16th, 2014

We had a big storm last Thursday, and a bunch of cities around and including ours had severe flooding. I hadn’t realized just HOW LONG it has been since we had some good rain until Max asked me, as we drove, what the noise he was hearing was — the sound of rain on the car’s roof. He asked again when he heard it on his umbrella. In three of his four years, our winters have been dry enough that he honestly wasn’t used to the sound of rain hitting surfaces around him.

One of my favorite childhood memories is of California’s rainy winters, spent inside and warm. When Caroline and I were young, we would empty the floors of our closets and set up little hidey holes inside, with pillows and blankets, and hide in there reading and listening to the radio. I also used to spend much of my winter vacations sitting in front of the fireplace and Christmas tree, reading and lounging around. I look forward to Katie and Max being able to read themselves, so they can do the same (Katie is on the cusp!). It also motivates me to clear out some of the kid cruft in our house (like, hey, diaper table in Max’s room) so we have a warm reading nook. :)