IMR: 2000: January: 30 — Sunday, 10:10 p.m.
Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i

[ Katie and Alyssa. ]Katie turned two on Wednesday, and we celebrated the occasion yesterday at Chuck E. Cheese's in Aina Haina.

Incredibly, wonderfully, nearly everyone we invited came. Both sides of the family... uncles, aunties and grandmas, a first since our reception in April 1998. Grandma Henderson came despite her well-known disdain for going out. Dad came despite having almost literally just stepped off a plane from Washington D.C.

Of course, mom, Jen, even Todd and I worked doubletime to keep all hell from breaking loose. It was crowded and warm and noisy and the pizzas were late.

[ Katie, future Skee-Ball champ. ]But really, that's a toddler's birthday party for you, and as far as they go, ours was a heap of fun. It was for the kids, after all, and they were happy. Katie, her friends Selena and Alyssa from upstairs, and cousins Kayla and Trevor (his mom and new sister were home sick).

Tina remarked that it was great that Katie had three great-grandmas there to celebrate with her. I hadn't quite thought of it that way, but when I did, and when I looked around at the little people, I got a little dizzy.

It's hard to get used to the fact that you're no longer a kid, no longer the "new generation." Now you're just a link in a very, very long chain.

Eventually everyone was fed, mom whipped out her home-made trivia game for the grown-ups, and the kids did their song and dance and ran off to burn through their tokens. Everyone soon went home with a handshake or hug, Katie exhausted but clearly pumped up seeing what a fuss was made in her honor.

Yes, we survived with smiles on our faces. But we won't be doing anything quite that ambitious again in the near future.

Figuring it was at least preferrable to the "Murder She Wrote" marathon on A&E, we went with the flow and watched the Superbowl at mom's today.

It's more than a little obvious that I'm not a sports person. But I knew enough to be disappointed that my Jacksonville Jaguars didn't make it. (They are my team, too, and don't let my wacky wife try and tell you otherwise.) I also knew no one ever thought it'd be the Titans or the Rams in Atlanta today, and to me, that made it interesting.

To be honest, the commercials have always been the main attraction for me. Overall, this year's bunch wasn't as good as years past (dotcoms are sucking away all the magic!), but there were some gems. The EDS cat herders, the Mountain Dew cougar-chase, the return of the Pets.Com sock puppet, and the E*Trade dancing monkey ("Well, we just wasted $2 million...") were my faves.

Jen was right, too... the "Christopher Reeve walks" spot was a little creepy.

I also caught the presumed first airing of the McDonald's commercial I worked as an extra in only a few weeks ago. Once again, I'm not visible at all, but the experience (and the check I got a couple of days ago) was more than enough reward.

Of course, we also watched the big game. For no good reason (mostly because of their helmet design), I decided to root for the Rams, and mom and Jen took the Titans. Then mom decided the Titans' quarterback looked wimpy, and switched to the Rams.

The game started off slow and messy, but the last quarter made up for everything. When the Titans came from behind and tied the game, Jen even started to gloat. But of course, I'm never wrong when it comes to things I know nothing about, so despite a most heart-stopping last push by Tennessee, the Rams went home with the gaudy rings.

And the Jags are going all the way next year, you just watch. Phooey on Jen and her Marino-free Dolphins!

They're almost done building the Death Cookie.

Death Cookie. That's what Nate called the traffic anomaly the city started building up the street last October. Most people call it a "roundabout," but Death Cookie has a much better ring to it. (No pun intended.)

Jen and I have become big fans of the Death Cookie. Mostly because it's fun to say "Death Cookie," but also because now, when we're feeling whimsical, we take a pointless spin around it before pulling into our garage.

The Death Cookie is turning out to be much smaller than I though it was going to be, despite all the noise and the volume of road they had to dig up to build it. I'm now wondering how effective it will ultimately be in slowing speeders if it's ends up no harder to navigate around than an upturned shopping cart.

I'm also wondering if the city is going to invest in public service announcements entitled, "How to Drive the Death Cookie." (Or Roundabout, whatever.) Because despite the four one way signs and four yield signs and gallons of paint used to put down lines and arrows, people still seem to be having trouble with the concept. At least a handful of boneheads make a mess of things every week.

This is a town, after all, where a little fall of rain throws drivers into a tizzy. In a sub-tropical climate! It's not like rain is a big surprise.

It's a four-way yield, everyone. If there's no one coming 'round, just keep rolling.

One day left in January. Then it's February.

That means it's almost March. And that's how close we are to the mother of all conferences.

Work. That's all that's been consuming my life for the last few weeks, and it's only going to get more intense as the days count down.

Hunting down photos and bios to rush onto the website. Designing a custom database to track more than a hundred speakers. Producing a down-to-the-wire newsletter. Rushing full-color, full-page ads to Time, Fortune and Asiaweek. Meeting with vendors and potential sponsors, trying to figure out what can be done with fewer than 50 days left until the opening gavel.

So much more. And my coworkers' task lists are even longer.

Work! I leave for work before the sun comes up and get home well after it goes down. Last Friday, I went back to work after dinner and toiled 'til midnight, and I have no doubt it'll happen again many times between now and March 17. I think about work constantly, in the shower, in class, even — frighteningly — in my dreams.

I can barely wrap my brain around big this meeting is, how important it could be. For our organization, sure, but moreso for our office, and for this oft-dismissed state when it comes to "serious business." I'm thrilled beyond words to be involved, but more and more I wonder how I'll ever survive it.

"I just want to warn you," I said to Jen a few days ago, "With everything coming down to the wire, I'm going to be a serious pain in the ass to be around."

Her reply: "What do you mean, 'going to be'?"

What a dear.

Seriously, though... even at this point, I think I just might be harder to live with than she was in her second trimester. That's no small order of patience and tolerance.

The chaos does have its charm.

I've collected a box of business cards from cool people at Sony, Oracle, Hewlett-Packard and the like. Just the other day, in one afternoon I met Japanese "pop violinist" Ikko Kawai and Earl Bakken, inventor of the pacemaker.

And this week, I was given 48 hours to master relational databases from scratch, and ended up enjoying it so much, I've been building several with twisted queries and fancy forms and reports for fun.

Heck, if I lose this job, I just might go into the convention planning business. (Or rather, the term du jour, "destination management.")

And there's nothing quite like that moment when the fax or call comes in telling us another great speaker has confirmed. The chairman of Lockheed Martin. Or Honda. The U.S. ambassadors to Japan and China. So many other awesome names... We have yet to receive official word from Clinton, but at this point, it's already a top-notch program.

Oh yeah.

The sick thing is, I recently realized I'm going to put myself through this all over again to organize JournalCon 2000.

Sure, we're talking a much smaller scale. But on the other hand, it's only me and three other people planning it... and we're doing it all out of love. Love for a community that sometimes tries very hard to be unlovable.

October 6-8, 2000. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Yes, it's going to happen, even if it kills me.

(Jen's convinced it will.)

© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 30 January 2000 · Last Modified: 1 February 2000