December 22, 2008

Snow Report

Posted in life at 5:23 pm by Michael

Road Skiing

Road Skiing

 

This is a ski report for today, December 22, 2008, for Queen Anne at 4th and Garfield. This report was prepared at 9:00am.

Base: 18 inches
Temperature: 30F

New Snow in past 24 Hours: 8 inches
Surface: Powder, packed powder, both car and foot groomed.
Run of the Day: Garfield from 4th, Connecting to 5th, Connecting to Galer

Be mindful of pedestrian, stroller and car traffic.

All runs are reached only by hiking.

Oh yes, we are trapped without a car but we skied Queen Anne today. Peri, John and I all hiked our stuff up to the top, and skied down.

Given all of the sled traffic, it was very nicely groomed.

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December 19, 2008

Pearls of Wisdom

Posted in humor, work at 7:36 am by Michael

The Thinker Puzzles Over The Pearls of Wisdom

The Thinker Puzzles Over The Pearls of Wisdom

There was a manager at Microsoft who over the years many of my friends and I worked with and for.

He had a certain way with words.

His collected sayings were known as “The Pearls of Wisdom”.

Malapropisms? Blindingly obvious? Wise?

You decide.

“I am the champion of perceived performance.”

“We should be like Junkyard dogs on this one.”

“You should underpromise, but don’t under-underpromise.”

“Don’t be #2.”

“It’s clear that we need to be clear.”

“This is the dark part of the tunnel. The light is always getting closer. But it’s still dark.”

“The people in this room are the glue and the grease.”

“It’s a full round trip.” (As opposed to a partial roundtrip.)

“He’s an infinite distance from getting promoted.”

“You’ve got to let the pendulum swing up.”

Thoughts?

December 18, 2008

Snow Day

Posted in life at 2:13 pm by Michael

Seattle, December 18, 2008

Seattle, December 18, 2008

Seattle Truism

When snow is forecast, there will be no snow.

When snow is not forecast, there will be snow.

Tuesday night into yesterday we were forecast to get some pretty significant snow. It’s been unseasonably cold here – not getting above freezing – since Sunday. That’s about 10-15 deg F colder than usual, with lows even getting into the teens. That’s pretty unheard of here.

I left for Boston on Sunday night on the JetBlue redeye. (I wasn’t feeling great about leaving, given the break-in we had Friday night.) I was supposed to be there through Wednesday night.

By Monday afternoon, all of the Seattle weather forecasters were warning of the worst, and not wanting to get stuck in Boston for a long time, I changed my flight to come back Tuesday night. Getting back, it was cold – 26 F, which is very chilly for this time of year here.

On Tuesday night, the forecasters were still saying that it was going to snow in downtown Seattle all day Wednesday. On the way from the airport, I went to the store to “stock up”, and got Samwich his all-important yogurt shakes and milk.

I awoke on Wednesday to absolutely no snow, and about a 10 F increase in temp. About 20 miles to the north, and 20 to the south, there was snow. But, due to the direction of the wind and the storm, we were being “Snow Shadowed” by the Olympic mountains, and there was absolutely no snow whatsoever.

Even so, the forecasters were still calling for it to start “Any Time Now!”. Most all of the local schools in the Puget Sound closed, without a snow flake in sight.

I went into work, and it was pretty light – both because of the time of year, and also because many people had stayed home.

Up to the north and south, there was 6-12 inches of snow, and that’s paralyzing around here. But, in Seattle – nothing.

There was a forecast of some “Snow Showers” in the area, but nothing significant.

Off to bed.

At about 530am, we were woken up to a loud clap of thunder. There was another… I looked outside, and it had really started to snow.

There was maybe an inch.

The forecast was calling for it to taper off by 9-10am at the latest.

As I write this at 2pm, it just slowed down, and there is one more big slug of snow coming shortly.

Needless to say, it was a snow day. There is really no driving on our street when it gets like this. Anh, Samwich and I took a break and went out for Samwich’s first sledding adventure… He loved it.

So many ‘softies were home that our remote mail servers were slammed, and not accessible for most of the morning….

We’ll see what tomorrow brings. No more snow is forecast.

HA!

They Found Me!

Posted in Identification, life at 1:40 pm by Michael

sleuth

It’s not like I’m hiding, but, WPI (My alma mater) found me.

About a month ago, the alumni mail from them started being addressed to “Ms. Megan Wallent”. I hadn’t told them of my name change (or other changes), but I was super curious how this happened.

The mysteries of life.

Then, I get the following email yesterday.

From: Steffanie C.
Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 2008 10:40 AM
To: Megan Wallent
Subject: Court Documentation..
 
 Hello Megan,
 
Hope things are well with you and your family!
 
Would it be possible to send me a copy from the courts in your name change. We would like to have a copy for your folder here at WPI.
 
Thank you…
 
Steffanie C.
Biographical Records Assistant
Development Operations and Research
WPI
100 Institute Road
Worcester, MA 01609

Holy moly! How did they figure it out….

I replied:

From: Megan Wallent
Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 2008 9:46 AM
To: ‘Steffanie C.’
Subject: RE: Court Documentation..

Hi Steffanie –
Sure… here it is.

I’m curious though – how did you folks find out about my name change? I noticed that my mail from WPI changed about three months ago.

– Megan

This morning, the answer came through:

From:  Steffanie C.
Sent: Thursday, December 18, 2008 5:31 AM
To: Megan Wallent
Subject: RE: Court Documentation..

Dear Megan,
 
We contacted you because WPI has a Northern California alumni chapter that we are trying to increase in membership.  That chapter has alumni who are employed at Microsoft.  Our department was reviewing alumni with interesting top level titles to reconnect them with WPI.
 
Your title as General Manager at Microsoft inspired us to find out more about you as we do with any alum who has an interesting career. When we Googled your name combined with Microsoft, we found a webpage about your transgender. Since we found this information about your new name, we needed to verify it. This is why we contacted you as well as inviting you to contact Sara F, Associate Director of Alumni Relations in our Alumni Relations Department. She will be your best source for upcoming alumni events in your area. We hope that you are interested in learning more about new developments at WPI and the exciting initiatives led by President Berkey.
 
Regards,
 
Steffanie

Gold star for WPI on the sleuthing! I wonder how much of an “Alumni Gift” they are looking for!

December 15, 2008

Violated

Posted in life at 7:49 pm by Michael

Friday night was classic Seattle in the winter. It was rainy, the wind was blowing, and it’s dark by about 4:15pm. On the weekends that we have the big kids, Anh goes over to Sammamish to pick them up from school when they get out at about 3:30pm. We usually just meet at home (she gets home w/the kids well before me), even though she drives right past Microsoft on her way. I’m usually still working.

Last Friday though, my meetings were over at 4, so I checked traffic (isn’t the Internet wonderful?), and it was *horrible*. Like a two hour plus commute home horrible. I called Anh just after 4pm to see if she wanted to stop at Microsoft and pick me up and we’d carpool home. No such luck, she had just passed the exit, and blammo, had hit traffic. The problem with SR 520 (one of the main roads from Redmond to Seattle) is that once you past the last Microsoft exit, the next opportunity to get off is well into the traffic zone, so you are generally stuck. Anh was stuck.

Our first plan was for her to still try to turn around and come back to get me. An hour later, and a mile further, this was clearly a bad plan. New plan – meet in Bellevue – get dinner – wait out the traffic – then go home.

We ended up converging on the Bellevue Square Mall at about 530pm, and found a place to eat. (Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse – they are nice, accommodated the three kids very nicely, and even created a “kids cup” for Samwich out of a disposable paper soup cup with lid, with a hole punched in the top for a straw. Very inventive. One of the ways we now distract Samwich during dinner (he’s 21 months old today!) is with a Zune (The 30GB version ). I’ve loaded a bunch of movies for him on there (Cars, Bug’s Life, Winnie the Pooh, Elmo, etc) – and even though he doesn’t want to wear headphones/earbuds, and it just watching it w/o sound, he’s more than content. It makes dinner out bearable. Maybe we are bad parents, but, it works, and it keeps us and our fellow diners sane. Said Zune is also very useful on airplanes. I’m sure iPods are great too. I work at Microsoft. 🙂 )

Anyway, we had dinner, did a little Christmas shopping, and ventured home at about 8pm.  John was with me, Peri and Samwich with Anh. Traffic had abated.

We got home at about 830pm, I parked in the driveway, Anh on the street (one car in the driveway at a time – and Anh prefers the street as the driveway is steep and narrow). I got some stuff out of the back of my car, John started up the stairs with a load of stuff, and I went over to get some more stuff out of Anh’s car. Peri and Anh started up, with Anh carrying Samwich.

As I got to the base of the stairs, I heard Anh yell,

“Megan, we’ve been robbed.”

“Huh?”, I yelled?

“We’ve been robbed.”

“Call 911, don’t touch anything.”

I could hear Anh calling…..

I went upstairs, and went through the front door. In our TV room, the TV was disconnected, lying on the couch. The Xbox and two old (and broken) laptops were in Anh’s backpack (which was upstairs in her closet). In the family room, underneath the TV, there was a pillowcase from upstairs that had been filled with presents under the Christmas tree.

Upstairs, both of our nightstand drawers were on the bed, their contents emptied. The master bathroom drawers had been opened (Looking for drugs? If they wanted some estrogen, they were in LUCK!)

Our master closet had been tossed as well.

In the upstairs den, there were wrapped presents that had been half opened, looking for valuable stuff. (If they were into Cars like Samwich, they were IN LUCK!)

As we looked around, it looked like lots of stuff had been taken apart, but there wasn’t a lot missing.

John said that went he went up the stairs that the front door was open.

There were no other doors/windows that were obviously forced or broken.

Dammit. We have an alarm – a good one – monitored, redundant. We hadn’t turned it on. We had become complacent. Because we had not had any past problems, we assumed it was safe. Classic error – assuming that what happened in the past would continue to be the future.

As we did more investigation, looking for what was missing, it was clear that the answer was “Not Much”. In fact, the only things that we found were missing were our small Zune (8gb), and about $5 worth of Chinese Yuan that were in my nightstand drawer.

Robber #1 (unaware of the exchange rate): “Dude, I scored a big forty of Yu-annnnn.”
Robber #2 (more wordly): “Yo, that’s like, $5 at this exchange rate.”

About 20 minutes later, the police showed up. The patrol officer was super nice. He looked for prints, and found none. At one point he commented how he was surprised that he didn’t find prints given how clean that the stuff was. Clearly, our visitors wore gloves.

He got our info, gave us a report number, and he was off.

Our house was still a mess.

It was almost 10pm

While the officer was there, we put Samwich to bed – at least he was unaware of what was going on.

Peri and John were a little more upset. They felt violated, and so did we.

I started thinking about what could have scared them off. There were delivery boxes in the front. Was it that? Did UPS save us? That didn’t make sense. The boxes were still outside, but the front door was open. Why would that scare them?

Finally, it occurred to me.

We scared them off. From our living room, you have a clear view of the street and driveway. There were clearly at least two of them. When we arrived, someone was in the living room, and someone else was either upstairs, or taking apart the TV for removal.

They saw us, and they clearly left in a hurry – they didn’t even bother to take the backpacks that they had packed.

They saw me pull into the driveway, and were off– probably out the front door, and then jumped over a rail, and out the back through some bushes.

As I was cleaning up, it was gnawing at me. How did this happen? How do I stop it? How do I protect my family?

About an hour later, Peri and John were tired, and they went to bed, with a little more reassuring than usual.

Anh and I were up for a while more – straightening, cleaning, making right.

People were in my house.

Strangers.

They went through my stuff.

They stole from us. They were going to steal more.

What would have happened if they hadn’t got out in time – what would have happened if John and Peri met them at the door?

Anh was tired at about 1230 and went to bed. I stayed up for a little longer, then went to bed, but I didn’t sleep. I think I got probably an hour’s sleep that whole night.

The next morning we all got up (well, Samwich got up, and we all followed).

After breakfast, I went to Home Depot to get all manner of door reinforcing devices.

I spent all day installing the new devices.

Hammering, chiseling, drilling, screwing, cathartic.

At one point John said:

“A house should be your castle, but not your fortress.”

How does he come up with this stuff?

Hammering, chiseling, drilling, screwing, hmmm…..

That night, it started to snow. It started to really feel like Christmas.

Snowy Seattle

Snowy Seattle

 

Snowy Tree

Snowy Tree

Snow relaxes me.

However, I didn’t sleep much better Saturday night. Turns out that we had forgotten our security code for the security system. After about an hour earlier in the day of going through all of the combinations that we normally use, we had determined that we had totally forgotten.

The only way to reset a master code is to totally reset/hard boot the security panel. There was no way to do that w/o having a tech come out, and that was days, not hours away.

More than anything I wanted the reassurance of the alarm – not for our stuff, but for my family. I would do anything for them.

I had decided that the quickest way to fix the panel was to “brute force” the code. That means sequentially going through each and every code (in order), till the right code was found.

I spent a couple more hours Saturday night doing the brute force method.

Four numbers in the code….

Number, number, number, number

“Beep beep beep! Invalid Code”

Number, number, number, number

“Beep beep beep! Invalid Code”

Number, number, number, number

“Beep beep beep! Invalid Code”

Anh said, “Megan, it’s no use. Come to bed.”

I tried for a while more.

I climbed into bed weary from the day, but unable to sleep.

I think I got about four hours of sleep that night.

The next morning we woke up to a snowy and impassible Sunday morning. I know it sounds lame, and it hurts my New England genes when I say it, but when we get an inch or two of snow, the hills (like our road) are just impassible.

I made the kids chocolate chip pancakes (specialty of the house), and they were quickly devoured. Samwich was especially happy, and ended up mooching more off of his sister’s plate.

After breakfast, I started in surreptitiously trying to brute force the code again.

Number, number, number, number

“Beep beep beep! Invalid Code”

Number, number, number, number

“Beep beep beep! Invalid Code”

Number, number, number, number

“System Active”

WHAT!

I tried again.

Number, number, number, number

“System Active”

NO WAY!

“Anh, I got it!, I got it!”

“No WAY!”

“Yes!”

I tried to activate, deactivate the system, and it worked!

Wow, isn’t technology great?

With a newfound sense of relief and renewal, we all got ready to go for a walk to go play in the snow.

The kids got bundled up, ready for the snow and the cold. They all went outside, and I was the last one out.

Security – Alarm – Away – Activate.

“Beep Beep Beep. System Armed.”

That was the first time that we were all out of the house since Friday night.

As I walked down the stairs I felt better but worse. I’d now done all I could do to protect my house, my family.

It felt like cold medicine though – treating the symptom but not the cause.

It was all I could do.

December 7, 2008

One Year Post FFS

Posted in surgery, transgender at 9:02 pm by Michael

Enough with all that emotional stuff, what’s going on with my face? This post is probably of limited interest to most, but I figured I’d post it anyway, as a record of my process.

Today is the one year anniversary of coming back from SFO, back to Seattle. Today is better. 🙂

Here’s the compare/contrast – before, last year, today.

November 29, 2007

November 29, 2007

 

December 8, 2007

December 8, 2007

December 7, 2008

December 7, 2008

 

December 7, 2008

December 7, 2008

December 7, 2008

December 7, 2008

Ok, I admit it. I look a lot different.
The Issues.

I was most concerned with having any sort of nerve damage/sensation loss. A year later, its relatively minimal, and in line with what Dr. O predicted. Right underneath my nose (the flat spot that’s parallel to the floor when you are standing up – I’m sure there is a name for it, but it escapes me) is still totally numb. That numbness goes a bit up to the point of my nose, but not “around the corner”. It’s still cold sensitive – we’ll see how skiing this winter is. I have a bit of surface numbness on the top part of my upper lip, but it’s not bad.

On the very top of my right ear there is a little bit of numbness at the top – the right one is totally fine.

The top of my head, roughly the size of my fist, going back from my hairline is still numb on the top. I notice this most when we are walking/running and branches rub the top of my head. It just feels odd.

That’s it.

Generally, everything came out even. Skin isn’t clay or metal, and there’s bound to be little imperfections. There are three little unevenesses. On my hairline, the actual hairline itself isn’t quite even. It dips down in one direction a bit, but I think I’m the only one to ever notice.

Hairline, December 7, 2008

Hairline, December 7, 2008

Secondly, when I scrunch (technical term) my nose up, one of my nostrils is a little lower than the other one. This is not noticeable w/o scrunching. I have airbrushed out my nose-inside for the faint of heart, and also made this super small by default. Click for a bigger image (IF YOU DARE!)

Nose uneven-ness

Nose uneven-ness

Lastly, there’s sometimes a little tiny divot that appears along one side of my jaw, lust past my chin. Its a little bit noticeable in the profile shot for the right, but only when I smile. (Which is hopefully more and more!)

Unrelated to the actual FFS part, but definitely important has been facial hair removal. It’s still a work in progress. I have done two laser treatments in the past year (last December and January) to deal with the black hairs, and I’ve been having electrolysis on average 3x a month for about an hour. Honestly, my schedule hasn’t really allowed for much more. The progress here has been *slow*. Luckily, most of the black hairs are gone, with a few cropping up occasionally (Pluck!). My upper lip and lower lip are now hair-free enough so that I don’t have to shave those areas. Around my chin is 80% done, but my neck is still white hair central. I have to shave every day, and I’m still a little self conscious about it.

The Fair

My nose… hmm… it works. It’s different. Instead of being convex when viewed from the side, it’s now a little convex. Was it a big difference, hard to tell.

The chin and jaw – its so hard to say, but the shape is different. I think my face is rounder now, and that’s all about the jaw.

My Adam’s apple is way less prominent, although not gone. I appreciate the fact that the scar for it, right under my chin has basically disappeared. Not having the scar on my lower neck makes it significantly less noticeable.

The Good

I love not having ears that stick out. I *always* hated them, and now they are safely back and locked.

The combo of the hairline modification plus the hormones has left my hair in a good state. It’s thicker, and growing out nicely. I actually like wearing it back now.

My brow ridge is totally gone. Whoosh. It was relatively prominent before, but it’s not any more! I think this trait is an interesting one – it’s true that the majority of Caucasian women do not have one – however we were watching “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew (Season 2)” (Yes, Anh and I can be addicted to trashy reality TV) and one of the patients – “Amber Smith” who is/was a model (with a serious narcotics addiction) has a very prominent brow ridge. You would not think she was ever a man in any way.

The Reaction

The most biased first. I went to see my mom last month when I was in Boston, and she said – “Ok, let me take a good close look at your face.” After inspecting it, she said “Huh, I don’t see any masculine features in your face at all.” I think that’s a little pushing it, but hey, she said it!
At work the other day I was having a lunch meeting w/my friend Val and another co-worker, and she was sitting next to me. After the meeting she remarked how totally gone my brow ridge is.

In terms of how the FFS contributes to passing, I think it was pretty important for me – but other stuff was needed too. The bigger issues were making progress on the hair removal, since my hair was so dark and my skin is pretty light (contrast!), and also having my hair grow out. I’ve noticed that passing has a lot to do with what I’m wearing too. With a heavy coat on, I’m more frequently “Sirred” – but without, it’s become infrequent.

In the end, I think that FFS (in combination with moderate dress – see previous post on “Passing”) has helped me to just go about my daily life, and to not stick out (as much).

Am I happy that I had it? Yes. Was it absolutely necessary? Probably not. But, I transitioned post FFS so I don’t have a reference point.

December 5, 2008

Passing

Posted in transgender at 8:34 pm by Michael

It’s not a four letter word.

I thought that it wouldn’t be a big deal. It actually kind of is.

Fitting in turns out to be even more important, and probably the most critical element to passing. What do I mean by fitting in?

The next time you are in a public place – look around. Look for the person – man, woman, doesn’t matter – who is the outlier. In Miami Beach, look for the dude w/the rad chest hair, and the shirt unbuttoned down to his navel. At Microsoft on campus, being overdressed is the exception. Jeans is the official uniform of your average ‘Softie. Even wearing shorts in January won’t get you noticed. In Washington, DC, not being dressed in business clothes (professional suit) will get you noticed.

Over the past year, I’ve learned (slowly) how to dress to not get noticed, no matter the circumstance. I try hard to not stand out with my clothes. Hey, being 6-2 gets me noticed anyway, so the last thing I need is a big frigging beacon over my head.

Now, just a few words on being remembered. One thing that Anh and I have noticed is that the “Mean-time-to-being-remembered” is now 1.5 visits to a given place. (It used to be much higher than that.) At least half the time on our second visit to a restaurant, the staff remembers me and greets us warmly. It’s a good thing we tip well.

Anyway, trying to dress appropriately, and even a little modestly has helped make my transition a smoother one. People have even commented on that. Basically: “If you showed up with tons of makeup, a dress, stockings and high heels this would have been harder.”

What’s the line between being true to yourself and fitting in? Can you do both?

I think you can, and I think that we all do it, all the time.

Every circumstance has its own dress code. Sure, you can go outside the lines, or even push them. I know and have met perfectly well adjusted people who dress well outside of those lines. I’m not suggesting it’s not ok.

What I’m suggesting is that if you are going through a gender transition, attemping to do that, and also not carefully considering the social norms of appearance for your newly presenting gender may just create more challenges that could otherwise be avoided.

Admission

Posted in life at 11:15 am by Michael

I love flying. I got my pilot’s license back in 2000, and had flown nearly 1000 hours between then and the fall of last year.

Things got super busy, then I had the facial discombobulation surgery, and it was spring. Still no flying.

I had to get a new FAA medical exam, and I did that. Then my license lapsed because I had to do my biennial flight review.

I have to make an appointment with the local FAA office (FSDO in pilot speak) to change my name – in person.

I haven’t done it.

I think about it.

I think about how lame it is that I didn’t do it.

Honestly, part of what’s holding me back is that I don’t want to deal with calling my flight instructor and “explaining”. Jack is super cool, and I’m sure it would be fine, but I’m weary of explaining.

I don’t want to walk into the FBO (plane parking place), and then have to explain to them too….

This is SUPER LAME. I need to just deal and go do it.

Yes, I still have challenges.

So Much to Learn

Posted in coworkers, work at 11:05 am by Michael

Every company has their own meeting protocol.

‘Softies are late – usually about 5 minutes. I try, really try, to not be late. Since my job is all about meetings, and I’m back to back from 9-5 every day, I tend to be a little late.

I have a regular meeting on Wednesdays (when I’m in Redmond) with folks who I’ve worked with for a long time (more than in just this job). One of the people in that meeting tends to high-five people when they come in, especially late. (Which um, would be, me).

I came in, and gave Besty the requisite “Yeah, I’m a loser, I’m late” high-five.

She recoiled, grabbed her hand.

“Ow Megan! That’s not how us girls give high fives. Try again!”

Three or four iterations later, I got the “Girl High Five” down. Not too firm, not a lot of follow through, light recoil.

Satisfied, Betsy let me take my seat, high-five dunce hat firmly in place.

The next week, I walked in, early. I didn’t want to get tested.

Betsy was sitting there, Cheshire-cat grin firmly in place, right hand up to receive the high-five action.

“Very good! You learned!”

Whew.

From My Playlist

Posted in humor at 10:56 am by Michael

Love this lyric:

I saw two shooting stars last night

I wished on them

But they were only satellites

Is it wrong to wish on space hardware?

          Billy Bragg