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Monday, July 22 2019

Dear Journal,

Good morning, and happy Monday! I just stepped outside to let the dogs out and was struck by how wonderful the weather is. It appears we’re finally getting a break from the bleak, muggy, locker room weather we’ve been having. I just glanced at the forecast and it’s not even supposed to get into the 80s today. So there you go, even Madison gets a little slice of Southern California once in a while.

You would think that living on the lake would kind of mellow out the weather, but I don’t think it’s a large enough body of water to make an impact. Sometimes when we go to the biergarten and sit right next to the shore, we can feel the wind cooled by the water, but for the most part you wouldn’t even know it’s there. Except for the bugs. Hoards of mosquitos. Big juicy dragon flies. Strange looking beetles. And plenty of other evil-looking, stinging, bitey, camouflaged bugs that thrive in the lakeside ecosystem.

Every summer here, a different kind of bug seems to make a comeback. My first year in Madison was the year of the tick. Before moving to Wisconsin, I had seen two ticks in my life. But we’d regularly have to shake them off of ourselves after going for walks on the nature path behind Healthgrades. I found one crawling around on my desk once.

This year is probably the year of the ant. And ants aren’t so bad, are they? Our house isn’t infested or anything. I just a few hear and there scouting out our counters for crumbs. And you can squash them and scoop them up in one swift motion of our index finger, like picking up a loose poppy seed. That must be a terrible way to die, but hey - you shouldn’t have been poking around my kitchen.

The other night, Marissa and I were sitting in the backyard and we saw this bright orange beetle dive bombing into our porch light. It was even bigger than a junebug - at first glance I honestly thought it was a bird.

Enough talk of bugs - we have a Monday to get psyched for. As of 8AM today, my on-call shift is over. Usually I like celebrate by going for a long walk around the square with my phone silenced, just to relish in the delight of not needing to be available for a page. Pages are rare, but there’s still a fair bit of anxiety associated with staying within cell signal and always having your phone and laptop at the ready. And even though I’m a techie, I’m not one of these people that always have their phone on them. Did you know I like to leave it behind sometimes? On Saturdays I like to just leave it in my closet while I go about the day. It’s easier to get work done without the interruptions, and makes for better napping too. Plus, I’ve noticed that half the time my phone wants something, it’s not a person. It’s usually my bank emailing me something I already know, or an app whining about how I don’t use it enough. Or a damn dirty telemarketer. How bizarre that we get so much communication from sources that aren’t even real people!

Today is sprint planning for the interns. We’re beginning week #2, and it’s going to be a doozy. So all hands on deck for this one. But we got this - it’s a beautiful day outside, and when I get home, I can shut my stupid phone off, crack open a cold beer, and sit outside to enjoy a few special hours of summer air that doesn’t feel like a gym locker room.

Have a happy Monday everyone. Today, leave your phone somewhere and go for a walk without it.


Sunday, July 21 2019

Dear Journal,

Yesterday, I happily wrote about The Lion King, braised chuck roast, and nazi zombies, but I totally forgot to mention something significant that happened. Not that I have an actual responsibility to cover all current events, but it made for a pretty odd day. Friday morning, I jumped on the bust pretty much like any other day, but I started to notice that traffic was really bad. We usually reach the square around 8:25 AM, but it was 8:30AM and still crawling along. I also noticed that my phone didn’t have any service, which annoyed me at first because I had no way to pass the time.

I saw several firetrucks and police cars whiz by, so I gathered some kind of accident had happened. We made it as far as Ingersoll Rd before the driver pulled over and told us that East Wash was completely blocked off and that something pretty big had happened.

A stept off the bus and continued walking to the square on foot. I got a few more blocks before I noticed big billowing black smoke ahead. I walked closer and noticed a small gathering of people, firetrucks, cops, and high two cranes spraying water down on the MG&E plant. I got as close as I was allowed and snapped some pictures on my phone. I saw bright orange flames leap up through the smoke.

Finally, a slack message came through. I checked my phone and read that our office had been evacuated because of a power outage. I talked to a teammate later that day, and he said he heard the explosion and that it sounded like somebody had dropped a bowling ball on the floor.

A cop directing traffic said that a substation at MG&E had exploded. Nobody was hurt, but it caused a pretty bad power outage, as MG&E is Madison’s main gas & electric company.

I walked home, since traffic was pretty much at a stand-still and the bus lines were in total disarray. My family was pretty surprised to see me in the kitchen making french toast. It was a hot morning and I had just walked a mile and a half - we all deal with traumatic experiences differently, don’t we?

So that’s what happened Friday. I’m no Anderson Cooper, but it would be weird if I didn’t mention it right? I haven’t read up on the details, I think they’re still figuring things out. I recently found out that there was a second explosion, and they’re not sure if it was related or not. I’ll keep an eye on the news and let you all know if new developments come out.

Let’s switch gears a bit. Happy Sunday! In a few moments, I’ll wake up Rodney and Marissa to begin the timeless morning scramble to early church. Normally we’re 11AM people, but in the summer they consolidate the 9AM and 11AM services to a single 10AM. So things get a little hectic on Sunday morning. After church, I might try to organize something. Marissa got some momentum on the basement yesterday, and it’s starting to rub off. I don’t want to miss out on all the cleaning fun. Hope you all have a wonderful Sunday yourselves. Clean something, then take a nap to reward your efforts.


Saturday, July 20 2019

Dear Journal,

Happy Saturday! Yesterday, Marissa, Rodney, and I saw the new Lion King movie, and I’m pleased to report it was pretty good. As I’ve covered before, I’m not especially invested in Disney movies, so the real test is what Marissa and Rodney thought of it - and they loved it. I don’t know - I guess I was expecting them to mess with the movie a bit more. They threw in a few new jokes (the Beauty and the Beast reference was hilarious and totally unexpected), but it was clear that Disney knew how important this movie was to people and didn’t take any risks with it.

When we got home, Rodney immediately fell asleep as the popcorn coma was starting to set in, and we had a pretty low key evening. Marissa painted, I caught up on chores, then we reconvened at 11 to play Nazi Zombies. For the uninitiated, Nazi Zombies is a mini game in the Call of Duty where you and a buddy cooperatively fight off hoards of Nazi Zombies. There’s a bit of strategy involved in defending the windows of the house and gaining points to spend on a random weapon dispenser. But the game has become a real staple in our married home life. We talk about the day, plan things, and reflect on life - all over the dulcet sounds of gunfire and gnashing zombie teeth.

This morning, we just got done eating breakfast. We had some scrambled eggs on toast. Later this morning after I shower, I’m going to take Rodney to the market and pick up stuff to make paposa. It’s essentially chuck roast rubbed in garlic and pepper corns and braised in red wine all day. Really, it takes all day to make, so if I get it on the stove around 12:30, that’s actually cutting it pretty close. The upside is your house smells like - well - chuck roast braised in red wine all day.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Relax, unwind, and cook something that you would only have time for on a hot, lazy Saturday like today.


Friday, July 19 2019

Dear Journal,

We made it to Friday! It’s been a pretty crazy week filled with ticket duty, working with interns, cooking, video editing, chores, journaling, and over-sleeping, but we’ve finally arrived at Friday and are at the precipice of a long, relaxing weekend. Tonight, Marissa, Rodney, and I are going to see the new lion king. Not going to lie to you, our collective expectations are low. Marissa, being the biggest lion king fan between the three of us, is worried her expectations are not going to be met, especially hearing about the CGI, and all the changes they made to the set list and the lyrics, etc. Me and Rodney’s expectations are a little lower - as long as we see at least a few lions and get to eat a big bucket of popcorn, we’ll have a good time.

I feel like I’m one of the few children that doesn’t have a special emotional connection to the Lion King. I swear to you, I don’t think I sat down and watched the movie beginning to end until I was in my twenties. Don’t get me wrong - I knew all about it. I used to play the video game on the SEGA genesis, but I hated it. The game was sadistically difficult. Even the first level where you play as a young Simba, rolling and frolicking around pride rock, dodging beetles and trying to climb rocks, was way too difficult. Maybe watching baby simba fall off a ledge and die, or step on a beatle one too many times and die, or (if you’re lucky) just get mauled to death by the hyena at the very end of the level has left be desensitized.

But nonetheless, I’m along for the ride tonight. I’m less upset about this specific remake as I am about all of them in general. Think about it. It seems like Disney is really on track to literally re release a CGI version of every movie they have ever made. Sure, they’re starting with the easy ones first. The Lion King. Aladdin. The little mermaid. Those tales are chock full of empowering messages. But I’m waiting for them to finally get around to vamping something like Sleeping Beauty. How do you get young girls excited about a beautiful young princess that sleeps in a tube and waits for a magic kiss from a prince? How about when she gets conned into washing dishes for all those dwarfs in the woods? And then I think there’s a poisonous fruit in the mix somewhere?

I think I was trying to build up to something, but I might just be demonstrating how little I know about these Disney movies. I don’t think there are any dwarfs in sleeping beauty, are there? Man, if that’s the case, then what else happens in sleeping beauty?

If disney movies are your thing, then I hope for your sake that the Lion King remake is everything you hoped it would be. And if it’s not, then I hope you let ‘em have it.

I was talking to a friend who had a very interesting interpretation of this whole Disney movie remake stasis we’re trapped in. “Millenials are the me generation, so they’re only showing their kids things that THEY were into as kids.” That’s a very poignant observation, isn’t it? I had just assumed producers were lazy, or they didn’t want to pass up on an established franchise only to stick their neck out for one that nobody’s ever heard of. But maybe we’re the problem.

What’s your favorite movie? How would you feel about a remake? Are some things better left in the past? Good questions to chew on this rainy Friday morning. Have a wonderful day, everyone. Watch out for beetles, hyenas, and falling rocks.


Thursday, July 18 2019

Dear Journal,

Mid day journal entry today! This morning I woke up at 8AM on the dot, which is normally when I’m outside waiting for the #15 bus. I didn’t know I still had the capacity to sleep through my alarm. My phone is set to play Solo Reprise at 6:30AM every weekday, and normally hearing Andre 3000 yell AYYYYYyyyy makes me immediately sit up. But not today - I got a solid eight hours of sleep and woke up feeling suspiciously well-rested.

I still managed to shower, feed the dogs, brew a pot of coffee for Marissa, and make the slightly later 8:19 bus. One of the nice things about living on an isthmus is that all the bus routes converge on the same skinny strip of land, so from 8:00 to 8:30 I have plenty of lines to choose from. But oversleeping just throws everything off for the rest of the day. You can still drink coffee, check your email, review your notes, write in your journal, and do everything else you’d normally do if you were on time, but the whole day is just off, isn’t it? It’s feels like I’m faking it.

Well whether I’m faking it or not, I’m still getting work done this morning. The interns and I are starting to work on some Hashicorp vault demonstrations. We’ve hit some road blocks, but all in all I think we’re making good progress, and we’ll have something neat to show off at the demo this Friday afternoon.

What else is going on - ah, the stuffed peppers turned out great! Sometimes a recipe is so good, it just finishes itself, or becomes impossible to mess up. The stuffing made from butter, shallots, and chopped mushrooms had a life of its own - oozing and imbuing deliciousness into whatever it touched. I popped them into the oven for about 30 minutes before we left for the concert, and the whole house smelled like the a French cottage. Brace for a hot take, but I think those French are really onto something. Shout out to French Cooking Academy for the solid instruction.

Today should be pretty low key. I’m going to finish my lunch, finish out the work day, then I’m taking the Rod man to Hy-Vee to pick up stuff to make spaghetti and meatballs. I’ve got some delicious red sauce hanging out in the back of my fridge, and this is the last day to use it before it falls into iffy territory.

If you’re out there, and you too accidentally got a full night’s sleep, let’s take advantage of the surplus of energy and attack the rest of the day - no matter how irregular it feels. Nobody else knows you slept in, do they?