Monday, July 15 2019
Last weekend was great. It was filled with good food, good family
time, and a lot of relaxation. Kalahari was a success, and I really
enjoyed grilling this weekend. Oh, and I even got some time to code
yesterday while Rodney took a nap.
I’m glad I got some good relaxation time in, because frankly this week
at work is going to be a crazy. Today, the summer interns are joining
our team, and I’m handing out work to them. I’m also on ticket duty
this week, which means I’ll be fielding questions in our team’s slack
channel during the day and on call in the evenings - which isn’t
terrible, it’s just a different kind of work. It’s also goals week,
which means I’m drafting up my professional goals for the last half of
the year and working to get them approved.
So there’s a lot going on. I was anticipating the craziness, and I’m
actually fine with it. I like having busy weeks like this every now
and then, because it just makes the weekend that much more awesome.
Plus, the momentum of a busy work week usually makes its way into
chores and side projects - as long as I’m hustling at work, I may as
well hustle at home.
Ugh. Here’s a free tip - never eat hot sauce before bed. Last night,
Marissa and I stayed up watching Hot Ones, and I got all excited
about hot sauce and decided to eat a big glob of “The Last Dab” on a
cracker. I woke up this morning feeling like there was a car battery
sitting in my stomach. You know what the scary thing is? I think
some hot sauces get even meaner as they continue to sit on the shelf.
I don’t remember that one being so feisty - especially after it makes
it to the stomach. Why do I do these things?
So where was I - ah, the busy work week. To sum up, bring it on.
I’ve got good music to listen to, good coffee to drink, and I just
rewrote my Emacs configs over the weekend for peak efficiency.
OK, let’s do this! Let’s have a productive week.
Sunday, July 14 2019
It’s been a wonderful weekend - so great that I’ve barely spent any
time on the computer. We all went to Kalahari water park on Saturday.
We were all pretty excited - even Rodney had been talking about
waterslides all week leading up to it. So expectations were high.
I started to get pumped for it myself. We’d be watching a toddler,
but maybe he would have so much fun that I’d get to do a few
Things started to get rough while we were checking in. Rodney wasn’t
a fan of the plastic bracelet he had to wear, and threw a modest,
miniature tantrum in the lobby. After regaining our composure and
heading through the locker rooms, reality continued to set in. I
think Rodney expected waterslides, but not a busy water park with kids
and parents running around. So he was a little weireded out, and
seemed hesitant to enjoy himself in front of everyone. Marissa and I
did our best to kind of ease him into it, which culminated into a
coerced ride on the lazy river. “Easy”, I thought - “we just kind of
force him onto a tube and by the time the leisurely current carries us
away, the child wonderment will take over and he’ll be cool with it.”
He was not cool with it. My kid is not really a shrieker - the kind
that can command a whole waterpark with just one scream - but he just
visibly looked anxious and upset, and every now and then he would
loudly announce “OK ALL DONE, OK ALL DONE, NO MORE PLEASE”. Honestly,
I’d rather be sitting in a tube with a screaming toddler that just
wasn’t having it. Somehow I felt even guiltier sitting with a
patient, but anxious toddler trying to diplomatically negotiate his
release from this weird punishment based on water and fear.
We dried off and decided to eat some lunch. We needed some quiet time
to regroup, and perhaps lower our expectations a bit. We found a
booth in the food court and opened the PB&J’s, pringles, sliced bell
peppers, and chocolate rice krispies I packed for us. I’m aware
you’re not supposed to bring your own food into Kalahari, but it’s a
matter of principal. I enjoy sticking it to these kinds of places in
that way, but it also helps that nobody who works there actually
cares. Plus, I probably looked like I was just waiting for a fight.
I wouldn’t have said something to me either.
So we’re in the food court nibbling on food. Rodney was enjoying the
quiet time away from the crowd, and Marissa and I were lowering our
expectations about how much fun we were going to squeeze out of these
fifty dollar tickets. “Maybe we just need to loosen up a bit,” I
said. “We should treat ourselves to a drink from the bar.” It
sounded like a good idea. Rodney wasn’t really digging the pool, and
people were walking around with these really big colorful alcoholic
slurpee things. We ordered two from the bartender while Rodney waited
patiently by a little fountain. “We’ll take two of those fruit
things,” I said. “The big one, right?” asked the bartender. “Ugh,
sure that’s fine.”
The bartender had our drinks ready in about four seconds. It looked
like a bucket of ice, a bunch of sugary syrup, and maybe a half shot
of cheap vodka. He turned to me and said “sixteen”, asking for my
card. I was relieved because the price for these silly drinks wasn’t
posted anywhere, and I could barely hear the guy and was honestly
expecting to pay ten bucks each. But eight bucks was just barely
He took my card and produced a receipt. The total was sixty
dollars. The drinks were thirty bucks each. We immediately flagged
the guy down and asked for a refund. He was reluctant, and really
tried to sell us on them. “You get to keep the cup”, he said.
Marissa put her foot down - “we don’t want these and we want our money
back. We didn’t know how expensive they were, sorry.” The bartender
went to the register to revert the charge. Marissa quickly grabbed
the drink and took several sips before they were confiscated.
At this point, we were feeling pretty defeated, and just decided to
wander a little further into the park. We found a basketball hoop and
a kiddie pool with about a foot of water. Rodney really likes
basketball, so he got pretty into it and started shooting hoops with
some other kids. Playing basketball got him excited about everything
else, and all of the sudden he wanted to run into a little water
jungle gym that had slides running out of it. He did a few slides,
gained his confidence, and eventually climbed to the very top of the
jungle gym. There were these really big slides coming out of the top.
Rodney started saying “waterslide pleese”, and I was really surprised
by that because we were about three floors up and the slides looked
pretty big. I wasn’t even sure if he was big enough.
We walked up to the lifeguard sitting at the top and I asked “is he
big enough to ride these”. The lifeguard nodded, then went back to
staring off into space. I guess we were good to go. I made a quick
plan with Marissa so she would meet me at the bottom. Rodney sat down
at the top of the slide, and I knelt down to prepare him for it. I
think I was more scared than he was, because half way into my
briefing, he lunged forward and flung himself into the tube. I felt a
mix of worry, pride, and amusement watching his little body spin,
bounce, and splash all the way to the bottom. Marissa’s mouth was
wide open when he hit the water - we were both in complete disbelief.
We went down every slide in the jungle gym. We even started to take
shifts so either Marissa or I could take a break and do a bigger
slide. My favorite was the screaming hyena. You stand in a tube,
and the floor drops, sending you into a completely vertical slide that
doesn’t even touch your body until halfway down. I talked Marissa
into trying it (without telling her what to expect of course), and
Rodney and I waited for her at the bottom.
So Kalahari was a success after all. Things were looking pretty
dismal, hitting a lowpoint when we were almost conned into spending
$60 on a slurpee. But the timeless magic of waterslides were there
all along, and not even my son could resist. Waterslides were also a
real lesson in letting go. I don’t think of myself as a helicopter
parent, which is why I didn’t expect to feel fear as my son was
climbing into a giant yellow water slide.
When we got home, Marissa and Rodney slept. I walked to the grocery
store and picked up steaks, potatoes, and corn on the cob. I slowly
roasted the potatoes on the grill, seared the steaks, then while
everything rested I blistered the corn. It was a good day.
Friday, July 12 2019
One of my favorite things to make is kibbeling, and I think I
perfected it last night. We all went to Hy-Vee after work to pick up
a few different types of fish. I bought about twenty bucks worth of
fish, first going for the off-cuts of cod and halibut, then padding
the rest with just shrimp. I think the people working behind the meat
counter appreciate getting rid of their off-cuts and leftovers -
they’re always sitting right on top and it must be nice to not have to
cut and weight it.
When we got home, I added two cups of milk, a half cup of Lemon La
Croix (I think that’s the secret weapon), a pinch of salt and pepper,
and two eggs to a bowl and mixed with a whisk. I then added the
flour. I forgot to measure how much flour went in. But it didn’t
feel too necessary, since you can just add it in small portions,
incorporate it, then decide for yourself if the batter is thick
enough. Personally, I like it thin and runny, even thinner than
pancake batter. I set aside the batter to rest in the fridge.
I rinsed and dried the fish, then cut it into small chunks (since they
tend to fry better). Marissa peeled the shrimp. I added all the fish
chunks and shrimp to a bowl and tossed it with a bit of salt and
pepper. I filled a dutch oven with about an inch and a half of peanut
oil and turned the burner on. While I was waiting for the heat to get
to 320-330F, I made the dipping sauce - which is so easy and
delicious. It’s just a bowl of mayo, the juice of one lemon, a bunch
of chopped dill, and two grated cloves of garlic. Seriously, we
didn’t need to even add any seasoning. I might just start throwing
this sauce on everything.
When the oil was hot enough, I started doing the fish chunks in
batches - dunking them in the batter and letting the excess fall off,
then slowly lowering them into oil. I panicked as the fish pieces
started sticking to the bottom of the pan, but then I remembered
that’s fine at first, and that when they’re done cooking they pretty
much float up to the top on their own. The other nice thing about
frying fish in small pieces is you can use a pair of chopsticks to
flip and maneuver them around the hot oil. After about two minutes, I
nudged each piece with the side of a chopstick, and if it floated to
the surface and gave off a flurry of tiny bubbles, I removed it from
the oil and moved it to a paper towel.
Another thing to look out for is keeping the oil hot enough. After
each wave of fish, the temperature will drop - which is fine, you just
have to wait a few seconds between batches to let it rise again. I
looked into it later, and it turns out that’s a basic technique of
frying food, but I’m kind of new to this and had to rediscover it for
After the last batch of fish went in, I rinsed a bowl of brussel
sprouts and added them to boiling water, which was seasoned with sea
salt and lemon juice. That’s a play I took from French Cooking
Academy’s blanched asparagus recipe, except it works even better on
brussel sprouts because you can pop them in your mouth as a taste test
while they boil.
Rodney, Marissa, and I sat around the table and munched on fish.
Rodney was laughing really hard at the dogs while they were circling
the table, and it felt good to laugh with him. After dinner we went
for a walk to check out the new construction machines parked on our
street to repave Oak street. It was a good day.
Thursday, July 11 2019
I really need to read more. I’ve been staring at my bookshelf for the
past few minutes, waiting for the coffee to kick in, and I got looking
at the books on my shelf. Most of the books are non-fiction. I have
a whole bunch of textbooks from school that I kept around, as well as
a handful of programming books. I’ve always had a hard time getting
into non-fiction, and I think that’s because I consider time spent on
a bad piece of fiction is time wasted. Text books, on the other hand,
are a little more forgiving. Even if the book is not great at
explaining things and you are having a hard time connecting to the
examples, I usually still benefit from just spending time trying to
learn something. I think sometime last year I tried to learn C. I
picked up this book from Barnes and Noble called “learn C in 30 days”.
You can do amazing things in C, and a lot of really smart people
demonstrate that. And after reading the book and working through the
examples, I wouldn’t claim to be an expert. But I think I learned
just enough C to decide that I don’t like it.
Learn C in 30 Days is leaning up against Peter Siebel’s Practical
Common Lisp. I think I only battled half way through the book before
it fell by the wayside. It was good, but the ironic thing is it just
wasn’t feeling very practical. I stopped trying to write Lisp because
it was too hard to find examples of Lisp that were actually
accomplishing something other than teaching someone how to write lisp.
All that to say is I feel like I need a new book. Speaking of books,
my sister told me yesterday that my mom has had her Amazon account
since 1998, and you can still look all the way back in the purchase
history to see what books we were buying (you know, back when Amazon
just sold books). One of my first purchases from Amazon through my
mom’s account was a book called The Mars Diaries. It was a book
series about this kid who was raised on a human Mars colony and, when
he was a baby, had surgery that would allow him to control robots.
There were five of them in the series, I think, and I read them all.
You know for someone who hates fiction, I really miss the feeling of
getting swept up into that story.
I also have a few comic books on the bottom shelf. In college, I
tried to really get into them. I had a few when I was really little,
and I guess I was trying to use that as my foot-in-the-door to get
into a new hobby later in life. I bought those on Amazon. A few
years ago, I tried perusing the comic book store near our house. I
attempted to talk shop with the guy and throw around my knowledge of
how they had recently completely rebooted the Spider-Man storyline by
allowing mephisto to reset the timeline and send an older, married
Peter Parker back to high school to a time where he never met Mary
Jane, but the classic smug comic book store guy (who honestly could
have been right out of a Simpson’s episode) quickly sniffed me out as
an imposter and informed me my information was at least a decade old,
and Miles Morales was Spider-Man now.
Well I’m out of time. I got to get to work. Let’s have a great
Wednesday, July 10 2019
Yesterday was very productive. I think I finally got the catch-up day
that I needed. In the morning I beefed up the first few weeks of
planned work for the summer interns, then I made an agenda for our
first meeting. I went for a quick trot around the square and picked
up some food from a food cart. It was a new one that I have never
tried - a food card called “braisen hussies” or something like that.
I brought the braised pork rice bowl back to my desk. It was pretty
good, the black beans and rice were really tasty, and it even had
little bits of pork rinds sprinkled throughout. While I ate my lunch,
I watched some recipe videos to plan dinner and pick something to make
for Wednesday’s concert on the square.
At first, I was thinking about making Babish’s Chicken Quesadillas. I
made them once before, and although they were a little involved, they
turned out pretty good. But half way through the watching the video
again, it was starting to look like a poor choice for Tuesday night.
It’s a solid recipe, but cutting and marinating chicken, frying the
chicken, dicing and sauteeing vegetables, assembling the quesadillas,
and then finally frying the quesadillas sounded like too much work for
a weekday, especially since I had another meal to cook afterwards. In
the end, I decided to just toss some cod fillets in breadcrumbs and
fry them for dinner. For concert on the square, I had a fun idea to
make vegetarian crunchwrap supremes. They have this meatless chorizo
made from soy that looks (and tastes) a lot like ground beef, and
getting vegetarian refried beans is just a matter of finding a can
without lard listed in the ingredients. I set out all the
ingredients, including the meatless chorizo which I jazzed up with
some taco seasoning and olive oil, and Marissa formed them into little
tortilla polygons while I made some guac.
After carefully setting the tower of crunchwrap supremes in the
fridge, we settled in on the couch to knock out another episode of
Stranger Things. We watched the second to last episode, and as
expected, there were some more odd choices in the plot line that had
us really scratching our heads. I’ll also add that there are some
serious pacing issues - for being the second to last episode in the
season, things got really slow all of the sudden.
Today, I’m working from home. This will be my last work-from-home
Wednesday in a while, so I’ll be sure to savor this one and get a lot
of work done. Marissa has agility class this morning, so it’s just me
and the Rod man hanging out. After she gets back, we’re going to walk
to Glass Nickel for lunch and a beer. Usually after lunch on
Wednesdays, Marissa and Rodney take a nap on the couch and I finish
the workday while playing a movie in the background. Today, I’m
feeling Mad Max: Fury Road. Seriously, that’s a movie that I feel
like watching any time, any day. At some point in the afternoon
before we leave for concert on the square, I have to fry those little
tortilla polygons in butter. And maybe eat one. As - you know -
quality assurance. What kind of lunatic would bring food to share
without tasting it first?
So that’s Wednesday. I can’t believe the week is already half over.
Here’s to a fast week and a slow weekend. OK team, let’s have a