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Tuesday, August 20 2019

Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! I had a pretty productive day yesterday. I only had a few meetings in the morning, so in the afternoon I made a list of things I had to do and went through them, one-by-one. It felt good to catch up on things, and when I got home, the momentum continued. Marissa and I sat down and synced up the calendar for the next few weeks. For one, I had the date for the reunion wrong. It turns out I have and extra week to work on things. And the upcoming weekends don’t look so bad.

After going over our calendar, I put some more work into the dining room computer, adding velcro ties to cables. If you have some cable issues of your own and you’re still living in the dark days of zip ties, duct tape, or just “wild style”, I couldn’t recommend these velcro wraps more. They hold just as tightly as tape, but come off really easily and they’re reusable.

After tidying up the computer, I got some well-earned Minecraft time in. I’m currently making a bridge from my little platform to the shore, building it right against the water. Still trying to keep things practical, and it’s working out. I think this may be one of my favorite spots I’ve ever picked. I’m way out on the ocean on this little island. Building on water always works out well because it’s easy to grow crops, and there are way less monsters to deal with.

For dinner (real dinner, not Minecraft), I made fried fish. I think I’ve really honed my batter recipe. The secret is to make it very watery. It’s tempting to stir in more flour and make it velvety and appetizing, but you have to stop a little sooner when it’s just a little thicker than cream. I also cut the fish into really small pieces - little strips that cooked in the oil in about forty seconds. It was a great batch, and I was happy with it.

Today will be more of the same. Still finishing up intern work. We’re writing a blog post about our project now, which involves compiling all the trial data, making diagrams, and lots of writing. So this week feels like a victory lap with lots of editing.

Hope you have a wonderful day today. Happy Tuesday, everyone.


Monday, August 19 2019

Dear Journal,

Good morning to everyone, and happy Monday! Marissa and I are heading into a long stint of busy weekends. The theme of this weekend was definitely “rest while you can”. We did as little as possible, taking every chance we could to sit on the couch as a family and keep a low profile. It was definitely relaxing, but the Sunday scaries were palpable, and not even just on Sunday.

We squeezed a lot of time out of this weekend to play Minecraft. It’s funny how Marissa and I are already exhibiting different approaches to wilderness survival. I’m sleeping on a bed in the middle of a random island and spending most of my time in my mine, where I’ve just kind of dropped things where they’re most practical and have opted to take care of the aesthetics later. Last night I wandered over to Marissa’s house, where it seems she’s going with the opposite approach. There’s a giant winding staircase that leads far into the sky to a platform. Sure, not as practical, but a hell of a view.

I also caught some time to clean up the plex server. I combed over my movie collection and fixed up some misnamed files. I couldn’t be more pleased with the new file server. On Friday, I spun everything down and added two more drives into the storage pool. To free up USB ports, I had to move the boot drive, and for the most part everything was perfectly in tact when it powered back up. Next time I get a chance, I’m going to set up both the router & file server to automatically reboot something like once a week at three in the morning. Even though a good system shouldn’t need frequent reboots, it’s a good way to ensure everything is correctly configured and self-healing, and that especially comes in handy with unexpected reboots, like power outages.

Also did a bit of cooking this week. I made carbonara last night, which was a luxurious pasta made with egg, grated cheese, and pancietta, but I made the fatal flaw of over-salting the pasta water. Combined with the salty pork, the whole thing just tasted like a sodium party. I packed up some for my lunch today, but I think my fingers are still swollen from yesterday’s portion, I may just be eating out for lunch today.

In my defense, there are way too many videos encouraging you to make pasta water “taste like the ocean”, but not nearly enough videos warning you about over-salting. Which is especially a problem if you use the pasta water in the sauce. Because this has happened a few times already, I need to find time come up with my own formula for a balanced salt-to-water ratio. Currently my process involves me adding salt incrementally to a big pot of water, stirring and awkwardly lapping it with a spoon to check for flavor. I haven’t tasted the ocean in a while, maybe my reference point is just a little out of date.

This week is the intern’s final week, so I have a lot of planning and coordinating to do to transition them out of the summer program. We’re also going to have them over at the end of the week for a pizza party. As a joke, I adapted the term “pizza party” at the beginning of the internship as kind of a vacuous promise for them getting their work done, so I thought it would be funny if I actually threw one for them at the end of the year. This Friday, we’re going to have them over and make a sfincione together.

I was also hit by the realization that I have less than two weeks to get everything together for my high school reunion. I have a few dangling email threads full of suggestions, but in the interest of time I may just have to start making some decisions. I’m sort of glad it snuck up on me, to be honest. It’s one of those commitments that’s been sort of looming over my head all summer and I’m partly relieved it’s already here. Plus, it shouldn’t be too difficult to plan. It’s just a pot-luck at my high school with a few dozen people.

In case you too have a busy week ahead, I hope you got some you time in this weekend. The hectic end of summer plans are converging right in front of us in a perfect storm, but look on the bright side. At least you don’t have to dread it any more - it’s already here, and by the end of the week, it will be half gone.

Have a wonderful week, everyone.


Saturday, August 17 2019

Dear Journal,

Yesterday was wonderful. I got to work at my usual time, had a few meetings, then caught a ride to the company picnic. It loosely followed a “county fair” theme, but in a very cool, laid back kind of way. Besides a few games to play and a giant slide, it was pretty much a time to drink beer, eat some food, and hang out. Among the selections was PBR, so it turns out I didn’t need to follow my rigorous, fool proof system for staying sober after all.

I had some good success with the carnival games! I rang the bell with the mallet, played some ring toss, and almost guessed the mystery beer down to the brewery and type. The drinking and standing around in the sun must have made me more upfront than usual. When the person running the beer guessing game asked me if I knew who the brewery was, I yelled out “because Capital Brewery SUCKS.” I don’t know if he worked for Capital Brewery, but it got a good laugh out of him. And it’s true, they do suck, so I stand by the exclamation.

We made our way back to the office and I caught my usual 4:30 bus home. Marissa was all packed up and ready to leave, so after a quick farewell she hit the road and Rodney and I started on our pizza. We had a good time. Rodney kept eating the cheese that we grated and set aside for the toppings, and he thought it was pretty funny and kept sneaking bites even after I “yelled” at him. We also used the dough trimmings to make some breadsticks - well, Rod took some creative liberty and mashed them into little patties. So they were like little biscuits, and they turned out pretty good, he might be on to something.

I put Rodney to bed, then worked a bit on the computer. I set up a wallpaper randomizer for the dining room computer, and as I was populating with images I got to just browsing old photos. It’s fun to look back and see everything that changed - especially how things were 2-3 years ago. It’s a bit of a nostalgia blind-spot for me. We were in the same house, and we had a kid, and for the most part did all the same things we do today, but the little things jump out at you - like the color of the walls, what you were eating, and how you had things organized.

It was a pretty quiet, lonely night without Marissa. It sucks spending the night apart from your spouse. We met up around 11:20 for a minecraft date, and that was a highlight. It was fun to get back into minecraft and use the downtime of waiting for the virtual sun to rise to just catch up with the built-in Minecraft chat.

I called it sometime around 1:00 AM and turned in for bed. The puppies were really bummed that they had to go to bed without their momma.

This morning, Rod is watching Spider-Man - the 2002 Toby Maguire movie. He’s really taken with it lately. And I don’t know what he sees in it - don’t get me wrong - it’s a great movie, but it’s just way more Toby Maguire and not really that much Spider-Man. And it’s a lot of Willem Dafoe. I find it so funny that Rodney is sitting on the couch with a toy in his lap, absent-mindedly watching Willem Dafoe perform a dramatic monologue in an old mansion.

After journal & coffee time, Rodney and I are going to walk to the grocery store, checking out the construction on Oak street along the way. Don’t tell Mom, but when she comes home we’re going to have prepared an Italian feast!

Hope you have a wonderful Saturday today. In the words of Willem Dafoe, “You are who you choose to be - NOW CHOOSE!”


Friday, August 16 2019

Dear Journal,

Good morning, and happy Friday everyone! Yesterday was quite the day. It was pretty much end-to-end meetings, the last of which being the staging DR exercise that the interns and I have been planning over the last month. It was pretty tense. We hit a few snags, but all-in-all, it was successful and pretty impressive. We grabbed a beer at the work happy hour gathering to celebrate and debrief before I jumped on the bus to head home.

After getting home, I was surprised to find that Rodney was still asleep. I was in no hurry, since we had decided to eat out somewhere and there was no need to make dinner. I climbed under a blanked on the couch, joined by Zig Zig. At first, we watched a few YouTube videos, but it quickly turned into a deep, solid thirty minute nap. Ziggy slept up by my head with her nose nestled in between my neck and the pillow. I felt like I was drifting through space - it was an excellent nap, and so rewarding after a busy day.

I woke up to Rodney yelling DADA at the top of the stairs. With great reluctance, I emerged from the most snug place in the universe so we can get on with our evening plans. We decided to walk to the new Ian’s pizza that sprang up in our neighborhood about 0.8 miles away. By evening, the cloudy sky had cooled the air, and mysteriously the mosquitoes weren’t out last night, making for a wonderful walk down the nature path to this exciting new pizza place. The location was a former factory, and it is being refitted into some kind of miniature indoor bistro. While waiting in line for our pizza, there was plenty of room for Rodney to run around.

We enjoyed our pizza and a couple of beers on a picnic table outside. The dogs didn’t get to eat anything, but they had their fill in attention. They were very popular with the bike path crowd, and Ollie and Ziggy basked in the brief popularity.

After we walked home, I put Rod to bed while Marissa mowed the lawn. I worked a bit on the Minecraft server. Marissa and I are going to try to play tonight while she is spending the night in Chicago, so it was important that I figured out the networking ahead of time. Once I got it to a working condition, I joined her in the dining room and we caught up on some YouTube videos. Last night’s playlist was the new Hot Ones interview featuring Stone Cold Steve Autstin. Steve Austin was a pleasure to listen to. Podcasters are very loquacious, and being a professional wrestler he had lots of interesting anecdotes about the industry. While “professional wrestling” is a form of staged, fabricated entertainment, you can go down a really interesting rabbit hole reading about the culture, the daily life, and close-nit bond that these wrestlers experience.

Today is nothing short of a victory lap for the week. We have a few meetings that lead up to lunch, then we’re heading over to the park for the company picnic, where free beer and food abounds for the weary worker. I am due back home at five, but as I’m taking the bus home I’m planning on rocking a mild, mid day buzz, then tapering off in the afternoon. You gotta be careful with those Wisconsin craft beers, though. The difference between two, three, and four beers is a whole order of magnitude. Now that I mention it, I might as well break down my system. If you want to enjoy a craft beer, but still be productive immediately afterwards, one beer is perfect. If you must, get a second, but do not finish it. The maximum beers you can enjoy productively is literally 1.9, so enjoy the second one if you’re having a good conversation, but whatever you do, do not finish it. For some reason, exactly two beers is enough to break the party barrier. Anything between two to three beers can be called “the Friday night zone”, as this should only be enjoyed on a weekly basis - perfect for unwinding after a tough week. But a fourth beer is usually asking for trouble. This should not be attempted unless you’re prepared to deal with the consequences, or you need to show somebody up on the dance floor at a wedding. May as well call four beers “the wedding zone”. To review, I intend to hang out in the Friday night zone through lunch. Again, this system only applied to craft beers, if you’re drinking a standard PBR or a lager, those tend to be a little more forgiving (and hydrating). Lastly, a good rule of thumb to follow is try to drink one pint of regular old water for every pint of beer you drink. Your stomach will thank you.

Hope you all have a fun, relaxing Friday night. Grab a drink, you’ve earned it.


Thursday, August 15 2019

Dear Journal,

Last night may have been the quickest I’ve ever fell asleep. Marissa and I turned in around 11:40, and I faded away very shortly after that. I didn’t even check my phone or chat for a few minutes. I was pretty exhausted from the full mid week day. Yesterday was a cooking heavy day. For dinner, I made a Caesar salad, which was surprisingly involved. I was following a recipe that instructed me to make the sauce from scratch, and - most curiously - grill the lettuce. I had some close calls with a few romaine leaves catching on fire and wilting into unappealing strands, but the moist hearts actually looked pretty good with a bit of char, and once mixed into the rest of the salad, it was easier to see what they were contributing. The recipe also had instructions of how to make your own croutons, but I punted on that front and just bought a bag of good ‘ol Hy-Vee brand. And I’m glad I did, otherwise me may have been eating dinner sometime around when I went to bed.

After cleaning up all the smoldering lettuce left over from dinner, we put Rod to bed. Marissa worked on some tasks for the upcoming bridal shower this weekend while I made a little batch of faux meat saucijzenbroodjes for a friend. I had some left over puff pastry, and running with a tip I got from my little sister I decided to bide my time by making some turnovers. I didn’t have any apples on hand, but bananas did fine. There’s very few things that don’t work in hot butter and sugar. The turnovers puffed up really nicely - if I had known how easy these were, I would have bought a whole extra sleeve of puff pastry and made a proper batch!

We wrapped up chores and kitchen shenanigans some time around 11:00. I had a beer and watched some youtube videos with Marissa on our fancy new dining room computer. The playlist included Anthony Fantano’s review of the new Bon Iver album as well as a special Editor Edition Dude Perfect, which honestly was so entertaining it left us speechless. Marissa and I used to watch Dude Perfect sort of ironically, but now the irony is lost and we just actually enjoy them, despite the fact that it’s pretty much targeted at 12 year old boys.

I see today as the final hurdle before getting to the weekend. I’m running a bit behind in ticket duty, so I’ll have to block off some time and catch up on support tickets & questions. I try not to finish the week with any loose threads. Tomorrow is our end of the week demo, retro, and company picnic, leaving today as pretty much the last day to get any real work done.

So let’s hit it hard today. Let’s squeeze as many work hours out of this uncharacteristically chilly Thursday as we can. A thorough Thursday makes for a fun Friday - alliteration intended. Hope you have a great day today.