Friday, November 22 2019

staycations, bars, toothless santas, and mixtapes

Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! I'd like to congratulate you on making it to Friday. We've got a nice chilly weekend coming up, and as for me, I have the week off yesterday, so I'm feeling especially relaxed. I'm looking forward to it. The last time I took an extended amount of time off work was probably when my wife and I went to Vancouver. So some R&R is long overdue.

Next week is really more of a staycation. We're going to eventually head up to Minnesota to spend Thanksgiving with Marissa's family, but in the days leading up to it, we plan on just hanging around the house. I have a practice turkey to cook, and it would be nice to catch up on some half-finished IT projects that have been festering in our home network. But worst case scenario, I don't end up with as much time as I thought I would, and the half built computer case and sprawling mess of cables will just have to wait until Christmas.

This weekend, Grandpa Wilke is also visiting. He'll get in late Saturday night. He doesn't know it yet, but that's around the time I hope to have our practice turkey finished, so needless to say if he's still hungry after rolling off of the plan at night, he'll have an entire smoked turkey to pick at.

Sip. I've got my Thanksgiving week staycation on the brain, but yesterday was a pretty good day in its own rite. My team wanted to set aside some whiteboarding time to think through something we're building, and my boss suggested we do it over lunch. We went to Cooper's, but it was too busy to find a table, so we had to sit at the bar. As we huddled into the crowded bar stools, beers in hand, we let loose with the teasing. "Oh yeah," I remarked scanning the room. "We're definitely going to get a lot done in here. This is the perfect place to design software." I teased. And so our software planning turned into just a regular lunch, which was fine too. We still had the afternoon to throw some time at it.

After work, I took the bus home, and soon Marissa, Rodney, and I were back in the car to run some errands. We needed to swing by Home Depot to pick up some turkey smoking supplies - charcoal, applewood, and two 5 gallon bucks for the overnight brining. But we started the evening off at Portillo's. As we ordered, the cashier handed Rodney a sheet of stickers, and he quickly got busy attaching them to each of us. I got a sticker that said Shake it Up! on my inner thigh. How scandalous, right?

After wolfing down some Portillo's, we jumped back in the car and made our way to Home Depot. We spent some time milling around and enjoying the Christmas decorations. It was a much more welcoming scene than Home Depot's Halloween decorations. Rodney was especially grateful to see them packed away for the season. But they still managed to get at least one creepy decoration in. Standing in front of the row of Christmas trees was a six foot tall realistic Santa statue. I stood close to the figure and made eye contact, taking a moment to appreciate the creepiness of his features, especially his lifeless eyes. "It gets worse," Marissa muttered as she sauntered over and hit a button on his coat. Music played, and the Santa's arms began to stir. Suddenly he began to sing, slowly blinking and mouthing the words with dead lips and dry cloth tongue resting lifelessly in his toothless rubber mouth. It was probably the worst thing I've seen all year.

We spent the rest of the early evening driving around Sun Prairie, dropping off fliers for Marissa's upcoming art gallery in different coffee shops. We only head out to Sun Prairie when we go to the movie theater, so it was fun getting to know the town a little better. "Sun Prairie kind of feels like a miniature Greenbay bolted onto the back of Madison," I remarked.

We finally made our way home, and we went upstairs to put Rodney to bed. He still had some energy, so as he polished off the rest of his sippie cup of milk, I let him play with some of my IT toys. I dumped out a bag of HDMI cables and random networking equipment. He picked up an orange tool that looked kind of like an mini cattle prod. "DADA WASS THIS?" asked Rodney. "You know what, I'm not sure dude," I admitted. "But just in case it's dangerous… I don't know, you can look at it, but just be ready for anything." Marissa laughed to herself in the corner.

Rodney and I said 'goodnight' to the cables, then retreated into his room for bed. Marissa spent the rest of the night working, and I made my way to the couch to tool around with some home project software. I was trying to deploy jenkins on my new kubernetes cluster, but - shocker - it was not straight forward and I had to throw in the towel around 11. Marissa joined me on the couch as I was packing my computer away, and we ended the night by watching Chance the Rapper's hot ones episode. I had read online that he didn't finish all ten wings of death, so I was expecting DJ Khaled levels of hubris (that may only make sense if you watch the show). But I actually felt bad for the guy. He made it clear from the beginning that he hated spicy food, and all things considered he handled the heat admirably. And even though I wasn't a fan of the music Chance put out this year, I always appreciate hearing what he was to say. Chance is also really great at describing how other rapper's work, which Sean Evens deftly questioned. I liked Chance recapping what a Lil' Wayne collaboration is like, where he "just stands behind you, not swaying or anything, just standing still in the corner, then suddenly he leaves, tells the sound guy to cut the music, then records his part with no music in the other room."

Speaking of music, it's almost time for the - drum roll - Alex Recker best of 2019 hip hop mixtape. December is right around the corner, and since I'm still committed to burning and labeling the CD's by hand, I had better get a jump on them soon. I have some good ideas this year, stay tuned.

Oh, and if we have any readers from Instagram, welcome! I've started posting journal entry titles on Instagram - that was a tip from my wife, and it was exciting to get a miniature surge of fresh Internet traffic. Of course, I also love the regular traffic too. I'm humbled, and likewise honored by the regular readership.

Hope you all have a wonderful day today. It's Friday, go get 'em. Do it for the weekend. Do it for Thanksgiving!