Saturday, December 21 2019

breakfast, work, zoo lights, and sleep

Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! We're late off the presses this morning. I slept in, as did the rest of my family. And after rolling out of bed around 9:30, I had a choice to make. I could frantically clean the kitchen just well enough to make a pot of coffee and muscle through the grogginess, or I could take my time, let my family sleep a little longer, make breakfast, and just commit to a late morning, early afternoon kind of journal entry. So that's how we got here.

We had a lovely morning. I cleaned up from last night's pizza while pumping up with some Beyonce. Rodney woke up next, and he spent some time in our bedroom fiddling around with an old portable DVD player I had in my closet. He took the batteries out of the tiny remote, then asked me for help putting them back. "Flat side goes against spring," he said aloud repeating my words. Kind of a weird activity to do first thing in the morning, but everyone wakes up in their own way. Some people listen to music and drink coffee, and people like Rodney jump right to learning about batteries.

Eventually, Marissa and the dogs rolled out of bed and we all ate some breakfast around the table. I paused my Beyonce playlist and switched to some low key Christmas Jazz to set the mood. Rodney finished breakfast first, and politely excused himself to go fiddle with his playdough, leaving me and Marissa to discuss the day. "This is my gauntlet," Marissa explained. "I have to finish wrapping, then take a bunch of presents to the post office. Then I have to go to Home Depot"

Furthermore, Marissa kindly agreed to take Rodney to run errands with her to give me time to finish up my end of the year mixtape. I say "finish up" like I have an hour more of work to do, but honestly I barely started. I have about seven tracks, and they need some more cleaning up. I have to finish curating the rest of the tracks, and this year I also have aspirations to write an accompanying essay explaining why each track made the cut. So it's going to be a busy two days for me as well, but it's the fun kind of busy. I'm getting excited just explaining what I have to do.

Yesterday was a great day. I finished my technical paper and submitted it to the company architects, grabbed a bite to eat from Starbucks, and helped out some people trying to configure the client side of some services we run. I had a fun debugging session with this guy I know who works in the San Francisco office. Over a remote video meeting, we both stared at his terminal in silence trying to figure out what was wrong. "The command works in the foreground, but once you send it to systemd," he said, "it just fails, with no output."

"Can I see the configuration file?" I asked. His terminal flickered as the configuration file scrolled by. Hemanth paused for a second, then asked, "if the command works in the foreground, why do you need to see the config file?"

"I don't know," I said. "I guess I was just buying time while I thought of a better question to ask." Hemanth laughed, and finally after bouncing ideas off of each other for twenty minutes, we tracked down the issue.

To finish off the work week, my team went to the bar across the street for happy hour, and my boss bought us a round. On Friday afternoons, we normally have a meeting where we look back at the week and discuss what worked, what didn't work, and things we should try the next work week. And even though we were drinking beer at a bar, we still had that kind of meeting. "Retrospectives", to use an industry term, are cathartic, and a great way to process everything that happened.

After work, I took a bus home where Marissa was napping on the couch. I got Rodney out of bed, and we picked up a few things at Hy-Vee. At home, after baking a sfincione, I threw some slices of pizza in tinfoil. The plan was to eat on the road while we drove to the zoo so we can enjoy the "zoo lights" event they throw in the winter. Rodney was so excited that he dug through his pile of things to find his "zoo animals" book, clutching it closely in the car ride over.

Zoo lights was a puzzling experience. Maybe we're wrong here, but Marissa, Rodney, and I expected to see some animals. But after plunking down seven bucks a person (and an extra eight bucks for two cups of hot chocolate), wandering the zoo for a half hour it became clear that the animals had been packed up for the night. It appeared that "zoo lights" really just meant looking at Christmas lights around the zoo at night. Rodney was the most puzzled of all. He even knocked on the glass a few times, asking "Mamma animals GONE?"

And just in case the experience wasn't strange enough, upon entering the Zoo, a guy stepped in front of me and said, "Excuse me, just wanted you to know that you're wearing a Bears hat." A smile curled around his big, pale face, and a woman he was walking with stood waiting patiently behind him. Honestly, I should have let him just stand there and feel stupid, but I guess when I don't have time to think, I err on the charitable side. I acted surprised, touched my head, and replied, "Oh thanks for letting me know." As he walked away, I had the urge to blurt something out, but I let him go on his way. The confrontation wasn't terribly upsetting. It just put me in a weird mood for the rest of the evening.

Just before we called it a night, we swung by the sea otter exhibit, and luckily there were two sea lions still awake and playing by the glass. They were bouncing a ball underwater to each other. "Mama, they're playing soccer," Rodney said. A much older boy wearing one of those full winter face masks corrected Rodney loudly. "It's not soccer it's just regular playing," he said. Rodney ignored him, and under my breath I muttered something that I can't repeat here.

So I submit my case to the community. If a free Zoo is throwing an evening event called "Zoo Lights", and they're charging seven bucks a person, would you expect to see some animals? We did, and now we're wrestling with the outcome. And I get it - animals have to sleep. Maybe it would be inhumane to wake them up just to entertain people. But that still begs the question - what exactly was the seven dollars a person for? Was that just to see the Christmas lights?

We drove home and put Rodney to bed. Pretty soon, I was on the couch under a blanket, and suddenly the stress and exhaustion from a week on ticket duty caught up with me and I was asleep. I woke up to the Office playing sometime past midnight. I went to bed shortly after. Sleep is wonderful. This week, I forgot how much I enjoyed sleeping.

Hope you have wonderful day. Catch up on sleep, and get yourself in a good mood for the holidays. And do me a favor, fellow Bears fans. If you see someone walking with their family at the Zoo, and they happen to be wearing a Packers hat, just leave them alone. After all, you're at the Zoo as well. Why are you thinking about football?