Saturday, January 18 2020

deep dish, taxi driver, and high maintenance sore back guy



Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Happy Saturday. I hope you took your time today, made a good breakfast, and have a mix of fun and productive things planned. I spent this morning cleaning up the kitchen, listening to a podcast, and cooking breakfast.

Low priority, trivial incidents swallowed yesterday’s work day. My team helped out with a production incident in the morning, and there was another in the afternoon before we went home for the day, and between the two, Nate and I joined the other two Madison foundation teams for lunch at the Old Fashioned. We shared a pitcher of Spruce Juice - a delicious, unique IPA that tastes like pine needles that we save for Fridays.

As the weather took a downward turn, the office started to thin out, and I took the bus home a little earlier than normal. Getting home, I left Rodney to sleep, made a quick batch of pizza dough, and decided to brave the adverse weather alone to pick up the rest of the ingredients from Hy-Vee. Truthfully, the roads weren’t that bad. Less than an inch of wet snow coated the roads, but evidently that was enough snow to scare everyone into operating there car as if it was a Zamboni. Don’t get me wrong - I think you should drive carefully. But if it takes you the entire green light to accelerate through an intersection, you’re probably doing more harm than good.

After returning home with the groceries, I unpacked everything and started making pizza. It was a good night to eat pizza, but truthfully, I just wanted another low-stakes trial run of my deep dish recipe. I’ve talked it up to my family, and my sister’s family is staying with us next week. I wanted to experiment with adding more cheese to the pizza. The pizza tasted just fine, but structurally it was a bit of a mess. That third layer of cheese was too much for the pizza to handle, and much like Icarus who flew too close to the sun, the results were a melty mess.

After dinner, I practiced Dutch. Having only four more sections to do before completing the second “castle” of duolingo, I doubled down with an extra long session, wrapping up location and passing the chapter final exam. This evening, I’ll be 190 days in, and needless to say I’m feeling proud. Learning a new language has challenged me, and on any given day I might feel unstoppable reflecting on how much progress I’ve made, or also I might feel hopeless looking ahead at how much there is to learn. But through it all, the most important thing I’ve learned is enjoy where I’m at.

Marissa put Rodney to bed, and afterwards, we retreated to the living room to play some Nazi Zombies. I put on my robe, brewed a cup of tea, and built what I’d have to describe as a throne of supportive pillows. “You’re like high maintenance sore back guy,” Marissa teased. I decided to lean into my new persona for the evening. Every twenty minutes, I would pause the video game mid-carnage and announce I REQUIRE A SIP OF TEA, then looking as posh as possible, lethargically roll over to grab my mug for a dainty sip.

By the third game, pinned down by the eight wave of zombies with sub par weapons, Marissa expressed doubts. “This doesn’t look good,” she said without taking her eyes off the TV. “This is too much for just sawed off shotguns.”

“It’s OK,” I said while strafing backwards waiting for my sluggish gun to reload, “if we die, that just means we can give up and watch the rest of Taxi Driver instead.” Marissa laughed.

We eventually fell victim to the 9th wave of Zombies, and as promised, put on the rest of our movie. I poured some tequila. As the credits rolled by, Marissa and I discussed the movie.

“So…,” I started pensively. “I think it’s generally accepted that the ending of this movie didn’t really happen. I think he actually just went on a shooting spree at the political rally, but what we were watching at the end is kind of like a fantasy.”

“I was getting that sense,” Marissa added.

“I think that’s what the jazz music was supposed to symbolize - that told us we were just watching what was happening in his head.” I continued.

And the unreliable narrator aspect of Taxi Driver is so subtle and well done, in contrast to The Joker. During the fantasy scenes, the camera angles are melodramatic, and the dialog is a tad cheesy. Every other character kind of sounds like they’re being voiced by Travis Bickle. I had suspected Joker was heavily inspired by Taxi Driver, but now that we’ve watched both more recently, I’m convinced the Joker movie was really just a bad rip-off. Joker tries to incorporate the same unreliable narrator angle, the charming but creepy protagonist, the obsession and loneliness. It’s just done so much better in Taxi Driver. After discussing the movie, we wandered around different YouTube videos until we couldn’t stay awake, then went to bed.

This morning, I’m finishing up a second pot of coffee before I head out into the tundra to shovel snow with Rodney. Hearing him run around and throw his ball around the living room, I can imagine that he has some extra energy to burn. Later today, we’re going bowling with Alex and Cassie. We’re excited to introduce them to our family’s new favorite way to spend Saturday evenings.

This morning, while looking up the recipe for a Dutch Baby, I also got excited about the idea of porting my cooking recipes to an online cookbook. There are some fantastic tools meant to generate static websites for technical documentation, and I think that would make for a slick looking cookbook and a great Saturday afternoon sized side project. I’ll find some time to hack on it today and share it here if anything comes out of it.

I’m feeling content today. Spending last night on the couch as high maintenance sore back guy has paid off. I’m feeling loose, energetic, and ready to screw around in the fresh snow with my son.

Hope you all have a wonderful day today. Happy Saturday!