Saturday, January 25 2020
dog parties, cloudmigos, and kelly and jeremy

Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Hope you are having a wonderful Saturday so far. This morning, the words of Dr. Seuss come to mind - A dog party! Big dogs, little dogs, black dogs, white dogs, yellow dogs,/ /blue dogs, and red dogs are all at a dog party. What a dog party! I’m referring to, of course, Ollie and Ziggy running around the house and playing with Kelly and Jeremy’s dogs, Jo-Jo & Becca. This morning, the house feels like a big wonderful dog party.

Meanwhile, as I was straightening things up and brewing coffee, Rodney and his cousins sat at the table nibbling on stroopwafels and cereal. Rodney would chime in with a half phrase, Frankie would reply with some indecipherable baby talk, and then Alice would deliver an illogical punchline that made all three of them erupt in laughter. “They remind me of some rascally old people,” I said. Jeremy smiled. “Yeah, the kind that would get in trouble at a Dunkin’ Donuts or something.”

Yesterday was a good day. In the morning, I worked the support queue, then worked on some old servers we were planning to decommission. I ran the commands to shut them down, then stared at the flickering graph of active requests and errors. It swelled, then trended down, holding just below 100. “Ah dammit,” I growled, hunched over my keyboard. If the graph didn’t consistently read zero, that meant other services still expected these things to be up, and we’d have to track them down and try again later. With lunch time encroaching, I begrudgingly turned them back on. “Better safe than sorry,” I announced to my team. “Plus I want to enjoy my lunch, I don’t want this causing an issue 45 minutes from now.”

We had planned a special reunion lunch that day with the original cloud team - or the cloudmigos as we called ourselves. Rob, Alex, and I walked over to DELUX, ordered some beer, and soon Huttleston joined us. Famished from the long morning, I wolfed down my chicken sandwich in about four bites, then helped myself to fries and fried pickles. Over a round of Zombie Dust beers, we reminisced about a simpler time in Zendesk’s infrastructure when it was just the four of us at that table, for the most part, winging everything. We had simple beginnings, but almost four years later our jobs look much different now, and it’s amazing to reflect on all the different teams, processes, and new technologies that have followed.

After lunch, we slowly made our way back to the office. I had some more meetings, but the day started to wind down, concluding with our team’s end of the week retrospective. Fong presented some Foundation Engineering t shirts she made. “I was afraid I was going to get in trouble for using the logo,” she said nervously, passing the shirts around the room. “Ah, so they’re knock-offs!” I teased. “You’re totally fine. We might sue you, but we probably won’t - don’t worry.” And for a knock-off Zendesk shirt, it’s a good shirt. Having just gutted my closet of old shirts, I was grateful to add another crisp, clean, white t shirt to my wardrobe.

I made my way outside and jumped on a bus. Sighing, slumping down in my seat, and shutting my eyes, I was grateful to be done with the work day, but my lack of energy worried me. Kelly and Jeremy were on their way to our house, and feeling burnt out from the long work day, I wasn’t sure how I would rally. As I entered the house, Marissa was cleaning, Rodney was playing, and I got to making pizza. The moment I could smell the minced garlic hit the hot olive oil, I felt the spark of a good mood. “I think I just needed to make some pizza sauce,” I announced to Marissa, who was busily cleaning and putting things away around me. “Pizza sauce always puts me in a good mood.”

Kelly and Jeremy would arrive much later in the night, which gave me plenty of time to assemble the pizzas with care. This was the first double batch of sauce I’d make. It took much longer to simmer down to the right consistency, and it took on a much more mysterious and dark color - which worried me. I tasted the sauce on a spoon, and to my relief, it was still sweet and light, like a caprese salad.

I baked the pizzas, then left them on the table to cool. Kelly and Jeremy arrived, and a flurry of dogs, children, and joy filled the house. After settling in, I coaxed the pizzas out of the cast iron pans onto a cutting board. Marissa caught me fist pumping in the kitchen from the corner of her eye. “Getting deep dish out of the pan is like my white whale,” I explained. I’ve tried many times, and the results have always been disastrous.

We ate at the table, then after putting all the kids to bed, we cracked open some beers and stood outside on the deck while the dogs played in the snow. “I don’t drink any beer until the kids are in bed,” Jeremy explained, rocking on his heels outside on the deck. “I’d much rather relax when I no longer have a job to do.”

“I’m the same way,” I replied, nodding along. It’s nothing against Rodney or the kids, but beer just tastes better after they go to bed, doesn’t it?

We floated from the deck, to the kitchen, and to the living room, sharing stories and talking about the week. “It’s been an emotionally charged week,” Kelly explained as Jeremy nodded in agreement. Work stress take many forms, and it’s always illuminating hearing how it’s manifested for someone, whether they’re directing a team, drilling teeth, trying to shut off old servers, or working on a painting that’s larger than your studio.

By the sound of it, things are starting to wind down in the living room. Paw Patrol is playing on the TV, and every now and then I’ll here the pattering and rapping of dog feet on the wood floor. Kelly and Jeremy are fun guest, and if you’ve never had them, I’d highly recommend it. “You guys aren’t even company,” I explained last night. The more they spend time with you, the more energy they give back to you, it seems.

Well we’ve finally reached the long anticipated Water Slide Day. In a few moments, we’ll pack lunches, change into suits, and hit the road for the great Wisconsin Dells. I can only imagine Rodney’s excitement, spending the last months thinking, watching videos, and dreaming about water slides.

Hope you all have a wonderful day.