Friday, February 7 2020
work talk, pan sauces, ginseng, and youtube binges

Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Friday. It’s been a long week, and I’m grateful I get to say that this morning. I could use a Friday, and I’m looking forward to resting up this weekend. I might even sleep in tomorrow - who knows. My Saturday morning alarm has always been low priority, and something tells me that after this week, it doesn’t stand a chance tomorrow.

Yesterday was a pretty good day. I found a nice, juicy bug to work on all morning somewhere in our build pipeline. It sounds annoying, but truth be told of all the work I might take in a week - collaborating on documents, writing instructions, setting up demonstrations, implementing new features - bug fixes are the most straight forward. There’s little interpretation that goes into the success criteria of a bug. Chances are, you don’t have to run anything by anyone or set up a meeting to talk about it. Your work is simply done when the bug is fixed, and there’s nothing more to talk about. It’s like filling out a cross word puzzle - Relaxing, and unambiguously finish-able.

Lunch time rolled around, and we three cloumigos decided to go out together. We walked together up the block to Tavernakaya, sat at a quiet table, and ordered a round of beers. We chatted about work, commiserating about the usual things, then got to talking about home life, the weekend, and free time.

“I’m playing around with a kubernetes cluster at home,” I said. “I’m having a lot of fun with it.” Alex shook his head. “I don’t know how you go home and do that stuff, infrastructure is the last thing I feel like thinking about when I get home,” replied Alex. He continued. “As much as I hate to be the guy who sits in front of the TV after work, I almost need to do that.”

Whereas I’m just a regular engineer, Alex is a group tech lead. He’s responsible for weighing in on architectural discussions happening in other teams and keeping everyone in sync. Chances are he has a lot more to think about at work than I do.

Rob nodded in agreement. “Yeah, I don’t want to think about any of that shit either,” he said gruffly. Rob is a long time Zendesk engineer - the only one seated at that table for three that predates my time. He’s coming up on five years. “So Robbo, you’re coming up on five years,” Alex began. “That means you’re taking a sabbatical soon, right?” Rob nodded and smiled. “Oh it’s still a thing,” he said knowingly.

We continued talking over a second round of drinks, then made the walk back to the office. Rob paused outside for a cigarette. Alex and I huddled around him to carry on talking. The wind picked up, and Alex and I went inside. “That’s the real reason why I could never pick up smoking,” Alex said to me. “I’m not good at standing outside when it’s cold out.” I laughed, and we took the elevator up and returned to work.

I worked the rest of the afternoon, then paused at four to make a grocery list for tonight. Wanting to broaden my repertoire, I did a quick google search for basic pan sauces. My go to has up until this point been apple cider vinegar, apple juice, and honey. /Any alcohol can be used in a pan sauce,/ I read. The inclusion of beer piqued my interest. I shut my laptop and headed out into the cold to catch the bus home.

Coming home, I entered the house quietly. It wasn’t until I opened our back door, causing our alarm system to chirp, that Ziggy could be heard running through the dining room to greet me at the door. She yawned, curled up at my feet, and following close behind was Ollie. Marissa was in and out of a nap on the couch with the Office quietly playing on the TV. I greeted her, then went upstairs to get Rodney. Rodney was sleeping deeply, and even for his high strung toddler energy, it took a couple of shakes to wake him.

Rodney and I hopped in the car and got to chatting about his day. He had gone to Canine Sports Zone with momma, and he was really excited about what he ate for lunch. “Rice krappy, juice, goldfish… but rice krappy first!” he proclaimed. Rodney is a staunch believer that desert, in this case a rice crispy bar, should be enjoyed first.

We shopped, picking up pork chops, potatoes, and restocking on Marissa’s favorite blueberry muffins. As we swung around the outside of the store, Rodney called my attention. “Uh, I have to go potty,” he said. I glanced at the time on my phone and decided we could afford the extra trip all the way in the back by the bakery to use the potty. It was a false alarm.

Back at home, I cooked dinner, assembling my beer and stone ground mustard pan sauce. The base of the idea was good, but fearing it would bitter, I used a little too much honey and reduced it too much. The final product came out looking like - well - honey. As we sat around the table talking, I got up to make a cup of tea. After Fong made me a cup of ginseng tea when I was sick, I ordered some from the internet. It’s essentially a little bag of fragrant sticks, like cinnamon, only if it branched. I cracked a few twigs into a mug, added a dab of honey, and filled it with hot water before rejoining my family at the table. I took a sip, letting out a deeply satisfied sigh. “Oh, this is a new thing,” I said pointing at my tea.

Marissa wanted to get a jump on a large painting she was working, so I offered to put Rodney to bed. After walking through his bedtime routine and finishing up my Dutch lesson, I crashed on the couch, followed closely by Ziggy who joined be under the blanket. Thursday nights are my lazy night, and I usually spend the entire night on the couch binging YouTube videos. Last night, nestled under the blanket with Ziggy, I watched Stephane of the French Cooking academy braise a pork shoulder in milk. The milk was supposed to curdle, he explained, which is why he passed it through a sieve before thickening it with chunks of bread. I teased Marissa that I found our next dinner idea. She gagged at the mere thought of a piece of meat simmering in milk.

I spent the rest of the evening watching recipe videos for making Nasi Goreng. I’m keen on the idea, but I’ll proceed with caution, as every time I’ve embarked on making fried rice, it’s been a thorny path fraught with peril - and nearly destroying the bottom of my pan.

I’m thankful the weekend is here. Tomorrow is my niece’s birthday, and we’re driving down to Chicago to see everyone. Rodney, catching wind that he’d be hanging out with his cousins, is ecstatic, but I worry he thinks that every time we see them means a day of water slides. That’s the toddler brain for ya.

Hope you all have a wonderful day. Thanks for reading, and welcome to the weekend!