Thursday, March 5 2020

training sessions, ninja swords, broken computers, and crunchwrap supremes



Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Firstly, I’d like to congratulate you on making it to Thursday. The weather got colder this week, which is a real bummer. It feels like we should be well into spring now. What a cruel joke the Midwest likes to play on us every year. Crummy weather. Lots of people are out sick. Coronavirus is still running amuck in the world. It’s a tough week for us, but at least it’s Thursday, and that means we’re almost done with it all. Soon we’ll have a weekend to regroup and come back next week renewed and refreshed.

I’m feeling good today. I’ve been rocking my usual 6.5 hours of sleep every night. I’m staying on top of chores, and the kitchen is busy. I’m looking forward to heading into work today and getting stuff done.

Yesterday was pretty much a onboarding day. Three of us from the onboarding squad take turns giving three total sessions of talks. Mine wouldn’t be until the afternoon, but I met up with the group in the morning to learn names.

As an icebreaker, we went around the room and, pairing with our general introductions, had to also introduce our most frequently used emoji. “This right here is man in a steamy room, I announced to the room pointing at my drawing at the tip of my pen. “First off, this is a default emoji. Comes in the stock set, which makes it that much more surprising.” Some chuckles were heard around the room. “Also, it’s just a great analogy - comes in handy when you’re in a hot situation at work, like an outage or trying to keep something from blowing up. I’m the man in a steamy room - but look, he’s smiling. Still a great attitude.”

I met up with the group again around 12 o’clock for lunch. Someone from the headquarters in San Francisco ordered lunch for us. “Isn’t that funny - that someone from San Francisco called a place next to us and ordered lunch?” said Andrew. I grabbed a salad and joined the group at the table. They were sharing observations about the training material.

I remembered I had an crunchwrap supreme in the fridge that I brought from home. Now that I was eating a salad, that would go to waste if I didn’t act. So on an impulse, I left for the kitchen, cutting up the crunchwrap supreme into wedges and returning with them on a plate. “Here we go,” I said placing the plate on the table. “This is what I was going to eat for lunch, but I forgot they were ordering for us today. It’s a homemade crunchwrap supreme.”

It’s not a particularly difficult recipe to make. Just ground beef, refried beans, a tostada, sliced tomatoes, lettuce, and sour creme - all wrapped in a big tortilla in the shape of a pentagon and browned in some butter. But crunchwraps are always a hit - they make for good leftovers in the fridge, and in this case, a great snack to pad a very light salad lunch.

Finally in the afternoon, I returned to the training room for my session. Up until this point, I’ve been referring to it as a presentation, but even that makes it sound like a much bigger deal than it was. It was more like taking a group of six people through a slide deck.

In the past year or so of work, I’ve discovered that I have some public speaking ticks and quirks. I like to stand by a whiteboard and fiddle with a dry erase marker, even if I don’t plan on using it. I like to draw simple boxy diagrams for things that might not absolutely need a diagram. If the material is very technical, I like to tell stories from the trenches to make the material seem more exciting or important. Also in recent years, I started doing this thing where I rhetorically ask …right? to the room after every other sentence. Not sure where that came from.

At quitting time, I jumped on a bus and headed home. It was cool in afternoon, and after being in and out of the stuffy training room all day, it felt good to step outside and feel cold air on my face. I jumped on a bus and headed home.

Back at home, we had lots of mail on the counter - one box being Rodney’s six foam ninja swords. We ordered these as a treat for having a good attitude during our week staying at the temporary house. I carried two of the swords upstairs, and while Rodney was still asleep in his bed, crept into his room.

RODNEY,” I hissed, crouched by his bed side, brandishing the foam ninja swords. “YOU’RE SHREDDER.” Rodney rolled over in his bed, confused, blinking himself awake.

“No… YOU’RE SHREDDER,” he replied, finally cracking a smile. He studied the swords, taking one into his hand.

“We got these for you, dude!” I said, handing him the other. “We thought you were such a champ during that week we moved out, so we wanted to get you something special. And you kept swinging all your other toys around like swords, so we figured, you know, you probably needed some swords and these ninja swords looked pretty cool.”

Rodney rose to his feet and began swinging the swords around, then he handed me one. “Dada, you’re shredder,” he said, taking a fighting stance.

“I’M SHREDDER,” I growled, swinging and stabbing back.

After a quick sword fight, Rodney and I got our shoes on and jumped in the car, headed for the grocery store. As I rolled our shopping cart up and down the narrow aisles of Jenny street, Rodney stalked vigilantly behind me - his two ninja swords protruding out of the waistband of his khakis. He only briefly left his post to check out the live lobster tank, which was just fine.

Back at home, I switched the TV from The Office over to ninja turtles. Rodney stood in front of the TV in a fighting stance to take it all in, and I got to cooking bacon, onion, and kale hash in the kitchen. Marissa joined me and chatted about the day.

After eating and putting Rodney to bed, I finished my chores, then slipped upstairs to work on my new NAS build. Yesterday I wanted to perform a quick test boot with the new motherboard. I cleared off my desk, unfurled a long VGA cable, and hooked up the monitor and power cables. I plugged in the power cable. A single pale, green light illuminated on the board, but there was no beeping, nor video signal.

“That’s pretty much the worst thing that can happen to a new computer,” I explained to Marissa on the couch later that night. “That’s a tough one to debug. It could be… maybe six different things causing it to not boot, but how do you know? The screen is black, it’s not like it tells you what the problem is.”

Before the failed boot, I actually considered taking a picture of my workstation. I was proud of how hands-on everything looked on my clean desk, with the motherboard exposed and neatly wired up. But all that pride flew out the window when it failed to boot.

“I’m going to try again this weekend,” I said to Marissa. In the spirit of licking my wounds from the failed mid week tech project, I heated up a leftover crunch wrap supreme, dabbing it with hot sauce and making my way to the TV.

Thanks for stopping by this morning. I hope you have a wonderful Thursday.