Sunday, June 21 2020

hy-vee, pull-ups in the wash, a story about my dad

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to Sunday. I hope where you're waking up, there's plenty of coffee and quiet time to go around.

After cleaning up the kitchen and brewing a pot of coffee, I got sidetracked while taking notes for today's entry, winding up in a reddit thread on the Madison subreddit. "Is it just me, or is the East side Hy-Vee going downhill?" asked a user. Being a regular at the East side Hy-Vee, I felt compelled to swoop in and defend my grocery store.

Not that I would give them an absolutely glowing recommendation. The east side Hy-Vee won my loyalty - not from being perfect - but by being the "devil I know". My grocery store has some glaring issues. The cashier turnover is so bad, it's almost laughable. I have to wonder why they even bother putting Employeed since [year] on their name tags, because in the case of the cashiers it's almost always the current year. Hy-Vee produce also has issues. Rodney and I routinely have to dig through mealy onions, stubby russet potatoes, and yellowing parsley to find the good stuff. And I'm pretty sure that whoever is in charge of stocking the basket of shallots thinks they can get away with throwing in some small yellow onions instead. Hy-Vee can also be slow to restock the essentials. It's maddening how often they run out of things like butter, milk, and paper towels.

But there are also plenty of good things to say about the East side Hy-Vee as too. What won me over was the layout of the store. They keep things pretty organize, and they don't introduce a lot of surprises. Rodney and I can get in and out pretty quickly. And even though they churn through apathetic high school aged cashiers as quickly as a Taco Bell might, there are plenty of good long-time employees staffing the meat department and the bakery. Also, shout-out to the lady at the bakery that gives Rodney a free cookie whenever we visit.

Sip. So with my two cents thrown into this pointless Internet argument, I guess I can finally recap yesterday. Yesterday morning was filled with cleaning and laundry. But opening up the washing machine to move Rodney's clothes over, I was greeted by an odd smell, and his clothes were covered with little white mushy beads. Holding my nose and digging through the pile, I found the culprit. A swollen, balled up pull-up was rolling around in the clothes.

And not just one pull-up. While digging through the sopping remains, I discovered about five more pull-ups, and, with the stoic, professional decorum of a crime scene investigator, I separated them from the rest of his wash to assess the damage.

I think this one was on me. For the last few weeks, Rodney has risen to the occasion of putting himself to bed, but it's clear that we were missing some crucial pull-up & hamper information in the bedtime routine training manual.

After running his clothes through the wash again, Rodney and I dumped them onto his bedroom floor for sorting and folding. Rodney picked up his little blue stuffed animal and studied the strange white beads still clinging to its fur. Rodney had a worried look.

"Dada," he said quietly. "You wash blue guy again? Please?"

"Sure dude," I smiled. "I got you."

In between all the duplicate loads of wash, I kept hacking on our chores website. And the coding binge paid off - later that afternoon, I declared victory on the extra large project card that had been clogging our project board. It felt so gratifying to delete our old system. And better yet, now that I got things working, I'm free to tinker with new enhancements and pretty the code up behind the scenes without fear of clogging up the chores workflow.

chores final

And of course while finishing the chores site, I've fallen behind in chores.

"Can we make it do something special when we finish all of our chores for the day?" asked Marissa while taking the new UI for a spin.

"Oh, you mean like a random gif or something?" I replied.

"I think it should be a dancing corgi," said Marissa with confidence.

After dinner and getting Rodney to bed (this time, giving him more explicit instructions on where his pull-ups go), Marissa and I hit the video editing lab. Her alcohol ink brand comparison video is the last card on the project board, and we're determined to throw a perfect game this week.

"Ugh, I'm having a hard time finding the energy to do this right now," said Marissa burying her hands in her head.

"It's OK," I replied. "If you're burnt out, we can pick up on this tomorrow. We have all Sunday too, remember."

"Let's see how much we have to go," said Marissa flicking her hand over the trackpad. We both watched the iMovie window scan across the seemingly never-ending video clip.

"OK, so we have a long way to go," sighed Marissa. "I think that's a wrap - let's go have a beer." And with that, we were done for the night.

"We'll crush it tomorrow," I said assuring her. "We can even order out for dinner so we have more time to do this. I've been craving Chinese food lately."

I think I'll close this entry with a story about my dad, since it is Father's day and all. My dad had accumulated a lot of random audiophile stuff. I assume that in the late eighties and early nineties, since personal computers were still warming up, being a techie meant having things like tube amps, recording gear, and high end boom boxes with big CD changers. Among the interesting gear stashed in our basement were two giant chestnut cased speaker towers.

My dad sold these speakers to a guy in Ohio on ebay. Given the delicate nature of this kind of audio equipment, the slightest jostle or nudge could introduce irreparable damage to the sensitive parts, and shipping it by mail was out of the question. My dad decided to load the speakers in his car and drive them out to Ohio himself. And so, on a random day in the late summer, my dad and I jumped in the car and drove to Ohio.

In the days before convenient GPS and Google maps, navigating places was a lot more of an adventure. We had the printed MapQuest directions lying on the dashboard, but when it came to finding the actual building, you had to be a lot more observant.

"So are we driving it to his house?" I asked.

"We're taking it to his work," said my Dad. "I think he owns a car dealership."

And at that moment, springing out of the nothingness of the rural Ohio horizon we beheld a giant glass building - the guy's last name boldly emblazoned in giant letters on the roof of the building. "I guess that's it," my dad laughed.

A tall, thin man greeted us in the parking lot. We worked out some details, and after helping my dad carefully wheel the giant brown speakers into the spacious car dealership, he sent us off with a handshake. After spending probably only a half hour at our destination, we embarked home.

"Jet skis," I read aloud off a high way billboard. My dad looked up, peering at the sign through his dark blue Oakley shades. "Let's do it," he said, drifting lazily into the highway exit.

"Wait - are you serious? We're going to ride jet skis?" I said in disbelief.

"Yeah - why not?" my Dad answered smoothly.

"But we don't have swimsuits? I'm in jeans?" I replied.

"Who cares!" laughed my dad. "We're not going to get that wet."

We spent the rest of the afternoon somewhere between Ohio and Illinois tooling around in some lake on a rented jet ski. I remember the spontaneity, the mystery of where exactly we were, and the warm, wet wind flying through my awkward middle school hair. And I remember not even minding that my blue jeans got soaked.

I admire my dad for his spontaneity. As someone who has always had a hard time finding joy without rigid routines, his easy going, go-with-the-flow personality was a welcoming and comforting presence in my life, and it led us to a lot of good times.

I love you dad. You're the best. Thanks for stopping by this morning, and have a wonderful Father's day.