Sunday, July 19 2020

pain, hobby highs, and new bikes



banners/2020 07 19

Dear Journal,

Happy Sunday. Good morning, everybody. Looking at the clock in the corner of my computer screen, it's five minutes to noon at the time of writing this. While technically still the morning, I've really started to abuse the phrase good morning, haven't I? We've been staying up late and sleeping in on the weekends, so even if it is almost lunch time for the rest of my time zone, it feels like morning to me.

This morning, I'm still high maintenance finger injury guy, and I have a finger injury update that nobody asked for. Since yesterday afternoon, I've been able to go without the wet eggsac of gauze hanging off my finger tip. There is a nasty bruise developing, and it feels so sore that I fear even typing too hard might open up the bloody floodgates again.

So is this a serious injury? Or am I just being a big wimp? I'll let you decide.

finger cut

It looks... bigger in person.

Pain is funny. Everyone has their own limits, but no matter how tough or frail somebody is, you kind of have to respect their pain and resist the urge to mitigate it. My world falls apart when I get a cut on my finger. Rodney insists that his food hurts his mouth if it hasn't cooled at the table for at least twenty minutes. Meanwhile, Marissa, who has been through childbirth twice (and the second one without an epidural), tends to both our pain and resists the urge to laugh. I think a lesser woman would play the childbirth card a lot more often.

Sip. We had a good day yesterday, and the best way to sum it up would be a new term that Marissa invented. "We're on a hobby high," she says.

A hobby high is when you simply lose yourself in your hobbies. Every now and then, our hobby highs align, and in two separate parallel worlds of interest, we kick ass and take names for an entire day.

"Can I show you something I painted when you get a minute," said Marissa leaning into the kitchen. I joined her out on the deck with a cup of coffee.

"I had my first success with acrylic ink and water on canvas," she said, directing my attention to a gorgeous blue circular painting. "Water is a lot more tricky to work with, but it worked out this time," she said.

Standing on the deck in my robe, I craned my neck and let my eyes get lost in the swirling colors. "It's a lot more... physical," I said, my voice trailing off.

"The water is a lot harder to control," said Marissa. "It made for a lot more spontaneity and energy. It kind of reminds me of when I started with alcohol inks."

"That's a good note," I replied. "You've gotten so good at alcohol that a lot of your pieces are vapor like, and they all kind of dissipate from a few discrete points on the page. But this..."

I took a step back to get one final look at the circular canvas.

"This is wild, like a wave crashing on the beach. This has a very different presence," I continued.

acryllic wip

What would you name this one?

My side of the hobby high was a coding binge. The monkey patch I was rambling about yesterday morning did not pan out. In the late morning, I rose from my chair in frustration.

"Not going well?" asked Marissa.

"Yeah, just can't find a clean way to do this. I don't think renaming files is worth this big of a mess." I rubbed my eyes and looked at the computer. "What a mess!" I yelled playfully.

"Yeah, what a mess!" yelled Rodney from the living room. He squared his stance and narrowed his eyes.

"Are... you asking for a challenge?" I taunted, approaching him from the dining room. I grabbed the heavy cast iron Dutch oven lid off the counter. And with that, I shook off the bad coding session with some pretend combat.

I'd return to website hacking later that evening. I decided, instead, to leave all the guts of the website in tact and redo the theme. I've noticed that when it comes to website design, I follow the same basic ebb and flow. At first, I build things up with copious dependencies and go out of my way to make things look modern. Then about a month into the new theme, I hit a breaking point, and born out of frustration and the desire to start from scratch, I strip out everything and go back to basics.

This iteration is 100% basic, home grown HTML and CSS. At first glance, it might look like a sudden lurch back to the unsightly style of the early nineties Internet, but I'm quite happy with it. There's something very honest and satisfying about about a perfectly functional, no fuss, content-first website.

I made some practical improvements as well. All images are now clickable, and by default they just redirect to the full size. I've also added a What's New? section to the home page to keep the more loyal of readers appraised of ongoing changes.

In the meantime, some pages are missing. I still have to finish stitching the archives and stats together, but where I left off some time last night around midnight, I'm happy with the overall aesthetic and direction. Maybe I should get a big blinking banner that says UNDER CONSTRUCTION to really drive the retro theme home?

I took a long break from coding yesterday to make dinner. At Marissa's request, we made sweet potato gnocchi again. This time, we switched out the bacon with pancietta which did wonders for the end flavor in the butter sauce. And even though Rodney usually likes to help me roll the pasta, he was so content playing with his toys that I just decided to do it myself. I forgot about how quick of a recipe this was without the added complication of a toddler playing in a bag of raw flour.

After dinner, we took Rodney out to try his new bike. Out of what is probably just a general fear of new things, Rodney had been putting it off and coming up with excuses. "Let's play hockey instead," said Rodney, cycling through his Rolodex of procrastination. "I'm kind of pretty tired... I want to go watch blippi. It's pretty dark outside. My bike is too big, I'm small."

I put a reward on the table. "Dude. If you just sit on the bike..." I slid a pack of pocky in front of his empty dinner plate. "You can have this whole pack of pocky on the couch."

While the offer was good enough to get Rodney outside, standing beside the bike seat, he started to get cold feet again. I knelt beside him to give him a pep talk."

"Look dude, we're not letting you walk away from this. We want you to just try the bike. Just a little bit."

Rodney sobbed and squirmed, fidgeting with the straps of his helmet. "I don't want to," he sighed.

I picked Rodney up by his armpits. He squealed, and his legs stiffened out of protest. With Marissa's help, we lowered Rodney onto the bike seat. He cried while I pushed him slowly up and down the sidewalk.

"You did it!" we said when he'd reached the end. But he wasn't feeling our enthusiasm. "OK, all done now. I want to go inside now."

I think a lot about when you should push your kids to try new things, and when you should give them space. It doesn't seem like there's a one size fits all approach.

"Were you scared, Rod?" asked Marissa. Rodney, still sputtering with tears, just nodded. He wiped his nose, and examined his finger, handing me a booger. "Here dad, I have a booger."

"You know dude," I said. "You were afraid to try water slides too. I'm not sure if you remember, but you cried when we made you try it the first time. And now you love water slides, right?"

"Yeah, I just take a little break now," said Rodney squeezing further into the couch.

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great day.