Friday, August 28 2020

bedtime distractions, computer bugs, and the garlic stash



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Dear Journal,

We did it, everyone. It’s Friday, and in a measly eight hours from now, we’ll all disconnect from our day jobs and be free to soak up a relaxing weekend. Happy vrijdag, everyone.

It feels good to be saying that from a more sincere place. “Happy Friday” just doesn’t have the same ring to it when you spend every day with in your pajamas with your baby. But now with a work week behind us, I feel like I’ve earned the privilege.

The nine to five work life has some perks that I forgot about. Time moves way more quickly. Even though I’m waking up much earlier than I used to, it feels like I have half the time than I used to. It’s like the entire day has been fast forwarded and compressed down to what used to feel like only a quiet weekday morning with Rodney. I guess as someone who is living for the weekend, that works to my advantage, as long as I can stay on top of everything.

How ‘s your day today? It’s a beautiful morning today. A vigorous thunderstorm rolled over Madison last night. As I was putting Rodney to bed, we had a brief power outage. The lights flickered. In our bedroom, the whirring of fans and beeping of computers caused Miles to stir. Rodney, who was in the middle of humoring me with a before bed practice poop, welcomed the distraction.

“Dada,” he said hushed. “What’s that.”

“It’s just a power outage,” I said. “Don’t worry about it.”

Rodney held up his hand. “Dada, we have to go check it out.”

“No, we don’t,” I snipped.

“Dada - lemme use your flashlight” he said. “Dada, we have to see wuss goin’on.”

Sometimes I like to let my mind wander and imagine what life would be like if I let Rodney have his way in moments like these. If I just handed him my phone flashlight and replied, “Good idea - pull up your pants and lets go check it out.” How long do you think we would have prolonged bedtime if it were up to him? 10PM? 11PM? Midnight? How long do you think Rodney would have us aimlessly stalking around the house solving an imaginary mystery?

“No, go brush your teeth,” I said gruffly.

While Rodney was brushing his teeth, I stood on the chair in the corner of our room inspecting the server wall. Being careful not to wake Miles, I used my phone to illuminate the corner of the shelf. I stabbed the small blue power button with my finger. With his toothbrush still hanging out of his mouth, Rodney barged into our bedroom with a hushed whisper. “Dada! Wass’goin’ on?”

“Just turning the computers back on,” I shot back. “Go brush your teeth, don’t worry about it.”

I put Rodney to bed and joined Marissa downstairs.

“I think I have some radical ideas for the server wall,” I said. “There’s just too much stuff on there.”

“Oh?” said Marissa, her curiosity piqued.

“Like, what’s the point of all this stuff it can’t even come back from a power outage without me logging into things and hitting power buttons? I think I need to simplify it.”

“I hope you don’t mind me saying, but I’ve thought that it looks just a little too busy,” said Marissa meekly.

Sip. I had a great day yesterday. The work day flew by. In between meetings, I spent my time hacking on a bug in a jsonnet library our team maintains. Over the summer, I stayed pretty sharp with coding, but I was rusty on jsonnet. It took an embarrassingly long amount of time to deduce that my error message was a result of a silly syntax error at the top of the file.

There’s a programming saying that comes to mind. “It doesn’t get easier - you just get faster.” I like to remind Marissa of that one whenever she is pulling her hair out over her Squarespace site, or wrestling with editing an image in GIMP. Working with computers is inescapably painful, no matter how often you do it.

Remember how Math books provided an answer key in the back so you could check your homework and make sure you were on the right track? Remember how it felt like when your final answer didn’t match the book, and you’d have to pour over your work one line at a time? Your brain in a furious, endless loop checking every single sign, number, and pencil stroke. Working in computers is like making a career out of that hellish little moment. Sometimes I wonder if it’s not a skill, but just another form of masochism. What if being good with computers just means you’re willing to torture your brain for just a little longer than the average person?

I found the bug, pushed my work, and signed off for the day, getting started on dinner. We had fajitas. And remember that humongous stash of garlic that I accidentally bought from Woodman’s a few weeks ago? I’m happy to report that we ate the last two heads of garlic for dinner last night. The giant garlic stash is finally depleted.

I sort of cheated. I used a whole head of garlic to marinate the steak, along with olive oil, lime juice, some spices, and a stalk of cilantro stems.

After cleaning up from dinner, I joined Marissa in the studio and booted up the Super Nintendo, which we’ve dubbed “the super-tendo” for Rodney’s benefit. Ziggy curled up in my lap as I anguished over the same three levels.

“I die on this frickin’ wizard level every time,” I griped. “I just wasted 8 lives.”

“Alright, I’m just about done,” said Marissa cheerily. “I’m gonna clean up a bit, then we can watch more of the movie.”

We’re currently marching through the Last Samurai. It’s one of those Dances With Wolves type of movies, only it’s Tom Cruise learning the ways of the Samurai. I was almost certain it was going to be a total clown show, but the movie is actually pretty good.

“I was way more biased against Tom Cruise that I remember,” I laughed. “I liked this movie in high school, but - it’s a really good movie.”

“Yeah I’m enjoying this,” said Marissa.

Thanks for stopping by today. Happy Friday, everyone.