Thursday, October 29 2020

keys to the internet, the bouncy swing, and broiled chicken wings



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Thursday. Hope you're feeling fresh and ready to finish out this week strong, and I hope you are doing a better job of staying focused on what you have to do than I am right now.

I had plenty to do this morning. I shirked some of my evening chores yesterday and I woke up on the later side. But still I managed to get sucked into a side project. A small fix here, a bug fix there, and before I knew it, I had used up my union-allocated break time and began to eat into my morning routine.

At least it's a good side project. I'm starting to explore a different tool called pandoc for converting my journal entries into HTML. With pandoc, the self-proclaimed universal text converter, I should be able to also compile all the text into a PDF or an ebook as well, but there are lots of details to figure out. With over a half million words of text to contend with, we're well past the point of quickly implementing changes. Even the smallest tweaks have to be carefully scripted out and closely checked with version control.

As much fun as I was having, I had to put all the toys away. The work day is nigh. In a moment, I'll pour another cup of coffee and retreat upstairs. But first, I get to catch up with all of you readers.

Sip. How's it going? Can you believe that the week is almost over? How was your Wednesday? Yesterday my team celebrated virtually with a going away lunch. Myself and another coworker are moving to different teams, and another teammate is leaving the company all together. Before the gathering, I was under strict orders to order some food and expense it.

"What's everybody eating?" I wrote in slack. "Personally I went with the signature ocean feast bowl from Poke Poke."

Along with shrimp, tuna, rice, seaweed, and scallops, I found a few chunks of chopped up octopus. At the end of my chopsticks I held a single curled up tentacle close to the webcam.

"That's so sad," said Fong. "They're such smart animals."

"Right?" I laughed. "My wife and I actually just watched a documentary about octopuses that was so good, I was moved to tears. I of all people should be the most disgusted."

Despite my new appreciation for the emotional intelligence possessed by the unlikely octopus, it's been a long quarantine. I was too excited about getting to eat fancy raw seafood to get emotional about it.

Over lunch, we discussed politics, current events, and shared stories from past jobs. With a smile spread across his face, my coworker Sathish described what is was like to work for ICAAN.

"The ICAAN?" clarified Alex. "Like the one that is in charge of the entire Internet?"

"Yes," said Sathish. "Our customers were people like Godaddy and other companies that sell domains. They purchased the TLD's from us."

Sathish went on to explain that even though ICAAN was a nonprofit, the simple fact that they had the foresight to charge an extra cent for every domain name brought in so much money, they grew into a massive organization.

"Do you know about the seven keys?" asked Sathish. With mouth fulls of food, we all shook our heads, asking him to continue.

"So at ICAAN, there are seven physical keys that can be used to shut off the Internet," he explained, breaking into a chuckle. "They all have to be used simultaneously."

"Wait, this is real?" I laughed. "Why would they need to shut off the Internet."

"I don't know," said Sathish. "Maybe if aliens invaded Earth or something. I actually saw one of the keys once, it's just a little card."

Sathish told us about the big project they assigned to him that involved updating their systems to support unicode. The motivation was to provide a way to purchase domain names in other languages, like Hindi, Chinese, and Spanish.

"It was a lot of work, we finished it, but nobody wanted it," said Sathish. "Everyone was already so used to English, most of the companies decided it wasn't worth the investment."

After work, I signed off and started my shift in the kitchen. Before I began cooking, Marissa returned from the basement to bring an old friend out of retirement.

"Remember this thing?" she said, holding up the toddler jumper. "I googled it - Miles is finally ready for this."

"I'm so excited," I said, beaming.

Marissa brushed the dust off the chair and strung it up in the door frame. I stood by watching in anticipation as she lowered Miles into the girdle. He hung their motionless, his arms hanging limply over the sides.

"He'll figure it out," I said, waving my hand.

Over the next hour, I was so engrossed in cutting chicken and onions that I didn't even notice the growing sound of the swing, bouncing on its creaky spring. Baby Miles had figured it out, jumping up and down on one foot. He grinned, letting long strands of baby drool fall to the kitchen floor.

"We're officially in bouncy swing Heaven," I said to Marissa. "Let's hope he likes it as much as Rodney did."

After putting Rodney to bed, I cleaned up the kitchen, and I also decided to make an extracurricular snack with the wings and drumsticks leftover from dinner. After salting the pieces of meat and drying them out in the fridge through the evening, I tossed them in garlic, olive oil, and spices, and laid them out on a tinfoil tray under the broiler.

There was more grease than I had planned for. If I knew there was going to be so much sputtering and splashing, I would have picked a deeper, wider tray than our tiny cookie pan. But delicious nonetheless.

"What is this?" said Marissa wandering into the kitchen.

"Random snack," I laughed. "Off the books. No questions asked."

"We did have a pretty healthy dinner," said Marissa.

We cracked open two beers and devoured the chicken standing up at the counter, leaving the tidy plate of chicken wings looking like it had just fallen into the clutches of some roving raccoons.

"When we snack, we really snack," laughed Marissa.

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great day, everyone.