Tuesday, November 17 2020

bad juju, quarantine holidays, and toy hospital



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This journal entry is dedicated to the memory of Stephane II, the bold and beautiful cleaner shrimp that recently moved into our tank. This morning I found Stephane on his back against the lonely faux ocean floor, his legs curled into his body.

With shrimp, there's always a chance they'll spring to life when you least expect it. But the twenty four hour clock starts now, and readers, it's not looking good.

I know it's just a shrimp, but this one hurts on a different level. He was strong - in only a half of a day, he nursed himself back to health from the pale, weak creature he was when he arrived on our doorstep. Stephane was a character, making a splash on his first day in the tank by putting the bigger clown fish Obb in her place, brandishing his scary shrimp hands like swords and strafing around the tank floor with his chest out. Stephane was endlessly curious and fearless to a fault. After only the third day, he felt comfortable enough to crawl along Marissa's hand to scoop of a shrimp flake before leaping back into the deep like an alien.

Back to the shrimp hospital, I guess. They're really going to have to do a number on him this time. Sorry, Rodney. The specially trained shrimp doctors we have on retainer will have to keep Stephane suspended in one of those healing tanks from Star Wars for several months. They might even have to bring in a shrimp priest and a shrimp shaman to take a look. Of course I have no idea what actually happened - the tedious and illusive saltwater autopsy rests on Marissa's shoulders.

This morning, seeing Stephane lying on his back in the bottom of the tank kind of reminded me the way Nick Foles looked at the end of last night's Bears game. Marissa and I watched on in horror as medical aides encircled him. The game camera passed overhead to capture the full depressing moment.

"Just imagine your Nick Foles right now and you see that little camera on a string pass over the top of you," said Marissa.

Nervously standing in the middle of the living room, I shook my head. "I don't think anyone from this offense is coming back this year," I said. "Hopefully it's just a full rebuild."

To loosely quote Silver Linings Playbook, we've got some bad juju in this house between the Bears getting embarrassed and our shrimp dying. Just as Robert Deniro's character says, we gotta fix the juju and get some good juju goin'.

Sip. On a more sincere level, it's been a real struggle staying positive through quarantine heading into the holidays. For obvious reasons, we're not traveling anywhere or seeing anyone. For the first time in our family's history we're spending both Thanksgiving and Christmas alone. Yesterday I took a coffee break, and Marissa and I discussed the hard truth of the coming holiday.

"It makes me really sad," said Marissa. "I get a knot in my throat whenever a Christmas song comes on in the radio. I think I'm coping with it by going all out for decorations."

She gestured to a stack of newly purchased Christmas lights - eight boxes of white lights.

"That's OK," I said. "So go all out for decorations. If that helps you, then it helps you. It sucks that we can't see family, but we have a chance to make this holiday memorable in its own way."

Trying to see my own Silver Lining in quarantine, there's a good chance that we may never have a Thanksgiving and a Christmas like 2020 ever again. We have chance to make it special.

"Put out all the lights you want," I laughed. "Put one of those giant inflatable Santas in our yard. At this point I could care less, just have fun."

"It's actually going to be a snow globe," said Marissa. "A giant inflatable snow globe with inflatable Santas inside of it."

In case it's not obvious, we're not serious about the inflatable decorations. Maybe if we're somehow still in quarantine by Christmas 2021, we'll consider it.

Just trying to stay positive, and things could be worse. Work is keeping me busy. This week, I just found out that I have until Friday to do something very tedious and repetitive. The work relates to a troubling security finding, so as much as I'd love to dazzle you with the gory details, it's a secret. On top of the security thing, I'm trying to find time to work with our team's interns, and slowly chipping away at moving work items over from my old team. To sum up, this week there are lots of buttons to be clicked, spreadsheets to be filled, and text fields that need to be copied from one form field to another.

On the plus side, I mistakingly read way too much of my book for book club yesterday. Missing the fact I was only supposed to read Chapter 1, I powered through Part 1.

We had a fascinating discussion about the book, led by my teammate Fong. The book is all about how Toyota's production model was applied to writing software, and how that simple association brought about a revolution in the world of making software.

It's always fun hearing what students think of idioms like "small batch size", "short lead time", and "highly visible work". To a young person in school right now, this is all common sense - break up the work into smaller chunks, focus on one small change at a time, and work in a way where everyone can see what you're doing. The book illuminates a time in which these things weren't common sense, and people built websites like they were building a spaceship. Nobody writes any code until the design is finalized. Months of development and testing leading up to a single launch day.

"Free discussion, does anyone else have any other thoughts?" said Fong. A hush fell over the zoom room. I wheeled my chair over to our project wall, plucking an index card off the whiteboard.

"I have something dorky to show off," I said leaning into my microphone. "My wife and I use the system to get work done around the house. This is a card for painting the crown molding in our baby's room."

That's what I got today. As some bonus content, take a look at the weird makeshift toy hospital happening in our kitchen right now. Ryder suffered a freak accident that left his butt severed from the rest of his body. We spent the night lying face down, waiting for the glue to dry.

2020 11 17 ryder

Grizzly, yes. But nothing compared to what the poop prize rubber t-rex has been through.

2020 11 17 dino

His tail was ripped off, and he lost a lot of gooey beads in the process.

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great Tuesday everyone.