Friday, January 29 2021

paper towel coffee, auditors, and a human tripod

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Friday. Grab yourself a hot cup of paper towel coffee, and we'll get into it.

That's right. Did you know you can brew coffee, using a regular paper towel as a filter? We bought a backup coffee machine while we wait for the other one to get fixed, and for lack of any flat bottom paper filters in the house, I thought we were out of luck. Marissa read this factoid off the google search page on the family computer.

I expected it to work, but I was also expecting the brew to carry a lingering after taste of paper towel - far from it. Paper towel actually makes for a good filter. Going off of the taste alone, this is the most wonderful cup of coffee I've had all week.

I'm now the proud owner of a Hamilton Beach coffee maker. I believe this is the sixth one I've purchased in my lifetime. Not to brag, but it was thirty dollars. It brews twelve cups of coffee. It comes with a digital clock. Rest assured, behind its boxy, child friendly plastic frame is an elegant machine crafted for perfection. Either that, or I'm just giddy to regain our coffee sovereignty.

Sip. Yesterday was pretty good. Staying up late on Wednesday was a mistake, but I had so many meetings packed into the day that I didn't even have a chance to dwell on how tired I was feeling. The most interesting meeting of the day was the one with the security auditors.

To gain customer trust, tech companies like ours acquire these certifications that are basically just committee endorsements. These certifications come with a long laundry list of technical specifications that our company needs to meet in order to hold and renew our certification status. The process is detailed and costly, so companies like us hire people to routinely perform mock audits throughout the year. This keeps us sharp and gives us time to fix problems before the real audit.

Some auditors wanted to ask me questions about our team's vault. Earlier in my career I struggled with these meetings because I felt the need to perform and prop up my team's reputation. This approach just made meetings like this one more complicated. Auditors are very technical people - they listen for words and clues out of your answers. They're listening for scope, compliance, and attack surface. They're trying to check off a list on your behalf.

Dressing up language to make your team sound good just dilutes the process. I get through these meetings much more quickly because I stopped dressing up the language. Honesty is the best policy. We've never done that before. We don't think that's our responsibility, but we may be wrong. And of course my favorite, I don't know.

After work, we all took a drive to the lake. Marissa wanted to photograph some of her paintings, and the rest of us were happy to accompany her just for the scenery and the fresh air. We parked alongside the road and trotted out into the snow. Marissa first took pictures of the paintings while I held them, directing me like a human tripod. We switched places, and Marissa posed in front of the lake with her work. We felt a little self-conscious - joggers, kids, neighbors, and people walking by all turned their heads to watch us as they passed. As I stood in the snow wearing my flip-flops and a ratty t-shirt, an old man congratulated me on making such a beautiful painting. "Thank you," I said. "Art is my passion."

"Thank you for letting us take pictures in your front yard," said Marissa.

"She's the real artist," I added. "I'm just the tripod."

Shall we retro? Let's get into it, shall we?


Keep watching Ryan's World with Rodney. Ryan's YouTube channel is a lot like Blippi's. He goofs around, plays with toys, and does silly little science experiments. But it feels so much more natural because he's a nine year old boy. He doesn't need to walk a thin line between acting like a kid on the playground and acting like an adult while using power tools.


A reliable system for acquiring coffee in the morning. We've had a lot of fun this week lambasting my use of grubhub, drive-thru's, and makeshift paper towel filters. But cripes I miss brewing regular coffee in the morning.


Less grubhub for coffee. The caffeine fix isn't worth the shame and embarrassment I feel for making somebody schlep two cups of coffee across town on my behalf.

Less twitter and reddit. I got a little too fascinated with all the happenings on the stock market this week. I succumbed to endless reading and scrolling on my phone. I regret all the funny little Rodney moments I probably missed. Places like twitter and reddit are fine in moderation, but I don't like what they do to my brain. It's harder to be present and be a good listener when you've been so connected to social media all day.


More time to write. Without our coffee machine I've had to move a little more quickly in the mornings this week. I've sacrificed my stare at reddit and drink coffee time, and unexpectedly my mornings feel longer. I'm no longer running up the stairs to join a my first zoom call while my blog script is running. I've re-learned that writing is more enjoyable when you actually make time for it.

More naps. I think it's safe to say that I am a lost cause for going to bed earlier. Marrying an artist didn't help either. But naps may be the key to making this night owl lifestyle actually work. I took an hour long nap after work yesterday and I was so refreshed, it felt like a new day of the week.

More stories about Grandpa. Great Uncle Don already came through with some great Fred Recker stories, and I've seen some other ones crop up in the family on Facebook. Even though we've just lost Fred Recker, the outpouring of stories and photos makes it feel like he's still with us.

That's what I got today. Please keep the Fred Recker stories coming, and some pictures wouldn't hurt either. Also, tune into my YouTube channel tomorrow if you want to watch me work on a video game.

Have a great weekend, everyone.