Saturday, February 27 2021

nerdy computer fun, cardboard mountain, and snowballs



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Happy Saturday. The weather was so nice today that the real world of work, stress, and the pandemic felt so far away. What a relaxing Saturday. I hope you’re taking it easy this weekend, using the time to catch up on sleep, getting some fresh air, and eating some good food.

For better or for worse, I decided to reinstall the OS on my laptop. I was getting a little board running Debian and decided to spend my Friday night trying to get something else to work. I went with the elusive and obscure Void Linux, which I’m sure means absolutely nothing to 99.99% of you reading this. This flavor of computer is a little new to me, so my writing tools aren’t fully configured. For instance, I don’t have my custom spellcheck working yet. But I was able to restore my trademark screensaver with the floating, rotating 3D molecules at least.

2021 02 27 screensaver

The most important feature of a computer is whether or not it supports neat screensavers.

Sip. What a wonderful Saturday. Rest. Good food. Nerdy computer fun. This morning I emerged bright and early to get a jump on cleaning the kitchen, and I took another swipe at my work-in-progress sourdough lemon scone recipe too. Following the notes I took from the last trial, I used slightly more sugar, slightly less salt, and a whole lot more milk. The flavor greatly improved. The consistency was pretty much the same, only it was easier to work with. I’m thinking that by the next trial, it will be ready to join the other recipes in the family cookbook.

Rodney was first to join me. He came bounding down the stairs in his pajamas, scooting up to the dinner table with wide eyes. He started helping himself to the plate of bacon before I even had his apple juice poured.

2021 02 27 breakfast

I had a fun programming stream later that morning. I decided to take a break from the pico8 gaming and work on a different side project. Earlier this weekend on a long car ride to the fish store, Marissa and Rodney got to talking about Minecraft. I demoed the game for Rodney that evening. With Rodney getting better at computer games, I think we have the makings of a new temporary family obsession. Marissa hinted that I should set up a new minecraft server for us all to play on sometime this week, and I decided to knock it out in the my live stream slot. I got the server working, I rigged it up to start on boot, and I even threw together a nice little script to back up the game files once every hour. It was a great time.

We ate some leftover pizza for lunch. With plenty of time to kill before quite time, Marissa suggested I take Rodney outside to break down some of the cardboard we had been hoarding in the shed all winter. I’m not sure why, but the idea disgusted me at first.

“I don’t want to turn this into a work day,” I said. Even I was puzzled by those words as they left my own mouth. It was Saturday. It was warm. I had spent the morning playing with code on the computer. Of course it was a work day. “Nevermind,” I huffed. “We’ll get it done.”

Rodney and I threw on some work clothes and headed outside. Even if it was only in the 40s today, the air felt warm, humid, and refreshing. Rodney stood ready to help as I flung open the garage door. Cardboard mountain loomed before us.

2021 02 27 cardboard mountain

I don't have an "after" picture, but motivated by embarassment, Marissa would like me to inform you that it looks much better now.

It was a good day to finally clean up this mess. During the colder months, cardboard tends to accumulate in our garage, but ordering supplies and toys online all throughout the long quarantine made this year remarkably bad. The layers of cardboard mountain told a story. Toward the bottom, the boxes were collapsed and flattened. But climbing higher up the mound, you can almost see where we started to give up on keeping it tidy. I recognized many of the boxes from running out into the cold and snow late at night in my flip-flops. I’d open the garage door just a crack and stuff the box inside without even looking at where it ended up.

Rodney and I made quick work of cardboard mountain. I hacked and sorted the boxes with a pocket knife. Rodney wandered off into the shed to rediscover his bike, his hockey stick, and all his other old, forgotten toys that had been sealed away in the shed all winter.

Meanwhile, Marissa took on the daunting winter dog poop clean-up. It’s wise to clean up all the winter’s dog poop on the first warm day of the year. If left to fully thaw, that stuff can quickly turn your yard into a poop flavored swamp. She filled an entire black garbage bag.

Rodney and I celebrated finishing our chores with a snowball fight. It was fun trying to beam him in the head with an iceball as he fled into our front yard. It didn’t hurt him of course. He was wearing his bright red spider-man bike helmet, and it made for an excellent target.

We planned on taking a family walk. I was inside pouring some coffee for the road. Miles waited patiently on the deck in his clip-in stroller car seat. Suddenly, we heard crying.

Rodney’s fingers were wet from snow. Miles’ face was red and just a bit swollen. Rodney had thrown a snowball at his brother. I scolded him, commanding him to sit in a kitchen chair while we tended to his brother. Rodney crumpled into a ball of tears. The fiasco made us take a rain check on our walk, and we instead sent Rodney to his room to contemplate his sins.

Rodney is a gentle kid. There’s no way in hell he intended to hurt his brother. He just acts on boyish impulses before he has a chance to think them through. I called Rodney down the stairs with my booming scary voice. He approached me and Marissa in the living room. His lips were quivering.

“I have an idea,” he said with tears. “I could just use a tiny snowball…”

“NO,” I yelled. “Rodney, you can’t throw snowballs at your brother. He’s just a baby, he could have been hurt.”

Rodney wailed. His face ran with tears. He fell to his knees with contrition. We exchanged hugs and Rodney wiped his tears. After just a bit more time in his room to cool off, he joined us on the couch. Rodney, eager to redeem himself for pelting his baby brother, fetched me and Marissa a pair of beers from the basement mini fridge.

“You want something to drink too?” I asked.

“Chocolate milk,” said Rodney with a zero second delay.

That’s what I got today. Don’t throw snowballs at babies, and have a great weekend.