Thursday, May 20 2021

breakthroughs, ice skating confidence, and linda belcher

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Thursday.

Oof. We're experiencing new levels of tired today. Marissa and I were in good spirits last night, and we just didn't feel like turning in for the night early. Instead of heading upstairs and going right to bed like a couple of mature adults, we stayed up a bit and kept the party going - a permissible, but punishing turn of events for the middle of the week. Marissa fixed one of her famous sweet and salty ramiken snacks. I retold some embellished stories from watching Rodney at ice skating practice. We would click through old photos on my computer through one final glass of wine.

Sip. Some things are worth staying up a little late for. Besides, being a little tired isn't the end of the world. When the eyelids are heavy, the coffee shines. Each sip is like a kick from a mule right in the brain (in a good way).

Sip. So how are you feeling today? Did you get your sleep, or did you exchange it for some late night fun and nostalgia instead?

I'm feeling relieved to be nearing the end of the work week. I feel like I've earned it. It's been a challenging and stimulating week. Right now I have the interns doing some heavy research. They've each been assigned to learn and study one of the few competing Kubernetes sidecar options floating around in our code at work. In these "reconnaissance missions" (being a secret management team, we're giving everything a light-hearted James Bond thematic twist), they need to reverse engineer their sidecar and understand it well enough to record a live demo of it working on their laptop. It's proven to be daunting, but equally exciting.

We've spent most of the week working together in the style of "mob programming". We meet in study sessions over Zoom. We chit chat and ask questions in between waiting for things to compile and download. Yesterday, we had an exciting breakthrough. In trying to unwind the dependencies to Ritik's sidecar, we found new a way to bring the complicated AWS-only process into a lightweight, local test bed. Something that may have taken an engineer about a dozen deploys to the cloud to learn could now be simply demonstrated on Ritik's laptop.

"This is kind of exciting," I commented. "This has never been done before at Zendesk, it's like our own little scientific breakthrough."

Meetings rolled right into ice skating lessons. Rodney, now with a whole new level of confidence out on the ice, now feels the freedom to bring more of his own personal flair to the class. This flair came in the form of his rubber tarantula, his rubber dinosaur puppet glove, and his single-handed Spider-Man glove. "I'm going to wear these to keep warm on the ice," he explained.


We compromised. The dinosaur puppet had to stay in the car. The spider "watched" from my hoodie pocket, and he took the ice with only his single-handed Spider-Man glove. Very Michael Jackson-esque, isn't it?

Something special happened out on the ice yesterday. I was following Rodney around, taking tiny marches and doing dips with him, when I was struck with a thought. Why am I out here with him? Rodney expertly copied every move the teacher made. He was picking up fast, even dancing and "dabbing" with his arms while he rehearsed with his feet. I was just a middleman.

"Hey dude, you stay out here and do your thing. I'm going to go over on the boards," I said, leaning in. Rodney looked a little surprised, but he couldn't hide the glimmer of excitement in his eyes. I could tell he wanted to try this ice skating thing out on his own. I tiny-marched my way to the boards and Rodney continued to follow the teacher. They played red-light-green-light - tiny marching through the green, gliding through yellow, and dipping at red. They practiced little hops in place, jumping from heels touching to toes touching (a move that I found challenging when I tried it by myself later).

I saw the teacher skate over to Rodney to work on his marches. She took her own marches, only backwards, so she could face Rodney and beckon him in her direction. Rodney, thinking he was supposed to copy her exactly, also turned backwards and took his own tiny marches. The teacher laughed. Rodney, now wearing the imaginary crown of teacher's pet, beamed with pride.

I was glad to be standing far away against the boards. It gave him his own space and enhanced his confidence. It also ensured that nobody else would see the big fat crocodile tears flowing out of my eyes.

"You were crying?" asked Marissa.

"Oh, I was a mess," I laughed. "What happened to me? I went from crying like five times in my adolescent life to just crying at the drop of a hat now."

Marissa was preparing dinner - roasted chicken in a honey mustard glaze. The procedure called for a spatchcocked chicken. I watched Marissa over her shoulder as she used a pair of flimsy craft scissors to muscle out the spine from the bird. She turned her head and started dry-heaving.


After getting cleaned up, she showed me the scene from Bob's Burgers where Linda Belcher dry heaves while watching Bob spatchcock a turkey. Marissa's own similarities with Linda Belcher haunt her - her laugh, her temperament, the little random songs and dances throughout the day. The spatchcock scene sealed her fate. "I'm basically Linda Belcher," she admitted.

Gutting through the gruesome procedure was worth it. The meal was delicious. The chicken glistened with a deep, flavorful sheen. The sauce was tangy and delicious. The roasted vegetables were balanced and comforting.


"Take a pitchur of my food too," commanded Rodney. I obediently snapped a picture of his plate too.


Thanks for stopping by today. Have a good Thursday everyone.