Wednesday, May 26 2021

beschuiten, cluster ssh, and brad



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, people of the journal. Happy... Wednesday? Ah yep, Wednesday. That's a shame, I thought it was a Saturday. I had a neighborhood friend over for a beer yesterday, and we had so much fun it turned into a few more beers - but more on that later. I had one of those mornings where it felt unnatural to get up so early. My phone alarm, rather than an invitation to start the work day, felt like an intrusion on a perfectly good morning to sleep in. But the illusion only lasted for a few seconds, and the morning routine auto-pilot module finally kicked in.

Happy Wednesday everyone. We've got a lot of action on the calendar today. I've been tapped for an onboarding session for new engineers, so I'll be wearing my chipper welcome to Zendesk face. I've got my list of personal fun facts and funny stories at the ready for new employee ice breakers.

After work, Rodney and I have an ice skating lesson. It's the highlight of his week, the biggest circle on the paw patrol calendar hung up on the wall. The truth is if I had a paw patrol calendar on my wall, I'd have a big circle on each Wednesday too. It's been so much fun watching Rodney build confidence with standing on skates.

Sip. How are you all feeling today? Are you keeping up with work this week? Have you tried any new foods? What has breakfast been like these days? In our last Dutch practice, Famke and I talked about what Dutch people ate. She tells me that een echte Nederlander - a real Dutch person - only eats a big meal for dinner. She found it funny how Americans sometimes have big meals for lunch on the same day. "That's like eating two dinners - you can't do that!" she laughed. Maybe a lunch beer paired with a good Wisconsin fish fry would change her mind.

Een echte Nederlander eats a sandwich for lunch, and a beschuit for breakfast.

"Wat is een beschuit?" I asked. She described a small wafer-like cookie. Out of curiosity, I ordered a pack from Amazon.

Well, my shipment of beschuiten finally arrived, and the good news was that you get a lot of bang for you buck. Twenty dollars got me six sleeves of beschuiten. Marissa was confused. She lined them all up on the coffee bar. She thought I had lost my mind.

We each tried a bite. They're simple and on the dry side. These beschuiten aren't going to take you on a decedent adventure like a cookie or even a stroopwaffel, but for a quick breakfast I could see the appeal.

I made it my mission to get Rodney to like beschuiten, if anything just to help me work through the enormous backlog I ordered. When he had finished his dinner, Marissa and I deliberated on whether or not he deserved a special cookie, in the style of "good cop, bad cop".

"I don't know," I said, pretending to anguish. "I only have six sleeves. That's not that many, I kind of want these for myself."

"Don't be selfish," said Marissa. "He can try one."

"OK," I said, nodding slowly. "Let me get the special beschuit plate out."

I retrieved one of our ornate dessert plates from the cabinet, placing a beschuit in the middle. I walked it slowly and ceremonially over to the dining room table. We presented Rodney with his beschuit. He gingerly took a bite.

"Kinda pretty... crunchy," said Rodney. Marissa and I exchanged a smirk.

"These are special, because you can eat them for breakfast," I said. Rodney's mouth hung open in amazement. Hook. Line. Sinker.

The work day was packed with action too. There was a problem with the tool that collects metrics from my team's servers, and because the servers couldn't send metrics, all of our alerts were triggered at once. Brook, the on-call engineer, said his phone was blowing up all day starting in the early morning. When he set up the pager app on his phone, he chose the sad trombone alert noise because he thought it was funny. "My wife has been hearing a lot of sad trombones today, she doesn't think it's funny," he said. The sad trombone is a solid choice. My personal favorite is the barber shop quartet that sings THE SERVERS ON FIIIIIIIIIIRE.

Brook and I paired to fix the issue. We found that our servers were using an old authentication token and it had to be replaced. We had a chance to bust out Cluster SSH, one of my favorite tools. Cluster SSH allows you to connect to multiple servers and issue commands to them simultaneously. You type in one window and it sends the commands to multiple terminals at once. Brook ran the command I sent him, and his screen was covered in terminals. He agreed that Cluster SSH makes you look very cool - the closest our job ever comes to the likes of a hacker on CSI.

We divided and conquered. Updating dozens of servers at a time, we flipped the ocean of red alerts to green. Nothing beats the feeling of swiftly fixing something.

After dinner, my friend Brad came by the house. He stopped by to pick up some computer parts and have a beer. He was also celebrating two weeks since his second vaccine. It was an honor being his first hug since COVID.

I could try to use words to describe what a true Madison east sider is, or I could just introduce you to Brad. Patient. Funny. Conscientious. Liberal. Eccentric. Thrifty. Lives life between hard work and good beer.

"I just say yes to things," he laughed. That attitude has thrown him into numerous neighborhood programs beyond the computer club where we met. Brad attends neighborhood meetings, moderates online groups, fixes websites, and helps out at festivals. He even MC'd the talent show at the local east side elementary school.

Our beer turned into a few beers. Marissa put off art show work and joined us. Brad amused us with alien conspiracy theories, stories of neighborhood Facebook fights, and observations like what somebody's face does when they are about to say something racist.

"They always look both ways," said Brad. "When somebody leans in and looks booth ways before saying something, it's best to just walk away."

Words to live by. Thank you, Brad. Have a great Wednesday, everyone.