Wednesday, July 7 2021

bathroom tile, the alcohol fume police, and a proud parenting moment

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, friends. Happy Wednesday. It's an honor to be with you on this cool Wednesday morning. It vigorously rained while we were eating dinner, and since then the temperature plunged into upper sixties. We needed a cool spell, and Marissa was also happy she could take a night off watering the flowers in the backyard. Isn't it great when mother nature picks up one of your chores as a freebie?

We're still shaking off the holiday weekend. We're trying to get back to work and find a routine. We're also trying to resume the various projects we have going on in the house. For instance, we just finished redoing our bathroom tile. What do you think of it?


New bathroom tile!

At first glance, the splotchy black felt misplaced to me. In fact, Marissa told me that she intended to keep it all black, but our daily trudging through the bathroom created a new variation. Grout is a lot like fluid art - you need to give the materials room to form their own patterns.

Just kidding - we are definitely kidding. Marissa is just darkening the lines between the tile. That's what the bathroom floor looked like a few days ago, and since then she has been scrubbing and etching the rest of the black grout away. But we had some fun with Rodney, telling him this is what our bathroom floor would look like permanently.

Sip. So Happy Wednesday. How is the week going so far for you? Marissa and I each had kind of a weird day. I didn't have a single meeting yesterday. In fact, the only human interaction I had outside my house was sending good morning to my teammate Joe over slack and later buying groceries in the afternoon. Normally that kind of mental space would invigorate me, but I'm still pretty new to this team. I don't have access to everything I need yet and I'm still learning about where help is needed. I spent the day in passive learning mode - reading, testing, and following self-guided walk-throughs.

Marissa had a weird day too, and it began with a weird encounter at the vet. For COVID reasons, our vet requires you to send your dog in alone, and that's been tough with Minnie. Marissa sends Minnie and Ziggy in together for emotional support, but yesterday one of the techs tried giving them each a rawhide chew. We don't give Ziggy raw hides because she gets a little territorial, and that's why we weren't surprised when the tech told us "it didn't go well."

"I was surprised," said Marissa. "They don't even give them treats without asking. But this tech is kind of new and he's excited about training dogs. I wish they would just do the bare minimum instead."

You don't train other people's dogs for the same reason you don't spank other people's kids.

In the background of this weird encounter at our vet, Instagram continues to be a thorn in Marissa's side. She explained to me that they're really pushing this reel feature to compete with tik-tok, and since Instagram's algorithm has a lot to do with what people see when they first open the app, that means normal image posts don't get nearly as much exposure as they used to.

"Artists are pissed," said Marissa. She showed me a video one of her friends made out of protest - sitting in a chair motionless holding a painting.

The Instagram platform has its issues, but the users share blame too. It may come as a total shock to you that an app like Instagram designed for visual stimulation and immediate pleasure doesn't attract thoughtful people or careful readers. Marissa lists her materials in every post, but people still pepper her with private messages asking "what kind of paper, what kind of ink, where do I buy the paper, where do I buy the ink?" Marissa has often said that her Instagram DM's make her feel like the other end of a search engine. The messages read like a query you'd mash into a google search bar late at night.

My least favorite type of Instagrammer is the alcohol fume police, and they've started to bother her again. Marissa works with regular over-the-counter isopropyl alcohol, and sometimes her technique requires her to gently blow it across the paper with her mouth. Some users take it upon themselves to berate her in the comments of her own posts for not wearing a gas mask or a scuba helmet. Marissa politely recommends people talk to their doctor about it, and if their doctor is like ours they'll endorse skipping the gas mask so long as you are working with off the shelf alcohol in a well ventilated area, taking breaks if you start to feel woozy. But when it comes to Instagram, this level-headed advice falls on deaf ears and the battle rages on. I don't want this train of thought to turn into a rant, so I'll leave it as this: get medical advice from doctors and not from people on Instagram.

In other news, we had an excellent day with the new spiders in our family. Both Spidey and Karta relaxed and spent more time on the ground. I tested the waters of our relationship (literally) by refilling their water bowls. When I gave the play-by-play to Marissa later, she was more amused by my acting than the story itself, so I'll include my own visual aids.

First was Spidey. He was hanging around in his enclosure along the wall when I carefully moved the plastic box to the desk. The vibrations gave him a small scare, and he protected himself by becoming as long and straight as possible along where the wall meets the floor.


Spidey's water dish had a hole in it. Carefully using a set of tongs, I fished the plastic cup from the dirt. A long, stringy web followed. I swapped it out with a working water bowl and gave it a squirt from the bottle - success.

Meanwhile, Karta was hanging out in the plastic leaves we glued to the top of her cave. She didn't look scared - more bored and aloof.


Since she had her foot planted on the top of the enclosure, I didn't want to test my luck. I filled her water bowl the "cheating way", drippling it through the grate in her ceiling.

A few hours later, both Karta and Spidey returned to the floor for a drink. In the worm tank beneath them, I noticed a single freshly molted larva flopping around helplessly on the surface of the oats. I had been watching that worm - all week he had been trying to pull his molt over his head like the way Miles gets his stuck in his own t shirt during naptime.

A quiet moment just before bedtime. Two relaxed spiders glaring at me through the glass. A notably stupid, freshly molted super worm flopping around in plain view like the ram caught in a thicket for Abraham's sacrifice. The moment felt right to try some food. I swiftly smashed the poor worm's head and cut him in two. Spidey got the head, since I knew he'd be able to handle the jaws. Karta got the butt, but it looked like the juicier of the two halves, so all was fair.

I dropped the pieces in. The two spiders just sat motionless, blinking at the freshly killed worm pieces. I sighed in disappointment. "Maybe they'll get them in the morning," I said as I slinked off to bed.

They did get to it later. This morning, both spiders were sipping on their worms like two kids hanging outside of a 7-Eleven with slurpees. It was a proud parenting moment.

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great day, everybody.