Thursday, July 15 2021

spider expectations, a work renaissance, and purging toys

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Thursday. The grey, overcast sky feels perfect right now. I can't complain about the relaxing dim lighting, the cool air, and the general sense of coziness permeating my writing space. Oh yeah, and it complements this hot cup of coffee perfectly.

Sip. It's good to be here today. We're already at Thursday, and the week is about to get a lot busier from party planning, party throwing, and party clean-up. So right now I'm determined to enjoy any moment of brief quietness that I can get my hands on.

Before we get going, we need to have a talk about setting expectations. I've recently learned that I'm a huge spider dork. I don't get tired of learning about them, and I'm afraid that now I think about them so often that if I wanted, I could fill any pause in a conversation or blank journal entry with spider observations, spider learnings, and spider reflections. I'm even sitting here right now wearing the new tarantula shirt I got specifically for Rodney's birthday party, and I feel so cool in it that it borders on embarrassing.

This blog is probably going to have an up-tick in the spider related content. This is bad news for you if you like to read this blog and you hate spiders. I understand some people get the shivers from just thinking about spiders. One friend told me that watching my Instagram story caused him to involuntarily chuck his iPhone across the room. I wish I could simultaneously indulge my new fascination while protecting your phobias, but that's kind of hard to do in a blog about my life. The spiders have invaded alex-recker-dot-com, and I don't think they're leaving any time soon.

But even if you are afraid of spiders, maybe you can learn to like them. Through watching and observing these little critters, I find new ways to relate to them all the time. For instance, have you ever felt the need to eat something even though you weren't hungry? Maybe you felt the need to gorge on a box of your favorite cereal before your siblings could get to it. Maybe you have microwaved some leftovers in your fridge from a favorite restaurant because you knew it wouldn't taste as good the next day for lunch. Maybe you felt the need to gobble down the last remaining sushi rolls at the table because sushi is kind of expensive and you don't eat it very often.

This is called opportunistic eating, and spiders do it too. Spiders don't get to eat regularly. In the wild, they dig burrows and set traps, and spend most of their time waiting for food to cross their path. This may be days, weeks, or months, so they've adapted to eat whenever they can. For this reason it's actually pretty easy to overfeed a spider.

Even though Spidey had already eaten a few days ago, I decided to give him another worm. I figured he's a juvenile, and his growing body would throw the excess energy into another molt anyway. Also, he must have been famish from digging his burrow all night. I found him the next morning resting beside a giant pile dirt, and his water bowl was completely empty. I gently placed a super worm in the corner of his enclosure. This worm was being a real dingiss. In direct violation of his responsibilities to crawl as a larva and eat fresh vegetables, he was instead trying to curl up alone in the corner and form a pupa - an easy snack for a hungry tarantula. He made quick work of the misguided worm, then returned to his fancy new burrow.


Good job, Spidey.

In other news, work is really picking up. I'm writing code, deploying services, moving tickets, and learning the tools of this new trade. It feels good to finally start digging into things. I feel like this week, especially yesterday, might mark the beginning of my own personal renaissance of finding fulfillment in work. I worked with Derek on tracking down a metrics issue in our mesh monitoring. I worked with Joe on building out a new set of route tables and NAT gateways. I learned so much just listening to Vicente walk through a recent incident he resolved that after the meeting I had to get up and stare out the window for the same amount of time just to finish absorbing it all. It's an exciting time, and I feel incredibly lucky.

Meanwhile, Marissa and Rodney have already started to decorate for the big party on Saturday. He and Marissa went wild with construction paper, pipe cleaners, and googly eyes. All morning I could hear them cackling in the dining room at every silly creature they fashioned.


We also took some time yesterday to purge Rodney's toys, as we do every year to make room for new birthday toys. We told him that we were going to give the toys he didn't want anymore to his "fans", which played into his ongoing Ryan's World fantasy nicely until he started high-jacking the narrative.

"Yeah, and then my fans will fix my toys, and give them back to me," he added.

"No," said Marissa. "They're going to keep them. Your fans will keep the toys forever."

"You gotta take care of your fans, dude," I added.

Rodney was less agreeable about this year's great toy purge. We cleared enough headroom in the inventory for this year's batch of presents, but he still has a lot. "Look at home many animals this kid sleeps with," laughed Marissa quietly.

Mere inches from his head, Rodney sleeps with the entire Paw Patrol, a family of giraffes, a family of t-rexes, a family of brachiosauruses, a spider, a puppy, a toy robot housing a miniature robot in its body, and two giant boa constrictors.


As a counterpoint to his crowded bedtime scene, his brother Miles sleeps with nothing. Jut a happy baby in a white crib in the corner of an empty room.


Kids are so silly. Thanks for stopping by today, have a great Thursday everyone.