Thursday, July 22 2021

on-call, a missing bottle of rum, and a new fishtank

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, friends. Happy Thursday. With the whole house asleep, I'm enjoying a brief moment of quiet before things really get going, and I hope you're doing the same.

I'm coming to you from what is officially my first on-call shift as a networking engineer. My shift started yesterday afternoon. The Wednesday-to-Wednesday cadence had me scratching my head at first, but the longer I think about it the more I see the hidden genius.

On my old team, our shifts started on Monday morning, and they lasted until the following Monday morning. Under this system, the week feels great until you get to Friday when you have that sinking feeling in your heart knowing you still have a whole weekend to go. And to twist the knife a little more, when your shift finally does end, it's a Monday. You have yet to traverse an entirely new work week before you can reach your next off-duty weekend.

But under this innovative Wednesday to Wednesday system? Ah, now we're talking. You finish your shift on a Wednesday. You only have two measly work days before you get to the weekend, and having time to ramp up to a shift on Monday and Tuesday helps too. This new team has made me a believer in the Wednesday-to-Wednesday on-call system, and I can only hope my old team sees the light too.

Sip. How are you feeling today? I hope you're in good spirits. I'm feeling good today, especially now that our home network has been fully restored. I had one last annoying, lingering issue in trying to get Plex remote access and OpenDNS to play nicely together. The nagging issue soaked up an hour of my free time last night and exactly ten minutes this morning. I haven't totally wrapped my head around why adding a host level DNS server override fixed the issue, but in this case I felt grateful that my router could do that. I guess that's the tradeoff of running all this "smart guy" stuff at home. It crashes spectacularly, but when it's working you can fine tune your way out of almost any problem.

I had an exciting day of work yesterday. Vicente and I paired on what could best be described as a configuration crisis. We moved swiftly, working off of the same bottomless slack thread in our team's channel. We worked down to the wire, kicking off our production change at 4:30 PM. Anxiously, I stared at the clock at the corner of my screen. I had only left a half hour to roll the change out to three customer partitions, but I forgot about the new mandatory soak time.

"You go get started on dinner," said Vicente. "I can do the other pods."

Without much time to plan, I went with the Recker family standby weeknight standard: mashed potatoes, green beans, and pork tenderloin in cream sauce. Zipping through the aisles of the grocery store with a basket in hand, I mentally sifted through our cabinet at home. I remembered that we were out of cognac and wine. "We'll just have to use rum again," I muttered.

Back at home, I sifted through our liquor shelf. We had five year old bottle of Triple sec, an untouched bottle of mezcal, and an nearly empty bottle of port wine. But no rum.

"Where is our bottle of rum?" I asked aloud, wandering the kitchen. Marissa joined me in the hunt.

"I thought you dumped that out," she asked.

"I would never dump out the rum," I said, offended. "It's a good backup for pan sauces."

While searching for the missing bottle of rum, we couldn't help but yell WHY IS THE RUM GONE? to each other - an overused, but situationally perfect movie reference.

I had to use the bottle of port to make the sauce. Mixed with the cream, the sauce took on the color of chocolate syrup, and it felt so strange to pour it over the top of mashed potatoes. Rodney studied the dark, viscous liquid on his plate. "What's this?" he asked.

"Mashed potatoes, pork, and chocolate sauce," I laughed.


Across the dinner table, Miles squealed and push his food around the plastic tray of his high chair. Marissa leaned in. "YOU NEED TO EAT," she yelled playfully, jabbing at his food with her index finger. Miles copied her, poking at his potatoes with one finger.

"No, YOU need to eat," said Marissa, poking the food. Miles copied her again, and by the third iteration Rodney was laughing so hard that he couldn't breathe.

Miles is at a fun age - just old enough to start to put some mental puzzle pieces together, but small enough where he has to resort to bizarre cues like grinning, shaking, gesturing, and yelling DAH DAH DAH or MAH MAH MAH.

After dinner, Marissa set her attention on the fishtank. For the past week, we've had two fishtanks set up alongside each other in the dining room - her old algae-infested tank on the right, and her shiny futuristic new Waterbox on the left. The final part finally arrived in the mail, and at last she could begin the great migration.

First she moved Ibb and Obb. "Maybe... just move one of them at first," I suggested from the dinner table.

"Oh, just in case he keels over like our cleaner shrimp?" she laughed. At the time, when our cleaner shrimp Stephane I keeled over dead seconds after hitting the water, we felt sad. But enough time has passed where now Marissa can get an easy laugh out of me by imitating the way he rolled across the sand like a stiff piece of plastic.

Ibb and Obb didn't keel over dead. They happily darted around their new abode. "Your request to transfer to the ocean was denied, but this was the best we could do," said Marissa quietly.


Next, Rodney and I helped Marissa move the corals an anemones to tupperware cups. They would be sanitized and moved to a temporary holding tank, after they were coaxed into leaving the old rock of course. For the first time, I got to witness the strange and fascinating methods for convincing an anemone to leave its foothold.


"Can't you just pull it out with tongs?" I asked.

"No, you don't want to hurt it," said Marissa. "It will detach, you just have to encourage it." Marissa flipped the rock and tapped at it with a hammer. The anemone went limp, falling into her hand. "Got it," she said.


Thanks for stopping by today. Have a wonderful Thursday, everyone.