Wednesday, July 28 2021

chocolate milk, chaos testing, and famke's chicken

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, my friends. Happy Wednesday. Or as they might say across the ocean in the Netherlands, gelukkig woensdag. The warm summer sun glares through our dining room windows. A fish tank quietly trickles behind me. The whole house sleeps - even our two clown fish Ibb and Obb are snuggling in a divet they made in their sandy floor. If I didn't know any better, I would think it was time to write.

And I have coffee beside me, of course. I broke into our last bag of Fire Department light roast today, and our next batch shipped yesterday. Unfortunately I think we're going to have yet another close call with the coffee supply. The suspense! The drama!

Sip. How are you feeling today? I would be feeling good, if not for the weird combination of white wine and chocolate milk still sloshing around in my stomach from last night. Yesterday, I took Rodney to the grocery store. We only needed to buy about five things, and whenever we shop without a list we're prone to shop more extemporaneously, scooping up more impulse snacks and teats. Yesterday, a chilly, velvety jug of chocolate milk caught our eye and beckoned us to indulge.

"We'll bust this out tonight for dinner," I told him. "Just me and you. A special drink."

"That's the smallest chocolate milk I've ever seen," said Rodney. He wanted me to reach for the full gallon instead of the quarter gallon.

"Dude, we would never finish the gallon," I laughed. "It's just me and you drinking this, this will be plenty."

As we set the table that night for dinner, Marissa laughed when she saw me filling up two plastic cups of chocolate milk at our seats, especially because I already had a glass of white wine at the table. "I'll drink both," I said proudly.

Marissa shook her head. "You two are going to get a stomach ache," she warned. But Rodney and I were already toasting our glasses and gulping down the rare, forbidden treat. Rodney and I finished the entire jug at the table. I didn't hear a single complaint from him the rest of the night, so when it comes to sugar his stomach must be just a little more battle-tested than mine. So that's the story of why I'm feeling just a little queasy today, but it's nothing I can't handle - I'll manage just fine.

It's been a busy and interesting week. I wrapped up a big project yesterday, and today I'll be looking to switch gears and tackle something else on the Network team's plate. I also learned that I was selected to participate in a round of chaos testing on Thursday. Periodically, a group of engineers get together to simulate and recreate incidents from the past to measure how well our services have grown and adapted to the conditions. A new member of the network team, I've been awarded the honor of kicking off the fun by shutting of the Internet.

"It's not too difficult," said Derek. "You just run some terraform in the morning, let everyone run their tests, and then we have a little script to put it back."

Turning off the Internet? Intentionally causing an outage? I have to confess, the whole thing sounds menacingly fun. We engineers spend so much time fixing things and protecting things from outages that the prospect of doing the opposite sounds cathartic.

The only drawback is that the test begins at 9:00 AM, and on any other day I'd be writing for at least another twenty minutes. I'll have to finish the post later in the day, so to the faithful readers, this Thursday you may need to find something else to read with your coffee. The journal will be late of the press - there is chaos testing to be done.

I wrapped up work, went shopping with Rodney, and cooked dinner. As we usually do, before Rodney went off to bed I let him accompany me in our bedroom to say 'hi' to the spiders. This time, Rodney had his very own magnifying glass.

The moment I snapped the plastic latch, Krarta darted into the back corner of her cave. Lately, Glassy has been doing the same, only he's a little more polite about it. I demonstrated his little routine on our bed with a silly game of spider charades.

"He starts off just chilling out on top of his cork bark," I said, sprawled out on the bed. "He sees me coming, and he tries to act friendly, but he starts to inch toward the mouth of the cave." Using my fingers, I pulled my body to the edge of the bed.

"Then he does this sweet upside-down move where he flips into the cave from the top." I somersaulted down to the floor. My heavy legs made a thump on the ground. Rodney and Marissa laughed.

"Now do Karta," said Marissa.

"I would injure myself," I laughed.

Glassy and Karta were feeling shy, but Spidey was more welcoming. He stepped out of his lair to greet us, staring out of the top of his open box with beady little eyes.


His legs fluttered as he began to climb up the wall. "Dad, put the lid back on. He's gonna get out," said Rodney nervously.


Spidey retreated to his favorite corner, pressing his body against the glass. Rodney and I got a rare, up-close look at his "business end" - his coffee colored underside and his needle-thin black fangs. Arachnaphobics, I would hastily scroll past this next picture.


After putting Rodney to bed, I signed onto Zoom for a chat with my Dutch friend Famke. We had a lot to catch up on. Slowly, stopping to repeat phrases and correct words, we exchanged stories about summer life.

"Oh, hoe is je kip?" I asked (how is your chicken)? Famke began to speak more emphatically with emotion. I missed most of the words while studying her reaction. Missing the words and reading her expression, I started to worry that something awful had happened to her pet chicken. Was he sick? Did he fall victim to a fox or a hawk?

"Oh my God," I said in English. "Sorry, I noticed you're kind of getting emotional - is your chicken OK?"

Famke laughed. Her chicken was fine. She was trying to explain how big he was getting, and how it felt like just yesterday that he hatched from an egg as a baby. She told me her chicken also had its first "flight", leaping off of a tree stump and floating to the ground. The whole family was outside cheering it out while it happened.

That's what I got today. Thanks for stopping by, everyone. Have a nice Thursday.