Tuesday, January 11 2022

zombie tasks, routers, and a new baby gate



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Tuesday. It feels good to be back writing at my usual spot at the dining room computer. Even though I'll find myself jumping back on the computer an hour from now, doing this ritual in a different room helps break up the day.

Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, trudging from the sink to the coffee bar to brew a pot, I thought about a moment of zen I had with Rodney yesterday morning. After keeping him up so late the night before his first day back at school, I was worried he'd be tired for his big day. I slumped into the chair beside him at the breakfast table and asked, "How do you feel this morning? Are you tired?"

Rodney looked at me and shook his head with smarmy confidence. "Kid's don't get tired," he shrugged. Leaving that final poignant thought to hang in the air, he shoved a handful of Captain Crunch in his mouth and bounced out the door.

Kids don't get tired. How true. We parents regiment the time they go to bed and the time they wake up as if they are tiny adults who drag their feet out of bed and feel the same cruel effects of staying up late as we do. But kids are wired different. No coffee, no hot shower, no quiet twenty minutes to read or think silently. Just zero to a hundred miles an hour with nothing in between but a mouthful of sugary cereal. You would be hailed as a genius if you could make a machine with that kind of efficiency.

As for the rest of us adults who have long lost the twinkling magic of youthful energy, I suppose it's another morning sleepily crawling to the feet of our dark brown master, the coffee bean. Thank God for coffee. I am yours and you are mine - forever.

Sip. It's good to be here today. It's Tuesday, and I'm really starting to feel the burn of my ticket duty shift. Thankfully the pager has been quiet, but daytime support has me pulled in all sorts of directions, and it's difficult to find enough time to finish anything - really finish anything.

The toughest kinds of work tasks are the ones that come back to me after I finish them. I diagnose the issue, come up with a plan, write all the necessary paper work, reserve a change window, merge a pull request, and put a bow on everything by writing a friendly message in slack. Twenty minutes later, the issue is back. A loose end untied. An edge case I missed. In a twisting moment of suspense, the task comes clawing back from the dead to make one last swipe at my ankles, like I'm a surviving protagonist in a zombie movie. Even if you think a task is finished, don't forget to double tap these zombie tasks in the head.

Yesterday morning I made a quick drive to the local Best Buy. I arrived only twenty minutes after they opened, but disturbingly their parking lot was already flooded with cars. After wandering the aisles, doing my best heads-down "city walk" so as to not make eye contact with any of the blue shirted commission hounding employees, I found the wireless routers all on my own. For my backup router, I went with an uninspiring choice - the Netgear Nighthawk. I zipped home, and in the fifteen minutes before my morning stand-up, I set up my temporary datacenter.

It's a relief to get the house wired up again. For too long, the computers in our house have served a dual purpose - half immediate need, and half hobby. But when things break and the immediate needs of connecting to the internet, watching tv, and using the printer are compromised, it quickly sours the hobby. The guilt of letting my family down drowns out whatever fulfillment I was getting from the hobby. Marissa says assuring things like "I don't understand any of this stuff - I don't know what I'd do without you." It's a nice sentiment, but secretly I think Without me, you wouldn't have a homemade router, virtual machines, and all this other hobby bullshit running in your house. You'd probably just have a Netgear Nighthawk.

In other news, we've installed a new baby gate in the living room. We miss our last baby gate. I was so good at undoing the plastic latch, I could do it backwards, half-asleep, holding a full mug of coffee with my eyes closed. But the poor baby gate just took too much abuse. If it wasn't a teething meenie gnawing her way through the bottom, it was the day Rodney discovered he could make the gate fling open by running into it at full speed. "Watch this," he said, trying to demonstrate. Famous last words before a thirty minute ordeal of crying and consoling.

This new gate doesn't have the same charm and aesthetic appeal as the last one. Thick vertical black bars, a flimsy button, and some rubberfied metal screws to barely hold it in place. I don't feel like it could survive even one body check from Rodney.

But we're so close to getting out of the "baby gate" phase. We don't need something that looks nice or that we're proud of. We just need something that will keep Miles alive for another few months before we can give him full reign of the house.

That's what I got today. Let's go get this Tuesday over with, shall we? Have a good day, everyone.