Night Shift

8 February 2016

Dear J—

I know, it’s strange: yet I still do miss the night shift and all it entailed, between getting up late and going to bed at odd hours and having the afternoon to be thinking about what to do and maybe a hike before resigning myself to the inky dark night and early morning cold, marching forward to stay awake at 0200 and holding court on the engineering decisions of the day, knowing intimately what issues had arisen and what you needed to turn over to the next set coming on board.

I felt important and though the legacy was small it was still passing the torch on to folks yet to come. Hey, I handled that. We did. Together. Then of course came the things we couldn’t handle and didn’t, and here you are in the gloaming twilight, hoping for some rehash of the glory days, right? Or is that a sunrise you see instead?

Mike

Golden

4 February 2016

Dear J—

Well, the New Year is nearly upon us and there’s a lot I should be doing in preparation but it’ll have to settle for eating some cookies and trying to dodge traffic for the rest of the week, at least until after Sunday. As usual I’m not taking much if any time off and meanwhile we’ve got enough as it is, don’t we? 

I suppose we could try going up to the City – we’ve got train cards and it’s fairly cheap to do so, but there’s some walking, and then there’s some complaining and rather than try things I end up having to force them into doing it and then no one’s pleased by it. No. One.

Tomorrow I spend the day with the lawyers on our legal case; two and a half years on and this is reaching the end of the string. We should be so lucky to have cases like this more often, but at the same time it feels a bit like ambulance chasing, following around and asking if they might need some technical analysis after the pain has subsided.

Mike

Water

3 February 2016

Dear J—

When they talk about lead poisoning in Flint it reminds me of Bunker Hill back from when I was growing up. That was a limited number of lead poisoning cases and the threshold they established was a cool million per child, payable once they turned eighteen and that seemed like all the money in the world at that time, though I guess weighed against future earnings and medical costs, it was really only a pittance at best.

For Flint it’s the inaction that gets me: why should it take so long to come up with a viable repair plan? We have decent remote tools and technologies, but the attention is more focused on attention grabbing donations and glad handing political opportunities. How long would it take to install filters for every house, for neighborhoods, or is it better to gut the infrastructure and start anew? Where’s CC Myer when you need them?

Mike

Tripping

2 February 2016

Dear J—

Someone pointed out that Grease was originally released in 1972 (the musical) and set in 1955, which capitalized on the greasers-jocks-nerds dynamic of the 1950s popular at the time; this twenty-year gap occurs all the time, driven by consumers with enough money and creative talent maturing enough that stuff from twenty years ago is nostalgic and wonderful. Perhaps this is why I’m sitting here in a Nike jacket that dates back to the 90s. 

At any rate, if the equivalent of Grease were released today, it would be set in the 90s and probably would feature a boy band of some sort. The kids would be called out to participate in something like Survivor. We would have blogs, not diaries. Double entendres would abound, possibly with clever winking emoticons. It’s hard to think of that time – your time being young and wonderful as now being part of the past but this is the steady march. Besides which, I like this year better than last year, and that’s been true for all of them so far, so I can’t wait to see what next year brings too.

Mike

Titled

1 February 2016

Dear J—

We went to watch Kung Fu Panda 3 yesterday morning; the earliest show we could catch was 10AM at Tanforan, so we finished up our breakfast and hustled up to the old racetrack. It was so early, in fact, that the mall was not even open and we had to come around through the food court instead of cutting through Target like I thought we could. Mall theaters are interesting; the prior evening’s cleanup did not appear to have occurred and the snack stand was in disarray; we instead had to scrounge up trays from where we could in order to share the popcorn. 

In the back of my mind I was remembering how I’d read the Kung Fu Panda series was immensely popular in China and not just from a novelty standpoint, not just because here was something set in China that didn’t exoticise it in a fawning manner (cue cymbal crash and twangy pentatonic scale), more that it was like a plausible legend of yore, albeit with talking animals. During the closing sequence – what would be the happily-ever-after epilogue in the book – they started playing Kung Fu Fighting but instead of singing in English, they went with Mandarin and I love them all the more for it. Clearly, KFP3 was written as celebration of their largest market, which isn’t the United States.

Mike

Wonder Full

29 January 2016

Dear J—

If I haven’t said it before, work has moved. We’ve been in the new building for a month or so, and the routine is getting easier to deal with: I know it takes longer, since we moved south and east, but I think the commute is easier for most of my coworkers. I’m happy with that, and hopefully it’s cut down on the time they have to spend in traffic. Since I’m on a bike and train most of the time, there’s little traffic for me to deal with either way, and my commuting stress is low, though the commuting time is somewhat high. I’ve signed up for a three-zone pass for next month but I may revert back to a two-zone pass considering that going from Sunnyvale to Santa Clara isn’t a huge burden.

Yesterday I brought in donuts from the bakery/restaurant I had been buying from at the old location so instead of having to bike only a mile or two with donuts I ended up going eight miles with donuts yesterday morning. Folks were less impressed with the donuts (though they were undeniably tasty) than they were with the fact that I got them there on a bike in the first place, which mystifies me: I have a rack, and the donuts don’t weigh much; why shouldn’t I bring in donuts if I like? I’ve yet to find the engineer who doesn’t appreciate them.

I’m happy with my commuting choices, though venturing a bit too close to smug, I think. I’m lucky to be able to ride the train, let’s just say, and everything is gravy on top.

Mike

Catch I Can

28 January 2016

Dear J—

Growing up in Cheney and listening to KXLY AM 920 you’d hear different programs depending on what time of day: at the top of each hour, CBS News and Bob Schieffer, more likely than not; at night Larry King and then Bruce, the guy from TalkNet would show up and usher you into sleep. First time caller, long time listener. Great show, buddy. One of the fun advertisements was talking about heading to Alaska for hunting at Ketchikan, which was just as funny a name as we would have in Washington but brought to mind other two-K words like Kodiak, some rugged vision of the frontier beckoning us forward.

Mike

Regular Service

27 January 2016

Dear J—

One of the comic readers that I use is able to pull down scan lagoons from various servers to make the reading experience fairly transparent, if only quasi-legal (on the other hand, if there’s no official translation of early – or later – Adachi then shouldn’t I have a chance to read it, or perhaps I should just suck it up, learn Japanese, and get official used copies of books littering every shelf in the house? Digital storage is turning out to be easier and more convenient, although in some cases I’m not able to read them due to file type or obsolete software.

Back about ten years ago, though, that meant having to hop on IRC and finding the right channel maintained by the translating team: sure, there was a website, but not a whole lot beyond a pointer to the IRC channel and some sketchy instructions. That friction has been alleviated, though I still miss the old routine of finding chapter after chapter, then assembling them into my own volumes and then sorting the images and … You know what? This is 2016, and thankfully I don’t have to deal with that stuff.

Mike

Along About Now

26 January 2016

Dear J—

Along about now – any minute, c’mon, you can do it – is about the time when I get impatient and forget who I’m talking to and … get impatient with things and you start to push and nag until it starts going, but would the motivation still remain if you didn’t? I dunno. I’m reminded of this as my pen at work was broken when someone borrowed it without asking and returned it with a bent nib, telling me that my pen wasn’t working. Well, it isn’t now, is it? I suppose it was my fault for leaving it out so prominently but …

Then I remember how I am at home, always pushing and nagging and crabbing out about things I really can’t reasonably expect to have happen. So yeah. And it’s not that big of a deal: you will work it out and get a new pen out of it, besides (this one was starting to crack on the barrel and realistically the three or four years of good service I did get out of this one is probably more than I could have expected, right?

I still want my pen back; if only I’d … For those few seconds when I had my back turned …

Mike

Week End

25 January 2016

Dear J—

Let’s all get up / and dance to a song / that was a hit before /  your mother was born; / though she was born a long long time ago, /  your mother should know …

I’m clearly still on weekend time, which is when you get to wrench on the bike and pretend that you know what you’re doing (progress on the project bike: I’m not going to be able to install rear brakes unless/until I set up the roller brake again, since pushing the wheel back in the dropouts to make the chain tight enough means I’m now out of alignment in terms of putting a rim brake on) and you stay up late playing games for no fruitful reason (I could have been spending that time working on presentations for the Koreans, who are coming again today, for instance).

We have formal responses due back to the audits we’ve passed through and those aren’t quite ready yet, though they’re probably pretty close at the moment. Also there’s … Well, there’s a lot to be said for Monday morning work, let’s say. One more audit this week. The Koreans. A new bike rack. Hopefully I won’t have to be going dumpster diving anytime soon but even if I do I figure it will work out all right. It should, at least.

Mike


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