Historical Accounts

29 September 2016

Dear J—

So last week I got an actual ink-and-paper (well, probably toner to be honest) letter from my credit card company asking about the charges I disputed; I’m not sure if I’ve related that particular tale of woe, but suffice it to say that experience was enough to keep me from recommending Expedia, where you get a better rate by prepaying for a hotel stay and then you don’t have the chance to ask for a refund when the hotel is unable to let you stay. The front door of the small B&B I had booked in Washington DC was broken, and would not open while I was standing in front; my luggage was trapped inside, where I had dropped it off directly after arriving from the airport, and … yeah. No bueno.

The credit card company wanted my side of the story, while Expedia didn’t particularly seem to care: they only said they’d ask for the money back from the B&B, which refused to provide a refund, and here we are, writing a detailed personal letter saying all the things I’d done and tried to get in touch with someone at the B&B to let me in (complete with screenshots!). Lesson learned. Book directly with the hotel. Don’t bother paying a cheaper rate up front.

Mike

Moderately Awful

28 September 2016

Dear J—

I’ve been more productive at work lately, by which I mean that articles about infrastructure and Disney are not being created on Wikipedia; I would not challenge the definition of the word nor sully its dignity to suggest that I’ve been productive as an absolute term, though. More productive than zero is still more productive. It’s a bit of a losing argument, because being so, doing so and getting through deadlines has been moderately awful. There’s a million directionless, rudderless arguments for not continuing on with all the everything that’s happening, but the main point is that we’re marking time until the trip. At least I am. And watching things slide by this quickly has been enervating. 

I made a list of “things to do today” a week or so ago and I’ve only managed to scratch the surface. Part of that is the ever-present distraction of well huh, there’s just not much detail in that article, can’t we remedy that, or let’s dig up some more references, surely that won’t take too long. Next thing you know, half the morning has slipped by and I’m still sitting there in pajamas, editing some article I didn’t know I was going to be attacking whenI walked in that morning.

Mike

Days Out

22 September 2016

Dear J—

If you think about it, one day off is no big deal: there are any number of reasons why this happens, including sick time, or running late, or maybe a mini-vacation to tune down the rest of the day. Two days off, though? Without announcement? I guess it’s still not a big huge deal but then you start to worry, and then the days stretch into weeks and finally you end up wondering just where the heck this person has gone. In our case that’s how we worried about one of the people we ride with in the afternoons: no one had seen her all week, then two weeks and three before we figured out what was happening (an alternative means of transportation).

Still, though; you spend so much time rubbing elbows with people that you don’t like to think of what could happen when they go missing. If you worry about someone then you should probablyy have some way to get in touch with them to make sure everything’s going all right. Simple, right? We’re good at connecting – phones are always on, gathering information about how we walk and where we go – and the simple things, like actually talking with someone, have turned out to be just as tricky as before.

Mike

Opportunities

21 September 2016

Dear J—

The guy who’s usually on the train before me – we talk – isn’t here at the moment so I have a few stops before the next guy gets on. It’s enough. What I should do at work is go back to what I had before, that is, writing in a daily journal the events of the day and what’s coming up for tomorrow. It’s a nice way to exercise the last fifteen minutes or so rather than wait until the last minute and then send out some ill-advised emails talking about stuff I have little authority regarding.

You spend the time between not enough and too much worrying about what to do next; if all there is is worry then you’re not truly enjoying what you do, do you? I’m not sure what I’m saying. There’s always opportunities to forget what is important and how to reason through things rationally, so let’s take that last few minutes and find a way to make things easier to remember.

Mike

Last Minute

16 September 2016

This week has been all about waiting until the last moment to get anywhere, do anything. I keep dithering about without actually getting things done, and that doesn’t help, none of this stuff helps, does it? I’m not sure why the attitude has been to go slow slow slow in the mornings and then rush to the end and finish up hastily. Sloppily. Like this morning: I got up late and I’m writing this on a last minute sort of basis. Smart, right? 

Mike

Reminders

2 September 2016

Dear J—

It used to be that I would get on the train and fiercely ignore everyone else while I typed away in here. A whole year that went on, I think! Now it’s become more like I can write on certain occasions, when there’s no one else around, like today. Flip. Turnaround. So on the one hand it’s not a bad thing – I know I tend to repeat the same stories over and over again – but on the other it can make a painful time when I actually go to write something for work, though I guess that composing text for Wikipedia does help.

The conciseness, that’s what I miss, that and coming directly to a point instead of having to beat around the bush and finally make some small sense of it. A reminder, if you will, of how things used to be in this mental house.

Mike

Just Respond

19 August 2016

Dear J—

I have an awful lot of good intentions but the most significant one is the avoid-everything mode where I choose not to respond because I haven’t gotten anything done yet. This is pretty much the way I operate when I want to be nice but also want to be lazy. You know, that tracing of the cross-section of the Transbay Tube wasn’t going to make itself so … So yes. It also didn’t need to be made, perhaps. Lord knows it’s the least of my concerns, although I keep thinking of just one more news article or story that I can squeeze into the writeup.

That’s the problem, though: are you breaking even work-wise, and probably not is the real answer. Why does this happen every time it feels like every time I fail to respond that’s what I end up feeling, that’s that and it’s it. Okay. First off, think of a computer that you’d want to get. That’s the first order of business. Next, let’s think about the greater relief that will be had when you’ve got some more billings done. Yes. And finally, when did project management become a discussion topic in the first place? That’s what I want to know.

Mike

Luxury Alone

17 August 2016

Dear J—

This really is a sort of Golidlocks situation, where I have the luxury of being alone to pursue my thoughts but not so alone that I’m stuck here in an endless echo chamber of checking if I think what is right is already right and yes, shockingly, yes: what we think is right can easily be confirmed to be so, at least when we’re only checking ourselves.

There is plenty to do at work before next week’s Code Week and the loss of momentum between stops means that we’ll have to keep working ourselves nearly to the bone on it, won’t we? Aargh.

I need to figure out what I’m missing. I know I’m missing something.

Mike

Way Out

15 August 2016

Dear J—

it’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to write: it has been a fairly busy summer so far, but that’s drawing to a close with the kids getting back to school (or in Calcifer’s case, his first day) on Wednesday. Tomorrow is the ice cream social where we learn which teachers they get for the year and who they’ll be seeing, and then it’s a well-oiled machine for the next ten months or so, bam-bam-bam, pick ’em up and drop ’em off, rushing busy to the next day and the next instead of the patchwork quilt of camps and activities during the summer.

A year from now – next summer – what will that bring? There are changes afoot to the independence of my folks that they’re not going to respond positively to. Okay, they’re going to hate having to live in assisted living, but now is the time, or so we’ve managed to convince ourselves, with new dangers seeming to crop up every day, and only a steady decline in function stretching out ahead.

Mike

Long Mateo

29 July 2016

Dear J—

One of Calcifer’s friends is named Mateo; back when we were roaming around the city on weekends, we would occasionally run into him as he was shuttling around on the back of his dad’s bike (a Yuba ElMundo, one of the big cargo bikes with motor assist). Lately we haven’t had the ambition to go out walking, which may have something to do with the distance and heat, although figgy and I went out to the park last night to catch Pokemon and had a fairly good (yet frigid) time in the wind blowing off the Bay.

Hey, I even now own fingerless gloves (so elegant) which I keep on for the bicycle even when I secretly think how they now remind me of being a Pokemon trainer. Don’t judge me. If it’s a way to get the kids out and walking around then it’s not a bad thing at all. And if we can find a way to be more active this summer too then that’s even better. Kids learn from their parents, and when we’re not willing to go out or just wanting to lie around then …

Mike