Handoffs

11 September 2017

Dear J—

There’s a Downtube bike on the train, one of the folding bikes from when they were not common to see and reminiscent of a bike I had and sold and still do not regret selling. I spent the first month or so commuting on the Downtube and from the start it was clear I wasn’t going to lug something that complicated and heavy up and down the stairs at Caltrain so instead I got … well, two complex and heavy steel bikes to serve as commuting partners. The one that I built, though, I think I understand it sufficiently to know when it’s about to strand me, though it did so in an interesting way last week (the rear wheel slipped out of the dropouts just enough to jam the tire against the chainstay, making it impossible to pedal or roll the bike; I ended up having to carry it to a tire shop and asking for a 15mm wrench to get the rear wheel put back in place enough.)

But anyway, regarding handoffs: you do your best to make sure the next person who steps in behind you knows what to do, right? And yet … there is too much going on, you don’t want to spend the extra time and so well never mind. Not doing anything is easier and possibly cleaner but not any more satisfying.

Mike

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Real Work

7 September 2017

Dear J—

I’ll keep this short because I’m feeling that what I do isn’t real work in the sense that the lives I touch are inadequately affected by what I do compared to the people I ride with. One of them isn’t here today because he’s preparing aircraft to help those affected by Hurricane Irma. I mean, c’mon, how am I supposed to respond to that?

With admiration and gratitude, I guess. After Katrina I wanted so desperately to do something, anything, be boots on the ground in the middle of a rebuild or just helping out in some way, right? That was an earlier time and I don’t necessarily feel the same about it, but hope to have a positive effect on the world around me sooner or later. Probably later, the way I procrastinate, to be honest.

Mike

Waterbound

5 September 2017

Dear J—

It has been a long weekend, made even longer by last Friday being a day off for the kids (teacher resource day). When they found out about it early last week they wanted to make it a surprise for theVet, which I advised them was not wise: there are some things you can surprise a mom with and “oh, hey, we have the day off today” is not one of them. Birthdays, yes. Babies, sure. Thankfully they told me ahead of time and I arranged to work from home that day, which meant mocking up a document and starting in on something beyond the barest outline glimmer of a table of contents.

So Friday was the hottest day recorded in San Francisco and of course knowing that it would be hot (maybe not that hot, but still) I voted that we go skating. Skating, as in ice, where it would be cool and chill and the kids said no, which I took as badly as you might imagine. We went roller skating instead; at the Redwood Roller Rink, which is scheduled to shut down at the end of the month after fifty plus (?) years of operation. The person in front of us, well, we were collectively the only ones to skate in the heat, and they used a two-for-one coupon to get in at half price. Friday we ended up going to Target afterwards to cool off (ICEE machine was broken, ditto the frozen lemonade so we shared cool drinks and caramel popcorn, the best caramel popcorn I’ve ever had).

Saturday was nearly as hot, and we spent the morning at the Ryder Park water feature, watched Cars 3 again that afternoon at the mall to keep cool. Sunday was all day, nearly, at the San Francisco Zoo, which on most days is cool enough to be on the edge of unpleasant (you be advised, travelers: if you go to the Zoo, bring your jacket, especially in June or July) and Sunday just made it into slightly uncomfortable in the sun. We had pretzels afterward, then fashioned a dinner out of leftovers from Saturday. Finally, on Monday we went to go see my parents and all had breakfast there.

I worry, at times, that maybe we’re not doing enough for my folks though we end up being what they call a sandwich generation at this age: caught between the demands of younger and older generations. The balance this weekend certainly proved that to me, and yet taking time off specifically to help my folks out is … well, that’s where most of my time has gone as well, right? We will reach another equilibrium; let’s just put our heads down and get through the next few months.

Mike

Back When

30 August 2017

Dear J—

The mark of the truly uninspired is having to rely on some new piece of equipment, right? For me, it’s a lens that provides a brief spark before I get so jaded and inadequate again; meanwhile life marches on and the better part of learning about yourself is spent in the kind of echo chamber that rings dully in your ears. Rather, you learn how to use something well and then you either stick with that or move on and try something new. Perhaps it’s not so much boredom as it is training to be versatile, right?

Keep telling yourself that. Right. There will be a reckoning, I tell you.

Mike

Leftie

28 August 2017

Dear J—

It makes me feel old just to describe it but as a person of a certain age my body is letting me know how far I’ve pushed it and whether to slow down (and right now it’s suggesting in very strong terms that I should just CUT THAT OUT, that being the active day we spent on Saturday carting the boy around different places). Me left leg feels fine when I’m standing up, but as soon as I flex forward at all it gives the weird sensation of cramping along one of the outside and inside muscles.

Like I said, part of getting old, I suppose. We already have plenty to deal with so I try not to make much of a fuss, though perhaps an analgesic when I get into work instead of the name-brand toaster pastry that’s also available through the vending machine. You take your choices that make the most sense. right now that means “functional and upright” rather than “filled.”

Mike

We Rise

21 August 2017

Dear J—

I suppose I could be friendlier, but no. It’s too early, I’m too shy, etc. Meanwhile those of us who’ve always suspected that we could be doing better realize that there’s a lot else to be said for getting more sleep and arriving at work not fatigued and already halfway behind the curve.

It’s already the partial eclipse coming up and are you ready?

Mike

Not Sustainable

18 August 2017

Dear J—

This, she says, this – waving a hand in my general direction, where I’m sprawled out on the couch, now guiltily blinking owlishly as I’ve just woken up – is not sustainable. 

She’s right and I know it. Weeks of disappearing after dinner only to wake up, startled: the kids are pretty well self-0policing but you know they’d rather have people around and interactions with them rather than whatever video screen du jour is of the moment. There’s always time to reclaim for yourself later in the evening, or before, in that small half hour at home between getting back from work and heading off to pick them up. But there’s also a thing as too much, and burning the sleep at both ends, late to bed and early (though not as early as maybe you need) to rise isn’t doing anyone any favors, least of all the couch, which has adopted the same general sloppy demeanor as those living on it, now. 

What do you see in the future, where do you go from here? If it involves the couch then I’ll eat my hat, damnit.

Mike

Scrapey

16 August 2017

Dear J—

Yesterday my son got to stand up on the “time-out wall” which is notable of itself, and with the bonus fact that it was the first day of school, that makes me ever hopeful for the future. I will accept that we haven’t been the most effective discipline organization in the evenings and he has been running roughshod over authority figures, but … well, this is the consequence, I guess. I also noticed a fresh scar on the keyboard I use to write this and most other posts lately; it lives in the back of my bag, so it’s not always well-protected, and that may be why … well, there are so many reasons why. But here’s why I think they’re related.

You get busy – whether it’s busy with work, or some project at home, staying up late to watch some extra shows or whatever – you get busy and you forget there’s other people in the house who would probably rather be spending time with you than being babysat by the video screens that surround us all the time, and that gift of time, which is one-way, irreversible, and can feel draining, and often, just ends up with you snoozing and being unconscious for the entire time anyway – well, now that’s the consequences of being busy. It’s understandable, but there’s a little more effort that could be given; it’s only half an hour, or an hour, or whatever and then the habits formed become the habits kept, right?

Mike

Returns

9 August 2017

Dear J—

I’m back, after to be expected and as scheduled, and the days spent in Minneapolis were not entirely fruitless, as can be evidenced by my expanded gut. Ribs, hamburgers, ice creams, chips. All eaten. All not strictly necessary. I’m going to have to start looking into this salad thing, though it mainly seems to be used as an excuse to jettison carbohydrates on the side. Do you remember the trend of carbo-loading before road races, and is that even still a thing?

While I was in Minneapolis I walked for nearly twenty miles, according to the fitness tracker I have which is of dubious reliability when the GPS isn’t engaged. You take the time to yourself for granted, but it’s a strange mixture of relief and misery: yay, it’s the night off and boo, I miss them. I missed them so much. Each night I was there I fell asleep while reclined on the bed doing something else, whether it was uploading pictures to flickr or making plans for tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow after that. 

We can only try. theVet has said she wants to try walking across the Golden Gate, so we should figure out how best to go about that, whether it be renting bikes on our own or figuring out a way to dragoon the kids into it. Me, I’m missing me the Coyote Point Beach so I’ll have to try to explore that at some point, too.

Mike

Deals

31 July 2017

Dear J—

You find a good deal now and again and you think I’d be a fool to pass that up so there you are, stuck with more things and wondering where all the money has gone. Paying for things you might not (definitely don’t) need and driving everyone nuts with storage attempts and not really succeeding with fooling people into thinking that maybe you really did need that at one point or another. Case in point: the Olympus lenses that I still have yet to fit to a camera, though I keep having plans, glorious plans that never quite seem to pan out, do they?

You become addicted to how the deal makes you feel – ha, I’m putting one over on the world now, aren’t I? – and ignoring all other forms of entertainment or family matters and blindly racing down and trying to find what’s new, what’s next. Assembled together, and what do you have in return? There’s a trip you could have paid for, there’s some experience you guys didn’t get to go after. How about driving for a few hours out of the way, what would or could be better than that? We should be and outfit to be looking forward to wonderful things around here, shouldn’t we instead?

Mike