Posts Tagged ‘new’

Last Sunday

14 November 2010

Dear J-

Well, the curtain’s about to close on our last weekend with one kid so how would we grade it?  Effort was good — if desperate, seeing as how we had a little too much to do this last weekend — and execution was decent, as we managed to get it done too.  figgy did her part to help out, painting yesterday and in general providing running commentary and stolen parts as I assembled furniture today.  We’re at the point in our lives when our IKEA-sized budget matches our IKEA tastes, though it’s always better to check out how furniture fits in person — the sofa-bed we’d picked out on paper turned out to be a monstrosity built for 6’6″ long-legged giants, not us.

I wrote yesterday that we suspect that figgy knows something’s up, and how we know she knows.  To elaborate, the tantrums have come more frequently and with greater intensity — we endured a fifteen-minute squall this morning after breakfast over some entrancing slippers she’d seen in the store window, clouds gradually giving way to sighs and heaves and finally, sunny weather as we went through IKEA in search of the last pieces to finish off the room.  At times she’s one of THOSE kids — the ones other parents point at and whisper about as object lessons — but that’s part of who she is, unfiltered and unfettered.

It’s true that we haven’t had much time to pay attention to her the past few weeks, as preparations have hit a fever pitch that’s unlikely to be duplicated soon, if ever — unless we move into a bigger house, we’re now using all of the rooms; all the doors are open tonight for the first time since we moved in.  The goal to remember is that this is going to be so much fun for figgy that she’s going to want a new sibling again, right?



Fun House

29 August 2010

Dear J-

figgy keeps telling us different things that make varying degrees of sense, though lately she’s started to make a lot more of it.  She has insisted that she feels sick and almost as if to prove it, she has taken long naps today — in the stroller, in the car, at home — and woken up crabby from each one.  This, from the same girl who kept telling us that she lost things “in the spiderwebs” a few months ago, is another long step towards the person she’ll be.

She’s almost independent on many tasks; she’s watched us fiddle with the DVD enough that she can usually put discs in and take them out without too many fingerprints.  With the exception of the shirt, she can dress herself in the mornings (the trick there is to figure out which hole is for the head).  I’d never have anticipate that she’s getting this independent this quickly, even though I’ve been muttering it under my breath for what seems like years.

Babies are fun:  everything in the world is new to them, and they delight, consequently, in everything.  Lots of first-time opportunities abound, and the thrill of discovery is matched by the amazement on their faces when something unexpected happens.  Here’s something else that’s unexpected:  little jaded three-year-olds are more fun.  The world-weary sighs are echoes of your own breath and word; be wary of what you say.


Day 21: Fleeting Youth

19 April 2010

Dear J-

It’s testament to how much I’ve changed from “more qualfications means more work” (in the context of the plant, the more you can do, the more you end up doing) to, after class today, asking when the next cause evaluation class is being held. I’m convinced — I think, if that’s not the most oxymoronic thing I’ve said tonight — I’m convinced that I have a part to play in the health and recovery of the plant. There’s a price to be paid for a newfound sense of responsibility, though, and I’m not sure that it’s one I want to pay.

My photographic inspiration and camera gear seem to track each other pretty well, with the cycle going something like: buy lens — take lots of photographs — start feeling stale — suspect equipment limitation — buy lens (repeat until broke). I can’t figure out if I’m so bereft of talent and drive that without a steady stream of glass and different perspectives, I can’t function. While I do have a desert-island lens, there are specific characteristics and abilities of various lenses that I say I need to explore, which is another excuse for my lack of other motivation.

So I’m not sure if it’s the thousands of tools that I’ve been given these five weeks that are making me want to do work or if it’s a genuine desire to help us out of the ditch we’re in. Is it an excuse to stretch my abilities? The better I know myself, the less mysterious my motivations. All I know for sure though is that the days of eight hours and forty-hour weeks may be part of the rearview mirror before much longer if I get serious about needing to change the world, and I’m not prepared to sacrifice family on that altar.


Every New Day

7 January 2010

Dear J-

It’s her first week at the new day care and she’s been fitting in pretty well; they send home a little adjustment progress report and she’s been throwing herself into it with both hands (and feet, and head-first; you know just how crazy she can I will say that without the dirt playground she’s been coming home a lot cleaner, and the new place is filled with her peers again: one of the categories is “played with other kids” — if she gets less than the highest marks, it’s there. The first day the report had a little tattle about having to be reminded what sharing meant.

We are not necessarily the most shining examples of generosity and tact, but we do our best to help her be at least polite. Some times I wonder how such a crazy kid could belong to us; we’re on the quiet side, but perhaps we had that ironed out of us growing up when and how we did. Our lives inform our choices; we share the lessons we’ve learned and yet some things must be self-taught. It’s easier to be a friend than a parent, you know? Growing up I always looked forward to playing with kids but I didn’t realize how hard it is to put your foot down.

A two year old isn’t going to have the best sharing skills; she’s started to learn that she has a will, but she hasn’t discovered the uncharted lands in the hearts of her fellow humans. The further we voyage through her life — our lives — the deeper the jungle, the twisty paths leading uncertainly forward, perhaps backward, yet resolutely we string one step after another. Yes, maybe we have no choice, but we have every direction available to us too; it’s every day amazing.


Alarming News

13 May 2009

Dear J-

I’ve actually been waking up on time this week; I chalk part of it up to having a clock I can actually read in the dark, and the rest to having a new control scheme to get used to. I now have a snooze button I can use — trying to limit myself to one ten-minute snooze — and a ridiculously easy snooze at that, as some magic circuits have made the rim of the clock entirely touch-sensitive. It worries me, though. If it becomes too easy to turn off, or snooze, then impending disaster awaits. Perhaps I should leave both radios plugged in and turn on one at random for the next morning.

I develop a pretty good muscle memory over time — the old radio required that I pick out one quarter-inch knob and turn it precisely ninety degrees clockwise to shut the alarm off; the snooze bar was broken, and the clock backlight was a burned cinder of a thing — and still I managed to regularly shut the radio off without coming fully awake. Maybe the touch-sensitive snooze will be good for me, then; if I fumble at the controls, it won’t shut off, it’ll only snooze. On the other hand, you could always go with something like a clocky, which goes off and then runs around the room to hide.

Here’s a final shot at clock-radio design, then; we wouldn’t have counted on such excellent multi-touch screens and controls had Apple not come out with the iPhone, and Microsoft not pioneered in their Surface software — throw one of those in, let it rotate through at least seven control schemes throughout the week. Heck, let the user design their own control scheme and add it to the list; when I say control scheme, let’s say it’s something as easy as tapping and dragging a button into a box — or throw winding a knob through 900 degrees along with it. Point is, make the rotation random and make each day different, with no hint of which shut-the-alarm-off control will pop up at the waking time; break the habit of muscle memory, and make sure you need to be awake to use the controls. Hmm; it might work as an iPhone OS application …


Dark Side

1 January 2009

Dear J-

I’m still not convinced that it’s 2009, because all the old habits of 2008 are following me around:  stumbling into great deals that I feel a need to lock up just because the deal is available, not because the deal is needed.  I keep trying to tell myself that I’m past the point of buying things, but here I am looking for excuses and reasons to perform economic stimulus.

Though it was cold this morning, we managed to hit 70 Fahrenheit (21 Celsius) by the time we left the Bay side of Coronado today; every other time we go, we usually head down to the Pacific side, where the Hotel del and ocean beaches line up as far as the eye can see, and maybe make it over to the shops.  It was nice on the sheltered bay side, with no shortage of San Diego views and a much less sharp breeze to boot.  The air was clear enough today to see both the Midway (CV-41) and Reagan (CVN-76) tied up across the bay from each other, sort of the alpha and the omega of the supercarrier, the Navy’s expression of surface warfare since 1942.  (I believe that Nimitz, CVN-68, was also there but we weren’t close enough to check the number).


We’re still finding new things to do here, seven years after making the move to San Diego.  Though we have our favorite places to do, we’ll take the occasional shortcut — aided by GPS — to try something else.  And we are always, always rewarded, not always as handsomely as today, but often enough to make it worth our while.  Seriously, though, there’s something special — different — about the attitude and pace of life on Coronado; if you’re in the area, might as well make a little side trip out across the bridge.  Now if we could just convince figgy to keep up on these marches of ours …


Interruption Station

29 October 2008

Dear J-

Spend enough time with us and you’ll see just how little I seem to live at home; up at four and out the door — the main thrills seem to come when the routine is disrupted for some new place, something new.  It may explain the inveterate poking about for new things (junk) to bring into the house, the bookshelves groaning under the weight of thrift store bargains, and the multiple drawers of Atari cartridges sitting somewhere in the shed (not too worried — those things are indestructible, after all).

Problem is that we’ve got too much stuff — make that I’VE got too much stuff — more than I’m ever going to have time to play with successfully.  Half-finished projects litter the spare bedroom (it looks like a stereo repair shop), just as half-completed work is piled all over my desk.  I dunno.  Eventually.  Someday.

It’s not necessarily procrastination; I have no problem starting something.  It’s in the follow-through — I still have yet to put together that movie from figgy’s first birthday, despite having captured more footage since then.  I fear my attention span has been shortened by lack of diligence, to the point where I can’t even accomplish tasks requiring more than a half hour of concentration at work (to be fair, it’s hard to get an uninterrupted half hour at work, though).


New Worlds

1 September 2008

Dear J-

When we go out for a walk, sometimes figgy will walk with us, but at her own definite pace.  Stopping here now, picking up something that catches her eye, and then, with a satisfied shriek, moving along.  That’s done.  All’s well, she states.  The verbal communication is still mostly limited to “doggy” and “alldone” but there’s all kinds of nonverbal cues — shaking her head when it’s not the right thing to offer, pointing at the interesting objects in her life (airplanes, animals, and alimentary delights) — that prove she’s grown so aware already.

I’ve said it and I’ll keep saying it:  every week, every day is something new and different we learn.  They’ll tell you, J-, that having kids changes everything, and the last three days are testament to it.  Yes, our lives do revolve around what she needs, but the oddest thing is how natural it feels.  I used to believe that the worst fate that could befall me was having to subsume all the things I do, all the time I spend to some little tyrant.  But it’s not like that, at least so far.  We haven’t had to choose any differently, and the things we end up doing certainly seem like fun for her, too.  Plus there’s the joy of seeing it through her eyes — the whole world of animals has been exhilarating.


Summer Nigh

26 August 2008

Dear J-

All I can say is that one person does not constitute a team, and two lag even further behind, especially when they’re two of the newest folks at work.  I should really stop calling myself new, though — it’s been nearly two full years since I started there, it’s time to start being familiar enough with what I actually do, isn’t it?  Good thing about being busy today, all the work was fascinating — I got to teach myself about grease and tomorrow I’ll have to run down some drawings for the folks up at Diablo Canyon as part of their transformer replacement project.

It’s been a hectic two months, and I’ve lost my patience more than once, prompting me to believe I need a break at some point soon; I tell myself that the easier thing to do is just let it go, but I still rise to the baiting that I know as bait.  If it was still time to gird up and ride into battle with our new program at our side, most of our folks would still limp along with the crippled functionality of the old system being towed behind, because no one’s comfortable with the new system.

Work’s still interesting, but it’s starting to pall.  And the cold has settled into my throat, meaning earaches and general surliness for all who dare approach.  No, seriously:  more signs of the impending end of summer are nigh; our intern’s last day is tomorrow, Labor Day is next week, and, of course, the hot, sticky weather seems to have settled in for the long haul.


Nucla Naturita

14 August 2008

Dear J-

It’s nice to see new folks come on board — not folks new to our group, which are many, as there’s a tremendous amount of horizontal mobility, but folks new to the site entirely.  That look — the mix of hope and fear untainted by despair — it reminds me that we’ve got a long ways to go before we are sufficiently interesting to young people.  I know I’m not precisely the oldest guy in the group, but even ten years is starting to feel like a gulf.

Do you remember your first job?  What counts as the first job, anyways?  I used to stock shelves for my parents in the grocery store when I was seven, but that doesn’t really count (hopefully any child labor law violations will have run their statute of limitations by now, anyway).  Or do I count that first adult volunteer job, working as slave labor just so I didn’t have to go home that summer in college?  Not wanting to go through summer school again, I walked up to a professor and volunteered myself because I thought his name sounded interesting; he naturally jumped at the chance to get a pair of hands on his project.

Nope, gotta be that first real paying job in Sacramento, not so long ago.  (1998!  Mike has been a productive member of society for ten years)  The job title said engineer, but the scope did not; I sat in a cubicle and connected points on the network to bring data across the country, but mostly just to local spots.  I learned my telephone manners there; we had to talk regularly to local telephone service providers and sure, you had your big locals like Qwest and Pac Bell, but more often than not, I’d end up on the phone to someone like Nucla-Naturita Telephone explaining all the nuances of our orders.  Be quick, but not clipped; brief without being rude — the facts, the request, the answer, and always say thank you.  It astonishes me that telemarketers will call me and, as I answer, continue on their conversation with someone else in the call center.  The pay was good, but the people were better — long lunches, excursions to the mall (hey, that pay had to go somewhere), and team-building exercises showing that you’d hang out with these people even if you weren’t forced to eight hours a day.

Motivation’s a tricky thing, but I know for me it has to come from me; you telling me that I should be happy or I need to get this done doesn’t do anything but exercise your lips.  I do it because … because I’m confident I can.  Every so often we need new folks in the office to remind me how.