Posts Tagged ‘numbers’

Under Cover

25 June 2011

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Dear J-

Calcifer continues his growth at a fairly normal rate. The kid would rather try to stand than crawl and prefers rolling as a means of getting around which is how I suspect he ended up underneath the crib earlier today. It jives with what I remember of figgy’s development — not a lot of crawling but eventually up and standing without too much trouble around twelve months. What he’s actually doing under the crib is anyone’s guess but I’d say he’s not too worried about where as he is over being abandoned. Being the younger relatively immobile member of the pair means that we can take a little shortcut and leave him to his own devices for at least a little while.

All that is poised to change before long. Given our relatively advanced ages and prior issues this is likely it for us and two really is plenty to handle. The number of seats in the car is no reason to keep going, right? I may be fooled by how easy it seems this second time around: weekends have definitely been more hectic trying to fit around two kids’ schedules and I’m generally not privy to the secret world of the weekdays so that’s something I can’t say would be any different with more. I selfishly like the idea of a little mob of kids running around when if figgy’s any indication, we’ll already have two full-time hooligans on our hands before long.

Don’t let the innocent expression fool you. He’s already looking for ways to get away.

Mike

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Three Games

25 November 2010

Dear J-

American thanksgiving is drawing to a close, three football games, twenty-three pounds of turkey, and one bowl of questionable stuffing later (they say never to eat the dressing that’s been in the bird, but you have to live sometime).  Raw numbers add up but don’t make much sense when you’re considering what to be thankful for, after all.

After having gathered a blended family (my parents, theVet’s parents, us, and theVet’s sister’s family) into one cheerful organism at a single house, my mom called for a prayer before lunch (and here I was confused:  like gravy that tastes like flour and cranberry sauce from a can, the one thing I always could anticipate was no prayer), which my father-in-law obligingly provided.  While I was trying to shush figgy before I knew it the hastily mumbled benediction was over and it was time for food.

Which I didn’t go after immediately, of course.  No sooner had we set him down than Calcifer began letting us know he was alone, and sad about it to boot.  So much of the meal was spent in shifts, first helping figgy with cutting the meat into savory bits, then joggling Calcifer and keeping him amused with swings and dips.  The kid’s hours are all flipped around, but I recognize the pattern:  bolting awake upright with darkness all around, the cries receding into sobs every couple of hours.  I did get to eat.  You pick the times when you’re allowed, and you’re thankful for having as much as you’re given.

Mike

Middle Ages

1 November 2010

Dear J-

So I’m sitting there listening to the guy go on and on about the Galaxy S phone he got last week — Samsung’s crazy-bestselling phone — and all the features it’s got, how it slices dices and more, it’s the greatest thing for professionals, not like that teenage favorite iPhone, etc. — and it suddenly snaps into focus:  this is me in twenty years, boring people with the latest toy I’ve gotten.  I like the simple test of just asking how your life will be better with X:  if it’s not a quick, concrete answer then you’re better off without.

Sure, part of it is gnawing envy — my phone is so dumb that it belongs in a museum of forgotten tech — but chasing the latest is so painful, there’s no wonder that they call it the bleeding edge.  Part of the room cleanup has been going through the seeming millions of photos we have crammed into boxes of all sorts, shapes, and sizes, most still in the sticky-flapped envelope and curling away gently under pressure; there’s something to be said for prints, substantial and creamy-thick, tangible reminders of years and events past.  I flipped through three weddings and kept thinking that if I had digital copies … I’d what?  Stick them up on facebook?

November marks several different milestones; you could go the creation or consumption route, writing or reading a novel, or a photobook, or whatever strikes your fancy — there’s no magic to the month of November, after all.  Point is that we tend to be voracious users and users-up, taking taking taking and never bothering to share.  According to flickr I have a shade under 5,400 pictures uploaded; if wordpress is to be trusted, this is post number 1,384.  Given the time I’d happily scan negatives and photos from dawn to dusk each day; granted, I probably have become more indiscriminate in spraying away with digital (I average a thousand exposures a month, and maybe 10% of those make it to flickr, where with film I’d take maybe a roll or two a month), but there’s a whole trove from 1994 through 2003 that’s waiting in dusty boxes, filed in silent rows.  If the phone makes sense to him, then that’s a great deal for him; I just have the feeling of grabbing knives by the business end, no joy in celebrating insularity.

Mike

Ten Years

2 July 2010

Dear J-

Today is it — our ten-year anniversary. My parents called over the weekend to see what we had planned* (last year was my brother’s tenth, and they took a trip to New York City); we are taking a break next week and heading up to the Bay Area for a cousin’s wedding (who knew that with thirteen on my mom’s side and six on my dad’s side, I’d ever run out of unmarried first cousins?) and after that, over to Disneyland, but that’s pretty much it as far as big plans for the summer go. Ten years is a substantial amount of time when you’re ten years old. At thirty-five, though, it feels like a blink. Ten years, huh? How did that happen again?

I think it’s my nature to compare myself against other folks when it comes to numbers, whether grades or years or speed or income. I can’t help it; for an engineer, quantities are sufficient** but for me I need those qualitative comparisons to really drive the message home. At their ten years — I just remember this, as I was four — my parents took a long road trip from Spokane to Yellowstone as part of a small caravan*** — four adults, four kids, two cars. So I’m down on kids and road trips in comparison; I’m up in geographically close family so we could, theoretically, take a trip, just the two of us. And yet three — nearly four — is the inescapable number that swims up in my mind. We are three.

There’s all kinds of numbers to throw around today, but four seems more important than ten or fifteen**** or 2000. Ten is a number — a significant one, to be sure, but counting it is like scratching years of captivity into a cell wall, and that’s not what this is, not at all. I said earlier in the week that I thought my insomnia had been cured by no longer being in school and its attendant stress, but that’s not it; I sleep well at night because I married my best friend and it’s been ten (fifteen) of the best years so far.

But wait — there’s more! Ten years is a down payment on fifty-plus, I say. I can’t imagine life any other way now and I’m so glad she said yes (and no), so glad to share this journey with her — there’s no couch-jumping over here mostly because I don’t have sufficient influence with Oprah — so yeah. I look forward to every morning, and we’ve had 3653 excellent ones so far, haven’t we? Yet it’s the smaller number of four that I keep looking forward to, and the adventures that two small minds can will dream. Ten years? I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Mike

* As it turns out we never make plans beyond maybe a nice dinner. I remember we’d picked July 2nd because it fell over the long holiday weekend and figured that folks who’d come over might want to sightsee in Sacramento. theVet’s boss has a long-standing annual family reunion over July 4th and so she has to pick up more hours precisely at that time of year every year after the first anniversary we had together.

** It’s times like these I wish I was a mathematician, to whom numbers have a soul; think of Newton, Leibnitz, Descartes, Polya, Fourier who all lined them up on a page and made them march up and down in living rhythm. For an engineer, numbers are tools and answers but not intrinsically meaningful.

*** The caravan of two consisted of my parents’ 1969 Mercury Cougar, especially outfitted with a sheet of plywood across the back seat to allow for we two kids to sleep, and my dad’s uncle’s Oldsmobile wagon. I forget the exact name of that wagon other than that it was definitely a GM B-Body, relatively new (1978ish), metallic avocado green, and kitted out with all the luxury features including power windows. Sure, you scoff at that now but power windows and locks weren’t standard equipment until well into the 90s. As part of the lessons learned from the trip my parents went out and bought a wagon — Oldsmobile, naturally — and a CB radio to keep in touch the next year when they took a trip to Vancouver BC with their friends who were driving an Olds 88 (my dad and his friend actually went to the dealership and signed the paperwork nearly simultaneously; their license plates were sequential, SMU 695 and 696).

**** Fifteen is how many years we’ve been dating; we had what we like to refer to as the World’s Longest Engagement, which saw both my brother and theVet’s sister meet and marry their spouses between when we got engaged — 1998 — and when we got married in 2000.

Numbers Game

5 May 2010

Dear J-

I had to make up some training that I’d skipped out on because of the five-week absence — this was training that is mandatory for all people on site, and thus I’m nearly number five thousand (between the late date and the number of contractors we’ve processed, I was surprised to hear that figure myself). Yet the numbers that were most interesting today were one, three, and one. One: one person from our class of the Leadership Academy got sent to the hospital last night, and a week and a half out of Dana Point, we’re hearteningly still together: first that we were notified, second that we all thought about it, third that we kept digging to find answers. And one — one other grad who walked up during lunch to let me know that she was okay.

Three: it turned out that I wasn’t the only one from class to show up today (three of us from LA got caught in the same trap). I didn’t realize it at the time, but I must have let out a sigh of relief once I spotted my fellow graduates sitting there in the parking lot as I walked up — recounting it later, I realized how much more interesting the class was, how much easier it was to get up and talk knowing what I need to work on. I keep thinking the empowering thought: the fear of speaking comes from being afraid you won’t be liked (this makes me think about traveling with kids, honestly — how many dirty looks have you shot at parents of noisy kids, right?).

One: I wrapped up the day with another academy grad, taking a tour of the impressive ASME fab shop — large machines, flawless welds, buckets of chips and shavings — and I think I’m starting to get it. It’s less about getting things done some times; it’s investing time in people and relationships when you can. Well, that makes it sound fairly clinical; you don’t do it because you want people to like you, you do it because you care about people. Our bull sniffers are pretty refined by now; we’re smarter than we think, and we ought to trust our instincts.

Mike