Posts Tagged ‘schedule’

Evolved Schedule

14 September 2011

Dear J-

Apologies for yesterday; I don’t mean to drag you into the middle of any financial drama. For almost a year now theVet has been theMom full-time, as the clinic she was working in has acquired a new veterinarian and there’s been nothing more than a couple of days fill-in work here and there since before Calcifer arrived. That’s okay. I understand it may make me sound like some sort of horrible chauvinist but I keep telling her it’s okay not to work as long as she has the patience for it. It’s okay to not work and still put Calcifer in daycare a couple of days a week to take care of cleaning and errands. We can handle it. Schedules evolve and adapt as we need them.

Just before figgy was born theVet was gainfully unemployed and she went back to work part-time when figgy was three months old, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. I was able to shift my schedule to work Sunday through Thursday so that we only had one day to fill with day care, although that gradually gave way to more days as she got older and was able to drink from a sippy cup. And now we’re in the situation of having two kids in daycare and coordinating that hasn’t always been the simplest logistical issue, especially as they’re in different daycare sites. On the other hand our schedule has the opportunity to evolve some more.

If it means picking up extra hours at work to pay for it so be it. The notion of what we need versus what we make is odd: no matter what you earn, there always seems to be more that needs to be paid. Expenses track income pretty tightly. So instead of buying a whole bunch of books from Amazon and running out of places to put them I’ve been going to the library. We have more than enough to make us comfortable, and indeed, our Internet became more valuable than our TV so we let the paid subscription lapse, along with the newspaper and most of the magazines. We are not the envy of the world but we don’t need to be. We have each other as a family and whatever maximizes that happiness works best for me.



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.


Monday Ambition

21 June 2010

Dear J-

It’s both early and late to be talking about goals, but this summer — not officially starting until tomorrow, of course, and arbitrarily extended to Halloween in my mind, based on the weather patterns of San Diego — is going to bring around a bunch of changes nearby. For instance, I have several on-hold projects that will need to be pushed forward, including convert-the-last-bedroom-into-a-nursery, study-for-the-Engineering-license, finish-the-floors, and my favorite, get-poop-into-the-toilet-consistently. Each of these is worth a summer on their own, I judge, but work and life march on without much direct control.

If I were to apply recently-learned principles, I’d set out a plan of attack and brainstorm steps and dependencies, estimating durations and blocking out my now not-so-free time as needed; it’s hard to imagine that I’ve already frittered away half the available time doing nothing but staying awake and entertained on the weekends. I have learned that TV isn’t the universal soporific — once we got her a vacuum, she prefers vacuuming with me on Saturdays to sitting down, so that gives me hope that I’ll have some help, though I’m still not quite sure how I’ll fit shopping trips in (perhaps snacks and bribes would help).

By the time I was a teenager, my folks would ask me to write out plans for the summer — make out a schedule and stick to it, rather than find something to do as the day wore on (which generally meant asking them if they had anything for me to do — the utility of the schedule is immediately apparent, in retrospect). If I didn’t have this gaping twelve-hour hole in my day from work and commute, I’d now have a perfect fit for those long hours and then some. Everything falls under the name of improvement, though all I might want is another nap or two.


Sleep Strike

14 June 2010

Dear J-

It’s only Monday and I’m exhausted — I caught myself, while reading books to figgy tonight, saying all kinds of crazy things that weren’t in the text (for instance, at no point do they state “Ronald Vandiver, put down the book” in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs). theVet has told me at times that I’ve been able to hold semi-intelligible conversations while asleep so I’m not completely surprised, but mildly astonished by this disconnected feeling — I can hear myself forming the crazy words, but my brain is nowhere near them.

It’s been a particularly unrestful weekend even though she’s been pretty restful (naps and exhaustion are on the menu) herself; I suppose that there’s nothing in the way of down time, either at work or home lately, and I’ve been driving to work a good deal more than I’d normally like (this is what being thirty-five buys you: not just the ability to, but the need to take an afternoon nap). And at least I haven’t started spouting off crazy phrases at work — not that I know of, at any rate.

I don’t remember operating under such a sleep deficit and the strangest thing is it’s all self-imposed — there’s nothing stopping me from falling asleep now (as a particular point, my seating evolution now has me off the floor in a real chair after ten years of stamping my imprint on carpeted floors from Boston to Davis to San Diego) but the desire to keep up with reruns and summer shows. Consciousness bids a quick farewell and tomorrow’s here before I’m ready. More than anything, it’s being able to control my own schedule that I miss.


Nap Night

6 June 2010

Dear J-

We keep finding the envelope and pushing it when the sun goes down and there’s a bedtime to be met. After all there another friend to bring into the room, whether it’s Hello Kitty or Pooh Bear (apparently we are big believers in licensed merchandise, from stuffed animals to Band-Aids; I will note that having brightly-colored sticking strips is much preferable to the ghastly flesh color of years past). It’s sometimes easier to keep her from a nap — it’s all about that extra few moments of peace and when you can make them start.

We keep going back to the Zoo initially because it’s a way of keeping her interested in walking around, but lately it’s been about the little ground-level toilets they have in the Children’s Zoo restrooms — they’re just like the ones she has at school and therefore familiar enough that they’re the third place in the world she actually can use. They say that potty training is a gradual thing, but you end up having to be hyper-vigilant for backsliding and recalcitrance, though I suppose that’s true of any process.

The trap of technology is that it reduces vigilance and ability; I know that the auto-correct feature on the iPhone OS is sometimes the only thing that makes me sound semi-literate at times but sometimes I find myself typing gibberish at work thinking the computer will catch it and make sense out of it. Likewise I have to remember that there’s been thousands of years of human learning on how to raise children and some things must necessarily be universal, that everyone has an internal schedule and the pressure to conform is an external construct. We’ll get ther, no worries, no hurries.


Day 23: The Ringer

21 April 2010

Dear J-

When I interviewed for my first job at the plant, I was applying to a cost engineering firm. I knew nothing about cost engineering aside from the engineering in the title and thinking that anything would be better than sitting at home watching my hair grow, jobless. The interview was pretty much bog-standard — your standard question-and-answer session — until they whipped out the scheduling test; I was supposed to take some events, instructions, and a few rules and then tell them what the total float was on the critical path, and the overall project duration. At least it was a pretty simple schedule, but for someone whose notion of schedule has to do with train tables, it was an eye-opening introduction to the world of project management.

Had I continued on that path, I might now be sporting a few extra initials after my name; as it was today’s presentation on project management was more familiar for me than most of my classmates, I suspect. There’s no magic arrows in this quiver, ready for quick-draw and application; any time you have industry certifications and endorsements, watch out for lots of hard work. At some point you might begin to suspect that all the planning might be more work than actually doing the project, but that’s a dangerous road to tread — know the tools, use the tools, stand by the tools.

I’m not sure that I’d take these skills into my real life; there are no huge projects that would require me to make up a plan (although perhaps I’d be better off if I did). If I was seeing the end of five weeks at the mid-way point, it was written in giant neon letters today with every passing boat outside the windows, making it hard to focus on task. Every fiber screams outside; every mote pulls me back to the plant lately. I keep watching the tide rise and ebb in the harbor (low tide has been right around 0700, with high tide around 1400) while words flow through me without leaving deposits.


Day 19: Human Resource

15 April 2010

Dear J-

Today was devoted to important things — learning about all the different human resources programs and people around the site, so of course I spent most of the afternoon snoozing (we are encouraged to wake each other up and stand up if needed — as one of my classmates noted, we eat what he called a lumberjack lunch, full of meat and starches) instead. Brilliant. All that I really picked up from today was that there’s only a handful of numbers and names that I need to know, but given the churn we’ve experienced lately, that list is likely to be already out of date.

We have a cryptic message in hand talking vague generalities and corporate buzzwords: realignment, industry practice, budgeting; all of it boils down to layoffs showing up in our future. We’re all convinced that our jobs are secure, that no one can do the things that we do, and yet other power plants our size make do with half the staff. Although we’re never short on work, that’s a question of getting enough uninterrupted time and a keyboard — will we always have enough work to justify me occupying a desk and computer? Should I keep making plans for the rest of the year? Not knowing is unsettling.

This afternoon I felt my throat getting scratchy — figgy has been fighting a cold the last couple of days and I suspct it’s caught up to me at last. You can tell when she’s sick because she doesn’t fight the earlier bedtimes (this translates into early-morning screaming fits) and I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why I can’t follow the same simple recovery plan: more rest and less worry. Our family human resources department doesn’t have any sick leave available, you know.


Time Flies

12 July 2009

Dear J-

Summer’s here with its attendant accessories — the thermometer was reading 91°F (42°C) when we stepped out of the zoo at 2PM, but I had my secret doubts whether it had risen since we’d gotten there around 10. Thus do we gird ourselves with sunscreen — that’s a funny thing; it seemed like we were always outdoors as kids, and with never a drop of SPF-whatever to boot. We kept cycling from the brown of summer to the pale of winter, much as arctic foxes and hares might, blending in with our surroundings.

Maybe our first instincts are wiser — yesterday in lieu of lunch, figgy snacked on ice; today was a veritable smorgasbord of various liquids: milk, both soy and cow, water, syrup (that, a mishap at breakfast). Meanwhile we supposedly rational adults soldier on under the sun, suppressing our urges to nap and eat in favor of adhering to some unknown schedule: here next, then over there, and let’s not forget that we’ve got to hit that before we leave. I hear that dogs with separation anxiety have no real sense of time: it doesn’t matter how long you’re gone, only that you are.

Enrich Trunk 4378 -sm

Time moves in a steady pace, according to every instrument we have at our disposal; my watch is a mechanical marvel hitting 28,800 beats per hour, and the second hand describes a smooth arc as a result. Take away the omnipresent clocks and you’re left judging that flow on your own; they never describe how elastic time becomes. Schedule pressure warps time’s fabric, forces us into choices better left unconsidered. We choose desperately, compulsively; we weigh our priorities and reach for the easiest solution. The blinking numbers, the the steady movement lead us astray and presents us with false choices.


Desert Dream

21 October 2008

Dear J-

I had a dream about you, J-,  in this strange place; in this strange dry desert; I always seem to have trouble falling asleep when I’m traveling like this but the dream seems to have evaporated into the dry air like so much leftover moisture.  I do remember that it had to do with happenstance and chance meetings, seeing you in a place I wouldn’t have guessed, under extraordinary circumstances.  Strange things happen in dreams, you know, coincidences cross your path like any humdrum banality and the remarkable goes unnoticed.

Tomorrow’s the last day — we begin the trip back, then I’ve one day of work before heading up to the Bay Area.  We were at a museum today, where I had my picture taken on a police motorcycle (the Kawasaki one that everyone seemed to ride in the 80s — based off the iconic Z1), crowns were made, and figgy crammed her cart full of milk and kept returning for more — getting her priorities straight, you see.  And you can see how the schedule, or lack thereof, has worn on her; with an irregular afternoon nap, there’s been no easy time for meals.  She’s out of sorts — sometimes hungry, sometimes tired, somewhat low-grade cranky at the best of times, and still unable to give voice to her concerns.

We’re headed back to normal — well, as close to normal as we can muster until Saturday — and it comes at the right time.  Though we’ve tried to adhere to an easy, kid-driven and -friendly schedule, there hasn’t been much opportunity to keep up with normal concerns and actions.  No dogs to crush, no cats to harass, no busy routine of putting her favorite toys in their specific hiding spots, but all that comes to a close tomorrow.  When traveling I find I always look forward to two nights:  the night before leaving, and the one before returning, waiting for the changes and feeling the weight of miles.


Future Shock

28 August 2008

Dear J-

It’s not a cry for sympathy, just a run-down of where my day goes:  up at 4, out the door by 5, and this week — ride my bicycle down to the van parking spot, pick it up, load passengers and leave San Diego by 5:40; at my desk by 7, clean out voice and e-mail backlogs, wait for inevitable issues, out by 3:30, drive van back, usually able to drop off and park by 5; ride bike back over to pick up figgy around 5:30, one more meal and a last hurrah before bed at 7 and then a couple hours free before bedtime.  With the 4 x 10 work schedule they’ll roll out next week, I fear even the last few hours of the day will disappear, but that’s something to experience when I get to it, instead of fear before the fact.

Despite our best efforts, we’re really not too much further ahead at predicting the future or resolving disputes than we were, say, as folks who wore somewhat smelly animal skins, cooked bones to see what they portended, and settled arguments with found clubs of femurs and branches.  But enough about my childhood (ba-DUMP); forget about looking ahead to next week, next year, a decade from now.  We’re now ten years on from my last serious brush with academia and how has the world changed since then?  More to the point, how has it matched my braggadocio?  I coulda sworn that I’d have gone back for a doctorate by now.  Maybe I’d be teaching, up on the lonely north coast at Humboldt State?  Further south?  No way.  Talking to these people instead of you, J-?  Nope.  Working, yeah, but peeling the layers back on the mysteries of the universe, my hands pushing that cutting edge forward.

And disputes, ah the disagreeable nature of multiple egos would be swept away with cogent reasons and rational facts by now, wouldn’t it?  Everything lies there quiescently on the engineering page, ruled by equations and physical laws, well-behaved and repeatably testable.  No irrational emotions and irrelevant notions; real life shapes our future, guides our responses with an unsteady motion.  Yet do we oscillate?  History may repeat yet to expect that time leaves us unscathed is foolish.  What does the tale of the tape say?  I hear flashes of the past games we would tilt at, but the stakes are now so elevated; what were those choices that led you to the tightrope?  More relevantly, were they in the years we shared, or the years apart?

And how do I now apprehend the future when I would lie awake looking forward to new schedules each semester?