Thursday, August 04, 2022
Friday, April 15, 2022
NOTE: I started writing this mid Marchish.
Here I am, 8 years later, standing on the edge of another precipice.
Moving to a new job. That smoke jump into the unknown.
You can read reviews, look up the executives, read their mission statements, parse through and try and evaluate the Glassdoor reviews. But in the end it's a gut feeling from the people you talk to. And now in the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic, it's not even 'meet people'. It's kind of sort of meet someone over zoom (with botchy mic output while both wearing what I assume are vietnam era chopper pilot headsets).
There is a groove to work. A familiarity with how things fit together, who gets back to you right away, who needs incessant prodding, what specific processes to ignore if you can at all help it, office politics (which I've so far avoided like the plague). So much of work is hundreds of individual other bits of works, the flotsam, the jetsam that becomes so much muscle memory that it almost doesn't exist. And you are left with the actual nitty gritty chewy bit that's the work that you are ostensibly paid to do, that hopefully you enjoy.
Moving to a new company is not only taking on and learning the core bit of work, but all that other sundry things.
Moving to a new company with no one to 'scout ahead' as it were, is, especially in the software world, a rather large scary jump. What does the 'unlimited time off' actually end up being? What are the horrid things they aren't telling you? Is this actually a 80hr/week sweat shop of doom with just excellent recruiters? You never know. The heterogeneity of software companies is so vast, I think that's the main thing that keeps tech folks where they are, if they are reasonably happy.
But it's time to move on, learn new tech stacks, work in a larger company, different industry. We'll see.
Wednesday, January 19, 2022
It's an old adage that time flies when you are having fun. Which can't be right, because these Covid Times have been anything but; yet time has sped by in a streak of horror filled disaster news and covid variants and just a malaise of burnout and fatigue. Maybe the adage should be "time flies when you are having fun or the world is trapped in a whirlpool of climate change disasters and a healthcare crippling viral pandemic" Bit of a downer, that adage.
Which is all to say that the blur of 2021 fails to bring up anything different, all days melding into one. We are all healthy and alive, which is a weird thing to put in a Christmas Letter. That it can be news is worrying. I say that now but I’m sure in 2035 it’ll be ‘the robot overlords haven’t breached our perimeter yet’ and we won’t blink an eye.
We managed to do some local vacations. One was at a resort/spa which was more of a spa than a resort. Our room was entirely too big, the kind of suite your reserve for a stakeout on corporate malfeasance or to settle an acquisition deal on the third largest carpet wholesaler in the tricities region. But it was our first vacation in the After Times, so I guess it was warranted? We did some kayaking, watched alot of olympics. Miche went for a massage, we went on beach hikes.
We fit in a visit to our family friends in INTERIOR TOWN. Good food, good friends, and not being surrounded by our townhouse which we've bunkered down in for, if my math is correct, eleven hundred years.
Owlet is now 15. In grade 10. Discussions and thoughts about what she wants to do with her life have intensified but have not turned up any answers. Which granted, most people many many years older than her have not answered, so at least she's asking it. My ability to help her with her homeworks is definitely merging into the 'oh god i have to actually relearn this all over again to help her' territory.
She still draws/paints all the time, when she isn't inundated with homework. She’s doing alot of digital drawing, using layers and brushes and all sorts of technical art terms. She pinches and zooms and spins and pans around the piece in a Gen Z take on Minority Report.
This is her last year of mandatory high school gym, which is something she muses about and exclaims happily about at least once or nine times a day. At least she got exposed to other sports, because I don't think either of us would ever take her out to the backyard for a friendly game of lacrosse.
More in the digital realm she took to applying mods to a video game called StarDew Valley. Which is a ‘getting basic computer literacy because you want a game to do a thing’. It’s carefully following instructions you’re not entirely clear on, applying them in the least haphazard way, and hoping nothing explodes. Closest analogy to modern computer work I can think of.
She is doing lap swimming with her brother which is the forced aerobic activity we have chosen for them. Neither being super enthused about sports in general. They are both enthused about Friends, which we just finished recently. Now they are almost completely caught up with 90’s, and 00’s culture, such as it is.
This is also the year that Owlet has started a running ‘Pragmatic Advice From Owlet’ segment as we watch shows. I’m not even sure she’s aware she's doing it anymore. “OMG why don’t they just communicate about that.” “NO reason to make him feel guilty about that”. “Uh, hello, how is she supposed to know that”. It’s an illuminating process in what a solid head my daughter has on her shoulders, and also how each episode could be about 30s long if she was in charge.
Owl Jr. is the big 12, going on 47. He’s grown just taller than Mrs. Owl, and has a voice that cracks and drops at random times. You can hear the voice he’ll eventually have peeking through. A voice you’d feel comfortable buying a term life insurance from, I’d think, or have an overlong conversation about the latest WW2 documentary. He reads plenty. His teacher thought he could handle some more challenging books so had him read The Kite Runner, which is, if you haven’t read it, not about the sunniest of topics. He’s since read quite a few books with dour and whatever the opposite of life affirming is, topics.
When double vaccinations were required for indoor activities, I took them to see Dune in theatres. They both enjoyed it immensely. Owl Jr. enjoyed it enough to read the dry book. His obsession with Dune and all things Dune is something to behold. In school, by happenstance, they had them write about an imaginary planet ecology, and boy howdy did he go to town on that. Word limits? For amateurs. Hundreds of years of political and socio-military history thrown in, YOU BET.
I’ve kind of pushed/pulled him into learning more Python (the programming language) to make neato little 2D games. He’s slogging through the tutorials, and all the frustrations. Sometimes I get a little impatient because he’s not being as careful and clean as someone who’s been doing this for 20 years and has the scars to prove it. But overall his progress is going pretty well. It’s just blocks moving across the screen so far, but that’s alot.
Contrary to murmured promises, he did not take up trumpet for school band, but went with the faar cooler choice of bass guitar. My disappointment in not being able to instruct him on the finer points of embouchure is overridden by the minor hope he’ll join a cool rock band and get all disaffected with like, the world, man.
Mrs. Owl is hiking. There isn’t a vista she won’t see, not a extra rugged outdoor pro-wicking hiking gear she won’t covet. Walking over uneven surfaces seems alot for nice views, in my opinion, but NOT walking for these views is insanity according to Mrs. Owl. I’m glad someone is appreciating the great outdoors because we could be living in Antarctica and my life style would only alter slightly.
Badminton places started opening up so I’m on my way of chipping away at the Pandemic Poundage. Staring at a screen with a furrow (working), then staring at a screen and smiling (gaming) is apparently ‘sedentary’, and ‘not far from being in a coma’. I also got a haircut. So now I’m just a slightly better well hidden nerd in the crowds of normal people. I’ve started board gaming in person with the select number of other shut ins in my complex, so things are almost back to normal.
We hope time flies for all of you in 2022, in the good way, not the horrible way; and that this letter finds you healthy or at the very very least, your perimeter holding.
Mrs. Owl, Niteowl, Owlet, Owl Jr.
Thursday, September 09, 2021
Sunday, August 22, 2021
Owlet turned 15. There isn't even a small chance I can ignore the fact she's a complete teenager, careening blithely towards adulthood. At 13, maybe, 14, in a pinch, if you don't think about it too much, you can still think of them as 'so early in teens, hardly even'. But 15. 15 is basically 16 which is basically 35 and inviting me and Mrs. Owl over for Thanksgiving because we can't 'handle the turkey safely anymore'.
We had a extremely small party. Barely a gathering. Ever since Owlet turned, oh, maybe 10? She's been very low key in her birthdays. A day at the VR Cafe with her cousins or going to the PNE. The 15th was marked with hanging out on the deck with two neighbourhood friends over and Owl Jr. Eating junk food and talking? I mean, there was laughing and such. Bella got her tablet and doodled/drew and they all just chattered away. I generally don't listen partly for their privacy but mostly because it's teen/pre-teen talk and I wouldn't say it's boring, just boring for me.
At one point someone pulls out their phone and they start watching a video. And it's not like some nationally syndicated entertainment program programmed and funneled from one of a handful of mega corporations. Regular human entertainment. No. It's some very nichy faux court drama featuring.. YouTube personalities with enough in-jokes and callbacks to make an Arrested Development fan nervous. I realized, of course, that this was how my parents viewed, say, video games or rap music. Incomprehensible.
But it's my god given right to tell them to quiet down or 'do something normal' so of course I tell them to turn off the phone. I mean, if they were watching the Best of Night Court would I have said something? I'm not sure. And it wasn't so much the nichey-ness of it. It was the cloying sense that this YT show was like the Disney channel teen shows. Full of smarmy kids always pulling one over the dowdy adults. Except in these videos there aren't even any dowdy adults, they are just pulling everything over us without us even being present.
Pop culture, by definition, belongs to the young.
I'm still of the age where I think I should keep up , at least in the same hemisphere in what my kids are consuming.I do a pretty shoddy job at that. But when THEIR friends bring the sort of internet culture THEIR parents let them consume, that's when it really gets out of control. There are empires built on watching particularly charismatic kids play games. Open products. React to things, for the love of.. It's never meant to be understood by adults, I'm sure. Google 'Dream SMP'. I've had Owlet explain it to me several times to everyone's regret. It's a bit like reading an excerpt from a Stephen Hawkings book where you think you get it as you are reading it, but the essential understandability of the thing scurries off into the dark as soon as you blink.
Yes, it's certainly me being old in the ever thriving youth of internet culture. Owlet has gotten Dream SMP merchandise, to give you an idea. This incomprehensible entertainment is big enough to employ a sweat shop somewhere in Asia.
By which I mean I get slightly panicky when I have to encounter and evaluate a new 'thing' my kids are thinking about consuming. Nevermind that I was allowed (or, more, my parents never disallowed) to listen to gangster rap in the 90's and I've hardly been in any drive-bys. But the internet is more insidious, it works in memes and half truths and before you know it my kids are 9 miles down the Conspiracy Alley and Lizard People Taking Over the Government is least extreme belief they have.
But I think too much. I think too much about thinking too much. Owlet had a fine time chattering away, consuming several times her daily allowance of sodium, sugar, and red dye number 7. She and Owl Jr. almost always have the most mundane requests for Christmas and birthdays. A life lived with on-demand, commercial free entertainment, I chalk it up to. Fun was had by all, she's not yet an adult, and by god, I can still find my way around at turkey.
Monday, August 16, 2021
NOTE: This continues my unofficial series of finding blog drafts I've written years ago and finishing them. This one was started in 2017 and stopped about 3 paragraphs in
NOTE: PNE is the Pacific National Exhibition, a state fair, more or less. Well, provincial. Which means, from what I get from movies. Slightly less firearms, almost no pig rustling, and a very informative farm exhibit.
Why is it that some rides have operators that have that weather worn look of someone evading several statewide warrants, and others are manned by fresh faced high schoolers, steadily checking off the prerequisites for a well rounded college application?
And the two groups are never mixed. You never see the guy packing at least one form of concealed blade with that girl lugging around the pre-SAT preview review prep books to lunch. It's not, I don't think, linked to the rides, like the rides didn't seem to have perks I one group over the other. Does it have to do with competence? Surely the woman with the lazy eye who looks she can bench press my car is kept around because she has the least fatalities on TeaKettle Madness? I have no idea.
Must of my expertise in rides is worrying about how to best maintain fatherly non-chalance as I'm whipped at G's most likely to terrify me with the least likelihood of killing me with some sort of embolism. Because as long as my kids wanna do the ride, I better.
This year, my daughter has taken a more measured approach to the rides. Last year it was WHATEVER RIDE THAT'LL LET ME ON, which was all of them. Now it's only if the ride can go fast enough to be used to train astronauts, in a pinch.
One thing she carried over from last year is the dreaded, 'Can we go again?'. It's one thing to maintain composure during the first go around, I mean, it's your first time, you can fool yourself at how long it'll be, how much your stomach will churn, how thorough the safety inspections are. The second and third time you have no such illusions.
Some rides have that quaint quality of being built just a little too long ago, that misty, hallucinations halycon days when men were men, air was fresher, and many, many fair goers were crippled or killed by lax safety regulations.
And in those rides, there's always that one inflection point, when I'm floating free, putting just a little too much effort in keeping my seat, when I start to think a little too much about just how carefully the engineers put into edge cases. But then I'm back again, exposed to another terror, another extreme limit of the human body, another reminder that Middle Aged Office Dad is NOT the average case they are planning for. Young things with everything to live for and untouchable invincibility and the sort of spring back ruggedness that makes tackle football seem like a good idea. That's what these machines are built for.
And some of these machines are built for not even that. Some of these machines were built in a time when they were for the young invincibles who wouldn't sue. You can tell when there is a little too much paint over the rivets. When the framing and general look of it says 'this was likely a repurposed sherman tank'.
Oddly, it's not those ones that summon a deep existential dread in me. No. At least, not this time. This time it was The Beast. Which couldn't be named better if this was an episode of the Wonder Years and Daniel Stern was speaking earnestly about a character changing childhood event. It's a pendulum, that has a circle of seats that face outwards, and then quickly swings back and forth while rotating the seats, until very serious thoughts of life insurance flash across your mind. It's a ride where they have you take off your sandals beforehand, check for pacemakers, and make sure rider is with good standing with the Federal Bar Association.
Of course Owlet wanted to ride it. Ride it so bad she could forgo all other rides and just ride this meatblender of a behemoth. So, we get in the line with the unreasonable number of people in it. The fearful, the seemingly unperturbed, the braggarts, the excited, the parents. It's the screaming that gets you. The screaming of the machine as it throws meatsacks back and forth while trying not break itself in two, and the screaming of the people.
At first it's just the general 'oh this is fun isn't it', scream. Then it gets to the 'oh I'm really pretty, scared, mostly.. mostly', then 'I'm definitely not faking it I just hope Roger is screaming louder than me', then it ends with a hollow scream of, I dunno, acceptance of death?
It doesn't help that a few months previously this exact ride model did come undone at the fulcrum and went daisy wheeling away. There were deaths.
We finally get on. Only when I'm on do I realize that it has one of those delightful features where the restraints don't really seem to be restraining enough. Like there were standards set by the intern (intern at a safety regulations department, that, that could happen), then watered down by the senior engineer who was wheedled by the project manager, then further loosened when they had to price it out and get the parts. "Always" withstanding breakout g-force at 45 degrees is so much more expensive then "Usually".
So it's rattling and rotating and spinning and the screaming starts. Luckily I'm not beset on all sides by the death throes of my neighbours as my own screaming drowns it all out. Right before I lose all hope and right after I remember what 'beneficiaries' means visions of the operators pop into my head. They were young kids. But they had outrageously dyed hair. For the remainder I'm wracking my brain trying to figure out if that's the youth of a keener or the stick it to the man dye job of someone who is on first name basis with the local pawn shop brokers. And in the end that doesn't matter because I still can't remember in whose hands I'm safer.
We make it to the end. Owlet is hopping with joy. We totter off and I try desperately to ignore the pleas 'Can we go again?'.