Thursday, August 04, 2022

Camping: Lake Resort

This summer we planned to hang with our family friends at a private camping area. In BC, private camping generally means a parcel of land packed with as many camping spots as possible, geared towards young people who view camping as generally: drinking outdoors and sleeping at unreasonable hours. 

As a middle aged dad with as much enthusiasm for the outdoors as an albino with a compromised immune system I more or less subscribe to the same definition, but I object to the hours.

We made the great trek down a highway populuated by inpatient vacationers and semi drivers with a dulled sense of mortality. The road is too narrow, the drivers too fast, and I'm driving to a spot where I have to setup my own shelter, and cook with a cooking set that could generously be called rustic (but in reality screams "anything more than mac and cheese with this setup is gonna be an ordeal"). Voluntarily. 

And there is gonna be a lake, the standing water resevoir that makes me think of leeches .. eel, possibly, that aquatic plant life that isn't quite seaweed, isn't quite algae but gives anyone bred for the indoors the heebie jeebies.

It is a relatively unpleasant trip to a vaguely unpleasant destination, but in the spirit of 'giving the kids some memories', and the fact my wife is the sort who actually enjoys the outdoors, well.

At hour 2, we hit an impasse. There has been an accident. So now we either go back or attempt to pay what inflation and Covid have turned hotel fees into (a second mortgage), or go all the way home.

Weirdly, all the hotels are booked, I guess folks have alot more disposable income than I thought would be reasonable.

I foolishly allow myself to consider maybe we'll just go home and call the whole thing off, we gave it the good ol' college try. Time to sleep indoors, away from the mosquitos, sketchy cooking setups, unnameable aquatic plants.

Did I mention my wife really enjoys the outdoors? And not in the 'just here for the Gram'. But a disconcerting appreciation for nature in all it's stinging, slimy, somewhat uncomfortable glory.

We get up the next day at 5am. And do the drive again. Get to the turn off. It's 2 km of abandoned logging road. Not even sure if it was used for logging. Maybe for packmules? Was this a gold-panning spot in days of yore? That's the only reasonably explanation. The path, a mixture of 'juust too large rocks' and dust and gravel has that wonderful quality that makes one really appreciate life. I'm not sure if it's the steep grading, or the lack of any barriers tumbling down the mountainside. Or the fact that there is really only space for one car only. This is certanly making memories for the kids. Trauma is a kind of memory, sure. 

We finally make it to the spot. It's cramped, but not as cramped as it could have been, which is a small mercy.  The campsite, although very small, has twists and turns in the path that make it suprisingly easy to get lost in. 

We have a pretty good time, the kids swim in the lake. We have.. well, I cook as best as I can given the setup, my buddy has wisely pre-prepped his food and makes amazing tacos for everyone. Our kids are understandably awkward with their kids at first then hit their stride a few hours in. We get to be Outdoors, make Memories. All it took was two more trips than I thought it would take, and a bit of terrifying off-roading in our sedan. 

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

Christmas Letter 2021

 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.

Much Affection,

Mrs. Owl, Niteowl, Owlet, Owl Jr.

and Tosche