Friday, October 07, 2011

10/7/11 First Friday

Well, I hope I don't have to do that again for a long long time. I survived my first week at a new job!!

But I'm saying I "hope I don't do that again for a long time" only because any new job means a lot of familiarization and change and getting up to speed -- and because I hope I stay at this job for a long time. Starting anew is stressful but expected, and it went far better than anyone could ever dream for. My new job, new office, new coworkers, new boss, new commute, are all great. I keep wondering what's wrong with this picture, because it all seems too picture-perfect to be real. Sometimes it feels like I'm in the movie "The Truman Show" because everything is so neat and clean. I know that's a good thing, I'm just not used to that!

If I had to have any concern at all, it'd be wondering if I'll miss the challenges of wide-area service-provider networks (traffic management, failure detection, redundancy, costs, point-to-point service delivery) that wide-area service-provider networks live with, over the enterprise-level data-center-type network I'll be working with -- now I have to get close to the world of "IT"! This, for a network engineer, is a good dilemma to have. No matter where my work falls, it will improve me.

Another nice change: I'm looking forward to Monday!


Thursday, October 06, 2011

10/6/2011 Caught the creep

They caught the guy -- actually, shot and killed him this morning. We heard the sirens and helicopters around 7:40am, and heard the news barely minutes later. It's more of a relief than I expected.

Many things are unexplained, such as why he came to this neighborhood at all, but it's more than a little freaky that he abandoned his car less than a minute's walk away, then walked farther from our house to attempt to carjack someone else's car in the HP parking lot. He could just as easily have come to our block.

Lorne Way in Sunnyvalewhere he was caught is now famous as the short street where he hid out, and ultimately was shot, but we know it as the site of a birthday party Julian attended in 2008 -- in fact on the same block section. Julian's friend Alex (and his father, my friend George who shares my interest in WWII-era planes and invited us to the tour of the tank museum we took last summer) were renting there and have since moved, thank heavens. They've had been in the center of the action -- and terror.

Actually, best as I can tell, this house is 5 doors down from the one where he was shot. It'd take barely a few minutes to walk there from here -- and even less time to walk to our house from where the gunman abandoned his car.

But it's over, and we can be grateful our schools rehearsed "code blues" and shocked that it ever had to be executed.

Bigger problems tonight though....we discovered that newly-responsible Gabriel is way, way, WAY behind on his week's worth of homework, and a 2-week-long project due tomorrow. We've just been far too distracted with all the issues Julian has been giving us -- it's exhausting keeping after him for absolutely everything.

And I'm still in something between shock and panic about starting a new job. Starting a new job is always a big deal, but maybe that's harder as we get older and more settled into our comfort zones. Then again, I've always had a love-hate relationship with comfort zones. I think I do my best inbetween them, striving to find them.

It's been 4 days and already I've learned so much and realized how much more there is to learn. I keep looking for something "wrong" with this situation, but the more I look at it, even though it looks so different than what I identify with, the less I can find anything wrong with it. Am I kidding myself? I think I'm going to do very well here. The only true anxiety I can find is not having much opportunity to delve into the detailed protocol analysis I used to do and loved (give me a testset and a protocol analyzer and I'm home!) -- this is much less academic, and closer to "just get it done and don't worry about the ins and outs of why." I'm the closest to "IT" as I've ever been in my career as a network engineer.

Now, can I balance an incredibly badly-behaved son and an incredibly putzy or poor-planning son and work??? Can we handle this while I work? SO frustrating finding out how much homework Gabriel has that he's had all week to do!!

This is one Friday I am SOOOO ready for!


Wednesday, October 05, 2011

10/5/11 Code Blue

A most remarkable day. It should have been ALL about Katrina's birthday. She's FIVE!!! We did have a cake and a little singing, and a lovely call from grandparents.

But today was also marred by a horrendous incident in our neighborhood that isn't entirely over. We were awakened this morning with numerous sirens and helicopters, and discovered after we'd dropped kids off at school and gotten to work that a shooting had occurred a few miles away, then an other non-fatal shooting and failed carjacking very closeby. I spent the whole day tracking Live News Coverage of the incident.

Our schools were on "lockdown," which the kids know as "Code Blue," which meant, no one outdoors, only groups going outside the classrooms (where the bathrooms are), kids released only to adults (no walking home from school). Many parents pulled their kids out of school, and I was tempted, but the truth is : our house is much closer to the action than the school is, so the kids were safer at school. Police and SWAT teams were doing house-to-house searches for the gunman -- still at large as I type -- and the odds were very low he'd make it all the way to the school.

Then after work when I went to pick up the kids, I heard on the radio just as I was parking that Steve Jobs died today. Oh. My. God. That's incredible. Not surprising, he'd been ill for some time, but Oh. My. God. Cancer is awful to take away such a bright light, such a world-changer. It's awful to take anyone of course, but it's just so hard to believe of someone who was such a force.

I thought hard about that driving home, with my children squabbling in the backseat, and counting the helicopters still flying over my neighborhood on my daughter's 5th birthday. The most remarkable thing about today should have been my 3rd day at a new job, not this -- all this.


Tuesday, October 04, 2011

10/4/2011 Breaking the Rules

Gabriel is determined to "create energy," and wrote this report today about how.

I love the last sentence: "The loop of motion and magentism will keep it going forever, therefore breaking the law of Conservation of Energy. Cool, huh?" I love his brashness and confidence.

Julian, on the other hand, is determined to break every rule in the school handbook. This is the message we received from the principal today.

Mr. and Mrs. Doudna, Julian was sent to the office today for a discipline problem. The incident occurred during today's PE session. I asked Julian what happened and he told me: "I punched someone because I was thinking about motorcycle gangs, the bad guys that wear black suits. You have to punch them, so I punched someone. The second time I tried, I missed."

I'm writing to inform you that I have warned Julian that if he hurts a student again, he will be suspended from school for 2 days. I am not allowing him back for PE today. He will join his class when PE has finished. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Julian's teacher also had some choice words about how he refused to write a letter of apology to the child he'd hit. She's really really frustrated with him, he causes trouble every day and often makes it worse during his consequences.

This is so not what I need in my first week of a new job, and not what Dave needs getting pulled out of work to deal with this stuff. Gabriel's been great, and overall Katrina is too, but it only takes one at a time to cause no end of trouble. And this is where I really can't turn to other parents -- what do you do if your kid is suspended for 2 days?! We work full-time!! And being at home is a reward to him, and being home with him all day to punish him would be dreadful. Suspension will REALLY suck!


Monday, October 03, 2011

10/30/11 First Day!!!!


First day at a new job today. I'd forgotten how freaky those are. Perhaps this one moreso because it all seemed so normal and happy. Am I on The Truman Show?

I also keep hearing how things will get crazy and busy, and I can certainly see how -- I saw an email conversation in which my company couldn't grab a customer because he was on the East Coast and we were 3 hours behind. That's pretty tight timing. Right now I'm just learning the language -- so many terms and assumptions that everyone tosses around as general parlance, and I have to either hide a puzzled face, ask later, or just be stumped. But experience helps here -- I know it will fill itself in later and that hearing these mysteries is part of filling in all the blanks.

I was greatly comforted when my new closest coworker showed me a lab and sent me a hands-on configuration document to test out -- now I'm happy. This is what I can do.

No matter how I look at it, this was by far the right decision -- even if I hadn't been leaving a completely dysfunctional ridiculous situation.

I wasn't expecting this, but I got a real office! Like, with a door and walls! This never happens in Silicon Valley!

With a dual-screen setup for my HP laptop (HP! Never had one!). I also get a Blackberry, which I'm already mixed on.

Mom should be amused by my first-day outfit, since she helped me pick it: gray stretch trousers from Banana Repulic, and a 50% silk cardigan on sale at Banana. The shirt is from Title Nine, of course. It's really not clear how strict the dress code is, but since I was really past the jeans-and-T-shirt phase of life anyway, this is fine.

Another huge bonus is that my commute is not only a little shorter, but it's much more reliable. It's reverse-commute, so will not wary widely as my old commute did. If I left at 4:30 at my old job, traffic was Ok, but 5:30, and it was a nightmare. This route, those two times won't be much different. So in theory I should be able to pick up kids earlier. And in theory, drop them off later -- could we skip $100s of dollars in childcare by dropping the 1-1/2 hours of morning supervision that we only use 15-20 minutes of?

OK, enough about me.

I was really surprised: Julian got a great grade on his "Jack and the Beanstalk" book report, with 5's (the highest score) on everything except a 4 in "use of props" as he didn't have any. Not surprisingly, he scored a '2' (lowest) on his ability to listen politely to other kids' presentations. I'm not sure how strict a grader this teacher is, but she had these words to offer parents about the report:

Please don't draw the pictures for your child. It is their report and they should have colored self drawn pictures. If I felt that it was not a child's work it is reflected in their grade. Most did a great job on their presentations. I will be looking for improvement. Some students did not point to their book report at all, or just read from it. Thank you

I don't know, is that a common thing around the country to remind parents not to draw things for their kids?

Julian's teacher has a new method of emailing the parents the homework, so we get it Monday in email and print it. For us that means Julian can't start it until I get home and have a chance to sit down and print it out. However, Julian does have his preprinted week's worth of math homework with him, so he starts on that while I'm printing the language homework. And then he blows through the math, with no hesitation or questions, in about 20 minutes. It's really striking to see the school's putziest, whiniest, laziest excuse-expert toast this homework.

Could that point to a "Julian is bored' explanation? We wondered that for Gabriel, but Gabriel just didn't care, and he'd make stupid careless mistakes. We'd told Gabriel that if he's "bored" in math, that he could show that by acing every test -- but he never did. Julian is acing every math test, worksheet and homework page including the optional sections so far. I can't imagine where he finds the time amidst all that pestering, complaining, lollygagging and trips to principal's office.


Sunday, October 02, 2011

10/2/2011 Acoustic assault!

Any parent endures the subject of this post ("acoustic assault") but this time, I'm doing it the other way: I'm assaulting the acoustics in our family room. My Mom pointed out, "you're not going to solve this problem with any one thing, it needs to be a combination of factors."

So I took my unemployed time and a cavalier attitude to my usual austerity and went to town at Pier 1 Imports. This resulted in a whole lot of goofy pillows, all placed up high in the hopes of absorbing the insufferable echoes in our family room.

I doubt it makes much difference by itself, but when my ears are ringing I get some comfort just looking over at all those silly pillows.

I also got a few new placemats. (Katrina was happily setting the table voluntarily!)

I really did lose my mind. Normally I'd never get a useless froofy pillow like this -- but guess what. It's Katrina's favorite, and you know what, now it's mine too! It's really silly but quite eye-grabbing!

I offset the bingeing with some real purging today too. We had a "dump day" today, which means as Sunnyvale residents we are allowed two weekends a year of free dumping at Sunnyvale's world-class dump and recycling center. Usually you have to pay to dump stuff, and a lot, but we save our junk for these semiannual resident passes.

I thought at first I'd finally get rid of a few leftover pieces of lumber from various remodels, but this turned into filling our pickup with stuff that's been hidden for years. I'm so good at storing stuff that I don't even realize how much we have.

I got the boys involved, and Julian in particular was a real help -- not just the "oh isn't this cute that the kid thinks he's helping" sort of help, but real help.

Gabriel was helping until he thought I told him to throw away an old Shark "dustbuster" thing, when I'd really told him to just put it down and help me, and that he could have it, but only in the garage. When he came back out and understood that he could have this useless rundown appliance, he was thrilled. He spent the rest of the day in the garage, taking it apart and trying to get its motor out, and later said he was able to get its motor running. I was truly impressed at how he turned junk into an all-day project, and how excited he was about taking something apart to get to its motor.

Julian too was very involved in this garage project, but just like Julian, he was more motivated by feeling like he was really helping. That's an important key to him I think -- now, how do we harness that to keep him out of the principal's office?

First day of new job tomorrow, I'm VERY excited!!