Thursday, March 28, 2013

3/28/13 Update overdue!!

Isn't it funny how "getting behind" compounds itself exponentially? Once I'm behind one day in my blog, the barrier to entry is WAY higher the next day. After 3 days, I barely know where to start!!

Gabriel went on his 5th-grade Angel Island Overnight trip yesterday. I dropped him off uber-early at school, wearing his Civil War Re-Enactment "uniform." I'm still kicking myself for not snagging a photo of him in long pants with a red stripe, his backpack, and anticipation-filled smiling face. He looked so grown-up, even as he was embarking on a kids'-school re-enactment.

Gabriel of all kids isn't one a parent need worry about on an overnight trip. I'm proud that we've done enough camping that he's pretty self-sufficient about these things. Unlike most of his classmates, he's slept outdoors, set up a tent, struggled to cram his sleeping bag into its case, dealt with the countless snags of camping.

Of course, that doesn't mean I wasn't a little anxious about him....I thought about him a lot, wondered what he was doing, missed him intensely.

I got home late night and found some Angel Island items tossed onto a table, and had another painful pang of missing my firstborn. I'd talked to him a lot about the trip, bugged him many times to prepare his "uniform," insisted he collect and check off each item he needed, talked to him about the activities, then dropped him off super-early amidst other Civil-War clad 5th-graders. So I was looking forward to seeing him when he returned.

But the current split-week custody arrangement meant that not only didn't I see him when he returned from his trip, but by the time I have his attention again, days will have passed and he'll have moved on. I remember well how cute he looked in his red-stripe uniform, and wonder how the re-enactment activities went, if it was cold and his sweatshirt was warm enough, and how did he do with his injured ankle. But I won't see him until late tomorrow and the new memory will have worn off. I really regret this loss of continuity; kids live so in-the-moment, and these moments are so often lost by a schedule dictated an impartial legal agreement.

Back to grownups....

Everyone always says they're super-busy at work, but lately, I really mean it. Every job had its deadlines, and my job is quite flexible in many ways, but when my job is inflexible, it really is. When I have a training class, or an exam scheduled, there's just no way around that.

(In the work-world context that is -- it's nothing at all like the pressure of raising babies. If you're diagnosed with pneumonia, you cancel the training class and reschedule the exam, but you never ever stop taking care of your baby!)

Recently I had a one-week training class (which I had to miss some of to care of babies), then a crucial exam. In the grander scheme, these vendor exams I have to take are meaningless -- they're not "real" exams like in academia, but rather, "certification" exams that include questions like "what 3 options are available in a such-and-such drop-down menu..." Nothing conceptual, but passing the tough exam is important to my revered employer, to have a certain number of "certified" engineers on staff. So, sure, of course I'll do all I can to make it work, but it is incredibly time and attention-consuming.

I had to summon my "computer virus guy" again to wipe clean an old laptop that, despite following all usual precautions, picked up a virus that completely froze it within 10 minutes of browsing. (Ironically, the exam I just passed, and much of the work-learning I've been doing, surrounds computer and application security.) I could make a whole career out of security if I were so inclined...instead I had to fall in love with a far less lucrative discipline (wireless networking). I attended a talk at a Forum my company hosted this week, that included an interesting comment from a vendor: "We don't try to eliminate security threats, but rather manage them, and make the economics fail for them." Good luck with that. I'm keeping my "virus guy" on speed-dial.

A full weekend is coming up, so please forgive me if I fall behind again!


Sunday, March 24, 2013

3/24/13 weekend chores

"Look, Mom!" declared Katrina this afternoon, "We're all doing jobs!" Indeed, I was doing yardwork, Gabriel was mowing the lawn, and Katrina was washing my car.

I'm not sure why she was so insistent about this job, but she took it seriously and worked hard at it for well over an hour!

And my car always needs washing, especially after ski trips.

Ski trip?! It's late March, and T-shirt weather has set in here in the South Bay. But I snuck in one last spring-skiing day yesterday anyway, at a favorite resort I haven't been to in years. This time, I got to ski with a friend -- a grownup -- and this time, the end of the day meant margaritas instead of hot-chocolate with marshmallows and "why did he get more than I did" and "GUYS stop FIGHTING" and "would you PLEASE take your boots off" and countless other details. It's great fun to ski with kids, but I have to say, at the moment the kind waiter showed up with "on the rocks with salt," and "what you you like for dinner, Ma'am?" I can't say I missed them all that much!

It was also TOTAL fun to ski with another grownup, a friend, who I know from motorcycling (though we never rode together), and who I know is adventurous, brave, experienced, willing to challenge herself, and who completely relates to the things that carry over from motorcycling to skiing. Motorcyclists, especially ones who ride dirt regularly, completely understand things like facing fear, knowing your limits, managing competitiveness and ego, balancing risk and reward -- even technical details like looking ahead and gauging your willingness for speed based on your ability to stop. Of course, any adventurer thinks about these things regularly, but if you're with someone who shares a strong interest in a particular discipline, you know how they think.

We had a great time, including a tough run in off-piste un-packed mogul-y "crud" under a lift ("West Coast Express"). (photo taken toward the end when it had levelled out -- honestly, it was a lot harder than it looks from this picture!)
(this is my friend, who also wore a white jacket and black pants, but is much taller than I am!)

This tough adventure made a relatively packed, well-traverse mogul-y black-diamond ("Jack Rabbit") seem completely fun and easy afterward.

My friend learned that if she was looking for reason or judgement in deciding whether or not to do something, it wasn't going to come from me -- as soon as she said, "Hmm, can we do this --" I'd say "Of COURSE WE CAN!" -- and off we were. Not all my male co-riders were always happy when I didn't give them a bail-out option....heh!

Spring has set in -- it was almost 50 degrees and we could sure feel it in the heavy rapidly melting snow -- but we made the best of it and had a fantastic time. Heck, I never liked skiing when it's cold anyway.

This photo is at the top of my former nemesis, "Lower Main" - this was so hard and scary 2 years ago, but SO fun yesterday. My friend is also a very very talented photographer, so I was so happy she got this terrific shot with my crummy point-and-shoot.

The mountains behind me are just beautiful, but I'm sad that they're not slathered with snow. You can definitely see how it's all melting away now.

Back at home, I was too tired today to get all the things done that were on my List -- seemed I could only drag myself outdoors to do outdoor manual-labor chores, which I did a lot of while Katrina was washing my car. Though yardwork tires me out, after being outside all day yesterday, it seemed more drudgerous to be inside. I'd better get over that fast, because tomorrow, it's back to the regular world, and there's a whole lot of indoors there!