Wednesday, August 22, 2012

In Years Gone By

Maybe you've done this: One day you take a look at your closet and decide it's time to clear out some junk. Maybe it's Spring Cleaning time. And in the process of throwing out the pants you'll never fit into again, the single socks, the utterly-beyond-redemption underwear and out-of-style shirts, you trip over an old, dusty cardboard box. And in that box are some faded family photos that have followed you on every move from your first apartment, gathering dust, never looked at.

So you take them out and spend an emotional half-hour (or maybe a whole day) going over them, your original task forgotten, drifting in a timeless universe of your own creation, remembering things that you should never have forgotten, and other things that you wish you could forget.

Maybe there is a bottle of wine involved.

So anyways, I recently re-discovered this blog thingy. Covered in dust, the Blogger UI completely unrecognizable from the last time I visited here, but still here, and so I thought I would reward that stubborn continuity with a splinter of attention, and, I dunno, blog something.

Here are some things:

About 2.5 years ago, Wife gave birth to a beautiful baby, who changed our lives. Again. Thing 2 is a hilarious character, who daily challenges us to be the better versions of ourselves. He loves to watch Top Gear, and can identify about a dozen car brands on sight. He's bossy, opinionated, loud and hilarious. Everything I love about my wife, in a convenient pocket-sized format.

About 1.5 years ago, PerpetualStartup finally disintegrated into its component molecules. When the dust settled, I was out of a job. Just in time for Christmas.

About a year ago, I got a job offer from Amazon. I decided, on a lark, that it would be fun to pick up the wife and kids and move across the country to Seattle, which is in the United States. As with any life change of this magnitude, there have been some growing pains. But we have grown, which is also important.

We don't have any family here, and all our old friends are three timezones away, which casts a sort of dark cloud over the whole move (Seattle readers will pause here to roll their eyes. "Another comment on the weather!"), but I now regularly see IronMan, who flies down to Seattle from Victoria occasionally on business. So there's a silver lining (for me, anyway).

Seattle, on the sunniest day of the year.
Seattle, on the sunniest day of the year.

About three months ago, Thing 1, who is now 9 years old, (OH-EM-GEE), learned to ride a two-wheeler without training wheels. It is only due to my own parental negligence that this has taken as long as it has, but basically, it went like this:
  1. We bought him a bike
  2. He rode around with training wheels for about a day, then we took them off.
And now we go on semi-regular bike rides along the canal, down to the lake to watch the sailboats and sea-planes, and feed the geese and whatnot. He's super proud of his new bike-riding skills, and so are we!

About a month ago, I took the family back to Montreal, which had attained a sort of mythic status in all our minds that Seattle was having a hard time living up to. Many things were as we remembered them (friends, family, horrible construction delays and crumbling infrastructure). Some things were not-quite-as-mythic as we remembered them (the food, the weather). We had a wonderful, relaxing time, and I got to see The Boxer and The Directrix, along with a smattering of the PerpetualStartup crew of old. I think this mini-vacation gave us a dose of medicine for our homesickness, while at the same time somehow making us appreciate Seattle a little more. Maybe that's just me, though.

About a week ago, Thing 2 told me "Daddy, I want a BMW."

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sometimes I Feel Like This

Son #2 finally arrived, on Feb. 23rd, around 3:45 pm. He's a bit of angel, and a bit monster, like us all, but cuter than the mean. Certainly cuter than me. I won't talk about that too much, except to say that baby and mother are doing fine, and we're all home, happy, and sleep-deprived.

Perhaps you hadn't noticed, but I did take some time off over the last little while. Blogging just seemed so... unimportant. But I was reminded recently that it's the seemingly unimportant things that comprise, in aggregate, a purpose, or simulacra of purpose. It's easy to start thinking something's "not worth the effort", but that's a slippery slope, and now I have to climb it.


Anyways, I saw this thing today. And it reminded me of you. Or not of you, but of myself, I guess. Sometimes I feel like this. When I'm sleep-deprived.

I bet you were expecting a baby picture.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

Les Paul Died today.

ThinFast is leaving for a couple years, and this makes me very sad. She was my favorite work-friend-who-is-a-girl-but-only-in-a-totally-platonic-way-honey-i-swear. I'm sure there is a word for that in German. She refers to me as her "work husband".

Ironman, my brother-from-another-mother, having cast his eyes longingly to the West for many years now, has finally caved, and weighs anchor for that halcyon coast in a little bit. Gone forever. How fucked up is that?

These are the types of events that could make me cry, if I weren't already an emotional cripple. As it is, I’m feeling pretty hard-done-by at the moment.

Wife (whose charity and patience I can never hope to deserve) keeps trying to get me to talk about my feelings.

Which, perversely, is hard to do without making everything somehow worse.

Obélix, recent hauptmann to my obergefreiter, has also been very supportive during these trying times, asking me how I feel, gifting me with desserts, trying to fondle my buttocks, "do [I] need a hug?", etc. Like his fictional namesake, he is enthusiastic, sensitive, fiercely loyal, energetic, and sometimes a bit soup-au-lait. A really good guy, in general, though a little naive. For example, he thinks he’s sneaky. Thinks I don’t know that he reads this blog (hah! piégé, mon ami!).

Obélix has a healthy appetite for good food. He eats the way the rest of us wish we could. So it was almost painful to watch him try to negotiate our communal platters of Ethiopian food last night, when we hit the town for a last hurrah, to wish ThinFast bon voyage (and for God’s sake, a speedy return, please!). Poor guy.

Well, I thought the food was great. After getting our hands dirty at the restaurant, we hit up Pang Pang Karaoke with about ten other people, and all crooned at each other until our throats were raw.

Surprise of the evening: SoftServe, who you’ve never heard of, but who’s been with PerpetualStartup since that ill-advised foray into the sleazy world of Precious Metals Redistribution. This guy has a voice like velvet, drizzled with honey, rolled into a fine cigar, and smoked with 12-year-old port. We were all suitably impressed. Still waters indeed.

Anyways, so that’s basically it. Pretty down in the dumps. But on the up side, Wife is once again knocked-up. That's right, I've been busy manufacturing replacements for all those bastards who are leaving.

Screw you guys!

Also, Directrix will be returning to PerpetualStartup in September (probably), so that'll be another friendly face.

P.S.: It has come to the attention of the editorial board that there has been a recent precipitous decline in the quantity and quality of intellectual content in this blog. So, next time I'll try and give you something educational. We'll start easy, maybe some Cantor Set Theory or something.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Blessed Miscreancy, That Abides No Demarcation

Where am I, you ask? That this call to action should awake me from my slumber and renew the vital juices of my pallid, hunkering muse; this is your wish, is it?

I picture this deviceful anthropomorphism as a sort of shriveled salamander, crouching blind by some bio-luminescent underground lake, awaiting only the siren call of Yog-Sothoth to manifest a magnificent rebirth. No sound penetrates the Stygian darkness. No light falls on these unseeing eyes. It is the long, dark twilight of the soul.

Alright Boxer, you win. I'll blog something, I guess.

But hey, enough about me! How have you been? Google Analytics still periodically deposits a tangy and pungent digital turd in my inbox, so I know someone's reading this stuff. And to you I say: thanks for not giving up.

Here's a run-down of some random stuff that's been going on:

  • Brother's completed his transformation and emerged from his Chrysalis a full-fledged American (or landed immigrant, or migrant worker, or something. I can't really get my head around the legal details). The whole family recently trucked off to Jersey for the foreseeable future, which is kind of sad. Son has been clamoring for his cousins ever since.

  • Speaking of Son, he's turned Six! It puts me in mind of not-too-long-ago, when Six Years Old was the sort of unofficial demarcation between baby and childhood. Put away childish things, boy. You are of two worlds, now. Not man, not child, but some curious alloy, and subject to all the many challenges, and not very many of the rewards, of both your constituent metals. Here are some pictures of Brother and I, at a similarly tender age.

  • That ridiculous Gold Buying thing is over and done with, but I'm not really allowed to talk about it.

  • ThinFast has announced her departure from PerpetualStartup for the sunny shores of (ugh) Toronto. Her reasons are her own, but we are all very sad to see her go.

  • Many other interesting things happened, but their respective statutes of limitations have expired, so I will light on them but briefly: IronMan and Goldylocks had a beautiful baby boy. The family and I visited The Boxer's farm and milked the chickens (turns out Son has a little crush on BigKid. His eyes still light up whenever I mention her!). Winter finally ended, and the rainy season began, with no end in sight. We've pulled Son out of his English/French/Greek school in favor of one that won't cause him heart palpitations every time we mention it.
...Meh, and that's about it for now. But wait! Big things coming.

Big, HUGE things!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

We Are Confronted With Insurmountable Opportunities

ThinFast is headed to Vegas this week, for reasons entirely unconnected with CTIA. And next week, IronMan tags along with Pow for reasons that are CTIA-related.

I don't know why you would even care, or what would impel me to write about that, but there it is.

Son has, of late - but wherefore I know not - lost all mirth, foregone all custom of exercise. He's never been an enthusiastic scholar, but something (we think) happened last Wednesday at school to make him truly dread the engine of his education. Thursday morning, in the car on the way to school, he complained of a stomachache. When that didn't work, he basically freaked right the fuck out, so Wife, motherly pity in her heart, brought him back home.

And again on Friday.

Nearest we can glean from his sobbing attempts to explain through periodic panic attacks, the teacher yelled at him, or gave him a time-out, or some such, and he doesn't know why (because it was all in Greek). So now he thinks she hates him.

As I may have previously mentioned, Son is a sensitive soul, prone to emotion and histrionics. He gets this from his mother, of course (oooohhh, no you di in't!).

The sewn seeds of long and patient discussion and emotional exploration have born the fruit of increased confidence (to gratuitously torture a metaphor), and yesterday I finally managed to convince him that it was okay to go back to school, that his teachers don't hate him, and that as long as he tries his hardest, we're very proud of him, etcetera.

I rode in the back of the car with him all the way to school, talked him through the inevitable nervous stomachache, and watched my brave little boy confront his fear and enter the yawning maw of the dread portal of the kindergarten with head held high, walking as if a condemned man, to meet his executioner.

Later in the day, the school called us to say he was running a fever, so wife went and picked him up and brought him home.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

This Will Be My Epitaph

"The day started out as uneventfully as any other, and continued thus to midday and from there it was nothing at all to ease into an evening of numbing, undiluted monotony that survived unmarred by even the least act of momentary peculiarity-in fact, let's skip that day altogether and start with the day after."

-- Jon Starr

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Le Bilan

O, for the joys of higher education. Wife stopped by Son's school today to pick up The Report Card, and arrived home in tears after talking with the teachers, who feel he needs to be "evaluated" by an Ergotherapist.

Evaluated? (Visions of hot lights and uncomfortable probes danced in my head.) Ergotherapist? What the hell, they want to make him more ergonomic? Improve his posture? Does he have carpal tunnel syndrome or something?

I took a look at The Report Card, and obviously it was time for a Long Talk. I put on my Serious Face and called Son to the Big Bed. (You can tell I was serious by the copious use of capitalization.)

Gone are the days of grading by percentages, letters, numbers, shapes, happy faces, mysterious odors, or anything resembling your old school rating systems, though our particular school does provide a fairly simple "1 to 4" rating, except for the final grade, which is "Tuna to Chartreuse". So simple, even a parent can understand it.

1 is good, and 4 is bad.

I tried to explain to Son the difference between English, French and Greek, as The Report Card indicated he seems to get them mixed up.

"Think of all the words you know. There are a lot of them. They buzz around in your head like flies. Some of the flies are red, and those are the words you use with Mommy and Daddy. English. Some are Yellow, and those are the words you use with Mme Lianne. French. Some are Blue, and those are the words you use with Yaya. Greek."

Then we tried to think of some "Blue" words, and some "Yellow" words. In the end, I think I just confused him more. I've been a little leery of trying out metaphors on him ever since I explained to him that his conscience was a little voice in his head that always told him right from wrong, and that he should listen to his little voice.

And then he went around telling everyone he heard voices in his head, telling him to do things...

Another thing that caught my eye: Son has missed 13 days of school this semester. I often bust Wife's (figurative) balls about keeping him home from school on the slightest pretext, so it's nice to have actual, shocking statistics to back up my arguments. He missed fully 25% of his school days this semester. I cocked an eyebrow at Wife, but did not belabour the point. Discretion is the better part of continued survival, after all.

I don't think I missed 13 days of school between grades one and eleven.

Maybe it's time to think about outsourcing this parenting thing.

My own performance evaluation is coming up at work (or so they've been telling me for the last three months), and I do not anticipate superior results.

Imagine an architect. He's gone to school, got his Master's degree, apprenticed to all the greats in his field, built stunning edifices of surpassing elegance. Now the firm has been handed a contract to design and build the 2012 Olympic soccer stadium in London. This is his big chance. This is where he gets to make a name for himself.

"No," say the powers-that-be. "We will hire an overpaid, unskilled consultant for this job. Your responsibility will be to sharpen his pencils."

After a sufficient period of drunken mourning, the architect thinks "Oh well, at least I have all my other projects".

"Think again," say the powers. "This stadium project is too important. we want you to transfer all of your projects to other architects and focus one-hundred-percent on sharpening those pencils."

And every morning, the head of the firm says "These stadium plans are terrible! Make those pencils sharper, dammit!"

PerpetualStartup has some sort of scheme going on where you buy a Valentine's card for a co-worker, and the profits go to charity. I got one for ThinFast, Queen of HR, whose brainchild this is, because I think she needs cheering up.

ThinFast gave a seminar today on Leadership. This was similar to the "Situational Leadership" seminar of last year, and the "Leadership in Action" seminar. Since so much of the material had already been covered, this one only took three hours. I took copious notes, against the possibility that I might be given the opportunity to, you know, actually lead someone at some point.

So far, in my brief experience as manager, I've had my entire team laid off, my product line closed down, and new employees fired out from under me by Obelix. I used to be a software developer, then I was a manger, then I was a developer again. And now I sharpen pencils. Perhaps I may yet aspire to be a leader of pencil sharpeners, a fisher of men, with a destiny ouside the ken of mere mortals. But I doubt it. I'm thirty-five, and I sharpen pencils.

IronMan recently returned from a trip out west with a gift for me of a cubic metre of hot-smoked wild pacific sockeye salmon, hand-smoked by the official smokemeister of an indian reservation. Artisanal style. Delicious. Like a heavenly marriage of sushi and cigarettes. Two of my favorite things!