Silly interactions

It was a day of random, silly interactions that made me smile.
First thing this morning, I was at work. Even though I have been there nearly a year, I still sometimes get calls for someone that as far as I know hasn’t worked there in five years. But back whenever they used to publish telephone books, and some people have kept theirs. I’ve gotten better at asking people that call where they got the number, and some people give meaningful responses.
He must have been nice and really helpful, because the calls all start rather randomly ‘The projector in the lecture hall doesn’t work.’, ‘My laptop won’t boot.’, ‘The printer in the lobby has a problem.’, ‘I have a question about my taxes.’ (OK, that one was actually a wrong number – apparently I am a digit or two off the Revenue Office.) Just because of the way the world changes and the rise of ‘bring your own device’, I’m not even sure if there is a department that handles hardware errors for people. Since starting, I found that the e-mails being sent out with automated forms and the English translation of the website for requesting signed certificates still had my phone number listed as a point of contact, but I’ve had those fixed.
Anyway, this morning started with a call from a professor in the Department of Near Eastern Archeology. I laughed and said I couldn’t help and sent her where I send everyone (technically it is the office that handles student accounts and login problems, but I figure they know what they are doing and have contact with the networking department and trouble shooting guidelines, so they definitely know more than I do). No one ever calls me back after I transfer them, so it must be working. 🙂 Anyway, I gave her the number but she stayed on the line and talked to me – telling me that my accent made her homesick for time she spent in the USA when she was in her 20s and backpacking across the West and sleeping on beaches. She just felt that Americans were really nice and trusting (whether that was just the 60s or peoples’s reactions/sympathy with young European girls, I don’t know. I know there are organizations like Couch Surfing and people I meet in roller derby sometimes take me in and back in the 90s when my train in England was stopped for a bomb threat and I had nowhere to go I slept on a stranger’s couch, but I never know what to do when someone knocks on your door with a story about being willing to do odd jobs for cash – my inner cynic sometimes panics) and missed that in Germany. I told her I missed the friendliness (since just last night I asked a woman for directions and she ran off) but didn’t know if it could really be distilled down to nationality. We had a nice chat and she told me that she had updated her phone list (print date 2002), but I was a bit unsure if she crossed the number off or put a star next to it to call me again … 🙂
Later in the evening, I was standing in line at the grocery store when a woman bumped into me and apologized profusely. I told her it was ok and no harm was done, but then had to add that I thought it was super sweet that she apologized, because I am so sick of being rammed by peoples’ carts at that exact same store – as with tonight, no harm done, except that usually people don’t apologize or even acknowledge they did it, and that really chaps my hide. So we got into a chat, and of course it turned out that she isn’t German either (she moved to Germany from Russia 35 years ago – is it just me or does it seem crazy that someone was able to leave Russia in 1982???). She went on to tell me about a book she wrote (and asked me if I could help her find a publisher in the US!) and we even exchanged names.
Anyway, nothing consequential, but it had been a while since I had had these light-hearted, easy going meetings, and it really made me smile. I wrapped up the evening watching an episode of Scarecrow and Mrs King, a television show from 1983. It was another flashback to a some simpler times. 🙂

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It’s hot.

Not California hot, but hot.

I grew up with hot summers. My family only had one room with a window air conditioner unit, so on those hot Iowa summer nights when for weeks on end the temperature wouldn’t drop below steamy, we would all pile up in that one room and sleep on the floor, sacrificing privacy and soft beds for the price of relative cool.

But then there was Colorado with cool nights and years in Germany spent in a solid massiv-bau, shaded apartment on the edge of the river, where hot days in the office were followed by returning to a refreshingly cool evening.

And yeah, there were 18 months in California, but the US is air conditioned!

So I have always been able to maintain my semblance of professionalism, in the IT industry, by always wearing trousers, polos and leather shoes to work.

This year, the temperature may do me in. I have already been compromising my principles. I started wearing shorts! And sandals! I’m still holding strong on the polo shirt front, although I am not sure why. My co-workers wear shirts with text on them. They run around all day long with one pant leg rolled up so they don’t get them caught in the bike chains on their way to and from work. Baseball hats in the office.

But I am still not ready to wear t-shirts to work. Right now with a polo, getting dressed is actually very easy. Especially when I am wearing shorts, of which I only have two pair – navy and beige. I attended a housewarming bbq this weekend and totally over-analyzed what t-shirt to wear, as this would be my first (and maybe only?) chance to show personality and represent. So what side of my personality/interests/coolness do I choose to show?

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Well, that was a surprise …

… although I guess it shouldn’t have been.

Blooming Sempervivum

Sempervivum blooming on our balcony


So last year, when The Redhead moved here, he bought a plant to make the flat feel more homey. And, being the way we are, it obviously had to be something easy. So a succulent it was. It’s been doing great (because I help with the watering, I think. 🙂 ), and it got through the winter; I repotted it, and it has gone crazy. So I was completely surprised when it started to grow some spikes. Which, next time I looked, had buds on the ends of them. And then it grew some crazy pink flowers. So, yeah, doing great.

But, then, the biggest surprise was when The Redhead looked back through his pictures and found out that it bloomed last summer too. 🙂

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How to declutter when I know I will need it again?

Argh. I know that we have too much stuff (well, either that or the apartment is too small). We’ve moved a couple times in the last couple years, and unfortunately a bunch of stuff is still in boxes! I have some plans to work my way through them, especially now that I have a little more free time, but it isn’t that I am a hoarder, it is just that these things have their uses! For example, yesterday (Thursday) at 10 pm I was told “Oh, btw – on Saturday you need an orange top with your number on it for the scrimmage.” (New uniforms have been ordered but aren’t here yet.) So I find myself suddenly digging through the very bottom box in a stack, looking for fabric paint (it’s either this or sewing one on … not sure which is the quicker/cleaner (optically, but also really, given the fact that we have company on Monday night) option).

Oh well, it will get sorted. Tonight is date night and The Redhead should be home in about 30 minutes!

Oh yeah, just wanted to add that since I was at the mall anyway, I did stop in and ask the t-shirt printing shop how much it would cost to get three numbers added to a shirt I provided – €16.50! Does this make keeping and digging the paint out worth it?

Update#2 – Was just done getting my patterns sized and done when The Redhead came home and we headed out to our dinner reservation, so didn’t start painting until 10 pm. Some of the paint was a bit gloopy (and after I thinned and mixed, a bit thin), but I think I made a good first pass. On clean up and while rechecking a page I had been looking at about using acrylics on fabric I came across a note “Allow to dry for 24 hours” … oops! I don’t have anywhere near 24 hours! I will have to get out of bed soon and see if it is dry enough … otherwise we might have to go back to the sewing idea!

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Don’t talk to Jeannette

Yes, I do know that many of my stories are poorly structured. You know what, though? That is life! Not everything has a clean ending. And if you wait for an experience to end, you (I at least) will never care enough any more to write about it.

Anyway, today was a build day. Just as background, I work remotely in a different (a _very_ different) timezone than most of my co-workers. It works out pretty well, although I do as a rule work evenings, but build days are exceptional. Since my group works on a government contract, we have a lot of very specific rules and a lot of inertia that has to be overcome to make changes. So getting code into a build is structured. The development pipe has two builds every week, so being ready early would actually just be a tight deadline for the previous build. And right now I am working on a major change request, and so I have to coordinate my activities with quite a few other people. So I actually had “working” code finished three or four weeks ago sitting out there for the rest of the group to interact with, and, sure enough, three or four weeks go by with nary a complaint about the interface or the results. As if no one had actually interacted with it, really! So then I suddenly get told that I need to be ready for the next week’s build. No big deal, just some comments I had to clear up and some constants I have to get into this one .h file. Except that one of my co-workers beat me to the punch, checking that header file out three weeks ago and hanging on to it … ok, so I just have to talk to her to get my constants included. That actually works out ok, and I am still ahead of schedule. Except that the developer of the layer that calls my code just started working on it and twice a day tells me that there is one more parameter that needs to be returned or that a specific date can’t be passed in, only a month. And I’m still easy-going. And so Monday at noon I send out an email asking for review of my code and an hour later the other C developer on this project calls on me to return the favour. And next thing I know I have 2 checklists and 7 configuration windows open, plus I am verifying constant and comments and logic and still taking requests to make changes to my structures and I’m getting dizzy and then a reminder pops up that in 15 minutes the mandatory monthly developer meeting is taking place and I call in … but the sound is bad and the video is worse and I can’t even figure out if the new policies are relevant (and the shared screen says “Item 1: Discuss new policies”, but these policies aren’t specified so I am trying to follow along on the conversation) … at least this time they force muted everyone’s phones, because the barking dogs and the chain saws last time really grated on everyone’s nerves.

So I log out, committing to finish my colleague’s walk through before the next morning (only slightly pushing the “close of business” deadline I was given) and I do get up and finish it, and make the required changes to mine, and then of course the tech lead who needs to give the final approval is nowhere to be found before the noon cut-off for the preliminary build list, not approving my package until 1:30 and forcing me to try to get onto the final build list (and we discuss what was mentioned about this process in the meeting yesterday – I don’t need to send an email as long as I make it before three? or I do have to send an email, but I shouldn’t cc the whole company? Eight emails are sent, cc’ing everyone even though 98% of us don’t care. I don’t reply all, only to have one person message me later asking if mine finished in time for the build. It is now going on midnight, and the final build list hasn’t come out … I’ve never had to correct the list, but I still always check and make sure I am on it, especially since we were just warned yesterday that if we include the letters WP when specifying the work package, the build won’t pick us up … we have to make sure that we submit only the numeric portion. And in spite of our being a tech company and this being discussed in the last one or two developer meetings, the assignee has yet to discover anyone who will admit to being responsible or able to change the form so that it has a comment or forces the proper format …

Oh yes, this is also the day that The Redhead is working from home, because he is on call the second his parts come in, and while it is nice to have him there and talk when _I_ want, he has the worst timing, trying to talk about his day just as I am trying to tune a SQL or rebuild the catalog so that I can pass one more parameter on to the next layer, and so my answer to whatever it was he just asked me? “Don’t talk to Jeannette!”

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Back in print?

OK, I haven’t been writing anything, even though I mean to … somewhere between my urge to write and my desire to control information flow, there has to be a compromise, right?

Last week I got an e-mail from one of the local extras casting companies saying that they were looking for “French or German looking people” for an advert. While this kind of confused me (I do know some people that I think _look_ German, but I can’t put my finger on what it is …), I decided that by definition, I must look German, and so I forced The Redhead to find or take some pictures of me for submission. We talked about the casting call wording and discussed whether this was just a way of specifying a certain Caucasian look without coming out and saying that. Anyway, late Tuesday night I got an invitation to attend the casting, and this morning I decided that as long as I am a developer by night, I could be an actor by day and so I went.

Either we read too much into the description or a lot of the people there received a different advertisement than I did, because the crowd was really quite varied. I chatted while waiting with a regular, but during the occasional lull in our conversation I heard some interesting lines – a pair were catching up and discussing their recent roles “I went from Poor Woman to Rich Woman – there were a lot more jobs for Poor Woman!” and from a group near by “I have nothing against straight people, I told her!”

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Earworm

I woke up the other day with a song running through my mind. This happens a lot, but this week’s was particularly annoying because I only knew two or three lines of melody and only one word. I can usually get rid of a song if I can sing it, but this one was firmly stuck. Fortunately, I was able to roll over and pass this one on to The Redhead. (You do know the story by Mark Twain, “A Literary Nightmare”, don’t you? (The theme of which also appears in one of Robert McCloskey’s Homer Price stories “Pie and Punch and You-Know-Whats.”) In it, the only way of getting a recurring song out of your mind is by passing it on to someone else.)

Anyway, I say to The Redhead “What is the song by Chumbawamba that goes ‘da-da da children, da-da da da da children, da da da da da-da.'” As I am sure you can imagine, his reaction was to not be impressed. But, he took up the challenge. By the time we got in the shower, he had expanded it to ‘da-da da children, da-da da da da children and sell them to the devil’ and before we got out it was ‘something your children, gonna brainwash your children and sell them to the devil’. Which seemed like a good enough place to be – I googled the lyrics to find a name, The Redhead thought he knew what album it was on and started looking to play it for me. We both struck out for the longest time (it turns out it only appears on the 12″ of Behave?), but he found it before I did, we played it, and it was cleared from my mind so I could get some work done.

yay!

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Thanks for the memories…

Out for dinner with The Redhead at a vegetarian Indian buffet … reminds me of that fateful first-not-date how many years ago? Was that summer of ’97 or ’98? Wow …

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Quinoa biscuits and spinach butter

I told The Redhead not to sabotage my job search just because right now he has a live-in maid and cook, that if I got this job I could get a chef to come by and make him oatmeal for breakfast. His answer? “Yeah, somebody will probably come over and make quinoa biscuits and … spinach butter.” He honestly believes this is what personal chefs do.

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What to do first?

OK, so I told you that I unwrapped my Arduino yesterday, right? So, I’m sitting here looking at it and going, ok – what do you do with a micro-controller on a board with only an LED attached (I mean, other than unpack the breadboard and components and attach off-board LEDs or something)? My first thought – Morse Code! I mean, I had already made the light blink steadily, right? Unsteady blinking is obviously the next step.

I looked up a Morse Code translation table on Wikipedia, and I thought I was good to go. But I didn’t want to just have a static message being sent out, it had to respond to input, right? So a little pocking around and I found a mention of opening an input window and a serial connection, and 70 lines of code later I can type a message in on my computer and set my board a blinkin’!

But now what? Oooh – I just looked at the contents list of my component pack, and there is an LDR! Does that mean that now I can detect and translate Morse as well? Next project, here I come!

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