My wife and I had parent-teacher conferences with my daughter’s teachers. My daughter is doing great (which we already knew) and her teachers love her. I am very proud of her.

🎵 I’m enjoying “The Weeknd Essentials” playlist while I work this morning. I have learned to appreciate his music over the past two years. I was familiar with his biggest hits, but I wasn’t sold on his sound until Due Lipa’s “Future Nostalgia” came out and reminded me how cool and sexy modern 80s-inspired R&B can be.

I wonder what specifically happened this week to make “web3” a topic on every tech news site and every tech podcast I listen to.

⌨️ My expensive Planck EZ keyboard with the broken LEDs is being replaced with a new one. The customer service rep is even seeing if I can get it with different keyswitches than it originally came with, to match the set I switched to.

My main (or only) contribution to gift-giving for my kids this holiday season

My main (or only) contribution to gift-giving for my kids this holiday season was a biggie: I bought them a multi-function color laser printer. (Don’t worry, my wife bought them a ton of other presents that are a lot more fun.)

I got the idea to buy a color printer because my son’s preschool prints everything in color, and the administrators there said that color printing is phenomenal for kids’ worksheets. Beyond filling out preschool worksheet, my son loves to take photos and to draw. Once he gets a newer iPad I’m sure he’ll draw more electronically and will love the ability to print out his creations in full color. My daughter will likely be printing out book covers. She likes to write and illustrate story books, and a color printer will allow her to do that with even more panache. She also makes lots of presentation slide decks for school, and I thought she might need to print them out to turn them in. It turns out that she submits everything to her teachers electronically, so that use case probably won’t pan out.

I didn’t intend to get a big, multifunction printer, though. I had wanted to buy a color printer, which was much cheaper. Due to the global supply shortage, I had to buy what was available, which meant ponying up for the next model up in the lineup, which includes a scanner, too. It cost a lot of money, and I’m well aware of how much toner and paper are going to cost me each year. I think will be worth it, though, to have a mini print-shop running in the family room from now on. My kids are both very excited to have it. I can’t wait to see what they do with it.

Feeling dispirited

I had a couple dispiriting meetings toward the end of the week that killed the enthusiasm I had for what I have been working on over the past few months. First, one of my co-presenters said he thought that the lack of audience questions during our webinar indicated that everyone in the audience was just playing on their phones while we talked, waiting to collect their CPE credits. Then, later in the week, one of the partners I report to on technology initiatives seemed unenthusiastic about the automation bot I created, which took basically all year to figure out how to do.

I have started to doubt myself again. I am wondering if the presentations I give and the white papers I write are too basic to be useful. Even worse, I am wondering again if my tech skills are not the best fit for my company.

Even outside of work I have felt my creativity drop. I have struggled to think up new ideas to write about or to muster the energy to work on my writing until the ideas start to flow again. I want to start coding a lot more again but have been too tired to get into it almost every night.

What I want is inspiration and energy. What I probably need is a diet, exercise, and more sleep.

A Hanukkah COVID exposure scare

In the middle of our Hanukkah celebration tonight my wife got a text that informed us that our son had been exposed to a classmate with COVID a couple days ago. My brother-in-law’s family left immediately because my son and his kids are unvaccinated. (They are all too young.) I’m not concerned that my son is sick (pre-symptomatic) because the rest of us as vaccinated.

My son’s entire preschool class must stay home all next week, due to the exposure rules. My wife and I will have to figure out how to make that work.

The elliptical machine and the treadmill stand proudly in my basement like dusty monuments from a forgotten age.

Tonight I fell asleep in my chair in front of my whole family. I have officially become my dad. 😅

Success

Today, after almost two months of not having any usable time work on it, I finished coding the automation project that has been bedeviling me for half the year. I got over the technical hurdles months ago; all I needed was eight hours uninterrupted, so I could rewrite my code and test it. It took me a long, long time to find that time, but I found it today. It felt great to finally get it working, and even better to remove about half of the code as I optimized it. I am relieved that it is done. I will present it to one of our partners tomorrow, and plan to turn my attention to other things after that.

Final revision

Today I made my final revision to the article I wrote for my company newsletter. It is an article about Big Data, which is a term that is both readily understandable and has no agreed-upon definition, which I intentionally did not bother to define in the opening paragraph. I was asked to define it anyway, right up front, and to cite it from a source. I did so and ended up with a real head-scratcher of a second sentence. I hated it so much that I ran it by my mentor. He confirmed that the definition I inserted was awful, and he sent me over a paragraph that helped me see a new way to open the essay. I ended up re-writing my first paragraph entirely, and came up with something that I am more proud of.

⌨️ I have been walking through the troubleshooting steps that ZSA customer support sent me, but nothing is turning the LEDs back on again. I hope that the warranty will cover it.

I am starting to miss coding in Swift every day. I must get back to it.

🎮 I bought myself a ton of Nintendo Switch games that were on sale for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. My backlog is embarrassingly extensive now. I must have a year’s worth of games to play. Perhaps I can stop buying them for a while.

Hanukkah is a great holiday, but does it have to be eight nights in a row? It’s night three and I am exhausted. 😀

I swapped the keyswitches on my Planck EZ and now the per-key LED lighting does not work at all. I am bummed. This thing was very expensive and I didn’t do anything with it that it isn’t designed to do. 😕

I will be driving most of the day. Thanksgiving is over and now I am looking forward to Hanukkah, which begins tomorrow night.

Stephen Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim died today. The world has lost a titan. My wife and I were lucky enough to see him sit for a long interview at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers a few years ago. He was sharp and witty and gracious, and we learned a lot. It is no surprise when an old man dies, but our minds are spinning nonetheless. At least he was able to live a long, productive life.

I finished the article I was writing last night just in time for Thanksgiving. I am relieved and hope I don’t have to revise it hastily next week after I turn it in.

Trying to land the plane

Right now I am trying to finish the article I am writing for my company newsletter. At turns I love it and I hate it. I don’t think it is my best work. I don’t even think I can give my best work right.

The article resembles an introduction to the (huge) white paper I am working on far more than a standalone article. This was my intent, but because of that, it lacks a proper ending.

Tonight, I am trying to wrap it up. I have been trying, little by little, for the past two weeks. I feel like I’m piloting a plane, circling and circling, and don’t know how to land.

I don’t know how to end it, and even if I did, I fear that it is longer than my company wants it to be (by a lot). The good news, if I could call it that, is that it is due on Monday. That means that it will be done when it has to be done, no matter what, because I don’t have a choice.

My day was actually really good. My mom and I had a nice time together on the long car ride from her house to mine. We did not hit much traffic, either. We all had a big family dinner this evening, too, and it was great. I’m surprised and grateful at how chill everything has been.

I am driving to Connecticut tonight to pick up my mom and bring her back tomorrow for Thanksgiving. I am hoping that I left late enough to avoid a lot of the nasty rush hour traffic.

My car cat

The oddest thing happened to me today. My neighbor texted me this morning saying that she heard a cat crying and thought it was stuck in my car, which was parked in my driveway. I went out to look—and looked pretty thoroughly—but saw and heard nothing of a cat. I thought my neighbor must have been mistaken.

An hour later my neighbor texted me again saying the cat was still in there, but stopped crying when I went outside to look. I went out again dutifully, looked again but far more quietly for the cat, and still found no trace of it.

An hour after that, my neighbor texted me again and said that the cat was crying louder and louder, and that she wanted to call animal control to get it out of my car. She asked me if that was OK with me, and I said yes. I went out a third time, and still did not observe in any way a cat in my car.

Finally, about 10 minutes after that, while I was in my house, I opened the window and then for the first time I heard a cat crying over and over and over again. I went out and heard the cat and the sound was coming from the engine block of my car. I still couldn’t see a cat though and did not know what to do.

Fortunately, a police officer and the animal control officer in my town came over and, after about half an hour of trying, were able to pluck out a tiny, tiny kitten that had m crawled beneath my car’s engine and lodged itself in there. Fortunately everything is all right with my car and nothing bad happened to the cat. They took it away in a cardboard box I gave them, and presumably brought it to a shelter.

My wife and I went grocery shopping together (without the kids), for the first time since my daughter was born 9 years ago. We went to a huge Italian market we had never been to before, bought a bunch of stuff we didn’t plan to, and had a really great time together. It’s funny that these little things can be so wonderful.

This is my handiwork for the night. Most of the kids’ Hanukkah presents are wrapped. 😮‍💨