MOHAI

Today instead of riding our bikes through the veritable monsoon conditions, Dad and I took Benji to MOHAI. I had fun memories of visiting there as a kid, and recalled that they had fun, more hands-on exhibits than most museums.

MOHAI has moved since I visited (it has to have been 20 years since I went, if not more), to a really cool art deco-style building in South Lake Union. Normally I assiduously avoid South Lake Union, which during the week turns into an insane snarl of gridlocked vehicles full of grouchy drivers. But on Saturday at 10:00 am, it wasn’t bad at all. We even easily found parking in the microscopic parking lot, which was completely full and had cars waiting for a spot when we came out a couple hours later.

MOHAI

I was delighted that they had the Lincoln Tow Truck, which we saw parked for many years and were sorry to notice vanish some years ago.

They had a kid “construction” area, which we did spend some time enjoying. We tried out all the different stuff, but Benji isn’t much into dressing up or acting stuff out. We did build with some interesting connector type toys, both in that kid area and in the “Idea Lab,” which basically had bins of K’nex-type toys.
MOHAI - Kid-Struction Zone Library

The majority of our time went to ricocheting around different exhibits way to fast to take anything in. After bouncing through several exhibits, Dad and I insisted on walking slowly through one whole exhibit of Benji’s choice (Edible City). They did have a number of interactive aspects, which we took advantage of.
MOHAI - Food Container Ship

MOHAI - Light-Up Food Wall

I liked the periscope up in the maritime room on the 4th floor; Benji and Dad looked at the ship’s wheel.
MOHAI - Maritime Room

I think Benji’s favorite, and one that we all found quite compelling, was the interactive wall exhibit. You turn the wheel and one of the wall boxes lights up and something moves inside. They had a number of those spin-the-wheel-type interactive displays, which we all liked.
MOHAI - Interactive Wall

MOHAI - Work Together

If I was kid-free, I’d love to go back there with my nice SLR and use my photography-eyes. It was a really interesting area, with the Center for Wooden Boats and various exhibition boats, the cool architecture of the museum outside plus the interesting lights and objects inside. Some day.

Edit to add: Here are some pictures Dad surreptitiously took with his nice camera.
Idea Lab

Choose Your Meal

Fun times at MOHAI

Thinking at MOHAI

Kid-Struction Library at MOHAI

Work: Week 7

I just looked at the calendar and counted: I’ve been at my job for 7 weeks already. Time flies when you’re having fun, I guess, because it feels like just yesterday we started this crazy adventure.

On the other hand, it’s been long enough that we’ve started finding the routine that works for all of us to do what needs doing while staying sane. Benji and I spend his first hour up together, and I make sure to get some of his prep stuff done so Ian doesn’t have to. While we’re hanging, Ian gets ready for his day. I leave the house at 7:15, and get home any time between 6:00 and 6:30, unless I have to stay late.

This unfortunate occurrence will happen more and more frequently over the next month, I expect, as we approach April 20, the next release date. I have several hard deadlines between now and then. My boss told me “We kind of tried to let you know in the interview that this job is really stressful.”

I’m not feeling stressed out yet. Maybe that’s ignorance, and I should start stressing, like when I did my first bike race and I really had no idea what was going on and whether I was safe or not. But I keep checking with my boss and coworker to make sure I’m doing the right things, and so far it seems like I’m on top of everything.

The way the job works is the developers make features based on things called User Stories. We, the writers, find out which User Stories will be going out at the next release. We research the stories, reading the technical specs and trying out the features in the test environment, so we have an idea of how the new feature works. Then we meet with the people in charge of each User Story (Project Managers, PMs) and interview them about their User Stories. Then we write Release Notes, which describe not only the mechanics of the new feature, but emphasize the “Why,” as my boss puts it. We have to really sell the feature, making it sounding exciting and worthwhile.

Release notes are my first deadline. This is a big deal, because it’s the first time my writing goes out to the senior management and all the PMs for review. I have to hand-deliver a hard copy of the release notes to the president of the company for him to read (!).

After I get release notes written, I go into the Help Center and edit or add pages to cover details of the new features. I have two weeks to do this from the time the release notes go out to the time the actual release happens. Many features don’t require a ton of new writing, but rather expanding or modifying existing content. Unfortunately a lot of changes to the look require new screenshots, which are difficult to find and take some time to replace. But some of the changes will require me to write entirely new pages, and that takes time, too.

As I mentioned, I’m not feeling stressed. So far I’ve certainly felt time pressure, and the need to focus and work diligently. As far as I can tell, I’ve not yet fallen behind, and if anything I’m a little ahead of where I need to be.

Unfortunately, I do have an entirely separate, unrelated project that’s quite big and going to take a substantial amount of time, and that’s going to come due right around the end of April, too. Time to engage in some serious time management.

I’m not sure how much blog writing I’ll do as we approach this release, and I don’t know what having a job writing will do as far as my desire to write recreationally. We’ll just have to see. Lately on my bus rides I’ve enjoyed reading Wonder Woman comics on Hoopla or library books on my phone Kindle app. But I’ve had this blog so long, it’s not going away. I’ll just update more or less. We shall simply see what the future holds. As always.

Rain Will Continue

It’s been 10 whole days since I updated here, and I don’t think we’ve had a sunny day in that whole time. 

I have, however, completely disassembled my biking shoes every day to dry in front of the fireplace before I put them on for the next commute. Sometimes that isn’t enough and I have damp shoes even 24 hours later.

In the same vein, I don’t think there’s been a day my booties and jacket weren’t hanging up by the fireplace, too, and my totally filthy pannier-covers there along with them. That’s not to mention the sorry, rusty mess formerly known as my drivetrain, which no amount of TLC can prevent from oxidation at this point.

Fortunately, I just got a pair of work-acceptable pants that are semi-water-resistant. I didn’t intend to wear them every day, but I have been doing so, and they have saved my booty, literally.

On Saturday, our die-hard group of cyclists (me, Dad, John Jester, and Michael Cohen) met up and and we all slogged away together for a while. Dad had a nice 70-mile route planned; we rode about 35 and threw in the towel. Or, rather, went home to towel off. It was so wet, I don’t have words to describe it. 

The nice theory of “I don’t mind being wet as long as I’m warm” proved to be simply false, at least for me after a while. Then again, by the end I couldn’t feel my toes and fingers, and I was having a hard time steering and balancing, so probably I wasn’t as warm as I could have been. I need a raincoat that doesn’t leak and something for my feet.

This winter has felt pretty much relentless.

I’m still struggling to get back to my fitness level from before my bout with pneumonia in December. It feels like I should be back to where I was by now, but I’m still not able to ride the same pace as before and my biking buddies are all still dropping me on the hills. I’ve been working hard, but no matter what I do, I can’t catch up. My legs never feel rested; every ride, it feels like I’m starting 50 miles in already. I’ve tried taking days off, without any noticeable impact.

Overall, biking has felt pretty discouraging lately. A few fast, dry days would sure help… But based on the current forecast, that’s not likely to happen in the foreseeable future.

Ian did help me have some perspective, though. This morning, I opened the blinds and it was pitch black and I could see rain sheeting down in the light of the street lamp. I let out a heartfelt groan of misery, and Ian asked, “Is it snowing?” Which immediately brightened my (100% chance of >1″ of rain) day. No, it is not snowing, so thank goodness for small mercies.

Manspreading on Metro

At work the other day, we had a discussion about “manspreading.” This describes the way guys tend to sit with their legs spread wide apart, whereas women tend to sit with their legs crossed or closer together. 

The discussion at work revolved around how men tend to take up more room on the bus because of this tendency (we all commute by bus). We also talked about how women tended to pull in when someone sat next to them, while men stayed spread. My co-workers attributed this to unconscious male privilege playing out in body language.

The next couple days I got a good view of this very thing in action.

If I took a picture every day, I’d get almost this exact same shot.

What the heck? Do guys really unconsciously take up more physical room than women? What about gay guys and lesbian women? Is this about gender identity, or guys having more parts down there to make room for, something else? Does it have more to do with men having greater self-confidence than women?

Now I want to know more. I wonder if anyone has done research on this.

Meanwhile, I’ll just keep sitting taking up the least amount of room I can when I ride the bus.

A Day in Elevators

To the 13th floor…
To the 13th Floor

Back down to the lobby, where I switched to an elevator up to the 40th floor…
To the Lobby from 13th Floor

To the 40th floor, where I had to switch elevators to keep going up…
To the 40th Floor

To the 75th floor…
To the 75th Floor

You have to take stairs to the 76th floor, where I spent much of the day.

Back down to the 40th floor…
From the 75th floor to the 40th Floor

Back down to the lobby…
From the 40th floor to the lobby

Back up to the 13th floor.
To the 13th Floor

I forgot to include the elevator trip from the parking garage to the lobby and then back down to the parking garage again.

Suffice it to say, I got a lot of elevator rides in yesterday.

Snow Fun

It was snowing this morning when I left to catch an early bus at 6:29. The roads were clear but the heavy flurries of flakes made it difficult to see. The bus drove through a mess of snow on the freeway, followed by some very cold rain when we got downtown. (Similar, if sightly warmer, weather is forecasted for the foreseeable future. Not a great sign for happy commuting.)

When I got my bike off the bus, the side facing out was caked with slush. This is what it looked like after I rode it down to the parking garage and a bunch of slush fell off.

On top of this, I am spending the whole day today and tomorrow in training, which means arriving at 7:30 am, and then I need to stay late to actually get some work done afterwards.

For some added fun, Benji has also come down with a nasty cold. He coughed so much he vomited yesterday afternoon, but slept OK overnight with massive help from the humidifier. Naturally, this happens right when I’m gone extra-long days.

I’ll be honest: I wish this week was done.

Evening update: I rode my bike home. The first couple miles, I rode through an inch of melty slush that fell right before I left. The traffic through downtown was literally stopped pretty much everywhere, and I saw many forlorn people waiting for buses that were probably laughably far off their schedules. As I left the parking garage, I heard the cop whose job it is to help cars turn out into traffic ask the driver next to me, “Where you going?” [inaudible response – maybe Bellevue?] “Well, good luck!” –I later learned that freeways were intermittently shut down much of the day.

I had a very slow commute, despite trying to maintain a decent pace, and I’m not sure why. It wasn’t the road conditions — after I crossed Mercer St. on Dexter, the slush miraculously vanished, leaving wet roads and increasingly chilly temperatures. But by some miracle I didn’t even get precipitated on at all — no wintry mix, no mixed rain/sleet, no freezing rain, not even any regular old rain. It all paused for a couple hours while I rode home.

I know I should be grateful (on many levels! By catching an hour earlier bus, I missed the bad morning traffic; by riding home, I missed the evening commute snarl), but I finished just feeling depressed that it was my slowest commute in several weeks. My LEGS felt like I was going 20 mph but somehow my speedometer kept saying closer to 15 mph. Sigh.

Also, Benji spiked a fever during the day, which means he has to miss school tomorrow, and tomorrow is the day his class is going to visit the vet clinic. Darn it! I am grateful, however, that my mom is able to take Benji for a second day in a row and for a third day this week. Benji’s doctor approved a small dose of cold medicine to help with the coughing, which has gotten really bad and is keeping him from sleeping.

WHY, universe, WHY??????