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??????

Pondering Week 4

I sure do appreciate Friday more now that I’m working. But I’d probably enjoy when’s a little more if we didn’t have a wake-up call at 6 am no matter what day it is. I wonder if I could convince our human alarm clock to wait until 7 am on weekends…

So, this week. At work I’ve been working on documentation for an off-cycle release. Normally the chaos of release time comes every 60 days, and we had a release at the beginning of the month. Alas, due to some client expectations, we get a “bonus” release next Tuesday. 

Added to the challenge of my first release being short and rushed, both my boss has been out of the office for much of the last two weeks and the project manager in charge of the release was on vacation last week. My technical writing co-worker also had several days out. All this left me with a dearth of resources when it came to figuring out what the heck to do.
I’ve done my best, but needs to say, I’m glad this release only has one feature to write about.

This week I also tried commuting home a slightly different way, getting off the trail a little sooner and going on roads the last few miles home. I hoped that it would be faster, since the last 1/2 mile of my ride is a good, big hill. The alternative way still went up a hill, but spreads it out over a couple miles.

The best thing I can say about that way: it’s different. I didn’t think about the fact that it has stop lights, while my usual way doesn’t; it’s about a mile longer; and it has grouchy drivers. It took me about 5 minutes longer. I don’t see myself using that way very often.

Last but not least, this week has been midwinter break for Benji. Mom and I took him Monday, which I had off work. Mom also did half of Thursday and today (Friday). Tuesday and Wednesday he went to daycare (“for lunch we had meat circles!” … Whatever the heck those are), and Thursday morning was a playdate with a friend. Meanwhile, Ian has been fighting a cold and feeling very under the weather.
Taking this job certainly hasn’t made life easier. But I’m loving the job and overall my satisfaction with life has gone way up. I’m grateful that our family is able to make this work.

Holiday Activities

This may be the first job I’ve had where we actually were closed on President’s Day. It feels weird! But maybe that’s because I spent the morning with some very weird people playing some pretty weird games, like…

The Booger Game!

Actually, this was to help Benji understand why having his finger stuck up his nose all the time is not only disgusting, but unsanitary. Mom and I used a couple of crawl-through tubes and stuck them together as “nostrils.”
Benji the Virus

Benji the Virus was sneezed out of the nostrils along with some boogers (his snuggles), which I then picked up while I pretend to play. I then “picked” my “nose” by shoving Benji the Virus back into the nostrils — gross!!

After I got the cold from Benji the Virus and sneezed him back out again, Mom picked him up, but she decided to wash her hands before touching her face.

Benji the Virus in the Sink
We tossed Benji the Virus into the “sink” along with some “sink gunk” (pillows) and proceeded to swirl him around and wash him away down the pipe to the waste treatment plant.

We did this game for perhaps 30 minutes, with variations. I doubt he’ll quickly forget why we wash hands after picking our nose! –That’s honestly the best I’m hoping for. Getting him to use a Kleenex, or (gasp!) actually stop picking is far beyond my wildest dreams.

Make Hug-A-Planet!

We made a couple of small plush-stuffed planets today. Well, actually, Mom made them, and it was actually a dwarf planet (Pluto) and Earth’s Moon. Fortunately, they’re pretty straightforward to make. We just looked at how a small beach ball was constructed.

To start, Mom introduced Benji to her 1940s-era Singer sewing machine and they explored exactly how it worked.
Sew a Planet: Sewing Machine Intro 2

Sew a Planet: Sewing Machine Intro 3

Sew a Planet: Sewing Machine Intro 4

Benji helped with putting the pressure foot up and down.
Sew a Planet: Sewing Machine Pressure Foot

We fed the planet Pluto until it was stuffed!!
Sew a Planet: Sewing Machine Intro Stuffing
(Benji also briefly had a silly beard.)

We also went to a fabric store to buy some material for the moon project. After that, I returned home to ride my trainer and do a little work/stuff around home, so I haven’t yet seen the outcome of the moon sewing. I expect it will be very similar to Pluto. The only problem is that Benji is expecting to make ALL the planets today — not feasible, time-wise or inclination-wise. And then when we finally do get all the planets made, where will we store them?!!

Week Four, Friday

Well, here I am, just about a month in at my new job, and I’m still happy to get up in the morning to go to work. The work seems like it will continue to interest me in general, my co-workers are pleasant enough, I like my boss and his infectious enthusiasm, and the office environment works fine. 

They have added a ton of snacks since I started, not only the nonperishable Nutrigrain bar type snacks, but also fresh fruit, hard boiled eggs, string cheese, hummus, nuts, and the like. If I was willing to subsist on Mac n Cheese and ramen noodles for lunch, I wouldn’t have to bring any food at all. As it is, I’m pretty much just bringing a main dish for lunch and eating snacks from the kitchen. 

One guy commented the other day, “It’s like they want us to never leave!” Exactly.

The days have gone pretty quickly, especially around the new release time. I remember at my first job, the days would drag out forever, especially after lunch. I would sit in my cube surfing the web, or wander around the office looking for work, and I was so glad to finally hit 4:00 so I could get ready to leave.

I can tell that won’t be the problem here. If anything, I have to leave sooner than I (or my boss) would like, and I already have plenty to do. When I actually take on my full responsibilities, I’ll be quite busy. It’s varied work, though – some learning about new features a in meetings or one on one, some writing, a little bit of photo editing, some urgent-drop-everything editing for the marketing department. 

Right now there’s also the learning our tools, co-workers’ names and roles and who to talk to when, and also doing product training to get deeper knowledge of what I’m writing about. When I go home, my brain is tired.

I’m liking my bike commute. As I adjust to it, I may consider adding another day of biking home. At first it felt so long and I was going like 15.3 to 15.5 mph average. Now it’s getting more normal, and yesterday I had my fastest-ever solo ride home, averaging 16.2 mph over the whole ride. That includes my downtown Seattle section with stoplights and the slog up the hill by my house.

 I hope to get up to averaging 18 mph over the whole ride eventually, but for now I’ll take a 0.7 mph improvement!

In less cheerful news, Benji got a cold and has been grouchy, and now Ian just came down with it. I just dodged the cold that took out the entire User Education team at work; I can’t imagine I’ll be so lucky at home. I feel bad for Ian, because being sick with a heathy kid stinks. I’ll be so glad when virus season passes.

One Hour

In the time between when I wake up at 5:00 and Benji gets up at 6:00 every morning, I get so much done.

  • Get dressed
  • Make my breakfast
  • Make my lunch
  • Put together most of Benji’s lunch
  • Put away clean dishes
  • Wash dirty dishes
  • Eat breakfast
  • Read Bible/have quiet time
  • Pack my bags for work, including bike gear
  • Brush teeth, finish getting ready
  • Start load of laundry
  • Fold last night’s laundry

Then, from 6:00 to 7:20 it’s Benji time: Morning milk, stories, maybe watching a video or playing a game, and then it’s off to the bus.

Normally I’ve been writing a blog or reading a book on the bus, but I think I may start taking a nap!

SMEs

At work, they have people who are “Subject Matter Experts.” These people know everything there is to know about one of our products. Of course, nobody calls them Subject Matter Experts; they’re SMEs, which is then pronounced “smee.”

Evidently this is pretty standard in many fields, but all I can think of is this.