Taking Friday Off

Honestly, I’m not a big “take the day off” sort of guy. I’m a workaholic. I define myself by what I do. I code… I sit in a little room, listen the heavy metal music, and write the best code I can. (And yes, it’s awesome code.) Still, a friend of mine said “your kids don’t care about your project right now…” so Friday, was to be my day off.

It started with a day in the mud. We awoke, and we went out to the South 47 farms, where apparently, someone had ordered 50 tons of mud spread around the place. We did the farm tots experience, and I can now say, that 2009 has involved the requisite minimum hay ride count. The same can be said of corn mazes. Picking pumpkins concluded our farm experience, and Lydia was the only child who picked a pumpkin that actually weighed less than herself.

The remainder of the day was fairly lounge-worthy. An early chicken dinner gave way to the carving festivities. Zoe and I spent the first of our carving time cleaning off 4 pounds of mud from the pumpkins, and by the time we’d completed them, Lydia and Heather had completed the tiny “princess pumpkin.” Emerson had fallen quite deeply to sleep while Heather and Zoe dug through pounds of seedy innards. Zoe’s pumpkin had a distinct “Scary Sloth from Goonies” sort of appeal, while Emerson’s was a classic “semi-toothless” grin.

The evening ended with a quick family movie night. We’d been going with the classics… Star Wars, Wizard of Oz, but this time, we tried more a “modern classic”, watching The Neverending Story. That movie brings fond memories for any child of the 80s, but there is a distinct campiness there. A REALLY distinct campiness. It’s a campiness that’s almost unwatchable.

However, there’s an emotional capability that I didn’t remember immediately. I’m speaking, of course, of the Death of Artax. The story-lead Atreyu, leading his horse (Artax) through the Swamps of Sadness, realizes that the sadness has overtaken the poor horse, eventually drowning the beast. Atreyu, obviously, emotionally distraught… cries out for his horse. Sebastian, the “kid reading the story,” cries out for the horse. And Lydia, tears streaming from eyes to ears, gave the most accusatory glares as she could muster for the parents who decided to show her a pony-snuff-film.

I didn’t look at my computer once, hauled 160+ pounds of children and pumpkin around all day (although, a good 10 pounds of weight was likely just in dirt.) All told, not a bad day off.

Fall stuff.

September came and went quickly, and October seems to be doing the same. Work is steady, long and challenging, and in my project, we’re solving some problems that needed to be solved. Given other projects I’ve been on, it’s a nice pace.

On the family front, the fall schedule has come upon us with full force. Every day of the week, there’s something going on, whether it’s preschool during the week, or some such activity planned on the weekend, and up until recently, when some of the kids simply came down with the seasonal whatnots, an unplanned block of 20 minutes rarely seemed to come entirely into fruition.

Notable things that have happened since my last post.
– We went to the fair, in the pouring rain (the pictures are good, but Heather doesn’t like my Picture adder thing on this website.)
– I ate a Maple Bar with Bacon on it at Frost donuts in Mill Creek.
– The kids have started preschool (and almost immediately afterwords)
– The kids have all started coughs/colds/flu stuff.
– Lydia turned 3.
– Zoe has gotten herself almost 100% potty trained.

Final things… we’ve been starting to think about Kindergarten and 1st grade for Zoe. Next year, she’ll start kindergarten.

Beyond that… we’re keepin’ on.

Way to long to post something.

But everything’s broken with the heat… arg!

Just to get back into the swing of posting more regularly, I’m gonna start this one with a link I like. To those who like Obama’s healthcare plan, please read: the following. If you get nothing from it, just remember the following:

As with any good or service that is provided by some specific group of men, if you try to make its possession by all a right, you thereby enslave the providers of the service, wreck the service, and end up depriving the very consumers you are supposed to be helping.

– Dr. Leonard Peikoff

Other notes: we’re all fine. To everyone.. sorry for taking so long. We all say Hi.

King County Sheriff Schene – God Damn It, WTF

For those who may not have seen some local (to me) news, a King County Sheriff plead not guilty to a 4th-degree assault charge on a 15 year old girl. It matters to me, because frankly, I live here in King County, and I don’t like to think of our cops as anything but the faithful public servants that most of them are. Just do a quick Google Search on “King County, 4th Degree”, and you’ll find a whole bunch of articles on the guy, and the kid in question. When they had her in custody, the girl kicked her shoe off at the cop, hitting him in the knee, and he went after her. Here’s one of the better videos on the subject:

I have a general respect for cops. They have an unpleasant job that I’m thankful they do. This video makes me respect cops a little less.

I hope the girl isn’t hurt. I hope she can learn to trust that cops are (in general) good people trying to make things safe for everyone. However, this particular situation may have precluded the possibility of that. I mean, putting yourself in her shoes, can you reasonably assume that cops aren’t just as weak-willed as any other random mugger? I hope so, but I do doubt it.

OK, eventually I get back to things.

It’s currently the evening of the 19th, as I write this entry. I’m sitting upstairs in my makeshift office, listening to an old Guns and Roses album.

To update on the most recent and pressing of items:

1) Emerson is fine. His medications are being upped again tomorrow, but he seems to be taking them just fine. There’s still no change in his heart size, but at this point, he’s not getting worse.

2) Lydia and Zoe are back in preschool now. They’ve seemed to get themselves back into a rhythm now.

3) Work has slowed down, considerably. This is expected for the time of year, but is a bit on the boring side. I’m doing a few things which are interesting, but none of them are interesting to more than a few people.

We had Zoe’s birthday party this past weekend (and took dozens of photos with the new camera.) I think she had a lot of fun having a “second birthday” this year. Something awesome… kid parties at the YMCA. Do a few in your house, and then do one at the Y. You don’t have to clean and the kids get to play at the playground and you don’t have to clean. Seriously… you don’t have to clean, so it’s totally worth it right there.

Right now, I’m in a sort of weird slump / busy period. On one hand, things really are picking back up (and it’s busy again.) On the other, I’ve never felt quite like I’ve accomplished less during the day. I know I’m working… I’ll get to work at 9AM, and look down at the clock when I get a quick hunger pang at 2:30 PM wondering what happened to the day.

I’m doing things… coding a little, researching things mostly (and doing some work for local non-profits.) But it’s all a lot of busywork, and nothing concrete.

My poker league (the Deuce Deuce Revolvers) is starting up again this week, which should be interesting. If anything, it’ll cause another fight between Heather and I (Lydia’s preschool is Thursday evenings, which is exactly the same time as my poker league.) Granted, my league is monthly, but trying to schedule it has been a touch silly this month, so getting Heather to take Lydia to preschool (while having someone watch Zoe and Emerson for 2 hours) is a bit much to handle. I may have to skip it, which is not that bad as I was the one who wrote the league rules about “No Shows.”

Now that I finally wrote a new post, let’s see how long it takes me to get another one out. I’m gonna try for tomorrow… let’s hope 🙂

A little background on Emerson.

Alright… in order to sort of clarify the current situation with Emerson for everyone. I haven’t been super good about the blog recently, if only because the recent situation has just made our lives super crazy.

Currently, Emerson is in Children’s Hospital in the ICU, on what seems to be a very slow road to recovery from RSV. He’s improved from his initial situation, but everything is very slow going. When he improves on one thing, the doctors seem to worry about something else. Right now, the concern is his blood pressure and his heart.

So a quick summary of the story so far…

On the weekend two weeks ago we were all home, and the girls were nursing nasty-sounding colds. They didn’t seem to feel bad. On Sunday, it seemed like we’d gotten through the worst of it, when Emerson started his own bit of coughing. As he’d already just gotten over a cold, we weren’t too worried, and just figured a few good rounds of baby-booger-sucking would pretty well solve the problem, and I went to Lacey on Monday with no reason to believe that Heather would have problems. By Tuesday evening, she called from Children’s Hospital. He’d stopped eating (he could eat or breathe, but not both.) At 10PM, he was in the PICU, with a breathing and feeding tube.

I came home Wednesday morning, not knowing much of anything. I knew that Stephanie had taken the girls (there’s a photo of her at Lydia’s 2nd birthday party), Heather was at Children’s with Emerson, and Heather’s car was at the pediatrician’s office (Emerson got to ride in a nifty ambulance.) I went and got the car first (I didn’t know how bad off Emerson was, so I thought we might need it to get him home.)

Once I saw Emerson, I realized how bad it was. He had tubes all over him, and taped to his face. He was asleep (thankfully), and I saw they’d hooked him up with some morphine. When I asked why, the nurse said that the breathing tube is normally “pretty uncomfortable” for infants. That sort of brought a sick feeling to my stomach, and I left to go get the girls, wondering where I’d stop to throw up if I needed to.

Emerson tested positive for RSV on Wednesday evening. RSV is a simple respiratory virus, but he had a bacterial infection in his lungs, which let the virus get in good and deep. They did an echo-cardiogram (a standard thing to do), and were shocked to find the left side of his heart to be a great deal larger than it ought to be. That’s when they got very worried, concerned that the virus might have infected his heart.

After much testing and much medication, we come to today. He’s still in the ICU, and his heart is the primary worry right now. At first, they thought it was just the RSV, but it didn’t respond to any normal RSV treatments (stayed the same size). They tried Milirinone first, then an IVIG, and most recently, steroids. He’s got another echo-cardiogram scheduled tomorrow, and hopefully, the steroids will have done the job, and he’ll have some decent improvements on the size of his heart. Otherwise, we may be looking at something like a biopsy, so see why his heart is so big.

Currently, having him home for Thanksgiving seems like a pipe dream, but there’s always hope. Seems like next week is possible (they’ve been weaning him off the IV meds, which will get him out of the ICU) but the doctors aren’t saying too much on that side.

Anyway… he’s working on getting better. He looks 1000% better, he just needs a good test result to start the right motions. Maybe the echo will be good tomorrow. Or at least, he’ll be 90% weaned off his IVs. Either way… some good news would be nice.

Saying less and less in October.

I don’t mean to say so little, but there really isn’t that much particularly to talk about right now.

Last weekend we did the Pumpkin Prowl at the zoo, and then did the trick-or-treating on the waterfront in Seattle, but um… most of the people who read this blog were probably there with us anyway.

Weeks are dragging a bit from a work perspective. Right now, I’d say I’m doing about 12 hours a week of actual work-work. The rest, well… I read a lot, fiddle with systems, and try to tweak queries to be a little faster. I wish I could be more helpful on the project, but the project is written in Java, and I’m not a huge Java guy. The production database has already been designed, and has a dedicated team of folks working it. However, right now I couldn’t realistically see anyone else doing the work. The old system is like 20 years old, and most of the stuff I’m querying comes from that old system. The SQL (the language you use to write database queries) itself isn’t hard at all (no query I’ve written requires more than a few months experience with SQL), but all the damned tribal knowledge required to write the simplest thing makes the whole process ridiculously overcomplicated.

Business Analyst: “You need to make sure you filter out the ‘H’ records.”
Me: “OK, what’s an ‘H’ record?”
BA: “It’s a temporary ADP Record we modified in 1994.”
Me: “But ADP records were the ‘U’ codes.”
BA: “Not for Region 2.”
Me: “…”
BA: “They used the ‘G’ code.”
Me: “…”
BA: “Can I get the icon in cornflower-blue?”
Me: (dies a little inside) “Sure”

I’m going home on Thursday this week, so I hope to have enough time to publish up some new photos. Heather used to send them to be daily, but having a whole week without me does seem to be causing her some difficulties (especially as our children are so young.) Hopefully, the extra day will help Heather get a little breathing time, and get the kids back into a state of something that seems normal.

Tomorrow night is Halloween, where we’ll likely be trick-or-treating in downtown Bothell again. Bothell is great for kids, and the trick-or-treating downtown is a lot of fun for them. Also, it’s done fairly early, so we can get the kids all dressed up in costumes and whatever, yet still down to bed at a reasonable hour.

That’s all for now…

Saturday at Bothell Landing

Saturday started with a distinctly windy feel. It was moist, as many Seattle-Area days start, but with a thick of dark grey quick-moving clouds in the sky. Fall has come quite fully, and leaves are collecting in earnest around most everyplace. The word of the day though, was “wind.” A strong inconstant wind, not quite gusty, but slower and rolling. Like someone was making tea… the wind would just steadily increase in speed until the whistle blew, when someone removed it from the fire, and it would stop abruptly. Within 15 minutes or so, the cycle began again, and the wind would resume the boil. Temperatures were in the high 50s and low 60s; certainly bearable, but given the wind, jackets seemed the order of the day.

Zoe, Lydia and I went to Bothell Landing (as has become the Daddy custom) again after a pancake breakfast. It was something of a chore to get them into coats and clothes and shoes and things, but once accomplished they seemed happy enough to be at the park. I required a coffee, as although I’d made coffee with breakfast, I forgot to actually drink any. I, with a mocha in hand, got the girls into the swings (despite warnings of “wet pants”) and began our “just got to the park” ritual. Both girls have become avid swing set fans. In Zoe, the change is more pronounced; when she was Lydia’s age, she didn’t want anything to do with swings. Lydia has always enjoyed them.

Once swinging had become less interesting, they jumped out, and began climbing and jungle-gyming, only to find that the jungle-gym was entirely too wet to be enjoyed. We decided to take a small walk, to look for leaves with interesting colors. The girls didn’t immediately take to the idea (moping about the wet junglegym seemed enough initially) until a lucky breeze gently blew dozens of several hundred leaves from one of the taller trees. Suddenly, eyes lit up as a miniature (yet also enlarged) snowstorm of leaves came towards them, and suddenly I was jogging after my toddlers, while they ran to catch anything still flying.

After a few leaf-storms, the girls found a tree that seemed suitable for climbing. Zoe, after achieving the third branch (a good 5 feet above ground) stated quite plainly that: 1) she had magically transformed herself into a Tree Princess, and 2) she would not be coming back home anymore with Daddy nor her sister and 3) as a Tree Princess, she was no longer bound to things such as “bedtime” or “consequences.” (Consequences = “punishment for less than desirable behavior.” in enlightedliberalparentese aka Heatherspeak.) As there were no further handholds above the one she had most recently reached, I acquiesced, indicating that I thought her mother might miss her.

Lydia kept trying to get to the bottom branch, but couldn’t quite negotiate it after a good 15 minutes of trying. It was ~2 feet up, but wide and thick, which made getting her arms fully around it to climb it the most difficult task. I picked her up and sat her on the branch, which seemed to satisfy her enough to begin a “tight rope walk” on the thick branch. Within seconds, she slipped, planted her butt on the branch, and told me that she was quite tired of tree climbing now, and had decided that Tiger Hunting should be the order of the next 20-30 minutes or so. I pulled her down, and we began a tiger hunt. Mainly, it involved Lydia finding an appropriate tiger hunting stick, and then striking trees with it. A few minutes into the tiger-hunt, Zoe realized getting down from the tree would likely involve some acrobatics (or at minimum, a more advanced tumbling skill.) While Zoe was retrieved, she indicated that she didn’t want to be a Tree Princess anymore.

The park hadn’t cleaned up too much after the Tiger Hunt, so we decided to head home, and get some lunch. The wind had gotten stronger, and more frequently gusty feel, and rain started to fall. Even a few of the “I run / bike / extremesomething everyday” folks were obviously packing it in. I wondered about lunch, but mostly wondered if Heather had gotten enough sleep. As we made our way home, the clouds were rolling more violently and quickly. The wind was howling a touch, and Lydia asked “Can I have hot chocolate?”

I didn’t know if we had any hot chocolate, but even if we didn’t and I had to stop at the store, the answer would be yes.