I spend my days programming computers. Often, of late, my evenings, too, working on various projects for my church or my clown alley. So it was a nice break tonight to read a book my son gave me for Christmas and then pull out the ukulele. I think it was the first time I’ve played in a few weeks, and definitely the first time yet this year. Nice to feel my fingers figuring out where to go for various chords. Nice to try singing and playing at the same time for a few familiar songs. Just a good way to “retune” the brain.
When you’re experienced…
When you’re experienced in life…
And you have a 10-15 page paper due for your masters class…
You start with a beer…
And you don’t plug in your laptop, so time is ticking…
And you write a WordPress post…
And then maybe, just maybe, you write your paper.
After another beer.
(Inspired by “When You Give a Mouse a Cookie” and an impending group project deadline.)
I hate class group projects
I started a masters program a few weeks ago. Tuesday is the due date for the last project in the first class. We had three weeks to do it, where “it” includes a 10 page lab report on password cracking tools, a 10 page white paper discussing a particular medical organization, its data breach(es!), and what we’d convey to the board for an action plan moving forward. Good bit of work, but spread over 3 weeks and 5 people, presumably not so bad.
The first week mostly went by, and nothing happened. Note: our group, as are the other groups in the class, was randomly assigned by the professor. Further, because it’s an online program, none of us had ever met or interacted with each other before. We had a deliverable due a week in for a communications plan and a project plan. I had vowed to not be the stuckee trying to herd cats, but as the week went by, I eventually caved and setup the group meeting. We “met” and established regular checkpoints on Sunday, roughed in a communications and project plan, with a goal of completing our initial research and building out a rough outline by the following Friday.
Friday came, and the shared outline document had… my contributions. Another team member had added two links with no context as to why we’d use them. Another teammate had been in the document and edited it – to remove a character and replace it. Not looking strong. I asked each team member for commitments, documented them in our outline, and we said we’d meet again on Sunday, that they’d work on the outline building off of what I’d put together.
We met on Sunday. I’d committed to working up the lab report so it was out of the way. That took me a good portion of Saturday, as the assignment guidance required me to interrogate each password separately, and across 16 passwords with two different cracking strategies, there’s a good bit of tending and screen captures. On Saturday, I had a system, worked it through, and then wrote up the paper, which included several discussion questions outside the scope of the lab itself, requiring further research. Answered all but one of the questions, and bounced a question to the professor to help us better tune our lab report response. On Sunday, the team met again, and our outline was… no further. But the team divided the sections we thought needed covered in the whitepaper, each team member took a few segments, and each team member committed to writing their section before this past Friday. The theory was that I had written the lab report, we’d pull in some small sections from that, but that the rest of the team was responsible for the lift on the whitepaper, and I’d help with the smoothing of the paper and the setup of the presentation.
It’s now the final Sunday before things are due. On Friday, most sections of the paper were still empty. I pointed that out Friday morning in our group chat and said I wasn’t bailing folks out. Members of the team collaborated on Saturday morning, though still not in the document itself. We’re now on the final Sunday call, and folks are attempting to arrange the bits of content that they’ve written into something. We’re still missing segments of information and are over page count, grammatically incoherent in some places, and just a mess overall.
Did I mention I hate group projects? My only saving grace is that I can demonstrate my own individual contributions through the completed paper and through version history in Google Docs. Several are now slogging through online. I’ve left the call but said I’ll be on standby once the folks who are still wrestling thing they’re in better shape so we can do the pruning of the paper and work the presentation. UURRRRRRGHH!!!
Work long and prosper
It seems fitting after a long day of responsibility and leadership that I should look down at my feet and see wiggling ears on my socks. I remember that I paired these socks’ color with an executive ensemble designed to give a good impression in the office today. I put on my black boots to pair with my slacks, and the boots and the slacks covered the ears. But now the boots are off, the day is done, and the ears can wiggle. I am pleased in an illogical sort of way.
Today I turned 45. Usually on these 5 year mark birthdays, my hubby and I do a big birthday shindig, seeing as he turns the same age just some 12 days later. But this year he’ll be away on our “both”-day, as well as on his birthday. So this year’s celebration is a little more muted.
Markers for 45:
On Friday, I picked up eyeglasses. I finally realized that blurry vision while driving isn’t so good. And now realize I’ve generally been compensating in life – every time I take off my glasses I’m quickly reminded that my eyes don’t work as well as they used to. Somehow it wasn’t _quite_ so obvious before glasses.
On Saturday I went to the gym with my daughter, after doing a Crossfit workout earlier in the day. On Saturday I set a new PR. Still pushing my max forward so I can keep telling Cam I can bench more than he weighs.
On Sunday Clementine did her thing. 5 years ago, Clementine wasn’t even yet an idea for me. Now she’s a regular part of my life that I find most enjoyable. I’m even bringing in a little money with her this year, maybe just enough to cover what I otherwise spend…
On my actual birthday, I did the work thing and melded software to my will. Although I’ve had opportunities to step away from a technical path, I find it highly rewarding, both mentally and economically. After work, I did a Crossfit workout that had me doing 50 kettlebell swings and 50 burpees. I hate burpees – have since first introduced to them in college. But I think some 30+ years after first introduction, I’m doing them at least as well as I did then. Oh, and I PR’ed in my back squat, too.
So, thinking this 45 thing is OK. My hair color is still my own (with the occasional white hair), my body still more than works, and I’m finding lots of interesting things to get into. Oh, and my dear hubby and kids still love me! Yep, liking being 45.
Dreaming of kittens
We have two kittens in real life, as well as a cat. In my dream last night, I was in a house that was I think mine in the dream, but wasn’t my actual house… In the dream, I found a door to a new room, and opened it, and both of our kittens slipped into the room.
Inside the room, I found lots more kittens. They were all the same black and white colors as our two, and all very friendly. They start following me around getting attention, and I realize I can’t now pick out our original kittens. I find another door that leads into another part of the house, and open it up, and the kittens follow me out. Somewhere about this time, I realize two things. One is that the kitten room didn’t smell like a litter box, which struck me as odd. The second more terrifying thought is that these kittens have had some food source other than cat chow, since I didn’t know they were in the house. Suddenly I’m not so excited about being followed around.
I woke up from my dream to a kitten pawing at me, and now one of the little buggers is purring in my lap in the kitchen, occasionally gnawing on my fingers…
Last month was my one year anniversary with ClearEdge. I had the opportunity to drive our company Tesla for one day… and I passed it by because I was crazy-busy working on a proposal.
My chance came around earlier this month again, and I passed it by.. this time, I’d managed to lose my wallet and license while driving my motorcycle. Since I didn’t have a license to present for insurance purposes, I had to let my chance slide by.
This week, though – well, this week I had my license AND a new promotion to a director-level position. I didn’t let it pass me by. That Tesla and I drove to all the happening places: church for VBS, the Chic-Fil-A drive-through where my daughter was working, breakfast with my hubby for our anniversary (21!) AND the Bruster’s ice cream stand. Because the new cyber technical director needs to go out in style!
So, Tesla uniqueness… electric car, ridiculously good pickup : 0-60 in < 5 seconds. SO comfy inside.. Streaming music. Quiet ride. App that lets you make your passengers’ seats make fart noises. Automatic lights and windshield wipers. Self-driving.
Self-driving: As a parent who relatively recently had to ride with a new teenage driver, I have to confess feeling that same panic when auto-steering was on. As a software engineer, I never want to think about computers being in control. Watching Tesla think that the car next to me was shaking and pivoting 30 degrees back and forth into my lane did not give me confidence as I rode past a guy walking along the side of the road. And auto-steering did mean auto-braking on the highway as cars ahead of me slowed; it did not mean auto-braking at the red light in my neighborhood. Thankfully, I was watching and testing for that…
My twelve year old is convinced we should buy one. My frugalness suggests I’ll pass. That said, if ClearEdge were to pull my name from the hat in September as the winner, I’d be happy to use the fart app all the way down the highway…
Earlier this year, after running into a friend who’d obviously gotten in a good bit better shape than she’d been, I joined her Crossfit gym. At first it was just as part of a 6 week challenge, but after seeing the results, I opted in for a membership. I’d lost > 10 lbs and a recognizable percent of body fat, neither of which come easily to me.
So I’m now three months in, which means that I still need to do a number of the exercises scaled down. I’ve never in my life been able to do a pull-up, for example, though I’m closer than I’ve ever been before.
My Crossfit “box” participates in what seems to be a Crossfit tradition: doing the “Murph” on Memorial Day. My box does it as a big event, starting at midnight on Memorial Day and going as long as it takes to complete the iteration. As I’m neither in fit enough shape to think I could complete it, nor a particular fan of doing much at midnight, I let the opportunity pass me by. Next year, I thought, when I can do the workout better justice.
Imagine my surprise, then, when Monday morning’s 9:30 am class transformed from situps + power cleans to “the Murph”. Ah. I haven’t yet told you what “the Murph” is. It’s in honor of a Navy SEAL, Michael Murphy, whose heroism deserves to be told over and over again. In Navy SEAL style, he had a favorite workout that BEGINS with a one mile run, followed by 100 pull-ups, followed by 200 pushups, followed by 300 air squats, rounded out with another mile run. You know, your walk in the park sort of workout…
Well, I didn’t quite complete it. My target was to keep moving for 60 minutes (the intended cap) and get as much in as I could, while finishing out with the final run. I did 15 rounds of 5 ring rows (my scaled down pull-ups), 10 box pushups (scaled down pushups: I can do 100 regular through the course of a day, but thought 200 within an hour was well pushing it), and 15 air squats (those I just did). So, 3/4 of a Murph, on a day where I didn’t expect to be doing one. Right proud of myself, I am…
It’s not the heroism of Michael Murphy. It was a stretch beyond myself, where I kept myself on the course by not wanting to let the workout and the man it symbolized down. Next year, it’ll be a full.. next year, at midnight. And next year, at least some of those pullups will be full scale.
Diet Bet on Myself
I’ve been seeing an overload of Facebook ads for something called HealthyWage. The premise is that you make a bet on your diet results. Pay in your bet amount, meet or exceed your weight loss goal, and get paid back your bet amount plus. I’d mostly ignored the ads until I went into my local kickboxing place to check out a “free” intro offer, and heard them make a pitch that over a 6 week period, I’d put up a (very large!) amount, and would then win it back if I achieved my goals. I walked out annoyed, and then checked into the HealthyWage thing again.
The premise of betting on yourself is one that I’ve seen listed before as a success tactic for weight loss. Usually, the form has been, you put up an amount that you’ll contribute to some cause you otherwise would be strongly averse to supporting. So, not only are you out money, but you’re mad at yourself. I’m not going to give money to a cause I don’t find worthy, and we _do_ give money to causes we do find worthy, so that isn’t a good motivator for me. But making some money? Sure!
I ended up making a 6 month bet for a 25 pound weight loss. I’d actually like to lose 30, but opted to give myself a 5 pound buffer. I’d already signed up for a half-marathon in June – the running should help me lose the pounds, and losing the pounds should help me more readily get to the time goal I set for myself for the half- marathon. Win win. I’m paying in less money per month than I’d have been either as part of the kickbox gym “free” challenge or were I to pay for their monthly membership fees. When (not if, when!) I win, I’ll collect a nice surplus to what I paid in, enough to let me feel richly rewarded for a bit, ready for a fun treat.
If all of that sounds good to you, too, use my referral link to HealthyWage. You’ll get $40 added to your prize, and so will I. More win win. And then we can encourage each other through the weight loss journey. I happen to have a “Black Card” membership to Planet Fitness, and would be happy to go with a workout buddy.
Identified Flying Objects
Life is busy. That seems to be a characteristic of how I do things, rather than a stage of life. In high school, I ended up taking a night class for typing, because it didn’t fit into the day’s schedule. Junior year, I convinced a teacher to give up her study period to teach me a math class that wouldn’t fit into my schedule any other way. In college, I at one point was a triple major, with a job, while captaining a rugby team, and fitting in some volunteering activities. Let’s just say I tend to fill the glass with _all_ the rocks.
The analogous activity of juggling is highly appealing to me. In juggling, everything gets held for just enough time to get something done, before moving to the next thing. It’s a game of synchronized holding: I can’t hold but so many things at a time, so the air holds the remainder until it’s those things turn. For Christmas, I received a set of spinning plates: there’s another saying beyond someone juggling – that they’ve got a lot of plates in the air. Right now, my set has three. I can get two spinning on sticks that I’m holding, and I can have the third on my head. That third spins when I do.
When I’m really on my game with those plates, I can throw them up in the air…. or both two spinning ones up in the air at a time… or once I even managed to throw between my two sticks and have them land and keep spinning… A few weeks ago, my daughter and I were passing spinning plates between us – timing and aiming our tosses so that the plates didn’t collide and could land solidly on our throwing partner’s stick.
It’s still a matter of synchronization. When I’m in control of all elements, the plates keep spinning. When I lose control, things drop. Or worse, things fly – traversing not just down but down and away, or down and oh my goodness AT. (I did just invest in some performer’s insurance, in case my things fly or fall in ways that might cause lawsuits.) . The dogs and cats are generally opting to be FAR away this evening. Thankfully, spinning plates are plastic.