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The boy is back home from summer camp, and he's brought back some interesting vocabulary, mannerisms, and questions. I'm trying not to be too strict for now, but whenever it comes up, I nonetheless make clear that he's being inappropriate.

As for me, now that he's back home, I'm spending more time at home, too. I'm happy to see him and to have him home, but it does mean dialing back, for a little while, on some of the things that have made this the best summer of my adult life. But life is about change, and his being here is also part of dialing those things back up for good.
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It's been a long time since my last update, and there's no way I'm going to catch up on everything. The short version is that things are going well: work is good, the kid has been at overnight camp for the past three weeks and is going to be there for four more, and K and I have been able to see a lot of each other.

Which means also that K has been keeping me busy. For example, I took off work Thursday and Friday, which, combined with the holiday, made for a five-day weekend. In that time, we went to a barbecue, climbed for two days upstate, kayaked, and did a lot of push-ups.

I honestly can't remember the last time I was this happy.
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Yesterday morning, I slept in for the first time in, oh, it has to be more than a month. During the week, there's work, of course, and I haven't been able to catch up in the past few weekends. It's hard to sleep in when there's a seven-year-old about, and we had that week in Puerto Rico at the start of the month and a weekend since then. Then there were the two consecutive weekends for the rock climbing class. So yesterday I slept in.

I needed it, too. I must have: I slept nearly until 10, and then I got up for about 90 minutes, during which I could think of nothing but food. I was too tired to think coherently about it though, so eventually I just scarfed a lot of leftover trail mix. Then I went back to bed for about two more hours.

Saturday had really tired me out, too. It was a long day, beginning at 6 AM, when I woke up and got ready to drive to New Paltz to climb during Welcome to the Gunks Weekend. The weekends of April 14-15 and 21-22 were the climbing class, and WTTG, two weeks later, is where the club tries to help the new graduates find people to climb with by actively pairing them with experienced leaders. (After that, you sort of have to find your own partners.) Since my Seattle trip fell through, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and climb.

I left home at about 6:30 Saturday morning with a passenger, stopped in Morningside Heights to pick up more passengers, and then drove to New Paltz. After a quick stop in town for more 'biners, we made it to the West Trapps lot just before 9 AM.

At the lot, I met B and P, who were experienced members of the club. B was going to lead, and P and I would follow. We did the first pitch of Bloody Bush, and then moved down the GT ledge to do the second pitch of Rusty Trifle. After that, we rappelled down.

Doing just those pitches and the rappel took nearly five hours, which surprised me. By the time we finished lunch, it was nearly four, and dinner was at seven. We decided to try to find one more easy pitch and walked further down the cliffs to look for Easy V. We stopped along the way to watch a very impressive snake—which turned out to be a copperhead—as it moved along the road.

We reached Easy V and I set up the anchor as B and P got out the rope and gear. B scrambled up a bit, and was about to place the first piece of pro, when he looked up and said that the rock looked really wet. After a short discussion, we agreed and decided to punt.

Dinner at the Gold Fox was good (or maybe I was just starving), and the after-dinner entertainment was in fact entertaining and not too long. Still, it was nearly ten by the time we got back on the road, and about 12:30 am by the time I got home after dropping off my passengers.

This was my first time climbing in the Gunks, and, aside from a few pitches during the class, my first time climbing rock outdoors. There were some moments of real (if not quite justified) terror, but I was mostly able to pause, breathe, and concentrate on the climb. Stil, adrenaline flooded my system, and when it wore off, it left me drained. I think I felt that yesterday as much as anything else.

For all that, the day was fun, and I'm glad that I did it. I'm looking forward to my next trip, although it's unlikely to happen before June. My climbing technique itself seemed improved, in that this was the first time I had ever climbed anything without my arms getting pumped. I hope that after a few more trips will be enough to get past most of the anxiety and focus more on the climbing.
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Composed on an early morning, following a late night:
Velveeta!
Velveeta!

Don't cry for me, O! Wisconsin
Your cheese has become immortal
Despite the lack of
Refrigeration
It kept its freshness
To feed a nation
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I have not generally been one for new year's resolutions. My attitude, in essence, was that if you wanted to change your life or yourself, you should just do it without reference to an arbitrary feature of the calendar. But I have recently come to suspect that that attitude was simplistic.

So I'm giving this resolution thing a try. Specifically, I have resolved for 2012 that:

  • I will pay more attention to what I like and what I want.
  • I will remember to eat the strawberry.
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(partial list because I didn't keep track for the first part of the year)

  1. Solomon Nortrup, Twelve Years a Slave
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion
  3. George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones
  4. Frédéric Bastiat, The Law
  5. George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings
  6. David Ignatius, Bloodmoney
  7. Henryk Sienkiewicz, Quo Vadis: A Narrative of the Time of Nero (trans. by Jeremiah Curtin)
  8. [elided]
  9. [elided 2: electric boogaloo]
  10. Emily Doskow, Nolo's Essential Guide to Divorce
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When I was growing up, Thanksgiving used to be my favorite holiday. There was lots of good food, of course, and just the right amount of family. I saw just about everyone on Thursday, and only on Thursday, so I caught up with them without getting overloaded. The long break from school meant that I could sleep late and otherwise pretty much do what I wanted without being bothered.

Part 1: Thursday - Saturday )

Part 2: Sunday )
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I haven't been home in nearly a week. Although I was away for good stuff, a night alone in my own space is a welcome opportunity to recharge. I'll be home the rest of the week, too, but the boy will be staying with me until sometime on Sunday. While I've missed him and will be glad for the time with him, it doesn't have quite the same effect on my energy.

The weekend was fun despite a head cold that knocked me out a bit. I got to spend some quality time with friends, whom I repaid for their company by sharing my cold with them because I'm generous like that.

Yesterday I flew to Cincinnati for meetings today with a client. The meetings were productive: I learned a lot about the new things they're doing and thinking of doing, and we had some useful brainstorming about possible subject matter for new patent applications.

I visit this client about once a year. Usually the meetings take up a full day, but today we had only about two and a half hours. For all that, or maybe because of it, this was one of the most productive disclosure sessions we've had.

I was supposed to have dinner with a couple of the GCs, but a scheduling cock-up meant that I had to catch a relatively early flight. I went with them to the restaurant to join them for appetizers at least. I had fried "Cantonese" shrimp, which were served with a sauce that was mixed duck sauce and hot mustard. They were unremarkable, but they were in fact shrimp, fried, and served with a sauce that was spicyish, so I'm not complaining.

I very nearly missed my flight, though, by leaving the restaurant later than I had planned and then getting caught in rush hour traffic. Fortunately, the terminal was empty, and I breezed through security to the gate. And following an uneventful flight, I find myself at home.
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I'm embarrassed to admit how long it's been since I last read a book. It's easy enough to explain: what with all the work and personal hullabaloo, I've barely had enough mental energy to play Plants vs. Zombies on the subway, much less read anything. Now that things are starting to settle, though, I've noticed how long it really has been. Like, months, really.

There are a bunch of things I'd like to read about, fiction as well as nonfiction, but I'm trying to stick to stuff that's available on Kindle, so I can read it on my phone. That tends to increase convenience while lowering the chance of small people finding inappropriate reading matter next to my bed.

So, more or less on a whim, I've started reading Quo Vadis, which was free to download from the Kindle store. I don't know whether I can stick with anything this heavy these days, but it's worth a shot.
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I often get into a state at work in which my only hope for getting on top of my workload is to figure out everything that I have to do and when I have to do it, then figure out what really has to be done, what can be pushed off to someone else, and what doesn't really have to be done at all. The problem, of course, is that when I'm in this state—which is most of the time, unfortunately—I never feel that I have time to do these things.

I have just realized that my whole life is currently in this condition.
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Sometimes when I don't post to LJ for a long stretch, it's because something is bothering me—or lots of things are—and it's much less scary to distract myself with this or that than it is to reflect long enough to write about anything.
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In my professional opinion as a patent lawyer, building timers into room air conditioners was the best idea ever.

Memories

May. 19th, 2011 10:37 pm
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I remember from my apartment growing up that we had a cardboard box of our home movies on super 8. Every once in a while, I used to wonder what happened to it. It turns out that my brother had it, and he has been having them digitized.

He told me about it today and sent me a link. I JUST WATCHED MY SECOND BIRTHDAY PARTY. FROM 1969.

Here's a screen grab of the birthday boy:

There's a new sheriff in town.
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I had forgotten until a few minutes ago, but I was a federal employee at the time of the previous government shutdown(s) in 1995 and 1996. But I was considered "essential" (arbitrarily, you may argue), so it was a non-event for me. The current shutdown may be a non-non-event for some of you, though, and if that describes you, I hope you get through this with minimal pain.

I am almost certainly more rabidly in favor of cuts in non-defense spending than you are, and I support drastically deeper cuts than I have heard even any elected Republican propose. Nonetheless, I don't approve of this mess: the game of "chicken" is no way to run a legislature. And it's even less appropriate when the bits being fought over are chump change that are opposed for the wrong reasons.
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It is expected that your child will ask difficult questions. You know, like, "Where do babies come from?", "What happens when you die?", and "Why is Snooki?" As it turns out, these questions can be dealt with, although they are sometimes a little awkward or embarrassing.

There are questions that leave you totally at a loss, though, and they're not the questions that you might expect. Take for example this one from the boy: "Dad, what's the smallest mountain?" I tried to explain that the question didn't really have an answer, but he would have none of it.

This morning, he asked my wife, "What's the most un-celebrated holiday?" At least I might get a Top Ten list out of that one.
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I have heard reports of moms in our social circle being impressed that I, a mere dad, managed all by my self and on my own initiative to put together an overnight trip to go skiing with the boy. Dude, it wasn't all that hard, and it's kind of disappointing that expectations are so low.

Then again, I like being impressive.
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We have DirecTV. We recently bought two new high-def sets to replace the old-fashoned ones in our bedroom and the office. This meant replacing the old sets' receivers with HD receivers and hooking them up to the separate HD dish.

We have three receivers that share the single HD dish. But for technical reasons, you can't use a plain old signal splitter with a DirecTV receiver. Instead, a device called a multiswitch takes all five inputs from the dish and lets each receiver attached to the switch decide which input it wants to use.

The multiswitch on our building's roof has eight outputs. With the new HD sets, we use four for our apartment, and the other apartments downstairs in the same building use at least two of the remainder and maybe all four of them.

This is a problem. See, our building is in a row of similar buildings that are the same height and share a common roof. So residents of at least one apartment in a neighboring building don't have a dish on their building's roof. Instead, their installer got lazy and ran a line to ours.

This may have worked before, but our installer probably disconnected them when hooking up our new receivers. They, in turn, seem to have disconnected our bedroom's receiver to get their service back, which I discovered this morning when I went onto the roof to find out why we no longer had a signal, figuring that it was crucial to take care of this before this latest chapter of snowmageddon. Naturally, I unplugged them and plugged our own receiver back in.

Now, what the neighbors ought to do is to get their own building set up properly. Failing that, it's possible to cascade multiswitches so that more and more receivers can share a single dish. But I suspect that they're simply going to go back up on the roof and undo what I just did, and that this is going to turn into a Thing.
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I got an email this afternoon from the MTA that the bag I left on the subway on Friday may have been turned in. But the email, which was obviously automatically generated, says only that "there is a chance or possibility that [my] item may have been received at the Lost Property Unit." The email adds that I must contact them before I come in, to confirm that the found items really are mine.

This would be good news, except the three listed phone numbers were all busy when I called and remained busy through thirty minutes of auto-redialing. So they may very well have my stuff, but I have no idea when I'll find out.

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