It is a cool and dreary Friday afternoon, and the train is nearly full. Like many others, I hate fighting the southbound traffic on Fridays, which is usually worse when the roads are wet, and so I made sure to take the train today. I feel a little let down, because it was my birthday today, but there was nothing particularly special about it (at least so far).
Traditionally, I always take my birthday off from work, ever since I was scheduled to work at Holiday Inn on the evening of my 17th birthday, and decided to quit as a birthday present to myself. I have often joked that it is a warning sign to any employer if I don’t take my birthday off … they ought to start looking for a replacement. I think this may be an exception to that rule, since I have so little time off accrued, and much of it is spoken-for next summer. Having been unemployed for so long, I expect I’ll think long and hard before quitting any job.
This morning I was awakened before my alarm by a heavy, pounding rain. Here in the beautiful Northwest, we prefer rains that waft in as a gentle mist, keeping the foliage green and the reservoirs full, yet not seriously inconveniencing anyone. It is a courteous, gentlemanly rain, not like that brash, villainous rain they get in the Southeast.
But there is nothing courteous or gentlemanly about a rain like this morning’s, especially one that wakes me at 5:20 am. It is certainly true that I do not sleep as well with Kathy away. I roll around all night in a luxury of space that I simply do not deserve, and my conscience knows it and keeps my sleep uneasy.
There is a stark contrast between my daily schedule and that of the rest of my family, these days. As a reader might suppose from reading this blog, my life could be described by some as being comprised of long periods of boredom relieved by short periods of ennui. My work, fascinating though it may be to some, does not lend itself to epic story-telling, and my off-hours are spent mostly in quiet pursuits, such as reading or playing computer games. Insomniacs Anonymous has frequently sought me on as a guest speaker, and I understand that an MP3 file of my famous lecture on the relevance of IMS DB/DC COBOL programming is a popular download among those suffering from severe sleeplessness.
Kathy, however, is at the hub of all that is exciting and interesting, as her brother’s wedding preparations near completion and relatives flock in from all corners of the globe. I keep trying to persuade her to write a blog entry, but she cannot seem to tear herself away from the events of the day long enough to reflect. I understand that a power outage has struck the hotel where many of the out-of-town visitors are staying, and that some relatives are missing, presumed, well, missing. My children have joined Grand-dad in a frenzy of last-minute preparation of the Thornhollow grounds, but further details are not available.
Instead, I’ll regale you with tales of the course I am taking. In a partnership with the University of Washington, my employer offered a series of “continuing education” courses to those of us who require that sort of thing. Although my first choice course was cancelled, I did manage to enroll in another course, and spend three hours of my Friday afternoons across town listening to lectures about XML.
As it turns out, this is subject matter to rival my gripping IMS DB/DC discussion, and I find myself glazing over almost as soon as I settle in to my seat at the lab. To make matters worse, food and drink are banned from the classroom, so I am unable to jolt my system with a healthy swig of Diet Coke. From time to time I stagger out and take a gulp from the container I secret outside the classroom … I feel like some kind of derelict hitting the bottle. Maybe I should get a flask or a brown paper bag.
Recently the professor took a survey, and I had the opportunity to comment that I found the pace “way too slow”. It would seem that others agreed, because the instructor spoke with much more animation today and we were granted four hands-on exercises instead of the usual two. I suggested that he ask more questions, and so I cudgeled my molasses-filled brain and tried to actually answer when he did, in fact, ask. As with many things, you get out what you put into things … once I began to take a more active interest, I found myself more able to stay awake.
I had a lovely visit with my parents last night … strange to eat dinner & dessert with just the two of them … there was even a substantial amount of the Black Forest Cake left over! This would certainly never have happened if my horde of children were around … as it was, Dad and I put a brave face on it and each suffered through two pieces of cake. My Mom (who claims she ought to know this kind of thing) insists that I was born on the 6th of October. She hints that the doctor who delivered me was a bit on the inebriated side, and probably forgot to fill out the paperwork until he recovered from his hangover. Dad, ever the diplomatist, suggested we celebrate on the 7th as a sort of a compromise, and so I was treated to a birthday dinner and window-shopping excursion.
Thanks to my self-indulgent nature, I already have everything I could possibly want, and a fair number of things that I don’t want (as witnessed by the piles in our garage). I seem to be a difficult person for whom to buy a present.
I had planned to watch a DVD on my laptop today on the train-ride home … got the case out & opened it up … some fiend had put the case back but left the DVD in the player! Imagine my annoyance. Well, actually, readers of this blog probably know all about annoyance, as they hopelessly sift through the blather hoping for an occasional interesting word. I’d blather on, but the train seems to be arriving in Tacoma.