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April into May

Started: 2010-05-10 20:25:15

Submitted: 2010-05-10 21:59:32

Visibility: World-readable

To kick off spring, Calvin decided to bring home a nasty cold virus to share with the family. (I'm blaming it on Calvin, despite lack of solid evidence, which may not be entirely fair since he can't defend himself. I do have strong anecdotal evidence that I've been more sick since the dawn of the Calvin era than before, evidenced the number of days I've missed work. Whether this is due to Calvin bringing home more viruses from daycare, or my getting less sleep, or something else entirely is not clear.) I first noticed the cold two weeks ago on Thursday night, 22 April, while driving home from my evening in Boulder. (I usually attend BLUG on the second Thursday of the month, and Hacking Society on other Thursdays, giving me the chance to socialize with other geeks outside of work. On this particular Thursday night, Caffe Sole was closed due to a private event, which I didn't learn about until driving to Table Mesa. I did stop by Whole Foods for whole-bean coffee, where I was amused by the sign on their coffee grinder cautioning customers that their coffee grinders may not preserve the organic purity of their coffee, never mind the fact that the coffee grinder already destroys the flavor purity of the coffee by virtue of griding it well in advance from coffee beans sitting in well-ventilated bins.) I didn't sleep well that night but drug myself out of bed when my alarm woke me up at 06:30 so I could go on an eight-mile long run for lunch. I felt worse as the morning wore on; I scrubbed my run and eventually decided I should write off the afternoon and head home. I took my temperature, measured 100.2°F, and went to bed.

I felt less bad by Saturday morning but scrubbed my morning run and tried not to push myself too hard. (I had rearranged my training schedule to allow for running the Cherry Creek Sneak on Sunday morning as a time trial and in hopes of getting a better Bolder Boulder qualifying time.) I amused myself by hacking together a modest improvement in my RSS feeds. Kiesa took Calvin to church and returned exhausted and infected with the same virus; I watched Calvin in the afternoon while she took a nap. Calvin almost slept in Sunday morning; after Kiesa rearranged his nap schedule to be more compatible with the toddler room at daycare, he gets a big nap starting at noon and roughly twelve hours of sleep at night, from 19:00 to 07:00. (Several months ago it wasn't uncommon for him to get up at 05:30, so 07:00 seems nothing short of a miracle.) Kiesa took pity on me and got up with Calvin herself. If I couldn't get up with Calvin I didn't think I could justify running the Cherry Creek Sneak (even though I had already gone to the trouble of registering), so I stayed home and walked Calvin around the porch while Kiesa worked on breakfast. I felt a fair amount better by mid-afternoon, when Adam, a former coworker from my last exciting startup, called in a favor asking for help moving a pinball machine.

Having nothing else exciting to do that afternoon, I headed into Boulder to help Adam move his new pinball machine from one basement to another (his), with the help of a dolly better suited for moving modest stacks of boxes than a 295-pound piece of grunge-era gaming machinery. Adam borrowed a pickup truck and we headed to the north Boulder basement from which we were acquiring the pinball machine (incidentally belonging to one of the co-authors of Calvin's favorite programming book). Disassembling the machine to the point where we could actually move it involved reading the assembly instructions, in several short paragraphs in the modest manual, in reverse, and the key part was finding the little cabinet key that locked the machine. This was cleverly hidden hanging on the unlocked door providing access to both the coin drawer and the inner workings of the machine. The key gave us access to open the vertical back board, which let me gaze at the motherboard and try to discern the true purpose of each of the little chips.

Disassembling the machine turned out to be the easy part. Getting the machine up the stairs was a bit more difficult, mostly because the stairs turned three corners as they climbed a single flight to the main level. We detached the legs, lowered the machine onto the dolly, strapped it down, and managed to push it up the first four stairs to the first miniature landing. Making the turn at the landing involved spinning in the z axis, which was easier said than done but ultimately achievable. The second landing provided more room to maneuver, with doors heading out in two directions. As we contemplated our moves, the pinball machine's former owner provided nominally-helpful but difficult-to-implement advice on considering the third dimension. Once we lugged the machine up to the main level the front door was easily accessible; the few steps in the yard failed to provide a major obstacle. We tilted the machine into the waiting truck bed, secured it with straps, and departed just as the ominous clouds started thinking about rain.

We reached Adam's house as the drizzle was becoming more insistent; by the time we got the pinball machine out of the truck, back onto the dolly, and into Adam's front door it was raining in earnest. The last challenge was dropping the machine into the basement; being a single straight flight of stairs, and being downhill, this proved much easier than the reverse operation. We set up the machine and declared victory, despite leaving the back glass and being a bit too worried about the internal state of the electronics to actually plug it in.

I felt marginal Sunday evening, and I didn't really feel much better Monday morning, but I drug myself into work and quickly regretted it. I had an important code review just before lunch, which went pretty much perfectly, but I managed to impress my coworkers with the depth of my still-very-obvious cold. I got very little else done on Monday but didn't go home particularly early either. I went to bed early, turned off my alarm, and slept in until mid-morning, when I finally decided to get up and e-mail in sick. I watched an all-hands meeting webcast from San Diego, which was about the speed I was interested in taking the world from my couch. I kept up with most of my e-mail and filled in a few of the gaping holes in our documentation, then headed to the park with Kiesa and Calvin late in the afternoon.

On Wednesday I visited my doctor to double-check my protocol for dealing with my respiratory-infection-induced asthma, get more albuterol, and see if my nasty cold hand spawned any other complications. The doctor took one look at my ears and declared I had a bilateral ear infection. (I had noticed some significant pressure in my ears, especially during and after blowing my nose.) As far as my asthma went, my albuterol was doing a pretty good job keeping my lungs clear; all I needed was a refill.

By the time I made it back to work on Thursday, I felt much better but sounded worse, which I took to be a good sign.


Getting a nasty cold in the middle of spring caused minor chaos in my Bolder Boulder training program. I focused on sleep during the depth of the cold, and barely managed eleven miles the week after staying home from work, down from twenty-four miles the week before. I bounced back the following week to twenty-three miles, closer to my target but pushing my semi-elegant schedule out of alignment. (My schedule had already run into trouble with my trip to India; I didn't run while I was there, and it took two weeks to get back to the point where I could actually start anything resembling a decent schedule.) With three weeks to go before the race, I'm optimistic/confident/over-confident I'll improve nicely on my personal record 52:47 finish last year and be in a good position to challenge my father's personal record 49:38 finish in 1998.


One album that missed the soundtrack for my Indian adventure was Ten Ragas To A Disco Beat: Indian classical music meets synth pop. (One might notice the reason the album missed my soundtrack was because although it was originally published in 1982 it wasn't reissued until March, and I didn't know about it until listening to last week's episode of All Songs Considered.) It's either an abomination unto God and man, or the coolest thing ever, and I'm leaning towards the later. It was almost enough to make me want to dig out Kiesa's synthesizer and hunt down a sequencer and drum machine of my very own.

There's no gossip jucier than what's on bitscape.org, so I don't really
have anything to say. In fact, I learned most of it there.
- Yanthor, Festing: The Gathering, 21 March 2003