Technical Difficulties from on Top of the Mountain
2005-11-24
  How I spent my day off
Ok, today wasn't really a day off, cause as a contractor I don't get paid when I don't work, but it was a Friday, and I wasn't working. But it was a worthwhile day anyways.

It started out a little rough, Oscar and momma headed off to the doctor as the six month old has been fighting some congestion for a while and it didn't really show any signs of improving, so I held down the fort with the two older ones. Zakary was trying to get the little driver to fit in the Rokenbok train cab and get the door shut while at the same time his brother was trying to drive the train down the track. I sided with Zakary and told Max to knock it off, which had absolutely no effect (we're talking a five year old here after all), so I cut the interface by relocating Max to the other side of the house. He survived in time-out period and went to sulk on the couch after that (which was fine with me), and would have stayed there except for the arrival of fedex with a rather large box.

There were two possible items it could be, and it turned out to be the less likely of the two: the last of the long lost legos. About six months ago, one particular seller started offering a lot of bulk buy items for sale. No picture, and his feedback was kind of sketchy, but I decided to grab a few lots (ok, I grabbed a bunch of lots, totalling 88 pounds). The reason I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt was price--usual lots sell on ebay for four to six dollars a pound (sometimes you can get a bargain in the three to three fifty range), but these lots went for about a dollar and a half. Even with shipping, I was only out slightly more than two dollars a pound. Of course I was out that money in April. Now at the tail end of November I was finally seeing a payoff.

I actually received one smaller box back in September, but a couple of weeks ago I finally got a 46 pound box (which we're still going through), and today the rest showed up in another large box. Well, there's few things that will cheer up a five year old more than a box of legos as large and as heavy as he is. So we spent the whole morning and part of the afternoon sorting blocks, pulling out partially assembled robots, spaceships and bionicles; and even digging out a few complete box sets. A fun time.

After that the kids took off to do errands with mom and I attended to other chores. While there are numerous projects around the house still ongoing, today I focused on the school shop where a number of issues needed some attention. There was a lathe that wouldn't power up, and sander that needed reconnecting, broken regulators to replace and some CAD software to configure. Spent the afternoon with the volt meter, pipe gunk and various other tools of the trade messing around, which brought its own kind of satisfaction as well.

My wife was a little puzzled by my attention to a shop I teach in a couple of hours once a week, but its more than that to me. The metal shop is a resource for the community (both for learning and for making things). Its a skill that hasn't been that important as we have imported materials and labor from overseas, but that dynamic is changing. Also teaching, and helping others making things, helps build bonds in the community; something which I think is going to be more and more important as time goes on.

So today was just one more small step making those connections just like the morning was making connections with my kids. Creating a legacy that will out-live me. In the grand scheme of things, probably much more important then all that XML, perl web-api stuff that makes up a day job. That stuff pays the bills, but you also have to make time for these other things, so that you can look back over the years and see progress towards those big picture goals. That's what puts a smile on my face at the end of the day.

 
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Life in the middle of nowhere, remote programming to try and support it, startups, children, and some tinkering when I get a chance.

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