Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Throw-Ups

It's been quite a week. Rachel and I had a little trouble on Sunday, probably a combination of each of us being a bit tired, possibly and her missing Dawn. We managed to sort it out after a little while, though, and it seemed as if everything would be fine... until Rachel started throwing up Monday morning. Oh, what a delight. One minute she's using the toilet, the next, while wiping, there's vomit on the floor.

I didn't go in to work. Per my boss' request, I just told me co-workers I was home sick & would check email when I could. Rachel actually did quite well; she rested a lot and I was actually able to do a little bit of work. Somehow we managed not to make a total mess, particularly of her hair. By the end of the day, she was able to have a bit of tortilla and go trick-or-treating, though not to Tessa's Halloween party. We had a lengthy discussion of why we would not go to Tessa's party that basically consisted of getting her to agree that this was no fun and we wouldn't want to give it to Tessa, her family, or any of her other friends.

Trick-or-treating was very cute. She was dressed as Belle, as was her friend, next-door Louise. Carmen & her sister Lila were frogs in home-made costumes; Deepa & Kavi were Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion (and their father was the Wizard, but for some reason their mother was a cat rather than one of the various witches); Anjali, who is both a friend of Deepa & Kavi and a school friend of Rachel's, was a clown. I was able to get Rachel to wear real shoes for the walk, rather than the very cute but too big and clunky Princess shoes Dawn got her. We went to a bunch of houses over the two blocks below our house, including a few on the cross streets, and then came back.

They had a grand time. There was a lot of hand-holding, some of which was Rachel being protective/nurturing of Anjali, who is younger. There were a few times when one of them nearly pulled the other down the stairs, which was funny at first and a bit nerve wracking later. There were a lot of great pumpkin carvings, and I'm sorry we didn't have time to get another pumpkin (having already had one for a few days before Halloween, but it was collapsing so we tossed it). A couple of houses had fake cob-webs everywhere. We often had to tell the kids to stop knocking... they have a tendency to go up and start knocking and keep knocking until someone comes to the door.

Rachel came away with about 70 pieces of candy, and we sat with Dan and sorted them by type and pulled out the ones that I said she just couldn't have. This included some hard candies and a few other things I just decided were too bad. Also the undefinable blob that must have been home made; aside from the fact that it didn't really look edible, there was no way I was going to risk it. She didn't argue about not getting to have all the candy, or about not getting to eat any on Monday. We just talked about it and it was fine; I explained that some of the things were things we just weren't going to eat and that we would throw them out but we could keep the rest. The rest was about 60 pieces, though she counted to 39 and then went back through the 30s twice.

I got to see reverse psychology work on her for the first time. Dan wanted to read a book to her at bed time, and she refused, so he said "that's OK, I didn't really want to anyway." She immediately piped up "I do!!" It was very funny - she has enough ego and self-awareness now to want to be able to make choices herself when she can that she didn't want him to make it for her (even though his supposed choice was the same as hers), but she doesn't understand about manipulation (or being conned). He read one of the books he gave her, Harry, the Dirty Dog.

Unsurprisingly, I was up at 2:45 Tuesday morning, taking my turn throwing up. I don't think I threw up again, but boy was it an unpleasant day. It was a bit funny when I woke up, actually. I'd been having some strange dream in which I was really stressed out, and feeling it as heat and tension in my chest, about trying to do some kind of solar conversion on the Prius. Later, I realized that the heat & tension in my chest was actually the pressure and acid of the illness.

Anyway, at some point in the morning while I was lying on the sofa reading and Rachel, having had (plenty of) plain tortilla for breakfast, was watching something, all of a sudden there's a little hand on my forehead. "You feel a little hot, Daddy." I'm not sure which was cuter, that, or later in the day when she gave me a hug and said "I'm sorry I gave you the throw-ups, Daddy." We packed a lunch and went over to our park so she could play. I sat. She can climb into the little swings and pump entirely by herself now, though she did want me to help her get out.

Wednesday, Dawn came home. I had thought for a while that there would be no element of relief or traces of 'finally' associated with that statement, despite a lot of expectations among friends and family that I'd be dying for her to come rescue me. In fact, there probably wouldn't have been if we hadn't gotten sick, but that really took a lot out of me, even more than being up really late two nights between the car break-in and my evening out with friends. As it was, however, I really was a little relieved. None of this is to say, of course, that I was not looking forward to her coming back, we just had been doing so well, even having to sort out a bit of trouble on Sunday, that I really only missed her, not her share of taking care of Rachel.

Dan's fiancee, Karyn, arrived Thursday afternoon; we all went to dinner and they stayed with us that night. Karyn's great and I was really glad that they stayed with us that night, rather than going to John's the whole time she's here. She told a story about accidentally knocking someone's water over while trying to get past his table in a restaurant while in NY the night before. The water hit the wine glass, spilling red wine all over him and his camelhair shirt/jacket/whatever. He was apparently absolutely incensed and wouldn't accept her extensive, repeated apologies, or her offer to pay for the dry cleaning, or her offer to pay for his entire meal. Even the somewhat younger woman he was with couldn't muster the sense to help him back down. Karyn even went so far as to try to insist that the maitre d' charge the meal to her credit card, and he did take an imprint, but then he came back and said that the guy didn't deserve it and he simply wasn't going to do that. He further refused to give the guy $50 for her. Karyn is definitely much too nice. She absolutely shouldn't have taken his berating and, I think anything more than apologizing and offering to take care of the cleaning bill (including standing for his berating) was far more than necessary. The thing that got to me the most, though, was the way she kept saying that she was "in the wrong"... she wasn't wrong, she didn't do it on purpose... I said that to her a few times.

When we called to tell Tessa's family we wouldn't be able to make it to her party, we discussed that we'd get together later. Dawn's family arrived yesterday, so after I got home from work we were sitting around talking when the phone rang. Here's how the conversation started:

Dylan: "Hello?"
very little voice, quietly: "Hi"
Dylan: "Hello?"
very little voice, louder: "This is Tessa!"
Dylan: "Hi, Tessa! How are you?"
Tessa: "Good. May I speak to Rachel, please?"
Dylan: "Of course you may."

Wow... my four-year-old is getting phone calls from her friends, as opposed to one of her parents calling and then our putting them on together... she's growing up so fast! Karyn the other night was commenting on how big Rachel's gotten and, teasing us, said something about someone coming to pick her up for a date and how that was only going to be another 10 years or so. I said 20. No, 40. Anyway, don't get ahead of us! So, they discussed getting together, and then put me back on the phone with Tessa's mother and we'll go over there for Rachel to be dropped off at about 9:30.

We were thinking of all going into the City, probably on BART since we can't all fit in one car this time, but now I think that Dawn will go some place with her family and I'll go do some errands... need to get a hair cut and pick up a FasTrack transponder for the Prius. Evidently they have special transponders for them... perhaps so they can tell it's a hybrid without having to check the transponder number in the database. Not that I'll keep the transponder where they can read it - they don't charge extra for going through without the transponder as long as the plate number is registered to it. I've always had only one transponder registered to the truck that I kept in the Honda; now that I've got the Honda's plate associated with it as well, I don't even need to have it in there, so I'll probably just bring them in the house once we get our plate.

Today is our 5th anniversary dinner. There will be 15 of us. Since we will be at the long table in the middle of the restaurant, there have been a couple of jokes about changing the seating arrangement a time or two during the meal... maybe after each course! That would be funny. I'd probably be doing it almost as much to have fun with the restaurant staff as to be able to talk to more people. Well, OK, not really. It's going to be a lot of fun.

In work news, Dawn's last day is 11/15. This is excellent. I'm really glad she's leaving this job. It's just been so hard on her and the place is a complete CF, except for her area. There's some concern, probably not unfounded, that the Feds will make the board fire the management team - this would presumably be across the board, even though they have no complaints whatever with Dawn's area - and there's no reason for Dawn to stay for that to happen. I assume that she will start doing some sort of contracting at some point, but for now she can just take a break and get away from how bad this place has been.

I on the other hand, have actually taken my resume off (hidden it from searches) the three jobs sites where I have it posted. I continue to have some background level of frustration and bitterness about the company and certain things about my history there, such as that I've never had what I would call a 'real' raise, including when I got promoted. I have had three primary reasons for wanting to find a new job: dissatisfaction with the company itself, the fact that I've been doing the same basic work for 5 years, and not getting to do anything new (meaning working with newer technologies). The second has changed a little lately, as I've been getting to more full-scale consulting (rather than just handling a few things per customer). The third has changed a little and is going to change a lot - the current version of our product uses newer things, like JSF, Struts, and My Faces, and I'll be doing a lot of work on that from now on.

Then there are the various intangibles of this job and how long I've been there: it's 15 minutes from my house, less from Rachel's school; I can work at home when I want to; I don't have to travel terribly often; I have a very good working relationship with my boss' boss (who used to be mine) and expect to have a similar relationship with my new boss, whom I've worked with to various degress the last 5 years; I come and go when I want as long as I'm making my meetings and getting my work done.

Now consider the fact that the bonus program was much better last fiscal year and is rumored to be better still this year, although we still don't officially have our bonus plan for this fiscal year even though this is now the 7th month of it; yes, that's one of my many frustrations with the company. Finally, take the fact that there's still not seeming to be much out there that would have either the kind of salary I get now or a high enough hourly rate to make going back to contracting safe.

Add all of that stuff together, and any time a recruiter calls me they ask, after I explain my situation, "so, why are you looking for a job again?" Dan asked why I explain it all rather than just going through the process. I don't want to waste everyone's time, particularly my own. If the job is in Mountain View or is going to require 40% travel, I'm just not going to be interested unless they're going to pay me substantially more in base salary than I gross now with bonus. Of course, that's going to put the salary high enough that no one's going to want to pay it in this market...

Eventually, I will leave this company. I might even quit to go back to contracting, possibly without having a contract lined up in advance. I can't do either, though, until there's good reason to think that I'm going to be able to make enough money to make it reasonable to give up what I have.

Anyway, the customer I got to upgrade, J, finally signed the services agreement... something on the order of 200 days worth of work (that's 40 business weeks for a single person, though we'll have multiple people taking part to some degree). The customer I've been spending most of my time on the last year and a bit, M, is about to get a new Service Order for upgrading them and converting them to the HTML client; a little bit more time. And those are just the two I'll be doing the most work for...

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