Recently, my team at Expedia held a morale-building event.

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For the first time in 30 years, I found myself playing softball. I was pretty hesitant my first time at-bat.

IMG_7820The second time, I decided to just strike a pose; if I didn’t know what I was doing, I might as well look good doing it:

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Both times, I got a hit. Both times, they were caught before leaving the infield, which sort of made this action kinda futile on my part:

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But hey, at least I got 2 RBI’s, which isn’t such a bad thing after 30 years of not having played the game. And I had fun, which was the most important thing :)

 

Last month I talked to my Neurologist about switching medications from the daily injectable that I currently take (Copaxone) to a daily oral medication (Tecifidera). After a round of MRI scans and blood and urine tests, I finally got this in the mail.

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Relief.

I had started taking medication for my MS back in 2000. Back then I was injecting myself once a week with Avonex; it had to be injected directly into the muscles, so the needle was about an inch long, and the side effects were pretty severe. I was left feeling like I had the flu for the better part of a day. Six years later, I switched to Copaxone; the shot just had to go into the skin, making for a much shorter needle, but I had to take that one once a day, and not only did I have site reactions, but I would also get headaches, experience dizziness and shortness of breath and the occasional bout of severely painful spasms. Thankfully, now that I am on a different medication, those days are behind me.

Not to say that Tecifidera itself is not without its own list of issues:

  • Flushing/warmth
  • redness
  • itching
  • burning feeling of the skin
  • Stomach/abdominal pain
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting

A lot of those side effects can be ameliorated by taking Tylenol and eating when you take the medication. At the very least, I won’t be giving myself shots every day. As little as I look forward to having to take pills for the rest of my life, I relish the prospect of daily (or even weekly) injections even less.

(Aside) Now that I am taking the pills, I have a month’s worth of perfectly good Copaxone in the fridge awaiting disposal. It seems a shame to allow over $5,000 of medication to go to waste. I’m hoping that there is some way that I can donate what I have to someone who cannot afford the medication.

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Both Gabe and Ollie have digital cameras that they occasionally use to take pictures of random things. Sometimes they even take selfies or pics of one another. Here are some of the pics of Gabe that I found on their cameras :)

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Both Gabe and Ollie have digital cameras that they occasionally use to take pictures of random things. Sometimes they even take selfies or pics of one another. Here are some of the pics of Ollie that I found on their cameras :)

I’ve been fortunate enough during the almost 30 (!) years that I’ve been part of the workforce to have worked mostly with people that I’ve gotten along with, or at least was able to tolerate. There have been a couple of standout occasions, though, that I have had the misfortune to have to suffer through during the past few years. One of them involved a manager on another team; in the end, he and I were able to at least come to an accommodation that ended in a sort of mutual respect.

The second occasion I still find myself shaking my head at to this day, partly due to its’ relative recentness and the fact that I view the offender and I responding to strikingly similar circumstances in startlingly different ways.

I’m no stranger to being “the new guy” on a team. Given the fact that I’m expecting to change employers at least every couple of years or so (as well as my recent conversion from a full-time employee to a contractor), it’s pretty much a given at this point that I’ll be “the new guy” from now until the day I either retire or establish my own business. That having been said, in my role as a Software Developer who writes programs that break other programs, I do hold some quite strong views on both Software Testing and Development. I’ve seen (and continue to see) what I consider to be egregious errors being committed in both realms. Yet, time and guidance have taught me several  things when it comes to expressing my opinions regarding said errors, namely (1) explain my case as to why I feel errors are being made, (2) seek to convince others that my suggestions will make things better, (3) listen to the team when they state their concerns, (4) don’t be so intransigent that compromise is unachievable, and (5) when you are the new guy, you are not the one who needs to be convinced, but rather you are the one who needs to prove her case. Failing to follow especially the latter will cause a lot of bad feelings – case in point.

I guess I’m writing this down now because I’v recently made quite a few changes to the existing code base for the project that I am working on, and, looking back, I can see the difference between myself and the offending individual in how we communicated the changes that we wanted to make. There is the “I want these changes made; now you convince me that things should stay the same” approach, and then there is the “I want to make these changes; now let me show you why I think this will make things better and take  things from there” approach.

Now tell me – which one would you want on your team? Hopefully, I represent that person.

The past couple of weeks have been, to paraphrase an oft-worn Chinese saying (and to rip the title of a book from one of my favorite authors), Interesting Times. Not even a week after we get back the computer brain that controls our cars’ braking system decides to retire to Binary Heaven, leaving behind a silicate shell that is barely capable of stopping the vehicle. I took it in to  the the dealership to get repaired; normally, I would have probably just went to the Firestone that is just down the street from us, but six years ago when we first bought our trusty Prius Carrie and I had decided to shell out for the extended warranty just in case something like this happened. Which it did. So I drove five harrowing miles (yes, hyperbole, I know :) ) into downtown so that the repairs would be covered.

More on that in a minute.

After dealing with the lack of a vehicle for a week, fate decided to reward us for our perseverance by giving Carrie a case of pneumonia. Fate, deciding that it wasn’t being generous enough, also decided to (a) have the insurance inspector drag his feet in getting out to look over our car, and (b) when he finally does decide to put in an appearance, insist on further diagnosis before rendering his judgement. I’m guessing that the three-word description of the problem that I had presented (Brakes. Don’t. Work.) did not offer enough clarity into my dilemma. But I digress. At least we got the insurance company to cover the cost of a rental vehicle for us on that Friday so that we would not have to go the entire weekend without a car. But then Monday rolls around, and, after reviewing the results of the further diagnosis, the inspector decides that, since he did not see all of the codes that would normally indicate ABS failure in the readout, our claim is not fully valid and is therefore denied, meaning that we would have to pay upwards of $3k for our car repair.

“There was a man in the land of Seattle who’s name was Charles….”

Again, hyperbole, yes, I know. I mean, throughout all of this, our friends have been pretty amazing, looking after the kids, taking them to preschool and bringing them home, helping out in cleaning our house, and bringing over entire meals. And, in the end, I ended up calling the insurance company directly, and after asking “So, what you are telling me is that if I drive this car off the lot it will be perfectly safe?” they pretty quickly agreed to cover the cost of the inspection, repair and rental car.

So – one down, one to go.

Carrie is still feeling sick. She’s in much better shape  than she was this time last week, but she’s still a ways to go before she gets back to where she was. I’ve been trying to take the boys out during the weekends so that she can enjoy some quiet time. Yesterday, I took them out to see “How to train your dragon” at the Ark Lodge in Columbia City, and the four of us went to Tutta Bella for some pizza and flatbread (I splurged on a Comparisoda with a lemon twist); today, I took the kids to Alki and then out to Spuds.2014-03-23 10.50.54 2014-03-23 10.51.06

And here I am, ending this weekend on a hopeful note, wishing that the next one will be even better :)

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For the second time in as many weeks, I made the flight from Seattle to San Francisco; instead of going alone for business reasons, however, this time was for fun: Carrie, the kids and I travelled from Emerald City to the City by the Bay to visit my aunt Pigi.

The trip didn’t start off well; due to thunderstorms and high winds in the Bay Area, our flight was delayed for over five hours. What was to have been a leisurely afternoon arrival followed by a ride on the BART and Cable Car to our hotel room in the Embarcadero followed by dinner turned into a tired late evening arrival followed by a grumpy taxi ride to our hotel room in the Embarcadero followed by us crashing in our beds. For all of their travails, though, Gabe and Ollie were superstars, handling the numerous and ever-ongoing delays with unprecedented grace and patience. Hooray the kids’ play area at Sea-Tac, and hooray a year and a half at the Rainier Valley Cooperative Preschool :) And special kudos to the people on hand at Virgin Airlines – not only did they let us book a later flight at no cost, the cabin crew eve invited the kids to the cockpit so that they could try their hand at flying the airplane (while it was still on the ground, of course ;))

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The first full day that we were in SF was the fullest one. The boys got to ride on a cable car, and my aunt met us at the Exploratorium in the morning, and the kids (especially Gabe) took to her immediately. We spent a couple of hours there, then took got a couple of hot dogs for the kids before we went on a cruise beneath the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz.  On Sunday, Carrie, the kids and I went to Mama’s Cafe close to Washington Square in North Beach for breakfast and attempted to find our way to Golden Gate park (loathe as I am to admit it, it was my fault that we didn’t) before taking my extremely generous aunt up on her offer to watch over the kids at our hotel room while Carrie and I went out to eat at the simply amazing Seven Hills in Nob Hill.

All in all, day of the flight notwithstanding, the trip was a good one. Having spent a good portion of my twenties there, the Bay Area will always occupy a special place in my heart, and I was glad to be able to share a portion of it with my family. I’m looking forward to Carrie and my returning there again in the near future – with and without the kids :)

Afterthought:

San Francisco and Seattle are vastly different. I’ve always thought of San Francisco – with its buzz and bustle and its urban compactness and urbane attitude and an honest-to-goodness mass transit that honestly-to-goodness negates the need for an automobile for all but the most dire of circumstances – as an East Coast city that just happens to be west of the Mississippi. Seattle, on the other hand, exemplifies a left-coast laid-back-ness that is (at times annoyingly) combined with sensibilities that are (almost) provincially aligned along neighborhood lines. After two trips in two weeks to San Francisco, I had thought that I would return to (what now seems to me as being sleepy) Seattle and be left wanting. However, one thing that I have come to realize is this: even the romanticized San Francisco of my memories cannot compare to my present Seattle-based reality. While my experiences in the Bay Area have done a lot (for worse and for better) to shape who I was in my twenties, it has been Seattle that has done even more to shape who I am in my thirties and forties. It has been in this city that I have met the love of my life, and it has been in this city that the two other most precious people in my life came to be. My love of not just eating well, but cooking well came to me whilst in Seattle, as well as my greater appreciation for fine coffee and home brewing. I’ll always enjoy a visit to San Francisco so as to see how a place from my youth has changed and stayed the same (as well as for a chance to see family), but, after twelve years in the Puget Sound, I can say that I honestly enjoy making my life here.

Addendum to afterthought:

Of course,  it would be after I implied that I didn’t mind living in a city in which having a vehicle was a (albeit greatly reduced) necessity that our trusty Prius’ computer brain forgets that the car is equipped with these nifty things called “brakes” and has to go to the dealership for (what has now been a three (about to be four) day long) re-education course. *great* :(

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