The Quest for Meaning

Trying to blog more and “socially network” less because I think it will encourage me to write. It clearly does not discourage me from drifting around on FB, however. Just spent an hour of my life looking at posts on mushroom identification sites & researching but not sending early elementary school advice to a college acquaintance I haven’t seen in 29 years. There are eight minutes left until my work day starts and I keep – seven – thinking I can cram more stuff into them before surrendering to the inevitable and – six – logging in.

In The Fall It Will Be Better

By most understandings of the word “optimism,” Dino Spouse is not an optimistic fellow. Nonetheless, in matters of weather and the heart, he retains a capacity for hope (denial? suspension of disbelief?) which is quite beyond me. Every time the temperature dips into the low 80’s, he expresses the certainty that the worst of summer is behind us. Whenever misfortunes befall us, no matter how long-standing their causes or effects, he assures the kids and me that it will be better once (insert name of next season) comes.

I’m not really sure why I started out with this, but fall is almost here and soon it will have been six months since COVID-19 avoidance took over big chunks of our lives. Mouse starts back to school, albeit online, on Tuesday; Dino Spouse and I continue to telework. Bot moved into the dorms at his university about three weeks ago and expects to be sent home before the end of this month to finish out the fall semester. There’s a veneer of normalcy over everything – flour and toilet paper have returned to the stores, and more in-person activities are opening up – but we’re still living with the feeling of reality being on hold. Gotta a whole lotta existential dread goin’ on.

Also, our dog died in July, and we got a new one in August. Dino Spouse is still mourning his best buddy ever but the new dog kind of cheers him up. His name is Courage (after “Courage The Cowardly Dog”) because he is scared of the cat and whimpers to express fear and longing.

ECQ you, too!

I recently spoke with a colleague who is also applying for an SES position in the federal government. Said colleague informed me that the price quoted by a professional resume writer to prepare the ECQ essays for the position announcement was $6000. Apparently the regular price is something like $3000, but that’s only if you give the resume person four weeks to complete the drafts. Can you imagine?

Tell you what, it’s not the prices that I can’t imagine – it’s the idea of being willing to write more than one of these application packages in the span of, say, a year. Oh My GOV, you guys, this is so freaking dull. You would think writing about oneself would be a lot more interesting and enjoyable.

Meanwhile, Chez Dinosaurov

We’re fine. Dino Spouse and I have been teleworking since mid-March. So has Soldatik, now a (God help us) second-generation bureaucrat in South Carolina. Bot returned from the forests he was conserving in California in time to socially isolate en famille. Mouse endured distance learning for the remainder of their junior year in high school and is dreading a summer at home without sleep-away camps. The dog is apparently dying (we took him to the vet for a cough and they found a big tumor in his rectum) but so far does not seem unhappy except when he contemplates climbing hardwood stairs.

I am avoiding both my homework (Developmental Psychology this semester) and my job application package (for myself rather than a paying client). I am avoiding them so hard that I succumbed to an urge to blog about it, FFS, and then lost several minutes trying to remember my user name and then updating one of the blurb-y bits. This bodes ill for my general productivity, but the day is young still.

Natural Logs

The second semester of chemistry started three weeks ago. It’s a lot math-ier than the first semester was, which in turn was way more full of math (and physics) than my biology course was a couple of years ago. Two things that haven’t happened in 30+ years have happened in the last three weeks:

  • The phrase “Damn this would be easier if I could remember calculus” actually came out of my mouth, and
  • Logarithms.

I’m not sure I understand logarithms, mind you, but this is the first time in my life I have been able to reliably solve problems using them. Not coincidentally, last semester was the first time I remember having taken the time to read the instructions for a calculator. Must “read and follow instructions” turn out to be the solution to all my life’s mysteries?

In somewhat related news, the aforementioned chemistry class finally forced me to do what 18 months of trying to work and study in federal employ using a Chromebook could not; I got a Windows laptop for home use. Technically Dino Spouse got me the laptop as a Valentine’s Day offering, but that amounted to him handing me a debit card while I muttered about the uselessness of the Chromebook Excel app for graphing and searched for a laptop that would run actual software at a reasonable rate of speed without draining the family coffers. I know I could have just done the calculating and graphics exercise for class in Google Sheets, but nope, I finally surrendered.

(I also met Soldatik‘s girlfriend and painted a couple of walls in our home and cleaned the heck out of everything, and all of that was lovely. But math.)

Virginia 2020 Primary Elections Are Coming

Hi, Virginia-resident internet people! Having just completed the form to sign up for my election officer refresher training, I’m primed to share what I know about the Commonwealth’s 2020 primary elections. To wit:

  • There are separate primaries in VA to choose Democratic and Republican candidates for national offices. You can vote in either primary regardless of your party affiliation (or lack thereof), but you can’t vote in both.
  • The Democratic Presidential Primary is March 3 and the Republican Primary is June 9. Important: GOP nominees for President will not be on the ballot for the June 9 Republican Primary.  The Republican Party of Virginia is hosting its 2020 Quadrennial Convention May 1-2 at Liberty University to decide on their preferred Presidential candidate. The June 9 GOP primary will select Republican candidates for House and Senate seats in the November 3 General Election.
  • Check out the Virginia Department of Elections website for your Virginia voter status (or to register to vote, or figure out where you’re registered to vote, or request an absentee ballot).

Victory Screech

The bad news: I wound up spending $24 of Pa Protosaur’s money and $15 of mine buying a domain and a dedicated IP address I didn’t need. The good news: I finally got Pa Protosaur’s web content uploaded to his new site management doodad. Plus I finished painting the trim in the basement stairwell. So the day feels like an overall success.

In unrelated news, have now listened to the Broadway cast recording of “Hadestown” about 20 times. Mouse turned me on to the off-Broadway cast recording of it about three months ago. I had a similar experience with Mouse turning me on to “Hamilton” when Hamil-mania was first sweeping the nation. But my brief “Hamilton” obsession was not unlike the time I read The Bridges of Madison County and sobbed over it only to reread it a year later and recoil in horror and embarrassment that I had been so taken in by such a crappy story.* I have more faith in “Hadestown,” largely because the music is better and there’s no annoying historical record of real people and events to judge it against.

*Not that I don’t still occasionally get in my car and jamilton my way to wherever I’m going, however.

Thank you please give me a moment

Rizwan K is trying to help me upload the contents of Pa Protosaur’s website to his host company’s new site management platform. Pa Protosaur was a nuclear engineer back in the day and and early adopter of personal computers. He taught himself HTML in the early 2000s when he set up the website. But he is still kind of scared of the internets, so he has delegated all of the icky dealing-with-hosting-companies and figuring-out-stuff-that-you-can’t-do-over-AOL to me.

It seems that FTP was a lot easier in 2003 or whenever the last time was that I tried moving crap-tons of files from one host to another. It is also possible that more of my brain has calcified. In any event, I am chatting with Rizwan to figure out why my instruction-following skills are failing to result in successful site migration. I will probably be yelling 530 LOGIN INCORRECT in my sleep tonight. (Doubtless this will be less disturbing than my performance Friday morning, when I woke Dino Spouse by repeatedly shouting “I’m BAD! I’m BAD!” in what was left of my sleep.)