Thursday, August 28, 2008

chop wood, carry water

Originally posted November 18, 2004:

Sunday, Philippino day:

Little did I realize that today was Washington DC Philippino day. This morning at Church, due to shortages of flu vaccine, instead of shaking hands at the sign of peace, we all turned to our neighbors and gave each a slight bow. This is exactly how Philippinos exchange the sign of peace in Mass in the Philippines. I couldn't help but let slip a small, private smile during this evolution. I hope this goes on for quite some time: Diane and Dennis will be so pleased!

AND THEN! I went to Starbucks to by some Chai in bulk. As I approached the counter, I felt momentarily disoriented, something was strangely familiar -- the girl at the register, who I originally thought to be Black, was not: she was Brown! And, the other person working there was also a Pinay (occasionally, in this area particularly, Starbucks brings in foreign nationals -- I suppose for exposure on how Starbucks works in the USA? One time the store manager (who is also one of the national directors) was working with people from Taiwan). Again, the repressed smile, but I didn't engage them in conversation. Again, I was transported to my sweetie's side. Two times in one day!


Heater broke, and then, car broke (timing belt). Slept that night with a space heater graciously leant to me by Mike and in a knit cap and muffler. Mr. Darcy really snuggled up to me, as well.

While I was on the side of the highway in my broken-down car, Bill, a colleague from work, called to report an at-work emergency that needed my immediate attention; I guided him through some procedures over the phone as the tow truck continued to fail to show up. Received two more calls on my cell from work, each more and more alarming.

Uh, don't worry, y'all: the country's still protected.

So, I pushed the car to an apartment complex's parking lot, conveniently located nearby, and then I walked home. In my dress shoes. Ow.

But, after all that, it seems like God cut me a break. When I arrived home, I received a check from the mail. Goody! I can eat again! Something else good happened that day, but, it being two days and several crises ago, I've quite forgotten what it was.

I went by Mike's house, and he looked me straight in the eye: "Doug, you're just sad!" Thanks, pal! But he also gave me freshly cooked roast beef and mashed potatoes with gravy. I don't know how he does it, but he makes the world's best mashed potatoes. He also loaded me down with two large logs for my fireplace.

Mike: "You need to split those; do you have a maul?"
Me: "Don't worry about it. My middle name's not 'Paul Bunyon' for nothing."
Mike: [speachless, rueful look]

That night, until late, late in the night, I turned my mind and body to the simple joy of splitting firewood with my wedges, gods-own-hammer, and my ax. It felt very good.


Watching the heater repair guys ("Um, Mr. Douglas [sic], sir, you need to replace your intake filter every month, not every year."). Receiving more emgerging crisis phonecalls from work. That morning, I was in work, and I said to Bill: "I wish I could say troubles come in pairs, but I would actually be blessed in they ONLY came in pairs."

I was calm, however, govies have a tendency to panic easily and sometimes about the wrong thing. I was sure it wasn't my code that was the problem.


I was wrong, of course: it was my code that was the problem. It was built with a perfect-world model, and the real-world data, ya know, can be noisy sometimes. But, then, another miracle occurred, Bill headed up the repair effort and did 90% of the work, freeing me to handle another impending crisis. It's amazing to find people who take the ball and run with it (especially since I rarely see it in the workplace); this contract has several people to do that very thing with neither fuss nor fanfare. Wow!

So, now, I'm just finishing up my workday, writing this email, and heading on home.

I missed about 57,239 other things that happened this week: each thing would've had its own paragraph of at least 17 lines each, and for this, I'm sorry, 'cause I'm wondering what happen this week, myself.

Ah, well, car works, heater works, fireplace works, self works. Good to go!


bill waller said...

My response is to again express pleasure in the read. I especially enjoyed the part about 57,239 missing pieces of information. Not many people can put a number on something like that. And finally, to quote Dick Vitale: Awesome baby!

geophf said...


Yes, well, I abhor being imprecise unnecessarily ... I suppose that's why I'm a very poor conversationalist (Diane is often saying: "Follow my wavelength!" ... when I'm not). Also, I have a fondness for Number (and for specific numbers). For example, 57,239 is a composite number: 7 * 13 * 17 * 37 = 57,239, but it is closely bracketed by two primes: 57,223 and 57,241. It would have been nice for 57,239 if 57 was prime (it isn't), and 239 was prime (it is), and 57 * 239 = 57,239 (actually, 57 * 239 = 13,623). I wonder what the set of numbers ← (X, Y) are such that X is two digits and prime and Y is three digits and prime and the number X,Y = X * Y?


[Doug wanders away to write a program to compute that set ... but first he needs to write a prime number sieve.]

Thank you, also, for the Vitale compliment!