IMR: Entries: 2001: March: 12 — Monday, March 12, 2001


Katie and I had another whirlwind day together yesterday, completely by accident, and once again I'm awed at how a 30-pound toddler can have more energy in her left index finger than I do in my whole body.

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The morning progressed peacefully enough. Jen and I managed to drag ourselves out of bed in time to get her and Katie to church, and since I hadn't anywhere else more interesting to be — having had my fill last week of the office — I again went along with them.

After church, we had the traditional post-Jesus McBreakfast, Jen made herself all purty, and we dropped her off at work. Waving an enthusiastic goodbye from the back seat, Katie then commanded us home, where we were to "play trains."

So we played trains, and piano, and read a few books and interacted with the Nick Jr. website (she can already navigate it by herself). Then it was dad's special ramen for lunch, and a 90 minute nap (I fell asleep too — oops!). As we groggily wandered into the living room, I asked her what she wanted to do next.

"See the amerals (animals) at the zoo!"

"You want to go to the zoo?"

"Go to the zoo!" she said, jumping. "See the chickens and monkeys and pink f'mingos!"

So off we went, into Waikiki, too hang out at the zoo.

Except there was a big parade planned that afternoon as part of the "Honolulu Festival," and streets were being closed, and parking everywhere was tight. Cops were writing tickets left and right, and drivers everywhere seemed on the brink of road rage. It took me half an hour to make one circuit of the zoo.

"Katie, do you want to go to the beach?"

"Zoo amerals!"

So, more circling, with more and more streets shutting down, and more and more exasperated motorists swarming what few street parking options remained. Although it was only three in the afternoon, people were already staking out spots along Kalakaua Avenue. I passed the same shirtless old man in a lawn chair at least five times, and he was waving at Katie by the third pass.

Finally, miraculously, I found a tiny spot along the curb by our old apartment on Paoakalani Avenue (where Rikard now lives). I loaded Katie into the stroller, and zipped over to the zoo, getting in the gate less than 90 minutes before the place was to close.

Still, Katie made the most of our time there, leading the way, pushing the stroller, chasing me or random birds, and naming the animals as we went. We caught a rare glimpse of a baby spider monkey testing out his swinging skills with his mom, and a rare glimpse of the front end of the usually anti-social Indian elephants. We completely missed the petting zoo this time, but Katie didn't miss it.

When the security guards on bikes started coming around, we made our way back to the gate. My thought was to stop at the office to do a couple of things, then go home to start dinner before we had to pick up Jen. But Katie took one look at the bright sky and glimmering ocean and started chanting, "Go beach! Go beach! Right there!"

So we went there. Without a towel or a bathing suit, but we went there. As everyone was starting to line up along the street, the shore wasn't crowded at all, and Katie — with only the pair of cotton shorts she was wearing — wandered far and wide, digging random holes in the sand and splashing water in the air.

She made sandcastles (which appear to the untrained eye as uneven lumps), drew diamonds and happy faces, and commanded me to write the alphabet. She studied the people and buildings around her. Everything was, "What's that?" Followed by, "That's right!"

Finally, it was, "What's that sound?" Her hand to her ears, her one eyebrow raised in bemusement. The parade was coming.

We quickly dusted off and headed up to the street to watch the procession. It was just getting started, with alternating groups of hula dancers, marching bands, Japanese dancers, VIPs in old cars, and Korean dancers.

And then it stopped. There was a gap in the parade. A really, really big gap. A ridiculous, twenty-minute, crowd-aggravating gap. Kids started congregating in the center of the street to make some fun for themselves. Everyone was peering far up the road and muttering.

Finally something was coming. A huge troupe of neon-accented pseudo-techno dancers with huge speakers and enormous flags. We watched as they made their way, slowly, down the street. As it turned out, their extensive routine was not only several minutes long, but it also had to be performed in one place. Immediately everyone knew the organizers and performers flunked Parade Planning 101.

Still, it was quite a show, and even Katie forgave the delay. The rest of the parade was still too spread out, but it kept everyone's attention. There weren't many marching bands, though, and surprisingly little Hawaiiana. Just lots of traditional Korean and Japanese troupes, including a number of wonderful mikoshi processions (I'll have to ask William for the whole story on mikoshi). They ranged from the elegant and elaborate to the just plain cheesy.

The sun set far too fast, and by the time we saw the towering sumo mikoshi (commemorating the Moana Surfrider's 100th anniversary), it was time to "go get mama at Liberty House." We ate a simple dinner, and Katie passed out almost instantly.

So did I.

Church, playtime, the zoo, the beach, and a parade. I couldn't top a day like that if I tried. And given how much my body aches today, I probably won't.

Yes, I set foot in church now and then. And I have not yet been struck by lightning.

Though Catholicism still strikes me as marginally creepy (Ash Wednesday and those black crosses? Yike!), I'm less and less likely to pepper the whole Mass with blasphemous puns and wise cracks... and I've even been known to sing along on occassion. I still screw up the "Points of the Cross" finger thing, and giggle at this one lector who talks like William Shatner, but I'm definitely making progress on the whole "open minded" thing.

Besides, Katie loves it — for now, at least, and I just melt when she sings "Hallelujah" — and that means a lot to me. I don't care if she ultimately starts wearing black lipstick and performing Wiccan rituals in the backyard, or even becomes a flaming atheist for that matter, as long as she's had a faith to rebel against. Or rather, as long as she sees faith as an option, even if it's one she ultimately tells her parents to shove where the sun don't shine.

I guess I feel like I missed out on something when, after going to my father's family Zen Buddhist temple as a kid, we stopped cold when my parents got divorced. I remember at the time it was the most mind-numbing, weekend-wasting thing in the world, but today I kind of wish I hung around long enough to know more about the stuff that annoyed me so much. Now, of course, we go every so often, but it's more a family thing than a matter of religion.

We're now 24 days out from our annual international conference in Tokyo. High stress, and late nights, but in a way there's again a sense of resigned acceptance. We've passed the proverbial point of no return, barreling down the line at breakneck speed, and no matter what other hiccups or snags or absolute fuck-ups arise from this point forward, this thing is happening no matter what.

So work is what's been consuming me, and all my masochistic coworkers, as is the yearly ritual. In early, out late, weekend crunch sessions to finish those 101 little tasks we failed to get to during the week.

We're trying to apply some of what we learned during the two-day "organizational skills" workshop thoughfully set up for us and scheduled in the middle of these crazy times, but it's not easy to think about Gantt charts and key deliverables when you're putting out dozens of little fires a day. (One of the stranger outcomes of the sessions was the resolution to give me more responsibility — this a few weeks after getting taken to task for being a sucky employee. Is it "empowerment via ownership," or "more rope to hang himself"? You decide.)

And not surprisingly, the dated but usually sturdy technology in our office chose this prime period to fail. Last week, our firewall died. We'd already pegged it as being on its last leg, of course, but they don't call us a non-profit for nothing. It would crash now and then, but we'd just reboot it, curse, and things would be fine for another few weeks.

But the "uptime" figures got smaller and smaller, until Tuesday when it would lock up every half hour or so. That meant, of course, that not only could we not get on the web or get mail, but people couldn't get to our website. Between reboots, I fielded grumpy e-mails and phone calls from all over the world from folks who'd just seen our ad in some business or trade magazine and couldn't "visit our website for more information!"

So we called in our network vendor.

And suffice it to say, I was with the technician in the office until 10:30 p.m. that night.

We wiggled things, reset things, pinged this and tracert that. The firewall's failures were being compounded by some kind of Verizon network trouble further upstream. We reconfigured IP translation tunnels, and reconfigured them again. At one point, the tech went back to his office to get a spare hub to run as a temporary (if insecure) replacement, calling sleepy engineers at Verizon offices in California and Texas for help, only to find out that our wacky IP and DNS setup was simply incompatible with it.

Eventually we ended up swapping an Ethernet card out of an old PC carcass and messing with a few obscure settings, and that seemed to do the trick. I came home a very tired, grumpy, broken man. The next day I was with another technician until 7:30 p.m. taking care of other niggling problems.

Now the firewall only crashes every day or so, but it knows enough to reboot itself. At least the thing shuts down access completely when it burps, rather than throwing the gates wide open. Not bad for a setup pulled together six years ago from an old 486 and low-cost software that boots and runs from a single 3.5" floppy.

Not to say I haven't started working on a proposal to replace the thing with a $7,000 brand-name beauty that does everything plus VPNs to boot. A geek can dream, can't he?

Right now, though, this geek needs sleep.


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© 1997-2008 Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: [ PGP ] · Created: 13 November 1997 · Last Modified: 14 January 2008