Print Story "I never understood my dad until I met you."
By ObviousTroll (Wed Sep 04, 2019 at 09:51:27 PM EST) (all tags)
So, yeah, the first thing you should know is that I’m writing this to avoid what I’m supposed to be writing – but I’m also trying to use this diary in an attempt to sneak up on what I’m actually supposed to be writing. I have no idea if it will work or not...

The thing is, if you haven’t figured it out, I’m in a twelve-step program. Sadly, it’s not for one of the cool addictions. (Who was that Scottish comic who said that alcoholics were rehab royalty?) No, it’s for food, which generally leaves me feeling embarrassed at having such a lame problem. (I mean, I know I have a problem. Remind me to tell you my Basic Training story sometime.)
Anyway, I was keeping it under control (for very loose definitions of “control”) for more than 20 years but about a year into the whole drama with the Little Lost Lamb I had managed to gain 70 pounds while riding a bike almost 4,000 miles, which I think most people will admit requires an impressive dedication to food, and a therapist of my acquaintance suggested it time to ask for some help.
But… even though I now weigh less than I did when I was a senior in college and I have an impressive set of books and pamphlets about coping skills based on serenity and acceptance, I can still build up a massive amount of resistance and whiny self-indulgence, even in the face of simple things like just spending 10-15 minutes meditating in the morning, let alone actually working on a list of all the reasons I have to feel ashamed of myself – most of which I have successfully kept secret even from myself. (or, possibly, only from myself…)
Nonetheless, I have been assured I must do it and the fact that even though I just finished dinner I badly want to go grab the box of crackers that SWHTL is hiding from me, some butter, and the jar of strawberry jelly Lamb just canned yesterday and eat it all kind of tells me that, yeah, I need to be in this program. (Did I mention the fudge? Lamb brought a couple of pounds of it back from a trip to see her SO. I told her to put it in the freezer so I wouldn’t eat it, but she went and hid a chunk of it in the fridge under the swiss cheese which, really, is practically not hiding it at all…)
It’s been a long, strange summer. I finally got to go on the sabbatical – an 8 week vacation prophesied in break room rumors and the employee handbook. I had spent 2 years worrying about this vacation, terrified that if SWHTL and I spent that much time together post-Little Lost Lamb we would tear each other apart or, maybe, just discover that without Troll Jr. and Lamb to focus us we didn’t have anything to say to each other any more.
But we made it. More than that, I think we had a pretty good time. (It can be hard for me to tell if I’m having a good time. I’m much better at detecting various shades of “bad time”. When all my bad time detectors go silent, it’s confusing.)
Anyway, after 2 years of SWHTL and I trying to figure out something we would both enjoy we settled on hiking. We spent the spring getting ready, hiking around Valley Forge and other trails in our area and when the time came we were on point. We went to Harper’s Ferry and hiked all around that. We went to North Carolina and hiked the Pisgah forest with some guides who showed us some amazing views. We went to Tennessee and did the same, then back to North Carolina to spend a week camping with my brother Chilly and hiking pieces of the Appalachian Trail. When I wore SWHTL and Chilly out I went and spent a day hiking by myself. When we got back from that, SWHTL went to the beach with Lamb to recover and I went and did a solo bike camping trip, then we went up into the Poconos and we hiked Hawk Mountain, rode down the Jim Thorpe trail, which was amazing, and then I went and did it again, by myself, the next day, getting completely blasted by a downpour halfway into it. I had to replace the disc brake rotors on my gravel bike from the wear and tear of all the cinder riding, and the bike is in the shop again, needing a new headset after getting all that grit shoved up its hoo-hah and what not.
(I love that bike. It replaced my old commuter bike just in time for PennDOT and $MEGACORP to decide that I could never bike commute again, but it’s seen me through some amazing trips.)
(Oh, and in the middle of all this I lost another tooth to another infection, the upshot of which multiple doctors agree that I was always right – my freaking teeth grew their roots all the way up into my sinus cavities – but no one has any idea if there’s anything that can be done to keep the last few molars from rotting out the way the others have. Also, during that second Jim Thorpe ride I took a slug of gatorade from a water bottle and some of it came out my nose. That did not feel good.)
Anyway, we finished all that up, came home and I think we both felt rested, ready, with new outlooks on our lives and ready to get back to it. SWHTL started a new job with one of those gig economy places where you ask someone to go get your groceries and deliver them to their house – which she seems to really enjoy – and I went back to an office that had over 100 people when I left and now has 16.
Yeah… you can read about that in the press if you know where to look. (That, also, did not feel good.) Let’s just say supercomputing hasn’t evolved the way $MEGACORP had hoped. All the while we were away I was getting emails from the office manager trying to keep me up to date on job placement opportunities – I wasn’t allowed to tell her I already knew I was safe – and by a succession of departure letters.
So, yeah. In 2018 I was the tech lead for a team of 10 or so coders all focused on one particularly cool niche of our next-generation work. Now I’m nominally the tech lead for 3 of us who are trying to triage everything related to the Linux side of things while we figure out how the CI test harness works.
Today our boss asked us how we were feeling about things. I told him that was a question best asked in a conference room with the door closed, rather than over Skype.

(Also, the Little Lost Lamb stopped contacting me this summer, with a polite "I'm really busy right now" message that told me she's given up trying to connect with us. That did not feel good, either. Actually, that breaks my heart, but I'm not the one who can fix it. I don't think anyone can.)
Another thing that’s gone on is that I’ve worn out all my riding buddies (and I don’t make friends so don’t go telling me to sign up for some meet up or whatever) and that fact gets me closer to the actual story I want to write about while avoiding what I don’t want to write about.
The only riding buddy I have left is a very different person from me. He’s cheerful and charming. He’s never been a real jock but he was always athletic, playing racquetball, running, and so on. When he was in college he was popular and usually had his pick of the women at any party. People were naturally attracted to him.
Which made the fact that he apparently really liked me just… weird. In some ways I was his project. He would fix me up with blind dates and he measured my progress at how long the girl stuck it out before finding an excuse to end the evening.
After graduation we drifted apart, SWHTL and I to D.C., he and his wife to careers of their own. (Did I mention his wife was both insanely hot and a chemical engineer? People can talk about how smart quantum physicists are but, baby, I’ll put my money on a chemical engineer every time.) When SWHTL and I moved back up into the area he made a point of inviting us over a few times a year and, when all our kids were young, we’d have play dates and so on, and I told the kids to call him Uncle and so on, but… I’m really not a people person. If he didn’t reach out, it just didn’t occur to me to do the same. He wasn't impressed when I first got into cycling - he thought I should just go running - but that changed the day I rode the 70 or so miles from my house to his, crossing two cities and the Delaware River, and falling into his pool at the end.
He dug out an old crap bike and I got out my heavy commuter and I showed him some of the trails I rode – and he kept challenging me to give him more so, I thought, WTF, and I signed us up for a local group ride through some of the hilliest parts of Pennsylvania, a route that I practiced solo for a solid year before I rode with the group so I wouldn’t embarrass myself. I mean, he’s always been more fit than me, right? He made it – but his wife was still pissed at me 3 months later because she said he strained his knee and it still hadn’t recovered. (He never mentioned the knee to me. Later he and I did his first century ride together, another big charity ride, and when he realized we were the very last two people out of 10,000 riders he jacked up his speed because he didn’t want his wife to see him ride across the finish line with the ride’s ambulance following him.)
But that was last year and, this year, he hasn't really been showing up to ride. I went down his way to do a ride with him and he'd lost some ground, struggling to finish the ride while I actually accidentally rode right past the finish and went on for a while before I figured it out and came back. Honestly, I figure that after this year I'm going to be riding solo again.

Anyway, last week, the 4 of us, plus their children, were all guests at the wedding of the daughter of two other college friends. During the reception, his daughter said to me, “I never understood my dad until I met you.”
And now, here I am, I’ve written all this crap, and I still don’t have the slightest idea what she meant, except it feels kind of like the hole where my tooth used to be. It doesn't hurt, there's just a space where there's supposed to be something - an idea, a meaning, some artificial enamel and ceramic wrapped around a titanium post... but instead there's just a gap for my brain and my tongue to obsess with.

But, hey, I managed to put off working on that list for another evening, so I've got that going for me.

< Insert disappointed dog .gif here | Richard Stallman puts his foot in his mouth >
"I never understood my dad until I met you." | 5 comments (5 topical, 0 hidden)
The incredibly shrinking project by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #1 Thu Sep 05, 2019 at 07:38:16 AM EST
back in the days, my project had hundreds of people on it in the US, counting all testers and such.

Next year, where will be four in the US. I could be one of them, unless something "better" turns up.

Twenty_three_year_old will probably be living with us for the foreseeable future, but Mrs. Ha and I get time alone.

I went to summer camp in North Carolina by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #2 Thu Sep 05, 2019 at 11:57:42 AM EST
We did a lot of hiking in Pisgah. Shining Rock was a cool place.

Been riding a lot, on track for 5000 miles this year, and slowly losing weight. Doing another staycation this week so I’ve put on a pound or so, but still hope to get below 185 by the end of the month. That was the goal for the year, now I might try for 180. I was 165 when I got out of the Army. OTOH, I was 250 eleven years ago.

So you were one of those weirdos who put on weight in Basic?

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

No, I was always on the verge of washing out by ObviousTroll (2.00 / 0) #3 Thu Sep 05, 2019 at 01:08:35 PM EST
 For weight; but I toned up so much they had to re-issue my uniforms. At the same time I was apparently famous across the camp for how much I ate every day at breakfast.

An Angry and Flatulent Pig, Trying to Tie Balloon Animals
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yeah by dev trash (4.00 / 1) #4 Sat Sep 07, 2019 at 10:00:03 PM EST
I track my calories and I'm usually good at being under 5 days a week and then the weekend comes and bleh.

Ya think gatorade is bad in the nose, try root beer.

I'm one of those odd people in that I still have all my wisdom teeth, yet have lost other teeth to cavities.  Dentists keep telling me that they're hard to clean get them out but....meh

You should go back to Jim Thorpe they opened up the Mansion Hill connector bridge.


Thanks for the tip. by ObviousTroll (2.00 / 0) #5 Sun Sep 08, 2019 at 10:29:35 AM EST
I’m keeping riding from Phoenixville to Jim Thorpe on my bucket list. I think I’ll aim for next summer. 

An Angry and Flatulent Pig, Trying to Tie Balloon Animals
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"I never understood my dad until I met you." | 5 comments (5 topical, 0 hidden)