Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Reading Challenge

I recently became aware of an article published this year which issued a blanket challenge to book nerds: go an entire year without reading any books by white, heterosexual, cisgendered men. It was intended to be provocative, which of course means the interwebs went apeshit, so much so that the point of the article seems to have been lost amidst the controversies about reverse sexism, misandry, out-of-control political correctness, &c. &c.

It would be difficult for me to identify as more white, more straight, and more cis-male than I currently do, so if that combination of attributes is being examined, then I am a decent representative of the type. But I don't feel like I personally am under attack, or that this is all about setting up an enemy in order to concentrate on taking them down. When someone says "the literary canon is too white or too male" I don't ever feel the need to dig my heels in and shout back "what's wrong with white males? I happen to be one and I like myself just fine!" Mostly I find myself saying "yeah, it really is." The point is not that any one particular segment is bad in and of itself, the point is that any dominance of one segment to the detriment or exclusion of all others is very bad, and even dominance in terms of majority while still allowing a token under-represented class here and there is still pretty bad.

As an abstract idea, most people would probably agree that balance and moderation are key in various aspects of life. It's just that nobody likes being told what to do, and some people don't even like the hint of an intimation of a suggestion that there might be a better way to do things that what they're currently, possibly probably unthinkingly, doing. I understand that facet of human nature well enough, which is still well short of actually defending people who have tried to whip up the backlash and shout down Ms. Bradford with harassment, insults and threats. There's really no defense for that kind of thuggishness. It would be nice to live in a world where the very concept of thuggishness is a non sequitor in the context of a comments thread after an article about reading habits, but we have to live in the real world instead. People get defensive; idiotic, overly entitled and emotionally stunted people lash out. I will officially go on the record as saying they shouldn't, but beyond that, what should we do about it? Other than ignoring it and never, ever feeding the trolls, I really have no idea.

But narrowing the focus a bit to my reaction to the challenge, I think it's a good idea overall. Which means I'm going to keep it in mind, even though I'm not fully prepared to take it up.

I looked back over the books I've read just in 2015 so far, and here's the tallies:

8 books read
1 female author (Karen Maitland, Company of Liars)
0 POC authors
0(*) LGBT authors

OK, that is kind of embarrassing! Given that I like to think of myself as a proponent for equality, those numbers are abysmal. I can say with confidence that I don't actively turn my nose up at books by authors writing outside the white, hetero, male perspective. I guess I just don't pay enough attention to it, and that's enough for the insidious disproportionality in the publishing industry in general to take hold in my personal reading habits.

The truth is, I almost always read books based on what they're about, not who they're by (with exceptions for some of my favorite prolific authors). I might read a review that makes something sound great and/or right up my alley, or become intrigued by a publishers blurb after an algorithm recommends something, or just like the look of a book's cover or think the title has a nice ring to it. It's never going to be second nature to me to start with criteria for an author and then work my way through to the premise, especially when we're talking not about the author's expertise or literary reputation but their cultural/gender/sexual identity.

Plus, not trying to throw shade on Ms. Bradford, but I'm honestly curious how I'm supposed to know the sexuality of authors to begin with. I can tell because our society has designated "Karen" as a feminine name that Maitland is female. Also, her Wikipedia article uses the "she" pronoun, while also informing me that she is English, and thus I presume white (the article has no photo). It doesn't mention a husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, or any other clues as to her orientation. There are certainly gay themes in Company of Liars, but I don't know if the woman exploring those issues had a personal connection to them or not.

And this of course is where even well-meaning bleeding heart liberals can and do get all tangled up. We say it doesn't matter if someone is male or female, black or white, gay or straight, and that's fair enough. We can usually tell at a glance where someone falls in the first two splits, but not necessarily the third, and we also say it's really not anyone's business unless the person in question chooses to share. Hence the asterisk up by the zero for the number of LGBT authors I've read this year. There's a chance one or more of them is gay, though nothing obvious has stood out to me. Is that a good thing, or a bad thing, the fact that it hadn't even occurred to me to wonder? Am I super-progressive, because I'm not constantly searching for signs of otherness to be outraged about? Or am I naively sheltered in my straight white male privilege, assuming these things don't matter at all because they don't bother me?

It's exhausting sometimes just trying to be a decent person. I can kind of see why some people don't bother.


I could probably spend a whole year just working my way through Octavia Butler's bibliography, but that might be missing the point.

Again, I'm not disputing Ms. Bradford's main point. If anything, I'm underlining it. To really make sure that my reading list doesn't just lapse complacently into a big old pasty sausagefest, I'd have to be very selective, probably do some research and actively seek out intersections between my areas of interest and the de facto fringes. It would make sense to make a Year-Of project of it, to do the (admittedly, probably minimal) Google-fu required to track down a list of LGBT sci-fi authors or pop culture critics who also happen to be people of color, and go from there. I could do that. I should do that.

But it also feels like doctor's orders, and like I said at the outset, everybody has some aversion to that, myself included. I've been told by medical professionals that I should watch what I eat and exercise more for years (probably decades at this point) and ... I sort of do. Not as much as they meant when they said it, but more than nothing. I'll eat more green leafy vegetables. I'll work out when time permits. But I'm going to break down and gorge on candy (frequently) and give myself permission to sleep in rather than hit the gym. If something is better than nothing, then at least I'm doing something that nods toward self-improvement, even if I'm not perfect.

Straight white dudes like Neil Gaiman and Patton Oswalt have new books out that I really want to read, and Stephen King has one coming this summer as well. I could put them all off for a year, but that feels like starving myself now while planning on binging later. Long-term balance and moderation are key, right? A change for the better is preferable to a stunt.

What feels like an achievable goal at this point is for me to at least be more mindful of who I'm reading. I know I have a few more female and POC authors sitting in my to-read piles at home, and I can certainly bump them up in the priority order. I can make an honest try at improving the numbers I cited above over the next year or so. Or at an absolute minimum I can make sure that every time I talk about a book I've read I mention whether or not there's anything remotely outsider about the author, which keeps me honest and might shame me into switching things up more frequently than if I just elided right over that.

So, it's not so much an all-consuming Big Project announcement, but it's a bit of an introduction to an idea which I may very well revisit again and again. Stay tuned for more.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Self-Portraiture

The re-told fairy tale anthology to which I contributed a story is still available! And in point of fact the publisher is currently in the midst of a big month-long publicity push, including sending out excerpts of various tales to appear on blogs hither and yon, and also interviewing some of the authors to provide a little more context and background for their work. My interview went up on the publisher's website recently, and you can check it out here if you're so inclined.

That link actually goes to the main landing page for the publisher's blog, where you can see links to all four of the author interviews that have come out (so far). I did it that way because I wanted to give everyone an opportunity to play One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others. An alternate title for the game might be Can You Tell I'm Still New At This? Basically what we see here (for any of you who simply refuse to follow said link) are four author headshots, three of which actually look something like professional headshots you might see on the back inner flap of a dust jacket. They are black and white. They depict the author with a serious facial expression, possibly not even looking directly at the camera. And then there's the fourth one, a color snapshot of a guy with a goofball grin. (Obviously I look that way because in the original photo I am sitting next to my beautiful wife, who was cropped out for the promo version.) Please believe me that if it seems like I am poking fun, it is entirely at my own expense. The other authors' photos look like I would expect any author's photos to look. I'm clearly the amateur who's just happy to be here.

I have been thinking lately that I seriously do need to get some headshots taken, nothing elaborate or extremely high-end, but something usable not only for my hobbyist writing endeavors, which covers interview situations like this and also my GoodReads author page and suchlike, but also for my job search, since apparently all my profiles from LinkedIn to ClearanceJobs are designed to accommodate a personal photo, which may or may not have an impact on recruiters scrolling through the listings. Couldn't hurt, certainly.

Also, while I'm on the subject of my own interview, having gone back and re-read it myself I do find it slightly hilarious. I confess that I am enough of an egomaniac that I enjoy being interviewed when the subject is myself. You might wonder if my tendency to overthink things sends me into overanalysis-paralysis at the prospect of definitively stating what my favorite book is or anything like that, but the truth is I approach each interview as a chance to answer questions based on what kind of mood I'm in, assuming I can always change my answers to any degree I see fit if I ever get interviewed again in the future. I also may very well tailor my answers in a particular interview toward portraying myself in a certain light, and I think that's abundantly in evidence in the example at hand. I tell a story about writing cute animal adventures as a kid, I name check Star Wars and reference comic books, and I claim a couple of books as favorites which are out-and-out comedies; the books in question are, in point of fact, certainly among my unranked top 10 or so faves, but the fact that I held up those two is pretty telling. Clearly it was very important to me as I was answering the questions to come across as very light-hearted and likable, just a fun-loving geek with a good sense of humor (which really does go along well with the cheesy photo of me, at that). And the reason why I leaned so hard on that sentiment is probably to offset whatever impression of me the story I wrote for the anthology might otherwise conjure up. It's a dark and twisted little tale, which I knew when the idea for it came to me and I knew once I had finished writing it. If I needed any further confirmation, when I shared the story with my wife for the first time and she had read it through, she pronounced it "creepy as f&@%". And I knew she wasn't wrong! Anybody who reads this blog regularly knows I'm a horror fan, I like plenty of weird stuff, and I'm reasonably at peace with my dark side. But it's also, apparently, very important to me that people know there's more to me than that, and in the interest of making that known, I may have overcompensated a bit. It certainly wouldn't be the first time.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Wuuuuuurk

Did not get the job I interviewed for last week. Meh. It was not a dream job by any stretch, it was just the first place to reach out and contact me and bring me in for an interview since I started this most recent round of possible employer-hopping. Admittedly, it would be pretty hard for anything to compare with last year's whole whoop-de-doo where I thought I had an inside track because a friend of mine was personally referring me, and the perks of the potential new gig sounded amazing, and I came in for multiple interviews which I thought all went very well, and then just ended up with a "we're looking for someone with a bit more experience" rejection. Since my level of experience was apparent from my resume, and not contradicted by anything I said in my interviews, I didn't believe that for a second, and instead nursed a certain conviction that they needed to fill a quota of interviewing at least X number of people, which I counted towards even though I was never in serious contention. I actually got a similar vibe this time around, but at least it was quicker and less painful.

One of the weird things that came up during last week's interview was the fact that the new company is actively partnered with my current employer. And the manager doing the hiring was very up front about not wanting to poach people, which I found perfectly understandable. The hiring manager further assured me that this was not a deal breaker and not even necessarily a problem, because if they wanted to hire me they could either work out some aboveboard understanding with my current employer or possibly even simply have me reassigned from my current contract to the partnership contract while remaining an on my employer's payroll, which honestly sounded appealing to me since I would have the same benefits, the same salary, the same cumulative years of service, but I would also have the opportunity to do more on a daily basis, pick up some new skills, take a half-step towards a bigger career change down the line, &c. But, again, it didn't work out. I don't know if the whole no-poaching thing, big deal or not, wound up being more trouble than it was worth, or what. But I'm back to square one on the job hunt.

I just wrote a whole long paragraph about where things stand now regarding my current contract, and then I realized I already did that a week ago and so I deleted the redundant return to the same territory. Nothing has changed since that last post, no updates, no movement, just a slow and steady approach to the point of no return where all of us contractors (I think there are something like 40 of us on this contract?) will find we can't get into the building unescorted and can't log on to the network at all because all of our dingle-dongles have expired with no work authorization to replace them. As I've said, that actually coming to pass seems unlikely. But if it does, I'm not even sure what would happen logistically. Would we all come into the office and get visitor badges and sit at our desks doing longhand paperwork and/or nothing? Or would we be told to stay home until the contract issues were sorted out and we could be re-credentialed? The options are limited, and none of them seem right. Of course, it makes very little difference to me. Show-up/Do-nothing is kind of my default mode here most days anyway, and I'd be perfectly happy to stay home if that was the official directive, as long as I got paid.

I do hope the contract gets renewed, which will not signal the end of my job hunt but rather provide a bit of comfortable time-and-money cushion, allowing me to continue looking around for something better and to hold out for something quite significantly better, while still keeping a roof over my head and not suffering through any other major disruptions. I admit that at times I have run the scenario in my mind where the contract falls through and my employer lets me go with some amount of severance, at which point I could look for a job full time, with more urgent motivation, and go on interviews without burning through vacation days, and so on. It has a certain appeal, much like wishing idly for some minor health crisis requiring hospitalization has a certain appeal in terms of mandatory bedrest and whatnot. It's irresponsible and selfish and arguably outright stupid, but I'm only human.

In more positive work-related news, my wife has recently accepted a new job offer which she will begin some time in the middle of April, and she tendered her official resignation at her current place of employment. The new gig will have her working more and longer hours every week, but it also pays significantly better, and it gets her out of the crazy stress-minefield her present position has evolved into, so all in all it's a big net plus. I will update as warranted as the spring rolls along, but at the moment I'm happy for her and proud of her and thought that was a pretty good note to end on after all of the negativity up above. There's always something to be thankful for.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Been a while since our youngest was this old

Looking at the trusty calendar, I note that we are a mere two weeks and six days from the bino’s second birthday. Two years old! At that age he will barely even qualify as a baby-in-name-only anymore. He’s basically talking now, or at least stringing together multiple words in meaningful ways, interspersed with some gestures and grunts, sure, but the balance tips further and further towards the intelligibly verbal every day. He desperately wants to be one of the big kids like his brother and sister and follows them everywhere and mimics their actions, from jumping on (or swan-diving off) the couch to helping himself to anything he wants even if its up on a high counter. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned that my wife and I sometimes refer to him as “ the golden gorilla”, but man, that kid has some long arms.

(Speaking of random names and inside jokes, another new development is my wife and I referring to the kids as “Pazuzu” or “Manny” based on our recently inculcated fandom of the show Constantine. If anyone were to ask us to clarify, we could truthfully explain that Pazuzu is a devil and Manny is an angel, at which point a question like “So were the kids Pazuzu or Manny today?” makes perfect sense. But of course if you really do watch Constantine you realize that in the context of the show Pazuzu is a malevolent archfiend of Hell and Manny is not evil but is still kind of a jerk.

I’d feel worse if I weren’t fairly sure that the jerk-to-demonic-tormentor spectrum is one most parents are familiar with.)

Right, so, the bino is almost two. On the day he was born, the little girl was three weeks and four days shy of her own second birthday, which means by the time she was twenty days away from two, she wasn’t our youngest anymore. The little guy was still an oldest-youngest-only when he turned two (and in fact for another seven months plus a week or so after that) but still, that was way back in 2010(!?!?!) and even then, we knew by then that his sister would be born the following spring, even if we hadn’t told the world yet. So the whole “our youngest is two” thing is so old it’s new again, and “our youngest is two and we’re absolutely positively never having any more” is completely uncharted territory.

Which is not to say that arriving there is an unwelcome development. I’d like to think that we are actively, intentionally working on raising our children to be self-sufficient, independent, fully realized and all that yadda yadda, basically the opposite of infantilizing them and loudly proclaiming the heartbreak of seeing them grow up. I want them to fledge! Babies are wonderful, but at the same time, they are hard, and I am not going to resist the flow of time when it takes me from “hard” to “maybe a little less crushingly exhausting”. I know it’s not like flipping a switch, where we’ll wake up one day and all three kids will be motivated little go-getters who can take care of themselves and are happy to go out into the world and reflect glories back upon their mother and father. But I’ll take what breaks I can get.

Right now I’m most excited about flipping around the bino’s carseat once he turns two and no longer has to be a backwards-facing rider. In his mother’s car, he has the middle bench all to himself and his brother and sister sit behind him, but in my car it’s three across the back seat of the sedan. So in addition to being all folded up and cramped, it’s entirely too easy (and apparently too tempting) for him to just boot his sister in the head as she sits beside him. He’s got his brother on the other side, too, and I really don’t know why his sister takes the brunt of the savage gorilla-kicking, other than maybe the bino is right-handed and thus right-footed. Whatever the reasons, in a mere matter of weeks the point will be moot, and the rides home from daycare should be a little more peaceful.

And then we can start the countdown to the inevitable purchase of a family minivan.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Not much to report either way

So, on the one hand, I got an e-mail this morning from my contracting manager, with a subject line of "Contract Status". You might think this would be cause for either panic or celebration, but the gist of the e-mail was in fact admitting that the status of our contract remains unknown. It also acknowledged that this is because the government is behind schedule on making a final decision, and there wasn't much to be done about that except for my manager to continue pestering the government supervisor, who in turn can't do much except pester her own bosses and various other decision-makers above her in the hierarchy until something shakes loose. My manager did go out on a limb and say that he's "positive" in an unofficial, opinion-based way, based on certain "indicators" he is privy to. He also said that numerous people on our team had been hitting him up for more info, and reiterated that (1) as soon as there is anything to know, he will be in the loop and (2) he will also keep all of us in the loop. One of the things I do genuinely like about my contracting boss is that he doesn't play games or make anyone guess what he's thinking, and in fact the aforementioned reiteration is the closest anyone would ever have to come to needing to read between the lines with him. (The reading, for the slow kids in the back, is "Shut up and stop asking me, I'm not sitting on new info just for funsies.")

I feel like I've blogged about this before, but I think I actually haven't; I've just been talking about it with my wife and corresponding with a couple of other curious parties who've asked. Basically, the bridge contract is over in a little more than four weeks, which means there is not really enough time to do a proper hand-off transition if we lost the contract and some other team was coming in. Pretty soon we're going to be inside the window of time where we get auto-notified about our badges and other credentials expiring, because those are tied to the bridge contract, although there's nothing we can do about that until we have a new contract officially in place. No doubt what is going to happen is that the new contract will be finalized in a couple of weeks, and the onus will be on my team to do a mad scramble of completing and filing new paperwork and making appointments at the building pass office and whatnot. So it goes.

Meanwhile, on the other hand, my botched-up interview from this past Friday has been rescheduled for early tomorrow morning. I don't exactly have the warm fuzzies about this lead, but I'm going to see it through, if only because I can always use some practice sharpening my self-selling skills. If it turns out to be a really great opportunity and they make me a hard-to-resist offer, obviously that would be fantastic. But I'm not pinning my hopes on that unlikely scenario. Right now I'm just trying to figure out if I can get through the interview, get back to my regular gig before too much of the morning has elapsed and without drawing too much attention to myself from my co-workers, and then either stay late or otherwise make up the time throughout this pay period so I don't go any deeper in the PTO hole. I think I can, but as always if things go astoundingly pear-shaped I will be sure to file my post-fact escapades here.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Saturday Grab Bag: The Dog's Brunch!

I left the office yesterday at noon, as planned, and walked down to the Metro (pausing halfway at a restroom to tie on a tie, fold my sweater into my bag, &c.) and caught a train into D.C. I walked from the L'Enfant Plaza station to the L'Enfant Plaza ... plaza, I guess, which is a fairly convulted labyrinth of an office park. Made one stop at the wrong building but they directed me to the right one, and I got all the way to the proper floor for the company where I was interviewing, with five whole minutes to spare.

There was no obviously marked, receptionist-manned entrance for visitors once I stepped off the elevators, just some blank doors with cardkey locks. I had been given the phone number of the person I was to interview with, and I called to let him know I had arrived. I got his voicemail. I left a message and cooled my heels in the elevator lobby for a bit. After a few minutes with no change in the situation, I started looking at the doors more closely. One of them at least had a doorbell, and when I looked through that window I saw the name of the company I was looking for. So I rang.

Someone answered the door, I explained who I was, and they let me in and asked me to wait while they tracked down my interviewer. But for several minutes they couldn't find him. Finally, the HR person I had mainly been corresponding with called me, and she explained that my interviewer had left suddenly due to a family emergency. And there was no backup plan other than to reschedule. So, I left (though I did try to tell someone as I was leaving that they could call off the search).

Emergencies happen (they've certainly imposed on my work schedule more than once) so I'm not bitter or anything, but it was kind of amazing how, after I had posted yesterday about what a crazy week it had been, there proceeded to be one more bonkers twist for Friday afternoon.

+++

Or two twists! I killed some time until my usual homeward-bound train was due at the station. Then I rode back to the local stop, got in my car, and was finally able to plug in my cell phone, which had of course died while I was idly out and about for half the day. At that point I got a text my wife had sent earlier, alerting me to the fact that on Thursday (the day the little guy was supposed to start and finish at daycare with school in the middle, but instead went daycare-school-neighbor's) the little guy had left some things in his daycare cubby, things like snow boots that he would probably need this weekend (and, in fact, it is snowing right now as I type this). So I altered course from the train parking garage and drove over to daycare.

(Incidentally, along the way I arrived at a traffic light intersection where I had to make a left, and I was the first car in the left turn lane, which has its own arrow signal. I was also facing more or less due west, and the setting winter sun was directly above the signal. It was impossible to see whether the arrow was red or green (I knew it had been red as I approached) because looking at the signal meant looking directly into the blinding sun. OH MAN DO I HATE THE SETTING WINTER SUN!)

I got to daycare and the teachers were slightly freaked out to see me since they weren't aware of any of my kids being there, but I set them at ease and said I was just picking up some of my son's stuff. Only to find his cubby completely empty. Had someone moved his things? Had another child mistakenly taken them? Had he actually taken everything to his elementary school, and left it there? I eliminated as many possibilities as I could, got assurances from the director that they would keep an eye out for things, and finally headed home.

The little guy didn't remember bringing his snow boots to school, but then again his memory is even spottier than mine. My wife double-checked her car, and sure enough, there was the pile of missing things. I'm not telling this story to shame her, because as I told her at the time I completely understand how she could lose track of where everything wound up over the course of the last few days' insanity. It was just that kind of week.

Friday, February 20, 2015

At least there were no earthquakes

Ours is a family that thrives on routines and rituals, as this blog has demonstrated time and time again. This past week, though, was a dog’s breakfast.

Monday: the federal government was closed due to the Presidents’ Day Holiday. Said holiday is not one which my employer recognizes with automatic paid leave. In the past, many of my co-workers and I would therefore suck it up and work on Presidents’ Day, in the absence of our government colleagues. But last year the rules changed and we lowly contractor scum are no longer allowed to be in the office unless there is at least one government rep present. (Obviously no government employees are going to come in on a holiday.) I was forced to burn 8 hours of my annual leave time, but the upside was, hey, I got to stay home. The little guy, on the other hand, had to go to school, but only for a half day, as parent-teacher conferences were scheduled for the afternoons and evenings Monday and Tuesday.

And then, late in the day, it snowed.

Tuesday: everybody was home, because the schools and the federal government were closed due to inclement weather. Fortunately, when those kind of things happen I don’t have to use my annual leave, I get paid as if it were a normal day and I went to work, based on some business logic about how it’s not our fault if the weather causes regional closures and we’re not expected to be able to plan for such things.

Also, it was one my wife’s usual days off, and not that we needed it that day but even the daycare was closed, sadly due to some burst water pipes and the need for some emergency remediation.

The only slight downside was that I had scheduled an interview for a potential new job. The last time I went down this road I had two long phone interviews and two multi-headed in-person interviews, and that all came to naught, so at this point, having merely been through a single quick pre-screen on the phone, my expectations are still tempered. At any rate, the interview was supposed to be Tuesday afternoon, late enough in the day that I could slip out of work only slightly early, hopefully with no one even noticing I was gone. But the snow cancelled that plan.

Wednesday: Back to work for me, and back to work for my wife, but the public schools were still closed. Luckily, the daycare re-opened, and they were able to take the little guy for a full day along with the little ones. The industrial dryers were still running in one hallway, where the floor moulding was yet to be replaced, but overall they seemed to have done a good job setting things right after the plumbing mishaps.

My wife ended up working later than usual, but made it home eventually. (And we started watching Game of Thrones Season 4, woohoo!)

Thursday: The schools re-opened and we had just about the closest thing to a normal day, with the morning routine going more or less the way it’s supposed to, though the little guy had a little trouble getting himself in gear. In the afternoon, though, the little guy got on the wrong bus; the big yellow school bus took him to our neighborhood, despite the fact that he should have gotten on the white van to take him to daycare where I would pick him up after work. At the risk of wearing out the notion of “fortunately” in this post, we were gratified to learn that the parents of the little guy’s friend who lives two doors down noticed that neither my wife nor I were there to pick up the little guy, and they shuttled the little guy to their house and let the boys play together until I was able to commute home, pick up the little ones, and then get back to our street. No harm, no foul, just some unpleasant stress and worry for a little while there.

Friday: Today is the day that my interview was ultimately rescheduled for. But now instead of 4 pm it’s at 1 pm, which means I have to leave the office around noon and can’t really get away with just ghosting out. Also, I am of course going to show up for my interview in a suit, but it’s casual Friday here at my current gig. A complete change of outfit would be impractical, so I am wearing somewhat dressy trousers and a sweater over my shirt. A tie is hidden in my work bag and the suit jacket is under my overcoat in the micro-closet of my cubicle. I should be able to leave, stop at a restroom between my office building and the Metro, swap the sweater for the tie, and make it into D.C. by the appointed time. Exciting cloak-and-dagger stuff, I know.

Oh, and the schools are closed again today, based solely on the alarmingly low levels of molecular motion in the atmosphere. It’s also another of my wife’s days off, so everyone in my nuclear fam is keeping warm at home. I’m hoping to be back with them at my regularly scheduled home arrival time, but there were delays on the VRE this morning (signal problems, with no indication if that meant “weather-related” or not) and who knows what the evening will bring.

Other stuff happened this week, too, but in the interest of getting some things done before I have to leave, and saving some things to post about next week (so that the blog doesn’t lapse into a weeks-long torpor again) I will sign off for now.