Monthly Archives: November 2018

Last of the Gray & White

We never intended to have gray & white cats. Seriously. My spouse is fond of black cats, and I had no real preference. A few years ago, however, we found ourselves in possession of THREE identically decorated beasts.

Three? Yes, well, we never intended to have 3 cats, either. Before we embarked on parenthood, I offered my spouse a deal: we could have a child, or we could have a third cat. But not both.

Our daughter is now 16.

However, what I didn’t factor in my ultimatum were the child’s wishes. Funny how that happens. When Lilly-Karin was in elementary school, she decided that since Mom & Dad each had a cat, she needed one. After some discussion, I capitulated. However, I said we couldn’t get a gray and white one.

Our last two acquisitions (from two different shelters) were that color. Enough, I thought. What are the odds?

Well, Mr. Lukas came along. He was found by some construction workers and brought to the Oakland shelter. He was a mere wisp of a feline. A tiny ball of gray and white fur. Ha! We fell in love.

Little did we know, he was Maine Coon, or possibly a MC and Norwegian Forest Cat mix. In any event, he turned out to be HUGE. So we found ourselves with three.

It caused some confusion among the neighbors, who could never really tell just how many cats we add. There was always one prowling the street, or sunbathing in the yard, or running up to greet us.

Our middle cat, Ratrani, died in early 2017. Mr. Lukas passed away just after Christmas, leaving us with our matriarch, Elin.

Well, that wasn’t sufficient. So by and by we found ourselves with new kittens, Decaf (AKA the Panther) and Cheerios. Back to three. At least this time, we thought, they were distinctive.

Cheerios (front) and Decaf, the new kids

Elin never really connected with the kittens. They were too fast, too feral, and didn’t respect her rights to the couch (and laps) of the humans. Still, she kept her dignity and insisted on directing the house, especially around meal times.

This past Thursday, Elin ate breakfast, crawled under my desk, and refused to leave my side for several hours. Around noon, I found her in the kitchen, panting (never a good sign with cats). A quick trip to the ER confirmed that her heart was failing. She passed away soon thereafter, closing the door on our gray and white chapter.

I’m sure in some other realm Elin, Ratrani, and Mr. Lukas are sharing a couch, as long as the sun is warm and the humans are nearby.

3 gray cats
Elin (front), Mr. Lukas, and Ratrani (rear)

Back on the clock again

After more than 18 months of actively searching for a new gig, I finally gave notice at Kyocera. My last day was Thursday, October 18, 2018. So I managed three and a half years out in Concord. 

 I had given myself Friday to decompress before starting a new contract on Monday, October 22, at Kaiser Permanente. However, things didn’t work out that way. While there wasn’t any issue with my background check, or my drug screening, or my education reference, the IT group couldn’t commit to completing my account and hardware setup by that date. The slight irony here is that I took a role with Kaiser IT. But hey, everybody takes a number and waits their turn. Especially when you’re a contractor. So they told me to wait. Then they said Wednesday. Then they said I might as well take the weekend and we’ll start fresh on Monday. New week and all, etc. So I ended up with a sort of vacation. Got in some reading, did some house projects. Drafted a new flash piece. I also worried a bit. For reasons:

  • For the first time in four years, I was moving into a completely new role as a contractor, with few benefits and no guarantee of a paycheck. It also meant getting back into the strict 40-hour headspace and showing up at the office every day. All day. And no aloha shirts.I was returning to a company that had downsized me after a lot of turmoil in the department (4 bosses in 13 months) and a general realignment of finances, i.e., reduction of force. Would that count against me?
  • So what am I doing as a Technical Consultant in User Engagement and Enablement? Herding cats, basically. Updating the IT group’s WordPress sites, writing copy, tweaking workflows, doing meetings (lots of those), helping with strategy, advocating for users. You know, general web stuff. If all goes well, the contract will turn into a regular gig. In the meantime, I’m…

    • Figuring out the best configuration of limited parking optionsLooking to take the bus a few days/weekWorking from HOME on Fridays. Huzzah! Seriously, this group likes to be away. They gifted me with a dedicated remote access point so my laptop thinks it’s directly connected to mothership whenever I take it home.Extending my insurance with COBRA because it was actually cheaper than getting coverage from the contracting agency. Jeez.Making myself useful. I brought Finnish chocolate and Swedish tea this week.Dialing down the snark to appropriate levels

    It’s going to be interesting, that’s for sure. I have to work in locked-down corporate systems, and security has no sense of humor. Try forgetting your badge or modifying your config files and see what happens. Still, the money will pay the bills for now, my core projects have immediate and obvious goals, and my contributions are improving the bottom line for healthcare. Certainly beats documentation for printer drivers. Oh, and my customers and team members are based in the US. No more late night/early morning conferences with lousy connections to Germany and Japan. That’s an improvement.

    Does this mean I can’t decorate my cubicle with swords?