Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sunday Morning Singalong: Installment II

There was much rejoicing on the fifth of this month, for my children took possession of a newly released CD/DVD combo by They Might Be Giants -- Here Come the 1 2 3s. .

As the title suggests, the CD is loaded with songs that talk about different numbers. These guys retain their quirkly lyrical style and survey a wide variety of musical styles, making this quite palatable for the parent as well as the child.

I'm partial to "Seven" and "Pirate Girls Nine", but the best one by far is "Seven Days of the Week (I Never Go to Work)". I can't help but watch this and think they were crafting a tribute to Monty Python.

When I watch this, I'm reminded of the "Philosopher's Song" and the "Lumberjack Song".

And now for something completely different -- the omnibus report on the various dimensions of my existence for the past three weeks...


Work continues to keep me very busy. Perhaps the biggest news item is that my boss and I have started work on a major project slated to go live in about a month. It's all new architecture and new code.

We spent two days off site at the beginning of February, one day at his house and another at a coffee shop near his house, doing research on the ways that other consumer blogging services do things and trying to learn from the successes and mistakes.

One byproduct of this effort is that I've come to learn this blog's hosting service's template language in a greater depth than I had ever imagined. I've also been immersed in learning XSLT and XPath.

My boss was out of town the better part of the first full week of February on business, so I was delegated the role of giving the departmental briefing at the monthly meeting on Feb. 8. I prepared some PowerPoint slides and ran them by my boss for accuracy and completeness. He signed off on most of them, and the presentation went pretty well. He said that the one of the co-founders had good things to say about it.

The company continues to grow in size. Since I started at the end of December, they have taken on five new employees, and within our department, we will see two new people start. One will be in a week, and then another in the week to follow. The word is that the technical guys will be moving from our current space to some new rooms that we're taking over.

My work blog is now up to 16 posts, and two posts pending approval. Loyal and trusted readers who are interested in getting the URL or the RSS feed are welcome to e-mail me using the address in this blog's sidebar.

I've been riding the bus faithfully. The only work days that I have driven were those where I met my boss off site. I did scope out possible bus routes, but it would have taken me over an hour and a half one way to get there. By my estimates, I've managed to reduce my gasoline consumption by 50 gallons.


I am now sleeping on the bed that I acquired in late October of last year. Last weekend, one of my wife's old friends from the Land of Lincoln came over to visit. To prepare for the stay, she cleaned up our younger daughter's old room and had the mattress moved into there.

The enlarged paychecks have been used to get bills caught up and balances paid down. Before the end of May, we should have one debt retired that was costing us a couple hundred bucks a month.

My younger daughter turned three on Groundhog Day. She's in full throttle princess mode, so she's been playing a lot of dress-up involving tiaras, dresses and heels.

My wife has been mum on the idea to move to the neighboring township. I think a big chunk of that has been because she's been dealing with drama at the preschool co-operative.

She serves as president on the co-op's board, and she reports to the co-op's director. In the past, the director served at least two years as president of the co-op, and she has a history of being a bad delegator. Even when she delegates things, she will change her mind and do things herself, which irks those who get assigned tasks. My wife's preschool mom friend serves in two roles. She is one of the co-op's two teachers, and she also is the co-op treasurer.

Now for the drama...

There is another mother in the co-op who has become increasingly vocal about the finances of the co-op. Earlier in the school year, she raised concerns that the co-op doesn't have enough money in savings. About a month ago, she started asking for information on the school's budget. The preschool mom friend had to deal with most of the grunt work. My wife had to deal with the other mother's complaining. It seemed like every time the board produced the requested information, the mother would ask for more detailed information. It got to the point where she was wanting to see bank statement information to see where money was being spent.

As my wife was venting about this to me, I said that they should have never let it escalate to this level. The board should have been more assertive about what kinds of information would be provided, setting appropriate boundaries. Transparency didn't mean that they had to give up every bank statement. I said it sounded as if the parent was taking an adversarial stance, as if she was some self-proclaimed auditor.

I suppose that things would have died down eventually, but something happened to complicate the matter. About two weeks ago, the auditing mom notified my wife and her daughter's teacher that her daughter had head lice. This was the second time this year her child had been diagnosed, and the third instance of head lice this school year, which was some sort of record because these things were pretty rare.

The co-op has a policy it follows with regards to infestation, based on state law and guidance from the CDC and the county board of health. Confidentiality is guarded. Only the affected student's teacher and the president know the identity of the child. The teacher was not preschool mom friend, but that didn't stop preschool mom friend from badgering my wife for the identity. My wife was strong, and refused to disclose the information.

A few days later, the affected child's mother contacted the board about her child and did it in a way that resulted in revealing her identity to the rest of the board. Preschool mom friend was livid, most likely because the two already had an adversarial relationship prior. She complained that the other teacher did not do a good enough job of cleaning the classroom after the outbreak and that they needed to do a top-to-bottom cleanup of the classroom facilities.

My wife countered with the guidelines from the CDC and the board of health, saying that many of the measures that preschool mom was demanding were unreasonable, excessive, and based on misinformation. The preschool mom friend kept her own kids from school for a few days in protest, and one of the other moms, who had recently been on the receiving end of one of those director delegation switches, joined in on protest, too.

I'm not exactly sure how things got resolved, but last week it was stressing out my wife badly enough that she complained about lower gastrointestinal distress.

Last weekend, my wife had us go with her to a kindergarten open house for our older daughter. The kindergarten is operated by a pre-school co-operative, and I think I would have been more supportive towards my wife's desires had it not been for the fact that the co-op is located on the northeast side of town, a 19.3 mile drive.

I thought to myself, "Who in the hell sends their kids to a preschool that many miles away?" I had just switched jobs and gained a major break on fuel consumption, and now she was pushing for daily minivan trips for her totalling 75 - 80 miles per day.

Later, she admitted that she was hoping some of the other moms on the south side would sign up for it, too, so that they could carpool. I don't think that's going to happen, so I think we've managed to dodge that bullet.

I celebrated my 39th birthday quietly, trying not to dwell too much on it. On Thursday, my wife had the kids help her decorate a small heart shaped cake with chocolate frosting and candy hearts. I got some new jeans and new wallet, both of which I needed badly. My mom met me downtown for lunch on Friday afternoon.

I really could use another massage, and I think I'm going to try to get one set up for next weekend when the kids are out of town at their grandparents.
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