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June 1, 1999
a year ago

Adrenaline Rush

Around 3 in the morning, both John and I were suddenly and terrifingly woken by the sound of three crashing *bangs* that rattled us awake. The initial sounds were still while we were asleep, but by the end both of us were wide, wide awake and whispering to each other and listening for who or what made those terrible, loud crashes. I did heard Fezzik get up, slowly and walk over to his bed by the fireplace, and that's about when logic started to kick in over the adrenaline rush.

It couldn't be a person, or Fezzik would be barking his head off. But it sounded exactly like someone using both hands and body weight to crash great, big blows on a door. Scary stuff indeed.

It took a long time to get back to sleep, and hearing was put on overload in order to figure out if there was Anything Out There. John eventually got up and checked things out and Fezzik was lying peacefully on his bed in the livingroom by the fireplace, watching John check everything out.

In the morning, John investigated the closet doors and the hallway and we found out what happened. It turns out that there's this rug that we have that's just too thick to really fit under the front door. We've had it there, but it keeps getting pushed around, so John moved it to the center of the hallway to get it out of the way. Fezzik normally lies just by the front door, mostly on the rug, but last night, he didn't have the rug under him. So, at 3, when he tried to get up, his feet slipped out from under him on the nicely polished wood floor, and his feet banged, hard, into the closet doors. The closet doors are on railings, so they boom very nicely and rattle in their frames very easily. Big noises for little bangs. And Fezzik probably just slipped three times before getting up enough to get out of the way of the doors.

Scared to death by our own dog.

So work got less scary after that. I'm scared of work. Mostly because they're asking me to do things that I've never done before, things like leading other folks, doing new things in the company, trying out all the stuff that I think we really *should* do but never had the resources to do, and basically it's all really good stuff. The scary bit is that it's all new. I don't think of myself as a leader or a person who gets other people to do things. I'm, so much, the person that gets given something to do and then goes and does it.

I'm being asked to go to the Design Automation Conference in New Orleans. I'm getting folks together to start UI testing now on our stuff, to get the concepts hardened into things people can really use and not have the conceptual gaps that often occur between how software folks think hardware tools should work and how hardware users think they should work. It's just all really cool, exciting stuff, but I'm scared of failing.

Then again, I guess that's really the only way to learn how to do it right.

So work was interesting.

We got home late and there were two packages in the mail. One was a Priority Box just inside the gate, the other was a little Priority Box in the mail. Hoorah!! I knew what was in the Levenger box, the other was the cool mystery.

I'd bought a pen on ebay, a Duofold Vacumatic Debutant critter with blue, grey and silver pearl strips alternated with black stripes. I'd gotten it for about thirty-five bucks, which is more than one pays for even a nice ballpoint or many other kinds of pens, but a whole lot less than one might pay for what the equivalent of this pen in the major details. 14kt gold nib, ink fill system rather than a cartridge or converter setup, and all the pearly plastic isn't easily found these days. It was supposed to be in good shape, working, and a little banged up and chewed. It was a bit chewed up, but I washed all the dried ink out of it, with a lot of water and Q-Tips and stuff and tried the pump underwater. It worked! Yay! There's this odd little pump at the back of Vac's, a little plastic lever that works a rubber diaphram that pumps air out and ink in, or ink out and air in if it happens to be full and you're pumping it in mid-air. Whichever.

So I put a little ink in it and tried to write it.

Oh, woe. The funniest thing in the world was that the first thing I thought as I set letters down was, "Damn, it's writing like a quill with one tine too short!" Not, oh, the metal tines might be out of alignment or whatever, but an instant equation to quills. The new quill page is mostly done with the additional stuff I learned over the weekend. Oh, the joys of technical writing for a procedure I'm still learning! Anyway. Sure enough, the metal tines were not true with each other. Turns out that the nib was misaligned from the feed (the little plastic thing under the metal nib that bring ink to the nib). The feed looked straight, though.

By this time my stomach is just growling at me for being stupid and ignoring it in favor of a hunk o' plastic. John is smarter than me. He went and heated leftover enchilada pie and had dinner ready by the time I came out of my pen-daze. Chomp.

So after dinner, I took the gold pearl Vac that I'd gotten from the start of the weekend, and I dipped just the nib into the ink and tried writing with that and it's as smooth as glass. Wow. That's going to be quite some pen when I get the diaphram replaced. I started pacing with the Duofold, which I empty, clean out half-automatically, and dry. Then I called Kathy to ask her about how to do the nib re-alignment, but she isn't there. So I kinda look at it, grab it in the paper towel that I just cleaned it in, and then tried to shove the nib over onto the feed. It moved. It actually moved. It just kinda moved a bit too far the other way, but now I knew that it was mobile! So I used controlled force to get the darned thing aligned right. Woohoo!

That's when the phone rang, and it was Kathy and well, we talked for the next half hour about pen weirdness. I still had to test it, so I wandered into the bedroom with the phone tucked against my shoulder and inked the pen and then wrote with it. Wow. What a difference! It was smooth and neat and flexible and nice, not quite as nice as my Waterman or even the larger Vacumatic, but much nicer than it was, and the little pen was very light to hold. So that was good.

After I'd delayed long enough, and talked with Kathy a lot, I finally said bye and hung up and went out into the garage and cleaned off all the parts for John's rear axle re-pack. I then put grease in the right bits, put the parts back in place and then did the tricky bit of balancing tight solidness with rolling freedom. Trickier this time because he had a deeper well for the sprocket-side ball bearings and I had to take things apart to adjust it, but after three or four fiddlings, it finally was right. That felt good, and it was already 11 p.m.. John, while I was fiddling with stuff and even while I was talking with Kathy was putting up a garage door opener on the smaller garage door so that the Passat could stay inside the garage. That was very cool, to be able to work in the garage while he was there.

Now I just have to do the innertube, tire, and bearings for John's front wheel and if John does the chain and drive sprockets, then it'll be done! Hoorah!

John went to sleep soon, and I stayed up a bit to write up the journal entry for last Friday with the Duofold so I can dictate it tomorrow. When I managed to get my brain unloaded, it was past midnight, and after the adventures of last night, I went to sleep quickly and entirely dreamlessly

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