Backlog: A great weekend

We visited Simon’s parents over the weekend to get a bit of a break
from the city. His sister had moved to New York, so I stayed in her
room. Simon was working through a particularly thorny business
problem. He had to make a few really difficult decisions, but it was
very good for him to have the support of his parents. Being able to
feed raccoons was also quite calming!

We met Mike Edmonds’ parents and sister while Simon was giving me a
tour of the places in his neighborhood, so the tour turned into a
wonderful conversation instead. The mists settled on the fields,
forming a perfect backdrop for our chat.

Then we headed to Zest to join his parents and their friends, with
whom they had had prior dinner arrangements. I chatted with Masumi in
what little Japanese I’d retained from my six-month technical
internship there, and was briefly introduced to Rob (who turned out to
have the same birthday as I do). Sally and Greg asked me about my
research, and I explained a bit more about what I do. It was nice
meeting them.

On the way back, Simon showed me Trinity, a school he’d gone to
before. The large brick buildings in a beautifully laid-out complex
and the fact that the school drew people from all over the world made
me wonder once again what I could’ve done with resources like that. I
told him about my occasional frustration with schooling in the
Philippines and how I’d once thought of taking my undergrad in the US.
(He was surprised to hear that I got 1590 on my SATs, having missed
one math question – but standardized tests are just standardized
tests…) He was quick to remind me that such speculation was useless
and that our experiences help make us into whatever we are. Besides,
he reminded me, my schools were pretty good too—he’d heard me
rhapsodize about them often enough. Good to be reminded of these
things when I forget, even momentarily.

The next day, his business problem came to a head. The situation was
quite stressful, but firm decisions were necessary. It was instructive
seeing him work under such pressure from all sides.

His mom suggested a walk through the woods around their house, so
Simon and I headed off while discussing his business situation.
Carefully navigating through fallen leaves and branches with my
slippers, I was alarmed when Simon looked back and casually pointed
out poison ivy. Poison ivy! I reminded him that not everyone grows up
learning what poison ivy looks like and that he very well might go
traipsing around in his pants and closed shoes, but I (in malong and
slippers, no less!) had no idea what to avoid. He laughed, apologized,
and pointed out a clear path. (Next time, I’m wearing hiking boots.)

He kept trying to find something that suited everyone. When he
realized that he couldn’t, he did the difficult but right thing.

In the meantime, his dad and I had a number of great thought-provoking
conversations about corporations enroaching upon the private life,
what a good life is, and other topics. I enjoyed stretching my mind
and learning from other people. =)

I also managed to get most of the way through a new edition of
“Spirit of the Web”, one of the books his father wrote about
technologies for communication. =) I laughed at a lot of the stories
he’d dug up about the history of radio and other techs. Quinn Fung had it as the textbook for one of her courses, so I can chat with her about it.

His mom told me a few more stories about the raccoons that regularly
visit them, too. It was fun feeding them peanuts. Oh, and I saw a
hummingbird! =) They’re so cute!

I’m happy with the weekend. Although it meant moving things around a
bit and having the rest of my week a little bit tighter, it was the
best way I could’ve spent that time. (And yes, that’s even considering
the BuskerFest… <laugh>)

I’m looking forward to visiting them again. I’ve been sternly warned
not to bring them any more gifts. <laugh> See, I baked cookies
for his mom and his sister the first time I was there – it was their
birthdays, so I had an excuse. Then I couldn’t help think of them when
I saw those cat postcards in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. =) Now
I am tempted to get a baking pan, an inside joke about that delectable
peach pie which was made of peaches so juicy that they overflowed and
burned into the pan.

A good weekend indeed.