another grey world

Austin, TX

We had a ridiculous amount of fog this morning, which made the pond look like a Bob Ross painting:


It finally (sort of) burned off this afternoon, so we saw a little sun for the first time this weekend. It’s still hazy out there and we can’t really see downtown without squinting, Doesn’t exactly encourage one to get out and about and do things. Plus, I’m “on call” this weekend, which is a buzzkill of the first order.

Not receiving pay stubs anymore, either as paper or email, has left me less aware of the amount of vacation time I have accumulated. I hadn’t looked in several months, so when I checked in last month, I discovered that I was effectively maxed out. That means that, going forward, I’m effectively donating my vacation time to the company which isn’t real high on my list of “ways to use vacation time”.

So I tried something different this quarter: Instead of blocking off a week, I took 2-3 days each month to give myself a little something to look forward to each month. It seems like a pretty good approach, especially in the winter when travel is a lot less attractive (I don’t ski, in case you were wondering). It’s nice to be able to recharge the batteries once a month but…once spring rolls around, I may have other ideas.

Job two is going remarkably well. Not in the “I am making good money” off of it way, but more in the “I’m starting to feel like I’m pretty good at this” sense. In general, I’ve found that optional second jobs can be a lot of fun. I haven’t done the math, but I can think of a couple of reasons for this. The obvious one is that, since you’re choosing to do it, there’s a pretty good chance that the second gig is something that’s interesting to you and/or something you enjoy.

Another possibility is that part of the enjoyment comes from the fact that you don’t need that job. You can leave any time you want without a huge impact on your financial situation (please remember I’m only discussing optional second jobs here; when you have to take a second job to pay the rent, that’s another animal entirely). This one’s interesting to me. I wonder how much job stress comes not strictly from the job itself but instead from the sense that you are not free to leave it? If it’s a good amount, and I suspect it is, then a lot of stress could could be alleviated just by having a more fluid system of employment and a better safety net. Even something as simple as universal healthcare (health insurance is one big reason why people feel they can’t leave their jobs) would improve a lot of people’s lives just by allowing them to feel a little less trapped by their jobs.

I write most of my what-might-generously-be-described-as music on piano because that’s the instrument I’m most comfortable with, but I do get into ruts with it sometimes. And by “ruts” I mean “whenever I get frustrated I go back to playing stuff I’ve played a gazillion times and then getting up and going for a soda. So, inspired by Behold! We May Rock You! I decided to do a little composing on guitar and see what happened.

The first thing that happened was a recollection of why I don’t write much on guitar. I am not very good at playing the guitar. I can awkwardly strum a barre chord with the best of ‘em, but beyond that? Pfffft. Nonetheless, I persisted and actually came up with a little something. It’s a little something that I think sounds better on the piano, but…it’s also something that I probably wouldn’t have ever tried. It was surprisingly rewarding. I haven’t recorded any demo-y bits yet, but I like the way it sounded, so we’ll see.

I guess that’s about it. I hope you had a lovely weekend and that you enjoy the football game if that’s you thing.