Inktober day 13

The prompt for yesterday was snow. I have been too tired and uninspired to draw the past two days, and I was determined to do a drawing this evening. I couldn’t remember the prompt, so I just did the one I could remember. I got to use my grey ink pen, so that was nice.

Around town: Olean in fall

Recently, one of my friends mentioned that Olean sounded so idyllic (until she remembered the snow), and it really put me in a contented frame of mind when it comes to my town. It is almost pathologically charming, and since I live in the city itself, I get to enjoy it all pretty much constantly. Here are some little vignettes about Olean, to help remind you that you should, in fact, move here (especially if you have a remote job).

I walk to work each morning through the local community college (JCC) campus. Right now our mornings are chilly and foggy. By the time I walked through today, the fog was lifting, but still clinging to the hills.

Walking through JCC campus
Walking through JCC, facing Union street
On Union street, facing my co-working building (the brick one)
Outside the city building in October

At least once a week, Bob and I (and sometimes the kids) eat at a local diner, Green Acres. They make a tremendous fish sandwich on Fridays. I like to top it with the tartar sauce and the coleslaw.

They also made this amazing California breakfast bowl once. I’ve never seen it on the menu again (but haven’t been back on a Sunday, I think, in the morning), but it was boss.

Another great option is the Hungry Burro, which is the local food truck. They make really great vegetarian grain bowls, and breakfast burritos. Their nitro cold brew coffee is so creamy and yum. It makes me go “mmm kofë.”

“do you mind if I take your photo for my blog?” “of all the days I didn’t wear makeup… yeah! yeah, it’s fine”

Another favorite downtown is On the Side. It’s subs and stuff, and it is like 20 feet wide and 150 feet long. It’s like eating in a shipping container. But the fish sub is to die for.

From the edge of the door to the edge of the window is the total width. It has three booths and a counter.

I walked with the boys to Tim Hortons the other day from our house (it’s an easy lure, because: tim bits). Henry can’t sit still. He’s got a lot of pent-up energy, and he tends to need to shift around and need to constantly floss. He’s also incredibly social, particularly with grown-ups. He loves to chat with them, and he will also go up and complement people if he likes their hair, shirt, necklace, whatever. So, we are in Tim Hortons eating our respective breakfasts, and Henry suddenly is chatting with the old ladies at the table next to us. They cooed over him, and he just glowed. We exchanged smiles, and they waved to Grant as well (who was busy stuffing tim bits).

It’s spooky season, which means it’s hockey season. Hockey is a fairly big part of our community, and it’s as common to hear that kids want to sign up for hockey as basketball or indoor soccer or football. Both Grant and Eleanor are enthusiastic about hockey. While at the rink last weekend, we saw two kids the twins knew from school and set up skating playdates for the next few weeks.

A few weekends ago, Bob got up at 6 am (we are not, habitually, early risers; we’re both night owls) and went to help build a new park. It was actually a rebuild of a park — the very park Bob grew up playing on. King Street Park is where our twins grew up playing, too, because we lived around the corner from it when they were babies. The equipment hadn’t changed in 30 years or more. Finally the common council was able to make it happen, and part of the build was a community event to actually put the park together. There were a ton of organized volunteers (like, Bona Responds from St. Bonaventure University) and aldermen (I think it should be alderpeople, but), Bob, and a couple other city folk. The kids and I came and helped rake the mulch, which took a surprising amount of time. It was exhausting and really fun, and the park has been crazy busy ever since! For people familiar with King Street Park, one of the pine trees has had a heart carved in it forever. (Also, there are more cool changes coming to King Street Park! Stay tuned!)

Park building!

There’s a big billboard for Reids Food Barn that has been in the same place for, oh, eternity (the nice thing about Olean is that some things never change, and this is also a challenge). The billboard itself gets updated about quarterly, but it’s always Reids. Grant wanted a pic by it. My kids like to say “we fibbed about the barn” and “not a real barn” (both statements on the billboard). He also recently insisted on carrying our basket around Reids. Until I needed to add spaghetti sauce to it. Then it was TOO HEAVY MOM.

The farmer’s market that was finished late summer is wonderful. First, it’s two blocks from our house. Second, our cats take turns walking there with us each weekend and they’re becoming pretty popular with the vendors. It has also enhanced the park it’s in (Lincoln Park, right in the center of the city); the park has gotten some much-needed attention, and it’s also become much busier! On Thursdays, there’s music in the park, and one evening when we went they set up inside the market (rather than the gazebo) and it was pretty perfect.

Finally, here are some gratuitous photos of Grant (that are also on instagrant), but I think they help to subtly reinforce the idea that Olean is a kind of shangri-la.

Farmers market cat

The farmers market is really near our house now, so most Saturdays I walk over with at least Grant… And one of the cats. Last time we went, Eleven came along. This week Socks decided to join us. He catted along on our walk over, sometimes ahead of us, sometimes behind. He didn’t like crossing the marginally busier streets, but he stuck close for those parts. He hung in the gazebo in the park, yelling at everyone, while Grant and I shopped. We confirmed with the sellers and patrons that yes, he was our kitty, and yes, he chose to tag along. When we were ready to go home, we called to him and he ran home with us.

Inktober day 4

I did a sketch for the prompt, but then Bob suggested that I draw a photo I took of Grant today. I’m not that good at drawing people, so it’s not technically good, but I want the practice so I can get better.

My inktober submission:

The original photo (also on InstaGrant!)

My sketch for today, which was going to be my idiot kitty as a sort of ghostbuster, but with a freeze gun, named after our actual air conditioner, Mr. Cool.

Distributed podcast with Stephen Wolfram

A post about the podcast, mostly, but also a bit of a ramble

Listen to the podcast here:

I typically struggle with podcasts, because my brain doesn’t usually like to sit still. I need something else going on — that might be knitting, drawing, origami, or two dots (on the passive side). During our company townhalls (and our keynotes at our Grand Meetup), I’m spoiled by being able to be fully immersed in the hypertext of the call. That is, we are all on one big Zoom call together, but we have twin Slack channels that we interact in during the call (one for questions, one for chatter). The chatter channel is all the rich meta data from the video call. So podcast, which are “just” talking, feel very grey to me — half hobbled, drained of textural meaning. My mind slides away to more complex challenges, and I realize I have missed half of what was said.

That said, I wished this episode were twice as long, and only partly because I’m star struck by Stephen Wolfram! To me, the most interesting part (which kept me occupied) was the natural curiosity both Matt and Stephen (I feel I should call him Wolfram, but I’m going to go with Stephen) had for the things they were discussing, and the way they shared approaching similar challenges (like hiring). It’s also engaging to hear Stephen talk about how he approaches running his company. It’s similarish to Automattic, but I heard some things that felt pretty divisively different from us. It made me think about how content I am with my role and with this company, even though it can be difficult and frustrating sometimes — it’s worth the angst to be doing what we’re doing (and the angst is pretty minimal, I recharge by doing what I do). It was fun to get confirmation that I’m at the right place (besides not being smart enough to be employed at Wolfram), because hearing Stephen speak makes you want to throw in with him entirely, but hearing more about his company approach is a refreshing check. I don’t think any of it’s bad, by the way, it’s just different and I think there are things that would chafe.

One of the phrases Stephen used to describe his job is “explaining why things aren’t impossible” — isn’t that grand? He does go on to say that he also has to be the one to pull people back when he does know that something isn’t possible, but what a wonderful and joyful concept it is to help reality adapt to your ideas, by redefining what’s not impossible.

Matt and Stephen talked about the relative hiring processes they use, and Matt talked a bit about liking to read cover letters from people (I actually don’t know if he is still able to do this for everyone, but he used to literally read every single application — including both of mine), and that he enjoys seeing what application people use to email, to write their cover letter, what fonts are available, what choices they’re making. Which does sound super interesting! But also, I am embarrassed as hell thinking back to my cover letter and what I have to assume was my flagrant use of Yahoo mail (which I still use and will until one of us dies). Fortunately that was more than 7 years ago, and I clearly still got a shot at being part of all this.

I signed up for Office Hours with Matt a few months ago, and one of the things we talked about was (essentially) that being the best at something is not a static thing. You still need to work to continue growing and understanding what “best” looks like for you, and you’re of course going to be embarrassed by where you were a year ago (if you’re doing it right). There’s a certain danger in feeling like you’re “done” — you almost certainly are not. The whole world is changing all the time, and the thing we do is change along with it. I think probably the people who are the very best at this force change and let the world catch up with them.

Anyway, listen to the podcast, and here’s to being open to curiosity. 🍻