Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ignorance is Anything but Bliss

I hate not knowing something.

As a result, this week is presenting a myriad of challenges, all of such depth and magnitude that I am left staring at the calendar and asking myself if it is really only Wednesday.

To begin, we are still driving - well, I am driving and Olivia is riding - from Sherwood to West Little Rock to downtown each morning, and then, of course, in reverse - well, not in reverse gear, perhaps in reverse fashion - every afternoon. It is wearing me out. O-U-T. I promised myself when we bought this house that I would try it out for a month. My heart just broke to think of moving Livi from her wonderful Kaykee. After two months of scrambling to get out the door on time, fighting with a still sleepy toddler to get in her carseat, and navigating my way through traffic that is almost never pleasant, my heart no longer breaks to think of Livi leaving Kaykee. And I'm pretty sure that no one on 430 is going to miss me, either. So I visited another center today, and as I drove up to it, I thought - I am an idiot. This place is five miles from my house, and eight miles from my office. My house, by the way, is 13 miles from my office. You do the math. How - how??? - did this escape me for two months? It is a wonderful center - big, huge picture windows in the classrooms, at least six thousand shade trees, a very rustic camp-y feel to the building, and all the kids were smiling and happy and showing me their bellies. Plus, they are very learning-based, much like a Montessori school. So I basically enrolled her right then and there. But now, the question is - when do I move her? I think it should be a Monday, but maybe a Friday is best? Give her a day there, maybe even a short day, then give her the weekend to process, then head back on Monday, full swing. But I've got trainings almost back to back in the next two weeks, so my ability to be flexible is fairly limited until after those wrap up. Which means we have to wait a tad longer than I'm comfortable with waiting to move her, but maybe that is best. And then I wonder - am I even doing the right thing by moving her? It's funny...sometimes I really want to bounce these things off of someone, so I usually choose my mom, but at the same time, I am so strong-willed that I want to know that I've done it all myself. Odd how that works.

I headed back to the office today, fully expecting our database management system/web application to be on its way to restoration. Long story, essentially two weeks after a version upgrade, the sky has begun to fall. Our two vendors are somewhat gridlocked on what the actual issue is - whether application-based, or hardware-based. So I suggest to one vendor that we move the entire system - application and hardware - to his location, set up a test environment and see what we end up with. If system performance improves, we have a hardware issue. Right? In the meantime, the application crashes completely. So vendors A and B conference and then call me to tell me that they have decided to move the entire system - application and hardware - to vendor A's location, set up a test environment and see what we end up with. Thanks fellas. Vendor B asks me to visit their location and run the application on their system to eliminate the possibility of an in-house networking issue (i.e., fault within my agency's wires/flips/switches/routers), so I head over and the whole thing actually works less well than it is working in my building. I breathe one very major sigh of relief that I will not be having to rewire our entire building. And then we wait. And we wait. And we wait some more. I am still waiting. It is so frustrating for me to not know how to fix this. It is actually less frustrating that my vendors seem to be having a hard time fixing it. I'd really just like to be able to do it myself. And the fact that I am so weak in this area is just a major inconvenience.

So I decided to go ahead and attend the state technology meeting this afternoon, since there didn't seem to be anything I could do at the office. First presentation: Chief Security Officer just back from DEFCON(r) conference in Vegas, talking about digital signatures vs. electronic signatures and PKIs and CAs and oh my gosh. Just as my brain is beginning to catch up with his presentation, he sits down and some guy gets up and starts talking about encryption algorithms. And this - THIS - is where I become a bottom-line person. I don't want to know about it - I don't want to see it - I don't want to make a decision about it. I want to tell you what I need, and I want you to deploy my solution. At the same time...I feel responsible for knowing about, seeing, making a decision about these things now. So I hung on for as long as I could and jotted down a note to google "encryption for dummies" later on.

In the middle of all of this, I'm seeing e-mails go back and forth across my phone where 1, 2 and 3 complex and individual attempts are made at restoring our application's performance, and all have failed. So I'm back in the truck and back to the office, where I am able to do a minimal amount of troubleshooting before handing everything back over to my vendors, so I can wait for them to reach resolution. Still. I want to be able to look at all of this and know what the problem is, and it is driving me crazy that I cannot. My brain is like a Maglite when what this issue needs is a full-on flood - you know, like the ones they use to make it look like daytime in a football stadium at night.

So I came home and shut the Maglite off. Made dinner for me and the babe, then Pops picked her up and took her shopping so I could get some things done around here. Livi and I were sitting on the couch, about to get her ready for bed, and we were going over her numbers. When we got to three, she wouldn't say anything. She would stare at the number, furrow her brow a little, and then get this almost scared look on her face, and I realized - it's the "th" sound, followed by the "r" sound - she doesn't use those sounds right now. She literally does not know how to form them. So I made her look at me, and I showed her how to "thhhh". Which was, of course, very funny. We practiced "thhhhh"-ing for a little while, then we went back to the number 3, and I asked her to say it again. This time, she managed to get out a very whispery "thhhee". It was so tentative; so obvious that she was unsure of herself, that she knew she was in uncharted territory. Yet, I could not have been prouder of her. Because she tried, and she was brave, and because she is my daughter and I love the absolute fool out of her.

So tomorrow, I will make our crazy drive, and I will wait for my vendors to fix my database and web app, and I will try to remember that it is okay if there is something I just don't know, if I can't speak words because I don't even know how to make their sounds. And then I'll just sound it out.


Angela said...


Sharla said...

this reminds're writing a book? this should be one of the chapters.