an interview

May 19th, 2005  |  Published in old and busted  |  2 Comments

Al & I took Ben to meet a potential new daycare provider today.

She lives in Milwaukie, about a half mile closer than the place we’re currently taking Ben to. The house she works out of is big, with a nice-sized room on the upper floor as the “classroom,” with a very pleasant back yard with small tables, swings, and a view (from behind a fence) of a creek with ducks.

I took Ben over a little early, so we spent about a half hour talking before Al showed up. Ben was pretty nervous about the new setting for a few minutes, but he settled in quickly enough.

The thing that kept striking me as we spoke was the way this particular person filtered every issue: “I treat the children I care for that way, because that’s the way I treat my own family.” There wasn’t a sense of institutional tradeoff (“Well… the USDA gives us 2 percent milk, so that’s what we serve, even if we shouldn’t,” ) or dishonest pushback over a few of our hotbuttons.

The worst part of daycare so far has been the sense that there’s a constant level of passive resistance to anything that’s not within certain parameters. We could spend a lot of time fighting and pushing back, but that seems like a waste of energy and a good way to make Ben the victim of both our stress and his “teachers'” resentment.

So it seemed better to find someone with values that line up with ours more when it comes to diet, eventual discipline issues and appropriate activities. The person we spoke to today seemed very close, and she was honest about differences and describing how she’d work around them.

When she discussed how she’d handled past issues with children whose parents had stricter expectations than she had with her own, she described research she did to make sure she understood how to accomodate that. When she mentioned how she had a child in her care who was a vegetarian, it wasn’t cause for a significant look (“You know how unreasonable those people can be…”) or eye-rolling.

The other positive indicator seems to be the length of time kids have stayed with her. She’s got a space for Ben because she’s graduating three children to kindergarten who’ve been with her for several years.

If anything was “bad” about the interview, it was probably me. I don’t do well asking questions. I prefer to watch people interact or converse about anything besides the task at hand and see what I can take in about a person that way. It took Al arriving to get the interview moving somewhere.

So it looks like we’ve found a better situation. We’ll have to wait a month before he can start there, but it feels good to know what the next step for him is.

The change has also reaffirmed one thing I’m coming to know for certain, which is that I should be spending more time trusting my instincts where Ben’s concerned. I knew we could do better for him than we were, but it took me a while to let the part of me that felt communicate the idea to the rest of me. The fact that I walked out of that interview feeling relieved told me a lot about what I was feeling up to that moment. It was like being on a long hike and feeling all the accumulated aches come to the fore in the last few hundred meters, when it’s o.k. to let go and let the aches assert themselves. That’s a fine strategy for hauling my doughy ass up the side of a hill. Maybe not so good for caring for a child.

The Cry of the Nazgul, the Screech of the Heatsink

I’ve got a clone sitting under my desk. It’s a generic box with an Athlon 2400XP and a gig of RAM, with an ATI Radeon 9600 and a Soundblaster Live card.

To the extent I don’t use it for anything day-to-day, I’m a little indifferent to it. I need it to get at a stats package for work, and when it comes to viewing online media, it’s better to have Windows on the job. It’s also my “Battle for Middle Earth” box. It’s got its own monitor, it feeds its audio into the eMac’s line in, which the awesome LineIn then kicks out of the speakers connected to the eMac, and keyboard/mouse sharing are handled by synergy.

It had one horrific problem until today, which was noise. A terrible, high-pitched whine that made it unusable for any period of time, and pretty much ruined the excellent atmospheric special effects of BfME. I replaced the power supply on it to get one with an adjustable rate fan, but that did little good. So I got sick of the screeching and bundled it off to Pacific Solutions.

The guy behind the counter sold me a new heatsink for the CPU, and (more importantly in the end) discovered that the northbridge fan on the mobo was screwed up. He replaced that with a fanless heatsink. The machine’s now slightly quieter than the eMac (though the sound it makes is a bit more high-pitched), and the system temperature is no worse than it was before the changes.

And as a general note about the Pacific Solutions experience: I hate, for as much as I like computers, going to computer stores. The counter people usually drive me nuts and send me into a spiral of fretting that the terrible breach between geek and normal will never be healed. Both guys I dealt with there yesterday, though, were friendly and helpful. “Go out of their ways” helpful, taking the time to school me a little about heat reduction, rearrange some things in the machine’s case, and even giving me some uninterrupted space at a desk so I could fire the machine up with the new parts in place, let it warm up, and verify that they’d sold me something that did what I needed.

Best computer store experience in a very, very long time. No idea how Pacific Solutions stacks up on prices, but they rule in service.

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