Happy SysAdmin Appreciation Day!

I’ve been meaning to get a post out about D.L.’s first birthday, but the weekend following it was a grueling one, and I just don’t have it in me, yet. Maybe after we get his First Birthday Photo Shoot done.

Instead, I’ll just do a quick drive-by about SysAdmin Appreciation Day.

Today (the last Friday of July) is SysAdmin Appreciation Day. Most of my career has been spent as a SysAdmin because it’s fun. There are some SysAdmins who might not agree, but most do. It’s not one of those professions where people ask if you do it at home and you say, “Oh, no. Computers are what I do at work. I just want to get away from all that when I get home.” For every one SysAdmin I hear say that, I know at least five others who are just waiting for someone to ask them how they’ve set up their home network.

“Oh, it’s great!” they’ll exclaim. “I set up a Linux SSH server on a VM so I can proxy in over an encrypted tunnel from work. Because, honestly, who’s going to block port 22?” Well, not many SysAdmins. Some network engineers, though. Bastards.

The point is, you can generally gauge how good of a SysAdmin you’ve got by the enthusiasm with which they answer that question. A good SysAdmin isn’t necessarily someone who’s been around forever and seen everything (though that helps, and those guys are awesome), but how energetic they’ll be in tracking down something they haven’t seen before.

But an appreciation day? Really? Here’s the problem: We’re not under-appreciated. Most places I’ve worked, the SysAdmins get bribed on a regular basis with brownies and cookies so we won’t crack down very hard on IMs and social media sites. Sadly, nobody does that at my current company. (You reading this guys? You want Facebook back?)

Some picked-on IT professionals say that nobody ever thinks about the job they do until something goes wrong or someone can’t get something they need. I haven’t found that to be the case at all. We wear the coolest geek-shirts, you all come to us to talk about the latest gadget you’ve bought and love, and every person in the company knows us, even though we know about four people’s names in the company.

The only down-side is that you do have to put up with us wearing white socks with slacks and dress shoes. That’s really non-negotiable.

Devon: Month 1

My son turned one month old a couple of days back. We had intended to celebrate, but Pooper kept us up the night before, which means our ability to remember things like that was greatly diminished. (Other things that got skipped that day: Celebrating his grandparents’ anniversary, taking the first in a series of monthly pictures to show growth, blogging about his first month, and showering.)

The one thing that I did remember to do was jot down some of his development milestones. I’ve shared them on my Facebook and I’m going to share them here, too. Why? Because nothing in the world is as fascinating to me as child development. After I’d met my wife and I found out that she was a Psychology major, I must have grilled her for weeks to squeeze every drop of Developmental Psychology she’d learned in her time at university.

The most counter-intuitive thing I’ve learned about child development is how little of it that there is. I got my first taste of it when the flower girl at my wedding was born. When she entered the world, she was not at all what I expected of a baby: She didn’t develop her personality slowly over time, she came with one. And a strong-headed one at that. At barely a few days old, she already had the stubborn streak and independent traits that still define the largest parts of her personality today.

I’d been told that babies come with hats. I hadn’t been told that babies come with personalities.

So now I get to watch this all unfold in minute detail, and it’s even more acute than I’d thought. My son already has a personality. Worse, it’s very much like mine and my wife’s (though early indications are that he’s likely more musically inclined than either of us). Additionally, he has my facial expressions. I’d always thought those were environmental that I’d picked up by watching my own father. Nope, I apparently got those through genetic material. (All these years of everybody shouting, “Smile!” as they pass me in hallways isn’t my fault after all!)

So what this means to me is that these developmental milestones I’ve been looking forward to be revealed don’t mean all that much. It doesn’t seem that these are learned so much as they’re waiting to be unlocked until better levels of coordination are reached. I’ve heard more and more that in the Nature vs. Nurture debate, Nature’s been kicking ass in research studies for years. Now I’m watching it up close.

Anyway, to catalog the meaningless milestones he’d reached by the end of his first month for his future curiosity:

  • Holds head up (he’s an incredibly strong baby, and has been holding his head up without assistance since day 3 or so … possibly since birth, as we didn’t get much time with him at first in the NICU)
  • Eye contact (he still looks at the outline of the head more often than directly in the eye, but actual eye contact is consistantly increasing)
  • Rolls over onto side (he rolls back and forth from his side to his back often during sleep. He did this during his NICU stay, and apparently even rolled onto his stomach at one point, and made all the nurses nervous about rolling onto the floor. A friend says this is a common early development step for babies who were born without the aid of pain killers for the mother.)
  • Incidental smiles (since day five, when we got him home from the hospital)
  • Lifts head to 45 degrees when on his belly (roughly two weeks)
  • Recognizes mummy and daddy, and responds differently to each (this milestone really picked up after we were home from the hospital)
  • Pushes down with both legs when placed on a firm surface (and pushes quite hard, he’s nearly launched himself several times, sustains his weight well but obviously has zero concept of balance)
  • Tracks objects with eyes across field of vision (he rarely turns his head to continue, though, but he’ll follow it past the point where only one eye can still see it)
  • Reaches for and shakes toys (Gemma got some video on day 24 or so of him repeatedly reaching for a rattle and bashing it with his fist to get it to make noise from different positions)
  • Social smiles (they were very rare until day 26 when they were no longer that uncommon, but at one month and one day is when he was all smiles for extended periods of time)
  • Vocalizes with vowel sounds when not crying or otherwise cranky (he did some of these in the first month, but the fourth week is when this really took off)
  • Mirrors face movements of others (tongue sticking out, wide eyes, yawn, etc.)
  • Looks toward mummy and daddy’s voice (the last milestone he picked up in his first month, and it was his Nanna who recognized that he kept looking at me or mummy when we’d talk if he was in Nanna’s arms)

In other news: Remember the horribly incomplete list of vetoed baby names I proposed? Well, now that he’s here, I’ve discovered something wonderful! Nobody gets to veto a father’s nicknames for his children! I get to call him:

  • Pooper (see above)
  • Poopie van [lastname] (“Poop” is a common theme)
  • Ikkle Monster
  • Sgt. Stinker
  • CrankyPants (and FussyPants, StinkyPants, CutiePants)
  • Diaper Bomb
  • NICU Pincushion
  • Milk Coma
  • Bag of Crap (thanks Woot!)
  • Bait
  • Downlow
  • Chewtoy
  • ScreamBot

… and dozens of others my wife would poke me for repeating.