July 3 2012

1. CONvergence is in two days! \o/

2. My family is going out of town. :/

I am stupidly, uselessly, pre-emptively missing them even though they are still here.

3. So, work this week has been full of invisible thunderstorms.

Lemme explain.

Our air traffic control weather radar is international state-of-the-art. And radar works by bouncing off of something. When looking at weather, the radar bounces off of precipitation. If it’s raining, and especially raining heavily, we can see the storm on the radar. When we see storms, we tell planes to fly around them. We provide guidance, suggestions, and both collect and give out pilot reports on the situation.

The hazards of thunderstorms are, however, not limited to rain and hail and other precipitation. Thunderstorms have terrific, plane-destroying updrafts and downdrafts. Wind does not show up on radar.

This entire week my sectors have been full of rapidly-developing towering cumulonimbus stacks, up to fifty thousand feet high, with no precipitation. To call them thunderstorms is not quite accurate, obviously. But for purposes of aviation, these count. No plane wants to fly in, near, or over a giant thing rocketing up from the ground with obvious powerful updrafts and goodness-knows-what inside it. Pilots, very intelligently, decide to fly around these things.

However. None of us in air traffic control can see them.

The practical effect of this is invisible thunderstorms. Planes are trundling around, minding their own business, when all of a sudden they ask for a forty-degree left-hand turn for no reason I can anticipate. This makes my job a wee bit tricky.

Invisible thunderstorms. Feh.

4. There is a list of things I really ought to get to, and I’m not, and the longer I don’t get around to it the more I want to avoid it. I am a grown-up, and I will get to it, but in the meantime it’s making me stressed.

This is what I explain to my children as a self-inflicted problem.

5. In related news, I don’t know how I am going to get anything done while my kids are out of town. See, the thing is, I am a terrific slacker and procrastinator who consistently fails to follow-through on projects. I always have been, my whole life. My attitude towards work and accomplishment has always been, “tell me the least I need to do so that you will leave me alone to finish my book.”

Yet, clearly, this is mitigated in my current life. Between the age of twenty-nine and thirty-two, I figured out how to get things done. The key to my system is terror of letting people down. Failure per se doesn’t move me. Failing others who are depending on me, now, that gets me where I live.

I don’t know why this works for me. But the highly scheduled life J and I have made for ourselves and the kids keeps me in a constant state of “and what’s the next thing that must be done.” So I go and do it. The schedule gives me priorities, an order to things. I know that caring for the kids takes priority, that my air traffic control job takes priority, that my family takes priority — and then I wedge everything else in on a deadline basis. Knowing I won’t have time to dilly-dally makes me answer my email as it comes it, makes me make decisions quickly. I have to get to it now, see, because I’m driving K to circus in a half-hour, and etc etc.

The next few days without the kids around will be an interesting test for me. Have I actually found new habits? Can I actually get things done with no pressure? Can I perhaps start thinking of myself as a useful and productive person? Or is the only reason I am useful and productive the fact that I know I am not?

None of which navel-gazing is particularly of interest to any of you, necessarily. But I know I love reading how people find motivation and momentum in their own lives. I am always looking for hints, for tips, for help. Fear of failing others is a motivation that works for me, clearly. But it’s also … it’s also fear of myself, of who I think I know myself to be. If that makes sense. It’s not the most comfortable motivation, is what I’m saying. So I read the reports of others, looking for clues or tricks. Or, failing that, solidarity with others.

6. And, speaking of which, now I must go back to the sector and talk to some airplanes. 🙂


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