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The Real End Of Summer

August 22, 2016

Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer. It’s still two weeks away, September 5th. The official end of summer is marked by the Fall Equinox, on September 22. But for millions of families like mine, today August 22 marks the real end of summer. 

There is very little about my job that is tied to the seasons. Our call volumes go up at certain times of the year. There are holiday parties in December. People typically take more time off during the summer. But, for the most part, anything that we do in August, we could just as easily do in February. Any line of business that launches in June, could just as easily launch in January. 

Our call centers are located all across the country; Kentucky, Virginia, Utah and Louisiana. (Fortunately, not near the flooding. Click here to support the relief efforts.) We have centers that are impacted by snow, or hurricanes, or tornados. It doesn’t really make much of a difference which part of the country we operate in. 

As employees, we generally don’t focus on the date, other than to tie it to projects. I have a big project starting in September and rolling out in January, finishing up in March or April. I’m not concerned about what the weather will be like during my project rollout. 

So, what marks today, Monday August 22, as the real end of Summer? The other 9 people who share my house. Today is the first day of school in Utah. My kids are attending grades 8 through 11. My lovely wife is a teacher’s aid in a special needs classroom. Today is the day that a new year starts. 

We don’t have a lot of traditions around back to school. We buy the kids a new set of school clothes. This despite the fact that we buy them clothes all year long. But, the back to school clothes are a little special. We give each child a special blessing, or family prayer. I offer it while my lovely wife types it up. We then print it out and the kids have it to refer to throughout the year. 

This year we added a new tradition. We changed all the wifi settings. We had a family meeting yesterday to decide what the home wifi schedule should be. It turns on at 6:30am then off at 8:00am. It comes back on at 2:30pm and then off at 10:00pm. Weekend times are expanded slightly. For example, we don’t turn it off in the middle of the day except on Sunday during church. 

The kids accepted the new schedules with the typical amount of grumbling and negotiation. 

I think the wifi should turn on at 4:30am.

Why is that?

Because I might need to write a paper before school and I’ll want to get up early and work on it. 

You can let us know if you need to get up early and we’ll turn it on early that day.

But, I wouldn’t want to wake you up.

Yeah, we know. Plan ahead.

We got similar arguments for why it should be on late at night. It’s amazing that kids who have not yet missed a single homework assignment are concerned for their ability to get online after hours. Their dedication to their education is admirable and highly suspect.

As an IT professional and someone who has seen 4 children through high school graduation so far, I was unconvinced by their pleas for access to greater academic resources. Like I said, it was the typical grumpiness and negotiations. We pushed the morning start time back a half hour and agreed to turn it on in the afternoon shortly after the first kids get out of school, but stopped short of turning it on before school officially let out. 

Each summer is the last of it’s kind. This summer we still have eighth graders.  Next year the oldest of them will be preparing for their senior year. I’m sure at that point they’ll have a whole new set of arguments for greater wifi access and of course a new set of clothes.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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