� Going South | Main | Demonic Mode �

August 02, 2005


I have been working my butt off for the past three weeks. There doesn't seem to be an end in sight, but finally I'm getting to the point where it looks like there can be some payoff.

As I write this, I'm in some mall town called Federal Way in the glorious state of Washington. Off in the distance is Mount Rainier looking like something out of a picture of paradise. It's an astoundingly massive mountain standing alone. It locks onto your eyeballs like a campfire. You just can't help but stare at it. It gives you a sense of, if I wasn't so sophisticated I could see myself worshiping it.

By some freakishness explained better by geographers it doesn't get dark around here until 9pm. The weather has been perfect. Everybody says that this is the best time of year to be in and around Seattle. The Blue Angels are coming to town and this weekend are the hydroplane races. With any luck, I'll be hooking up with TCB mate Ambra Nykol. I've been eating on expense money, shrimp, steak, oysters, margaritas and more shrimp. It's almost relaxing and refreshing. But I'm still not out of hell yet.

We're competing with Microsoft for a massive contract at this rather large aircraft manufacturing company which shall remain nameless. The pressure is relentless, and as alpha geek, I can't afford to lose my touch - even though I did this morning, big time. It was one of those days when the smallest change throws everything into chaos. We've regrouped of course and are back on track, but today at lunch I wanted to flush myself down the toilet.

It turns out, fortunately, that some of the new technology we have is astonishingly fast. Although I haven't had much occasion to use it, I engineered a database with it this evening that turned a 15 minute chore into a 7 second blink of the eye. I don't quite understand the technology, but am satisfied that it's magic. I kinda like to leave the mystery.

Last night I fell asleep with the television on. So I dreamt that I was a fitness instructor and people around me kept saying how many pounds they lost with my amazing new method. I fell asleep face up and so I woke up this morning with a twisted ankle. The sheets at the bottom of the bed wouldn't budge and my foot was heeled over at a bizarre angle. I limped into the shower at 5:30am and found out how cold the water gets. Very. But it still didn't wake me up.

Nothing wakes me up these days except for anxiety. I keep thinking about how I might have solved that technical problem that I still haven't fixed. Why don't those JDBC drivers work? Which instance of Tomcat is actually running on my PC? How am I going to load those rate tables? I know I'm sleepy but I can't go back to bed. It's morning, and a dozen bored engineers have to listen to me demonstrate.

I didn't expect to demonstrate. I expected to walk people through a build. But they've got people on Webex and I've got to narrate to an agenda. I hereby create a new acronym: 'IGTOFTS'. I'm getting too old for this shit. But it pays well. Not well enough for me to raise and house three kids in Southern California, but objectively well. I don't want to live in Seattle - not right now I don't think, but I considered it once.

I think the people up here look like small town people. That's the downside of putting away the stress. It's really not necessary for me to get that BMW 540 I'm pricing out, but it's what I ought to have in Los Angeles. Up here, it would be extravagant. Up here, I'm too good looking. I'd get too bored. At the mall food court, a kid was wearing a T-shirt that said "I make the rules because I have the dick." I kid you not. I don't mean to be uncharitable; there is surely good living up here. But part of the point of Tacoma is that it's Tacoma. The skyline is beautiful but not intimidating. I was raised to live in cities with intimidating skylines.

No matter how many extraordinary systems I architect in my current job, the sales guys will make more money than me. They all expect to retire in 10 years. I'm not a proprietor any longer. I work hard, but not as smart as I used to. But it satisfies my inner geek. I don't have to speak up and be sparkly, I don't have to arrange the meetings. I can be crabby and not worry about all the angles.

The spousal unit and the rest of the family have taken off to their vacation destination. When I go home Friday night, it will be me in my nice quiet house. I'm going to sleep 'til noon like Yogi Bear. I'm going to have beer for breakfast and play Green Day at -2dB. Then I'll start blogging up a storm and maybe do some work on XRepublic. It will be a nice relaxing weekend. Then I'll return here and finish up.


Posted by mbowen at August 2, 2005 09:42 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry: