Some life experiences
Worst day ever
So far, the worst single day in life was Dec. 26, 2000; I got a
phone call at work from a friend, telling me to go look at CNN.
A friend, Michael McDermott, had "gone postal" killing seven
people at Edgewater Technologies. Another good friend (and the
person who recruited Michael to join Edgewater) was unaccounted
for, but turns out to have been visiting family out of state.
I, in turn, had to make a call to another friend of Michael's
in California. It took quite a while, but I finally came to the
realization that I will never understand why he did it.
It may be that it was a failed attempt at "suicide by cop".
And then there's 2010
2010 is turning out to be the weirdest year ever. Certainly the most
personal and professional firsts. And it is still not over.
- March, early April - major flooding in conjunction with spring thaws.
Continuous water in my basement for about 3 weeks. Triggered a
repair project, wherein
I discover that there are literally holes in my foundation walls.
- April 23, 2010 - I get sick, and am pretty much unable to keep any food
down (as in vomiting) for about 3 days. Finally, late afternoon/evening
of Sunday, April 25, I am starting to have heart palpitations, and
I realize that I have to call 911. New experiences:
I get out of the hospital on Tuesday, April 27.
- Having to call 911, for myself; an ambulance ride
- Three days in the cardiac telemetry unit - the plus is that
there are no particular long term problems
- I find out I have type 2 diabetes. Lots of shock about this,
a huge learning curve. It sucks up 30%-50% of my waking
attention/thoughts from the end of April until mid-to-late
August, when I finally learn a lot more about it.
- April 26 - while I am in the hospital, both the project I am working
on is cancelled, as well as my manager. Both are brand new experiences.
Which does wonders for ones self confidence.
- June - a plumbing adventure. I walk into my half bathroom to use the
toilet, and am walking into a puddle. It's a leaky valve. Call the
plumbers to repair it. During the process of showing him where the
shutoff valve is located, he spots a
cracked drain main.
Nearly $9K, but I get two new toilets out of it as part of the work.
No, they are not gold plated.
- June - a bright spot: my very first ever patent issues on May 18;
I find out because I get junk mail congratulating me on it - they
make their money selling plaques (I bought one).
- May - August: try to learn the very different, highly complex, and
mostly undocumented world that is gpgpu computing. Anecdotally, other
people I have talked to indicate some common discoveries:
Along with other challenges (new processes, toolchains, learn who is working
on what, etc.) A lot to learn & digest in a short period of time.
- For all they previously knew, they soon realized that they knew nothing at all
- For a number of months, they felt like they were working in a fog, until they
had absorbed enough knowledge via osmosis
- The learning curve is such that some groups assume virtually zero
productivity for up to 6 months, even with prior graphics development
- A candid observation that about the only way to make this more
challenging would be waking up in a country where one does not speak
the language. A response was both enlightening and immediate:
"No, if that were the case, you would have reference works to draw on".
- June 15: minor fender bender. I've never been in an accident before.
Occasionally ended up in a snowback on icy roads, but this resulted in
contact with another vehicle. Front end damage to my car, almost totalled.
Lots of screwing around on the part of the body shop and insurance company;
repairs take more than a month, and I get stuck holding part of the rental
car bill. This one is just plain weird - I'm in the left lane on a two
lane divided highway, and the driver two ahead decides to slam on the brakes
and come to a complete stop, presumably because there is a schoolbus stopped
in the driveway of a nearby apartment complex. Not stopped on the highway
proper, mind you. No airbags deploy or anything serious beyond broken
plastic and a leaky radiator.
- Late August: another car adventure. While driving home on I-495, I lose
all power. I pull over, but have to walk a bit more than a mile to the next
exit to a gas station to call AAA. The root cause: the timing system has
seized; the engine rebuild is $4600-ish. But it is cheaper than buying
a new car; I am hoping for two more years on this car - in spite of having
more than 115K miles on it (a 2002) they are almost all highway, and the
car is generally in good condition. I subsequently acquire a cell phone
for just such emergencies.
- Sept 1: I am reassigned to a different group. Again, a complete turnover
and throw-away-everything I knew. No professional touch-points left.
Yet again a new set of processes, people, toolchains.
- Sept 15: A friend dies suddenly. Who happens to be the brother of two
close friends; he was younger than I am.
- Late Oct - burnout. Too many things too fast, and not enough time to
to come to grips with/understand them. Enough things have changed to knock
my professional self-confidence level way down. New processes don't
help - one feels like it is simply an electronic "kick me" sign.
I need to take some serious time off to get my head together.
- Nov 4: another car accident, this one likely totals my car. Two accidents
in life, and both within a 6-month period. Ugh. Dusk (5pm), raining, overcast; I'm
going to pull out of my driveway, look both ways (it is a rather busy road), and
start to pull out. Unfortunately, I did not see the driver from my left
coming; his car is a light brown, so blends in with background. He is unable
to stop, and I don't have time to be able to back up. His front end is messed
up, his airbag deploys. In my car, two side (driver seat and side curtain)
air bags deploy. The point of contact is mostly on my left front wheel,
with no obvious damage to my drivers door. My ears are left ringing from the
charges which inflate the airbags.