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December 19, 2000
a year ago

Busy Lunch

Had a ton of things I had to do at lunch time today. Get the Christmas letter to Kinko's, do some shopping back at the Pearl Street Mall, and find a way to get myself some lunch. All with just six dollars, cash, in my pocket. I did have my check book, but wasn't sure exactly who would take it and who wouldn't, though it turned out really well.

I went first to Kinko's, which is in a little strip mall that they build without any consideration for parking, so the lot is just insane. It's stupid, small, with tiny slots, and tempting places that aren't marked as parking that people often park at just 'cause it's there and it cuts everyone else's flow through off. Add, on top of that, the typical Boulder driver, who's been used to decades of no traffic, and who drives like an asshole in dangerous places, and I get really mad.

I got lucky, this time, as on the second round through the place, someone pulled out where I could actually get into the spot and I was very tempted, when I dropped the letter off and found that I had an hour, to just leave my car there and eat lunch and take the letter copies. But an hour was a bit long for just lunch. So I decided to be brave and gave someone my spot and went to downtown Boulder proper.

There's a little parking building just east of the Mall that John and I found. It charges about as much as the parking meters with the side benefit of only having to pay when one goes out rather than guessing how long one is going to be there. So I went in there and had to go all the way up to the very top level before finding a spot, but it was sunny up there, and it is always nice to come back to a warm car, so that was good. I took the elevator down and then went to the three different shops I had to go to to pick up stuff. I debated, afterwards, actually eating something as I was hungry. But I knew that I had to pay for the garage with cash, and if I paid cash for lunch, I might not have enough.

So I went back to the car, drove it all the way down and at the exit gate I found that there was no cashier. In fact, the gates were all up! It was completely free parking. Wow.

So I drove back to Kinko's and actually decided to park out on the street rather than in the stupid parking lot. There was a convenient spot and so I took it and walked over to Kinko's. It was funny to see myself in the glass of the shop, as I looked a whole lot like a bag lady. Fly-away hair, the thick khaki cloth coat, the baggy sweatpants, the sneakers undone, and the unmade face with the big, black bags under the eyes. Tired, still. I picked up my fifty red and green letters, paid for them with a check, and tucked them under my arm and went next door to Beatnik Bagels.

They're a local bagel chain with some pretty cool sandwiches, including one with smoked white fish salad. I was, however, in the mood for something simpler, and John had talked, with great enthusiasm, about having bagels for breakfast, so I knew I'd need to get some of those if I could. So the first thing I asked was if they took a personal check. They did! So I got a BLT, half a dozen bagels, and a bottle of green stuff. The bottle of green stuff was fruit juices and some blended in greenery as I really felt that I should have something green. The BLT was prefect, toasted bagel with lettuce, tomato, plenty of bacon and they even added cheddar cheese and a bit of mayo for the veggies. I really enjoyed it with my drink while sitting on a stool in front of the front windows watching the crazy people in the parking lot.

I then walked back to my car and drove back to work.

Work isn't fun anymore. I don't know why and I don't know how. John had this little book he'd gotten from the Xilinx management class that's titled "Who moved my cheese?!" It's a really oversimplified book, but the main lesson is that things keep changing. And, I think, in my case, what satisfies me has changed. Or maybe the job's changed in ways I hadn't anticipated. I got to talk with Boss Bill's boss for a while about my background and about what I wanted to do and it was evident, even to him, that I really wanted more user interaction, whether in this job or another. He was also very surprised to find out about my extensive hardware background and without meaning any offense did say that it wasn't something he could have guessed. He was entirely right. None of us from the whole Synario setup had ever really given HR or our new bosses a resume, so there wasn't really any way to know. It amused me to tell him that I had no formal software training and that most of how I learned how to write software was by getting yelled at by software engineers.

I've never been motivated by coding alone. I don't like solving problems just cause someone gave me the problem. I've almost always had to have it connected to a real people problem. And, more and more, this job is just coding.

John got me home and listened, which helped some.

He also made me dinner, fish slabs were just really good. I had the time to wrap everything I bought at lunch time while he cooked. Then we spent an hour and a half and went through our whole address book and got fifty Christmas letters signed, sealed, and stamped. All ready to go. Surprisingly fast once I got over being wishy-washy about who should or shouldn't get the letter as it really is more than about losing Fezzik. I was surprised it was still so early when we were done, as I was feeling really beat.

So I went to bed with some good urging by John and some listening from him. He's really good about pointing out what I might do. And if I really hate where I am and what I'm doing, it's likely I could just go to HR and look at other job slots in Xilinx. Xilinx is now the 14th best place to work for in the country. So I should be able to find something good, especially with my background.

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