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June 4, 1999
a year ago

Busy Week

This last week has been fairly monotone, though not monotonous.

Most of it has been a realization on my part that I've finally come to a place with the resources and the infrastructure to allow me to do a whole lot more than I ever done before. It is a scary realization.

For at least the last decade and a half I've been working for small companies that had things that they needed to have done. All kinds of things, from hardware design to assemble language to full-blown GUI's and systems. All of these things were made of small jobs. I would to whatever came to hand, and whatever was most necessary for the company. I've never been asked what was most necessary for me. There just wasn't a time, budget, or attention.

At the heart of most of my designs has been the question, "What does the user want to do and how can this tool make it not just possible but easy?" I haven't always had the technical capability to make it happen exactly as I'd like, but it's always been the first question in my head. It was often sacrificed to the code that was already there or to release pressures or to "we just don't have the time for that."

I've also done all the small jobs simply because they were there to do. Never really realizing that most of them don't stretch any of my capabilities, none of them in the last few years really made me feel like I'd really learned something or that I'd really done something that no one else could do. And in this last week, all of that is changing.

I'm being asked to lead in situations I've never thought I would be the most experienced person in, and it's something of a revelation to realize that I am the most experienced person on some of these teams. It's also startling to realize that everyone here expects me to be intelligent, to be creative, and that there is nothing of the old history of "Phyllis can do that, she will work on anything especially if it's grungy." I took a lot of the dirty jobs in the last five years because I could assimilate them easily and quickly, even though they weren't particularly fun, flashy, or state-of-the-art. Now people actually asking mean what cool, new thing I want to tackle. This is quite a change. A really good change and one that is actually getting me to think that I am intelligent.

This may sound really funny to some people that know me. I know a lot of people would say, "Of course you're intelligent!" I guess I have the test scores and grades and paper things that would back all out up, but I haven't felt terribly good at thinking things up for quite some time. Especially with all the data compression that had to be done to the entire Synario team as we lost so many people, and most of the ones who are left were stuffed as full as they could get with the data from the people who were leaving. To have your main function be as a human data repository was somewhat frustrating.

So this entire last week has been the rediscovering of what I am capable of doing and imagining.

Specifically, I'm probably going to DAC, the Design Automation Conference tha has all the big electronic design tools showing their new stuff near the end of this month. I'm also doing a dozen new things to try and get usability for GUI applications started here. There is already a desire to do something, and it will be cool to start small and start easy and do something effective and focussed. So that will be a very good way to start.

It's scary in a couple of ways, both in the whole 'this is all new' style and in all the self-questioning. I have to admit that there's some weird fear of success and the whole 'Why haven't I done this before?' kind of question. Though I do know, realistically, that the reason I haven't done this before is that I wasn't given the situation where it was even plausible, much less possible. Here I can get training, I have the resources, I have people that I can work with and folks that are interested in something more than the day-to-day efforts of simple survival. A startup often feels like it can't afford the luxury of developing it's people; but that's the only hope it might really have of survival.

Work itself pretty much took over everything. I had just about enough energy to think of what to get for dinner when I got home. I also managed to finish John's bicycle by changing the rear tire and getting the rear axel apart and back together. It took another trip back to the bike shop and we also got a high-pressure pump so that I could fill the tires up to spec, and I slipped in a long-sleeved biking shirt. With the 10% discounts, I pretty much got the shirt for free from all the stuff that I'd bought on the last trip. One tire had to be traded in because the sales person had accidentally picked up a presta valve instead of a Schreader. The problem was that the handle bars on his bike need more fixing than I can do at the moment. I also managed to ride the exercise bicycle on Thursday and get a little usage from my pens when I was in meetings taking notes.

One life saver this week was the Burrito Guy. There isn't a cafeteria in the building and no real food places anywhere even near here or within walking distance. So I'm always kinda scrambling for food, especially when John had his lunch meetings and has food provided for him. So the one real life saver was the Burrito Guy that comes, some lunch times, and sells all kinds of burritos for two bucks. What he doesn't sell he leaves in the downstairs fridge with a little box for the money. So for three days this week, I ended up either buying aburrito from him or buying them from the Box. They're yummy burritos, filled with beans, cheese, rice and whatever else he adds, like churizo and egg, potatos and beef, and chicken and rice. It's kinda cool.

Two pieces of good news that we did discover this week were that Fezzik's little growth under his skin went away and we found out from a local exterminator that the moths were on a migratory path. We just happened to be between here and there and they were flying through. So, there really isn't anything we can do about them, and they aren't leaving any eggs here to deal with in the spring of next year. They're just on their way through.

We also managed to find a local fertility clinic that has doctors certified with an Endocronology and Fertility specialization. Hoorah!

Tonight, we managed to go to St. Tropez, the French restaurant in Niwot, something that we have wanted to go and try for a while. Sadly, it was a disappointment. No attention to detail, and given the prices it really wasn't worth going there. The Dandelion in Boulder was very much more worth both the price and the effort of going out. That was mildly disappointing.

Brought to you by Dragon System's Point & Speak.

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