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June 18, 1999
a year ago

Chaos States

Chaos is a tremendous motivator.

Amusingly enough it really, really reminded me of Connie Willis' setup in Bellwether today. Not that Xilinx is at all disfunctional to the stage that that company was; but some of the travel snafus really tasted of the same thing. The thing is that the whole feeling of chaos being added and added until everything resolves to a higher energy state of organization really, really felt right for today.

I had lots and lots and lots of chaos at work today. I had a list of about thirty different things that I either had to do or resolve before the day was done. Everything from my plane tickets to the status of certain bugs that I just wasn't going to get to before I got back from DAC (the Design Automation Conference).

There were also meetings all day, and it was Bob's last day at the Boulder site and he was going off on a whirlwind adventure of travel with nearly no time home for the next six weeks. Everytime I start panicing about going to New Orleans, I think about him and I feel somewhat better. I always panic about going to somewhere completely new, this is just part of what I am, and I really shouldn't be afraid of any of it, because there were be dozens of people from Xilinx, as well as, probably a few dozen people I've seen before at DAC that are wandering through. But I was panicing anyway as there were so many things to figure out.

The worst of which were my travel arraingements, which our travel office said that they'd have to me by today, but at 2:30 they still hadn't shown up, and when I called them they weren't there. Aiie. So I asked Jennifer to help out and she heroically kept trying them eventhough they weren't there for the first time today, while I got sucked into more meetings.

Amusingly enough, because I had the momentum going with all this other stuff, I also decided that now was as good as any time to ask all the Boulder folks about local doctors, dentists and hair folks. John and I also finally managed to drop off all our medical records with the local conception folks, and got questioniers for the first appointment we had with them. That was very cool to just get over with, and get a definite appointment that we could make. I also took care of getting our prototype together and asked Dan if I could borrow his laptop, which was left in the Boulder office since he got it. He hasn't been able to use it, so I asked for it and he said that it would be fine to take to DAC with me so long as I brought back a lotta good data and information as to what's going on.

I think that my main job at DAC is as an information sponge, to just learn everything I can about everything that's going on and how tools are evolving and where everyone else thinks they're going with it all. The maturity of the EDA market is an interesting problem, as it's been around for so long; but there's the exclusiveness of the users to keep it interesting. Bleeding edge users are so very, very different than the new engineers that are just getting their feet wet with programmables.

Problem is that my other job is as usability watchdog, that what we're building has to be useable and we have a prototype that's good enough to at least try using to get a general idea. No formal things have been set up as we knew about my going just too late for that; but there will be throngs of users wandering about like sheep for the taking. So I really need to take advantage of that. So much of the day was spent in setting the laptop up so that I could use it as a demonstrator of what we can now do. Or what we intend to do. None of it really works, deep down. It's a very broad spectrum UI that needs some testing as to how accessible things really are at the top level; but none of the guts work yet, the really cool thing is that, at DAC, I can *say* that this time. Hee. Vaporware that is actually advertised as that.

But that is a whole 'nother job on top of the other, and that's going to be really crazy to do, as nothing is for sure. I just bring what I've got and we'll see what happens.

I had, however, to get everything we had. And, of course, the laptop is Windows 98, and there are entires CD's that just don't work with it, installs that balk and environments that don't work. Well, I'll have what I can get.

Travel still didn't have a clue until 3:45, when Jennifer finally got a hold of them and the lady there said, "Oh! I intended to get that out today..." and the tickets finally showed up around 4:15. Whew. I actually have the keys to get outta town and they are in my hot little hands. This is *good*. It felt much, much better for it to be finally in my grasp.

I am very, very bad with uncertainty. It's a flaw that's right through me, I think that I really enjoy things being black and white, done or not done, finished or in hand. I really hate the transitions. Right now I'm hating the fact that I'm going to have to travel, hating the fact that I don't know if I'll actually get to the airport on time, if the airplanes will actually meet up and if I'll actually get there with all my stuff. All I can do is min-max my options and hope that the things out of my control will work out. This included spending half an hour, after figuring out where my hotel was, mapping every possible approach to the hotel from the airport through yahoo's mapping system. I'm really tempted to just take an airport shuttle from the airport to the hotel. I should probably just call the hotel about an airport shuttle instead of driving in a completely new city without a clue as to how the local folks drive.

My gut isn't doing well on all this either. I hate travelling alone, though Steve will be showing up the next day and everyone from marketing that I know will be there. It's just... I dunno, it's harder than I'm used to with John. Usually, for DAC or most other conferences, I go with someone I really know well, on the same flights and in the same cars and hotels and all that. This is going to be minorly different; but I think it should work.

John and I stopped off at Whole Foods on the way back home to find something for dinner, stock up on a few things, and I found Rainier cherries!! Yay! I love them when they're crisp and sweet and lovely and cold. Also just got a hunk of steak as well as some good moz and fresh, lovely tomatos for the weekend, and some of their whole grain breads. Just random stuff that caught my attention.

Dinner was the steak with a portabella mushroom and some bread. Sleep was soon after, though John played some Spyro.

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