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June 30th, 2006 - Phil's Rambling Rants

June 30th, 2006

June 30th, 2006
08:31 pm

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First Week
I've made it through my first week at the new job.

No apparent personality conflicts with my coworkers; no tremendous bonding either.  My main accomplishment for the week has been the apparently successful negotiation of most of the bureaucratic maze involved in joining the University.  Other than that, I've been learning things; I didn't have any expectations of writing any code this soon.  Reading just the first couple of chapters of the textbook that explains the theory behind the software makes it make a lot more sense.  And an hour with the Tcl/Tk book makes me feel almost ready to start hacking on it -- I'm already appreciating the appeal of the language.  I've also scratched the surface of understanding the corpus of existing code, but definitely not very deeply.

I'd like to keep this post public, which means that I can't go into much detail about either the work or the people -- I don't want to have any worries at all that someone might think I'm saying something I shouldn't.  So I can't really say much about the software.  I'll just say that software engineering practices at the lab are even more primitive than I'd realized.  Hopefully the next few months will see me teaching them to do things better, rather than just becoming frustrated.

On a personal level, the boss (whom I'll refer to as C) gave me the first promised session of "mentoring" yesterday.  (As we discussed when I interviewed, C perceives (rightly) that my technical qualifications are more than sufficient for this job; I will sink or swim based on how I handle things emotionally/psychologically.  And when he offered the job, he promised that he would help me with those problems.)  He stressed that he expects me to work with the group, not just for him.  And today, I actually spent at least half the day in the lab, split between working one on one with R as he was showing me part of the software, and discussing some software engineering issues with the group.  I also have actual stuff to report and discuss at the group meeting Monday morning.

Now, I just have to find enough time to do things in my life, like keeping up on LJ and posting some pictures from my trip.  (I have a ton; many aren't going to be as good as I wanted for printing, but they'll be stunning at web resolution.)

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08:57 pm

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Argh!
I'm looking through pictures from the trip, from June 20th.

How could I have not noticed, as I was taking them, all the crap on the lens?  I have a bunch of pictures that have composition worthy of a National Geographic spread, but pretty much ruined because there's this THING on the lens that looks like a phantom tree branch.  Not so bad if it's over a tree, but totally out of place when it's in the sky.

I know I'm sloppy when I'm in the field, but this is ridiculous.  It's like a tenth of the frame long.

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10:07 pm

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Financial survival
I balanced my checkbook just now.  I had more money than I thought, somehow.  I'll be able to pay my real estate tax before I get paid.  Which is fortunate since it's due before I'll get paid.

When that first check comes in, it will be close to a month's pay.  I think.  I know when I get paid, but I don't actually know what the lag between the days I'm paid for and the time I get the check.  You'd think that would be information that wouldn't be that hard to find on the web site, but you'd be wrong on that one.  As long as I get paid for a reasonable chunk of the month, I should be able to make it through the credit card bill for the trip to Minnesota and last until the August paycheck for a full month.  (Which, since I don't think I've ever been paid only once a month, will easily be the biggest paycheck I've ever gotten.)

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