Back from life’s distractions

A dear friend wrote to ask where I’d been for the last month, since I hadn’t blogged in that time. I’ve been here, but up to my neck in alligators.

My job search has been a roller-coaster ride, wildly swerving between, “Where have you been? We’ve been looking for someone just like you for months! You’ve practically got the job, I’ll call personally you tomorrow!” to emails days later that start with, “Dear Applicant, We regret to inform you…” It’s too bad, since I’ve had a lot of great interviews, met some great managers, and seen many projects and teams I’d like to join. On the other hand, while the rejections are completely unexpected and frustratingly vague, it’s really preferable to work with people who want to work with me.

Speaking of which, I’m now contracting with a colleague from my last software engineering job, doing embedded development for medical devices and loving it. Paradoxically, this opportunity arose indirectly, via one of the “I think I’ll put you on Project A when you start/No wait, we don’t have a good match” companies, which contacted some of my past coworkers, who gave fantastic references and then contacted me about working with them. Small world.

A bigger distraction of the last month, aside from the impending holidays, has been home ownership. My septic system failed the day before Thanksgiving, and no one could work on it for at least two weeks. Since the house is unlivable without running water, showers, flushes, clean dishes and clothes, and so on, I had no choice but to fix it myself. It ended up being the longest, grossest, most strenuous fix-it task I’ve ever taken on. It started as three straight 15-hour days, after which I could barely type because my hands and fingertips hurt too much. (A month later my back still isn’t normal.) After the initial task, I had to go back down into the tank two more times to fix beginner’s mistakes I’d made positioning float switches.

Shortly after that fiasco, the furnace fried a transformer, the third one in a year. Luckily, that was fixed in a day. I like heat and hot water, especially in December.

I should add that during the interregnum (what a lovely word for “pause”) I haven’t had very much of interest to say. Bicycling is done for the season, and the stars have been hiding behind the clouds rather much. I did get to see a few marvelous Geminid meteors, and I’ve been casually observing whenever I can, but nothing of real note. I am ecstatic about the space shuttle Discovery mission that just ended–what a dramatic end to an unexpectedly difficult and yet successful flight!

Speaking of the shuttle, I had the pleasure of introducing (best man) Mike’s three-year-old daughter Natasha to the concept of outer space and people living on space ships, when the ISS made a very bright overpass of her house on a nice, clear night. During the buildup, she wouldn’t believe the whole concept, though I think she was teasing. When we went outside and watched the International Space Station fly almost straight overhead, she fell silent for several minutes, and then quietly said, “That’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.” That’s a moment to remember.

Now if there were some way to drain this metaphorical swamp (remember the alligators), I’d do it!

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