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May 08, 2003: Comfortable

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Iíve been a bit cautious about saying this, if only because I have had high hopes for a job before, only to have them blown to bits once reality actually set in (*cough* Benthic Creatures *cough* Big Fish *cough*). But at this point, five weeks into it, I think itís safe to say that the job is everything it was promised to be. And I think itís also safe to admit that I like it. I like this job a lot.

Iím slowly being introduced to all the members of this company, beyond our little office on the river. Two weeks ago I spent a day in Berkeley with my boss and an architect, looking at buildings on campus and getting a crash course in green construction. Later that same week we flew to Seattle in the morning for a meeting to discuss a new research proposal by a group in Canada, and then flew home that night. Now that they have installed a video conferencing system in all the offices, Iíve met (albeit a fuzzy and not exactly streamlined version of) a few more of my more distant coworkers. There are rumors of trips to other offices to introduce me (and the work Iíve been doing) to the rest.

I think the best part about the job so far, however, is the work I get to do. There are writing assignments that are often challengingĖ mainly because the world of construction is still mostly a mystery to me, but also because my boss and I are still in the process of figuring out just how we want to write things. There are two shiny new databases sitting in a shared drive now that are chock full of marvelous VBA code written all by me Ė code that sometimes required quite a bit of research and digging to figure out how to write. There are spreadsheets full of data that I spent hours mining; data that Iíll be updating monthly and having fun digging into, analyzing, graphing in pretty colors to show the various trends in the construction industry.

I have been facing another learning curve Ė this one having nothing to do with the subject material Iím writing about, configuring, or graphing. Iím so used to be surrounded by people at my same (or higher) level of experience and knowledge of database design that Iíve probably become a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to coding. I want things to work a certain way, and Iíll keep digging and digging until I find it. Iíll demo a piece of functionality, prepared to add all sorts of caveats about what I need to do next; ready with the list of things still be done, and am still slightly amazed that it isnít quite so necessary anymore. Iím so used to being surrounded by other people who speak the same (computing languages) as me that it took me by surprise the first time someone had no idea what I meant when I said SQL. Considering that Iíve got no idea what they mean when they spout out a lot of words from plans and estimates, itís probably a fair trade, but still, Iím not used to being the only code nerd around. And in a way, Iím starting to like the fact that itís just me. Granted it would sometimes be nice to have someone to bounce query ideas off of, but Iíll admit that thereís a selfish pleasure in knowing that everything thatís been built so far had no one else's fingers in it but mine.

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