A vacation was exactly what the doctor ordered. My head is clearer than when I left, and at least for now, I'm able to take a step back from work and see the things that are really frustrating me with it, rather than the "emergency of the moment" that has always seemed to loom as the dominant problem. The realization: I just don't like doing this anymore, or, more accurately, don't like doing it the way I'm currently doing it. I take the most joy in my day out of helping people turn on the little lightbulb over their heads, not out of doing what I've actually been hired to do. I think I've reached the point of a career change, but there is still much contemplation to be done.
As far as the rumored layoff went, nothing happened while I was gone, except for an all-company meeting (where "extreme cost cutting measures" were emphasized) and the dismissal of a few of the consultants around the office. The rumor mill is now speculating that we'll see something happen on Friday, though, and it appears that the co-worker that I was concerned about is no longer on the list. But, it's all just speculation at this point.Vacation rundown
Okay, so I've been informed that people actually read these entries I make every once in a while, so I'd better give a quick rundown of the two weeks. My other half and I hit the road for two days driving through St. Cloud, MN, US and back to Brandon, MB, Canada, where I finally had a chance to catch up with some old friends, under much better circumstances than the last time I saw them. Then, another day on the road to get to Unity, SK, Canada, where we stayed with Mom for a few days, visiting with my sister, one of my brothers, and their respective families. There, I was witness to something I hadn't seen for a while; someone who has never used a computer before trying to figure out the basic means of making it "do stuff". A few days of playing Solitaire, and her mousing skills improved dramatically, and she can even double-click with some dexterity now, but she's got quite the learning curve ahead of her. Anyways, then we were off for three days of driving stopping in again in Brandon, then in Kenora, Thunder Bay, and finally Niagra Falls, all in Ontario. We spent a day there, seeing the sights (the Clifton Hill area is definitely worth walking around) and getting wet (there are numorous opportunities for drenching near the larger Horseshoe Falls). Then, a final day's drive home to Naperville, IL, US. A lot of driving (well over 4000 miles), but definitely worthwhile, especially getting a chance to see the falls. Yes, it really is that impressive when you hop aboard a Maid of the Mist boat and slide right up to the foot of the falls, assuming you can see them through all the water spraying at you ;- ).Revision Control
<RANT>ClearCase sucks.</RANT> Specifically, ClearCase for Linux sucks. Even more specifically, MVFS for Linux (their versioning filesystem) sucks. I can hack in third-party patches into kernels all day long, but there isn't a damn thing I can do with that binary blob they're calling "Linux support" when it fails. So, tomorrow comes a whack at upgrading to ClearCase 4.2, and trying it out for the first time with a 2.4.x-series kernel. I'm not holding my breath.Reading
No computer-related books this time around; this episode of "Ed's Book Club" features good 'ol Western annoyance (see above) meeting up with Eastern thought. First stop: Thomas Cleary's excellent The Essential Tao, which includes modern translations of both the Tao Te Ching and Chuang Tzu, along with an extensive series of interpretive notes. For the geeks, consider this the Taoist reference guide. ;-)
The second book on today's list is Zen and the Art of Making a Living by Laurence G. Boldt. At first, I was pretty skeptical about this one, expecting a cheezy self-help guide, but I was bored in the bookstore and it was there, so I quickly flipped through it. An hour later, I decided I should probably just buy it and give the chair up for someone else. It's a hefty read, and I'm only partially into it so far, but the first few chapters deal heavily with the work you do, how all workers are really artisans, and the importance of building your life's work by following the Way (seeking your bliss, doing what makes you happy, or a host of other ways to put it). If you find comfort in this manner of contemplation, and find yourself stressed about work regularly, this is the read for you. Surprisingly, it's also an accessable way to understand the Zen mindset (or arguably, the lack thereof).
And, as an added bonus, both of these are a low-cost buy. $10 for the first, $14 for the second, assuming you get them in paperback (although, I'm considering spending the $18 on the hardcover edition of The Essential Tao).
Oh hell, I guess I did pick up a geek book after all. I grabbed RHCE Red Hat Certified Engineer Study Guide (Exam RH302) by Bill McCarty, mostly for the CDROM tests so I can be sure I won't waste my money if I decide to go for the RH302 exam. Once I've had a chance to read through it, I'll try and remember to give it a quick review here. A point of amusement for me: the testing software and CDROM frontend only run under Windows, despite the subject matter. (The entire book, however, comes on the CD as PDFs, which is rather handy if you're still into using Adobe products. ;-)Hacking