Callicrates (callicrates) wrote,

After four weeks...

Four weeks ago today, willowisp and I set out from North Carolina for New Mexico. It's been a very long four weeks. Three very long days of driving, one frantic week of unpacking and setting up enough to get over the initial crunch, one week of work, one week of SIGGRAPH, and then one week of work during which I got my computers set up and started in on real work.

Let's see here... highlights of each week.

Week 1: The cross-country drive was very long and quite uneventful. The moving folks arrived on Tuesday, the day after we did and totally filled our living room / dining room with boxes. We spent the rest of the week figuring out what was in which boxes (it got a little bit scrambled during packing) and setting up enough of a household that we didn't quite feel like we were camping in our own apartment. We tried a few different restaurants and found a couple of good ones. We ordered some furniture.

Week 2: I started my new job. The first day was orientation, both official (the usual corporate training videos) and more personal (meeting the rest of the group, finding my office, being taken out for lunch). The rest of the week was pretty boring. I sat at my desk and read research papers in the field where I'm going to be working. There wasn't much else I could do: neither my desktop (with all the graphics horsepower) nor my laptop (onto which I can load files and documents I'm going to need) had arrived yet. Also, on Saturday I left for SIGGRAPH, and there didn't seem to be much point getting into anything terribly serious when I was about to be gone for a week.

Week 3: SIGGRAPH. The conference itself was pretty good. My presentation went well except for Powerpoint difficulties. However, that's not what sticks in my mind about the week, and I doubt it ever will be. Losing Thena so suddenly and so unexpectedly was pretty devastating. I miss her a lot. In some ways having Heidi around has made it not hurt quite so much. In some, it's made it worse.

Week 4: Back to work. Both my desktop and my laptop arrived early in the week. I spent a day reading research papers while I waited for the systems folks to get them set up, then I spent three entire days (!) getting the various toolkits I need downloaded, compiled, and installed. This seems to happen whenever I start a new job. The stuff I work with is sufficiently large and complex that it's not just a matter of './configure; make; make install' (or the Windows equivalent). First I download the source. Then I go and patch the OS to bring in the most recent video drivers and all the stuff on which the new toolkits depend. Then I spend an hour or two sorting out all of the stuff that's now broken about the system because there are poorly-documented things going on behind the scenes that depend on all the things I changed. (By the way, OS zealots, I run into the very same problems under Windows that I do under Linux. Only the decorations differ.) Then I actually get around to building and installing the toolkits... which involves a couple more rounds of dependency resolution. Finally I get to the point where I can play with the examples. That took until Friday mid-morning. Taken in the context of the useful lifetime of the machine, three days isn't much at all, but by the end of the week I felt like I'd spent a large amount of time being unproductive.

That brings us to today, which is Saturday. It's been the first really quiet day for me in four weeks. Some housecleaning this afternoon, some unwinding, going out for a nice dinner... well, actually, that deserves comment, too. We went to a restaurant that consistently ranks up near the top of the ratings for steak places. I asked for mine to be cooked medium. When it arrived, our server asked us after about 30 seconds if everything was all right, then sped off quickly. About a third of the way through the steak I realized that no, it wasn't just that the outside was more cooked than I expected, the whole steak was well done. When I managed to get our server's attention again (a nontrivial feat) and told her about it, her immediate response went something like this:

"Well, that's why you're supposed to check immediately. That's why we ask. If you'd said something then, we could have gone back to the kitchen and asked them to make another one, but since you waited..."

Then she sort of shrugged and hurried away. I was left with the impression that she considered it to be my own fault, or at least my own problem and not hers at all. Okay, fine, by the time I'm almost halfway through the steak it's a bit late to ask for a completely new one, but that's beside the point. Not once did she come anywhere near anything like an apology, or even an acknowledgement that someone besides me screwed up. If either of those had happened, I'd probably have forgotten about the whole thing by the end of dinner. As it is, we'll go back there sometime in the hope that we caught our server at a bad moment on a busy night, but honestly, they're really going to have to floor me with the service and the food if I'm going to be even an occasional customer.

Anyway. End rant. The steak really was quite good. We went to Cold Stone for dessert afterward, which was excellent, and saw an amazing sunset on the drive up north.

Here endeth the update. This could easily turn into ten pages of boring, mostly meaningless detail, so I'll stop here and add more as events warrant.

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