a long-ranging plan

The tickets are booked. I will disappear for a little while in late July, and I would be lying if I did not say that the nighttime pathways of my mind have taken me more than once down the thought of sand between my toes. It's peace and quiet I'm after, both for myself and for the friend who is kind enough to host me, but there is yet much work to do before I can board that plane without undone tasks.I am the sort that is good for crusades; when it comes to code I am more stolid than gifted, as Gareth and several other true coders, whom I count among my friends, can attest. Code comes slow to me, comes in slow and measured stages. I am not one for grand ideas; my nature is to be the second-in-command who finds a way to make the grand ideas reality.

I've been working on this plan for three summers now, and for almost all of it, I've been working alone. I've had trouble laying out the true scope of my plan, but every year I've stuck to my catchphrases. An iterative process, I've said over and over. Four years ago, we might not have known exactly what to do with a staff database, but each year, the answer has become clearer to others.

With a database, could come shift signups. With shift signups and a bit of work, could come the on-site tracking of staffers.

Ops, which was once one of the hardest-to-fill sections of tech staff, has suddenly become fat and full with other Type A personalities like myself. Given time and space to code, I have built (with occasional and critical help from Gareth) a scaffolding on which we'll somehow make this year work. It will mark a sea change in the way tech staff works. They were once a staff of fewer than twenty, who did not sleep and who took any substance available to keep them awake long enough to find a way to make it all work. Now we are a staff of over a hundred, who can choose their shifts ahead of time and who, though they still have the freedom to come and go at will, must answer to the call of organization.

It's been my private little battle for three years, and it's left me tired in a way that is hard to explain. Were I more gifted, this would be faster and easier, but that is not my path. Each summer I've spent the extra time to build code that wouldn't need changing from year to year, promising myself that there would come a summer in which I would not need to devote so much time to this long-ranging plan.

2006 was not that year, and my glances at the code tell me that unless I have a flash of insight in the next few months, 2007 may not be that way either.

I decided to plan my trip for a mixture of selfish and unselfish reasons. Selfish, in that I wanted a getaway and would do whatever it took to secure it; unselfish in that I hoped my presence would be both consolation and comfort to a friend who will be in need of it in a month's time. In that time, I've come to hold the promise of the flight away as a talisman, a reason to keep testing. Do this, I say to myself, and you may take your reward with a guiltless heart.

Three summers ago, I wasn't terribly sure I could complete this project. It was only about a month ago that it began to dawn on me that even given my slow rate of progress, I was likely to finish, and finish before my trip.

I will not lie; amidst the frustration and the scrupulous code-checking I am fully aware of the rewards and pitfalls of the role I play. Should it fail, the fault is mine and mine alone; should it succeed, such will be the accolades.

Or, as I said to someone on the way to a hikable mountain recently, "If this works, I look like a bloody genius." I paused for a moment. "If not …" My voice trailed off.

His reply was simple. "Then it's just gotta work."


Thirty-six days, thirty-two of which are available for coding.

Time to get back to work.