A major deadline at work has effectively passed: a demonstration to the customer for this particular product. It’s a custom solution, although the engine will likely be adapted to replace the previous more generalized engine we’ve been using for other products. When I say “demonstration” I should note that I don’t mean a rigged demo, or an almost-working demo, I mean a functional product that’s pretty much all the way there, just not polished and tested enough for deployment.
It’s been an interesting project, and I don’t mean that (entirely) in an “interesting times” sense. It’s my first serious use of PHP 5, first big object-oriented framework, first professional use of Subversion, and the first job I’ve had where I’ve been using my Mac as my main development machine. Since I’ve noticed that merely mentioning something one likes about Macs starts off flamewars, I won’t go into detail; I’ll just say TextMate has proved to be a very nice programmers’ editor when put to the test.
My idle search for apartments has continued, although I’ve been getting a little dispirited in the quest over the last week or two. Ones that I like aren’t merely expensive, they’re really expensive, and they’re also fairly rare. While I like the idea of vintage apartment buildings, in practice, I like new apartment buildings. Floor plans tend to be more open, kitchens are better, the complexes tend to be spread out rather than clumped in one or two high-rises, and so on. On the flip side, they tend to have higher rents—on the San Francisco peninsula, several hundred dollars more a month. I’ve visited one-bedroom apartments that were renting for over $1800 monthly. For perspective, the median market rent for a one bedroom place in San Mateo seems to be around $1550; the cheapest (albeit still livable) town on the peninsula seems to be Belmont, where one bedroom rates average a mere $1200 a month.
To throw a second monkey-wrench into this, though, the office may not be moving to San Mateo after all, or if it is, it may not move any time soon. Given that San Mateo is a good 35 miles north of here—15 miles north of where the office is now—that changes a lot of the calculations. (I’ve contemplated the possibility of moving farther north than that if I’m going to move, up to Burlingame or Millbrae, or even to a more rural town in the coastal mountains or even on the coast.)
This caused me to pull back and have a little Midlife Crisis Moment with myself yesterday. Wouldn’t it make more sense for me to basically stay put? tugrik and bigtig have done a remarkable job in figuring out how to manage the house space with five people. It’s possible as everyone gets settled into their new jobs, talk of moving out of this house will resume and get a little more serious, but it’s possible that my job could end at any time—it is a contract, after all. (I don’t expect it to end soon; we have a lot of work after this project.) Staying here gives me hundreds of dollars more a month to work with, and that’s arguably more congruent with my short-term goals (knock out most or all of my burgeoning credit card debt, then build up my savings to a rational level again).
So what I probably need to do is (re-re-)re-learn how to manage my own space yet again. Clean out gunk in my room, determine what more shelving I need, figure out how to make that room a credible office space when I need it. I went through this a couple years ago, but my working patterns have changed notably—my notebook computer is my primary one now, not the desktop, but I enjoy working on a big monitor with a real keyboard, and the desktop has become my media server and remote access box. What this suggests to me is a KVM switch and probably a new monitor, so I can just “dock” the laptop for working at my home desk when I want to.
Beyond that, I wish I had something more interesting to report creatively, but my muse is still largely AWOL. I’ve been feeling more mentally present, if you will, since the new job, but I haven’t done a good job of carving out time for writing. I suspect this is a variant of my old complaint—I’ve let myself get too connected, in an internet sense, and as much as I’d like to imagine that having an AIM window (or two or three) open won’t distract me from concentrating on other things, that’s simply not true. I’ve been asking myself for years whether age alone is enough to explain why I seem to have so much less concentration for story writing than I did fifteen years ago, but it’s quite likely that I’ve always been incredibly distractible and that I felt more productive in those days because computers then weren’t on the internet and by and large didn’t multitask very well. (I was using a TRS-80 to write until the early 1990s!)
I have an old story I’ve pulled out of mothballs that I’m going to try to finish over the next week, and I suspect the only way to do it will be for me to just shut down all the extraneous input streams. So if you’re one of the folks used to seeing me online and I’m not online quite as much, this may be the reason. I also feel like I should get up very, very early tomorrow and head out somewhere pretty and far away, although I don’t know if I’ll actually manage it. (I should really drag dracosphynx off somewhere interesting, too, on general principle.)
Last but not least: I’m going to be on vacation for a full two weeks in Florida at the end of December, from the 18th through the 30th. I’ll try to mention this again in my journal as the time draws closer, but if those of you around Tampa Bay or Orlando want to get together, let me know—I’m sure I can work something out. (I’ll probably be doing my Christmas shopping from the 18th through the 24th. I’m terrible, aren’t I?)