Travelling

Welp. I guess this won’t be much of a dev weekend like I was thinking it’d be. My folks and I are running across a couple different states to get a puppy, and the plans changed at kind of the last minute and we’re spending the entire weekend out of town.

It’s beautiful here in Wisconsin. The country around here looks like the kind of wallpaper that comes pre-loaded on computers: misty green forests, sunsets over rivers dotted with tiny islands, big limestone cliffs with little caves in them. There are giant rolling hills, outcroppings of land covered in trees, and big swaths of farmland and pasture with corn and cows. From a picture you’d think it was Sweden or Germany or something.

Fortunately, it isn’t Sweden, so we aren’t freezing to death. But there are a ton of bugs. During the latter part of the drive up to where we’re staying for the night, there was an ongoing discussion: is it raining, or is that pattering noise just all the bugs that are hitting the car? It was the bugs. “A lot of fish flies” just doesn’t cut the descriptive mustard. On top of that, my dad had forgotten to put windshield washer fluid in the wipers. Attempting to wipe the windshield… wasn’t pretty. I was glad I wasn’t driving just then.

I still feel disappointed about missing my tinypapers deadline, though. Because that’s almost certainly going to happen. I don’t have much of an opportunity right now to do the dev work that would push it over the boundary into giving it a quantum of utility. Ultimately I shouldn’t have left it so long. I’m not sure it was entirely my choice, though.

This new job is frustrating on a few different levels. I’m not going to go into much detail except that lots of things are obsolete, nothing is well documented, and they didn’t actually need a programmer because the entire job seems to be data entry. For various reasons, it’s an emotionally exhausting job.

I don’t mean it’s exhausting because it’s hard. I mean because it’s easy. I can hack and hack and hack for hours on end; working eight hours straight on a program and only stopping to eat at my desk is fine, even if things don’t want to behave. But I have a hard time sitting around and doing simple, brainless, repetitive stuff. It’s like being back in high school, except the people here are way nicer. I keep expecting them to be nasty or gossipy towards me, but they’re awesome. If I have a question or even just look confused, they’ll drop what they’re doing to help. I brought in three dozen donuts earlier today, enough for the whole workplace, and I think every one of them dropped into the office end of the building or stopped me in the break room to say thank you.

So, it’s definitely not the worst job I could have, by any means. And it only lasts a few months. But it’s killing my brain! It drains my energy and then I go home and consider: tinypapers? And then: ugh, no, sleep. Or: nope, nope, need to clean my room or something. But while I’m at work, I have two desires: 1) Whitey’s ice cream, and 2) to be working on tinypapers.

(3, to have the program I’m working with actually function, doesn’t come into play; I know it’s not going to happen without either my fussing and fiddling and being frustrated for thirty minutes before finally fixing it, or failing that, my supervisor coming in and clicking on things until it somehow ends up working. I don’t know how he knows what to do because there isn’t much for documentation on the program and it’s pretty useless–and I’m a wizard at making weird programs do what I want, so it’s not that I have low standards for this sort of thing. But, well… given enough eyes, all bugs are shallow.)

Yet when I get home, the desire to work on tinypapers vanishes. (For whatever reason, so does the craving for Whitey’s. No, I have no idea.) And then I just want to do some dumb Internet things and then go to bed. It’s not an effect of home, because I was perfectly productive on tinypapers before.

I was aware this job would take up time. I was also aware it would take up energy; however, I didn’t think it was going to take up this much energy. I think it’s getting better on that front, so maybe I’m adjusting and my dev speed will go back to being about proportional to the the time I’m spending on tinypapers.

I have no idea how school is going to work on top of this. It’s gonna be crazy.

I don’t want to set tinypapers aside in order to “adjust” to school and work. I want to see progress. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet transcended human limitations like energy level, stress level, and the effects of motivation.

I’m inclined to be harsh on myself regarding this sort of thing. I don’t like to make excuses as to why I’m not making progress, because I’ve been thinking of tinypapers as a startup, and startups won’t take excuses later so I shouldn’t start now. However, if you quit your day job and leave college to work on your startup, those are two big time- and energy-sinks out of your life. And humans have physical and biological/psychological limits on their time and energy (respectively). So where do you draw the line? Where is an excuse for not producing (to a self-set standard) valid, and where is it BS?

I would work on tinypapers even if it had no chance of becoming what I think of as a “real” startup: defined as one where you work on it (and its related chores) full-time, and where it probably has funding. I would work on it even if the only option were for me to distribute it freely as open-source. It’s working on solving a problem I personally face and want solved. But I wonder if I’d pressure myself to work on it as much if I only thought of it as a project and not a startup. Would it lag? Would it become stagnant?

Hmm. I don’t think so. I’ve spent about a quarter of my life so far with a novel constantly under construction, and they didn’t lag much unless I was totally out of ideas or was into something else (like when I switched to programming). But they weren’t always fast. I didn’t always prioritize them. And I was quite certain no one was writing the same stories I was (at least not in the same way), so it wasn’t like I was developing quickly in order to be the first to market or anything.

I don’t think it can be applied to programming projects you want to make into startups. I’m going to just have to keep reminding myself not to be so hard on me, and keep prioritizing my time hacking away when I can. I guess that’s all I can do.

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