Learning to Say “No”

Saturday | June 23rd, 2012

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If I had this semester to do over again, not that I would choose to per se, but like if I accidentally knocked my AM radio into the bath and got a monster jolt thrusting me backward in time to like three or four months ago, I would practice saying “No” a bit more and perhaps a few other things too. But I’m stuck here, in this time-stream, plugging away when I feel like climbing neck deep into Javascript and writing clock and timer code. I said “Yes” because I like challenges. It turns out, after careful analysis over the years (in Korea, mostly by way of the fast times at the CEC), that when challenged, I excel, learn a fuckton, and spend less time moping about. I can be a King Mopehead if I’m not careful. In coming here, to Gyeongju, taking a different kind of gig, massively freed up my time on a daily, weekly, monthly, and (soon to be) yearly basis. But having lots of time is also a terrifying prospect. If I’m not busy or on a project, I find less of a reason to pull myself up from dreaming. I see a turn of events where I spend my four months off each year, anchored in 16-21 hours of sleep and dream each cycle. So does Meow. These things are known between us. At the CEC, a working week was a 50 hour a week minimum, which during intensives or with deadlines, rocketed up to 70, 80, or 90 hours a week. Once in the early days of the CEC, I pulled over a 100; I slept under my desk instead of going home.

When someone with a very simplistic and rudimentary understanding of technology, the internet, and software in general approached me on the possibility of steaming a PowerPoint file, I said I would investigate. When it didn’t pan out, they asked me if I could make the PowerPoint file work from a server, I said sure, but I’d have to rebuild it with HTML or PHP. Needless to say there’s been a monkey on my back ever since. I will admit to working on this project last night before completely dropping around 03.00. It’s no wonder I slept so long and then woke up with a stress headache.

In the shortest possible terms, I can say that I broke a programmers credo: know what you are doing before you attempt to do it. (Yeah, that credo works well for other things too). I’ve made four separate attempts to build this file as HTML. During the TOEIC workshop today, I got it, finally, really, truly, what the problem is. I’d thought this was a limitation with my knowledge going into the challenge, but that’s not what’s causing the problems and rebuilds at all. The problem is not fully understanding what the heck goes on either in a TOEIC camp or on a TOEIC test. The smart, and admittedly gut instinct I experienced when being asked originally, was to wait and see how stuff worked first, then find the weakness in the current system, then design a better one, then code it, then test it. I’ve gone and skipped right to the coding part, probably because I haven’t really had to design or make anything in a long, long, long time.

Today, I made the decision to halt my work on the file until I can get a better handle on how things work. I wish I’d done this months ago, but … yeah … learning and relearning.

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