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Monday, August 18, 2008

[travelogue] The road, unravelled

As expected, all my jitters went away today. It was a really good day. Our client was very honest and direct about the information they provided us. This location has employees that are retained for a very long time and it shows in the demeanor. It's a welcome change to talk about saving money through process, re-engineering, and data control rather than indescriminate slashing of dollars demanded by sweaty, wide-eyed executives fearful for their jobs. They were very relaxed, very clear, detailed, knowledgable, and great to work with.

After one day, I already had some broad strokes on what to fix, some areas where we can help, and a general improvement model that is focused on creating content once and distributing it many times. I've been doing this lately - after part of the morning I am able to see a conceptual model of how this could be better, rather than needing many days. The extra days help fill in the details and give me time to work on the solution model (pardon my jargon). Bob and I talked about my ideas at dinner and it's what we're going to use as a template for the next two days as we delve deeper into the processes here. We have some good questions to ask tomorrow, based on this approach. I still think it's weird that I have ideas and concepts that no one has thought of before. Surely they have, right? Who made me this thoughtful? Why am I figuring out things that big-ass corporations can't? If you know the reasons, let me know.

It's tough to write about work and not write about it at the same time. A lot was accomplished today, and my abstract analysis is making me feel more and more confident each time it engages well. And today it did very well.

So, at mom's request I need to talk about food and other things. To start with, I slept badly, which I always do in general but particularly so the night before an engagement. I get nervous that I'll wake up late. So, after going to bed at 11pm, I woke up at 3am, then 4am, then 5am, then finally got up at 6am. Went to workout in the little gym here - 30 minutes on the treadmill while CNN spouted its usual nonsense. They need to change their slogan "news you can trust" to "free bullshit".

I had a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast, and orange juice. Light. I spent the day in boardrooms and small workrooms. Saw a press shop which brought back fond memories of my days at Minuteman Press, although this one was considerably bigger. Lunch was boxed - sandwich, chips, cookie. I had turkey deluxe. This is in no way meaningful.

After meetings, I went back to the hotel room to cool off (one of the work rooms was toasty) and promptly got too chilly. The Holiday Inn here provides an enviable AC unit in this tiny room and the controls are not subtle: "off" or "absolute zero". The blankets are warm, however. I worked for a while on a DTD (document type definition - that helps, right?) I need to finish by Wednesday. I didn't have all the tools I needed however, so I'm going to have to resort to writing it from an SQL schema script dump. Yay for me. I'll do that tomorrow when my fingers aren't numb.

This room has some weird noises. The tiny fridge makes a drippy gurgling digestive sound at frequent intervals, followed by a sudden louder knock every now and then. Also, the wall ticks. I don't know how else to describe it. It's like the wall by the bed is constantly settling so there's some kind of rattling or clicking. But, the CPAP device drowns out everything else, so when I slept last night, I slept well with good dreams.

Bob and I met up for dinner at 8pm and we talked over my theories and our stories about publishing and technology and jazz and things. We sat outside and a enjoyed the duck pond next to our table. A duck came up to my feet and begged for bread. We ate at Granite City Food & Brewery. This place makes its own beer varietals. I had an India Pale Ale that was very good. I broke from my generally healthy diet and had a BBQ bacon burger with shredded cheddar cheeze. Let me rephrase that - I had a shredded cheddar cheese burger with some meat and BBQ sauce. Srsly, I took off 2/3 of the cheese because it was past obscene and fell somewhere into arterial plaque disgusting. I didn't even finish it. But naturally it was good because it was bad for me. The best part was the berry cobbler with ice cream and whipped cream for dessert, which Bob and I shared. It's 1/4 of a pie, and is too much for one human to consume without their pancreas exploding. I had coffee, and this is in every way meaningful.

Our cheery waitress with the midwest accent announced she was "oot for the night, gentlemen" and bounced away with the check. We walked back across the highway and here I sit, writing non-creative blog copy. Publishing is everywhere. Fear it.

So I'm headed to bed shortly, to catch up on sleep and to hopefully not dream of XML and content management systems. I need a break every now and then. Off to read my trashy sci-fi novel. See you tomorrow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i know who made you so thoughtful.
your genes, some of which come from guess who? the one who thinks you are a genius.