Sunday, August 28, 2005

safe, I think

I got a message from Dylan at 5 this morning, and he says he's safe. The plan he settled on was to go with a friend about three hours north up the river into Mississippi. I hope that's far enough away. So the only worry left now is (other than for all those people who can't leave NO) whether he'll have an apartment to return to when this is over....

But he's safe, and that's what matters most.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

I spoke too soon

Just after getting Dylan to New Orleans, I now have to get him out. He has a friend whose family is in Baton Rouge, and they are trying to get there - but with the roads closed into New Orleans, her mom can't come pick them up.

So now I am waiting for him to see if he can get a Greyhound bus ticket from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, and then to find a way to get to the bus terminal. shows the gridlock of traffic, so even once on a bus, that bus has to be able to move.

Life is a bit too much of an adventure sometimes.

Friday, August 26, 2005

and off they go again

Two of my sons went back to school this week - the oldest to start work on his PhD in the Classics, and another to begin his sophomore year in college. Three more return to school after Labor Day. I feel really guilty about this, but it really is nice to have them back at school.

I left graduate school a while ago (with an MA and an ABD) but every September I feel that same pull. To go back... I find myself going through the Harvard Extension school catalogue looking for courses to take in the evening. This year I'd love to take Introduction to Modern Irish. I never seem to find myself looking under the Computer Science category - I find myself craving the liberal arts.

But I made the mistake of telling my (fourth) son (a high school senior). He wants to take it, and I don't want to put him in the situation of having Mom in his class, that would be totally strange. And then I think of the reality of my life, and a course for fun just doesn't fit right now.

But I can guarantee that next September, I'll look through that catalogue again...

Friday, August 19, 2005

post-partum depression

So after saying I really don't want to talk about computers, I guess I can't get away from it. While I have a rather crowded and eventful life (six sons and six dogs will do that to you), I spend a lot of my time and energy doing this computer stuff.

I've had a lot of babies, and I've shipped a lot of products. Yes, these thoughts are connected. Think about a software project for a minute. It's actually a LOT like a pregnancy. There's the initial idea phase which is fun (conception), the first few months of putting it all together, which is exciting but sometimes difficult (the first trimester), then a period of relatively smooth sailing where a lot of the code gets written (second trimester), then the third trimester when the baby is getting ready to ship - that can get difficult, tiring, and you are just plain working really hard. Finally, the delivery stage - labor. Even the stages of labor apply, where everything peaks at transition, followed by pushing the baby out the door. So working VERY hard and intensely, the product/baby finally ships. All of a sudden the product you worked on for months is on its own - and in the hands of others (release people, marketing, customers, etc).

And I think the analogy goes even beyond pregnancy/birth to the post-partum stage. I always feel a little disoriented making the transition from shipping to having shipped. Having worked so hard for the end game, it's hard to abruptly stop. Yes, it's badly needed, but it's a very abrupt change and there's a sense of loss, too. There's the happiness of having shipped, but that work is now finished, and it's on to the next release, the next child.

But software kids seem to go right to kindergarten - you start getting the report cards pretty soon, and you are really hoping the reviewer is happy with the result.

A vacation in the middle helps (maternity leave), and I did that, but still feel a bit down. And software engineers have to turn around the next baby pretty quickly - is there the same effect on the mind that having continual pregnancies would have on the body?

It would be good to have a longer maternity leave...