Move Along Now…

I’m beginning to wonder if, instead of promising one entry per week, I should just promise one entry a month, since that’s the rate I usually post at these days. It’s not only that I don’t have nearly as much time to update this journal as I’d like (between work and school, I’m pretty darn busy this semester), it’s also that I have such a hard time, sometimes, coming up with things to say. My wife can come up with five or more entries per week, and they’re all funny and well-written. Me, I have a hard time coming up with anything at all to say.

But this is me, updating today anyway.

One thing that’s new is that I now have a new permanent job. This job which I’ve had since April was supposed to be a temporary job; I was supposed to come in, do a quick migration of the campus website from Windows to Solaris and convert their database from SQL Server to Oracle, and then get out. Three weeks, tops. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am. Then I’d move on to a new temp job, reasoning that even working as an administrative assistant again would be better than Benthic Creatures.

Of course the three weeks stretched out into a month… then two months… then nine months. The director finally determined that as long as the department’s going to run their database on a Solaris platform and use Oracle as a database backend, they may as well hire someone to take care of the Solaris computers and the Oracle database full time. The position was approved, I applied, interviewed, and was hired.

It was kind of funny, getting hired permanently into a job I’ve been doing as a temp for so long. It was never a guaranteee, of course; I accepted from the very beginning that someone else might come along who is much better qualified than me to do this job. I was 80% sure I’d get the job, I’d say, but not positive. But when I got the offer, my boss told me that not only had I demonstrated my qualifications, I’d “raised the bar” with my interview, and made it really tough for the other candidates to match. That felt really good to hear.

And later that same day, everyone in the office threw me a surprise “Welcome Aboard!” party. There were doughnuts. I indulged.

Our primary business is providing distance education, and my job is to support that mission by supporting the Solaris servers and Oracle databases, acting as a technical lead and lead programmer. I’m getting paid slightly more than I was as a temp, but I’m getting wonderful benefits: medical, dental, vision, legal, the works. Jennifer’s thrilled; even though all of the benefits I’m getting cost us something like $115 out of my monthly paycheck, it’s still about $100 less than it cost to cover both of us under her work’s health care plan. Everything’s good there.

And to continue the time-honored tradition of keeping where I work confidential to protect the names of the innocent, I’ll use a made-up name to refer to my place of employment. But because I lack originality sometimes, I’ll tell you that I work for Miskatonic University, in the Miskatonic University Extension Distance Education Program. This obviously has great potential for names of co-workers. My boss is Randolph Carter. He works for H. P. Lovecraft. Obnoxious people I run into (and fortunately, my office is full of good people that I like) will get names of Cthulhu and other entities.

I actually really like my job. I feel very, very fortunate to have landed here. I’m sticking with library school, of course, because even though I like my job, it’s not my ultimate goal. But I’ve landed on my feet, and it’s a good feeling.

And speaking of jobs and nicknames of jobs.

Yesterday at a staff meeting we bandied about the possibility of expanding our mission to include providing on-line services for medical doctors attached to Miskatonic’s medical school. I found it ironic, since the company that laid me off in 2001, a.k.a. “The Little Engine”, did almost precisely the same thing. During the meeting I offered to show one of the other developers, C. D. Ward, my old company’s website, so that he could see the kinds of things that we did. I logged in and was surprised to see that the company is shutting down and ceasing all operations by the end of March 2004. It’s kind of sad, in a way; it was my first private-sector job, and my first full-time IT job. It’s the job where I really got my introduction to Linux and Oracle. I learned a lot at that job, not just about Unix and Oracle but about work habits and all that. I feel bad for the people who are being let go, and I wish them all well.

And, of course, my irony meter pegged out. Just as my new public-sector job starts looking like it might move in a similar direction as my first private-sector job, the company where I held that job is going under. It’s very surreal.

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