Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Work, life, no balance

I'm not well equipped to drink three pints of IPA; I've neglected my booze training for a long time, and so I no longer have the sturdy, hardened liver of a career drinker. Long gone are the days when I could drink five pints, half a bottle of wine and that bloody-awful-stuff that comes with almond biscuits and brainwipes you so hard that you get lost on the way to work the next day. Ah, yes, sweet Amaretto, architect of a thousand downfalls.

People talk about having a work-life balance. I doubt they mean a see-saw where on one end you put a twelve hour day fighting spreadsheets, and on the other end hobbies like "drink so much you sweat beer all morning". So I expect this decade, where my body isn't under the alco-hammer every night, is probably better for me than what went before, but this week feels like a lot of lurching in opposite directions.

Having carb-loaded at Clarke Quay last night, and then walked it off by taking an hour to walk home to Orchard Road, and then (idiot that I am) watching Charlie's Angels, I wasn't expecting to be in the best shape today. And so it came to be. At least I'd managed to avoid eating the packet of crisps in the minibar: that was a real exercise in willpower, to lie in bed, salt deprived and hungry, and remind myself that I'd regret stuffing junk food in my mouth the next day.

Of course, if you have an exercise in willpower after you've been out and got tanked up, you're probably doing it wrong.

I got to work without throwing up on my own shoes. Or anyone else's shoes. Or vomitting at all. Well done! I deserve a gold star!

After a quick phone call to one of my many masters (this one in the US), I spent the morning wrestling with an intractable problem in a graph, which I solved in the most lamentable way possible: I stuffed brackets and semi-colons and functions into a form, and carried on doing this until my graph did what I wanted, and I had a godawful mess of code which did work, no matter how mysteriously.

(If I was being pretentious, I'd tell you I was doing Evolutionary Programming, where my program evolved from something that didn't work, into something that did, largely by random mutation. But who would attempt to bluster so much hogwash? Not me! I'll just say it was the result of rapid, agile testing, and hope nobody who reads this can refactor my employment into the ether.)

The problem with coding something is that although it's a lot of fun to apply all your attention to something that rapidly rewards your ego as it begins to succeed, it can stop you remembering to eat. So at 1pm I had to sprint downstairs and buy some food to stop myself from turning grey and fainting.

After that, meetings came and went: we had some fruitful discussions of tactics, although I wasn't feeling intellectual enough to develop a line of strategic thought yet. Or if you were going to put it unkindly, I charged around like a bull in a china shop, in the hope that all the sounds of things smashing were construction noises from a pathway to the future.

I finished the afternoon or started the evening by battering through some adminstrative work as hard as I could, then left the office at 7:30, in search of tofurkey for dinner. Perhaps tomorrow I'll get the hang of this balance thing.


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