February 5, 2003

Feb 05 2003

This site is now moved over to brent.other-space.com. I still need to set up the back end, but the move was surprisingly painless.

Programming can be a blast. You can dive into it and surface a few hours later, wondering what time it is. It’s all-consuming to the brain.

But, after spending eight hours a day programming for several years, it screwed up my sense of time at work. I didn’t notice that I was at work for a lot of that time; it slipped far into the background of my thoughts.

However, technical writing is a much more whole-brain activity, one that requires a lot of shifts in my attention as I jump from charts to source code to those two paragraphs of stale documentation to the new documentation I’m writing.

As a result, work seems much longer. I’ll work on technical writing for a few hours, and it feels like a full day of programming, because most of my programming time was spent deep in code.

Just identifying this has helped me to pace myself better at work, and concentrate more on what I need to do. However, I still want to improve, and it struck me today as I came back from my walk that I might benefit from the following change in perspective:

I have two jobs. One involves writing technical documentation for NLX from 9:00 a.m. to noon, and the other involves writing technical documentation for NLX from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00. I may walk outside at 1:00 p.m. and get in my truck, just to immediately get back out and re-enter the building as though it’s the beginning of my day.

Sometimes, a change of perspective is all that’s needed.

decades-old tree groaned in the wind yesterday afternoon, and collapsed on a powerline pole deep in a million-dollar neighborhood of Virginia. The pole splintered and fell, taking out the power for all the homes around it.

Including mine. We were powerless when I got home, and the guys working on the power lines estimated the power wouldn’t return for a couple of hours. So, I cancelled my drawing class with Shannon (rescheduled due to a movie she’s going to see tomorrow) and, after chowing down on a delivered pizza, picked up my keys and drove out into the night.

I wasn’t sure where I’d go. There were no movies out that I wanted to see. I didn’t want to wander a mall and be enticed by innumerable opportunities for conspicuous consumerism.

As I turned out of our neighborhood, I suddenly realized exactly where I wanted to go: a big bookstore. I went to a nearby Border’s, the largest physical bookstore in the area. I spent about three hours just wandering the shelves, brushing my fingers along the spines of knowledge.

I spent most of my time in the manga section (which, to my delight, has expanded to fill four full bookshelves). I came across a few lovely finds, but since I’m trying to purchase nothing, I bought none of them. I’ll save up to buy them later.

I did come across two things I absolutely had to buy: a copy of Teach Yourself Japanese with cassette tapes, and the first mini trade paperback of Transformers G1.

Transformers G1 is incredible. It’s by fans, for fans, and it pierces deep into the Transformers mythos. It raises major issues that make sense. These giant robots have been trashing the planet for years now, and people are tired of it. It’s causing problems. This reminds me a lot of what J. Michael Straczynski has been doing with Rising Stars and Spider-Man, doing incredible but really common-sense things with supernatural people.

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