Posting backlog from yesterday when I was mostly in offline places like airplanes, uploading work from the same.

Now that the FAD is over and I've got my list of wrap-up action (which I'm supposed to finish before I land back in Pittsburgh), it's time for me to figure out what I haven't been doing for the past two weeks. And catch up. A lot.

First and foremost on my mind is POSSE - this summer's POSSEs need to be opened up to registration, and the Big Announcement sent out. I am sorely overdue on this; it should have gone out at least a week ago, if not more. POSSEs are going to happen and they are going to be spectacular, and the surrounding materials need to reflect the (high) level of confidence my brain has on this. (One of my weaknesses: I am extremely comfortable with improvisation, but sometimes fail to register that other people need to be reassured that we are prepared to improvise.) As such, POSSE is the only thing I'm working on between now and the weekend. (Well, okay. There's one exception; I will spend one hour in tomorrow's Marketing meeting - which Robyn Bergeron is running - and one hour after that doing whatever small tasks need to be done to clean up, but that is all.)

So that's it for work. I'll worry about other work stuff... later. Next week. Yeah. Including that email backlog. Um.

I also need to do my taxes - which take more trouble, in my opinion, than my actual average income for the year 2009 warrants. This happened for 2008 as well; working in 3 states and living in 2 brings... complications. Last year it took me about 16 hours to go through all the paperwork and figure out I owed the state of Illinois something like $19. That was... fun. This year I hope to get through that process more efficiently, but I'm blocking on my H2 (or whatever that form's called) from OLPC for the... 9 days in 2009 a bunch of us were still employees for. Massachusetts also has this lovely thing wherein you have to prove that you had health insurance coverage at all times, so I get to juggle papers from OLPC, OLPC-COBRA, and Red Hat - again, not bad, but just... I don't know how to do this stuff, it's my second time through it, there are so many rules and I'm just blindly following them and trying to understand the process... this is the one time of the year that I wish my life were more stable. Randomness brings paperwork with it sometimes. (2010, I think, will be much simpler... maybe. So long as I don't actually become a student until spring of 2011, everything should be all normal, right? I'll have the same status and legal address for a whole year, right? Right?)

So that... is the weekend after whenever the last bit of paperwork arrives. Whee. (And now is when I remind myself that yes, I actually do want to learn about this "finance" thing, because... it's... good to learn, so I can understand this stuff that I don't like, so I can minimize it as much as possible while still being responsible about it. Blah.)

I've also realized that my budgeting and financial forecasting will be simplified if I sit down and actually write out a monthly calendar of bill-paying - what's due when, from credit card to automatic retirement account(s) depositing to regular car maintenance to my cell phone to automatic non-retirement savings to... I mean, this is stuff that's already in my head, I remember the dates manually with the help of email reminders, it's all working, it just takes a lot of time that could be automated out. So sitting down and figuring that out and... dunno, maybe actually finding budgeting software and evaluating it and seeing which one is the most scriptable (I need something stupidly simple, GNUcash has too many features) and setting up some autocron to remind me "hey, I just entered this auto-scheduled transaction for your linode account and it's this much and you have that much left and YAY YOU'RE SAVING!" is... probably a weekend day worth taking at some point.

And honestly, I need to get rid of stuff. I'm not sure if I could fit everything I own into my car any more. Actually, scratch that; I've got a keyboard, which takes up something like 4 bins and a luggage worth of space. Nope, I can't do that any more. Need to get rid of stuff. But even then, I'm getting a motorcycle - so I suppose the goal is "except for the keyboard and the motorcycle, everything I own should fit into my car." No sense in carrying around things you don't need. No sense in owning and maintaining them, either. Best give them to someone else who can appreciate them more.

On that note - who wants books?

Then there are small side projects of the engineering sort that I would like to do, but which I haven't started because I'm worried that I can't contain them to start and stop in one weekend - that I would keep hacking on it past the end-date and my life will be consumed and - I mean, I've gotten into this mode before, I've had times where I could not stop engineering and wrote control code in C for... probably something like 50 consecutive hours except for short bathroom and food-fetching breaks, looking up days later to realize I hadn't slept or had a proper meal in that entire time. (I was 17 then and far more able to ignore... um... everything.)

I mean, I was happy! Flow state! The project worked! It was wonderful - and I'm also positive that every time I do this, I probably shave several days off my lifespan by utterly wrecking my physical self and not giving it any time to recover. And I used to do this on a regular (for a while, it was even a weekly) basis. I'm better at this than I was when I was 15 and slept 5 days a week most weeks. A few years later when I was in college, it wasn't unusual for me to go to bed at 7am because I was in WHEE HACKING mode, then wake up and go to an 8am class, then do it again the next day. I have dramatically improved, but only compared to an ABSOLUTELY AWFUL BAR. Hyperfocus can be dangerous when there's nobody to snap me out of it, so I often just don't let myself get started. For similar reasons, I don't go on Facebook or play World of Warcraft or purchase a gaming console. And for similar reasons, I live with people; hearing the background noise of the rhythm of their lives helps me remember that I ought to set mine occasionally.

I definitely see why my parents are more than mildly concerned about what's going to happen to me absent some sort of stabilizing force.

I hope I will get to hang out with Olin people this weekend. Katie says there is a dance on Friday that I want to make, and Matt and Bonnie are going flying, and I haven't seen the folks from Kristen's apartment at all except for failing the Olin challenge walking back from CMU last week with Bonnie and running into Aasted and Dellin for a few minutes. I also want to run around Meadville and explore the town I'll be spending the next few weeks in.

I'm still learning about the things I'm good at and the things I'm not so good at. I've learned that, as a catalyst, I only function in the presence of a reagent - which means I'm great in meetings and classrooms where I've got to get other people rolling, but not quite so good at large amounts of solo complex advance planning for said meetings/classrooms. I think what I'm best at is getting other people into flow state - that's what I can get into flow state on, myself.

Which is funny, because the moments of hyperfocus I described would usually be characterized as solo-hacking, but... that wasn't the case. I'd go for 50-hour stretches because I'd be the constant presence in the lab while other people drifted in and out - even if it was an individual project or if they weren't on the project team, I'd be calling them over and going "oh, what do you think of this?" and "do you know anything about that?" And the long stretches in the middle of the night I did spend alone were decompression times for me to gather and respond to all the input from these other people. So I suppose that engineering has always been a social activity for me.

Braindump feels like it's run out now. Time to work.