Thursday, May 10, 2012

Never has not working involved so much work

I had forgotten how days begin to blur together when I’m not working; also, I had forgotten about That Thing I do when I don’t have actual obligations-as-such to be in such-and-so a place and this-or-that a time, when there are no specific due dates to speak of, or (at least sorta) clear tasks laid out before me to accomplish.

Which is that I promptly invent enough work to keep six people busy for three months, and then naively expect that I can totally churn through All That in, what, half a day?

{rubs temples}

I really need Whatever’s Next to…um…get started. I had a start date of Monday, but then it turned out that somebody hadn’t actually put a full blessing on the scope of work sooooo actually, I’m still kind of pending having a start-date, but PROBABLY soon, except that I’m not sure what the definition of “soon” is in this particular usage.

Could be a couple days.

Could be a couple weeks.

The people having to sign things don’t have the same sense of urgency I do. Probably because they are not the ones facing down a huge list of such faaaaascinating tasks as “doing something with all those damned school pictures that have been piling up everywhere since the dawn of time” or “try to figure out where The Randomizer has put most of my cookware.”

One major downside of having “help” with the cleaning: It now takes an extra half hour for me to do anything because first? I have to find the tools I need to do it. SEARCH EVERY DRAWER, MEN, THAT ROLLING PIN HAS GOT TO BE HERE SOMEWHERE…!!!!

But going back to the pictures thing…am I the only person who finds it almost physically painful to throw out duplicate pictures of their kids? Duplicate pictures, mind you. We’re not talking about “this is the ONLY such picture in existence.” We’re talking about “I have 20 wallet-sized, four 4x6, and one 8x10 of this same exact picture of a sulky-looking Eldest who probably didn’t want to be wearing that shirt or something.”

And yet, whenever I try to toss all but one or maybe two of the extras that nobody wanted…it’s like they stick to my fingers or something.

It feels a lot like throwing away their artwork. Which is another thing I have trouble doing, although I’ve had to get over that one because otherwise we would have been forced to start living in the van by now due to the overwhelming volume of artwork those kids can produce.

My scanner is my best friend, y’all.

OK, so, going back to the whole start-date thing…it also turned out that somebody’s minion in the contractor management system realms noticed that the ‘has taken SQL test’ box hadn’t been checked, and thus requested that I present myself for one.

To which the folks handling the corp-to-corp billing went, “…seriously?!...”

And then they called me about it and I went, “…are you even being serious right now…?” – because I’m not coming in as some unknown person who just wandered in off the streets looking for a job. I’m only there because I know a guy who is in charge of some things, and he knows me, and we have worked together, and he has seen my code and knows my (ahem) quirky personality and (somewhat obsessive-compulsive) work ethic and yet when I asked if he had anything going I’d be a good fit for, still thought that hell yes, he had some things I could do for him.

Which is about the best way for me to find a new gig, you know? This guy is super-sharp, very good at what he does, and won’t think the easy stuff is hard and the hard stuff is easy; plus, he won’t be giving me stupid things to do, or, expecting me to do stuff that is so beyond my current skill set and then being all, “Ohmygah, I totally thought you could do that!” when I tell him so.

If I know him at all (and I think I do), this gig will be interesting, fun, challenging enough for me to grow my skills but not so hard that I want to cry a lot.

(Because I despise crying. I do not resemble a Victorian-era heroine when I cry, swooning delicately into a lace hankie or something…I look like something out of a B horror movie about zombie alien swamp creatures from the high school next to the nuclear waste pond.)

BUT…how would the contracting-system minion know that there is this connection? And if they have their set of hoops that one is supposed to dance through, well, I’ve generally found that it’s usually going to be better to just do it.

And besides…I’m not afraid of a SQL test. (Now, a .NET test? Or anything dealing with XML, which is looking like the next thing I’m going to be forced to figure out how to play with in database-speak whether I like it or not? Those. Would. Scare. Me. A. Bit.)

Fortunately, even though it was timed and all, I was able to take it from here at home. Yay, not having to commute just to take a stupid test!

Unfortunately, I was also given a rather long block of time for it – up to two hours. Uh-oh…that’s too long…how detailed / long IS this thing, anyway…?

The test itself wasn’t bad. I had a first draft of answers done in about thirty minutes.

Which meant I only used up a quarter of my available time.

Which meant that I had plenty of time to go back over it to just kind of double check real quick that I hadn’t done something painfully silly.

Now, most of the time – especially on tests like these, which by nature can’t generally get too crazy in terms of table structures and what conditions are wanted – the answers they’re looking for are very, very simple. The “obvious” answer is usually the “right” answer…although frankly just about every question you’re going to answer in SQL has at least two ways you could get that same answer.

This leads me to the Pitfall of Being Experienced which is over-frickin-thinking things.

Which is why I started going, “Wellllllllllllll, sure, you could just join the table back to itself and that works and all…buuuuuuuut, you could also do this, which would tighten the whole thing up and is just kind of cooler and usually runs a little faster…and frankly, who on earth would just want straight-up just-those-fields, that would be kind of lame and meaningless, sooooooooo, what I’d probably do is add in variables so that you could customize on the fly to isolate the individual buckets…ACTUALLY, YOU KNOW WHAT? This whole damned thing should be meta-data driven…so, we start with CREATE TABLE store_variable AS…

{three hours later}

“…and that’s how you build yourself a customized reporting system, son! Enjoy!”


Seriously, Tama, all you needed was a left self-join to the blasted table…or a simple CTE so that you could do a recursive query to do the same thing…speaking of, you know what else could be cool…?

{another three hours later}

“…and THAT’S a really clever way that you COULD use DENSE_RANK to do the same thing but with more robust sort-by capabilities!!”


People…I wrote almost two pages of essay on the “new” ranking functions (new as of SQL Server 2005, not “new” as in “just came out”). Geez.

AND THEN…I moved on to the PIVOT / UNPIVOT functions.

I seriously need a hobby. OH LOOK, THERE’S ONE NOW!

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

This is the Oceanspray shawl I cast on a couple weeks ago. I expect I will finish it just in time to wear it when I move into the old folks home, because it is now taking me about twenty minutes to finish each row and I’m only on row 50 of 128 for the main section. And then there’s the garter stitch and then there’s that beautiful Elm Leaf border to go.

Dear Me: What do you have against simple things?

(By the way, all of this is just a con…I’m totally trying to avoid dealing with those pictures. I can feel them sitting on the table behind me right now. Glaring at me. We are not just going away, you know, they are saying. You can write FIFTY blog pages about absolutely nothing, we will STILL be here…waiting for you to woman-up and DO something with us… It’s like being haunted by glossy scraps of paper, y’all. Seriously.)

(OK, fine. I’m going to deal with the pictures now. Before they do any breeding. Gads. That would explain a lot, actually, if pictures could do that…)

1 comment:

Batty Girl (the uncool cousin of Bat Girl) said...

I'm waiting for your tutorial on making bread for sandwich (plural). How does one spell that? We had a fun time at Megabank interviewing candidates who rate themselves as an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10 in SQL and then can't tell you how to list a sample of 10 or so rows from a table. I kid you not. One suggested order by. Sigh... On a positive note, I did learn how to interview badly so I can collect unemployment all year. Always a silver lining...