Monday, January 25, 2010

What I've Been Up To

It's been a while since I've posted and there have been very good reasons for that. I'm tempted to say that I have just had nothing to say, but that's not really true. The fact of the matter is that I've just been over-subscribed, and blogging is one of the things that fell off my priority list.

Over the past few weeks I have been extremely busy. At work I'm responsible for some new software and it hasn't exactly been going swimmingly. We're behind schedule, over-budget, and have several technical problems that we're still working through. If you know anything about building new software, you're probably smiling to yourself and saying, "Yeah, that's how it always is, you dope!" which is absolutely true. It is always this way, but that doesn't mean the stress is any lower.

On top of that, I'm working with my primary "customers" for the new software to develop the requirements for the next round of the software that's already behind schedule. They are not being cooperative, and the whole process is literally months behind schedule. I have very little time with them each week, and it seems they find ways to fritter the time away. They aren't excited about moving forward with the new software, but I don't have the resources to keep my software developers in a holding pattern while they hem and haw about how they want the document formatted. I totally appreciate now why some software developers run off and hide in a room to code their software without any customer input whatsoever -- it's easier and a heck of a lot faster.

On top of that, I've been under a deadline to get a paper for a conference written so that it can get through formal reviews prior to being publicly released. That just took a lot of time, but I finally got it out the door and things look good. Now I have to make travel arrangements and get everything cleared with the conference itself. It's not hard, but it requires doing everything deliberately, in order, on time.

On top of that, there's a large group of Europeans coming into town tomorrow to talk about a joint NASA/ESA mission in 2016. I'll be leading a goodly portion of the discussion, and I had to pull together a presentation that walks the very careful line of not over-promising our capabilities while at the same time inspiring them with the utmost in confidence.

On top of that, my computer died a few weeks back. Coincidentally, I was scheduled to upgrade to a new one anyway, so after a week of extensive effort (and lost work time!), I was finally able to recover all my data and get my work legs under me. The new computer is great, but its hardware is different than my old one and it has Windows 7 instead of Windows XP. That's fine with me, but it hasn't exactly been the most opportune time for me to invest in learning a new system and I'm still getting used to it.

On top of that, we had family in town the last two weekends prior to this past one, which wasn't in itself a stress, but just by the very nature of distracting me from other responsibilities, it ended up raising my stress level. I love having family come and visit us -- it's one of my favorite things and it happens far too rarely, so don't read this to mean that I resent that at all. However, I certainly could have used my time differently had they not been here.

Then there's the matter of speaking in sacrament meeting. I was told a month and a half back that I was going to speak in sacrament meeting more than two weeks ago. I spent a ton of time and mental effort preparing for it, only to find out the day before I was to give the talk that I wasn't on the agenda. Apparently, the counselor in charge of talks thought the bishop was kidding when he told him he wanted me to speak, though I took it entirely seriously. It took a bit more straightening things out before I ended up being put on the program for yesterday instead. The mental effort to prepare wasn't ultimately wasted, but the lengthy process to get to the talk itself wasn't helpful. The topic? Family history. I'll post the talk separately in a minute ... Anyway, the talk went well, but it took up more mental energy.

On top of that, I started teaching a family history class at church yesterday. So, not only did I give a talk in sacrament meeting, but I had to scramble immediately thereafter to get a classroom set up for it. I have over two dozen people in attendance and it will be very difficult to meet everybody's needs, but I'm confident it will work out. I arranged for a live internet connection so we could do some good stuff in class, but that took some time and even more mental energy to coordinate.

On top of that, my wife was NOT released from her stake calling, as I was led to believe should would be, which means she's still worrying about things that she shouldn't be. I love my wife dearly, so what she worries about, I worry about. More mental energy expended.

On top of that, the kids are very, very busy right now with schoolwork and life-in-general and every time I come home from work it seems like a constant onslaught of something that needs to be done. I know it's normal, but I just feel so ... weary ... when I get home from work and the last thing I want is to hear kids arguing or bickering or complaining about this or that.

On top of that, my wife hasn't been well lately. As the old saying goes, "When Mom is sick, the whole family is sick." It is absolutely true. She's been diagnosed with what's called "reactive hypoglycemia" and it has really been taking its toll on her. She's trying to manage it carefully, but it seems that everyday is a wild card as far as how well she's going to be. She doesn't ever sleep very well, and right now I can't count on her being healthy enough to get anything in particular done. It took me over a month to find a good time when she had available time and was well enough to actually get outside and do some trimming of the rose bushes. She's very particular about that and insists on doing it herself, but it just wasn't getting done. The bad part is that because she's not feeling well, she's not keeping the house as well as she'd like, which upsets her, which upsets me. More stress.

I've got bills to be paid, taxes to be sorted out, church calling stuff to be done, phone calls to make, books to read, family history to be sorted out, lessons to prepare, archiving to do, and a book that I started writing in 2001 that I really would like to finish. There's things I've been promising to do with the kids that I haven't got around to doing, including teaching my youngest, who is so ready, how to ride his bike without training wheels. I almost never spend time with my daughter and my interactions with my oldest child seem to be a never-ending stream of nitpicking. More stress.

And I put on four pounds over the holidays I can't seem to shed.

And somebody hit our brand new beautiful van and almost got away with it a few weeks back.

Oh, and I need to go home teaching sometime very soon ...

Time is not my friend.

Even so, with my stress level sky high, things are really quite good for me and my family. I have a job, which is saying more than a lot of people can say right now, and I still like it on most days, which is saying more than most people can ever say. Church is great; I love the people there and it is wonderful to serve -- speaking in sacrament meeting wasn't even nerve-wracking because of all the people who I know and love that were sitting in the congregation.

By and large my family is healthy and well and we do have good times together. Tonight's family home evening went very smoothly and the kids have been generally helpful around the house. They still couldn't sit still to save their lives, and it seems all they want to do is read, but they are good people. My oldest is finally old enough that we can leave them all home alone for short periods of time. This is something new for us, but my wife and I are settling into the idea of it pretty quickly.

All told, I've got far more blessings than difficulties. What's that expression? If we all got together and threw our troubles high up into the air, after seeing everybody else's problems, each of us would probably scramble to recover our own. I'm grateful for my life, and while it's a little overwhelming right now, I'll make it through. After all, I've got a little help from Upstairs. I also have a little help from my good wife upstairs, too, who is in bed right now futilely trying to fall asleep and probably unhappy that I'm not there to help her stay warm ...

So, good night!

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