Sleepless in DC

For the last week and a half I was in the Washington D.C. area for work deploying some software. Some of it still hadn’t been written yet, some of it required that I be there to work on it because it was on a different network that I couldn’t interact with unless I was there, and some of it was because we wanted to be able to adapt it to suit the users better. I worked so much while I was there that my whole sense of time got screwed up. It was so weird to come back to the hotel and see that the papers for the morning had been distributed already. Or to give up at noon to sleep for a couple hours. I was essentially working 20 hours at a time, then I’d get a few hours of sleep, then another 20. Then every few days I’d get 12-16 hours free. I hardly ate at all, and since the room where I was working was locked and required a few hoops to get back in, I didn’t even drink water or go to the bathroom much. I was a code-writing machine while I was there.

The good news is that I managed to explore a tiny bit. I was in Reston, VA, which is not D.C., but is near it. There is nothing to do or see in Reston. It’s very boring. All corporate office buildings and quick restaurants, with some townhouses and condos. Traffic was binary; everybody was on the corporate schedule so the streets were either packed or empty. This didn’t affect me much because I was on the opposite of corporate schedule. I managed to have some interesting food, too. Some great sushi, kabobs, etc. I mostly survived on trail mix, though.

The other good news is that I managed to more than dig myself out of my hole at work as far as hours. I had been at -30 for a while because I didn’t have enough budget to charge my time at the Supercomputing conference in Tampa, and before the trip last week had managed to eat away at that to get up to -12, but after this trip I’m at +40, which is fantastic, and I didn’t even charge all the hours I worked. In case this doesn’t make sense, we have flex time at the lab. We have to average charging 40 hours per week. Of course, they like it when we work extra hours and don’t charge them, too, but that’s another story. So if I’m at +0, that means I’ve averaged 40 hours a week for the fiscal year so far. If I’m at -20, then I’m behind and need to make those hours up some time, usually through longer work days or weekends. Being at +40 means I can essentially take a week off without using my vacation time. That’s what’s so cool about flex time; I can shift hours so that I make my own vacation.

Anyway, I’m back now and things are returning to normal. I really like travel, even if I end up working the whole time. It’s great being in different places, seeing new people, doing different things.

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