Back from Georgia

I’m back from my trip to Georgia. It was a whirlwind two weeks, and unfortunately I only had a few hours to play. The work we were doing was important, and was exactly what I expected, which is why it was so cool. Getting there was a pain because of a storm in Atlanta that ended up delaying us by 4 hours and forcing us to stay in Jacksonville overnight instead of Valdosta. When we did get to Moody Air Force Base, we got to watch a couple drills with the fire department where they put out a fire in a building and practiced a fire on a cargo plane. I got to ride in the truck and talk to them and ask them questions about how they do their job and learn all about firefighting. For two weeks we would talk to the firefighters and emergency response people in the mornings and write software in the afternoons and nights. A few times we went to them with the stuff we had been working on and showed them to get their feedback and direction. It was cool to be working directly with the people who would be using the software, and it was apparent how much they needed what we were doing. We felt bad because they had been beaten up so many times by other companies who just pushed their boxed solutions on the emergency response folks without trying to find out what they did. They really appreciated how many questions we asked, how much we pushed them for details, and they were able to understand their own jobs and needs even better. There’s one week left in the project, and at the end there’ll be a demo and they’ll go off to Atlanta for a conference to evaluate the different software tools and which they would go with across all of the Air Force. If things go well, I may be traveling around the world doing this. Even if they don’t go well, we wrote some amazingly cool software in only a couple weeks that will probably be getting re-used a lot.

I’m pretty sure Georgia and Florida are going to be on my list of states in which I will not live. The humidity in Valdosta was oppressive. I was able to get used to it, but it was annoying every time I stepped outside and my glasses fogged, or how my arms would stick to the table while typing and I would have to rip them off to move to the mouse, and it always felt like my clothes were damp. The humidity also made it feel like a permanent thin fog, blotting out the blueness of the sky and replacing it with bright white light making it impossible to look up.

The humidity wasn’t the only oppressiveness. It was unbelievably flat, and covered in trees, so that the furthest you could see was a few hundred yards if you stood in the Walmart parking lot, and a few yards if you were anywhere else. The only perspective or sense of direction or change in elevation was on the highway overpasses. And there were police everywhere. I’ve never seen so many police cars. I couldn’t go anywhere without seeing one approximately every other mile. I’m used to seeing maybe one a day, not one every few minutes.

Sweet tea is good, though. It took a special request, but I was finally served a tea that was sweet enough. Its viscosity had visibly changed. That was good. On the night before I came back, I was staying in Jacksonville, and after looking at a map realized that I was on the Atlantic coast. I hopped in my car and made a quick jaunt down to the beach, where I took a long walk and marveled at the warmth of the water (compared to the Washington and Oregon coasts).

In all it was an interesting trip, and what comes out of it will hopefully be even more interesting. I got to escape the Tri-Cities for a couple weeks and visit a place I’d never seen before and see a culture I’d only heard about.

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