Spinning Gears

During the OPW application period, I was running on nervous energy. I had a lot of reasons to be nervous: I had quit my job, with no assurance of finding another; I was hiding the fact from certain important people, on whom I was dependent; and I had never truly tested myself as a coder before. The terror of it would jolt me out of bed and into the computer chair. I was aware of what I was doing, and I knew that it was not sustainable, not for the internship or for a permanent job. It’s just for now, I told myself, and once the application period is over I’ll change.

I was not aware of how deeply ingrained the habit was and is. Well into the internship, I’m still relying on my dysfunctional patterns to get myself into a coding frame of mind. I haven’t yet found another way to do it. It’s not a simple matter of “I’ll get to bed on time tonight, and start work early tomorrow.” That leads to a half day of Sudoku and gray fog.

The habit becomes obvious when I look back over the history of my Toastmasters speeches. Time after time, even if I had an outline for the speech weeks in advance, I’ve put off practice until the eleventh hour. I needed that pressure to get the creative juices flowing. Once I even stayed up all night watching the BND logo trying to get wired up (not the screaming version, I haven’t gone that far down the rabbit hole yet), and finally shifted into gear at 3:30am for the 7am meeting. The speech rocked. The rest of the day was a waste.

If there was an emotion that I could ascribe to the swapoff system call, it would be nervousness. It digs into its work at the most obvious point, instead of the most logical one, and flails about covering the same ground over and over until it finally finishes the job out of sheer effort. It’s my job to break it down, see how it’s spinning its gears, and use my knowledge of the big picture to create for it a new life of order and peace. The kernel isn’t the only thing I’ll be updating in these three months.


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