Damn. I was really hoping for common sense to win out on that one.
We're home, finally, and I'm getting to unpack my stuff from my closet, and it's unthinkably wonderful to be back in my own place, wearing my previously habitual clothes that haven't been practical for the past five months: cotton cargo shorts and flannel shirts (both of which are cotton, and take forever to dry, and are a bit bulky, so are not great either for living on a boat or for traveling).
Remember how back in January I had a job interview with what felt like a great company? And I flubbed the interview, because I hadn't talked to anyone but my girlfriend for three months and I was having a really inarticulate day? Well, I wanted to tell them I was actually the right guy for the job and they had it all wrong, but lack of courage and lack of words held me back. Now, however, they've reposted the job, so tomorrow I will call them and ask for another interview, because I think I'm the person they want.
I have never done this before.
I just discovered that while fuzlogic.com is free, fuzzybunny.com is actually a porn site. I should explain fuzzy bunnies: at a party a few years ago (which I have to admit I didn't attend, being out of town, as I managed to be for so many things), one of our friends was not having a happy time with the substance he had taken. Fortunately he had lots of friends there, and these little fuzzy bunnies from the Oriental Trading Company, purveyors of all manner of crap, at wholesale prices; and the afflicted friend was encouraged to focus on the fuzzy bunny, and ever since, the saying "Breathe in, breathe out, fuzzy bunny" has been with us as a multifaceted synonym for "calm down". The porn site, of course, just makes it better.
Today has been a good day, with many leads and leanings towards jobs, and much relaxing and tidying up a bit. I even tackled some of the reams of paperwork in the boxes in my room, although I was beaten back by the end of the afternoon.
We had fun with airport security. In Hartford we did curbside checkin, which seems to automatically lead you over to the counter where they unpack all of your checked baggage to look for bombs and things. I'm not sure why this is effective, since people who checked their bags at the checkin counter got the usual stupid questions (now expanded to 4 or 5 instead of 2, and let me tell you, I feel safer knowing terrorists now have to make up more simpleminded one-word lies than before), and their bags went straight through. Since we had to be present while they unpacked our bags, there was absolutely no time savings, and no enhanced security, since we could have saved ourselves twenty minutes and bypassed the intense scrutiny at the same time.
We had the good fortune to get "randomly" selected to get the exhaustive search at the gate in Hartford, which consists of their unpacking your carryon items, and then the great modern parody of the Fourth Amendment: "Do you mind if we run the wand over you / pat you down?". They run the wand over you, identify all the beeps, pat down your limbs, then make you take your shoes off. The question they ask is akin to the police officer asking if you'd mind taking a breathalyzer test: you're free to say no, but Big Brother can then make certain assumptions about you. In the officer's case he can assume you're intoxicated and take your license and toss you in jail; in the airport, as the Southwest security woman said, "You won't get on the plane", and I'd bet money that you get marked in at least three different government computers.
As it was, the woman at the counter in Baltimore said, "Oh, I see they picked you for the thorough search in Hartford. We won't put you through that here." I asked if it was random, and she said "The computer selected you...it's supposed to be random, but there are some criteria...and I can't tell you any more than that." So we got hit by a weighted random chance, I guess, either because our names are marked by Big Brother (very possible), or they just noticed that we were flying one-way across the country (more likely), with no record of our having flown out the first time, because we took Greyhound and Amtrak. Reassuring, in a way, that we can still move with a shred of anonymity.
My mind has been busy today, trying to figure out how to tell that company they made a mistake in not hiring me, and trying to answer their question that I flubbed: How have your non-computer science studies affected your work as a programmer? It comes down to articulating the art of software engineering and its relationship to other arts. What is the underlying aesthetic of crafts? What makes something "beautiful" or, the highest geek praise, "elegant"? Beauty is a cultural ideal, but in building large structures, of stone or electrons, I think maybe cultural ideals have much less leeway to work with. The structure has to support itself, built out of any number of smaller pieces which work together: you can't make a bridge from a single block of stone.
All this is complicated by the uniqueness of software as art, where expression and function merge to indistinction, and even then have no tangible form. A computer program is at once a complete description of a process, and the means by which to accomplish it (one of the deep joys of computing is that that process may itself be a tool to execute other processes, and in fact this endless layering is what computing is about, from the hardware substrate up to whatever program you're using to read this); but for all its power and unity, you can't turn it over in your hands, it exists as a pattern of electrons inside a machine that only does anything when plugged into the modern industrial infrastructure, and even then it's up in the air whether it works or not.
Nontrivial indeed. But the answers are there, I can feel them, and I will find them.