I'm discovering how I deal with stress now, with the ways I've changed--active-daily-life stress, not the stress of unemployment. I had told Jerry, my boss, that I would have an application design for him today, and, well, it wasn't quite finished when I got to work. Tricky thing: we need to have a coherent design that is much more flexible and general than what we actually need at the moment. With that kind of requirement, solving problems that haven't actually been defined yet, the best you can hope for is something that can be easily re-configured and added-to for unforeseen needs. Curiously, it's an XML server similar to what I built for UCSB; also maybe a little curiously, the design is very similar.
(In software engineering, this is called "reusing a pattern" rather than "being in a rut": there are a variety of design patterns that everyone has come up with independently over the decades, because they work very well, and over the past twenty years, it's occurred to people to collect and write them down, enabling everyone to learn from the collective experience. Most if not all software can be expressed as a combination of these patterns, but don't be fooled. Saying that knowing these patterns takes the art out of designing and building software is a bit like saying that since you know all the different joints you can make in woodworking, the art has gone out of designing and building furniture.)
Anyway, I handed it to Jerry with some trepidation, since he's got easily twice my experience and he's good, and given the complexity of the existing systems at Kensington I was sure I'd forgotten something because the design is comparatively simple...but it turns out I didn't, he agreed with the design once he understood it, and the conversation was primarily about extending it and identifying details we'll need either now or eventually. Nice bit of validation, and reduced my feeling that I've been running to keep up, while not making much of a contribution. It's only been two weeks, I realize, but I have all these ego-driven reasons for wanting to be useful.
Every story I read about the economy makes me feel better about my job. These guys were just dumb and greedy like everyone else, but that's a lot of people out of work.
So it's been a good week. Although I'd be okay with a bad week. Good week is good week and bad week is bad week. It's Chinese New Year, and the moon is hiding in the shadow of the earth.