It's been a long month September 1, 2000
Friday September 1, 2000 11:34:18 am

Three big items all fell within my month of August. The first you read about (you did didn't you?) in the previous edition entitled "Jury Duty" which I never really finished. The second was the transfer of the all the wanted contents of the garage at our previous residence to the basement of our current residence. The third was rjtt.emr, better known as Haneda.

The jury duty was interesting even if I didn't get to actually be on a jury. I read a couple of good library books, though. Well, 1.5 actually. The one I didn't finish I still haven't finished and I've been informed by the library that I may not recheck it again. A couple of weeks after my experience at the courthouse, I saw an article in our local paper about a 2 million dollar settlement in one of the cases that I was an unselected potential juror for.

The transferrance of the contents of my previous garage was an extended effort of some magnitude. This garage was filled with all the accretions and accumulations of not only the junk I threw in it the 3 years I lived there, but the tools, old parts, screws, nuts, bolts, and just plain junk acquired by my grandfather in the decades he lived there and worked as a machinist, mechanic, and amateur carpenter.

This transferrance took the typical form of me getting home from work, changing clothes, driving the scout over to the garage, loading the scout completely full of the aforementioned junk, driving home, and finally unloading all that junk into our basement.

The first trip, however, was with the assistance of my brother-in-law Mark and his pick-up truck. Two Snap-On tool chests, a table saw, a planer, and a wheel-grinder. The big Snap-On tool chest was a bear because it was, in the interest of haste, still full of tools! Man was it heavy! That table saw was a close second in difficulty, if not for the weight as much as the unwieldy-ness of it.

You know, come to think of it, all that stuff is still in the Denby's garage since it was about 10:30 when we were done, and we were too tired to unload the stuff down my cellar steps. You know what else? Now that all the other stuff is down there, there isn't any room in our basement for the junk in their garage anyway...

After that first load, I was on my own. This project involved me for about a week straight beginning about 6 or 7-ish till usually around 10:30 or 11 pm. man, by the end of the week, I was beat.

The next big item from this month was rjtt.emr. What is that you ask? Well, it's a file I've been dealing with at work. It is the database of Haneda, Tokyo International Airport in Japan.

The airport has changed- a runway has been moved and my job was to update the database to reflect this change.

Haneda is a rather large airport and the database is rather old. These two facts coupled with the capabilities of my machine at work combined to produce a less than rewarding experience in working on this database.

The size of the airport translated directly into a large file which took about 10 to 15 minutes just to open. Consider a scenario- I start my modeling program and open the file. After waiting ten minutes, the file is opened and I promptly (due to reasons described below) make a mistake and must close without saving and reopen the file. So after wasting nigh on half an hour I have accomplished nothing. Yes, this did happen more than once.

Secondly, since the file had originally been created to run on a less advanced platform than our current target and instead of being re-created for the new platform, had been converted, in addition to being a model of a complex airport, the architecture of the database itself could without exaggeration be described as Byzantine. This meant that working on the database was made monotonous in one way by the fact that selecting only specific sections of the database could take quite a lot of clicking and take some time and occasionally be confusing.

The major factor contributing to the dearth of enjoyability, of working on this file, though was mainly the fact that my SGI Indigo simply doesn't have quite enough horsepower to process this file acceptably. It was this fact that triggered the 30 minute scenario mentioned above. Spend 10 minutes opening the file, 2 minutes setting up a complicated selection, switch to graphic display mode, wait a minute for it to display, accidentally- due to slow screen update- click and drag the wrong element, watch in horror as something is deleted, and then close without saving and reopen the file.

I had been working in rjtt on and off in between other projects (helping others fight fires on other databases) for about 3 months. Now, though, the previously rather fuzzy time frame for completion had become instantaneously concrete...

We had received a fax from Mr. Okawa of ANA (all Nippon Airlines, the ones who the database had originally been created for) on a Monday to the effect that he would be visiting us the following Monday through Wednesday to inspect the database. "Well," I thought, it isn't finished, but it's getting close. Maybe he'll be satisfied to look at it, see it's mostly done and give us another week." So I went back to work on the database devoting a little more effort, but not going overboard.

It was Wednesday when I learned that no, Mr. Okawa would not be satisfied to see an almost finished product. He needed to actually take the database with him on tape, so that it could be installed and integrated with a simulator that would be certified by the Japanese Civil Aviation Board on September 5th!

What could be done? I redoubled my effort, and planned on getting a little overtime.

As the weekend drew closer, I realized putting in an extra hour every day, and maybe two on Friday wouldn't be enough. so, I put in my two extra hours on Friday and got a "global card" so that I could get into the building on Saturday when I hoped to wrap it up, right?

I got up early Saturday morning, figuring I'd work four hours, get it almost done, get a haircut and mow my Mom's grass before we had to get ready to go to my cousin Aaron's wedding that afternoon. A busy day but doable, I thought.

Except, as usual, each time I thought I could wrap this blasted file up in 4 hours or so, I discovered more stuff that had to be done in the process of doing what I could. I'd have to come back Sunday afternoon. Additionally, when I got the barbershop, they were swamped and I didn't have time to wait. When I got home, Ruth, Isaiah and I needed to have lunch and after lunch there wasn't enough time to mow, so we made a quick trip to the grocery store instead.

As we were bagging the groceries (this is a discount bag-it-yourself store) a middle-aged dude was getting change and operating one of the mechanical-claw machines that are so popular now, you know, the kind that has stuff in it that you win if the claw grabs it and drops it out the shoot. Well, he won! Two teddy-bears. Then as he was walking out, he let Isaiah pick and have the one he wanted and gave the other to a little girl on his way out the door. The blue bear had a scorpion embroidered on his chest and we deemed him "The Horoscope Bear". Now, personally, I hold a rather dim view of horoscopy, but I thought it was pretty neat anyway.

The next point on the day' agenda was Cousin Aaron's wedding. It was way out in the country, but we made it just in time. In fact, we were there in time for a few relatives to admire and hold Isaiah, who behaved remarkably all evening.

The reception was held at the Bunker Hill, Illinois VFW. Now, I figured this place would have a rather... quaint atmosphere, but when we went in and the bowling alley aroma hit me (old, musty smoke and a lot of time) I looked around and figured it hadn't changed in 40 or 45 years. This suspicion was later confirmed by knowledgeable sources.

Sunday between morning and evening services of church, I put in 5 hours more on the stupid database. I figured I was as close as I would get, but I still had to install the database and check it out on the demo projector I wanted to use. So after church, Ruth, Isaiah, and I went back over to get the projector set up. This, however, was unsuccessful and I would have to use a less impressive projector and had wasted about an hour on the fruitless trip.

Monday morning I showed up bright and early in my coat and tie. Mr. Okawa was due at 9 and I showed up at 7 to make sure everything was running OK. I felt pretty good. I knew it wasn't perfect, but it had come a far way and it was as good as it was going to be then.

Very soon, though, my confidence began to wane. Mr. Okawa was very polite, but the 5 hours we spent on Monday were like being dragged over broken glass. Somehow it was more painful to have Mr. Okawa politely say "Please, let us check the drawings about this area." Than to have heard him say "Look, this is wrong!"

And there was plenty wrong. I cursed my lack of diligence hundreds of times as mistakes I made were clearly shown on the drawings. However, I also believe Mr. Okawa had a surprise when he saw the crummy quality of the digital photographs I'd been given to work with. Eventually, our session was over for the day at about 2 pm and I went to work making corrections to the database.

I figured I might work most of the night and go home to sleep a couple of hours to be back Tuesday morning. Until, that is, I discovered that the runway was the wrong width. Now, this may not sound like much, but consider the fact that when one side of the runway must be moved- all the taxiways that intersect it on that side must be redone! Then I knew I would not be going home. When I called Ruth and told her, she told me she would have Mark and her mother bring her and Isaiah over with some Taco Bell for me. That, 2 liters of Coke and a box of Twinkies along with a pile of good CDs kept me cranking straight on through the night. I was working till Mr. Okawa showed up again at 9 Tuesday morning.

Tuesday Mr. Okawa was pleased with the progress I had made and we found a number of items that still needed to be corrected, but the lion's share of the work had been made right. In fact, so much had been done that I was able to leave at 6 pm on Tuesday

Wednesday went even better. He still found things to be fixed, but they were small things that I could fix and then recompile the database as he continued to inspect it. I was working on the database until the last possible moment, but Mr. Okawa was satisfied and conscious of the hard work I had done in the 3 days he had been with me. The next day, Thursday, I took a half day and already had 62 hours on my timesheet.

Friday Ruth, Isaiah, and I went to the park for a nice picnic. I don't remember much more about Friday was kind of out of it, you know. Saturday all I accomplished was a nap.

Monday through Thursday of this week I was in a training class at work. It was the same class I had been sent to San Jose, CA to take in February, but there was an empty seat and I hadn't put the training into practice since then, but will be very soon so I sat in and today I spent tinkering around practicing what I had re-learned.

So, there you go. One big month in one big edition of TOV.

I plan to take it easy in September.

About the Author
About this Website