Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Warehouse Blues

This morning I came to work faced with problems coming from the warehouse. This has been the story of my life after going live with the system about 2 months ago. It does not happen all the time but it is irritating to come to work with a critical problem in your hands. I used to dread these mornings that I got into the habit of coming to work early. In my past life I would be at my desk about 15 to 30 minutes after eight but recently I would be at my desk at exactly at eight or 30 minutes earlier.  Coming early gives me time to fix the problem right away instead of rushing to meet the deadline. Delay is the killer because you would have a bunch of people standing around with nothing to do, waiting for a fix. I have gotten used to having these issues in the morning but now it has tapered off, I got back to my old routine of coming to work late.

The problem was fixed at about 10 am after feverish phone calls, frantic checking of servers, consulting with users, racking brains about possible solutions and just trying to remain calm. My colleague came around and mentioned that all these issues have to be fixed before moving to the next warehouse in Nevada. Otherwise, it will be a mess. If it’s not one issue, it’s another.  But the goal has been set and would be difficult to change course. Any future issue is a support issue and one must keep moving forward.  In other words, it won’t be my problem but another person’s problem who happens to be my colleague.  So here we are at the verge of success but these little problems coming out, preventing a clear victory. At least it won’t be my problem as it will be a decision of the committee to move forward. At least I did my bit of getting the product to production and go live in our first warehouse.

The stress is that other projects are lined up behind this one. It is crucial to succeed. Otherwise the dominoes will fall one by one. It’s times like these that try men’s sanity. All the truism that one’s hears are right and one should just keep at it. Failure is not an option and so on.  Surprisingly, one has matured and no longer emotional. In a previous life, one would go bonkers and run around like a crazy chicken with the head cut-off. Nowadays it’s part of the routine, remain calm, think about the options, create a ticket and move on. One is no longer the hero fixing problems but part of a large machine. The machine should address the problem and one should get out of the way. One just tries to help the machine. The machine is made up of people, systems, procedures and tools. It’s like a huge orchestra where one just plays his tune and not improvise. Although one does improvise now and again because the machine has loop holes. But one should proceed as if the machine works so everyone will enjoy the symphony.

The weekend was eventful. My wife and I bought bookcases in Ikea and some household stuff. It was an hour and half drive to the store. I bought a large photo that I wanted to hang in the living room but could not fit in the car so we had to return it. I have to go back again in the future because it looks good at home. We had lunch at Ikea thinking that we could deduct the cost from the bill as advertised. But the checkout lady said that it was not for this weekend. After getting back home, I assembled the bookcase in the afternoon until the evening. I finished at around 8 pm. While I worked, I watched the DVD movie I borrowed from the library aside from 2 other movies that were free from the cable channel. On Sunday, we had lunch at our favorite Asian buffet to celebrate Father’s day. I ate kimchi, olives, Japanese rolls – some with white cheese inside which was the first time I ever tasted that concoction, sweet and sour soup, clams cooked in pepper flakes and sea weeds.

In the afternoon, I worked on the ceiling fan for my son’s room. Last week I installed a ceiling fan in the living room. I hope the ceiling fans would help reduce my electricity bill. Last night my sons had the fan running and did not reduce the temperature of the central unit. So it looks promising. I still have to do more household stuff like place a film in the kid’s windows to reduce the heat coming in; set-up the bike hooks in the storage room and set-up the curtain rods in the living room. My weekend would be full aside from my trying to write and learning to kayak.  After installing the fan, we stored the old bookcase and DVD rack in the storage area. I felt tired after all that work so I took an early shower, ate dinner and had 2 drinks of vodka and lemon juice while watching the movie ‘Middle Men’. It was an entertaining movie but Luke Wilson is not suited for serious movies. I think he should stay in light comedies like his brother. It was educational too because it told the story about the early days of Internet porn.

I finished reading the last chapters of Mario Vargas Llosa’s ‘Letters to a Young Novelist.’ He has an interesting perspective on the craft of novel writing. He focused on ways to make fiction work by achieving an internal coherence and consistency. I liked the chapters on ‘Chinese Boxes’ and ‘Communicating Vessels’ as ways to tell a story. He cited a chapter in Madame Bovary wherein a farm fair was held while Madame was being seduced in an upper room in front of the fair grounds. The contrasting stories in that single chapter made the fiction believable.  He also wrote about Hemingway and his realization that his story would be more interesting if he did not write about the main event – letting the reader fill the blanks. He cited Hemingway’s short story ‘The Killers’. It was the first time I understood what Hemingway was trying to do despite all the Hemingway books I read. I guess it takes one Nobel Prize winner to decode the work of another. The book was overdue but I did not want to rush reading it to allow the lessons to grow on me.

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