Thursday, October 7, 2010

Another Wagon and a Stranger

Photo credit: Ryan Doherty (c) 2010. Taken at NASA.

Oct 7 2010 (This is gonna be a rather long post. Today was quite interesting)

The Wagon

Continuing from my previous post "A train of change", today I added a wagon to the train.

My manager walked in asking me if I had some time to talk. He wanted to know if I was up for a challenge. At that point, my mind went "oh oh that's gonna be a lot of work, but it's a challenge!! take! take!".

He compared the project with another one that I've just been assigned. He said the one right now is like a 1m swimming pool, and the next one is the deep sea, and possibly some alligators left in it (they killed most of them already). I asked if it was okay if I take more time than others to complete it and he said yes. "So what could make me 'drown' then?" I asked. He replied nothing. I wondered why he was asking me then. He explained that sometimes people are scared of complicated projects, even if there is support. I accepted the challenge.

AssertFalse(Me == not scared);

The truth is that I'm very scared of this project. For the past month, a lot of the time, I've struggled to understand the system, to know where to look for things, just to fix small bugs. I haven't even started the 1m deep swimming pool type project yet. It's definitely not gonna be easy, sometimes overwhelming and most of the time crazy debugging. But I came here to earn my confidence as a programmer and the only way to do that is to tackle valuable projects asap. Usually we do that 6 months in, but why not try 2? I like skipping steps. It drives me nuts but the survival skills developed are invaluable. I went ahead and jumped, trusting that my patience, perseverance and preparedness will catch me before I hit the ground. If I don't trust myself, who will?

Off we go to a demanding workload! And if I do hit the ground, the momentum will be so high that I'm likely to just bounce back off :) Aah it's great to be an optimist.

The Stranger
After waiting 30 mins for the bus, I finally climb on a jam-packed vehicle. Standing, I resume my reading. TTC has been the opportunity for me to catch up on reading. I was on the second chapter of The Left Hand of Darkness.

I was barely a few minutes into my reading when someone commented about another book by the same author. I looked up to face a skinny sixty year old man who looked very interested in my book. At first I hesitated before engaging into the conversation. I had never left work so late and I've encountered many a creeper in this city. I smiled and said a friend of mine recommended it.

The young man who had been sitting right next to us looked up and asked what the book was about. Soon, the three of us were having a conversation about sci-fi, about award-winning books, and movies. The ride to the subway station seemed much shorter than usual.

We kept talking and sat together in the TTC wagon, still talking. The old man was quite an interesting character. He told us that he obtained a degree in theatre before. And then one day, he was introduced to the digital world via programmable stage lights. His fascination brought him so far as to become a prominent professional at the aerospace research centre at the University of Toronto. I was amazed by his story. I always thought that switching from a technical career to anything else was relatively easy while the opposite was very unlikely. Yet, in front of me, I had living proof that one's passion and eagerness to learn is the only thing that matters to success.

People like him are inspiring because they do not care how hard people THINK it is. They probably don't even KNOW how hard people think it is. All they know is their passion. Many a times the goal isn't clear either. But they keep searching and picking up as much as they can in their quest to mastering their field of interest. Nothing and no one can ever stop them. Not money, not family, not anything. It's a true calling that cannot be ignored to them. Realizing one's dream is never an easy path to choose. The result, however, rewards everyone. For great things are only born of passionate hands, and great ideas generated from passionate minds.

I am a girl with more than one goal. In fact, these are only two of my goals. I have many many others, not less ambitious, but we'll save that for some other time. The point is, I hope and wish that each and every one of you find this THING that you resonate with, that you could spend your life on. When you do (or if you have) then I hope you'll have the guts to go for it and see your projects through. And if you do have the guts to go for it, I hope you're ready for a rocky ride and enjoy each and every bump. Bruises are cool to show off ;)

If your goal is crazy, just remember that...

Before 1870: People thought talking to someone and hearing them talk back without them being in the same room was an odd idea. Then Graham Bell invented the telephone.

Before late 1990s: The idea of sending messages and data to the other end of the globe within seconds was unrealistic, when snail mail took weeks. Then came the internet.

Before 1969: The moon was still mere material for empty promises. Then Neil Armstrong and his buddies landed on the moon.

Before late 1800s, no sound was ever recorded!

Every great thing (many of which we take for granted now) were, at some point, considered unreachable, crazy goals. Then someone made them happen. Someone crazy, like us :)

Happy Mid-week!


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