Years ago in college, I worked in the auditorium as part of the stage crew and one of the many jobs was running the spot light during shows. There was one two hour show I worked where the spot light would only be used for about fifteen minutes about half-way through the show. This meant I had to sit next to the spot light for nearly an hour, do the fifteen minutes of work, then sit there for another hour until the show was over.
As I sat there waiting for my cue, my mind wandered. I'm about twenty to thirty feet above the audience, I thought. This platform is suspended from the ceiling and held into place with those four bolts. I wonder when was the last time they were checked? What would I do if they failed? Could I grab and hold onto something? What could I grab? What was that creak? Oh, part of the show, okay. How much does that spot light weigh? I sure hope these bolts hold for another 98 minutes …
I was reminded of this today as I sat in our daily, thrice-weekly standup scrum meeting. Our acting manager and a team leader from another team were going back and forth about an overscoped and time deficient schedule when my mind wandered again. Staring out the window, I was watching the sun behind a hazy layer of clouds. At our latitude, I thought, we're moving at 940 mph towards the east. The earth itself is moving at 67,000 mph around the sun, and the sun itself is moving our entire solar system at 514,000 mph. All of this is held together by the force of gravity, a force so weak that a kitchen magnet can overcome it. It's a wonder everything doesn't just fly apart. I sure hope those bolts hold for another— “Huh? What?”
“I asked what have you done in the past 48 hours since our last daily, thrice-weekly standup scrum meeting?”
“Oh, just pondering the ridiculous speed we're hurling through space as we're held together with four small bolts.”
“Are you okay, Sean?”
I changed the image on my homepage. Normally, I wouldn't comment on this, but this time? This time I had to track down a sixteen year old bug in code I wrote in a language that makes COBOL look terse that manages the non-bloggish part of the website. All because I broke from twenty-one years of tradition and used a different image size! (It's a really good picture a friend took and it really benefits from the non-traditional size)
I had thought the code I wrote would deal with the non-traditional size and yes, it picked up on the new size, but that size was then used for every self-portrait on the site.
It's also been ten years since I last dealt with the code, and even then, it was just to get it running under a newer version of the language. This time, I had to figure out what the hell I was doing sixteen years ago. From various timestamps, I can tell it only took about an hour to track down the bug and fix it (eight new lines of code, mostly under 140 characters in length—sigh) but it certainly felt longer.
This is one of those situations where the language is ugly, the solution aggravating to maintain and yet, it works, and for what I want it's still the best solution to the problem of maintaining a static website.
Hopefully, I can go another ten years before the next bug manifests itself.