Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Memory Day: Eleven Years Ago Today

July 11, 2001 was in the heart of the limbo summer between undergrad and grad school. I was living with my parents in Alexandria, while commuting thirty miles one-way to Dulles every morning for my second summer internship at FGM. Because traffic did not gel with my master plan, I took to working from 5:30 to 1:30, which was nearly opposite of almost everyone else in the building.

FGM had recently hired a Java guru who spent most of the day comparing design patterns to coffee filters, which inevitably led to several hours of refactoring code. My project for the summer was to design a reusable set of graphical elements that could replace the heavily duplicated, hard-wired UI in the existing software. Some might argue that Java Swing already filled this need, but I believe that it's a rite of passage for Java developers to write extensions to JTable and then prefix their own letters. In our case, it was a GTable, and the G either stood for Gumbo or Global.

On July 11, we had the design review for GThings (the official name of the effort which I, as a lowly intern, had no say in). It was a smashing success all around -- the other programmers wanted to use GThings in their own programs because it meant they would no longer have to be responsible for all the graphical bugs found by the testers and could pawn them all off on us. The manager who rightfully wondered why it took two full-time developers and an intern to create and maintain this Great library was overruled by the will of the developers.

As a postscript to this story, the government nixed GThings as soon as I went back to school at the end of the summer and all of the code was immediately discarded. So of course, I was put to work on UThings the following summer.

After the design review, I stopped by Anna's house in Chantilly to pick up Kitty for a brief visit. Kitty was the cat we had adopted with Rosie in Blacksburg, with a penchant for chewing through mouse wires and peeing on everything. Anna's mom was never a big fan, and became even less of a fan when it was discovered that Kitty had managed to get fleas. That afternoon, we bathed her in the guest bathtub and then I took her back to my house while theirs was flea-bombed.

This was the day where I learned that you should always box up your cat when driving anywhere. Kitty cried all the way back, climbed on the windows, dashboard, steering wheel, under the seat, in the drink holders, and around the pedals. Thankfully the car had window locks, but I almost swerved out of my lane at least once.

As payment for her hair-raising journey, she peed all over my parents' carpet as well.

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