And just like that, it's done.
I first discovered computer programming in 1977-1978, when a friend and I discovered a computer terminal in the guidance office of our high school. It didn't have a screen. Everything you typed was printed on folded tractor-feed computer paper. To write a program, you typed it in one line at a time, and it printed that line on the paper. As the program grew and you had to insert lines and move things around, it would get too hard to know what the program was doing -- so you'd just list the whole thing again. In college, the first time I used a full-screen editor, I felt like I was magic.
I think from the first time, in that little closet, that I wrote a program that worked, it was inevitable that programming would be my career. It wasn't even much of a thing then; nobody told their kids to go into computers, because the job barely existed. My actual degree was in math, because my college didn't have a computer science department yet, but most of my classes were computer classes, so it was a CS degree in spirit if not on the diploma.
I worked in defense for the first 16 years of my career, and learned the value of bureaucracy and paperwork. When I finally got a job that wasn't funded by government dollars, I was shocked to learn that some programmers actually got to spend most of their time writing code.
And now, after 33 years of defining myself as "computer programmer", it's over. The new definition isn't written yet, but hopefully I can make up a new word and call myself an "experiencer". I'll be a husband, a dad, a teacher, a driver, a sailor, a hiker; but mostly, I want to leave behind the schedules and the obligations, and just experience life. I want to have things go hilariously wrong and spectacularly well, to be in the moment, because in the end, there is nowhere else to be.
So, we'll have daily stand-ups to develop action plans for our next experience and how we should feel about it to make sure the synergy of the team... hmm, I may need a few weeks to get used to this retirement thing.
I've worked with so many great people through the years. Programming has been the perfect job for me, and I suspect I will still do my fair share of it in the future -- I just won't be doing it for corporations pursuing goals that I either don't believe in or, at best, don't care about. I have a dozen programming projects I could start tomorrow. Forgive me if I wait a month or two before I start to dip my toe back into those waters, though.
Thanks to everyone who has given me such a wonderful career, filled with highs, lows, challenges and boredom.
Now, on to the next phase...
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
I had always thought I would have a nice long countdown to my last day of work. I've been at it a very long time, and figured there would be lots of warning for the end. That didn't work so well. A few weeks ago, we finally decided that it was time to go, and when I looked at how all the pieces fit together, decided I needed to be done in mid May. I gave my client seven weeks notice. After a little back and forth, they said it made more sense to just go now -- a week from Friday. That was last week. So basically, I got 7 work days of warning that my official career is ending. As I write this, it is three days. That's not much warning after decades of doing the same thing.