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multitasking, big ideas

I got an empty box delivered to my doorstep this morning, put in my laptop, filled out a form (trying to squeeze into the bottom margin a reminder to get the LCD resolution right this time), called DHL to schedule a pickup at work, then stuck it under my arm and went to catch the bus there.

Work was busy. I talked over those tangled data structures with my coworker Andy for a few minutes when I got in, then called into a two-hour (argh!) conference call about NFSv4 ACLs. Which could have been done in email, in my opinion--in fact, a lot of it already *had* been done in email--I'm not sure why things somehow have to be said in meetings before they count.

Then Andy and I continued our conversation. I think we agree on what to do next. The result will be a smaller change to the current design than was previously attempted, which is probably good.

I had a sandwich (delivered from Jimmy John's) for lunch, and read a little more of David Mitchell's intriguing novel "Cloud Atlas" while I ate.

Then Olga, David and I argued about the design of something else that Olga's working on--something I should probably be taking care of instead of her, but I just haven't been able to get to it.

With the day almost over, I finally got a short start to what I'd wanted to get done first, which was to respond to review I'd gotten to some patches I posted a few days ago.

Still left: I promised to discuss some code (that I haven't read yet!) at a meeting at noon tomorrow. I'll have to try to work that in between Wednesday morning donuts and the meeting itself....

I usually assume that to make any progress on a technical problem I'll need a big expanse of time to immerse myself in the details. But in practice I'm often surprised at what can happen if I force myself.

After work Sara and I met for our monthly book group, discussing Calvino's "If on a Winter's Night a Traveler". I often have the feeling that the other people in this group look for different things in a book than I do. They want to find the big ideas, the significant stuff, what a book says about life in general. I like the details, and like to stay more closely focused on the text.

So they seemed worried about whether "If on a Winter's Night a Traveler" is merely clever. *Merely* clever? Good grief, this one of the cleverest books in existence--we could spend our whole two hours identifying clever bits and not make a dent. It could be fun.

Next month is "China Mountain Zhang". It sounds pretty good, but I'm not sure whether I'm going to get to it. So much to read, so little time.