Welcome to my Seven Day Work Week…

Saturday, August 27th, 2011 | Work

…in which I talk about the hell week that leads up to the first day of school.

As you may notice, today is not exactly Wednesday, but then again, by the time I got to Wednesday, not only did I have no concept of what day it was, but I was so behind on my work, I wouldn’t have been able to blog even if I’d had the energy to do so. This is the first week of classes here at UNT and for me, that means it’s the busiest week of the semester. Additionally, its the first week of the Fall semester, also known as the new Academic year and the new Fiscal year. Being that I am the solely responsible for getting all of the computer classrooms ready, as well as the computer lab, as well as hiring student employees for said lab, and making the majority of purchases for not only the lab, but the IT office in general, it’s been a pretty crazy week. And what’s worse, my week started last Sunday and once again, I’m back in the office.

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200 minutes from now it will still be 200 minutes until they complete.

At this very moment, I’m sitting in one of our classrooms, the high end media classroom to be specific, watching 18 computers receive the new fall system image over the network. I came up here today to not only push out this image, but also be here in case my two new lab attendants have any problems. This is their second or third day to work the lab, and the first day that either of them has worked without a veteran at their side, so it was kind of a two birds, one stone kind of decision to come up today. It hasn’t been too bad. Over the past three weeks, I’ve streamlined my imaging process to the point where it’s all done remotely and on a mass scale so I just kick off all the systems and they all receive the new system image in one go. These systems, however, are giving me a bit more grief because they’ve got considerable additional software on them, making the image deployed much larger than normal. Even the server isn’t sure how long it will take to push out the image. When I kicked it off, just around 1:00pm, it estimated that it would be done in about 220 minutes. Now, nearly 2 hours later, they’re all estimating that they’ll be done in about 200 minutes. I’m seeing a bit of a discrepancy here. I’m hoping that they finish at least before 5:00pm, but so far, signs are not good.

You see, tonight is our friends’ annual luau and after working 58 hours as of Friday afternoon, I really need a bit of a break and a chance to just kick back and relax. I’ve been looking forward to the luau since the middle of the month, right around my birthday, when we not only didn’t really celebrate it, but I also got a pretty bad cold of some sort. Really, as I look back on it, it’s been a pretty rough month all told. Between major setbacks at work, sickness, terrible weather, etc.; I’m just kind of ready for a bit of a change. I’m kind of looking to the luau as a turning point. The semester will officially be in full swing next week and hopefully the lab and classrooms will be in a good place (so long as everything goes well today). It’s also going to be September soon and with that I’m hoping for cooler weather. I know we’ve got that hurricane hitting the eastern seaboard and while that’s scary and worrisome for those that live there, I can only hope that with that impact comes a slight shift in the weather. Some rain and cooler weather would be really nice, right now.

Just so you know, the computers in this particular classroom have some kind of aggressive power save feature that puts them to sleep every 10 minutes or so, which means that about every 7 minutes, I have to get up and go move all the mice to keep them awake. If they sleep for too long, the network deployment could either stall out or fail completely and with 2 hours under my belt and another possible 3 hours to go, I really don’t want to have the whole process fail now. The only reason I mention this is because I get up between paragraphs and there’s a good chance my thought processes will get interrupted as I take these short breaks, I expect that the flow of this entry will be a bit “off” as a result. I apologize for this in advance.

So, with all of this extra work this week, my brain has found an interesting way of coping with it all. It’s broken this one week in to two. Every time I talk to someone about the things I’ve been doing, I find myself referring to anything from Sunday, Monday or Tuesday as “last week,” and anything from Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday as “this week.” I can’t seem to keep from doing it. I guess it’s understandable since I really had worked my standard 40 hours by mid day on Wednesday, so if I’m referring to “work weeks,” it’s pretty close to true. Honestly, I don’t really mind the extended hours or the additional days, so long as I feel like I’ve accomplished something at the end. I’m not truly career motivated, but I’m proud of my achievements. When I walk into a classroom the day before classes and all the computers look neat, professional, and ready for class, I definitely feel a sense of pride. I know that most students who come into the classrooms aren’t even going to think about how the computers got there or who set them up, or how many hours went into perfecting them, but I know and I’m impressed by the fact that, in spite of all problems, setbacks, and complications, I got it all done.

Of course, I couldn’t have gotten it all done without a great level of support from fellow staff members here as well as some dedicated student assistants. There is no way I can claim to be solely responsible for the results in these rooms. I have a great team working around me and they’ve all been supportive from beginning to end. It’s like at the Oscars when they give out the Best Director award. You know that the director was integral in the role, but at the same time, without the team and support, there wouldn’t be anything to award the director for. Let me take this opportunity to thank all of the CVAD IT department and CVAD Lab Student Workers for all the help the provided over the past week. I truly couldn’t have done it without you. My success rests heavily upon your shoulders.

But here, in zero hour, like in the beginning, when I was just testing some of the new deployment systems, it’s just me. I’m here again, hanging out, watching these computers work their hardest to download a 96GB image just so they can be used and abused by a student population that doesn’t realize how much work goes into preparing their computers each year. And at the 44% complete mark, I’m really hoping that they all finish in time for me to get home and get ready for the Luau.

The luau starts at 7:00pm, and I don’t really have that much to do to get ready (shower, change clothes, like that). Additionally, I’ll be performing my annual fire breathing act again, and since I can’t really do that until just after sunset for the best effect, I have no problem being just a bit late to the party. Nevertheless, I don’t want to be looking at the clock and counting down the minutes to sunset while I watch these computers continue to chug along at their neolithic pace, taking two steps forward and one step back with each percentage complete.

That’s really the truth of it, each time they jump up to an additional completion percentage marker (it counts by 6% for some reason), the estimated completion time also jumps up. So, for example, at 38% complete, they predict a mere 170 minutes to finish, as soon as it jumps up to 44% complete, the estimate has also bounced back up to 210 minutes. It’s still less than the 220 we started at in the beginning, but it’s infuriating to watch it do so. It gives me no indication of how long I’ll be here and I keep looking at the clock thinking, “okay, if it takes three hours from now, I’ll be home by 7, which means I can shower and be ready to go by 7:30 and make it to the party by 8; only an hour late.” This is not the stress I should be plagued with this late in the game. I should be releasing my tension, feeling optimistic, looking forward to good food, good drink, and good times with good friends. Instead I’m looking at the clock as it ticks by minute by minute. And that support team of mine? Well, there’s nothing to be done right now. I’m in the “wait” portion of the “hurry up and wait” game.

So, here I am three and a half hours into my seventh day of work, watching these computers grind away, simply looking forward to a good night and a restful tomorrow before, once more, I return to work on Monday for what I can only hope is a more normal week, to be followed by at least 13 more just like it.

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