2/07/2017

Balancing the Books

Programming is fun.  Although I was hired to write Crystal Reports, I was tasked with writing the Month End reports.

Simply convert the Visual Basic code to T-SQL.  The original developer used inner and outer loops.  While stepping through the code, I noticed an error.  Raised it up the flag.  I was told those results were the basis of the underlying data on how the month end ran.  There's no way it could be incorrect.  Okay, thanks.

A few days later, I was asked to show the error.  There was a bug.

The month end was a series of reports based off a snapshot of the data.  Each month the data would get added.  And the numbers had to match.  Month to date.  Year to date.  Inception to date.  The numbers rarely matched the first go at it.

When the numbers were off, it was never a simple missing entry.  It was typically a series of errors when combined, caused the difference in numbers.  How did one find the offset, by looking through all the data.  Swimming in data.  Every month.

Perhaps a code change went in mid-month causes the bug.  Had to track it down, fix it and re-run the month end.  The month end ran for many hours due to the volume of data and number of reports.  It was run the last day of the month, after the close of business.  I'd kick off the process around 5pm when people were heading home.  And worked through the night.  I had 10 days to balance the book of business for two companies.  I did this for 3 years.  It was a great company.  They treated me well.  But I got burned out.  And resigned with no job lined up.  They offered to keep me on as consultant, but I needed a break.

What did I do during my burnout phase?  Nothing.  I would ride down to the pier on my bicycle.  Hang out by the ocean.  And smoke cigars.  There were some regulars down at the pier.  We started hanging out.  Since I had no schedule, we'd sit around and talk, fish, throw the cast net, grab some snacks at the convenience store.  It was awesome.

There was one guy there that I would chat with from time to time.  We got to talking about tennis.  I mentioned that I played years ago.  Why aren't you playing now?  I don't know.  Why not give it a try?  So I rode my bike down to the tennis club.  Walked in.  Can I play tennis?  Do you know how?  Yes.  Okay, we're having a round robin at 1pm, why don't you come back and we'll get you on the courts.

At 1pm I drove over with some old rackets.  Introduced and headed out to play.  Was a bit rusty.  Got the hang of it again.  I seemed to win every round and made it to the top court.  Afterword, the owner of the club came over and asked if I wanted to join the club.  Sure.  Okay, we'll set you up on the Monday night men's league.  I partnered with a nice guy, who owned a software company.  We won the first season.  And the second.  He offered me a job to write Crystal Reports.  I ended up not taking the job.

One day a lady from another club wanted to warm up so we hit for a while.  She asked why I wasn't playing better players and offered to get matches with some of the better players in town.  So I signed up for a singles league at a level one below the very top.  People said it was too difficult a division and I wouldn't win any matches.  Sure enough, the first match was on red clay and the guy was good.  I was down 0-6, 0-5, one game from defeat.  During the changeover,  I placed a towel over my head and the reality sunk in.  I decided to loosen up and see what happens.  I went out and won a game.  Then another.  Then the set.  Tied at 1-1.  Then went on to win the next set 6-0.

From there, I won all the matches for the season.  And then won the playoffs to win a free pair of sneakers.  I spoke with the newspaper about the win and it appeared in the paper.

I started playing tournaments and got a state ranking.  And played a few national tournaments and got national ranking.  And then found somebody to let me teach.  They sent me to get certified as tennis instructor.  So that's what I did.  Taught tennis and did websites on the side.  And hung out down at the pier.

I moved into a new place.  My neighbor had a golden retriever and I would offer the dog snacks.  Soon I removed a few boards in the backyard fence so the dog could travel between the two villas.  Then one day, a few of the neighbors were going down to the pier to watch a concert.  Just as we were about to walk down, we looked up, a double rainbow.

When we got there, most of the neighbors took off and it was just me and my neighbor who owned the dog.  I offered to buy her a hot dog and soda and we ate on a bench and listened to the music.  Then we walked home and chatted the entire way.  It was sort of late when we got home.  I saw on the computer that a good movie was playing and knocked on my neighbor's door.  Would you like to go see a movie?  So we went.  Our first date.

After some time dating, I proposed and she said yes.  So we got married.  That's when I decided to go back to work as computer programmer.  I found a consulting job which lasted a few months.  That job ended when the company got bought out by one of their clients, I found another gig writing Crystal Reports.  Then got hired to write Java code.  And I've been programming ever since.

None of this was planned out.  Sort of just happened.  That job I had balancing the books was a good learning experience.  There was a lot more responsibility than just writing code.  In hindsight, I probably should have gotten a backup in order to take time off occasionally.  Although if I didn't get burned out, things surely would have turned out different.

And there you have it~!

Bloom Consulting Since Year 2000