Today is a reasonably important day for me. It is my one year anniversary of starting my first full time big boy job at Oracle. Although a year ago it was called Tekelec, so things have changed somewhat since then. I would not call my year spent at Oracle eventful, but I have gleamed some new insight that I would like to share.

What Did I Learn This Year?

1. I am much calmer than I once was. The four years I spent in college were stressful and not very enjoyable. There were certainly light moments at school, but I found it increasingly difficult as I progressed to enjoy them. I never was able to forgot my obligations. That sounds awfully stiff, but college was an incredible investment in time and expense the ultimate success of which was 100% dependent on me. I feel as if I spent four years vacillating from total despair to apathy. It was not pleasant. Now though, having spent the last year working, I have found a deep tranquility. It is very calming to have an ordered day. I know what times are for work and what times are not. I attribute this clear distinction to the big gains in calm I have found. At school I never could quite turn off. I always seemed to spend a lot of time needlessly worrying. That is not a concern anymore.

2. I understand how people get old. This was a frightening realization. Previously I understood the physical act of getting old, but the length of time it took to get there seemed very long to me. After working a few weeks it is easy to see how you can just put your head down, concentrate on work, and look up a little while later and be 40. Not to say that 40 is 'old', but that time can pass by more easily now that you have a set unending schedule. It is scary to me that my job has no end point. It just keeps going until an outside force acts upon it. Akin to starting into a void, just an endless expanse. It may be enjoyable time spent, but the idea of action having no end is unsettling to me.

3. I have less free time, but the time that I have I enjoy more. This relates to point one. In school I never could turn off. I always worried about the next assignment, exam, evaluation. There always was that nagging thought that I should be studying more, revising more. When I punch out at the end of the day that is it. Sometimes I find myself idly spinning work problems in my mind, but I have no obligation to work beyond my set contract. To put another way, work has established, for my benefit, clear boundaries in time between work and non-work. As a consequence I have found my time outside of work to be much less stressful even if I have less of it.

4. I love side projects. I love having little things to work on outside of my job. It does not have to be technical (although I do enjoy those too), I just like different problems to work on. For me this has taken the form of costume work, prop building, etc. I spend a lot of my day working on abstract technical problems, spending time working on a more physical problem domain is a refreshing context switch. My skills in this regard are meager, but I feel the cycle of busting something out and reviewing what I produced have resulted in marked improvements in quality and speed.

5. I solve problems and I love doing it. This is a brag on my part, but I have learned I work best solving tough problems. The solution is not always pretty, but it will work. There is nothing more satisfying than solving a problem someone thought was impossible.

6. I am liking this blog thing. This is a recent discovery, but I really do like writing up blog entries. It is nice if people end up reading them, but irrelevant as for the most part I find the mere act of writing to be very therapeutic.

What Am I Looking To Explore This Year?

1. Buying a house. It is time to start pursing this seriously. I know what I want, I have the resources to pursue it, and I am confident enough in my job stability and future outlook to consider more permanent residence. The idea of making such a big bet, especially given how unpredictable things can be, is concerning, but not enough to dissuade me. I am excited to see how this will turn out.

2. Double down on the costuming. Along with this being my year anniversary at Oracle it is also the anniversary of when I first started making costumes and props. I had some major successes in that regard this year, and also some major failures. I looking to complete two costumes this year. A Vostroyan Firstborn from 40K and a Anatoray Soldier from Last Exile. More information to follow.

3. Continue to improve my technical skills. This is going to be a recurring goal. I should be learning new technical skills every day. If I continue to make small incremental gains daily it will eventually add up.

4. Look into historical reenacting. Always had a interest in history and would like the chance to gain a more in depth understanding by taking up reenacting, specifically American Civil War. There is some expense to this, but I would like to investigate some options more thoroughly this year.

5. Find old friends. Seems five years after high school some friends I used to know quite well have phased out of contact. This is my fault. I should work harder to retain what I have and recultivate what has been lost. I miss the insight and experience they once provided.

One year down, seven more to go (shooting for the retire by 30 plan).