Dog Days

It’s another lazy summer lunchtime, and this year (like last year), my plans have been foiled by work. Normally I try to plan to have June, July and August with a very light work-load so I can do things like go to Saints games, take mid-afternoon siestas, go for rides on my trike, and just generally enjoy the summer in Minnesota (on days when the weather isn’t brutally hot, anyhow). But once again, I’m spending the summer working for a client who always plans to ship the newest release in May, but ends up not being done until August. It’s a chronic problem in the software game, and I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but it really doesn’t work very well for me, as I’m usually busy trying to have a life.

And that “having a life” thing, for whatever reason, seems to take a lot more time for me in the summer. Part of it is obviously the 5 hours or so per Saints game (two hours of pre-game tailgating, which includes visiting with the gang, cooking, having a beer or two, and then cleaning up before gametime, plus roughly three hours for the game itself), but there’s more than that. I generally wake up between 6 and 8 am, all year round, so there’s enough time to get in a full day’s worth of work before going to a ballgame. It just never seems to work out that way. I spend a couple hours in the morning putting together Dave’s Picks for the day. Then I spend an hour catching up on the overnight and early-mornging email. Add another hour for a shower and breakfast sometime in there, and if I’m waking up on the late end of the scale, the morning’s already gone.

On days when there’s a ballgame, I also usually need to go do some shopping. Gotta buy fresh meat, side-dish, and some beer for the game. Or I’ll realize that I’m running low on gas for the grill. Or one thing or another will necessitate a trip to the store.

You’d think I’d have a lot of extra time on days when the Saints are out of town, wouldn’t you? I thought that the first couple years, too. But it never seems to work out that way. Days off mean I usually step out for lunch, usually at one of the bars or restaurants in Dinkytown, but sometimes up on East Hennepin. That’s an hour minimum, when you count in the time it takes to walk back and forth. Some days I’ll run into someone I know from the neighborhood association, and that’s a bit more time needed. Or maybe it’ll be a warm enough walk home that I’ll decide I need to take a siesta after lunch. Again, the day’s gone before I know it.

I’m can’t complain too much. It’s generally a pretty good setup I’ve got, but as you can see, I find enough things to fill the hours without having to spend time working just to keep from getting bored. And I like it that way.

The real problem is that I keep trying to make it work in spite of clients screwing up my summers. I take on extra work during the winter months with the idea that I’ll be able to kick back during the summer. By the time the weather gets nice around here in the spring, I’ve been doing "extra" work for between four and six months, and I’m ready for a break. But due to someone else’s bad planning, I have to work another three months, during the summer when my days are already pretty full, before I get a chance to take some real time off.

And that’s exactly the kind of thing I was trying to get away from when I went into business for myself. I’d been working too long at companies that would screw up their schedules, and after too many years of having vacations postponed or outright cancelled, I was ready to try and manage my time myself. It even worked pretty well the first three summers. But now I’ve had two summers in a row clobbered by the same client. I’m not about to just drop them at this point. I made a commitment to help them get their software shipped, and I’m going to stick by it, but I find myself getting resentful, and I don’t think that’s a good solution. I find myself wondering what I’m going to do when they ask to renew my contract for another year. I’d like to have the work for sure, but I fear having yet another summer when I’m grumpy about work.

Oh well, enough whining. Time to try and get back to work. Or maybe go for a ride. Or maybe a nap…

Copyright 2009, Dave Polaschek. Last updated on Mon, 15 Feb 2010 13:55:41.