Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Everything I Ever Needed to Know, I Learned on the Can

I never set out on a formal career path to get into software or programming. But some part of me thought that it would be cool if I could do the programming on my own web forms, and when I was looking for work I saw a lot of adds for people who knew CGI and Perl. So I bought my first Camel book, and read it in my "free time." I deliberatedly use quotation marks around that term, because by "free time" was limited to about three 10-minute bathroom breaks, and maybe ten minutes before I fell asleep at night.

Still, that added up to about 45 minutes a day of time. Which added up to maybe three working-days of study time a month. After a couple months, I was able to do some programming. I made the first few CGI scripts for the SKS website.

And so it was with Perl . . . and then SQL . . . and then Javascript . . . and then Visual Basic. Simple algorithms, relational algebra, database theory, interface design . . . all were mastered in ten-minute chunks while taking a dump. As my knowledge grew, I got to spend more and more of my working time applying my skills, which accelerated the learning tremendously. But the bulk of my new-technology learning was (and still is) in stolen moments.

Gradualism is a powerful thing. If you can allow yourself to pour your in-between minutes into something -- anything -- it can add up to something significant. That was why I finally quit my Scrabble addiction, and started jotting notes for my blogs on my handheld instead. Faithful in little is indeed faithful in much.



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