The “Servers” circa 2006

Eight weeks ago, I resigned from the only non-University job I have had in 15 years.

Last week, I returned to the University, and the job I held for the 6 and a half years prior.

I’m not really sure I have a cogent set of thoughts and feelings about it. On one hand, I’m worried. The things about the culture and the environment that frustrated me before have not gone away. There’s nothing I can do to change them, and for a variety of reasons, outside of my director and maybe one or two others, there’s nothing I can do to even broach conversations about changing them – at any level. The same worry I had before that these things about the culture and the environment will threaten the future of the initiative as a whole (and in turn, my future) has not changed. In some ways, it might be worse – the nagging thoughts and feelings that I might have failed this time make me worry whether I’ll make it next time.

There’s a quote that the internet attributes in one form to Maya Angelou and another to Mary Engelbreit. “If you don’t like something, change it, if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”

So I will focus on the other hand. And on the other hand I’m thankful. Thankful to my director and the initiative’s director for the opportunity. Thankful to be in a place where I know I can contribute. Thankful for an environment that allows for research and contemplation, and (usually) the time to fail and succeed. Thankful for all the same flexibility and security and interesting work that made it a great job then, and a great job now. Thankful for an overall culture that at its core has a mission that I believe matters and can make a difference.

I’m thankful that the job has a new role, and to spend a portion of my time exploring the work we’ve done over the last six and half years to find things we didn’t know that were there.

I personally bought some books last week:


I don’t know yet where it’s headed, but I will looking at the data we’re generating, and building more skills in analysis, visualization, and the communication of that data, and while learning, teach what I’m learning along the way. It’s a little vague, and that’s because the problems are vague – it’s more about trying and doing and seeing what works and what doesn’t and building on that step by step.

So I’m looking forward to seeing where the next year takes me, looking forward to help with existing efforts wherever I can, to interacting and learning more with my colleagues around the country, to working to “commit code everyday”, to watching something really interesting emerge out of the data we have, while working with and learning MongoDB, Riak, R, SciRuby, Graphite, Statsd, D3, gnuplot, rubyvis/protovis and whatever else that I don’t yet know I need to know.