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August 13th, 2009

On the water

Yesterday my alarm summoned me at 5:30 am. I had to get to work an hour earlier than normal - allowing time for metro delays - in order to finish work at 4 pm. I had an evening sail, and I barely finished the day's tasks in time for it! This week has been extremely busy at the office. It's been one meeting after another with documentation, reporting, testing, emails, and all sorts of other work in between. I emailed off my last file at 3:54 and then rushed to go get into my sailing garb before bidding the office staff farewell for the evening.

The sail took off under cool, grey skies. The wind was coming from the northeast, I think, as we went up the Anacostia River to raise the sails. I got to watch the mainsail's downhaul going up and I got to haul the jib's downhaul in lowering the sails later on. The kids assisted in raising the sails as our captain sang out "heave-ho!" We then taught them how to tie knots, steer the boat, and take the depth of the water. It looked like they were having quite a lot of fun on the boat! I was at the helm to guide the young sailors in the use of the wheel. Later I helped in the general duties of lowering the sails and coiling the lines. I also got the bowline coming back to dock, which was an easy job as the captain pulled us right alongside the dock, steady and smooth. We had quite an adventurous time out there on the water and when it was all over, I had to sigh a little and admit, "I'm tired!" The spiders were out in full force and the ship's port light glowing bright red as we cleaned up the ship and tossed the garbage. I love the life of the volunteer crew member. They just can't keep me away from here :)

When I was in ninth grade, we were all handed a form and told to write down what we dreamed of doing as a future career. Very seriously, I wrote out: "sailor." At the time, I didn't actually believe that I would ever be able to, and those around me thought that I was just being silly. But this dream has never left me, and I've stubbornly fostered it deep within while running all over the world following education and experience where they led. While I will never be employed as a full-time sailor trading ice or coal on the Potomac like in the old days, I sure can volunteer to help keep our little schooner neat and tidy for her summer sails down to Alexandria and up Anacostia.

It will be a little while till I am out on the Spirit again. I have small boat sailing lessons the next two weekends to keep me busy! I'm looking forward to getting out on the water in the smaller boats and learning how to handle them myself.

Tomorrow is Friday - the last day of work this week. Our projects have been going well and the work, while very busy, has been very rewarding. I'm eager to see the results of our planning and testing once the new solutions have been implemented. Metrics configuration is a lot trickier than it appears at first, but there are so many things that can be learned if the reporting is thoughtfully designed. It looks like we are soon going to have a lot of new insights about user experience on our site - and I find that to be really exciting.

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