This is a continuation of my series on a typical day in my life. The first part is here. This part sets up what my day job is like in probably more detail than anyone wants to know. I’ll talk about why I love my job in another aside.
Once I get to work, my day isn’t quite as time stamped and regular as the rest of the morning, but there are some key things that I’ve come to count on. I make breakfast in the work kitchen, and start getting caught up on my morning e-mail. Ops gets a lot of automated e-mail (including normal e-mail, it’s not uncommon for us to get 200-400 e-mails/day), however, a lot of these convey valuable status on the state of the system, so it’s useful to know first thing in the morning. Additionally, we have some daily processing that gets kicked off at ~6:00am, since this is in the critical path for a lot of our near-real-time products, it’s good to have a pulse on that processing earlier rather than later. Typically, gathering an understanding of the state of the system can take until 9:00 or longer depending on what’s going on.
The Operations stand-up is at 9:00am every morning. This is (in theory) a quick, 15 minute, standing meeting with my team to organize the morning and keep everyone on the team apprised of the goings-on of the system. Each day, someone is scheduled to be the ECS lead (responsible for the care and feeding of the EOSDIS Core System – our primary data management system for NASA data), while a second person is scheduled as the V0 lead, which (for historical reasons) is the backup (responsible for our non-ECS operations). During the stand-up, the prior lead and backup provide anything notable from the previous day, as well as any outstanding items. Then, everyone else statuses on their tasks, and any impacts from their work the rest of the team needs to know about.
My mornings typically have a lot of short meetings so any work that I can get done, usually has to get worked on in the gaps. There are more stand-ups with other project teams (everyone likes to have their stand-ups in the morning), as well as administrative meetings which can be a bit longer. As a result, I typically tackle smaller tasks in the morning, or try to assess what to tackle in a larger project so that I can let my subconscious work on it while I’m away from my desk.
Mornings are also typically when bigger issues present themselves. This is mostly due to the fact that most of our data providers are on Eastern Time, so they are doing work in the morning. Additionally, anything that died overnight is going to reveal itself in the morning, which usually prompts any of my staff that shows up early (or me) to start poking at it. This is where I am most likely to get involved in troubleshooting issues – when something goes seriously wrong, or doesn’t go away, an extra pair of eyes on the problem almost always helps.
Depending on the meetings (which is largely dependent on the day of the week), I typically get out for lunch between 11:00 and noon. Most of the time, lunch consists of something available at the 29th street mall, which I’ll pick up and bring back to the office to eat. During this time, I usually look at any dangling tasks that I may try to tackle in the afternoon, or over the next couple of days.
Forever Afternoon (Tuesday?)
In the afternoon, I typically have one or two meetings (though I do occasionally have meetings all afternoon which can eat up the day), but the rest of the day is focused on getting things done. This involves longer-term projects, improvements to our process, or data processing tasks. Anything that gets carried over from the morning also gets stuck here.
The first chance I have to catch the bus home is to grab the one that arrives at 5:00pm. I am usually unable to catch this bus because it requires that I untangle myself from anything that’s going on and/or set down any tasks I’m working on by 4:50. As a result, I usually try to catch the 5:30 bus. This usually works except when things are really busy, something still isn’t working, or something big comes up later in the afternoon. Once I get settled in, I grab my book and read until the bus reaches the terminus in Erie – again, I have almost no perception of what’s going on until the bus stops and I get off. The walk home is another ten minutes, at which point I can start my evening.