When work becomes fun and vice versa

So I have been asked by my lovely wife to help her out with a project that she wants to do at her job. I can’t say too much about it, but it requires some custom software to be written. We sat down the other day and sketched out some initial ideas of what the software would need to do, and how the users would use the software (initially just her and a couple others, but later on it could be the entire organization).

I guess I got a little excited because I immediately jumped into the project full bore. I don’t think she was prepared for that.

I am what most people would term a geek or a nerd. I’m cool with that. Margaret knew that I was geeky when we met but I have rarely indulged my “inner geek”. In fact, my “inner geek” hasn’t really been inspiring me to do many geeky projects lately. It’s been a long time since I’ve spent a weekend building a file server to store the household’s files (and setting up all the laptops and desktops to back themselves up to said fileserver, with an off-site backup). Hmm sounds like a project….but I digress. I haven’t installed 6 different Linux/Solaris/BSD operating systems on a single computer in years. I haven’t learned a new programming language just for fun in almost a decade (C# at work doesn’t count, it’s not really that fun). Am I losing my geek-ability?

No, this was the project that spurred my inner geek to its former glory. Within a day, I had laid out a basic data model, selected a framework (I settled on Django, but I gave node.js+meteor some serious thought), and had the data prototyped and available in Django’s admin tool for her to look at. She gave me some feedback and showed me an example of the way they currently work, so 24 hours later I had refined my data model and had her take a second look at the admin tool with the new information and data schema. She gave me some more feedback and tweaks and I was ready to implement them immediately, much to her chagrin. She wanted me to put the laptop down and spend time with her. ;-)

I realized quickly that I had flown too high and was going to crash into the sun. She loved the work that I had done, and was appreciative of how quickly I had a working protoype, but was also alarmed at my ferver to keep working on this non-stop. I don’t think a non-geek can understand the hold that a new project has on a geek. For the first few days, it is all we can think about. After that, we slow down and take a more measured approach. I also don’t think that a non-geek can understand that the “work” that we do at home is more fun for us than the “work” we do at work (even though it is usually the same kind of “work”). I know she doesn’t want to come home and bow music scores all night, but she can’t understand how I can work all day and still have the mental energy to come home and get on the computer at night.

I guess I will need to take things a bit slower and pace myself. My inner geek must be balanced with the needs of my wonderful wife!