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The Albatross’s New Clothes

November 20, 2002

I had the albatross review meeting with my customer yesterday. (For those of you just joining us, I originally whined about this project here and talked about it some more here). I wish I could say the module is done and they loved it and didn’t want any changes, but most of that’s not true. It’s definitely not done– there are four main components, and I only finished three of them before the meeting. They definitely want changes; one of the components I thought was done is certainly not done now because some of the major rules I’d used to program it turned out to be not quite right. I expected that; it often happens that a customer can’t articulate what they really want until they see the results of what said they wanted in the first place. It’s frustrating, but hard to avoid. They did love it, though, at least the parts I was able to show them. After the afternoon session of the meeting the owner of the company said, “I’m thrilled; it’s going to be neat.” Coming from him, “neat” is high praise.

I hope he still feels the same in two weeks when we have our next meeting about the albatross. I’ve already completed some of the little tweaks he wanted, but there’s a lot left to do. The changes to the one component I thought was done seem manageable, but I still have the last component to complete, and that’s the hard one. It builds on the information in the other three, so I had to leave it for last, lurking out there with all its rules and dependencies and complexities. It makes my brain hurt to even think about, much less actually work on, but somehow, some way, I need to get it done in the next two weeks.

Going to the customer site yesterday meant I was close to an outlet mall, so I slipped out at lunch and went shopping. My main purpose was looking for pants for Mr. Karen, but I found that the store I’ve gotten them at before is going out of business and everything is final sale, no returns or exchanges, and I wasn’t willing to risk getting something that didn’t fit or he didn’t like and not being able to take it back. I looked at some of the other places that had men’s clothes, but as was true on my past trips, they continued to disappoint with their lack of appropriate sizes and colors. I suppose there’s a good reason some of that merchandise ends up at the outlet mall—no one would buy it at full price.

While the men’s selection at the outlet mall was underwhelming, I did find some things I liked for me. I’m hoping to get down one more size before I stop losing weight, so now is not the time to buy a whole new wardrobe, but having a few things that fit properly right this minute is a nice mood booster. I got a pair of cheap jeans to tide me over until I’m at goal and can order nice jeans from Lands’ End (don’t get me started on their misplaced apostrophe) and two pairs of flat front stretch twill pants that zip up the side and make me feel skinny. They’re all things I expect to get a lot of use out of in the next few months, so the cost per wear should end up being pretty low. I also indulged in a pair of sweatpants and a matching jacket in a lovely lilac color with ivory trim. I saw the pants first and liked them, but put them back on the rack because I figured I already enough lounging around clothes. But then I spotted the jacket on another rack, the only one left, and in my size, and I was unable to resist. Besides, both pieces were on clearance, so for $30 I was able to get a comfy new outfit in a happy color that will cheer me up during the coming gray months of winter.

Maybe it’ll be easier to make myself work on the remaining parts of the albatross project if I promise myself another trip to the outlet mall when I go back for the next meeting. Except I wonder about making that link in my mind, about anything I buy on that outing being forever associated with the albatross project. I’ve certainly made those kinds of connections before. Even though I gave it away years ago, I can still picture the skirt I bought to wear to court the time I was given an undeserved speeding ticket. (No, really, it wasn’t fair.) It was a nice skirt, but I every time I put it on I thought of injustice done, and that’s not helpful energy to have at the start of the day. More recently, three of my bras were tainted by having been bought when I fled to the outlet mall after a nasty meeting with the albatross customer about an incredibly burdensome new policy that he was forcing on me. Fortunately, these bras are cycling out of my wardrobe now that my breasts are a more manageable size, and their replacements don’t have the same association with frustration and anger. Perhaps I should go ahead and reward myself with a new outfit after the next albatross meeting and then go search on the web for incantations to exorcise bad associations from my wardrobe.

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