my kazakhstan trip in brief

monday 8/12

i redesigned the entire database. what used to look logically like this:


…now looks like this:


that it had only taken me a day to totally revamp what had previously taken me several weeks to design and build was cause for tremendously self-flattery—which inevitably bit me in the arse on tuesday.

tuesday 8/13

everything i did monday broke. i spent the whole day fixing everything.

wednesday 8/14

i started working on reports. the database is a lot cleaner than it was.

thursday 8/15

my partner in crime, catherine, arrived, giving me someone to speak english too. eerily, today i finished everything i came to do. guess i won’t be up all night hacking. guess i will be writing documentation tomorrow. ugh.

went out to dinner with catherine and mary (the person at the mission I’m working for). had georgian food (picture meat on a stick) and on the way home in mary’s russian-made lada niva, we had a flat tire! so mary’s not sure what to do (walk?), and catherine and I, the both of us two steins of beer into the evening, are like “let’s change the tire!” i work the jack, catherine does the tire-ironing and we get that hardy little white russian jeep back on the road, greasy hands and all.

friday 8/16

tie up loose ends. pretty much done by lunch, start writing documentation until mary comes by to test the system around 4pm. (watching a user work with a novel system that you’ve just created is perhaps one of the most excruciatingly enlightening experiences) mary requests that some things be changed, as might be expected. except by now it’s 5pm on friday, the shuttle comes at 6pm, and I leave the country that evening. so i rush to get everything done, and manage to do so in approx 20 minutes. i burn it on cd, and go back to writing documentation. in course of writing documentation, i realize one of the changes i made didn’t take—something wasn’t sorting the way it was supposed to, and something else wasn’t showing up on a report.

cruel gods!

i suppose it wouldn’t appropriately be the last day of a trip without me racing to do something before the shuttle comes, missing the first shuttle and having to take the next one. that’s just what happened. for some reason, i just couldn’t get what i wanted to sort, to sort. so i pull my hair out for almost an hour when i finally realize what i should have done in the first place (meanwhile i was on my way to redesigning half of the database) and I make the change, and burn a new cd.

does it end there? of course not. just after burning cd#2, i discover another problem, so I make the change, burn cd#3, and catherine and I race out the door just before 7pm to catch the shuttle to the hotel before it leaves.

saturday 8/17

at 2am i leave for the airport, fly to frankfurt, fly to washington, fly to raleigh, take a cab home, arriving 28 hours after i left almaty, at 6:30pm on saturday.

Update: I posted some photos from my trip here: Photos from Almaty, Kazakhstan

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