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My First Vacation In 9 Years!

I'm just imagining everything.

There's nothing wrong with the software development industry.  There's nothing wrong with the way my company manages projects.  The software industry has no downsides.

It's all in my head because I need a vacation. 

And if I simply take a vacation, < a href="http://www.processwave.co.uk/Essays/BackgroundWhatAreWeFixing/BackgroundWhatAreWeFixing.htm ">everything that I believe to suck</a> about this industry will heal itself in my absence.  I will return to a veritable shangri-la of an industry, complete with promises of eternal life upon project delivery and 79 virgin interns to help me write my code.

At least, that's what those of you who mercilessly ripped into my dissertation on what sucks about being a developer seemed to imply.

Well, guess what?  I'm going on vacation!  3 weeks.  And I'm not going to touch a keyboard the entire time.

Well, maybe once or twice...

In all seriousness, this is going to be great.  I'm going to box every day rather than my usual twice per week.  I'm going to play golf with a fat friend.  I'm going to give my 2-year old boy a double serving of playtime.  I'm going to tan.  I'm going to make love to my wife.  I'm going to visit my parents new home in the mountains.  I'm going to Disneyland.

And I'm going to savor every minute of it, just in case I can't get another vacation for 9 more years!

And when I come back, everything will be perfect, right?  I mean, that's what you guys said.  If I go on vacation, I'll return to find that salesmen have stopped giving estimates without consulting technical staff.  I'll return to find project managers that say "No!" to unrealistic deadlines.  I'll return to find developers who cheerfully document their code.  I'll return to find that the entire way the software development world works has been turned on it's head, all because Norrick finally took a vacation.

It'll be great!  All the co-workers who have been suffering alongside me will say, "Why did you wait so long, Norrick?  We were just waiting for you to leave before we started doing things right!  You should have done this years ago - we feel great!  Thanks!".  Why, I'll be the hero of the entire industry!

Well alright...maybe not.

But I'll certainly feel much better.  MUCH better.  And maybe, just maybe, I'll have the strength to continue fighting the good fight against the forces of apathy and stupidity.

Plus, I'll have a chance to find out how smart I really am - because my company is putting me on the Project Manager career track!  My training starts when I return, so I'll soon have a chance to see life from the other side of the fence.

More money, more power, more stress.  Story of my career.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.

But for now, I'm just looking forward to that golf game...and some quality time with my wife.  ;)

Norrick
Monday, March 18, 2002

Oops...that's not how you insert a link, now is it? 

*ashamed*

Norrick
Monday, March 18, 2002

You poor US citizens only having so few days off... In Europe we won't satisfy without at least 4 weeks a year, but rather 6 ;) I think I read you get this amount of vacation working at Joel's, too. I really believe it is important for total recreation and getting back to work with _full power_...

I hope you will have the best time of your live and I hope all your wishes get true

Greetings Sasa

Sasa Velickovic
Monday, March 18, 2002

Sorry to be a downer but you will probably find that when you come back in 3 weeks your software skills will be hopelessly out of date and it will take you another 9 years to find a job. Also, while you're away, an underling will start to pick up some of the tasks that are currently your responsibility and your bosses will say, hey, how come we are paying Norrick $x per year and the said underling $x/2 per year and he is able to do the same job. They will then start to allocate trivial meaningless jobs to you and super interesting current technology jobs to the underling (a smarmy nerd with 6 months experience and a huge ego) in the hope that you will go out of your mind with boredom and quit. You will end up having a fist fight in the office with the said underling and will be sacked for unacceptable behavior.

Then your wife will leave you.

Have a nice vacation.

Tony
Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Congratulations!

>There's nothing wrong with the software development industry. There's nothing wrong with the way my company manages projects. The software industry has no downsides.

>It's all in my head because I need a vacation.

Actually, I think a lot of it is in your head. You make it sound like you got railroaded into all this crazy stuff, but it sounds more to me like you signed up for a lot of it.

You just need to say NO more!

No! I'm not agreeing to that milestone!
No! I'm not delaying my vacation because of the 'important' presentation!

Decide what is important to you and stick to your guns.

b
Tuesday, March 19, 2002

And the mean-spirited posts begin anew...unbelievable.

Norrick
Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Sorry Norrick,
I'm only joking, of course.
I am into my 3rd week of holidays/unemployment after a 2 year contract where I only had a week of holidays.
I think I only had a week of between that contract and the last one.

I heartily recommend time off. Its the best thing I've done for years. I'm starting to realise that one's head becomes filled with all sorts of rubbish if one treats oneself merely as a working drone.

I started off, like yourself, playing golf etc, my wife and I took a trip to Australia and New Zealand.

I was worn out. I'm almost looking forward to the next project, but I'm in no hurry.

Have a well earned break. The world keeps turning.

Tony
Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Hi Norrick,

I wish you a great time off. Will you travel anywhere?

Have fun,

Jutta Jordans
Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Hmm, could you do one last thing before you head off into the Great Vacation?  Just mention how people can disagree with you, respectfully holding diametrically opposing views, without "mercilessly ripping into you."

By the way, have a good time.  Fat friends are the best.  I admit to a bit of stress, and I'm apparently trying to become one to all my friends.

Sammy
Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Norrick,

Personally I totally agreed with your 'Programming Sucks' article.

Sometimes it seems to me that some of the posters here live in a better world that I can only dream of.

My reality is much closer to Dilbert.

Ged Byrne
Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Sammy, be real here.  I said you guys ripped into my dissertation, and you did.  You're not fooling me!

I'm not traveling anywhere farther than an hour's drive.  I commute 40 miles to work every day and I want to spend as little time in the car as I can while I'm off. 

Car = bad.
Taking a walk in the sun = gooooooooooood.

Besides, I live in a beach town in Southern California.  Where could I travel on vacation that would be any better?  ;)  Well, OK, the Canary Islands maybe...

Norrick
Tuesday, March 19, 2002

You just can't stop insulting and attacking...  Unbelievable!

;-P

Sammy
Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Heh.

Norrick
Tuesday, March 19, 2002

> There's nothing wrong with the software development
> industry. There's nothing wrong with the way my
> company manages projects. The software industry has
> no downsides.

FWIW, I believe I "get your point."  Cool competence is always much easier than frenzied incompetence, and people seem afraid to believe it.

But we're all (umm) professionals here, and part of that is knowing overwork leads to obstacles in finding solutions to things.  At least our books say that.  Now, maybe there is no rational solution, and anger is really the true solution. 

But the dialog isn't killed.  It can wait until you're done with the vacation.  I think your perception will be boosted.  If not, hey, it was worth a shot.  Advice is so easy to give.

You know, I had to be forced into a vacation.  And unlike you, I really did go to the Canary Islands. ;-)  I thought it was crazy extravagant, but in reality it wasn't that expensive.  And I think it made me deeper, because before I was really hardened, and maybe going for a train wreck.  I brought a TAOCP with me, so I was cheating a bit...  My lady friend was none too pleased, but it was just for the beach.

The vacation after that, I spent studying.  I now think they're very important, because you get to see the forest and then focus on any particular tree.  You get to see how some things are irrelevant while others are at the heart.

YMMV, since you're playing golf.

Sammy
Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Say, when Europeans talk of 4 to 6 weeks of vacation, do they also get 8 to 15 legal holidays and 5 to 15 sick/personal days?  In other words, if Europeans took every day off available to them, what would it add up to?  I always hear about the vacation days, never the rest.

Timothy Falconer
Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Timothy Falconer wrote:
"If Europeans took every day off available to them, what would it add up to?"

The answer is you really don't want to know. When I still used to work for a semi-government type organization in the Netherlands everbody got (before you ask: yes I found it ridiculous too):

- 24 days vacation.

- 20 days extra because we had an official 36 hour workweek while we worked 40 hours. Don't ask me to explain this. (In addition, nobody worked longer than 40 hours). Some people choose to work 4 days of 9 hours per week instead of taking the additional 20 days.

- About 5-8 legal holidays (New years day, Easter, Xmas, Queens day, Liberation day, etc.).

- When you're sick, you always get paid 100%.

- I have no idea what a personal day is, so I guess we don't have those.

- If you get a child you get 1 day per week off for 15 months for very little money less (parental leave). Note, this is for both men and women. It starts again with a second, third, etc child. I almost decided to get lots of children ;) A friend of mine calculated once that some of our colleagues were on leave for more than 40% of their time.

My girlfriend and I could travel through Africa for 6 weeks using a single year's holidays and still have plenty of days left. US employees might get paid more, but we have all the fun ;)

In commercial companies it's a little more realistic though. Those people generally get 23 days vacation and 5-8 legal holidays.

Jan Derk
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

>Say, when Europeans talk of 4 to 6 weeks of vacation, do they also get 8 to 15 legal holidays and 5 to 15 sick/personal days? In other words, if Europeans took every day off available to them, what would it add up to? I always hear about the vacation days, never the rest.

The number of public holidays differs a little from country to country and from state to state, in the part of Germany where I live, we have 12 legal holidays if I counted rightly. I don't know what you mean by sick/personal days. I don't think we have that concept. If an employee in Germany is sick, he goes to see a doctor and gets an "attest" (don't know if this would be the same word in English). You are sick as long as you are sick, covered partly by the health insurance (which is obligatory in Germany and quite expensive) and partly by the employer, depending on how long you are sick. At my current job I have 26 days of vacation a year, all employees have the same number here. The job I had before that offered me even 33 days, but there was a considerably lower payment because of this. I still wanted it that way, because I am studying to get a CS degree beside work and needed some time for exam preparation.

If you add up the public holidays and the vacation days, I end up with 38 days off a year. I heard that numbers are even higher in the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway, but I might be misinformed.

Have fun,

Jutta Jordans
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

In the UK there are 8 'legal' holidays, most companies offer between 20 and 25 holiday days, and sick pay is 100% (and more importantly, doesn't involve any legwork on the part of the employee to get it) - but I forget how many days you can take sick in a year. Most companies will be thinking about sacking you if it's more than 10 or so, particular if you aren't covering yourself with a note from your doctor explaining that yes, your leg really did fall off and then get re-attached a week later.

I also have no idea what a 'personal' day is.

Just noticed my company has quietly dropped one day off our holiday entitlement without telling anybody... nice.

DB
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

"A friend of mine calculated once that some of our colleagues were on leave for more than 40% of their time."

That goes a long way toward explaining the U.S.'s economic productivity AND heart attack rates compared to Europe's.

Norrick
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

I believe that European workers are more productive than American workers. This might no be what the statistics say, but it makes a lot of sense if you think about it.

If American workers are worn out 90% of the time then they obviously can't work very well.  Well, maybe they produce a lot of useless code which would in fact mean that they are more productive, but it does certainly not mean that the quality of their work is at the same level as the European's work.

Anyway, this is my personal opinion, not backed up by any facts - flame me if you wish.

Patrick
Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Its not as simple as comparing statutory holidays and  personal days against compassionate days, company sickpay and the rest.

People in our trade tend to work long hours because its often a broken work pattern.  Sometimes 2 in the morning is exactly the right time to work out a problem.

Its also quite difficult for some (like my wife), to actually take all their holiday entitlement since there aren't enough people around to cover and as school holidays are always pretty much at the same time there's a collision.

Simon Lucy
Thursday, March 21, 2002

> Its also quite difficult for some (like my wife), to actually take all their holiday entitlement since there aren't enough people around to cover and as school holidays are always pretty much at the same time there's a collision.

My UK-based brother once had 9 months leave accrued (holiday, sabbatical, paternity leave) ... joked that he didn't want to take it all in case they discovered that they could do without him.

Christopher Wells
Thursday, March 21, 2002

Hmm... my company is doing better than I thought.  We give 4 weeks vacation & 10 holidays (which you need to take when they show up), plus 4 "season days" (a week before or after winter/spring/summer/autumn equinox & solstice (our way around religious holidays)) and 1 year long birthday floater.  No sick days or personal days.  As we have complete flex time, if you're sick, you can work weekends or whenever to make it up, if you want, or you can use the days as vacation.

4 weeks + 15 days off = 35 days, or 7 weeks per year.  From what I'm hearing, that's close to European standards, yes?

Timothy Falconer
Friday, March 22, 2002

That "no sick leave" seems very harsh by my European standards! If I recall correctly, the sick-leave limits in my
company is measured in months (how many depends
on length of service), but in my case I suspect it is up about six months).

If you are sufficiently sick during a holiday to need to see a doctor, then that can be re-classied as sick leave and not count against your annual leave.

After fifteen years service I have reached the maximum annual leave allowance at my company - thirty days plus public holidays.

Tim

Tim Sharrock
Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Having a hard time imagining six months of paid sick leave.  That's in one year?

So you're saying that in addition to your 30 days (and public holidays... say 10?), you could take off six more months.

That's less than 5 months of work out of the year?
This really happens?

Timothy Falconer
Wednesday, March 27, 2002

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