Howdy, Oppo. It's been a while. My apologies, it's been a hell of a summer and things aren't slowing down anytime soon. So here's the quick update.
In late spring we responded to several RFPs for seeking a firm to manage grant programs. Well, we caught three of them. For those not familiar with the process, there's a rolling cycle to these things. Every couple of months, a grant program opens and everyone typically has 60-90 days to complete an application. The new Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) threw a bucket of gas on the process. There are over 380 programs in that law, some old, some new. Now everyone is scrambling to get their pot of gold before the gold runs out. The application process isn't just filling out a few forms. We are in competition with all of the other applicants, so we have to prove that our project is more worthy than the next guy's. Our last successful application was one of 30 selected in a pool of 900 applications.
Now we are running three programs for clients. And with success begetting success, we caught other contracts for our road, water resources, and bridge teams, so the people who were helping me with the analysis and writing are all now busy on design work. Our office is outgrowing our space, but our new office won't be ready until next year. We threw out our flat filing cabinets and put in temporary tables to get space for six new hires and our office leader is giving up his office so we can put tables in that space so we have a place for six more. Yeah, it's getting crazy around here.
On top of that, COVID ran rampant through our household this summer. In July, it hit my wife and son. My son recovered pretty quickly. My wife had a few rough days then felt better, but we kept her quarantined until she tested negative - 11 days in total. I managed to avoid it that time, but in August we had a big client meeting where someone brought COVID to share. Like my wife, I had three rough days, but then I was quarantined for 12. I did my best to keep working from home for the duration. Unfortunately, the timing was particularly bad since both of my kids were leaving for college. My wife ended up helping both of the kids move while I was stuck at home. The biggest problem is how it's affected my sleep. I went from sleeping 4-6 hours a night to now needing 6 to 8 and I find that I get tired easily. It's eating into my time to get stuff done.
In other news, I declined an opportunity to teach this fall. The university wanted to keep an active connection so I'd be available to teach in the spring. They offered an opportunity to do some climate modeling and I couldn't pass it up. There's a lot of geospatial analysis involved, so it's right up my alley. The primary researcher wants to be able to ask questions like "how many days per year has the temperature exceeded 100°F, has that changed over time, and how is that likely to change in the future?" The answers to questions like this have implications in many fields. For example, processes that are temperature-sensitive (like severe storms or hurricanes) will change in frequency, severity, and extent as the climate changes. We can also look at the expected spread of invasive species like fire ants and pythons because both are sensitive to low temperatures.
I have three big tasks: build the models to query the dataset; reconfigure the server cluster (9 servers!) with the appropriate software to automate as much of the process as possible; and build the tools to make it easy for the research team to pose the questions. The data is high enough resolution to require some serious processing power. I'm testing on a high-end desktop and it takes about 30 hours to get the answer to one question and generate the associated maps. I haven't built out the tools to create all the charts & graphs and run the statistics. That's my task for the fall. At least the maps it's spitting out right now look really cool.
On top of all that, I decided to take on a project. Since my son has taken his truck to college, it's time to get my old truck running again. We don't have anything to pull the utility trailer, so I have no way of moving any bulk materials. The truck has been parked for quite a while so it needs some work to get running again. Step one is cleaning out the fuel tank and replacing the fuel pump. I thought I'd be able to drop the tank, but my truck has the larger tank and it won't come out without unbolting the rear suspension and sliding the rear axle back about a foot to make room to slide the tank back so it clears a crossmember that's trapping the front of the tank between it and the cab. After struggling with it for a weekend, I finally decided to just remove the bed and get to it from the top. New pump is in hand and a new filler neck too. Now I just need a dry weekend so I can finish. I thought Labor Day weekend was going to be it, but the weather said, "dry days this weekend? Sure, you get just one."
With that, I have to sign off again for a while. I have stuff due back to other people this morning and now I'm behind schedule. I miss my Oppo friends and the time I used to spend chatting with everyone! Perhaps things will slow down later this fall and I will be able to get back to posting. I'll check on this post over the weekend. Until then, I really need to sign off again for a while. Take care everyone!