Five Weeks In

I’m now about five weeks into my new job, working as a front end developer at a startup in Newton called appScatter. So far, I’m liking it a lot.

I really like working with the guys I’m working with. Rami is warm and friendly, knowledgeable, and laughs easily. Mike is smart and enthusiastic and very positive; his style is to encourage rather than enforce. Mark is even newer than I am, and I’m still getting to know him, but he dove right; he’s enthusiastic and inquisitive.

Unlike my old job, this position is strictly front end; I’m building a single page app using AngularJS, and it’s been quite an adjustment. I knew nothing of Angular before; I spent part of the week before I started boning up, and felt I understood it at a conceptual level, but of course, practice was another matter. Once I actually started digging into it, I was fighting syntax the whole way. Every stupid little thing — and it was always the little things; the big things were relatively easy — seemed to take forever. I wasn’t used to the Angular style of passing functions around in the arguments of functions; it didn’t help that I was moving from a fairly plain text editor (Homesite) to Sublime, which autocompletes quotes and parentheses and brackets, and doesn’t select text quite the way I was used to. So I was ending up with extra or missing quotes and brackets and parentheses, and was in JavaScript Hell for a few weeks. It didn’t help that I’d given wildly optimistic estimates for my tasks, based on how I would have done them the old way.  I feel like I’m gaining on it now, and the last few pieces I’ve added have come along a lot more easily. I’m spending more of my time on the fun little details of smoothing out the user experience, and less on the basics. I’ll have a lot more to say about Angular, I’m sure.

The other adjustment I’ve had to make is not having access to the server or the database to help myself on the client side. In ColdFusion, the basic generation of the page is done on the server, usually by cfoutputting a query, often one I wrote myself. Now, I’m making web service calls, getting the data, placing the data in Angular’s model layer, and letting it handle the display.

The commute is shorter than the commute to Rhode Island, by about 20 – 40 minutes each way. About the only thing I miss are the people and my sunset rides along the East Bay Bike path.

Turner and the Sea

I’d originally planned to do a sunset ride along the East Bay this Monday, but I was feeling stiff after the night dive, and was also aware that it was the last day of the Turner and the Sea exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum. After checking the museum website to make sure they were open today, my mother and I headed north to see the exhibit.

While we were there, we saw their collection of nautical art, and Yin Yu Tang, an 18th century Chinese house, now relocated to Salem, and then it was time for the main exhibit.

Joseph Mallord William Turner was one of Britain’s premier artists around the turn of the 1800’s up until his death in 1851. He had an exceptional talent for use of light, and as his career progressed, his work became increasingly abstract, before abstract art came into vogue. This exhibit focused on his maritime work.

We both agreed that the exhibit was somewhat misleadingly named — yes, there were Turners there, but there were also a lot of other maritime painters represented — some were predecessors whose work inspired him, others were contemporaries inspired by him, and some were by contemporaries whose work inspired his competitive juices.

For me, the most impressive piece was Fishermen at Sea. It’s an oil painting of fishermen on the open ocean, with a full moon breaking through dark clouds, and transilluminating a breaking wave. Photographs don’t do it justice. The backlighting of the wave is superb, and in person, you can see the red glow of the fishermen’s charcoal fire. It’s a large painting, about 3 x 4 feet, and in person, you can see the details in the brush strokes. The photo I’ve linked to is somewhat greener than the actual picture.

The other standout is Battle of Trafalgar, painted at the request of the Prince of Wales (later George IV) as a companion piece to Loutherbourg’s The Glorious First of June. Both paintings are huge, taking up whole walls.

The exhibit ends with a bunch of his sketches and studies. When he died, he bequeathed many of his works to the British government, including many unfinished pieces and studies. Many of these are very abstract—some as a matter of style, and some possibly because they’re unfinished versions.

I enjoyed the the Turner exhibit and the standing exhibit of maritime art. There really is no substitute for getting close to a painting and being able to see the brush strokes, or being in the same room as a giant piece like the Battle of Trafalgar.