We are now clearly on the downhill side. Her eyes were a shade of gray between onyx and miscalculation, and the unicorn has arrived.

Friday was my last “normal” day at Mama Apple, if normal ever applies to the last few weeks. It’s been this unending stream of discussions and meetings, of trying to identify and document, hand off, lecture about, fix, or script it into submission. I’m a couple of projects short of where I want to be; both of the things I wanted to get done (but won’t) are rollouts, though, that I wanted to take care of before I left; instead, the code is in someone else’s capable hands to do the rollout. That’s not bad, all things considered.

I have a few small things left to do, another 100 lines of Perl to script a few minor things, a couple of short docs. the bug database has been handed over, and the issue database is empty (whew). tuesday, the new support team crawls behind the steering wheel, and then it’s their turn.

All in all, we ended up with over 60 hours of taped lecture, with generally 4-8 people in lecture at any time. it’s all been put up on servers, too (I’ve asked for copies for the blog; somehow, I doubt I’ll get them…). I spent some time with one of the people at Apple that I’ve worked with on a number of projects and who’s been a bit of a mentor to me on the marketing side the last couple of years, and the first question he asked me was “exactly how many people are they replacing you with?”

which is a weird question I’ll defer to later (or never), since things I’m doing are being dispersed all over various groups in IS&T, more in the classic IS setup. If you replace 1 person with 10 people each giving 1/16th of their time, that adds up to…

nothing worth thinking about, actually. I haven’t taken a photo in almost six weeks, and it’s been a few long weeks of mostly grinding away to make sure that when Pumpkin Day comes it’s a non-issue. I’ve been meaning to do more blogging and writing, but there just hasn’t been a huge amount of spare energy left (and there’s that copy of Civ IV on the mini….). After friday, when I finally let it go, I found myself both a bit stressed (“it’s really coming to an end”) and exhausted (“what do you mean, I snored through the first four innings? again?”), and I spent most of my waking moments saturday napping, or fighting the urge to nap. gah. I hate that, although a nap does wonders. Makes me feel old when I do it, for some reason. I finally hit the point today where I had to get out of the house and off the computer, so I grabbed the gear and ran out to Radio road, where it was way too windy for the birds to cooperate, unless you like taking pictures of huddled bundles of feathers. I did spend some time looking for the elegant tern, and thanks to a couple there with a much better scope than my binoculars, we got pretty good looks at a lump that looked suspiciously like the elegant. It would have been even nicer if it’d actually pulled its head out (from under it’s wing, perv!) just once, but beggars can’t be choosers. Still, the journey is the reward, and just getting out of the house was great.

This next week is vacation time for me — or more correctly, on-call-on-vacation. My job is to touch nothing, do nothing, handle nothing, be nothing, unless someone else needs help and brings me in to consult. The idea is to “go black” and see if we missed anything in the lectures and training. I am sincerely hoping for a few days of absolute quiet — and expecting some really funky, weird thing that has only happened twice before in the project that scares the crap out of everyone and takes me 3 minutes to fix…

Then one more week in the office, doing follow-ups with the dev team and ops teams to see what we need to talk more on, and then — the cell phone gets powered off, the laptop and computer gets packed, and Laurie and I go into exile, somewhere off the islet of Langerhans.

More interviews this week; a second round that I thought went pretty well. In our group, the 2nd round interviews are the “meet the director sniff test”; this one was three+ hours of fascinating technical interrogation. All very friendly, very intense, very impressive. Left me exhausted but encouraged, so we’ll see. It gave me a bunch of thoughts on skills maintenance and enhancement I want to talk about, but it’ll have to wait until I have a little more time AND energy together.

Oh, one other thing was decided this week — I”m definitely leaving Apple. The one group I’d been talking to about maybe staying on board and I hashed it out, and we all agreed that we really wanted it to happen, but the timing sucked. It’s just a bad time to try to make something like this happen (we’re late in fiscal Q4 at Apple, which of course means everyone’s budget and headcount are spent and committed and hired, and nothing’s going to spring free until October when the new fiscal year kicks in. If it kicks in then….)

I keep cycling between “you’re leaving a place you’ve been for almost 20 years for — um, what again?” and the whole fear of the unknown thing, and a growing anticipation of making a fresh start and moving off in new directions.

Sometimes, you have to reach out and grab the chance, before it gives up on you forever. I’ve only been unemployed for about six weeks since the age of 12, so not having a job in hand is a bit scary — but I also realize that I’ve let my job define who I am too much, this is a perfect time for me to put that back in better balance, and that wasn’t going to happen at Apple. So it’s a bit scary, but it’s good-scary. mostly. The coffee is brewing down at the Cafe. Lagniappe.