The inevitable finally happened. For the last week or two I’ve been hanging around a new project at work, keeping half an eye on it in anticipation of me having to step in at some point. Invariably, the timelines have moved up and my “one day in a few weeks” turned out to be Friday.

I’m not sure if it’s on balance a good thing or not. I’ve previously complained about some of my projects having a lack of real world application or a meaningful social impact. Well this one for sure, knows the socks off of those complaints. This is a scheduling of nurses to ensure sufficient coverage of the neonatal intensive care ward. If you can’t feel good about making sure the newborns are properly looked after then maybe all hope truly is lost.

Of course, there’s always a few catches. The team seems very junior and panicking a little under the uncertainties. This will be my first project in 5 years with a proper front end, user application - which is something unfamiliar, but probably fine. And there seems to be integration complexity.

Deployments to hospitals are always tricky, but this one already has an existing interface and a new version ready to go that never got implemented before the previous team moved on. And that’s before we get to any of the real “AI”.

Any then the chili flakes sprinkled on top, to keep things interesting is that this is well and truly my first project in French. The hospital staff are very French. The dev team are Francophone first. The science team are Francophone. The entire application is in French.

Oh and did I mention, I don’t get to stop doing the airplanes?

Once again, I step into the fray.

I mean I was being bored to death, and the apathy had grown to unrealistic levels with the airplanes. I was begging for something to make me feel something again. So I guess, one should always be careful what you wish for.

On the flip side, it was nice to have a few hours a week to throw at my French classes and not feel too guilty about it. But I know myself, and they will be the first things to be dropped as soon as the stress rises up again.

The French has been quite pleasant this week. It’s the first week that I’ve felt well placed in the classes. Like the intermediate level is a good fit, and that I’m feeling above average in the classes compared to my classmates.

It’s funny how things have evolved. I’m now no longer getting the mental blanks and panic whenever someone talks to me. In fact, I find myself reaching for words less and less. In fact, I’ve been reasonably well formulating some more complex grammar on the fly - things like “we went there”, which not so long ago would have been a stop and write it down type exercise.

It certainly is odd to get myself to an ability where I can start to express myself in a different language rather than the glorified phrase book that I’ve always been before.

However, as much as my real-time thinking, grammar and speech have improved, my listening ability just hasn’t progressed anything close to that. Which is super frustrating.

I’m trying to augment some of this with watching some Netflix every night of French shows, but with very mixed results. Maybe just before bed is not the best time to be exercising the brain, but not to worry, I’m going to have a whole bunch of meetings to listen to next week!