A chance conversation with one of the people on the first floor in the office brought me information I never thought I'd have: I learned what other peple think my job is. I have a vague enough idea what my job is, except that it involves me having to get up at an unspeakable hour five days a week and I can't leave even when I don't have much to do. There's some programming involved as well, but not much of it is that involving and a lot of what I do in practice is refining and polishing and rewriting what I already did. This does make the code more elegant and robust, I think, but it's not really all that necessary.
But I hadn't really thought about what it was other people thought I did. There are a couple folks who know the projects I'm on, and whom I've even been sending progress reports, one of which just reiterates that over the past week I didn't get something which I can't start work without and which nobody in this company can provide, a measure of progress that's getting hard to put in an original way each week. I suspect they don't read it anyway because, even at four sentences long, could you read that every week?
One of the first-floor people started talking about what she thinks I do, though, and her vision is that I'm there to write modern code so as to replace the ancient software running on the mainframe. The company made its fortune in a data-handling niche from the 70s and as you may figure, this gives a certain stability and also involves people wielding obscure Cobol instructions at programs which are, somehow, 33 years after their first being used, getting regularly patched. I'm not positive there is any original code running there anymore, much less anything anyone designed. I don't deny replacing this would be useful work; I'm just hoping she's never disappointed that it doesn't actually happen.
Trivia: The four tigers of Britain's Royal Menagerie in 1767 were known as Sir Richard, Miss Jenny, Miss Nancy, and Miss Groggery. Source: The Knife Man: Blood, Body Snatching, And The Birth Of Modern Surgery, Wendy Moore.
Currently Reading: Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants, Robert Sullivan.