It's the end of week 3, time for an update: Life is better.
Far from being an expert in all things Cray [yet], my comfort level continues to grow daily, as does my "technical prowess", for lack of better terms. I've run the software update process now several times on my own (where "on my own" means sitting at my own desk, but with a mentor nearby for my frequent questions). Each time goes smoother and smoother, fewer questions, more problem solving (read: intelligent guessing) on my own, and I feel like I'm getting the hang of this.
Last week Carl delivered an unsolicited compliment that the devadmin folks were impressed how quickly I was picking up on things. That made my day. This whole experience has been a tremendous lesson in humility and non-perfectionism, so hearing an outsider's perspective that I'm actually doing well, made me feel very good about myself.
Ben has jokingly said since the beginning, "enjoy this time when no one expects you to know anything, when they're not hounding your desk asking questions." Well, as of yesterday, I seem to be "there" - someone stopped by Wendy's desk (I'm living in Wendy's cubicle while she's out of town) to ask questions about one of our test/development systems. I told him I'd try to help if I could, but no promises. Well, lo and behold, when he asked his questions, I knew how to find the answers! It took me probably 20 times longer than it would have taken anyone else in our group (they would have known off the top of their heads), but I looked up the documentation, knew which commands to run, and got him [most of] the information he needed! I was so proud of myself. And if you know me, you know that feeling is an accomplishment.
Let's also talk about how I'm getting here at 6 a.m. two or three days a week. That's right. Me. Who used to stumble in the door at MA no earlier than 10 o'clock, now I'm willingly subjecting myself to 6 a.m. mornings in order to run these software updates and learn. It's like I'm a real person or something. Best reaction: yesterday evening I stopped by MA to do some web work, and bumped into MK, one of the office people. I told her about my 6 a.m. mornings; she was absolutely taken aback with surprise. It was hilarious. I mean, I guess I never would have believed it, either.
So, in summary, life is going much better. The learning curve is still steep, but, I'm getting there.