March 2022 – June 2023
July 16, 2023
It's been a long time since I did one of these updates. The big changes:
- got married
- finished the Bradfield CSI coursework
- started riding bikes
- switched teams at work from product to infrastructure
I start the Bradfield CSI Operating Systems module.
I reach 6 months at my job. I remember one of my interviewers saying that the firm will take as much as you give, that exercising boundaries is important. I'm not exercising my boundaries well.
I invite a friend to my house under false pretenses ("we're going to grill") and make him instead apply to several dozen jobs. He gets some offers and decides to work in a lab. Later in the year, the company promotes him to designing and setting up labs. They move him to Pittsburgh in early 2023.
I visit a college friend in Austin and help him set up his garage for woodworking.
I go to the Oakland Zoo. The gibbons (small apes, not monkeys) are my favorite. They're kept in pairs in enclosures with shallow moats and very low fences – they could easily leave. But they like their islands and their arranged marriages, so they choose to stick around. I wonder how many people would be happier like this: paired up, given an island, provided for by super-intelligent space aliens.
The chimps are in a giant cage. Can't trust them.
I finish the Bradfield CSI Operating Systems module. My biggest takeaway is how constructed, how arbitrary it all is, much more so than databases or networks. I think this is because there are more degrees of freedom and fewer objective measures of what an operating system is or should be. I start the Bradfield CSI Databases module.
At work, the firm lays off 9% of employees.
I visit Yosemite with my fiancée and two of our friends. What a place! The depth of the valley never registered until I actually visited.
My fiancée and I stay in Portland, OR for 10 days for a friend's wedding. The wedding is lovely. I ride an electric BIKETOWN bike and am blown away. I resolve to buy an ebike when I get home.
I finish the Bradfield CSI databases module.
Song of the month: "Blessing" by Alex G.
I visit Virginia for a wedding. Go up to NYC for one night. Meet a friend late at night in Koreatown, get a giant plate of dessert. Stay in a wretched little room in a hotel with tiny communal bathrooms. In the morning I don't have time to wait in line for the shower. Go to the Guggenheim and get some good pizza with coworkers. Catch my train back to Virginia.
I buy an ebike in California. I ride it a lot, farther than I ever have before on bicycle.
I start the CSI Distributed Systems module.
Song of the month: "Back in our Town" by Ivy.
I help a friend move; I rent a U-Haul van and drive it. My fiancée and I hike up Montara mountain. No view at all because of the fog, but that was its own kind of fun. My mom visits. She likes the ebike a lot. My sister visits a little later. It's her first time in the Bay Area in five years.
I start the Bradfield CSI System Design module.
At work, there are credible rumors of another, larger round of layoffs. I am deeply ambivalent at the prospect of being laid off. I oscillate from wanting it very badly to being afraid of what it will do to my ego. I am giddy at the prospect of severance, of being forced to go my own way. But I also know that my father worked in software and was never laid off, even when his employer shrank from hundreds to a few dozen. If I leave I want it to be on my own terms, but I also believe I won't leave soon without getting laid off. I want to get to at least a year at the firm. But then I think about all the free time I could have to ride bicycles, read books, and program...
I send a message to a colleague who I respect to share with the rest of my team if I'm laid off.
I'm at the office when the firm lays of 23% of employees. I'm sad for the many I know. I oscillate between relief and disappointment for myself.
The product I worked on for the last several months launches. I watch closely for the duration of the program. I care a lot about the customers.
I finish the Bradfield CSI System Design module. What an incredible experience. For each of the problems, I use everything I've learned in the last year of the Bradfield CSI to sketch my solutions. That's the end of Bradfield coursework. It was so worthwhile.
I buy an iPhone. It's a really good piece of hardware running quite good software. It's nice to use something that just works.
I realize that I don't actually need the electric assist in the bicycle. I buy a bicycle from Box Dog Bikes and ride it a lot.
I reach 1 year at my job. Have a reputation for reliability and rigor. I am competent and unhappy. In my notes I write this is not the work I aspire to.
Songs of the month: "Collage of Dreams" by John Beltran and "Kaini Industries" by Bibio.
My dad visits a bit later. We ride bikes along the San Francisco Bay.
At work, I tell my manager I want to switch teams. He's immediately supportive and introduces me to other managers. I begin an exhaustive search for my next team within the firm.
My wife and I go to Scottsdale for Thanksgiving. Visit Tempe and like it a lot. I see Culdesac in person.
At work, the most senior engineers at the firm take time to speak with me. They think my interests line up best with the Service Discovery and Communication (SD&C) or Container Orchestration (CO). I start the process of joining SD&C.
My wife and I spend our first Christmas together in Virginia. We put on a small luncheon to celebrate our marriage with some of my family.
We go to a wedding in Charlottesville with her parents. It's a nice town. I particularly like Blue Whale Books.
At work, my team switch is officially ok'd. I am thrilled with the level of support I've gotten through the entire process. I am happy I decided to look inside the firm instead of leaving.
At the company Christmas party, I oafishly tell a user researcher I've worked with before that I'm switching teams because I want to work with computers more and people less. In hindsight, this isn't even true.
Song of the month: "Headroom Piano" by Alex G.
My friend and I take Caltrain to South San Francisco and hike our bikes up to the top of San Bruno Mountain. Ride the trail at the top. It's terrible for bicycles. Eventually get to the parking lot where there's a sign forbidding bikes from going on the trail we were on. Makes sense!
I'm only riding my regular bike, so I sell the ebike.
At work, I start on SD&C. My teammates are citing manpages at each other. I love it. My manager and I hit it off immediately. It turns out he read Flowers make a nice gift when I first wrote it.
My college friend visits the SF Bay for EA Global. I take a Bradfield friend to dinner with this college friend and go to an EA Global afterparty. We stay for a half hour. It reminds all three of us of undergrad.
Songs of the month: "Naqi" by Mansur Brown, "Angelo Azzuro" by SSIEGE.
The Oxide folks bring hardware for people to pass around.
Storms keep me inside for more of the month than I would like.
Song of the month: "Forest on the Sun" by Thrupence.
My wife and I go to Scottsdale to celebrate our marriage with her family. Her parents put on a beautiful event in their home and backyard.
We go to Tempe with my parents. I like it a lot less than last time. It's noisy and full of people. I realize my I only liked it last November because it was empty, and I love empty cities.
Songs of the month: "Sunrise" by Young American Primitive, "Digital Arpeggios" by Percussions.
My wife and I celebrate our marriage with some friends at a picnic, dinner, and lunch. The photo above captures the vibe of the dinner (rowdy) pretty well. Somebody takes a picture of their bare ass with an instant camera. I catch up with folks I haven't seen in several years.
I scan a lot of photos afterward.
I visit Portland and do one last little marriage celebration, a backyard barbecue with my Mom's family. My wife and I go to Parallel Worlds and Melville Books. I pick up a copy of A Canticle for Leibowitz and nearly finish it in a day. It's my favorite piece of fiction ever.
With my newfound interest in Catholic monastic life via Canticle, I come home and play Pentiment straight through in a weekend. It's great, it takes real advantage of the medium. And it doesn't have the tinge of being made for adolescents that most other games have.
At work, I am refining a single design doc. It's not fun for a while, but then it becomes really fun: the most senior engineer at the firm gives an exceptionally thorough and rigorous review. Being forced to answer these questions gives me more confidence in my proposal. He approves the design. This is a highlight in my time at the firm.
I enjoy my commute. I walk through a nice neighborhood to a train station, work on the train, walk through a nice neighborhood, and get to the office. I call friends on my walk home. I like the train (when it's not extremely and unpredictably delayed), and I like all the walking.