incite a riot
not really
Show Menu


October 2007

Day 1

October 20, 2007   

Honestly, I don’t think I’ll be logging my activities everyday, but heck, why the hell not try.

So, let’s see… This morning, I woke up earlier than I wanted because Mobi kept whimpering to be let out of the room. After watching some random tv, Seppo and I went to lunch with Hoa and Sean at Vik’s Chaat. Man, those lamb cholles are so damn good!

After that, we went to the Apple store so I can obsess over which Mac-produced laptop I might get through the refurb shop. Seppo figured it would be important to get my hands on them and see what the differences were.

I am a terrible decision maker as far as purchasing technology because of these two conflicting facts:

  • I am really, really cheap when it comes to buying stuff for myself. I never feel right spending a bunch of money on stuff solely for me, even though I don’t mind throwing down for food or gifts for family & friends.
  • I have severe tech-envy and always want the fastest, shiniest, brightest, top-of-the-line, bleeding-edge things and fully intend to keep whatever it is until they roll over and die.

Usually, because of the former fact, I rarely pull the trigger on the latter impulse.

So, I’m still mulling over things.

Seppo was/is feeling pretty sick, so I dropped him off at home and ran over to the drug store to pick up some cold meds for him. The rest of the afternoon/evening/night involved dozing on the couch, two walks with Mobi, cooking dinner, and watching a buttload of “How I Met Your Mother” Season 2 dvds.

Oh man, I almost forgot to mention that last night, Seppo and I watched the premier of The Next Great American Band. It was made of 100% awesome, braised in awesome, and finished off under a hot broiler of awesometasticness. Yeah, I know that people think I’ll watch anything on tv, especially if it’s a competition, but honestly, it was great in a way that I had not foreseen. Maybe I’ll post a video clip tomorrow.

Wow, boring entry. Everything that happened after having lunch with the always funny/awesome H/S combo was pretty boring. This is how I’ll look back on my life. 😀 Well, at least I’ll know I was being honest about my day. You couldn’t make up more boring stuff.

And it’s so perfect and exactly what I wanted for my vacation.

Job description meme

October 20, 2007   

Ok, so I had a thought for a meme. Basically, I find myself completely astounded by how little I know of my close friends’ careers. I know their titles and I vaguely know what their industry does, but I have no real idea what role they play in a company and what they do on a day-to-day basis. So here, I offer to you guys a description of what I do, sans any specific details that would violate NDAs or give out corporate information in any way. I encourage you to do the same either here, or on your own blogs.

What I might do in any given project:

  • Go to meetings to discuss and give my input on how features should work. For a completely generic example, if our Generic Product X needed a screen that could only show three pieces of information at any given moment, what pieces of information might be displayed for various scenarios? If the user could take two distinct actions on any given screen, what actions should they be? A lot of these talks also happen outside of meetings throughout a project.
  • Go to meetings to discuss and give my input on what technologies we need to use to make those features work. Ditto on the talks happening outside of meetings.
  • Research and analyze competitive products and see where they are doing things right and where we can improve. It’s always interesting to compare the difference between what a user has grown accustomed to versus how to most effectively and intuitively accomplish the same action.
  • Come up with new ideas for making the product better/fixing existing problems.
  • Write documentation detailing the design and technical details of how we plan to write the feature or product or fix. Keep in mind that my code might be used by thousands of concurrent users (or by one user on a system with very limited resources), so efficiency is key.
  • Give input to QA so that they can figure out plans for how they are going to test the crap out of the product once the engineers are done writing it.
  • Write the dang code. Test the dang code. Repeat a bajillion times. This is when things are going well.
  • Rewrite or otherwise modify existing code. Read weird, outdated comments. Wonder why certain changes were made. Wonder why certain changes were not made. Wonder if changes were actually made but the comments were not updated, or vice versa. Wonder what this completely inscrutable variable is supposed to represent. Pull out hair. Test the changes. Pull out more hair. Repeat a bajillion times. Try not to go bald.
  • Report back on progress for certain pre-determined milestones. Try not to fall asleep when others are reporting their progress. More importantly, try not to fall asleep when I am reporting my progress.
  • In between the above “real” tasks, juggle the usual hurdles of tools I may not like, programming languages with strange limitations, platforms (Windows? mobile devices? website as viewed on a Mac with an outdated version of the Opera browser?) with other limitations, project scheduling constraints that I may not like, and most importantly, people I may not like. Luckily for me, I’ve worked with great people most of the time, so I don’t have too much reason to grouse about the last item.

What I might do on any given day in the middle of a project:

  • Sit in front of my computer with the code open in an editor (can be something fancy, but it can be as simple as the Notepad program that comes on Windows).
  • Read the code and figure out what is happening in the code.
  • Make the changes I had planned out when I last sat there and stared at the code.
  • Compile (and link) the code. For non-software engineers, some programming languages need a step to make the text you wrote down turn magically into something that does something. For instance, I write code in text, using the keyboard and using numbers and English letters. But you’ll notice on your computer that there are programs that you can just double-click and it’ll “run”. Compiling (and linking) is the step between writing text and having a program that the computer knows it can “run”. Sometimes, this step can take like an hour or two, depending on how big of a project I am working on. Sometimes, it might only take a minute. During this time, I might websurf answer emails do further research to hone my craft.
  • Test the code. This means I act like a regular user of the program and see if things work the way they were planned. Sometimes, you have to do really weird things to try to replicate a problem you are trying to fix. In my past job, this sometimes involved a microwave and trying to click keys faster than one would have thought was humanly possible. For real.
  • Repeat until the problem is completely solved. I joke about testing a bajillion times, but in a best case scenario, the initial investigation and planning should have gotten me 99% to a solution for 90% of the cases. The repeating comes in when there are extreme, previously unexpected scenarios. The better an engineer, the fewer the unexpected cases, because the idea is that we should be planning for all those cases, leaving very few stones unturned.

The above is, as I noted, for the “middle” of a project, after most things have been planned, major decisions have been made, and major deadlines have been agreed to. It’s also before things get closer to ready for human usage and enter the official testing and shipping phases.

If you are someone that just does this above part, I think you’d be called a programmer or software engineer. It’s the additional stuff (from the first list) when you get involved with the decisionmaking process and bring your expertise that makes you a senior software engineer or other loftier titles (I think my next title at my old job was going to be Distinguished Member of Technical Staff — hee!).

Like many other jobs, software engineers have planning meetings, internal checkpoints/milestones, research and development, and random corporate annoyances. I’ve tried to write my answers with as little jargon as possible, but reading over the bullet points show me that I’ve failed at that. Oh well. I hope some of my non-software engineering friends know a little more about what I do now.

Now, I want to know: what do you do? I really have no idea what most of you guys do on a day-to-day basis.

Last Day of Work for 2007

October 19, 2007   

As of 5pm today, I am done with my employed life for the rest of 2007. Let me pause here to say, YAY! WOOHOO!!!!

Ahem. Anyway, I’m very excited for this break. As I’ve whinged and whined in the past, I haven’t had a full vacation with no work since… I think the age of 14. The longest I’ve had off since then is two weeks, once or twice to visit family and last year, for our honeymoon. I know a lot of people are in the same boat, so I have no real right to have been so dang whiny about the whole situation, but there it is. 🙂

I plan to have a whole lotta nothing planned for this break and do whatever I please, whenever I please. I intentionally don’t want to make a lot of plans and extend myself too much socially, because I just want to take it super-easy. The only things I have planned are the following:

  • A trip to Tulum, Mexico! This will be my first trip to Mexico. Thanks to Max for the idea and getting us to get off our butts to sleep in thatched roof cabanas and roll out directly onto the beach every morning. I am so very looking forward to this.
  • Rock Band party! Evites will be forthcoming.
  • A trip to visit the little ones in GA. My sister and mom have come up with the idea of renting a little cabin in the woods for the family for a couple of days. It would be nice to go sledding and toast marshmallows in a cozy little cabin with family. Or an utter nightmare. 😉 But I’m thinking it’ll really be nice. It’ll also be quite confusing to get back from 80-something weather in Mexico and go shortly thereafter to a cabin in the snowy mountains (yes, apparently, there are snowy mountains within driving distance of Atlanta).

I start work on Monday, January 14th, 2008. It’ll be weird to be jobless for so long, but weird in a good way. 🙂 Today, I felt completely befuddled at what to do with myself at home without access to a laptop and mobile email device. I kept looking around me and feeling, well, rather incomplete. That’s embarrassing, isn’t it?

Book meme

October 11, 2007   

In case you guys were wondering, this meme comes from the top 106 books that were tagged as owned-but-unread on LibraryThing.

The variation I found elsewhere when tracking down this meme said: bold what you have read, italicize your “did not finish” reads, strikethrough the ones you hated, and put asterisks next to those you read more than once. However, I will put an asterisk by the ones I currently actually own, have owned in the past, or are otherwise floating around the house but haven’t even started.

Jonathan Strange & M. Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One hundred years of solitude – This one is particularly shameful because I got all the way to about 30 pages from the end, plus it was an amazing book. I still want to finish it.
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi: a novel
The Name of the Rose
* Don Quixote
* Moby Dick
* Ulysses
* Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
A Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
* War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveller’s Wife
The Iliad – At least, I think I finished it.
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
* American Gods
A heartbreaking work of staggering genius
Atlas shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran
Memoirs of a Geisha
* Quicksilver
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury tales
The Historian
A portrait of the artist as a young man
Love in the time of cholera
Brave new world
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
* Frankenstein
The Count of Monte Cristo
A clockwork orange
Anansi Boys
* The Once and Future King
* The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible
Angels & Demons – Dan Brown sucks for characters & dialog, so even with the interesting plot, I couldn’t bear it. The aforementioned problems bordered on embarrassing. No, they were actually embarrassing. Note: my opinions are completely subjective, of course, and does not reflect a poor opinion of anyone who did like the book whatsoever.
The Inferno
The Satanic Verses
Sense and sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park – But I can’t remember what happened.
One flew over the cuckoo’s nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les misérables
* The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The curious incident of the dog in the night-time
* The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
* Angela’s Ashes
The God of Small Things
* A people’s history of the United States : 1492-present
* Cryptonomicon
* Neverwhere
A confederacy of dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The unbearable lightness of being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
* On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics – The overwhelming popularity of this book kind of angered me because it appeared to me that just because he made a lot of interesting points/connections and challenged some preexisting notions, the entire work was received as being unimpeachably well-researched. It was, at times, a piece of crap, IMO. Again, no reflection on those who loved it. I’d still recommend it, but with reservations and with a request to challenge the assumptions presented in the book itself, as the author challenges preexisting notions.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
* The Aeneid
* Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood
White teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

Peak cuteness?

October 11, 2007   

I wonder when you cross over from being so close to someone that you can riff on inside jokes and finish each other’s sentences and it’s so awesome and fun and goofy that it makes you giggle all the time, to becoming utterly bored and annoyed by the sameness and lack of mystery of it all.

Seppo and I are still in the “omg, why are you so awesome and funny all the time” phase, and we are nearing 10 years together. I don’t say this to make anyone jealous. I know a lot of relationships over the history of the human populations must have been great for periods, but many fall apart at some point.

How do we, as a modern, proactive couple, keep ourselves from reaching that critical cliff where the familiar goes from comforting to confining? What steps must we take and what interactions must we be aware of so that we never hit that? How we we continually work to make sure our relationship is getting better and better with time?

Advice? Insight? Cynical jokes? 😀

Decision Day

October 8, 2007   

Since I’ve told all the relevant parties, I figure I can finally post about this here. I have accepted an offer with a start-up and have given two weeks’ notice to my manager at my current job. In accepting the offer from the start-up, I also turned down a really fan-freaking-tastic offer from Google. I struggled for weeks over the decision, but in the end, I was more excited about the specific people and opportunity at the start-up, so I went with that.

I know that Google would have been an amazing place to work but my feeling was that it would still be around in a couple of years, while this particular start-up opportunity may already be a success or bust by then. Maybe by then, I’ll be thinking about Google again, but for now, I think this is absolutely the right decision for me.

I am saddened to leave the high-caliber, considerate, motivated, and bright individuals I’ve worked with at my still-current job, but I am excited for the challenges ahead.

In addition, I’m also excited for the 2 month and some that I’ll be taking off between jobs. Woohoo!

A quote that spontaneously made me burst into tears

October 7, 2007   

… and that I subsequently found was misquoted and erroneously attributed. Here’s the “original” snippet of the quote that I read today:

… To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.

The attribution I saw at first was Ralph Waldo Emerson, but a little digging around lead to a page that showed that most likely, the originator was a woman named Bessie A. Stanley and that the tone of the full, misquoted poem doesn’t sound like Emerson’s work.

Either way, I really enjoyed that line, regardless of who it was from. It really solidifies my core philosophy in life. I know it’s not an original thought, but it is what is important to me.

In addition, in searching for the source of the quote, I hit a page of quotes by Emerson. I might pick up a book of his poems.

Stop. Meme Time.

October 2, 2007   

Via niralth and Seppo.

20 Years Ago, I…
1. read every second I was allowed to.
2. wanted to be white.
3. mourned the loss of my “big” grandmother. (It was her memorial last weekend.)

15 Years Ago, I…
1. decided that I was too young to date, after a boy broke my heart for the first time.
2. decided that I would never question my self-worth again.
3. was intensely focussed and driven to leave home and find happiness.

10 Years Ago, I…
1. was constantly questioning my self-worth and felt miserable and trapped in every way.
2. missed Mom’s home cooking.
3. didn’t have a single friend to turn to because I had isolated myself so much from them.

5 Years Ago, I…
1. bought my first house and my first car.
2. really started to put an emphasis on working hard to maintain relationships with friends and family that are important to me.
3. had regained my self-esteem.

2 Years Ago, I…
1. had a new job I loved, a new dog that was a wonderful nuisance, and a fiance that made me happier than I could ever have imagined possible.
2. started to be able to afford the house I bought.
3. wrote my second novel.

1 Year Ago, I…
1. married Seppo, both of us crying and laughing the entire time, declaring our commitment in front of most of the people we love in the world.
2. traveled to Europe for the first time and discovered an affinity for museums.
3. combined our finances and started to plan for our retirement and home repairs.

Yesterday, I…
1. went to sleep late after watching Heroes with Seppo.
2. obsessed about life decisions.
3. ate more shabu-shabu.

Today, I…
1. will finish the bulk of a task I’m doing for work.
2. will obsess even more about life decisions.
3. might possibly have even more shabu-shabu.

Tomorrow, I’ll…
1. need to consult with some coworkers to finish a work task.
2. probably obsess yet more about life decisions.
3. take out the trash/recycling/food scraps (pieces of uneaten shabu-shabu?!).

In 5 years I want to…
1. have a child or two, and hopefully still have Mobi around too — he’ll be getting old…
2. be done with house renovations.
3. always put our marriage as my top priority, and work hard to ensure that we stay happy and close.

Looking back at this list, it’s like the last 5 years just rocketed me to happiness.