© creativecommonsstockphotos ID 89250373 | Dreamstime Stock Photos Instead of passively consuming the nearly endless stream of content coming my way I thought I’d gather together a few items to share with everyone here. Forty-nine years ago this happened: I particularly like this polyphonic visualization We were moved when we saw the remnants of the Berlin Wall last October, so I was pleased to see the site for the online memorial It’s been over two decades since I was passed over for tenure but the feelings this left behind are still pretty much as fresh as what I see in this account of the experience.
© Peter Mautsch / Maranso Gmbh ID 1268669 | Dreamstime Stock Photos One of the things I like best about the end of the year has to do with music, which is one of the main ways I pass the time all year round. Now, I don’t hang around in places featuring non-stop Christmas carols on loop so that is not the kind of thing I’m referring to. I am also not big on the music countdown segments that certain DJs like to put out during the last week of the year.
© Publicdomainphotos ID 102950205 | Dreamstime Stock Photos A couple of years ago I was working for a company that allowed me to sit at a desk in their office in midtown Manhattan in lieu of relocating all the way across the country. It was still a kind of shock to adjust to the New York style of life after so many years working for sedate firms in northern New Jersey, with the commute by bus and the walk across Times Square and the standing in line for lunch at one of the dozens upon dozens of eateries within a short distance of the office, and the tech meetups around town.
On the one side, it’s been an absolutely brutal time in which to generate creative ideas for reasons described well by author John Scalzi. And yet, I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo every year since 2011. Basically, I think that doing any kind of creative writing is like developing proficiency in a sport – you have to exercise the basic skills, over and over, until they become automatic. The way I’ve always prepared for NaNoWrimo before was to put together a plot outline, a list of characters, some idea of pivotal scenes, and, sometimes, a timeline of the world I’m building.
I have been spending the majority of my time these last four weeks talking about myself to people I don’t know. It isn’t something I would choose to do, but it is a necessary part of the job interview gauntlet. I talk about what I’ve done, and about things that have been done to me, and about what I thought I was good at doing, and about what I wish I were better at.
The job where I am working now is going away by the middle of next month, so there is some urgency right now to work out some alternate work arrangement, and no way to rig up some sort of a remote engineer position. And so, yesterday I was booked on the short flight there, and ended spending about ten hours waiting in airports because some cloud cover appeared in Los Angeles and some rain fell in San Francisco.
Here is a list of what I have put together or worked on for some significant amount over the last couple of years on the job. Monitoring will get its own post eventually. We migrated from a single service which ran on a single instance in Classic EC2 to a half dozen services running in separate VPCs, each with autoscaling instances behind an elastic load balancer to provide high availability.
Twice a year, during Advent and Lent, I try to do some spiritual reading as a discipline, and this Lent I’m reading St. Teresa of Avila’s The Interior Castle, generally accounted to be a masterpiece of contemplation. The idea is that the human soul is pictured as a transparent castle containing many rooms, sort of a diamond cloister, the most impregnable fortress against the dangers of the outside world. It was natural that this member of a cloistered order would write based upon something she knew, of course, but the interesting thing will be how much I can make of this idea living in the world.
For a number of years Michael Dylan Welch has been organizing National Haiku Writing Month, more commonly known as NaHaiWriMo during the month of February where anyone can post their minimalistic poetic contributions every day. There would be a prompt for each day the participants could, if they wanted, use as a theme for that day’s installment. I had fun participating this year and would like to present a selection of what I came up with.
For every post here I write maybe three for my own use over on Penzu as a sort of diary of what’s going on. I’ve learned that it’s too easy to forget a lot sooner than you expect just what you were experiencing and saying and doing if you don’t leave some kind of traces for yourself to get back into your head in times past. What I write are things too personal or professionally sensitive to want to put out on a public blog like this, or more often things that only I figure I would be interested in knowing about.