Archive for the 'Life' Category

Life is Full of Shit

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

Growing up I had a dog. My responsibilities to this dog were pretty minimal. I basically needed to toss a ball for a few minutes in the backyard and clean up after her. This was all well and good when we first got her. I was about twelve years old and didn’t really have much to do as a junior high school kid.

When high school came along, the classes got harder. I picked up competitive sport and I found myself spending three hours at practice running my body into a wall then coming home to study or do homework until 1am and then waking up at 6 to do do it all over again. Unsurprisingly, playing fetch with my dog fell down the priority ladder. As did picking up poop.

So, one day I come home from practice–tired, sweaty and exhausted–put my gear down and plop down on the couch. And, with little fanfare and no regard for my tired state of being, in the special way my mom had of picking the worst time to ask for something, literally no sooner does my ass hit the sweet plushness of the sofa cushion, when my mom says “go scoop up the dog poop.”

Obviously not in the mood and in the most angsty teenage voice I ask “can’t it wait?” The answer, a simple “no.”

Of course it couldn’t.

Discontent, but accepting of my fate, I haul myself off the couch, grab a bag and shovel and head out to the backyard. Five minutes later (literally, I have no idea why this was such a big deal for me back then), poop is scooped up and in the garbage can.

“Happy?” I asked my mother when I returned to the house.


“Why not?!?”

“Because you didn’t put your heart into it.”

At this point, my teenage temper explodes. What the in the world is my mom talking about? What do you mean by didn’t put my heart into it? Why would anyone put their heart into picking up dog poop? It didn’t make sense. And, for a long time I’ve held this story in my head as a joke. An example of irrational expectations.

But now it’s twenty years later. I’m less of a teenager, and I think I’ve finally been able to attach some meaning to this. And that meaning may not be exactly what my mom had in mind, but it goes something like this:

Life is full of shit.

Look all around you and you’ll see it. There’s the litter on the street. The bills that need paying. The dishes that need washing. That legacy code that breaks in some way every month. That new person that no one likes. That new company policy that everyone hates. The shit is all around us. And we have two options. We can tippy toe around the shit, or we can pick it up.

It is perfectly ok to tippy toe around the shit. If that is your choice, just please be quiet while you’re doing it. Don’t criticize the people picking up the shit. Don’t point it out when we did not fully pick up the shit–it is not helpful.

Sometimes you will volunteer to pick up the shit. You’ll take a look around and realize that, damn, there’s a lot of shit in this world, and you’re sick and tired of it. Welcome to leadership. Pick up that shovel and join the party.

And, sometimes you will be assigned to pick up shit when you really don’t want to. Agreeing to do this is called being an adult. No one is asking you to like it. No one is telling you that it will be an enjoyable experience. But, shit has to get picked up, and this time your number was called. As an adult, put a little thought into it. Put a little heart and care into it. The people who are picking up shit everyday will appreciate it. It’s probably going to suck, but not for too long, and, twenty years from now, you might look back on it and be able to divine some lesson that would make for a good blog post.

One Year In

Monday, December 27th, 2010

It’s been one year with crossfit, and I can honestly say I wish I had listened to my brother back in the CCIT days when he first told me about this stuff. This would have saved my twenties. For now, though, I’ll settle for it saving my thirties, fourties and fifties.

My come-to-crossfit moment came on a five round couplet of thrusters and a 400m run. It took me about twenty minutes. It felt like an eternity. In the lifetime I spent gutting it out those last rounds, I realized all the training I had been doing was obviously not working.

Something else about all that other training: it was breaking me down. I had knee problems and back problems and shoulder problems. Issues were stacking up so quickly that I could rarely put together three consecutive weeks of workouts before something flared up and I had to give it a rest for a week or two. The doctors had no answers for me. I started wearing knee braces and gave up on ever running more than three miles ever again.

Fast forward a year and all of my problems have evaporated. I’ve since run Ragnar, gotten a couple 10Ks under my belt and have dropped to sub-7 minute splits on four-milers. I’m faster than I’ve been since high school and stronger than in any other point in my life. More importantly, I’m actually functional now. I used to spend hours at the gym running and lifting, but when it came to something as simple as holding a door open, I’d get bowled over. That’s not the case anymore. The skills and exercises in crossfit have actual analogs in the real world which makes them transferable.

I won’t tell you that the past year has been easy–I’ve had to change the way I approach a lot of things. I will say two things though:

First, anyone can do crossfit. You don’t have to be super joe athlete, you don’t have to be a former high school varsity sports star. In fact, you’ll have less to unlearn and be skeptical about if you don’t have that background.

Second, if you’re not doing crossfit, chances are you’re not using your time as efficiently as you could be. I won’t proclaim crossfit to be the end-all-be-all, but I will say that I’ve achieved my results by spending the past year doing workouts of 3 to 30 minutes. I’m in and out of the gym in less than an hour and that includes warming up and cooling down.

This is my official endorsement. If you’re thinking about resolutions for the new year, find the nearest crossfit affiliate and give it a try. It’ll be one hour of your life that I guarantee will be more fun than running on a treadmill and could very well be the start of a brand new, balanced, functional you.

A New Kind of Fit

Friday, September 17th, 2010

This train ride feels like forever. I don’t mind. Today is meant for slowing down. The body’s been pretty beat up lately. I lean my head back and get lost for a bit. My left hand starts to tingle. I look down and examine the calluses across my palm and start thinking about the workout I just finished. Thrusters and muscle ups. Thrusters–a visual materializes in my mind. I start dissecting my performance. Did I get low enough? Did I lock out at the top? Is my shoulder going to explode later this afternoon?

Why am I thinking about this?

Muscle ups. Bar Muscle Ups. That was a first time experience. I’ll probably have a nice bruise across my chest for the next couple of days. At the time, a bruise sounded better than a no-rep.

Why am I doing this, again?

I used to tell people I workout so I could eat whatever I want, but that’s not really true anymore. Lately the work has found a way to impose its will on my diet. No more drinking. No more processed sugars. Lots and lots of meat. My carbon footprint has increased dramatically over the past month.

Why am I doing this, again?

Now, I tell people I train for life. For the opportunities it affords me and the confidence it provides. Want to run a 10K next week? Sure. Hike up a hilltop tomorrow? No problem. Debug a program? If I can deadlift 315 pounds, surely I can bend these tiny bits to my liking. It’s a pretty good feeling.

But today, I train to remember. I push harder because it helps bring back memories of her. The aches remind me of high school evenings, coming home exhausted from practice to see nanny cooking in the kitchen–the sound of the stove hood whirring and the smell of ginger or garlic running through the house. It helps me remember weekend mornings mowing the lawn while she worked away in her rose garden. It reminds me of how much further I need to grow if I’m ever to live up to the example she set for me.

It’s been nine years to the day, and this year I find myself back in the city that took me away from her. While I no longer mourn, I do often wish she was around to see the home we’ve created–that, for once, I could treat her to a home cooked meal or maybe show her around the city. The alternate reality in my head thinks she’d like that.

Today I train to remember. I don’t worry about PRs or Rxs. I don’t worry about how heavy the weight is. This is training for life. This is a new kind of fit.

Week One In the Bag

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Five days into the Etsy tenure and other than a sloppy focus mishap (damn you Mac!) and feeling like my brain is going to get heartburn (telencephalon-burn?) from all the information I’ve digested, I’d say it went pretty well.

Actually, better than well. I can’t stop talking about this place. Dogs in the office? Awesome. My own lab coat? Awesome. Telephone booths? Awesome. Craft night? Awesome. Eatsy? Delicious. Having one of these in our kitchen? Awesome.

Most importantly, the people? Incredibly smart, talented, hard working and–wait for it–awesome.

Oh wait, I haven’t even talked about the work! How many places are there where you can go from zero to production deploy on day one? Or find yourself the subject of CTO tweet and team leader blog post?

Like I said, I can’t stop talking about this place. The good news? You can experience it for yourself because we’re hiring in NY and SF!

Closing out three days of unemployment

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Switching teams tomorrow. Postgres and Python, here I come.

Oh, and we’re going to give it another go with the Mac. Anyone know if those things support sloppy focus yet? Also is spaces anything close to decent yet? (i.e. can you wrap and drag windows amongst spaces?)

Overhead Squats

Monday, June 7th, 2010

are the new double-unders

Double unders

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Are morale annihilators.

Zut Alors! Windows 7 on Fedora 12!

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Screenshot-Windows7 Virtual Machine

Screenshot-Windows7 Virtual Machine-1

the crab preempted me, but here i is, Windows 7 on Fedora 12 via KVM. Although the fedora kids would have you believe the setup is a walk in the park, it actually isn’t. Some things to note:

  1. You must have a processor that supports the virtualization instruction set
  2. you must enable said instruction set in your computer’s bios
  3. the default virtualization lib install only supplies the qemu emulator. this will not work with windows 7. many BSODs await you on this path.
  4. Instead, install the kvm emulator packages.

and that’s it! I should also mention that the performance on this thing is pretty sick. I can’t even tell i’m running two operating systems at the same time.

now to see if i can get ie6 running and to hookup some network routing magic.

Turkey Day Warm-Up Redux

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Last saturday was our turkey day warm up dinner. Happy to report that a good time was had. While it didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked, all the food got out and we set a new record in attendance (14!).

On the menu:

  • empanadas
  • Crackers with Fromage d’Affinois and Sarabeth Marmalade
  • butternut squash soup
  • mashed yams
  • corn bread pudding
  • brussel sprouts cooked in bacon fat (mel special)
  • macaroni cheese (mel special)
  • challah stuffing
  • bourbon cranberry sauce
  • turkey

Other new additions this year included real plates and cups! Maybe next year we’ll have real chairs.

Many thanks to our wonderful guests who provided all the booze and desserts as well as fantastic company for a night of eating and drinking. Also, major props to mel for the mac & cheese and brussels as well as tessa for a wonderful home made apple pie.

As always, we’re looking forward to next year’s dinner. We’re hoping to see all the smiling face of those who could and couldn’t make it this year. With the new job, we might not be trying as many new recipes this year, but i’m sure we can find something interesting to add to the menu.

Finally, many were curious about the infamous spreadsheet, so here it is. Enjoy.

Y! Sports Defender No More

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

I’ve been trying to write this post in my head for a while now, but sometimes there’s no thinking like doing, so here it goes:

I’m in Sunnyvale this week finishing my last days at the Y Bang. Awkward is the only word that comes to mind right now. Saying goodbye to the people who have supported and shaped my life for the past four years is not something I take lightly, and although I’ve been working remotely for the past year, I’ll still miss my daily interactions with the group.

Deboarding the plane in SJC this past Sunday, I was a bit surprised to be awash in memories of the first days of my return to California and all the decisions that led to this point. I remembered landing in Oakland four years ago filled with excitement and enthusiasm. I think I even raised my hands in victory as I trotted down the stairs and took my first breaths of bay area air as a newly re-minted Californian. There was a lot to be happy about in addition to the sunshine and blue skies. I was tired of new york, I was going to be closer to family, and I had this great new job that blended two things that I really loved–engineering and sports. In hindsight, that moment is going to be hard to beat. But on this particular Sunday, all I could think about was how a lot of the things I was excited about just didn’t pan out–not necessarily in a negative way, but more in a non-expected way. I never thought I’d move back to New York and I certainly never thought I’d leave Yahoo!.

So, here I am. Y! Sports Defender no more. While leaving has it’s down sides, I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead at the new job. I’d like to say a final thank you to all my co-workers at the Y!. It’s been a lot of fun. If any of you are ever in NYC, give a holler. Otherwise, I’ll see you all on the Madden field.