(Last updated 28 April 2021)
Today, I’m an unemployed software engineer in silicon valley. I was born in SoCal and went to university at UC Davis, where I (eventually) graduated with a computer science degree. Any views expressed here are mine and not that of my employer, if I have one later.
My introduction to coding was at 15, reading Python from Magnus Lie Hetland’s Beginning Python, which I found to be very helpful while busing to and from high school. I wouldn’t say I learned much computer science without school, but my coding / problem solving was primarily developed outside of an academic context; I would say the biggest difference for me here is that I was coding for fun in my own time, rather than doing what others thought I should, with deadlines. The biggest resources for me other than that book were: How to Think Like a Computer Scientist, Loop Like a Native, and a Python forum (other than of course, Stack Overflow). Nowadays, I enjoy coding in Python 3 and Scala. I find Kotlin and Rust intriguing though haven’t used them much.
Random Facts (to be expanded)
Black Lives Matter (still feels like it needs saying regularly)
I like precise language, e.g. often saying “foreseeable future” instead of “forever” or “hypothesis” instead of “theory.” I’m not always perfect, but I do make an effort.
At one point, I identified as sapiosexual, however have since switched to saying finic gray asexual (I’ve previously identified as demisexual). I may be demiromantic. I really wish I had learned about asexuality and the split attraction model earlier in life.
Since 2005, my primary laptop has mostly been Linux (freshmen year of college, I had a Mac, used OS X for 9 months, and switched back to using Linux over that summer). I think I started with Mandriva, ended up with Ubuntu until 2011, and have used Linux Mint with Cinnamon since. I’m currently writing this from an Ubuntu install with Cinnamon because my Zareason laptop has given me so much trouble (will maybe write a post about that one day).
I enjoy barefoot (unshod) running, though haven’t been doing it lately. I might get back into it. Cumulatively, I’ve run hundreds of unshod miles since 2010, and hundreds more in minimalist footwear. Trail running is my favorite, although minimalist footwear doesn’t always do the best there. My current favorite minimalist footwear are Skinners. There’s no such thing as a “barefoot” shoe.
I practice mindfulness meditation daily, though I do miss days sometimes. I got into meditation because of Sam Harris’ book, Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion; I would say I have changed substantially since I last went through the book, so don’t take this as too much of an endorsement, since my view of Harris has become more critical during that time.
Meditation is my primary tool for coping with stress, though running is good when my stress is too high for meditation. I also journal.
I like science. But maybe not like you think – not that IFLScience page. I regularly think of life as a series of experiments, hypotheses to be tested and potentially falsified. I struggle with trying new things sometimes, but when I frame it in my mind as an experiment, it’s much easier.
I wish more people knew about Buy Nothing.
I like cats.
I’m a recovering perfectionist.
I’ve never tried alcohol, and don’t intend to. This is one of relatively few things I’m not open to changing my mind about.
I am irreligious. I lack any belief in the supernatural. I love having cordial conversations with people about what they believe, if they’re willing to talk about their personal why, though!
I think Trump and his cronies are indefensible. I haven’t a real conversation with any folks who disagree. Feel free to ping me about this, but realize that it’s very emotionally charged and that my patience on this topic will be low.
I’m disappointed with modern education.
I love exercise. Besides running I also enjoy rock climbing, swimming, ultimate frisbee, volleyball, flag football, and although I don’t love cycling, I’ve done a “century” ride once.
I try not to have heroes, because that typically doesn’t work well, but I do have two favorite lesser-known public figures right now –
- Al Letson, the host of the Reveal podcast. His ability to have hard conversations with people he really disagrees with has been amazing, as well as the time he saved the life of a white supremacist while he was covering a story (he’s black).
- Julia Galef, the host of the Rationally Speaking podcast. I can think of no one else who I think so readily will change their mind in real-time when presented with a reasonable challenge. I’ve learned from her that being rational isn’t identical to being smart, it’s about continuously being skeptical of yourself, since smart people are often good at rationalizing their false beliefs, rather than magically being good at having true beliefs.
Material items that bring a lot of value to me:
- Air fryer
- Heavy blanket
Things I think everyone should know the basics of:
- Optimizing vs satisficing
- Mental models
- The difference between debt and deficit
- The Raven paradox (here’s a good Youtube video too)
- Fuck yes or no
- Opportunity cost
I used to read a lot. I still read sometimes. My favorite books are:
- Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (I’m due for an, ideally more critical, re-read)
- Worm (quite long)
- The Kingkiller Chronicles (Tarbean was rough for me though)
At the time of this writing, I’m in weekly therapy. Meditation has helped me a great deal, but I’ve found therapy to vital to my improved mental health. I mention this here simply to reduce the stigma.
Links to me
Relevant blog posts
What I’m Up To
Recently I worked at Teladoc, but am currently taking a break between jobs. If you’re a bootcamp who’s interested in having me teach Python or data structures or something, I’d love to learn frontend (or maybe Android). Also, I did a lot of data engineering during the last three years, but don’t plan on doing more unless there are existing test patterns someone wants to flaunt (ideally on a publicly-accessible tech blog).