The Story

This post is originally posted on clairevango.com

When I was a kid my family moved around a bit. We lived in CT, PA, KY and then back to CT again. We spent a couple summers on a boat in RI while parents handled the move between states. While my brothers and I were seperated by years, interests, and social cirlces, we found a way to coexist. We weren’t close, but we were never too far apart.

As an adult, I feel like I’ve missed something something by moving the west coast. I’ve missed opportunity to be closer to my family. I’ve missed the opportunity to see my brothers grow to be men. I know I will be missing much as they begin to start families and I’m 3000 miles away.

When my youngest brother told me I was going to be uncle, I felt emmense joy and also sadness because this was a transition in stage of life for him. I haven’t been around since he got out of the marines. I’ve never been close to him as an adult.

When the middle brother told me several weeks later that they were expecting, I realized that both of the relationships with my brothers were about to change.

I thought of the things I wish I had done with my brothers. I thought of the times I missed the most. My first thought was the long annoying road trips we used to take. From our home in Connecticut to skiing in VT. That time we traveled all the way to Maine, to visit our best friends the Beckers. At the time, these were painful experiences, but looking back on it, these were times where we learned about each other. One brother would pick the first CD we would listen to, another the next. Spencer got us into listening to the entire Harry Potter series on tape.

We learned a lot about each other on the road, stuck in a metal box for hours at a time.

These memories inspired my crazy idea:

Buy a van, build it out, and travel with them before they had their first children.

I’m a firm believer that I learn about myself and others on the road. This is the story of me, trying to learn about my brothers and myself on the open road.

Zen and the Art of Zack

This week I caught myself hunting for new sneakers. I’m in my room right now, and I can see no less than 5 pairs of sneakers in sight. I know have a bunch more around my room. The thing is, I don’t need more sneakers. I’m hunting for sneakers. I could find the perfect pair of sneakers. You know, sneakers that at the same time magnificently comfortable and also incredibly stylish and durable. Sneakers that would be great to run a marathon in or take to the tumbling gym.

This whole thought process makes me think of a TED talk I heard called: The Paradox of Choice. The general concept is that as we have more choices we get consumed by finding the best choice. This exercise is somewhat futile because even if we find something good we are consumed with the thought that there is something better out there.

This idea that there is always something better has haunted my life in all aspects. There must be a better way to train. There must be a better food, one that is both healthy and tastes like candy. There must be a better pair of pants that is both cool (in temperature) and cool (in style). There must be a shirt that fits me perfectly. There must be a better way to make this View Controller (for all you iOS programmers out there).

I’ve been consumed with the hunt for the better. While some level of striving for better is a good thing, the obsession I have with it doesn’t feel healthy. I’m never going to stop pushing myself, it is just part of my ethos, but I am going to try and accept more. Be tolerant of more. Take the steps I need to get there.

As another aside, I’d like to mention that I recently re-watched the last two episodes of Life. It is a great show, and has a lot of Zen concepts. I used to be sad that this show ended in only two seasons, but the more I think about it, the more I feel that it was the way it was supposed to be and I have to be content taking the lessons I can from the two seasons that were produced.

Reverse Quitting

I was listening to a radio ad the other week about quitting smoking. It was very compelling. The ad said that all people who quit smoking are people who have tried to quit before, failed, and kept trying until they didn’t fail. They learned each time what didn’t work, until they found what did.

I’m not quitting.

I’m starting.

I love beginnings.

I love the beginnings of each day, I’m a morning person.

I love the intro skill, the back handspring, the toss hands, the hello world program, the basic rule of thirds photograph, the empty notebook before it has been marked.

There is a lot of promise in a beginning. Somewhere along the way I feel like I mess it up. I make a errant mark in the notebook, miss the exposure or composition of the photograph, lose the technique on a harder stunt, each too much junk food by the end of the night.

I keep trying to get started and don’t make very much progress. I give up and live in despair for a couple of days, and then try again.

The problem is, that I’m not sure I’m good at keeping track of my mistakes and avoiding them the next day, the next start.

I’m going back to my “Make Something” manifesto. I’m going to stop ending each night by just watching NCIS episodes. I”m going earn each episode. I’m going to earn each nights sleep. I’m going to earn it by eating better, working on building my projects (van, travel, climbing), and taking care of my body.

I will keep trying to figure it out, and if/when I fail, I’ll figure it out and start again.

Today doesn’t feel like a failure, and I’m excited about carrying this beginning into tomorrow!

TLog-007 Nitro Morning

This post was pulled from my TLog project, but it felt relevant enough to make it to this blog as well. Some interesting stuff about reading and writing code.


I’m trying the Nitro Cold Brew coffee from Stumptown that they just started carrying at Planet Granite. It is tasty, but I like the regular cold brew better and will be sticking to that in the future. Still, I do love coffee.

Grateful List

I was listening to a podcast the other day, I believe it was Finding Mastery with Ariana Kukors: Swim. And they were talking about gratitude practice. The part that really stuck with me was that practicing happiness is really hard. Being happy is a by-product of the world around and the best way to approach getting that feeling may be through practicing gratitude. I’m going to try and say three things I’m grateful for each day.

  1. I’m so grateful that we as humans discovered coffee. It has a profound effect on my life and while I only drink about 2 cups a day, I love it.
  2. I’m grateful that I can afford to take as many pictures as I do now. I love photography and there was point when I was in college when I felt like it was too expensive. Thankfully I can now afford great gear and enjoy using it.
  3. I’m very grateful for my climbing community. Yes, I don’t see as many of them as much as I used to, but I love having a second home at the climbing gym. It is more adult that my cheer community (not that I don’t appreciate that as well), and much closer to my house.

Reading Code

I spend a lot of my time reading objective-c code for work. Reading the basic syntax is pretty easy, but understanding what is going on in someone else’s code has always been relatively difficult for me. I’m not sure how everyone else does it, but the way I tend to read code is to go through a live example of the code and see how variables are manipulated. I like to track a path from a point I understand to a point I need to discover. The larger the piece of the code the harder it is for me discover the flow and the process.

The best analogy I have to this process outside of code is my attempt to read the Odyssey. I moved around a lot as kid and didn’t get to read greek theology in school. I have tried to pick up post school, but understanding the Odyssey or the Illiad has been very hard for me. I can read the words and understand the basics of what’s happening, but I’m not sure I can see the forest through the trees. When you are in class, you have a teacher and class to discuss the book with. The concepts in the book are discussed and you collectively discover what is going on.

When reading code, the teacher/class is akin to being able to talk to developer who originally wrote the code. Sometimes they are sitting right next to you. Sometimes they are downstairs or close by. Sometimes they are phone call or email away. Sometimes there are cliff notes in the form of a really good tutorial or ReadMe. Most of the time, though, you just have figure it out on your own. If the code is written using some common conventions (like a restful api, or common design pattern), it can be easier. Sometimes the code is all over the place and impossible to discover.

Yesterday I was working on understanding MGSwipeTableCell. It’s a pretty well built piece of code, but still rather confusing to figure out for me. I figured out what I needed to, but only after a couple hours of debugging. I wish I had done a better job reading the original piece of code from the beginning.

T_Logging It

T_Logging It

Casey Neistat Is a videographer in NYC. I started watching his youtube channel this week. Apparently he has decided that it would be good to V_Log every day. I can’t imagine the amount of work he puts into each of his daily videos. They are so well produced, and often quite interesting. Sure there is a goal of promoting his product Beme, but mostly he just shares his life.

I want to do that. I brush my teeth every day, that takes two minutes in the morning and two minutes at night. It’s a routine I never miss. I’m neurotic about it. I might shorten the time, but it always happens. Logging is going to be a part of that. I’m going to put it two places, my day one publish, and my tumblr. That’s it. Maybe I’ll get to P_Logging (with pictures) or possibly even V_Loggging it like Casey, but honestly, that is too much commitment for the commit-a-phobe I am.

Today is Halloween. I dressed as Indiana Jones last night, it’s hot outside today, not sure if I feel like doing the dress up thing again, if so, I may switch to shorts and a shirt sleeve shirt. Why is it 80 degrees on the last day of October?

Aside for this site

I’ll post the best things here, the stuff that I feel is useful. Tumblr is a place I feel more comfortable posting life things that aren’t really useful to anyone but my friends. I try to keep that irrelevant stuff off this site.

Moments

My company is awesome. Check it out: SalesforceIQ.com. Beyond the product we build our company is based on four company values:

  • People
  • Moments
  • Ideas
  • Results

Each of these values is important to the company and also personally to me. I wonder if this is why I’m so happy working with my team.

In relation to my own professional development I had a conversation with one of the company’s founders recently and he told me a story about why moments was such an important value to him. He story really connected with me and I wanted to share it with you. 

He had been working for someone else for one of only a few times in his life. He is a constant entrepreneur. If you’ve ever met Adam you feel the intensity he gives off. Apparently he was applying it to his job and his boss was concerned he might have been driving too hard without perspective for the accomplishments. She gave him this analogy. 

Imagine you are a tenacious mountain climber. You are climbing a fictitious peak that never ends. No matter how hard and how far you climb it just keeps going up. You are fine and keep climbing with it and don’t have to stop, but if you don’t stop every once in a while to turn around and look at the view, what is the point?

See, our lives are like the mountain. We don’t know when or how they are going to end. Many of us are driven by internal forces. Adam’s point in telling me this story was that I needed to stop and look around, appreciate all that we have achieved.

Villanova, Me, and Tech

Not sure about how many of my fellow Villanova Alumni are working as a software or hardware engineer in Silicon Valley. I know a few. One of my friends, Arts & Sciences 2005 is out here working on his own start up. Another ECE department grad is working for another software/hardware deal on security in SF. Not to mention John Hennessy, president at Stanford University.

In the mail today was another request to donate to the Alumni Fund and send in a note about where we are and what we are doing. While there is merit in sending this to the university, posting it here serves the same purpose in my book.

I’m working on as a senior software engineer for a start up RelateIQ that was recently acquired by Salesforce. I work on our iOS clients. Previous endeavors include Flywheel Software, Motorola Mobility, FactSet Research Systems, and Bloomberg. As an engineer I have experience with backend development in raw C++ and frameworks like Rails and NodeJS. I’ve helped develop a front end framework MontageJS, and have been working with iOS for the past two years or so.

Aside form my contributions to the tech world, I’ve been coaching cheerleading for San Francisco State University for the past four years, going from assistant to head coach, back to assistant coach. Before that I was at Woodside High School (which appeared in Waiting For Superman). I also cheer and help out at Rebel’s Elite Cheerleading Gym in South San Francisco.

In addition to coding and cheering, I can be found rock climbing at Planet Granite, biking on the streets of the bay, swimming in any pool I can find, eating out at local restaurants, or taking pictures of whatever happens to be in front of me.Not sure about how many of my fellow Villanova Alumni are working as a software or hardware engineer in Silicon Valley. I know a few. One of my friends, Arts & Sciences 2005 is out here working on his own start up. Another ECE department grad is working for another software/hardware deal on security in SF. Not to mention John Hennessy, president at Stanford University.

In the mail today was another request to donate to the Alumni Fund and send in a note about where we are and what we are doing. While there is merit in sending this to the university, posting it here serves the same purpose in my book.

I’m working on as a senior software engineer for a start up RelateIQ that was recently acquired by Salesforce. I work on our iOS clients. Previous endeavors include Flywheel Software, Motorola Mobility, FactSet Research Systems, and Bloomberg. As an engineer I have experience with backend development in raw C++ and frameworks like Rails and NodeJS. I’ve helped develop a front end framework MontageJS, and have been working with iOS for the past two years or so.

Aside form my contributions to the tech world, I’ve been coaching cheerleading for San Francisco State University for the past four years, going from assistant to head coach, back to assistant coach. Before that I was at Woodside High School (which appeared in Waiting For Superman). I also cheer and help out at Rebel’s Elite Cheerleading Gym in South San Francisco.

In addition to coding and cheering, I can be found rock climbing at Planet Granite, biking on the streets of the bay, swimming in any pool I can find, eating out at local restaurants, or taking pictures of whatever happens to be in front of me.

I Work For Flywheel

Over a year ago I switched roles in the software engineering field. I started working as an iOS developer for a company called Flywheel. We are a start up in the transportation industry. Our goal is to provide safe, reasonably priced rides from professional drivers with the entire hailing and paying process handled from your personal mobile device.

flywheel logo

The goal is to make the experience as seamless as possible for the end user. You take out your phone, find a pickup location, the app hails available cabs, and you are notified when a car is on it’s way. When you get to your destination you can adjust the tip or just leave your default. Your credit card is automatically billed so you can worry about what you need to do next.

Making this process simple is a lot more tricky than it sounds. We’ve been working hard to make the experience better for the passenger and there will continue to make improvements over the next couple of months.

We have a blog that covers our feature set on a higher level as well as current promotions. I hope to cover some of the more interesting technical challenges and solutions we have run into.

Amplifying Education, $5 fifth of the month

This charity is a bit more specialized in the past. I tend to rally around Education, and this is tied to that, but is more directly associated with Dispath, the band. They make great music and I’ve been a huge fan for about 2 or 3 years and seen them in concert several times. Along with their performances, they believe in community service. The current charity is called Amplifying Education, and they volunteer while they are on tour. The money raised is distributed to several worthwhile educational funds. So, here is Amplifying Education, pass it on.

Five Dollar Fifth – Podcasting

I saw a link on Daring Fireball the other day about the EFF going after a case involving royalties on Podcasting. This whole patent troll thing has gotten out of control and to think that all podcasts might be subject to a fee just for existing is beginning to scare me. There was also an interesting show from This American Life about it.

Bottom line, this month, after taking a little brake, I’m back with donating $5 on the fifth. You can join me at the EFF Help Save Podcasting page.