Quick Life Statement, June 2022

The most recent installment was a lifetime ago. Since then, democracy has gone into a recession, plague ravages the land, and a long-dormant moral impulse awoke inside me and gradually became less and less comfortable being part of the machine that is Google. I left in February 2021, and started a job at Robinhood, the (in my mind, unfairly) controversial brokerage and financial services app, working to build a world-class SRE organization. I believe deeply in SRE, in a way that feels almost like a social justice passion -- it seems to me the industry builds and runs shitty software, all of which, in today's world, are large-scale distributed systems, largely due to a deeply engrained disrespect for the very specialists that make it possible to run large-scale distributed systems at all. But quality comes from ownership, and ownership is what transmuted the first software engineers into SREs.

As I write this, I am on vacation in Bruges, having taken the train over for a long weekend from where I've been working, in London, building the company's engineering presence in Europe. I'm in London on a six-month extended business trip.

This is my second six-month extended business trip to London; the former was in 2015, and my cat Oliver Cromwell, mentioned in the last installment, came with me, but also developed cancer and died here, laid to his final rest in the same city as his namesake. I have two new cats, Leto and Ghanima, not so new in that they were born in late 2015, and they have come with me to London. I have no reason to believe the same fate would befall them, and I couldn't handle the idea of missing six months, which could be as much as 6% of their lives.

I am in better physical shape than I've ever been in my life, which may not be saying much in absolute terms, but it is surprising how much it has changed in my attitude about the world. I learned to make cocktails during the pandemic. I'm dating a woman about whom I'm very excited.

Every year, I take off most of November to focus on writing. My hope is, after achieving my goals at what I hope will be my last job, I will retire into becoming an author -- which is not a retirement, in the sense that I will still be working, but will be a retirement in the sense that I never expect to make any money ever again. Although the truth is I think I have the potential to be a very good writer.