Wednesday, February 9 2022

russian roulette, side projects, and five year old photography

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Wednesday. It's an honor slugging out another busy week in this dreary winter season with you. If you're alive, still on your legs, and ready to box for another round, raise your coffee mug with me.

Sip. It's good to be here today. We begin the entry with a baby picture.


I swear, I can almost hear you swooning through the tubes of the world wide web. Well that's nice for you, but the contrarian in me wishes I had the nerve to take a picture of what Miles did in his room yesterday morning before this picture was taken. Miles is at a fun age where he's figured out how to take off his diaper. Now, each time we breach the entrance to his room feels like a dangerous game of Russian roulette. Four out of five times we walk into his dark room, we see a clean and happy bottomless baby. One out of every five times, we find a war crime.

But that's why we take these cute pictures of our clean, smiling kids. They're mementos to remember this time in our life, but they also serve as daily motivation to not leave them in the woods to be raised by a pack of wolves.

It's good to be here today. I'm feeling great, after finally getting a good, full day of work behind me. Grinding on the same three or four interconnected work problems all day, I finally toppled the tower of problems. My to-do list began to melt like the patch of dirty ice at the base of my driveway is melting this morning.

Yesterday's work highlight came in the afternoon. While trying to deploy out some new code, I discovered one of our clusters was broken. I dropped a message in my team slack, then immediately decided to take a peek myself. After some furious exploratory hacking, I flipped the build green, using my own "ask for help" thread for stream of conscious debugging. I felt smug, especially because using the timestamps from my slack messages, I knew exactly how long it took.

"Fifty four minutes - that's faster than it takes to get a table at my local Applebee's," I joked. I wish that were really a joke.

After work, I was about to wheel over to the hallway to invite Rodney to play Xbox, but he fell asleep. So I hacked on some code for an hour instead. As a result of many diverging, failed design patterns, the code that generates this website is a bit of a mess, and it sorely needed some maintenance.

Side projects give you a brutally honest and unfiltered perspective at your own faults as a programmer. I wish I wrote code the right way - beginning with crude, repetitive solutions, slowly reshaping and consolidating the logic over time. I do the opposite - I begin with something risky and complicated, then when I realize I painted myself into a corner, I have no choice but to blow everything up.

But yesterday I found a new approach to generating HTML, and I got as far as rolling it out to the homepage. Even if you don't know enough code to rub two if statements together, I think you could still appreciate how pretty this looks.


Does it give you nerdy goosebumps?

Rodney woke up just as my coding session was beginning to wind down. Finally rested from his busy day, the two of us inched a little further along in LEGO marvel. Not only did he have a full school day, but he accompanied his mother to the Garver Feed Mill to help her take pictures of her paintings.

Speaking of which, we should check out those photos and use our discerning eyes to grade his work.


OK, not bad Rodney. Maybe try again. Remember, the point of this is to get pictures of the paintings, so try to get the whole painting in the frame.


Awesome. I can see the whole painting, but now your finger is in front of the camera.


His finger is still in the camera, but now he's doing it on purpose. He'd go on to accidentally hit "video", and from the footage I can hear Rodney yelling "I CAN SEE MY OWN BLOOD". Very cool, dude.


The great part about letting your five year old take pictures is that they intuitively want to capture the whole experience. Why just limit the footage to prepared smiles and good lighting? Why not also get some good footage of, say, digging art pieces out of the trunk of our salt-caked honda?


Who but a five year old would immortalize the moment Marissa walked into the wind across an empty parking lot?


Maybe mix it up with a low angle close-up of a brick wall taken from the hip.


People don't want to see paintings. They want to see snow. Close-up pictures of dirty parking lot snow.


When Rodney takes pictures, one out of every five hundred frames, he catches lightning in a bottle and captures something genuinely interesting.

"Look at this one he took," commented Marissa. "Isn't it kind of artsy?"


I found this one the mix too. I think he took it out the car window. I sincerely find it haunting and kind of fascinating.


What's his secret? "I just keep pressing the button," laughed Rodney. It's no wonder we have so many different copies to choose from.


What do you think? How did Rodney do? I think he did just fine, especially for the thrifty price of an after school ice cream cone. You get what you paid for.


Good job, Rodney.

Thanks for stopping by today, and have a great Wednesday.