Gym Etiquette 101

2022-12-03 ~1700 words

When I first started going to the gym, I was self-conscious every second. There’s a particular code of unwritten rules in the weightroom. Having a mentor really helps, and without one, it’s easy to be so uncomfortable that you don’t want to come back.

Over the years I’d like to think I’ve picked up most of the “rules”. Here’s a list I wish someone had given me when I was starting.

Careers in Programming

2022-10-07 ~200 words
I recently visited Westville Correctional Facility, an Indiana penitentiary, to talk about jobs in the field of computing. It was an unusual opportunity that was honestly somewhat eye-opening; never have I had so enthusiastic and engaged an audience. I was sponsored through the Moreau College Initiative, a program in which residents of the facility are able to take full academic courses and potentially earn a bachelors degree before re-entering society. You can read more about the program here, if you are so interested.

Too Good To Be True?

2022-08-16 ~1400 words
The Too Good To Go app has been my fixation this summer. Since moving to a new neighborhood two months ago, I’ve picked up 43 surprise bags (all the more absurd because I didn’t discover the app until two weeks after moving). Dramatically increasing my consumption of sandwiches and pastries wasn’t in my original goals for the summer, but here we are. Too Good To Go lists “bags” that restaurants will sell you at a steep discount, though their contents will be a surprise.

Crafting Interpreters

2022-06-07 ~1500 words
In January, during some time off between jobs, I started working through Crafting Interpreters by Robert Nystrom. I think I originally discovered the book via r/ProgrammingLanguages. There aren’t that many accessible books for programming language design and implementation, so discovering the book (and that it was free to read online!1) was very exciting. The awesome book cover It’s an absolutely incredible book, in which you learn about programming languages while implementing your own.


2022-06-01 ~1600 words
Probably once a year, I end up back in the same discussion about timezones. I don’t like timezones and apparently I bring that up a lot. The Usual Griping Programmers’ hatred for timezones is a bit of a meme. (I just googled “xkcd timezones” with absolute confidence there would be a comic, and of course I was right.) Computer systems don’t play nice with different times across the world. If I run a retail website, “weekend” sales should begin Saturday morning and end Sunday evening your time, even if it happens to mean that’s not the weekend where I am.

Is PyScript a Big Deal?

2022-05-10 ~1500 words
I went to PyCon a few weeks ago and while there, saw Peter Wang’s keynote on a new project called PyScript. PyScript is, essentially, a set of tools for running Python code in the browser – potentially even user-submitted code. I think that’s going to have a significant impact on the Python world, though maybe not in the way you’d first expect. Some Background For years now, various groups have been working on finding a way to “run” Python in the browser.

On the Road Trip

2022-02-02 ~1000 words
I recently returned from a 10-day road trip. Nowhere too exciting, just through the middle of the continental US: St. Louis, Memphis, northeast Arkansas, and Champaign (home of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign). People who know me probably wouldn’t describe me as the road trip type. But I had a few weeks off before I started a new job and the opportunity to travel without any commitments (or a finite amount of PTO) doesn’t present itself often; I figured that there would never be a better time to travel somewhat spontaneously.

Apartment Hunting with Python

2021-04-20 ~3700 words

I recently crossed the 9-month mark as a Chicago resident. The time has come for a big decision: renew my lease, or make the move to a new apartment?

I really like my current home. Two bedrooms, a back porch, a garage, and more grounded outlets than even a tech nerd like me could want. It’s in Little Italy, which is not a popular choice for Chicago young professionals, but is comfortable and has a decent set of restaurants. I suspect that a similar unit in a more “hip” neighborhood might be out of my price range. And my real office (as opposed to my extra bedroom, which has been serving in that capacity since I moved here) is a 10-minute bike ride away. The north side, home of many of those hip neighborhoods, would bring with it a commute at least twice as long.

On the other hand, my primary motivation in moving to a big city was exploration and experience. I wanted to get to know Chicago, particularly its neighborhoods. Moving would offer me a change of location, unlocking many new walkable or bikable destinations. Additionally, none of my friends live near my current apartment; most are in various parts of the northern neighborhoods, while I live somewhat south and west of the Loop (the downtown area of Chicago). Seeing most friends requires a 15+ minute drive or 30+ minute train ride.

There's More to Business Jargon than Meets the Eye

2021-03-31 ~1000 words
I suspect meetings at most American companies are full of jargon. There’s company- or industry-specific jargon: abbreviations or nicknames for common ideas (sometimes this is extended to the naming of internal teams as well). While frustrating to newcomers, these terms and phrases typically have a fair amount of value. Shorthands for industry-specific concepts are useful, both in time savings and added precision. A good example is MAU, monthly active users. Investors care a lot about who is using a product regularly, so this probably comes up regularly in Silicon Valley communications – both with the investors and within a company, as leadership pushes MAU as a proxy goal.

Running Better Meetings

2021-03-14 ~1200 words
In data science and engineering, technical skills are often the quickest way to early-career advancement – a new contributor who can write decent code is immediately an asset, in a way that a business-savvy developer with no coding ability is not. Companies often publicly espouse the benefits of softer skills, but that may not ring true in entry-level positions. In some technical fields, non-technical strengths can actually be viewed as negatives by peers, a betrayal of the ethos of the programmer.