Sunday, August 13, 2017
Thursday, July 27, 2017
Ok, super-extreme capitalism seems to say, markets will solve everything, because we are all rational self-interested people and we'll choose things that are the best for us. If someone is offering something that is not the best, they will go out of business. That is usually pretty good. It lets us get cheap bananas.
Now there are a lot of externalities that go into getting those cheap bananas, which is usually the drum I bang on, but I'm not going to get into that here. Instead, what I'm focusing on here is the consumer experience of capitalism.
I just sort of assume that bananas work in a store-ish fashion. Like, I go to the store, I can see the price of bananas, I can basically see how good they look, and I can make the best choice. I know what I'm getting. (If I don't - like, if the bananas later turn out to be rotten, or if they tell me a different price at the register, etc, then I just don't buy bananas from them again, and they eventually lose.)
We assume this with choices of our time too. For the most part, we know what we're getting if we spend our free time in a park, at a coffeeshop, at a bar, playing a board game, whatever. We pretty much know the
I'm trying to be a little more active of an activist, too. But that is tricky, because it's usually not like a store, in that I don't know what I'm getting for my time. I could phone bank all day and get 0 more votes. I could go to a meeting to organize a meeting to organize a meeting for something, and it might not ever help anything.
So I guess I've got to categorical-imperative it a little bit - just effin' do it, because it's a good thing to do. Or maybe rely on social pressures- make some friends who are into something activisty, and then do it to hang out with them, and by the way we got some votes.
thinking about this after seeing an ad for a vacation package at a beach resort somewhere and thinking, geez, that would just be terrible. Now, of course, I like beaches less than the next guy, but I don't even think I'd want to win a ski vacation package, say.
(eh, maybe. I mean, I'd take it. But I'm not really jonesing for it.)
Thinking about this too after having a couple of free days in between things recently, and thinking "gosh, I've actually cleaned up the ol' to-do list. It's done. I've completed everything. Now I get to do... what?" It's just a day here and there, so I couldn't make a big plan, but even so, I sort of frittered them away doing a bunch of small things. It would be really nice if I could just say "I've won it! Some free days! Now I get to spend them having The Best Time!" Similarly with money. "I got some money - now I can have The Best Time!"
It's an antiquated notion, maybe, from a time when you never even had enough time or money. If you were in the 30s or 40s, you'd be trying to scrape by or not die in a war; you didn't have time to think about what you'd do after you made it, and you might just assume "it'll all be good then, I'll buy The Best Life." But it turns out, being a human and figuring out what "feelings-you" actually wants is complicated, even after you've made it.
Anyway, I want to want a Ferrari. That'd be nice and simple.
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
It has great benefits for organization. I find I almost never lose or forget about things. They're always on the right list, here or there.
On the other hand, it makes me feel a little like a robot, like my entire life is all about finishing the list. What happens when the list is done?
Right now I'm trying to take off a couple of those lists by removing stuff from my phone. Disconnecting a little, etc. We'll see how it goes.
Other thoughts that were on my list to blog about:
- I'm getting annoyed by "X shouldn't be a partisan issue." Like, yes, I agree. Health care should be a human right, net neutrality should be a thing, etc. But I don't think you're going to convince any Republicans that they should all of a sudden support the ACA because it "shouldn't be partisan."
- Listening to Mogul, a podcast about hip-hop executive Chris Lighty, and they talk about a time when, as a poor kid in the Bronx, he saved up for a nice jacket, then some other jerk stole his jacket. It's not fair, and it's kinda this first "loss of innocence" moment for him. He did everything he was supposed to do, and wrong place wrong time, he gets screwed. This feeling really hits. I get that feeling ("someone stole my bike wheels!") and it sends me absolutely nuts, because not only is it not fair to me, it just doesn't even make sense! Like, it's worse than just "I wanted X, someone else wanted Y, so they took it" - it's more like "sorry, the universe rolled dice and you lose." Just, random bad things happen! But at the same time, I never get that feeling on the scale that he does. Never had my life's savings stolen from me. And it made me think, because he's a black kid in the Bronx I guess, imagine black people getting killed by police; cop freaks out and kills Philando Castile, and a lot of people say "welp, deal with it, being a cop is hard and sometimes you roll dice and get unlucky." I don't know what to do about that. For starters, maybe, we acknowledge that the US isn't as much of a land of opportunity for some as it is for others, and we oughta do whatever we can to fix that.
- Sorry, 's not very profound, but it's been on my mind. See my previous assertions that "this is my journal for myself, which you can read if you like."
Thursday, July 13, 2017
here's a map! here's an image, because links never last!
got these pictures!
I have a lot of thoughts! In the spirit of getting them all out so I can get on with my day, I will just shout em out here.
Bivy camping: it was ok. it's like a little sleeping bag bag. I guess it's supposed to come with a little pole that gives it a little height so it's not just like being inside a plastic bag. Mine was missing that pole. Would have been nice.
I didn't know they made cars w/o cruise control. Luckily, they all have a USB and a headphone jack, at least.
It is weird how comfortable this trip is. It's 95 degrees most days, and I don't even notice.
I have a lot of thoughts while I'm driving. They come and go. This is interesting. Also frustrating: I want to get them down. I know some of them at least are good!
It's really hard to go completely unplanned. I end up planning roughly a day or two in advance, and I have a goal to get to Butte because there's a big toxic waste dump near there called the Berkeley Pit. Call it a trip Macguffin - it doesn't really matter what the Berkeley Pit is, but it gives me a direction to go.
One great thing about traveling: it makes you appreciate your regular life more.
Weird: I got to the campsite at Great Basin and just started hiking. I'm not sure I even wanted to!
Am I driving too much? I mean, maybe? But I kinda enjoy the moving as much as the being there.
Interstates are lame. Everything gets samey; it's like the suburb of roads. Everything's easy. There's more traffic. I had to keep telling Google "give me a less direct route."
I wish I were like a reporter, like I was good at talking with strangers. That's usually the most interesting time. But I'm always worried about bothering people, or having nothing to talk about, or ending up trapped in a conversation I don't want to continue.
Srećan Božić... Maga?Of COURSE I had to stop in the bar/restaurant in Austin, NV that was apparently called "Serbian Christmas." I mean, it was also covered in Trump/Pence signs, but... meaningful cultural exchange?
(This might be a good time for a "content note: intense anti-Muslimness.")
There were two people inside. One lady behind the counter, hunched over, eating a piece of pie. One guy sitting at the counter, not doing much of anything. We start talking, I tell them I'm going to Great Basin, that's cool. I ask about "Serbian Christmas" - are you two Serbian? "He is." So I tell him about Tati and her family, how they're from Serbia, we're talkin' Serb things like where all the big Serbian communities in the US are, and where they're building a new Serbian orthodox church, and how they have a big fiesta here every Jan 7. I ask where in Serbia he's from. He names somewhere I don't remember, and says "The only place the Muslims never conquered." "Oh."
He: "Yep, never got there. Everywhere around."
He: F**king Muslims. They want to impose their own f**king law, you know that?
I: No, I didn't know that. Are you sure?*
He: Did you know they mutilate their women? They just arrested a bunch of doctors.
I: Hmm. I didn't hear about that.*
He: Well, most people didn't. They do it to all of em, young girls...
I: Hm. I thought* it was just the extremists.
He: Huh. Well, I've gotta go work now.
He: Here, you can give your wife this pen. (hands me a pen with their restaurant name on it.)
* I do this sometimes, when I don't know how else to have a productive conversation. It seems asinine to let stuff like that slide, but also I want to be as unconfrontational as possible - if we're ever gonna get anywhere. So I try to play the young newbie. "Hmm! Are you sure?" etc, and argue back in a way that says "I think you might be mistaken" when he says something definitely false, in order to give him a way to rethink his beliefs while saving face. If you have any better ideas for what to do when a guy starts spouting nonsense, let me know.
I mean, he thinks I'm decent enough to give a tiny gift to, apparently. We've even got like half a thing in common. But based on things he believes, Muslims are awful, and that's why this one-time immigrant supports the most virulently anti-immigrant people I've ever seen.
Thinking about this later: it's not really this guy that is the worst. If you thought Group X was moving into your country and establishing their own zones where their own terrible laws apply, you'd want them to get out too. Thing is, that just isn't happening, certainly not by Muslims. It's his news sources that are the worst.
Still cursing, but on a brighter noteMet a couple of Air Force guys in Boise. They were like 22, just got there a couple weeks ago after serving in England and Korea. They work on airplanes - maintaining and loading bombs and stuff. Obv I don't know anything about this, but I could share their enthusiasm. Plus I mentioned how my grandpa was in the Air Force and so we bonded a bit about that. They were so into it! And I kinda get it!
The one guy was telling me about when he was in Turkey, loading up planes that were running missions against ISIS targets. I think. He was talking about how, when he loads up 12 bombs in one of these bombers and sees it come back empty, that's "the best f**king feeling in the world." He has such a direct connection to the results of his work. Another time, I guess they had video from helicopters or something? they've got some guy they're targeting, he goes outside, smoking a cigar, and then they can see the bombs hit his building. "Best f**king feeling in the world."
So, ok, on the one hand this is weird, being so jazzed about killing people. But on the other hand: their targets probably are the bad guys. (I'm pretty ok with killing an ISIS higher-up.) And they're talking about doing hard work and getting a very tangible result. I respect that, and I'm even a little bit jealous of it. We can hold all these somewhat-conflicting beliefs in our heads.
Thursday, July 06, 2017
In which I get more evidence that sand is The Worst, and maybe meet my first supernatural creatures of this trip.
Leg 1 of multi-day trip: SF to Sand Mountain, Nevada
There's a big sand mountain! It's like 6 stories tall. It's right off Highway 50, the "loneliest road in the US", just past Fallon, Nevada. And you can camp by it I guess. So I set sights for that and headed off.
When I got there, I noted that indeed it was a lonely road. I saw no people for a long time. At the Great Sand Mountain, I saw a couple of RVs in the distance, and a few people off-roading on dirt bikes and ATVs. I drove past the end of the asphalt road, onto the dirt road, and then I had to turn around so I pulled over to do a 3-point turn and -- the sand is much softer here! and my lil Toyota Yaris isn't moving! Huh.
Forward, reverse, forward, reverse, nope, hmm. Well. I walked over to the RVs and three ladies were standing there, having just finished a ride. I asked if they had any ideas. "Maybe put some wood under your tires?" They had some campfire wood and gave me a couple. I went back and tried it, and maybe made things worse.
I came back to give them their wood back and maybe call a tow truck. This time I met a guy who just hopped off a dirt bike. He's all smiles, "How you doing?" I told him, "well... good, until I got my car stuck." "No! You didn't!" "Yep, I, uh, I'm kinda a dumbass." "Well, no problem, let's get you out!"
So he and his friend come over in some kind of Jeep. They're mid-40s probably, we get talking, they're from northern CA and do some kind of software thing too, we're talking about work. Their sons are each there too. They try to latch a strap onto a tiny hook under the Yaris and drag it out, and the strap breaks. Eventually one of them suggests pushing it - hmm! I gun it, they push it, and sure enough I get it back on the road! Whew.
They're talking about this big sand dune is a great spot for off-roading. "But you don't want to be here at night, some of the locals come down - did you come from Fallon? It's a different breed, I'll tell you." (editor's note: huh? besides a note on the jukebox in the bar that said "no rap, R&B, hip-hop, screamo, or heavy metal", I have no qualms with Falloners.) They recommend I go to a couple campsites up by Fallon. I ask, "But you can camp here, right?" They: "Yeah, but it gets so windy, it's not great for tent camping." I: eh, I'll be OK. They raise an eyebrow.
I sit in my car for maybe 15 minutes trying to figure out what campsites they're talking about, and I can't. So I figure, ok, I'll stay here. I get out to use the restroom and on my way back, they drive up in an ATV. I say, "I think I'll stay here, it's getting late and all."
And the one guy gives me this intense, dire look that I've only seen in movies, and goes "Look. I'm gonna be straight with you, Dan. If I were you... get in your car, and drive that way, or that way."
Side note: my friend Aaron tells this story about how he met The Colonel, a character in Squirrel Hill, while out walking at night; Colonel sees Aaron and yells "STOP!" And Aaron does the only reasonable thing to do when a stranger yells stop, and keeps walking. Then the Colonel yells "STOP!" again, and Aaron does the only reasonable thing to do when a stranger yells stop twice, and he stops.
Similarly, when someone warns me about camping for some vague undiscussed reason (in a place that they too are camping) once, I'll blow it off. When he warned me that second time, I noped the hell out of there.
I still don't even know what was going on! For now, I'm going with "they didn't want me to know they were actually werewolves."
Saturday, July 01, 2017
Every Little Green
T: shuffle your library, or don't
R, sacrifice a creature, T: deal damage equal to the sacrificed creature's power to target creature or player
Aura of Enchantment
1WW, Enchantment - Aura
Artifacts cost 2 more to cast.
Sacrifice Aura of Enchantment: target player can't cast spells this turn.
Witch of Bog Wraith
Aurawalk (if opponent controls any auras, Witch of Bog Wraith is unblockable)
Wall of Tomb
Defender, deathtouch, first strike
During your upkeep, if Wall of Tomb blocked last turn, it deals 1 damage to you.
Well-Fountain of Life
U, T: gain 1 life.
W, T: gain 2 life.
R, T: don't gain 1 life.
GBR, 4/3, Creature - Wolf
When Andy comes into play, deal 2 damage to target creature in your opponent's library.
A Trick Hunt
Rearrange your graveyard. Draw a card.
Flying. When Loose Bats come into play, put a 1/1 flying Bat token into play.
Wall of Hexes
You have hexproof.
Flying. U: flip Waterfall Window's power and toughness. Use this ability only once a turn.
B, T, sacrifice Castle Keep: put a zombie from your graveyard into your hand.
W, T: gain 2 life.
T: add 1 to your mana pool.
During your upkeep, if Delicious Wobbler has a counter on it, remove one; otherwise, add one.
If Delicious Wobbler has a counter on it, it has flying. If not, it has shadow.
Deal 4 damage to target player. Scry 2.
Target creature gets -0/-2 until end of turn. If it has flying, it gets -0/-4 until end of turn instead.
3R, 4/2, Creature - Human
1R: Minotaur Man becomes a 2/3 red Minotaur until end of turn.
Delver of Delver of Secrets
During your upkeep, reveal the top card of your library. If it is an instant or sorcery, sacrifice Delver of Delver of Secrets, search your deck for a card called Delver of Secrets, and put it into play.
Mansion of Ingmar
1B, Pay 5 life: destroy target creature.
Flying. If an opponent plays an artifact, remove Treasure Heeder from the game. Return it to play at the end of the turn.
Graveler of Secrets
During your upkeep, reveal the top card of your library. If it is an instant or sorcery, put a +1/+1 counter on Graveler of Secrets.
(U or B), Instant
Destroy target creature if you control a flying creature.
Waste of a Good Moon
Destroy all creatures and artifacts. Each player sacrifices half of their lands (rounded down).
Sacrifice a creature: deal 1 damage to target creature or player
Defender, hexproof, reach. T, exert: +3/+0 until end of turn.
Friday, June 30, 2017
Still don't name the first number.
Use Glassdoor - but it's not gospel.
Don't name the first number*.
Mid-sized companies don't do bonuses, it seems.
Equity in pre-IPO companies is way harder to value.
If there's a minor perk difference, price it out
Don't name the first number.
This was all moot in the case of Stitch Fix, because they didn't allow negotiation.
If some of your offers are negotiable (and they probably will be), you need to negotiate; in that case, you have to play the game and help everyone save face.
Use your people!
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Interview structureAs I mentioned last post, you will probably have some of the following:
- this is the good old quick-programming-puzzle interview, as in software engineer interviews. Usually whiteboard, but sometimes they let you use a computer, which is nice. You might get this for a phone screen.
- "Here's a database structure (on a whiteboard), how would you write these queries?" A couple places let me do this on a computer, that was nice. You might get this for a phone screen too.
- Experimental design/metrics
- "We want to change our UI from this old UI to this new UI, how would we do it?" and then talk about metrics to measure, how to evaluate success, how to sample users, how many users and how long to run the study (use a power calculation!), what your conclusions would be if you got this certain kinds of answers.
- Big-picture thinking/metrics
- "We want to expand to selling cars too, how would we do it?" - and then we talk about high-level what kind of metrics we'd measure, how we'd evaluate success, how we'd trade off risk, etc. This was rarer, but happened a couple times. I think I wasn't necessarily supposed to know how to do this, so I could wing it a bit. This interview was different from the experimental design one because it was a little higher-level - your 6-12-month vision instead of the single Next Experiment you're running.
- Machine learning/modeling
- "Here's a big CSV of our hypothetical users' behavior; what leads to them buying our product?" This might be a homework problem or an in-person interview.
- Data modeling
- I know I just said "modeling." A couple "modeling" interviews, though, were something different - more like "here's how this part of our business works - how would you design the database for it?" Which tables would you have, which fields on each, etc.
- Collaborating with other people/teams, stories of projects you've done
- This is vaguer, talky. I could usually come up with these on the spot, but it doesn't hurt to have a few in your pocket.
- These are usually "off the record" - use them to refuel, and try to absorb stuff about the company or your future coworkers here.
Things that are good to know
- How to do quick programming puzzles fluently. HackerRank's Python, Algorithms, and Data Structures tracks are probably pretty good. You don't have to get to the "Hard" level - if you can do the "Medium"s, you're probably good.
- SQL. If you haven't used SQL, or haven't used any actually difficult SQL, in a while, take an online tutorial all the way through. PostgreSQL Exercises is the best I think; Mode Analytics's one is good too. Particularly learn:
- how to do a GROUP BY and an aggregate (like "tell me the total sales in each state")
- when to use WHERE vs HAVING (HAVING is after the groupby/aggregate)
- how to do JOINs, including the difference between types of joins
- how to do subqueries, and when you would
- Some of this is just a feel thing, which is why I say work through a whole SQL course. I'm getting more fluent in SQL, even if sometimes I can't quite articulate, for example, when you would use a subquery.
- how to work with dates is a nice bonus
- window functions would be good. Here's one example. This is kinda in the "bonus points" - when a question came up where it'd be appropriate, I always would say "uhh I guess I'd use window functions but I don't know how to," and I still got jobs.
- oh, one more tip: when I'm trying to do complicated things with joins or subqueries, I'd often draw out what the end table is that I'm SELECTing from. So like, if I'm joining A to B, just write down what the "A JOIN B" table looks like, even though of course it's not actually done like that.
- The formula to calculate a binomial confidence interval. p +/- z*sqrt(p(1-p)/n). I don't know many stats formulas, but I had remembered this one, and it came in handy so many times. (Useful in A/B tests - if you test it on 1000 people, and 7% of them click, what's your 95% CI for the real click-through rate? 0.07 +/- 1.96 * sqrt(0.07*0.93/1000) = 0.07 +/- 0.015
- How you pick which model to use - tradeoffs of logistic regression, decision trees/random forests, SVMs, neural networks, etc. Which ones are good/bad if your classes are unbalanced, or your data's very sparse, or whatever. And how to pick stuff around this - like how do you pick training/test set, how do you normalize your data, etc.
- How Ridge and Lasso regression work, and more generally what regularization is. I missed this a lot :-P
- How to quickly load in a data set and make a simple classification/regression model and/or charts, in Python/Pandas or R. Then use whichever of those you feel more comfortable with in the interview.
- A story of a project where you used machine learning.
- A story of how you communicated some finding to some other people who weren't as data-nerdy as you.
- A story of a project where you had to change your plans, maybe. Other kinds of soft-skills stories are nice.
Boot CampsIt might be that you don't think you have the practical skills yet. If that is the case, you might do a boot camp - a couple-month program. Insight Data Science is probably the best boot camp, because it's aimed at exactly you. A lot of my soon-to-be-coworkers did this, coming from a diverse set of PhD backgrounds.
- If you can, interview first with companies you're less excited about. I learned a lot about this process through doing it - my first few interviews ended at the phone screen or homework stage, and as I did more of them, I ended up getting farther through the process.
- If you can be local, that probably helps. If you know you want to move to SF, say, then plan a couple week trip out here and tell them you'll be in town on these certain days. That way they don't have to worry about flying you out. Most good companies probably don't care, but I dunno, maybe they do.
- I had one company ask me for one or two references. Like, your advisor would be fine, or someone you interned with. This was after they gave me a verbal offer, so it probably wouldn't make or break it, unless you're secretly a serial killer (or, realistically, completely unsuited for the job).
- No suits. This is nice.
- I'm sure there are more things I'm forgetting. Ask me some questions.
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
I guess first we have to do the "industry or academia???" question. This one is simple. If your answer is "Academia, hell yes, 100% for sure", do academia; otherwise, do industry.
Ok, so you're doing industry. Here's the first question you might want to ask yourself: what kind of industry job? Here are some options:
Research ScientistThis is an increasingly rare job, showing up only at some of the megacorps like Microsoft Research, FXPAL, and somehow Yahoo. Do this if you actually wish you were in academia. At MSR, it'll be close to academia; at other companies, it'll be farther, but you can still make up new things. I interviewed for one of these; it involved me giving a talk about my research and then talking with 4 research scientists/engineers on the team one by one. At the end, I realized I didn't know enough machine learning to work with this team (the Machine Learning and Vision team).
User Experience ResearcherThese people do research with people all the time. Interviews and surveys are very common, but you might also do focus groups, workshops, intercepts, usability studies, and some stats. You also have to have some skills in communicating, and you probably have to not mind convincing people that your work is real. I interviewed for a few of these, and they usually involved me giving a talk about some research I've done, then I talked with 5-7 people one by one. At one of them, they gave me a short problem, something like "You work at (hypothetical company X), and they have this new broad question. How would you narrow it down into a research plan?" and I had an hour to think about it and then give a 20-min presentation. I don't really know how these interviews are evaluated.
Software EngineerYou like writing code in a team. You were frustrated at all the terrible code you wrote throughout grad school. You like organizing things. If you think you want to be a SWE, you probably shouldn't go to grad school, but if you graduate and find that that's what you want to do, then by all means do it! You will always have a well-paying job and be treated like a minor royalty. Especially if you're good.
UI or UX DesignerIf you know you like to do this kind of thing, go for this job! I don't know anything about it, really.
Project ManagerDo you like to have 500 tabs open and communicate with everyone all the time? And, like, deal with stuff blowing up and figuring out how to coordinate a bunch of screaming cats to get their stuff together to actually get a product out the door? Do you think grad school was too slow and quiet? PMing is for you! God bless you. I could never handle this job.
Data ScientistThis... can mean a lot of things. But most of them are in demand! It can mean:
- Product analytics person - answer questions about your product
- Quantitative UX person - answer questions about your users
- Machine learning engineer - building "data products" (where "data products" means roughly anything where you are doing any ML)
- The first person at your startup who works with data for more than one-off things
- Some combination of the above
- Probably something else too
- Experimental design
- Big-picture thinking (~ "we want to do X with our website, how would we do it?")
- Machine learning or modeling
- Collaborating with other people/teams
Friday, June 23, 2017
Each row is my series of interactions with a given company. This chart is not at all in chronological order.
Computer monitor: an online application
Thumbs up: a friend (or friend of friend) saying I'm cool
Phone: phone screen (green if it's a "non-screen" call where I'm not "on." Eh, details; I'm always "on.")
Mail: an email (blue if "cold"/unsolicited/I just thought they were cool so I tried to contact em.)
Pencil: take-home work assignment
Two people shaking hands: an in-person conversation (also blue if unsolicited - like my friend works somewhere cool so I try to see if they're hiring)
Three people around a table: in-person interview
N: when they gave me the official big "nope"
Trophy: an offer
What did I learn? (and all these are limited to SF tech job searching)
- don't bother contacting them if they don't have a job listing
- if you get to an on-site, you're really in the home stretch. Someone told me 1/5 on-sites become offers; in my case it was 1/2; either way, do a handful of on-sites, and you should get something.
- the usual cycle seems to be: 1. online app, 2. your friend gives you a thumbs up, 3. phone screen or two, 4. onsite interview
- I dislike it when companies never respond. At least a form letter response would be nice.
- A friend's thumbs-up or a conversation with someone you know gets you in the door. In interactions without a thumbs-up or friend-convo, 1 went farther to phone screen at least (and it led to an offer) and 8 didn't; in interactions with a thumbs-up or friend-convo, 13 went farther and 13 didn't. But that includes the "cold" ones - in "warm" interactions with a thumbs-up or friend-convo, 13 went farther (4 to offer) and 8 didn't.
- by the way, LinkedIn is a good way to get that thumbs-up or friend-convo. Pick a company, you can see your friends-of-friends who work there. Your friends will often make an introduction.
- that one offer without a thumbs-up came from A-List, which is from AngelList, but they send you an invite if you're in the "top 1%" of applicants. I don't know what that means, but apparently CMU PhD + Google gets you into that "top 1%." Seems like a good way to access smaller-company jobs. Regular AngelList is good too.
- so, like, if I'm in the "top 1%", and relatively well connected, usually the process is much harder than this! woof!
Which one was Stitch Fix, which I accepted? Fourth from the bottom.
Oh by the way: I'm starting at Stitch Fix at the end of July. Wooo!
But but but I want to know more! Don't worry, this is job search post 1 of many.
Monday, June 19, 2017
- get a card with a sweet bonus
- meet the Minimum Spend
- get some bonus points
- downgrade it at the end of your first year
Who can do this? Anyone who can get approved for sweet credit cards. (if you can't get approved, then get some less-prestigious credit cards with no fees, use them for a while, always pay them off, and eventually your credit rating will be better and you'll get approved.
You might not want to do this if you're buying a house soon - it'll ding your credit just a bit. But that wears off.
1. Get a card with a sweet bonus.
You're looking for, ideally, 30-50k points/miles, and annual fee waived for the first year. Some of these that I've done include:
Barclay AAdvantage Aviator Red
Barclaycard Arrival Plus
Capital One Visa Signature
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase IHG Rewards Club
Chase MileagePlus Explorer
Citi ThankYou Premier
Citi American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum Select
Maybe check r/churning to see what's popular now. Sometimes there are particularly good deals (like the MileagePlus Explorer is usually 30k miles but sometimes 50k), so try to jump on those. The Chase Sapphire Reserved was even 100,000 miles when it first came out! 100k deals usually don't last long, though. If I see a 100k I'll jump on it; and usually a 50k is worth it too.
Note that, to me, hotel miles are worth about half of airline miles. So if you're looking at a hotel card, try cutting those values in half.
Ideally this will be in an airline/hotel you want to use, or use often, or a convertible rewards program. For example, Tati and I had our wedding planned at an IHG hotel in Pittsburgh, so I used the IHG points I got from this thing to book us some free rooms. And I fly United a lot, so those miles will get used.
Convertible rewards programs are stuff like Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi ThankYou. These are points that you can convert into specific airline/hotel miles, or sometimes use them for other things too.
2. Meet the Minimum Spend
All these deals will have some kind of minimum spend to get the big bonus, like "50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3000 in the first 3 months." Just start using the card for everything. If you wouldn't end up spending that much in 3 months, there are ways to spend a small fee to "buy" points - just look up "manufactured spend" on r/churning. For this reason, I usually don't churn more than one card at a time - it can be hard to meet the MS on all of them.
3. Get the points
They'll usually automatically post with little fanfare, and it's not usually as soon as you meet the minimum spend, so you might have to check on it a little bit.
4. Downgrade at 1 year
The CC companies are trying to get you to start paying the annual fee (after they waive it for the first year). You just have to remember to "downgrade" your card - roughly, trade it in for a "lesser" card with no annual fee. Like, I traded an AAdvantage Platinum Select ($90ish fee) for an AAdvantage Bronze (no fee). Course, the AAdvantage Bronze has no big perks... but that's ok, because at this point, you stick it in a drawer and don't really use it for anything.
To do this, just call them, at the number on the card or wherever. Ask them to downgrade this account to a no-fee card. They are usually more than happy to help. They'll often have a bunch of different ones - it doesn't matter which one you pick, because you're not going to use it anyway. You can usually do this a little after the 1 year mark; then they'll refund your annual fee. Sometimes they'll let you do it before 1 year.
An added benefit of this is you now have more credit available to you, which improves your credit score. If they won't downgrade your card, you could always just close the account. But I think I've only had that happen once.
Total benefit: ~50k points, up to 3-4 times a year. 1 point is worth roughly $0.01, so we're talking ~$500 each time.
Total cost: $0.
Total effort: well, nonzero. But it's not terribly a lot of work.
Monday, June 12, 2017
I tried to check /r/churning, but it's an insane mess, I think mostly because this question is complicated, because obviously that's the CC companies' game. Nobody will just make a card that is Strictly The Best, because they're all grabbing the tiny percent of edge from people who aren't quite using their cards to the max potential. So, everyone in /r/churning is trying to figure out how they particularly can get a tiny percent of edge because they always fly Delta or buy a lot of groceries or something. And it's the kind of nerds who love to get a tiny bit of edge.
- Level 0: 40/1/$0. 40% of the benefits for 1% of the work and 0 dollars.
- Level 1: 60/1/$100. 60% of the benefits for 1% of the work and $100/year ish.
- Level 2: 80/20/$100. 80% of the benefits for 20% of the work and $100/year ish.
- Level 3 and beyond: beats me. I think I'm at about level 2.
Level 0:At this level, you basically never want to think about which credit card you have. I think that for you the Chase Freedom Unlimited is the way to go. Click a link here:
https://www.reddit.com/r/churning/comments/5ta38h/official_chase_freedom_unlimited_referral_thread/ (or if it's later than about July 2017, search for the new Freedom Unlimited Referral Thread)
Simple 1.5% cash back on everything, and $150 signup bonus. And Chase's web site is not as terrible as some others.
(I think this because I feel like I've heard about it on forums sometimes. so, confidence about 70%. also, I gave you the /r/churning link, b/c if you click someone's link there, they get $100 referral bonus, which doesn't hurt. I would give you my own referral link but I don't have a Freedom Unlimited so I can't, unfortunately.)
Level 1:Here, you basically never want to think about which credit card you have but you are willing to spend about $100/year on it. Two options, and they both give you Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which you can redeem for a bunch of different mileage programs, or Amazon or whatever. They are pretty good points. Plus, on either of these, you'll get 50k bonus points after you spend $4k within the first 3 months - so get the card then use it as much as possible within that time frame.
Chase Sapphire Reserved$450/year, but $300 of travel expenses (planes, hotels, airbnbs, etc) gets automatically refunded. So if you're using it, and you travel, it's effectively $150/year. Gives you a bunch of points and some other travelly benefits (some lounge access, reimbursement for TSA Global Entry).
(More info on this card, and the difference between it and Preferred.) No referral link for this one, but you can get there on that "more info" link.
Chase Sapphire Preferred$95/year after the first year, gives you almost as many points. Good in-between if you don't want to spend quite $150, or if you don't think you'll spend $300 on travel in a year. Apply here (my personal referral link).
Just get one of these cards and then use it for everything. Then one day you will have a ton of points and you can book a flight or something.
(boy, this sounds like I'm paid by Chase, doesn't it? I mean, I'm not. They just do tend to have the best points for most people. Note that if you have an airline you fly a lot, especially Southwest, you might want to get the card for that airline instead, as long as it has a 30k or more point signup bonus.)
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Recently, in a silly mood, Tati and I came up with my own list of nonsense superheroes. They feel like they're in the same direction; this sort of uncanny valley of mostly following rules of normal logic, but not entirely.
Good King Wenceslas and Rice Dog
Old Tom and his letters
The Knife Police
Church Guy Dot Com
The Amazing Bat
False Poster Boy
The Insatiable Dod
Donor 2 Drugs
Fashion Electric World Capt.
The Welsh Strider
Guy You Got In Your Neighborhood
The Pharaoh Clooney
While we were at it, we came up with some names for a baby. (No, we're not having one. We just thought these should be available as a public service; feel free to take them for your own kid.)
But... not as good? I kinda want to Mechanical Turk test these, and see if I can humor better than a neural net. I'm not sure if I want to win or lose.
I'll leave you with a fairly dada short story:
Wandering underhill the goat farmer and his steel drum band. Lions escape faculty oversight while withdrawing from formal scrutiny. Yellow lollipop stick upended in a raised ball of fruit. Within the normal force field lies a smarmy alliaceous ball. Next to a frigid sound man, King Walrus rests upon his laurels. Beside him, the trained eye can spot kestrels yawning at the prospect of unparalleled masculinity. Feverishly sorted and left out to dry. What if by some strange stroke of luck, it so happened that a barreling freight train of good humor wound up dead? I don't know that we could stomach the loss. Later, now, the raven winds its way towards its everlasting home. You can't blame it. But under the watchful eye of the beholder, grains wilt and lie prostrate on the floor. An eager grammarian. Let yourself explore the expanse available to you; buy me an ogre. Willis had a necktie, and shouldn't we all? Fair to say, you won't find the Italian Mafia around this bean corn stand.
Monday, May 22, 2017
I feel like, in online arguments, the thing I most admire is when people change their mind in the face of better evidence. And yet, sometimes that's seen as evidence that you were wrong, and therefore you "lost." F that. You should get an award for changing your mind.
See also: when you're meditating, and you realize your mind was wandering, you don't say "stupid mind! you're so bad! I am bad!" you say "hey, I found my mind again! awesome, welcome back!"
A bit of Magic slang, maybe, or that's where I got it at least: "taker." Someone who rules-lawyers or otherwise does whatever they can to get ahead, at the expense of being nice or the game being fun. Like, what they're doing is legal, but it sucks.
Why I bring it up (tl;dr: small-time landlord woes, you can skip this section, basically the landlord's a Taker): when we rented our apartment, we were offered it for $3150/month including garage, or $3000 without. We said, ok, we'll take the garage, it's good for storage and bikes. I think the renting agent (call him E) said "sure, that's fine." (it might have been our agent. I think it was E.) The landlord, A, has been a shadowy figure to whom our money goes. A month after we moved in, they hired a property manager, K, so A doesn't have to deal with us anymore. K basically parrots whatever A says. They had to do some seismic retrofitting in the garages, A noticed that some people were storing things and not cars in the garages, A gets worried, A tells K to tell us that no "storage" is allowed in the garages. We say, wtf, we rented it with a garage for storage! K says "well, let's check your lease", and sure enough, it says "no storage." And like, I know, get everything in writing, I goofed, I tried to check every other dang thing, but I guess I missed this one. So we say "Ok, K, we'll give the garage back. It's now worth $275/month on the open market in our neighborhood, so how about you give us $200/month off our rent? That gives you a nice little profit margin to re-rent it." A counters with "you can have $50/month off" and won't budge. Even to $150, the original price of the garage.
Letter of the law, A is right! She got us good! We're really not entitled to anything here, because by the rules of the game we mistakenly agreed to something dumb. But come on, can we be reasonably nice here? I'm sure some of you are rolling your eyes here: you want your landlord to "play nice"? That's like asking a rules-lawyer to ask you to take back that mistake you just made a half second ago. Of course you're not entitled to it.
Or, to put it another way: we work in different modes. When you're programming a computer, everything is letter-of-the-law. But when you're paying for your food at a restaurant, there's people involved, so you switch to a slightly different register in order to recognize the humanity of everyone there. (I mean, you tip, at least.) Life is better when you're not going to court over every last minor gripe. And that only requires everyone to be just a little bit not-a-Taker.
Scarcity Breeds Conformity
One response to our landlord being a Taker is to say, bye, we're renting from someone else. Sadly, we're in a scarce market. (I could go on about how SF housing policy is terrible, but that's another conversation.) So we're encouraged to just suck it up. Now, one thing I liked using the garage for was building bikes. I was learning a skill, having fun, doing something productive and creative. Now I can't use the garage for that. I guess I better just go to work and come home and drink beer and watch Netflix. (but not too loud.) Those are all within the rules. This is one argument for owning, and therefore for moving back to Pittsburgh. Hell, I think we're not even supposed to be hanging pictures on the walls. Ugh.
Chasing the "Pirates and Gold" High
When I was still deciding where to go to college, my friend Bill who was doing computer science at CMU sent me one of his homework assignments, from 15-251, "Great Theoretical Ideas in Computer Science." In it was the following problem:
"There's a pirate ship with 100 pirates, all ranked in fierceness from 1 to 100. Whenever they find gold, they distribute it like so: Pirate #1 proposes a distribution. (like, "10 gold pieces to everyone" or "I get all of it, you all get nothing", or whatever.) All the pirates vote yes or no. If at least half of the pirates vote yes, then they distribute the gold like that. But if more than half the pirates vote no, then they kill Pirate #1 and Pirate #2 gets to propose a distribution, and so on. The pirate just found a treasure chest with 1000 gold pieces, and you are Pirate #1. What distribution do you propose?"
You might think the answer is something like "10 gold to everyone", or "20 gold to the first 50 pirates, 0 gold to the last 50 pirates", or something, but there's actually a very clever solution that lets you, Pirate #1, keep about 95% of the gold. No spoilers (but if you're interested, I'll explain it).
This was awesome. And I thought, wait, you can do this for a job? That plus the little programming glee when something works made me think, yep, this is what I want to do.
Unfortunately, it's hard to get back to that high :-/ Software engineering is more quotidian. Usually you don't get too many "pirates and gold" problems. Think of it like building houses: Frank Lloyd Wright gets to build crazy houses over waterfalls and stuff, but most architects probably spend most of their days drawing up the same blueprints for the next McMansion. (Not to knock architects; I bet most of you would love to do Fallingwater but keep getting paid for dumb stuff. Apologies if that's not true.) Plus, most architects don't often, or ever, get the little hit of joy from screwing boards together.
Now, you can certainly go another direction, and go for Real World Impact instead of the fun programming puzzles. I think that'll serve you much better in the long run, and it's what I'm trying to do now, and what I've been trying to do for the last 5 years. I just wish someone had told me that ahead of time.
Imperceptibly Small Benefits
An idea I'm puzzling over involves social media, little hits of dopamine, and concentration. On one hand, concentratiophiles will tell you that each bit of social media you read will entrench this pattern of quick hits and no deep concentration. On the other hand, you learn stuff from all these little distractions? I could walk to the store, or I could walk to the store while listening to a podcast and pick up a lot of information about some topic I don't know about. (Or just listen to a funny thing and have fun.)
Both sides are adding up small benefits. I guess some anti-social-media person can probably concentrate way better than I can, and they might argue it's because of tiny practice times a million. Some super-social-media person, too, probably has a ton of friends, deep connections, and lots of knowledge about what's up in the world, because of tiny knowledge times a million.
Wish we could measure either of these claims so we'd have some kind of idea about the veracity and the size of both of them :-/
Monday, May 01, 2017
1. when I was moving back to Pittsburgh, I thought about "the Aikido test": say I want to take up some new hobby, like Aikido; will I find a local community that I can do that with? can this city help me become who I consciously want to be?
I'm not sure that's the right way to think about it. a new test, call it the "Denver skier test": what will this city help me to unconsciously become? (I don't know if you can live in Denver/Colorado front range and not become a skier, at least a little bit.) Similarly, Seattle got me addicted to coffee, but also got me to ride bikes for 200 miles the first time, so that was nice. (I mean, the coffee's nice too.)
and what is San Francisco helping me unconsciously become?
2. why the hell is it always gentrification? why can there not be techy businesses without gentrification? is it just that "tech" is shorthand for "nouveau riche"? (the fact that Juicero is considered a tech company is evidence for this.) but even if that is so, why can't we do a couple things: why can't we have jobs that are not disappearing, grinding, or tech? why can't we tax the few that are feasting to cover the many who are famining? and why can't cities build up to accommodate the faminers as well as the feasters?
Thursday, April 13, 2017
Let's leave aside the question of how to teach them that there is no "self" - what about teaching kids that they have two selves?
Specifically, there's the driver (which is the "you" who you think you are, the cold logical one) and the emotions passenger. They are constantly talking to you and affecting what you do - sometimes indirectly ("pull off at this exit, I'm hungry", "turn the AC onnnnn!!!", "I'm playing music now"), sometimes directly by grabbing the wheel. They are a large, powerful person, can overwhelm you if it comes to a fight, and are sometimes very wise; ultimately you're in charge, but the two of you are a team. I'm calling the passenger a Wookiee because Chewbacca seems to fit all of these pretty perfectly.
When you are born, they speak a different language than you. Your happiness, success, and sometimes survival depends on your ability to learn to communicate with them. This is what "emotional intelligence" and "soft skills" mean.
So many things, especially interpersonal conflicts, would be so much easier to explain if you had this framework. Instead of saying "I ____", replace that with "My emotions/Wookiee _____". Learn when to take the Wookiee's advice into account, and when they don't know what they're talking about. Learn when to tell the Wookiee to quiet down because you've got to drive for a while... and when to let the Wookiee win.
Saturday, April 01, 2017
2. Every time you say "just" (as in "just one thing" or "can you just do this for me"), an alarm bell should go off in your head. (kind of like the bell that should go off when you say "well, actually...") What it often sounds like you're saying is "I want you to do this thing, but I don't want to be indebted to you for it, so I will minimize it. I want it to be easy. I'm going to act like it's easy, even if it's not."
3. As your job gets more intelligible to outsiders, it gets easier to connect it to some values in your life. That is nice. Doing user research is often more intelligible than software engineering, and as a result, it's usually easier to say "yep, this will actually help people." However, it also means other people think they know how to do your job too. See also: bikeshedding.
4. In SF (/the Bay Area, and other large metro areas), you can have anything. Restaurants, bars, shops, coffee, parks, weather, theater, arts, interactive theater, escape rooms, talks, Burning Man hackery, etc. On the other hand, no one human can possibly take all that in, so it sometimes feels a little immature to live here. Like, you haven't figured out what you want and what you don't care about, so you just want it all. There's some maturity in knowing what things you want less than other people.
On the other other hand, you can't say "well, I only care about theater, so I'm going to move to Theater City." Fair point.
Thursday, March 30, 2017
Like, in a sense, great (as long as this algorithm is known); you get people to do the job right! If you don't do the job, you're out. Easy as that. In contrast, full-time jobs are super-sticky (esp in Europe, but even here in the US): it is very hard to fire someone.
Obviously the Uber route has these terrible effects on the drivers - they never know if they'll be working tomorrow, they're already in debt because they bought this car to drive for Uber and now they're fired for some arcane reason (maybe even unknown reason), they've got to work 14 hours a day to meet the mandatory minimum number of rides or something.
But I'm wondering if the stickiness of full time jobs also helps companies. Like, if you join a new company full-time and then have a bad first couple months (because you're trying to learn a new thing, or just getting to know the people, or you have a family emergency or something), you're not fired; the company ideally finds a way to help you succeed, and then they've got a productive longer-term employee instead of having to start all over. This stickiness is a smoothing factor that helps the company think long term about you instead of short term.
(that, or stickiness does hurt companies, but we've just got too much pro-worker regulation here. I'm open to the argument, but it seems unlikely in 2017 America. hmm.)
Edit: now, there's nothing about Uber that means they have to be so short-term thinking. You could imagine them taking your average rating after, say, your first year, and if it's still not 4.7 by then, ok, now you're out. But then you'll have people who will milk it for a year, be crummy, and get paid for a year before they quit. And I guess office-job people are less likely to do this because they have more human connection and are not inclined to milk the system for all it's worth.
(but then, current workers are not stunning examples of being super excited about their jobs anyway.)
Monday, March 27, 2017
1. Debate where two people with opposing views are talking to each other (or writing, or IMing, or some form of bilateral communication).
2. Debate where both people want to be there, and have chosen to enter into the debate in the hopes of getting something productive out of it.
3. Debate conducted in the spirit of mutual respect and collaborative truth-seeking.
4. Debate conducted outside of a high-pressure point-scoring environment.
5. Debate where both people agree on what’s being debated and try to stick to the subject at hand.
(much more background in the post)
I'm tempted to say "I would like to Purely Logical Debate, and only Purely Logical Debate." And then either of us can pause the debate if we feel that the other is breaking a rule, and we can go back and correct it.
(fwiw, I also agree with his statement that people rarely change their minds all at once, and that the "backfire effect" is probably not as ironclad as we think.)
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Alice: I think X.
Bob: are you sure?
Charles: what about Y?
Dave: I don't know, I don't believe X, I have to see for myself.
Jim: I think X.
Bob, Charles, and Dave: Oh yes, X is definitely true. Good idea, Jim.
Here's my SNL-skit proposal: in the future, each woman gets a male robot named Repeater Jim who just follows her around and repeats what she says, so men will listen to her ideas. (it would be named "Jim" just because that's the first name that popped into my head.)
Here's my actually-not-satirical real-world proposal: men, volunteer to be Repeater Jim. Like, team up with a woman or women in your workplace, and try to repeat what they say as often as possible. As soon as the other men go "oh yes definitely X", say "yes, I agree, thanks to Alice for suggesting this idea."
(obviously this should be addressed more widely too; Repeater Jim is a band-aid, not a fix for women being ignored. but, a band-aid is better than no band-aids. and maybe people have an "ohhh" moment about their unconscious biases every now and then when they realize they got Repeater Jimmed.)
(n.b. not just about women; this also applies to people of color and probably pretty much every minority.)
For the record: if any of y'all ever need me to be Repeater Jim, let me know, I'm happy to help.
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Saturday, March 18, 2017
1. it would probably be pretty funny
2. seriously, though, I probably actually forget some wisdom over the years. There are probably things that my 20 year old self thinks, that I should still think, but that I let atrophy for whatever reason.
Here's one for now: start with trust. When you go into a new relationship, assume that everyone's at least honest and not trying to screw you. (related: never assume malice when it might just be stupidity) Of course, as soon as they break that, bets are off. But in the meantime, start with trust.
An example: landlords. I tend to go into any renting experience assuming the landlord is pretty decent. Sometimes I am proven wrong, but most of the time they are pretty decent. I think some other people have worse experiences with the same landlords. Whether you think your landlord is nice or mean might be kind of self-fulfilling.
(I understand some people have other experiences. there are also huge confounds because I rent market-rate places and I'm a white dude. fair. just my experience here.)
Wednesday, March 01, 2017
by Dan Tasse
1. Call your book "Life Hacks" so people will buy it
2. Be kind of glib so people will continue reading
3. Make them think they're in on the joke
Saturday, February 18, 2017
I am not sure what it will be called. Perhaps Tati should name it. It is hers now, after all.
And it's totally great. This is my favorite bike that I've ever built. It's a perfect SF sunny-day bike, for fun rides around the city and nearby, which I think Tati will quite enjoy.
Frame: Co-Motion Ristretto, I believe. Aluminum and super light. Bought it from my friend Jeff.
Drive train: SRAM NX 1x11 speed group set. SRAM GXP cranks (170mm I think) and BB, 32t narrow-wide chainring, 11-42t cassette. Cheapo platform pedals from The Bike Kitchen; btw have I mentioned how great that place is?
Anyway, the 1x11 seems totally great. Fewer moving parts to break or misalign, decent high gears, and ridiculous low gears. This thing would be a Dirty Dozen smasher.
Wheels: Mavic rims, Shimano 105 hub (back) and Claris hub (front) (they didn't have a matching set at Valencia Cyclery (which is also great, though not as great as Bike Kitchen), but whatever, it's cool)
Tires: 700x28c (back) and 700x25c (front) Specialized Armadillos
Bars: flat handlebars - look like carbon? and some kind of stem. I don't know about them but they seem real nice. Thanks Jeff for throwing them in! Cheapo locking grips.
Brakes: Shimano 105s (thanks again Jeff!) and cheapo levers.
Seat: uh, it's a seat. Got it from my friend Iris. Hopefully some rando on Market St. doesn't try to claim this one too. The post is probably pretty good too (had it on my Soma Smoothie ES that I got from a guy on Craigslist) but I don't know about it either.
Accessories: Fortified lights (which are awesome; I had one stolen and they sent me a replacement), Pinhead locking skewers and seatpost, Kryptonite evolution series 4 lock.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Very many of our arguments should indeed be prefaced with
"Look, really our main problem is that all the most important things cost ten times as much as they used to for no reason, plus they seem to be going down in quality, and nobody knows why, and we're mostly just desperately flailing around looking for solutions here."
(of course I have my ideas about solutions; most of them are probably grouped under "simplify harder", "more taxes", and "freer markets"; but that's neither here nor there.)
Sunday, February 12, 2017
1. Don't get devastated.
2. More lifehacks
3. Wolf pet, on a train
4. 2 cell phones
5. Leave yourself a voice mail
6. Avoid cafeterias
7. Always choose 3
8. Snort whenever you laugh
9. Read college brochures
10. Horses have emotions too, bro.
11. Always say "bro" as a question: "bro?"
12. Have a name
13. Continue life hacking, or car jacking.
14. Why not?
15. Actually "coat swacker" is a good insult
16. Don't forget life hacks!
17. The word "beaver" comes to mind
18. Hi there, fellow kids
19. Don't ever make mistakes
20. If at first you don't succeed, succeed!
21. Know when to stop lifehacking
22. Right turn on red, after stop
23. Think about that!
24. Pineapples decorate well. You can dress something with pineapples. You can deck the hall with pineapples.
26. Deluxe chapstick. You can buy better chapstick, because you only need to buy half as much.
27. Do a good impression of the person you want to be.
28. Park your car, walk your dog
29. What if you drastically limited the number of distinct syllables you would say?
30. Speak from the heart
31. If you're out of hair clips, you can use a binder clip
32. Maybe don't pluralize "berry"
33. You can polarize, but only sometimes
34. Memo to your future self. You can leave these anytime.
35. Remember that time you were in those mountains?
36. It would be a real sucker punch to say something like "Fukushima."
38. That little thing going wrong, it won't even affect you.
39. If you ever need a costume, you could go as Captain Labradoodle
40. Mend a picket fence
41. Better learn me fast!
42. Have a day, each day
43. Want sauerkraut? You're going to have to wait for it.
44. Could be a real thing.
45. Get more specific, usually
46. Don't overclose a faucet
47. If you listen, you can hear your arguments coming up and knocking each other down.
48. It might be time.
49. If you start surveilling yourself too much, you might want to stop.
50. Claw hammer not always better than regular hammer.
Friday, February 10, 2017
The CBP has become the country's largest federal police force, routinely secretly violating people's rights with no oversight and no need to explain themselves.
And it's _not even helping_ prevent terrorism. Listen to this podcast and tell me that these cases make us safer. It sounds like, instead, they've made us more irrationally terrified. (which is, again, what terrorists are trying to do.)
in case you're tempted to respond "it's all anecdotes, not data"... well, sure; we can't get access to any data. that's step 1: shed a little light on their inner workings. In the meantime, I'm going to assume that these cases are indicative of the all-too-familiar pattern: zero oversight and accountability -> abuse. (hopefully not "-> secret police" etc,
(almost posted this on facebook, but: doubt I'd reach anyone who doesn't agree with me, and there's enough bad news there already. I almost feel like I should, instead of just getting mad at everything, start building up big well-cited argument lists/trees for use when debating with your local political opponent. that sounds like a lot of work, and maybe not worthwhile anyway, and hasn't someone else done it better?)
At any rate, your daily good news is we are getting heckin' active wherever we can. This is awesome.
Thursday, February 02, 2017
Especially these days. Grad school's already taken its toll on my ability to blog with any regularity, but you throw in Voldemort and the alien from Men In Black getting elected as President and Shadow President, respectively, and a lot of my internet time goes towards upkeeping Do The Thing.
This has been mildly frustrating, because I think this blog's been a useful outlet for me to organize my thoughts. Particularly, writing forces you to take a bunch of feelings and put them down on paper in a way that's somewhat coherent. I like it when my internal voices are somewhat coherent.
Oh, also, been posting a bunch on Facebook, which is frustrating too because it's up to The Facebook whether anyone sees your post, whether it sticks around, whether you can even go back and dig it up if you try... For writing text on pages, give me web 1.0 any day.
In order to preserve some of the weirdness that have been my thoughts over the last few months, thoughts which have been shifting from "pondering things every so often" to "activist mode, go!", I'm going to try to copy paste some of my facebookery here. So this will be long, and maybe not so useful to you.
Oct 26: Kraynick's Bike Shop!Raising enough money on Gofundme to buy a building is... ambitious. But Kraynick's is a Pittsburgh treasure, the place that taught me the most about bike parts, a great place to get back on the road if you're not real rich, and the kind of diverse hangout that I see less and less often.
I'd always wondered what would happen when Jerry wanted to retire, and the answer is apparently this. Sounds like Rocky's going to keep the magic going, which is super exciting.
If you donate (any amount), let me know and I'll throw in another $10 per friend. Keep it goin'!
Nov 2Hey. Canvassing in Pittsburgh. Saturday 10:30-2pm. 4250 Murray Ave (I think that's the greenfield giant eagle?).
Edit: not this particular canvass, instead signing up at 9am and noon (and maybe 3?) Talk to Aaron Tarnow, he can sign you up.
Mostly because 538 is freakin me out, doing something helps reduce anxiety, and I'd hate not to do whatever I can. Join me?
Nov 4Hey, if you're in a safe state and voting Hillary, or in a swing state and voting third party... Consider vote trading? https://apps.trimian.com/nevertrump
Still send your signal of "I don't like them" but make it less likely to accidentally vote in Trump along the way.
Nov 5Knocked on 175 doors for Hillary today
Nov 8: Vote a lot, y'all goonsAnd vote for the only presidential candidate remotely qualified to run for president
And your local Democratic congressers, because i guess that's the only way we're ever allowed to do anything again
(PS. I canvassed two more batches, in Ohio this time! "Be humble when you do good deeds"- Jesus or something. "Nope I'm braggin', sorry"- me)
Nov 8et tu, pennsylvania?
Nov 10just now, rando on street to lady: keep smiling!
me to rando: hey, don't tell her to smile!
me: what's it matter if she smiles or not?
rando: I said, "keep smiling!"
me: uh (as that doesn't make any sense, and I hadn't really thought this far ahead, I walk away. clearly, I've got to practice this.)
I was surprised to learn that I guess this is a thing I do now. sharing not to boost myself, but to suggest you can do this too. if the wave of mini-trumps (people emboldened to be mean by one lar
ge meanman) is gonna happen, well, so is the wave of mini-anti-trumps.
(+ long interesting discussions! Kind of sad Facebook isn't saving those.)
Nov 11If there's one good thing about all this, it's that I see more people getting more active online. More people than I've ever seen (in my circles) were phone banking, canvassing, vote volunteering, talking about local elections. Maybe we're not going to change anyone's mind by posting to our filter bubble. But if we can collectively use our filter bubbles to encourage each other to get active, and stay active, well... we've got a lot of power here.
In other words, in an increasingly scary world, we all gotta do politics now. And if you used to do Level 1 Politics, now you do Level 2 Politics, and so on.
Now let's keep it up, for four years or more. Do good things. Stop bad things. Talk about it. Support each other.
Nov 11Why is "Smile!" bad? (It's not the Political Correctness police)
Nov 12Got no phone till the 18th! (soonest the replacement battery can come in, if you'd believe it, even in the age of Amazon.)
This'll be interesting. I'll still get your texts and stuff when I get to my computer, but don't expect a quick response. (as if you were anyway :P)
Nov 14How and why to contact your congress people:
http://www.house.gov/ has a nice "find your rep." Mine (most of SF) is Nancy Pelosi. Look on her site for her district office's phone number (I've heard that's better than the DC office). Hers is (415) 556-4862.
http://www.senate.gov/index.htm has a nice "find your senator." In CA ours are Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. Their numbers are (510) 286-8537 and (415) 393-0707.
(They've also got email links, but phone makes for a better chance to listen, according to an internet thing going around.)
Anyway, call them all the time. Make them sick of hearing you. Right now I'm calling to get them to fight the appointment of Steve Bannon, the admittedly anti-semitic head of fact-free garbage fire Breitbart News. (tbh, I'm not even sure if they can do anything. If you've got better ways to fight this, let me know.)
Pittsburghers: your rep is Mike Doyle (412) 390-1499 and your senators are Bob Casey (412) 803-7370 and Pat Toomey (412) 803-3501.
Westlake Ohio folks: your rep is Jim Renacci (412) 803-3501 and your senators are Sherrod Brown (216) 522-7272 and Rob Portman 216-522-7095.
(edited to add Clevelanders and to get everyone's local numbers in there.)