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November 17th, 2016

The US elections. @ 10:31 pm

I have a number of friends - who are now more acquaintances these days, I suppose - that get very worked up about certain issues; they are emotional hot buttons for them. OK, I get that. However, it's gotten to the point that those issues are now sacred cows: discussion of them has more or less become verboten - not because anybody has out and out declared them off limits, but the reactions are intense enough that any further discussion immediately stops. This has happened on IRC, on FB, etc; it's a rather chilling effect.

The elections - and in particular, how and why Those People™ voted as they did - has now become one of those issues. I will freely admit that I'm freaked out by some of the results and announced appointments - in particular, that one party controls the House, the Senate, and the White House (assuming that Trump reconciles with the Republicans), Steve Bannon being Trump's main advisor, and Pence being Vice President. I am greatly disturbed by the reports of people doing awful behavior X and ascribing it to Trump giving permission to do so. But, I refuse to believe that the majority of people voted for Trump solely because of odious behavior X, Y, or Z; yes, there are some who did, but I believe this is not the predominant reason. (I've been following Zeynep Tufekci on Twitter; she strikes me as one of the most down-to-earth analysts of what's been going on thus far.)

These sentiments are probably enough to get me unfriended by people on FB; oh well. Maybe they'll take up a collection to get me deported from the Bay Area, too.
 

October 21st, 2016

Funemployment: end of month 1. @ 09:21 pm

It's been a month since I quit Twitter; what have I done since then? Well... not much.

I'd been hoping that I'd be far more motivated to do more than I have - work on my personal projects, go out and be a tourist, leave the house more than once every three-four days - but nope, hasn't been the case. It feels like I've been lacking the activation energy to actually do stuff - assuming I knew what I wanted to do with any great amount of desire, which I don't, really. While not being happy, per se, with idling around the house there's been no wellspring of cabin fever, either.

The only thing I really have managed to do is to book tickets to Chicago for two weeks; the Cubs might make it to the World Series - something they haven't done since 1945! - and the city will be ka-ray-zee if they make it (much less win it). While I'm not that much of a sports fan, I remember saying in Jr High that I would probably visit Chicago if such an unlikely event happened; between remembering saying that thirty-odd years ago and tickets being hella cheap if you fly on Tuesdays ($127 RT SFO<->ORD) that was enough to rouse me out of inaction.

Still haven't figured out what I want to do if/when I grow up, but after reading autopope's essay on the subject I feel less bad about it.
 

September 30th, 2016

Funemployment: week 2. @ 05:08 am

I'm now in my second week of funemployment. I've left the house all of three times so far, and one of those was going to the corner store. I think, in retrospect, I had underestimated the levels of freaked-out-ness and social anxiety I have; I would have expected I'd have wanted to go out and about more by now, but nope. A bunch of this is depression+anhedonia, to be honest - but the isolation has extended to being unwilling/unable to engage with social media as well, except in an extremely decoupled fashion (i.e. not much in the way of realtime 1:1 chat.)

If I've calculated things correctly, I could continue to live in SF (albeit, in a very frugal manner) for about two years without dipping into my investments; whether this speaks more to my lifestyle or my medicore rate of investments remains to be seen. Rent and health insurance are the two massive hits; insurance is probably going to be around $330/mo, at least partially because any sort of affordability metric is tied to how much one makes during the year, not one's current income. I'm probably going to have to COBRA for a month, unless I get my act together in the next 18 hours or so and sign up with one of the carriers. (That's $560/mo, ho ho ho.) I really hope I can do the vast majority of it online, as I'm still shying away from people enough that it'd be a formidable impediment if real live human wormbabies were involved.

I did start cleaning up the apartment, at least; that's something which I haven't had the spoons to do for... a year? Maybe two? Figuring out what the oldest thing in my fridge is will be an entertaining diversion. (Did you know that if eggs don't go rotten, they just sort of dry out into the shells and dessicated spheres?) I'm going to have to start explicitly scheduling activities and to-do lists pretty soon; otherwise, it seems like I'd be all too willing to just stay in bed and browse the internet all day. But hey, the house-cleaning was semi-spontaneous, so that was encouraging. Wubba lubba dub dub!
 

September 10th, 2016

funemployment ho! @ 02:02 am

Sep 21 is my last day at the company. Some of my coworkers said that they've seen an increased spring in my step since I announced I was leaving; some of my coworkers are freaking out; some are hurriedly scheduling meetings to get me to braindump. My manager has been very sympathetic and understanding, and has been supportive. Haven't talked to HR yet, and nothing's on my calendar, so don't know what's up with that. COBRA will be lots of not fun; I really need to start scheduling all sorts of doctor appointments Real Soon.

What I told my manager is that I'm tired, burnt out, want a long vacation, and that my plans thus far are to go sit on my ass, go be a tourist, visit Alcatraz, and generally be irresponsible for a long while. These things are all very much true. However, there are a whole lot of exacerbating factors. My depression has been particularly bad, and my (probably sperg-based) anxiety and irritability have also been through the roof. (Even just writing this has taken more fortitude than I had thought.) I don't like where the future of sysadmin seems to be going, and that's "mostly disregarded in favor of something like devops or docker on steroids, and not valuing how systems generally operate." I don't like how San Francisco - and the rest of the Bay Area, for that matter - has been turning out; I don't like living someplace where most of the people I know who ain't in tech are either mulling, in the process, or have already moved away to someplace they could afford. College students are having to commute for multiple hours to get to school, as they can't afford to live nearby. Artist lofts are but a dim memory; when the average 1br apartment goes for $3k, not many artists who ain't already in a rent controlled place are going to live here.

So, if I don't want to stay in my career, or possibly where I'm living, then what? Answer thus far: "buh buh buh buh buh". Maybe veer into InfoSec. Maybe take the GRE and try to connive my way into grad school despite not having an undergrad degree; maybe move back to Chicago and live at my parent's house and go to grad school if I do the former; maybe see what pals in SoCal are up to and/or how I like it down there. (At least one former coworker is at SpaceX right now.) Maybe try and figure out where I'll physically want to be in 20 years when it's a couple of degrees warmer and the coasts are even more flooded. I don't really know. If I magically became "fuck off" levels of wealthy, I might consider moving back to Japan and doing something with teaching English or videogame development or something - but short of that, it's unlikely I'd live overseas again. Psych care, and the meds required therein - much less "being fluent in the language to talk to one's doctors" - seems like way too insurmountable a barrier.

In the meantime, anyway, I'm hoping that going to sit on my ass for six months - the median time before I start to get cranky at having too much free time - will help clarify WTF I want to do with myself. I honestly have no idea what I'll be doing and where I'll be in a year's time.
 

July 29th, 2016

more of the same @ 02:25 am

The other day on the bus, I had to consciously exert control not to rock back and forth in my seat from stress and anxiety; given that my repression of such spergy expressions is so ingrained and automatic, especially where anybody might see or hear them, it's disturbing that it almost got out without me noticing. There's no mystery what's going on: work has been stressful and awful, and has been for quite a while - not due to my boss (who's quite understanding and sympathetic to being burnt out), but because I see dumpsters all around me getting loaded up with tires and gasoline, with little I can do to try and sway people into possibly not doing that. Multiple shitstorms on the horizon with few ways to affect the outcome does not my anxiety quell.

That some of my teammates are just blithely doing shit and seemingly phoning it in ain't helping, either. Nor is the cresting of a major depressive episode. Or the multiple anxiety dreams that've made me wake up due to the terrifying notion that I've unintentionally and unknowingly either let somebody down or made them feel bad. None of those things generally cause me to break out in pimples, or make me (literally) sick to my stomach; yessir, that's stress, all right.

The most terrifying notion is if I quit, what the fuck do I do after that? Am I in a state of mind where I'd be willing and able to get another job in the area, assuming I want to stay in tech? Or do I pack it the fuck in, bid adieu to San Francisco, and move away with little likelihood to return? (It was hellish enough getting an apartment here in 2011, and it's even worse and about twice as expensive now.)

And, as always: what do I want to do if and when I grow up? Assuming I can actually do what I want?
 

July 22nd, 2016

(no subject) @ 07:30 am

Second night this week I've awakened due to anxiety dreams - and they weren't even anything particularly interesting, just delocalized fear that I had let somebody down by doing something wrong, or had just made them feel bad somehow.

I imagine it's about work.
 

May 1st, 2016

Labour day! @ 11:59 pm

Or - Disco-tent 2: Electric Bugaloo.

After my boss left in January, newboss came in, got to know us... and then left the company at the end of March. He had been planning to leave for quite a while, and was worried that something like this would happen (i.e. his job prospects would come roaring in all at once) - and they did. As it happens, my new-new boss will be my old boss - the first boss I had at the $company (all praise the $company.) That had mixed results the first time around; I'm hoping it'll be better, but I'm feeling extremely cautious.

Part of that, admittedly, is burnout. I desperately need a vacation; I can't get motivated to do a whole lot. I'm going to Chicago from late May to mid June, which should be nice. My sister will be having a birthday party; there may be a sloth present. (If you're in the area and want an invitation, let me know.) It'll be nice being someplace with warmth and sun - neither of which San Francisco is known for.

Part of the burnout is also, in no small part, due to being hideously depressed and having no energy to do much other than "work, go home, sleep, repeat" - which, one would note, does not include things like "go out" or "clean the house" or "yell at various finanicial companies to get their shit together". While I'm not getting much in the ideation department (which is a small relief) having multiple dreams where I'm lying on the ground sobbing is neither terribly helpful nor restful. I was upset enough in one dream that it overcame sleep paralysis and I awakened to find myself spasmodically jerking around. The 'physical manifestation of emotional distress' thing is relatively new to me; I think it started somewhere around 2003, when the Wellbutrin I was taking did some sort of weird emotional integrative effect. Prior to that, it was even more difficult for me to figure out what my emotional state was - short of something blatant like "going fetal, jerking back and forth, and dropping my glottis enough that I produce two tones at once" (as one does.)

Still haven't come up with any bright ideas for where I'd want to move to, other fields to work in, etc, either.
 

January 26th, 2016

excerpt of a mail sent to my friends' kid @ 02:01 am

(Some personal details deleted, but otherwise more or less verbatim. Said kid is around 10, I think, and has some spergian tendencies.)

So, to recap: you had mentioned the travails of dealing with one of the administrators at school who was hell-bent on doing things In The Proper Way - regardless of any logic, usefulness, or anything else - and was also demanding that you Respect His Authoritaaay. This got me to chuckling - and while you were able to recognize that I wasn't laughing at you, I was also unable to elucidate just exactly at whom or what I was laughing. After thinking about this for quite a while, I've come to some tentative conclusions. But first, two digressions: one about humor in general, the other about Halloween.

There are many theories of humor; you can read about them on Wikipedia. What I'm particularly interested in is that of incongruity. One of the more common forms of joke is to talk about A, and then talk about B, and then recontextualize things so that A + B = something entirely unexpected. (Lots of simple puns work like this - e.g. the joke, said aloud, "What's black and white and read all over? A newspaper.", as well as other, longer forms - the shaggy dog story, the brick joke, etc.) But the crux is that reinterpreting what A and B actually mean, apart, together, or both.

Digression the second: as a kid, Halloween freaked me out and I didn't want to participate. ("Kid" extended until about my late 20s or early 30s, as it turned out.) A large portion of this was due to being aware that parents and other adults found watching the kids to be rather humorous or amusing in some fashion, and I couldn't fathom why this would be, and was extremely self-conscious about this. My theory had been, "I wouldn't be caught dead like that!" That's not quite wrong, but it's not accurate, either. I suspect that for most folks, it's people juxtaposing seeing kids as they are, recalling how they used to do the same sorts of things, and then comparing that against how they are now. You generally don't do the same thing as an adult as when you're younger - or if you do, it's with the knowledge and experience and context of what you've seen over the years. It's not something you can teach; you simply have to live through it. (See also: Heraclitus talking about the river.)

Anyway - when you told me about encountering that terribly self-important teacher, and expressing how irritated you were that they couldn't explain their reasoning or why you should follow such arbitrary rules, or express much of anything other than "Just do as I say"... that reminded me an awful lot of how I was when I was younger, and how I didn't understand how people like that worked, or how people might have different mental models and behaviors, and how I've changed in the past thirty-odd years or so. It was jarring comparison, seeing young-me and present-me side-by-side like that, and somewhat unexpected. So, I laughed.

In essence, I was laughing at how I'd turned out and how my understanding of people, the world, and myself had changed, and marveling at how I got to here from younger-me. And I suspect it's the same sort of laughter that I always saw adults do when they saw kids in Halloween costumes - which brought to mind how amazingly frustrated I felt at (correctly!) interpreting adults' emotional state of things, but only partly understanding why they were acting like that (and missing the really important context behind things.) And that made me think I should follow up on our eighteen-ish month old conversation. So, here we are.

Hope this wasn't too dull or self-indulgent. Hope you're doing well.
 

January 10th, 2016

disco tent @ 05:48 pm


My boss announced, in a Friday staff meeting, that this coming Friday would be his last day. He didn't tell any of us beforehand, although in my 1:1 meeting on Tuesday he mentioned how he felt like he was drifting, and unmotivated, and that the company was making it almost impossible to get promoted, and that there was no real place for him to go. I told him that I felt much the same way, and he expressed sympathy, but without a lot of reassurance; that explains why.

After my three week vacation, it was incredibly difficult to reengage with my job; while I like my immediate coworkers, and I mostly get to set my own priorities for what I'm working on, it still feels like I'm stagnating a bit, and the majority of my work is now cleaning out the gutters and quietly cleaning up after the sloppiness of my teammates (often without them knowing.) All in all, not terribly rewarding, except for the alleviation of the irritation at knowing that stuff is terrible.

At the same time... I'm not sure what else I'd want to do. The trend for my specialty (unix-based system admin for IT) seems to be "going away in favor of AWS or the handwavey cloud", production sysadmin work is going towards the same plus "docker + vagrant + framework of the week". I suppose I could pick up coding again, but I don't think I'd be too enthusiastic about it. (But with depression + anhedonia, not a whole lot sounds too enthusing.) What complicates things significantly is my housing situation: if I left SF to go work somewhere else (the SFBA peninsula, south bay, or elsewhere), there's no way I'd be able to get an apartment in the city for what I'm currently paying. For that matter, it seems doubtful that I'd get an apartment for what I'm currently paying anywhere in the Bay Area. That implies I could or should start looking elsewhere, but I turn into a Buridan's ass way too quickly when confronted with excess choice.

I suppose I should find a shrink; judging from how pimply and broken out I've gotten after coming back, my stress levels are through the roof. Plan B: win the billion dollar lottery, ho ho ho. (Plan C is "move back to my parent's house and try to connive my way into a Master's program somewhere despite not having a Bachelor's"; I don't know how much more likely that is than plan A.)

 

January 1st, 2016

(no subject) @ 07:20 am

The theme for 2015 seemed to be: change and loss and stagnation, but with some minor resolution. My peaks and troughs weren't nearly as pronounced as for others I know; the highlight of my year was probably "my shoulder stopped hurting now that I'm back on gout meds" and the nadir "tons of friends including my former quasi-minion got laid off without warning". Not exactly earth-shattering.

What seems to be in store for 2016? Change seems to want to rear its head, although I don't know what form it will take. Job, location, and other things are remarkably cloudy. Maybe this year I'll finally see a shrink and get back on meds (like I've been meaning to for the past four-five years), or go to the Hieronymous Bosch exhibition like I'd been threatening.
 

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