16 October 2021 19:28
In my professional life, I make websites performant and reliable. It's in the job title -- Site Reliability Engineer. I do this using Content Delivery Networks, load balancers, stateless infrastructure, layers of caching, and container orchestration technology. I could think of a few other buzzwords to throw in there, and it probably sounds real impressive to a lay person.
Of course, all that is managed. I abstract myself from managing all of that stuff with just a few text files. Of course, it took significant professional experience to know what I'm doing with those text files, and to be able to arrange these components into a stable infrastructure. And I derive great satisfaction from being able to help create something awesome. And I'm pretty good at what I do, according to my boss and our uptime graphs. I'm not at liberty to share such data so broadly, but I can illustrate this roughly in a graph...
So naturally, since my day to day is spent in the public cloud, using all these wonderful things that have enabled small-time companies with limited upfront budgets to build ultra-reliable, globally distributed websites and services with just a few text files, my personal infrastructure should be built the same way, right? I should be using the trendiest web frameworks, JAM stack, serverless, Cloudflare, all managed using the latest Hashicorp offerings.
I suppose this is my way of maintaining work-life balance, while still exercising some of my skills that I use in a professional setting. I find it relaxing to shift paradigms. I love my job and my work, but I can't really decompress if I just go from writing YAML files at work to writing YAML files at home.
Likewise, I'm never going to roll into work one morning and say "hey y'all, let's ditch this microservices thing and write a bunch of Perl CGI scripts!"
...I just thought of a really funny April Fools prank.
Tags: meta, sre, tech, work
24 October 2021 09:09
I'm a creative person. Sometimes I feel like an artist who hasn't found his medium, so I use everything I do as a creative outlet. The way I talk to my friends, how I accomplish things at work, writing a blog that nobody reads but Chinese robots looking for outdated Wordpress installations to hack.
(Sorry, all static. But here's something for you.)
So today I want to express gratitude for the people in my life who embrace my quirks. My husband most of all, who married me in our apartment full of hobbies and diversions, in an 80s/90s themed ceremony officiated by my brother, who was ordained to do so by me.
But also, my family and friends, my boss, coworkers, the lady at the Build-A-Bear that one time who told me about the pizza scent, all the cool people I surround myself with who embrace my creative expression. Thank you for your critiques, reactions, and genuine, thoughtful compliments. Anything but a dismissive nod and smile is a blessing to me.
Tags: gratitude, personal, relationships, work
3 June 2022 08:54
I've done very well for myself in my career. I have few regrets about the path I chose in life. With no college degree, and only a barely passable high school education (thanks, bullies), I make a competitive and comfortable salary, working for a good boss and employer, doing challenging and satisfying work. It's a good spot.
"Hey, maybe now would be a good time to become a full-time student," I said to myself.
I do occasionally find situations where not having a formal education seems to have stunted me. MBAs and business professionals seem to speak a strange, unfamiliar dialect of common English that is beyond me. Marketing lingo is particularly confounding. Presentations from senior leadership, ocassionally, seem downright otherworldly. I know there is meaning to all these words, but I lack the education to truly understand them.
I'm very good at my job, I know from the feedback that I receive from my peers and supervisor. I'm also an effective communicator with my team and those in adjacent teams. Business communication is where I'm lacking. For instance, explaining "DevOps" to a senior executive in a way that makes them want to invest in it more. (My current answer: I build things that help software developers do better work, faster.)
So I've started a four-year degree program, BA in Business Administration. I'll consider the Master's after I get done with the Bachelor's, depending on how much I like (or hate) it. Beyond the business communication skills, I don't have a ton of expectations for what to get out of the program. I just hope to gain some knowledge (and a credential) that will come in handy one day.
Thanks to a particularly generous tuition assistance program with my employer, this program comes at no cost to me. It's offered through University of Arizona Global Campus, a quasi-for-profit online university. If you search around, you can find a lot of negative press about UAGC. However, I've talked to a number of higher education professionals at non-profit state universities, and they all seem to agree that this is a good opportunity for me.
UAGC even gave me a fancy schmancy student ID to print off and go laminate at the Office Depot. How about that?
Tags: career, education, self improvement, work
16 August 2022 10:53
I'm no stranger to work-related dreams. I've always taken great ownership and pride in my work, which can, at times, foster stress and anxiety. My brain sloppily attempts to reconcile these feelings using metaphors and surreal narratives. Sometimes a dream can bring clarity and fresh perspective to what I've been feeling. Other times, I have no idea what I was trying to tell myself, and I am only left with further questions.
I was on a video conference with several coworkers. I don't remember if the coworkers in my dream were specific coworkers, or just vague entities that I identified as such. Perhaps my faceblindness extends into my dream world. I also don't remember the topic of conversation. However, I do remember that we were all based out of the same city, and we all seemed to live in historic buildings like mine (neither of which are true in real life).
A storm began to roll into town, observable by the darkening of each participant's background in succession. As the rain and thunder covered the city, its progression was seen in the grouping of meeting participants at the bottom of the screen. The storm finally came to me, the rain trickling against our own windows as the wind lightly rattled the trees outside.
The lightning and wind picked up, battering one particpant's historic windows, then the next, and the next, further darkening each particpant's video stream until reaching my own backdrop. THe rain was thick and heavy, the wind smashing it right into the windows. Our panes have been known to leak a bit, so I began checking for leaks and considering some mitigating actions against the ingress of water. My eye was drawn back to the screen.
The winds became quite extreme for the first participant in the stack, shaking his windows violently until suddenly flinging them open. My coworker was lifted from his chair and pulled out the open window. He caught the window pane and held on for dear life, his feet dangling up towards the sky as the winds visciously circulated his belongings about him.
Then I woke up. Happy Monday!
The above image was generated using OpenAI DALL-E. I guess Stupid AI is actually pretty good for generating images of my dreams.
Tags: dream journal, personal, work