Thursday July 15th

Puzzle, Gifts, RLOS week 9 and PETS

This week was fantastic

  • It’s week 9 of RLOS, and things are moving along, although I am tired. Even my intern manager said that they saw when I was up really late, and someone joked that I need to look like I’m logged off if I’m working late. It’s totally a joke though; my team has really awesome and decent hours, and during the holiday or weekend, no one is on, which is nice; great work-life balance and super competent.
  • As for me, though; I tend to put in a lot of hours. But, I’ve just been trying to do the best I can with my time and energy. This is honestly the first team I’ve been on where it has been actively acknowledged, though. I’ve felt like my entire life, I’ve put in long hours, and it was expected, or even taken for granted that everyone should do that. I remember years ago, a relative told me when I graduated undergrad that I would have to learn how to not be working these long hours anymore. Well that never happened. I took classes and worked freelance gigs while working full-time the entire time. I have never known or understood what it is like to work just one job; I would have to pick up a hobby, take a class or start a side gig with the extra time outside of that full-time job. Fortunately, my work ethic has ended up working to my advantage; when I needed help crossing the border to get a new stamp in my visa in San Diego, it was someone from a freelance gig who helped me, and if it weren’t for taking classes, I wouldn’t have acquired all these skills that led me to my current path.


  • Anyways, this week I attended my first PETS, and got to be on a Happy Hour panel / AMA and made a few friends! It was a bit slow at the beginning in my panel, so I made an announcement that it was my first PETS and I’d be happy to chat with anyone for whom this was the same, and soon there was quite a comfortable group of us, and I made a bunch of friends. That was so unexpected!
  • There were so many people there just like me, and everyone was interesting and fun, and smart, and kind. We stood around talking about lockpicking, languages, what we were interested in, and it was wonderful. It made me smile.
  • I was also able to make quite a lot of the talks, but I didn’t end up doing the virtual escape room (although I’ve done that before!). I’m excited also for the PETS at PETS part, where people will be showing their virtual pets! :) Awesome!
  • The people there were all wonderful, and it was quite unexpected to be attending my first PETS, and to have met so many people! I made so many new friends!


  • I also found out, unexpectedly, through PETS, that there is someone with my family name who has worked in the field at some very well-known and prestigious organizations known for that kind of work. We ended up connecting through another contact at PETS I was introduced to during an AMA. It’s almost like the universe was telling me that I should go ahead, and keep going. And that felt wonderful. Even my Cryptography professor said “wow!” when they heard the story about the person I had met with my last name. It never happens! I’ve only ever met such people in Europe (there’s a library with my last name!).
  • I also ended up hanging out with two of my professors at their place, and I got to meet their very cool dog, and just had a wonderful time. I left feeling grateful, like they were my guardian angels. Coincidentally, when I was looking for their place, I wasn’t sure, and saw one of them pull out from a garage. So maybe they are my PhD guardians, after all.
  • What’s silly is that I’ve been hearing a lot of Computer Science people talk about “Maths being hard”. First of all, “Maths” is a large, broad field. What are you even saying when you say “it’s” hard? Its just reminds me of some those dirtbag camera dudes in film who would say that because they didn’t want you to consider what they knew could be a competitive field, so they would try to get you to think it’s hard, doubt your ability, and not even try it. And that’s really slimy and gross.
  • The last person I heard saying that was a professor at my school who I later found out wasn’t even a pure Mathematician; they did Applied Maths. So I dropped that class like a hot potato; it wasn’t worth putting up with that energy for an entire semester lol.
  • It’s people who aren’t even experts in the thing blocking access to information. Now what is that all about? Many of my friends aren’t like this. If you bring up some interesting Lemma or something like that, they’ll light up and gladly tell you about it, recommend three books, and draw a bunch of diagrams on a blackboard. And they’ll be excited to have someone else to talk to, to share their thoughts on these topics.
  • I think if you’ve taken even upper level classes in high school Maths you begin to understand the breadth of the field. So way to paint a field with a broad brush lol. I think that that attitude really is just silly gatekeeping. I have a lot of (pure) mathematician friends, and as two recently said “you i.e. anyone can learn it, just as every other mathematican has.” I’m not quite sure what it is about Mathematics in particular that some Computer Science people seem to get off on, but the gatekeeping is a bit weird and gross. I’m beginning to think it’s insecurity, in the same way those camera bros would try to get you to not even try to shoot because for them it meant less competition. I think back to those times and realize now that it’s not that any of those people were any brighter or more talented, but they were super pushy and aggressive about it, and some would go out of their way to diminish and demoralize you so you’d quit. In fact, some of them weren’t that bright at all. I tend to stay away from toxic people with those views that actively discourage people for no reason, in any case. I think if someone is interested, give them the tools. If they decide it’s not for them or they want to do something else, then that’s fine, too. Perhaps they’ll take something from that field into the space they’re going. And that’s really cool.
  • I’ve also been taking part in this workshop (we’re on week 2 now), and it’s been awesome. A lot of my peers are based in Europe, but I’ve been waking up at 4am to attend some of the lectures. I also found out that my guardian angel professor ended up recommending me for another workshop related to the topic, which I was surprised and so grateful for when they mentioned it. And it looks like the direction I’m going to go for the rest of my PhD, too.


  • I took part in a Puzzle Hunt this past weekend. It was pretty awesome! Most of our team ended up not showing up, but myself and another person ended up knocking out many of the puzzles on Saturday and Sunday. I enjoyed it so much I signed up for another one this weekend!
  • I also signed up for a CTF, too, in two weeks from now :). Now I have to work at a place with a puzzlehunt culture! The list of requirements is growing :)

I won a gift!

  • I saw this book in my mailbox, and there was a scratch card where, if you saw a QR code, it meant you won a prize!
  • And so I did; a pair of headphones! Thank you so much!!!

I won headphones

Also this book came in the Mail. Thank you so much!

Panel at PETS

Hanging out before the rush :) I made a friend with the person in the booth next to mine!

Being yourself

  • One of my very near and dear friends discovered more about themselves, and I felt happy for them. I grew up around a lot of theatre kids, and for many of those kids, theatre was a refuge. They were teased outside of that space, bullied, harassed, and being in theatre meant being in a space for geeks and outcasts. And for some of us, we never found contentment, and it was too bad. I remember in undergrad hearing of a friend who took his life, tired of pretending. He couldn’t go on. It was heartbreaking. Teased and harrassed and not quite fitting in, and deciding it wasn’t worth it. We remember and cherish him. A particular friend of mine celebrates his life every single year, and we all talk about how he lit up spaces he was in, and how much he meant to us. He was colourful and special. I heard he showed up to prom in an olive-green tuxedo, which makes me smile. He was just himself, and that’s how we loved him. But not all places or spaces make people comfortable being themselves. Keeping secrets for years is an emotional burden.
  • It’s interesting that in undergrad, I was the outcast among the theatre kids, in the same way that I find it odd when techies treat others like outcasts; for many of us, these spaces and hobbies were things that bound us together, even as outcasts.
  • And so, I’m sensitive to groups and outcasts, or loners, because I’ve felt that for years and years, even growing up. And years later, I’ve had many of my friends tell me in private that they’re thankful that I didn’t treat them as an outcast. There’s a peace and happiness in being able to be yourself, a contentment in being who you are.


  • I was thinking this week that I’ve been super comfortable during quarantine; one of my friends said I was the hardest to motivate to come out of my place to socialize. And I thought back about when I was in Los Angeles, and why sailing felt so natural to me; it is a very solitary endeavour. You have to be comfortable with solitude, or your own thoughts. In the mornings before work, I would read books, and use my highlighters; at the time, I was reading books on electronics and learning the resistor codes, or about buildings and craftsmanship (I still love construction shows). So in many ways, I’ve been an academic for a long time, even reading and self-studying while working full-time. Even while working, it wasnt enough, and I felt myself going back to school and taking night classes, and ordering hundreds and hundreds of books. My parents would still buy us books every Holiday season. Being an academic, although there is collaboration, involves a lot of solitude and reflection. I’ve been alone, but I’ve never felt lonely. I feel happy with who I am by myself, and for those I love, we can sit in silence and enjoy each other’s company. I’ve felt like I’ve gotten to do so much during quarantine; I wrote a language, met a bunch of people, drew and painted, and have continued to engage in self-study. It has made me contemplate what I want for my future, based on who I am. But who really knows?
  • Like a new sailing expedition, the journey is out there. I can’t wait.

Anyways, I guess that’s it

Written on July 15, 2021