Wednesday June 2nd

The last time

As I was rewinding today

  • I was wrapping up today, after having a one-hour meeting for a long-term project I’ve been a part of with some friends. I thought to myself that I couldn’t remember the last time I had felt this happy. It’s a mix of an environment where I want to work hard, feel positive about the things I am working on, and feel supported.
  • I started today with my MSR mentors, and we pair-programmed, and one of the most amazing things was that after all of it, one of my mentors said “Great job!”. That surprised me. For years it’s felt like there was always a shadow over me of someone judging me, telling me that I started too late or am never going to be good enough, that I could be holding the space for someone else who deserves it more than I do. And it had this weird effect. It made me feel humbled that someone believed that I deserved to be there. People say “you deserve it”, all the time, but it never feels that way. They believed in me. I think very highly of both my mentors at MSR.
  • We’re starting to think about the differences between designing out and building out a non-distributed versus a distributed pipeline for the models, and I’m learning a lot. And they’re both so humble and supportive.
  • At work, I am excited about my project. The people I’ve met on the team are awesome, and I see so much of myself in my mentor, and that’s so encouraging. Our manager described her as a “trailblazer”, and I think it’s awesome to even imagine that I could ever be like that one day. And everyone is super humble. They really give a LOT to their interns; I’ve just gotten the sense that they really do care, and there is a lot about the culture that is super compatible for me.
  • I can’t go into specifics about my actual work, so you won’t hear about that here. But I felt very joyful thinking about the fact that years ago, I was sitting filling out invoices at another job, as someone who was “fast” on the computer, so they put me to do that, and I was better at arithmetic and technical, and could handle dealing with customer troubleshooting (it was one of those places where you did a bit of everything, and sometimes people would not show up, so you learned. Sometimes the internet would also go down, and we figured out pretty quickly how to check and reset the router, too). And that led to lots of dead time just fiddling around with the computer, and strangely, here I was, in my first week interning at the company that invented that OS I would dig around on, to pass the time. Life is strange. It feels a bit surreal, and so magical. All those years of reading the biographies, and the books, and suddenly, I was a part of it, too. It’s pretty wild. And everyone so far is just as you’d imagine them to be.
  • I have to mention that that job knew that it was a matter of time, that I’d outgrown what they could offer me (both financially and skill-wise), so they did a LOT to ensure that I could be covered to attend classes at night (ie leave a bit early to get there on time), and even take a day off or two to attend a conference. Everything is a tradeoff.
  • I watched a bit of Gabe’s stream on Twitch, also, and he was using their OS, and it made me chuckle. So many of us learned to fiddle around and programme on that stuff. I used to do the IEEE Design News webinars on them at an old job, and learned a tiny bit from there, and then I started installing Wireshark, and Lisp, and Haskell, and C++, and Smalltalk and Prolog. I even did a bit of my homework on there (at my old job), and one time I was doing a Project Euler’s problem to find prime numbers while doing my day job (because I would do a handful of puzzles each day so I wouldn’t die of boredom at my job) and I didn’t know that making forloops for all the primes was not the optimal solution (I read about but didn’t know how to implement, at the time, this solution), so I ended up having to check the numbers in batches to get my solution. Those were some pretty crazy times, but I was pretty determined.
  • And then I saved enough to get a $200 laptop, and would take workshops at my hackerspace, when I wasn’t doing night classes. So I guess again, there are so many memories that come flooding back when I think about this OS, and my start, and it feels really weird to be here right now, for summer (even though it’s virtual). I probably couldn’t contain myself if it were on the company’s campus lol.
  • I wiped out during my lunch break today, and woke up about 15 mimutes before getting back to work (just enough time to make a pot of tea).

And then

  • I got word that I was accepted to GREPSEC, which I heard about through another PhD student, on a listserve I’m on.
  • I am SO stoked, as it is not just an awesome workshop, and an opportunity to meet like-minded peers, but it’s just before USENIX 2021, and as part of the workshop, they give us a ticket to attend, so I’m dancing at this point, feeling doubly lucky.
  • I stumbled upon the movie, Chef, which is another movie I swore I wasn’t really interested in, but found I’ve loved it. It’s all about taking chances and doing what you love, and having it pay off. The whole film is about a rollercoaster of emotions, your work being tied to your passion, and what it means to be free to pursue that, and find fulfillment. It resonated with me so much, especially the cross-country trip through parts of the US, and the relationship between father and son. I loved the imperfections of the characters; so much of it is about picking yourself up from a path from which you might feel roadblocked, and having the courage to succeed in spite of it, because what your heart desires wants to much more of you.

A bit more

  • I guess, if someone had told me that I’d be doing a lot of this stuff now, I wouldn’t believe them. I feel like this whole world opened up; one that I could have never imagined. And it’s super (as my German friends like to say). I can’t say I can imagine or wish for anything more right now, except to dig in and make a small toy example of a zkproof, which I’m working on over the weekend.
  • I think back to a conversation someone had with me, when I finally admitted that I was super interested in computers, long after I had bought a couple Python books and was playing around with it (which my dad subsequently took from me because we borrow each other’s books all the time), long after I had installed Elixir at work and cursed at trying to get Chocolatey to work (I think that was when I was trying to play around with Dart. You can ask me about that time I went to the GDG Silicon Valley event at the Crit campus, and for the life of me couldn’t get Android Studio to work on my machine; that’s another reason why I guess I gave up early on becoming an iOS or Android developer early on. I couldn’t get the tooling to work on my lowgrade machine, but I could get things like GHC to run, or even Kali to run via USB on a 32 bit machine), long after I had been attending classes and had broken up with a friend over the fact that we were no longer interested in the same things, and couldn’t meet in the middle about it. That person told me, upon my speaking up after years, finding the courage to form the words, that “it’s hard”. A lot of those moments are deluged with an enormous feeling of heartbreak, resigning myself to the fact that I’d have to do it anyways, and not wait for their approval, and that it might be a lonely path. A lot of those moments feel so far away now.
  • And I’m glad that I keep going, and that I still find it enjoyable. It’s been a long journey. This week has felt like it’s been so worth it.

And that’s it.

Written on June 2, 2021