Since moving to Portland four years ago, my family has favored celebrating the Christmas holiday season in Hawaii. It’s a relatively short flight from here, and it helps combat the “SAD-ness” that can creep in as the winter solstice approaches. This year we spent a week on Hawaii’s Big Island, enjoying some valuable rest & relaxation.
While we enjoyed two commercial tours, our family especially enjoyed driving tours narrated by the GyPSy Guide. As the mixed-case spelling implies, the guide is a suite of mobile apps (i.e., iOS & Android) that offer audio driving tours supplemented by location. While many travel apps offer suggestions about where to go, these apps offer insight about where you are. The apps are inexpensive, work offline, and offer excellent commentary about culture, geography & history. At the time of this writing, they are presented in English, and favor North American destinations.
This year we took advantage of the Big Island, Hawaii app. On a previous vacation, we relied on the GyPSy Guide to navigate the Road to Hana (Maui). We’ve also used the GyPSy Guide on a trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.
If you have a road trip in your future, the GyPSy Guide is worth a look.
As my career has progressed, I’ve begun to shift my focus from developing my own technical skills to amplifying the efforts of others. As a senior engineer, this tends to include things like mentoring peers, implementing or improving processes, and structuring project work for team efficacy.
I also devote a bit of effort to cultivating positive peer relationships and managing my time effectively. This month I read an article that has led me to reflect upon that further. In her article for The New York Times, Elizabeth Grace Saunders posits that individual “attachment styles” influence our workplace behavior. These styles may differ between personal & professional contexts, but can include the following:
- Anxious Preoccupied Attachment
- Dismissive Avoidant Attachment
- Fearful Avoidant Attachment
- Secure Attachment
After reflecting on the article, I recognized my current attachment style, and acknowledged that I have some work to do to evolve to a more secure attachment style. This will be a point of emphasis for me in the new year.
I have been a fan of the Portland Timbers, the local Major League Soccer team, since my family moved to Portland in 2014. I have remained on the waiting list for season tickets for that same period.
When the Timbers announced plans to add 4,000 seats to Providence Park, I was hopeful that we would either move up on the list or have a chance to acquire seats. In September we were notified that our wait was over – we were offered an opportunity to purchase an Annual Membership for the 2019 season! Ultimately we acquired two seats in the East Terrace, part of the expanded east side.
Because stadium construction is still underway, the Timbers will not play at home next season until they host Los Angeles FC on June 1. When coupled with changes to the MLS playoff format, 17 home games will be played in a 128-day period (i.e., about one home game each week). That’s quite a bit of soccer to watch next summer!
I tell everyone how fortunate I feel to live in “beautiful, rainy, extremely beautiful” Portland, Oregon. I love that it’s bicycle-friendly, affordable (comparatively), supported by mass transit, and replete with world-class options for food & drink. Those attributes are straightforward to appreciate; it’s more challenging to appreciate intangibles – like charm.
Events like Match Cut Movie Club contribute to Portland’s charm. It’s an ad hoc gathering for cinema lovers. Approximately once each quarter, the group meets to watch a secret movie – the title is withheld until screening time.
The website chronicles past screenings. You may recognize some from The Criterion Collection; others, perhaps not. In general, these are worthy additions to your Netflix queue. To date, I’ve attended screenings of the following:
I’m excited to see tonight’s Halloween-themed screening. If you have the chance, check it out some time.
On a recent car trip, I listened to an interview featuring author Daniel H. Wilson, who like me, is an Oklahoman living in Portland. The interview inspired me to read his most recent novel, A Clockwork Dynasty.
The book describes a centuries-long war waged between ancient automatons. Living & fighting across the globe, they influence the course of human civilization.
Chapters alternate between past & present. In the past, the story is propelled by Peter, an automaton seeking to fulfill his purpose. Present-day narration focuses on June, an anthropologist that discovers these automatons & enables Peter to achieve that purpose.
In addition to the pacing of Clockwork, I enjoyed its vivid descriptions of far-flung locales, including: Russia, China, Northern Europe, India, and the Pacific Northwest.
If you’re intrigued by the notion of robots as artifacts of the past rather than the future, then A Clockwork Dynasty is worth your time.
Recently I had the chance to read Creative Selection from former Apple engineer Ken Kocienda.
The book chronicles the author’s career at Apple, including roles on projects like the Safari web browser, the iPhone, and the iPad. It offers numerous anecdotes about working under Steve Jobs, and sheds light on Scott Forstall’s contributions to the success of iPhone.
The book’s title is the name Kocienda ascribes to Apple’s software development approach. Influenced by “natural selection”, it emphasizes iterations of development, internal demonstrations & feedback. Kocienda contends that this approach is responsible for Apple’s unprecedented success.
As described, creative selection favors extended development cycles and reduced deployment frequency. This differs a bit from other modern software delivery models like DevOps, which favor the opposite (i.e., shorter development cycles, high frequency deployments). The use of subjective demonstrations and feedback also differs from cultures of experimentation that leverage methods like A/B testing.
While evidence suggests that creative selection exists at Apple, we need only look to the release cadence of the Swift programming language to see that other software delivery models are successfully applied by the company.
Creative Selection is a must-read for anyone keen to learn more about Apple’s history or its culture.
Recently I participated in WACANID, an annual bicycle tour that traverses the International Selkirk Loop. I joined approximately 140 riders riding 370 miles in six days.
WACANID is organized by Rotary Clubs of the Selkirk Loop. Organizers provide a marked route, furnished rest stops, and transported luggage from point-to-point. Lodging options included the option to either stay in a hotel or to camp.
I enjoyed the chance to cross the northern border of the United States (twice), as well as the opportunity to spend four nights in Canada. The route itself was punctuated with both challenging climbs and scenic views. For the majority of the week, we followed low-traffic roads adjacent to a body of water (e.g., Lake Pend Oreille, Columbia River, Kootenay Lake).
- Sandpoint, ID to Colville, WA
- Colville, WA to Rossland, BC
- Rossland, BC to Nelson, BC
- Rest Day in Nelson
- Both Nelson, BC to Balfour, BC & Kootenay Bay, BC to Creston, BC, joined by ferry
- Creston, BC to Sandpoint, ID
370 miles over five days is no small feat. I felt adequately prepared with over 1,000 miles of training in the eleven weeks leading up to the event. I don’t think the ride would have been as enjoyable if it hadn’t been for that preparation.
Perhaps more importantly, I found it validating to successfully complete such a challenging ride after training extensively last year to ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, only to miss out due to a crash one week prior. It’s been a long recovery, but I have renewed confidence on the bike, and my form is coming back around.
Now it’s time to find another adventure.