Monday, April 19, 2021

Chatting unusual career transitions on the Educative podcast

A good friend of mine, Lee Ngo, hosts the Educative podcast, which is a great source of inspiration for people starting or growing their careers in software development.

He recently invited me on to chat about my unusual career path.

Here's a (very) brief summary of my journey:

I fell in love with computer programming in college. But, after working at a large corporation for a number of years, I found that I'd lost my passion and questioned whether it was really what I wanted to be doing.

I ended up leaving the company and joining a venture capital firm, where I focused on working with portfolio companies on recruiting and HR instead of software development.

Eventually, I realized that, yes, I did, in fact, love software development and made another career shift back into it.

Here's the conversation (~15 minutes):

Friday, March 26, 2021

That time I farted in front of a girl I liked 😳

Trust me, when I say there can be too much of a good thing

I. Love. Korean food.

There’s something about fat-marbled meat, coated in a sweet, savory sauce that drives my consumptive instincts wild. Plus, I love variety, so the the accompanying banchan (those half-dozen side dishes, each a gem in its own right) drives me crazy.

I learned the joys of Korean food in college, where I had a Korean roommate and a number of other friends who were already in the know. It was love at first taste.

So, the first time I asked a girl out on a date, what better way to impress her than to take her to a Korean restaurant?

It was brilliant (in the American sense). And the girl said yes, so it was doubly brilliant (in the British sense).

As we settled in at the restaurant, the waiters laid out a cornucopia of visually stimulating side dishes. We were soon taking turns grilling beautiful meat after beautiful meat on the grill built right into the table. It was smiles and delight all around.

So, as you can imagine, I was quite pleased with myself as we left the restaurant. I proud to have shown off this culinary treasure and, to my luck, my date was a light eater, so my belly was extra full.

That sense of satisfaction trailed me the whole way home, from the door of the restaurant to the parking in front of her apartment, where I'd planned on dropping her off.

And then, I felt it.

A rumble, emanating from deep within my bowels.

Uh oh…”, I thought.

We sat there in the car chatting for a minute or two, recapping what fun we'd had, before she invited me to have some tea before heading home.

I could already feel pressure swelling in my lower abdomen. I knew we were in the danger zone.

But she was insistent and she was pretty and I was enjoying the conversation and.. fuck it, it'll be fine.

So, we hopped out of the car and started walking.

Not 10 steps in, I stopped in my tracks.

Damn you, Korean food! Why are you so delicious?!

She turned, with a confused look on her face.

I didn’t know what to say or do.

You go ahead. I need to fart.

Yeah. That was all I could think of.

It was one of those moments where we recognize what’s to come and there's nothing left to do but capitulate to the inevitable.


Oh shit... Did she not hear me? Or were the words so unexpected that her brain failed to process them?

Then, like an overzealous actor, unwilling to wait for his cue, the Korean food made its encore.

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr r r r r r   r t...

There was a moment of silence as we stared at one another.

Okay, I’m good now.

She didn’t say another word until we got to her apartment.

I’ll never know if she didn’t hear it, felt too awkward to ask about it, or was just totally indifferent to it.

But, she never mentioned it again.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Lyrics: This Song (Federico Aubele)

One of my favorite songs is This Song, by Federico Aubele.

The lyrics are captivating and simultaneously evoke a bit of warmth and longing. I couldn't find them documented anywhere, so I went ahead and did it myself. I feel like they're worth sharing.

If you haven't heard it, here's the song on YouTube.


This Song, by Federico Aubele

I open my eyes and walk in my dream
Through empty streets that once belonged to you and me
Looking for your face in the fallen leaves
Like a blind man picturing the sea

So I wrote a song, this song, to get me through the night
It keeps me warm now that I'm alone
So I wrote a song, this song, to get me through the night
It's written on the pieces of my memories of you

Saw an old man with my face walking down
This lonely road that stretches out for miles
He said I'm drowning in the sands
Of the times when I had a home in your green eyes

So I wrote a song, this song, to get me through the night
It keeps me warm now that I'm alone
So I wrote a song, this song, to get me through the night
Written on the pieces of my memories of you

Thursday, February 11, 2021

My lonely summer

Summer in Seattle is the kind of thing that convinces you to move to the city.

Warm temperatures, mild humidity, and long days where you marvel at pink and orange sunsets, 9:30 at night.

It was 2014 and I was just starting to think about romantic relationships, several months after having finally left a very painful, very broken relationship that lasted 7 years.

I’d always struggled with the idea of relationships. In fact, that’s probably why I ended up in such a bad one and probably why I stayed in it for so long.

The idea of asking someone out terrified me. What if they said no? Or, worse, what if they said yes?

So, that summer, I sat in my apartment, dreaming about how I’d work up the courage to ask people out. I sat in the apartment that I’d found and chosen on my own. The apartment I’d furnished and decorated on my own. I sat in that empty apartment, alone, and dreamed.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

The Bliss of Uncertainty

It’s funny, how we attempt to escape loneliness, only to find ourself deeper into it.

When I was 11, my family moved to California. We moved right in the middle of 5th grade and while the kids in my new class were mostly kind, I was shy and they already had established relationships. So, by the time summer came around, I was on my own.

Without friends, summer was pretty much nothing but chores. So, you can imagine my excitement when it was time to head back to school in the fall.

I fantasized about the friends I’d make. I dreamed about how I’d be popular and loved.

The problem with fantasies, of course, is that they focus on an end state. They miss everything it takes to reach that end state.

And, as rationality would predict, there was no roaring crowd of admirers waiting for me in my new class.

What was a shy kid with a deep craving for kinship to do?

Make ‘em laugh!

I was pretty quiet at first, but slowly began testing the waters. I’d work up the courage to make a smart-ass remark in class and, to my delight, I was rewarded with laughter.

In time, I started integrating physicality. I’d fall out of my chair, dumbfounded as to how it happened. Then, I’d turn red at the giggles it produced, all while secretly reveling in the attention.

Meanwhile, I wasn’t making friends. For some reason, my antics didn’t result in people asking me to hang out with them.

And, so it went. For weeks. Then months. And then, a year.

Then, one day, something changed.

The sun-baked asphalt of the school grounds was hot, so our gym teacher shuffled us into the school’s large gymnasium to play indoor soccer.

Inside, we filed into the bleachers overlooking the gymnasium floor. About 10 of us at a time rotated in and out of play under the direction of the teacher, who sat on the stage across from us.

When it was my turn to play, I trotted out into the middle of the gymnasium floor.

Within seconds, someone in the bleachers started chanting.

“Hakon sucks. Hakon sucks.”

Slowly, but surely, others began joining in. The voices swelled.

“Hakon sucks, Hakon sucks, Hakon sucks…”

In no time, every single one of my classmates, the people who’s affection I so desperately wanted, joined in until any lingering delusions I might have about the possibility of being liked were stripped away.

I stood there, absorbing it all, completely and utterly ashamed of myself and everything about me.

And, even though it hurt, I never reacted. I never even looked up.

I held my feelings inside for the rest of the day, not capable of handling any more emotion and not having anyone I felt safe talking with, anyways.

That night, in a little 3x3 shower, where tears are indistinguishable from running water, I let truth sink in. I felt my aloneness and I felt the disgust with which people saw me. I felt the craving to be liked and the recognition that I never would be. There, slumped into the corner, I felt the shame of being refuse nobody wanted and cried. 

Monday, January 18, 2021

The perfect plan, or, how to make friends in 5th grade

It was 1994.

My family had just moved to California and I was joining my 5th grade classroom halfway through the school year.

So, there I was, timidly trying to fit into the class of about 25 other kids who'd known each other for at least half a year.

But, it was an uphill battle.

I was scrawny. I was shy. I wasn't particularly good looking and I didn't have any sweet skills.

But you know what I did have?

A plan.

A plan that would make me cool. And that would make everyone want to be my friend.

The plan was simple.

I was going to bring football cards to school.

Never mind that I'd never held a football in my life, let alone watched an episode on TV.

That didn't matter.

Football's cool, and so are sports cards.

All I had to do was get the other kids see me with the cards and I'd be minting friends.

So, the day came.

There I stood, waiting in the long, long lunch line, beside my classmates. We hugged the shade as the California sun warmed the sidewalk beneath us.

Slowly, nonchalantly, I pulled the football cards out of my pocket and began casually shuffling through them.

I'll never forget the words I heard next.

"Hey, you got those from underwears, right?"

Wait... what?

How did he know?!

It must've been the "Fruit of the Loom" prominently stamped on the front of each card.

My thoughts raced.

Was this a moment of solidarity? Did his parents buy him the same underwear, complete with bonus football cards?

Was this a moment of embarrassment? I mean... underwear!


And just as casually as they came out, the cards found their way back into my pocket. Out of sight, and out of mind, alongside the garments they came packaged with.