State of the Nerd


What have I been up to since Bald Head Island?

Travel:

The weekend after Bald Head Island, I took the family to Hanging Rock State Park. The trip was a mixed bag. I think it was too soon after Bald Head Island, and we weren’t ready to have that much adventure again quite so soon. The rustic cabin accommodations within the park were deemed by the family to be a bit too rustic, and we actually cut the trip a little short. The park was also having some problems with aggressive hornets all around the camping area while we were there. My great adventure was sitting in a rocking chair, smoking my pipe and finishing a good book. We’d like to go back, but will probably find lodging outside of the park. Yes, we like our adventures to have some creature comforts at the end of the day. No apologies for that.

TV:

Now that one of my favorite series, Hannibal, has run its full course, I’m kind of bummed out. I felt like this was some of the most engaging television that I’d seen in years, but ultimately ended up losing because the viewers didn’t have the attention span for its complex storyline. The final season wrapped up with a retelling of the Red Dragon storyline, so I followed up by rewatching Manhunter (the original theatrical telling of this story) as well as Red Dragon (the retelling with Anthony Hopkins in the Hannibal Lecter role). While I loved them all, to be honest, this is one rare example of TV doing a much better job than cinema. I’ve added the original Hannibal Lecter novels to my reading list.

I also binge watched Stargate Universe. I liked it when it first came out. But I liked it even more in binge form. I think the pacing of it at first air was too slow. Between mid-season breaks, breaks between seasons, and the multiple schedule changes the show had suffered quite a lot. And us fans suffered with it. Watching it all in one go pretty much killed my weekend, but it revealed a bit of television brilliance that we don’t often get to see. I’m sad that it’s gone, and that it’s not likely to continue in any form.

Books: 

Neil Gaiman has been on my to-read list for years. It’s a big list, so it took awhile for me to get there. I recently finished his anthology of short stories, Trigger Warning. These stories tended to be just a little dark, half twisted, and definitely fun. Several of these stories would make fantastic films. I’ll make sure to get more of his work onto my plate. This was enjoyable.

I’ve also finished reading Sparks of Genius. This is yet another book that is scratching the itch that I have to understand the neuroscience behind creativity, especially the mechanisms by which exceptional creativity might be enhanced and harnessed. I’ve had some frustrations over the years with the limitations of my career as an engineer vs. the latent creative potential that might be better realized in some other way. Anyway, this was a really good read. I suspect I’ll be coming back to this as a reference for my own personal kaizen.

I’ve also been reading a very new book about autism, Neurotribes. I’m guessing I’m about 25% of the way through it and I’m finding this to not only be incredibly informative, which I had expected, but also emotionally taxing. So much of what we think we know about autism is wrong, and the rest is only a modern rediscovery of what was known during WW2, but lost in the fog of war and anti-German sentiment following the war. I actually put it down for a couple of days before going back into it.

I’ll be working on Neurotribes for awhile; it’s a big book and I’m going through it at an easy pace. I have a huge to-read list and I’m not quite sure what’s going to be next. Who knows, maybe it’s time to go back to writing.

Speaking of writing, I have enough concepts stored up to keep me busy for years of writing full-time, and that’s if I come up with nothing new before I’m done. But I’m not a full-time writer, and I’m finding it hard to get into writing while also nurturing a day job in the software industry, and also being a father/husband. I’ve been pulling back from some other creative time sinks, like photography, in the hopes of finding a new routine that is more supportive of writing regularly.

Pets: 

I now own a “butterball” ball python. Her name is Pandora. She’s about two feet long right now, and I’m not sure how old she is. I’ve been wanting a python of my own for a very long time, though, and I figure that given how long they tend to live and how old I’m getting, I’d better get one now. If I’d waited much longer, I’d surely have to have considerations in my will.

pandora

Computers:

My electricity bill was getting crazy. I’ve shut down most of the homelab for now. I’ve not been spending enough time with it for it to be worth the costs. The shutdown was delayed for awhile because I didn’t want to shutdown by Bitcoin node, but now that a fork seems to be underway, that sort of forced me to take some action. So I hit the power button.

Career:

I’m in a weird place with my career right now. I’m no longer a SysAdmin, but I’m not back into management or an Agile leadership role. Doing something new that doesn’t really have a well-defined industry description honestly leaves me feeling a little exposed. I recently had someone from Cisco ask me to deliver my DevOps: Year One talk internally at Cisco, and to be honest, I’m really welcoming the opportunity to revisit that older talk and get it refreshed with newer considerations. Perhaps in the process I’ll get some more inspiration about course corrections for my career path, which may have taken a bit of a detour these last few years.

Twenty-one years into my career, I’m only just warmed up. I’ve got another twenty-four to go before I plan to retire. So what happens between here and there? If I’m to remain in the software industry for the duration, I think I need to find my way out of the day to day engineering role and into the sort of headspace where I reach my fuller potential: the more distant horizon challenges where middle to executive management earns their keep. I’ve had little tastes of this and would very much like to get back to it. Things were on the right path a few years ago when I started getting seriously interested in developing my leadership potential, but I took a bad turn with the non-leadership role I later accepted at Red Hat.

The “what if” path would likely be something involving writing, either as a novelist or as a screenwriter (or both). Though with a family to support and a solid reputation in the software industry as a thought leader in my field, it may never be more than a side gig.

Quadcopters: 

I’ve now gotten my second quadcopter stuck in a tree. The Syma X5C-1 was attacked by three birds on my street and knocked into a nearby tree. I’ve been watching it up there for days, hoping that I’ll be the first to see it if it ever comes down. It’s not likely. The neighbor who’s tree it’s in is a bit of a cranky puss, too (the “get off my lawn” type), so I’m not expecting him to be forthcoming if he’s the first to find it. While I’ve been pretty good at flying these things, getting one stuck in a tree is expensive. And for those who haven’t been to Raleigh: they don’t call this the “City of Oaks” for nothing. We’re definitely a tree-friendly city. Which probably makes us less of a quadcopter-friendly city.

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