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A nation united in tears

My eternal travel flag.
My oldest travel companion…draped over another hostel, another hotel room.

Every time I’m in Catalunya I’m taken over by a sense awe, an awe at the flags draping from every balcony, from every home, and from every corner. It is intoxicating to see flags that are the same as my own.  It is exhilarating… and so I understand the Catalans’ unnerving feeling at seeing a flag not quite their own etched on their passport, but having no say in the matter.  I understand them. I feel them.  Because even though these words come out in English, my heart knows no other language but Spanish.

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Play nice and bait the nerds

The better part of software development: talking about it with your peers.
The better part of software development: talking about it with your peers.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that regardless of the work I’m thrown at, I usually get my work done, and more often than not, I get it done on time. However, there are a plethora of engineers that are wayyyy better than me. After all, I get to work with some of the brightest engineers I’ve ever met. Interestingly, however, not all of them get their patches in, or their work done in a timely fashion, which has got me thinking… call it old age, reminiscing, or too many beers.  What makes it easier to ship things on time when you need to appease so many people in an open source project?

I’m actually quite happy to be surrounded by very smart people. That in part, has been part of my secret. Surround yourself with people much smarter than you, and entice or coerce them to review your work. Everyone’s better in the process.

A colleague once told me, “in our industry, smart is a dime a dozen, but people you actually want to work with… that’s a very small subset”. I really hope he meant me. Then he added, “and people that also ship stuff on time– that’s very rare”. And that has been my goal at work for a long time: be that guy– be the guy that ships stuff on time, and is a joy to work with (well, mostly ;-)).

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Things I learned in a 4 month sabbatical while traveling the world

Sunset over the Cambodian rice fields.
(This never got old.)

When I was a kid, my best friend’s sister, Jamarys, had a quote on her door: “In the silence of not doing, when you slowly begin to listen, then anything in life can be your guide“.  The quote has stuck with me for a very long time, and after months of listening to the screams of silence, I can attest to that.  There’s nothing like a few months alone to get your bearings.  You may not figure out everything, but you’ll likely point your ship in the right direction— and that alone is worth the price of admission.

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Getting paid sobriety coins to go back to work

I knew I needed to get back to work weeks before my sabbatical was up. I don’t know how it happened, but I do remember when I realized it. It happened similarly to a cocaine addict’s sobriety relapse.  One day he’s being bestowed a 10 year sobriety coin, and the next he’s doing coke lines off of a stripper’s back– not knowing exactly how or why it happened, but for a brief moment, realizing that– boy does it feel good.

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Tic Tac laxatives and death by embarrassment

If you haven’t been sick once (or thrice) while traveling through Southeast Asia, you clearly haven’t enjoyed the fine cuisine.

The first time I had frog legs I had this excruciating stomach pain for two days, but I blame it on the inedible amounts of chili it had. This may be somewhat akin to a friend who years ago would drink mojitos until we needed to carry him out of an establishment. The next day he would invariably be sick, but would blame his upset stomach on the unwashed mint leaves in his drinks. Whatever, frog legs are good for you.

A few weeks ago I stopped heeding my own advice of only eating where women and children frequent. It was a fancy boat, through pristine islands in the gulf of Thailand. What could possibly go wrong with fresh pineapple cut by fishermen in a boat with no running water? Well, a lot apparently.

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