What I’ve Been Up To
I haven’t posted a blog in a long time. The reason for the extended absence is that I’ve had a lot of new things going on in my life that have taken up a lot of my attention – in good ways though, mostly!
For starters, I left my role at SchoolStatus to move into a senior software engineering role at Scorebook Live. I’m still primary working with the same stack, although with a much heavier usage of Ruby on Rails and Rails-related things. While everything was Ruby-based for me previously, we didn’t really use a ton of actial Rails. The biggest change by far has been that the new job is completely remote. The majority of the company is spread along the West Coast and then a smattering of employees and contractors spread around the globe.
Working completely remotely has been a personal goal of mine for several years – pretty much since I first heard of the idea, actually. The idea of being able to work from anywhere with WiFi sounds awesome, and the honest truth is just that I prefer my own space to any office. I’m a social person and enjoy being around humans, but I also know that I do my best work when I’ve given time to be alone. In an office, even in a space where I had a private office, interruptions were much harder to manage without offending anyone.
The freedom of being able to set my own pace has been positively wonderful. I was raised with a Puritan work ethic that drilled the idea of “if you aren’t fifteen minutes early you’re late” into my brain. Working remotely allows me to completely avoid a commute which immediately helps free up a lot of time… but it also allows me to be really chill about when and where I do my work overall. That half-hour drive is replaced by a half-hour of coffee every morning with my wife, but even that is understating the situation drastically. If I need to step away for a minute to think about what I’m working on, I can take my dog for a walk around the block. I’ve got my own fridge full of snacks that I’ve purposefully picked for myself, instead of bags of chips and soda. If I’m in the mood I can go to a coffee shop and hang out without anyone asking any questions. It’s hard to overstate the positive impact that the freedom to do my work the way I like to work has had on my life as a whole.
My wife Jonna has worked from home for a while now, so we took the opportunity to really upgrade our home office suite from just a desk in the third bedroom to an actual office. We knew that if both of us were going to be using the space full time, it was worth making it feel nice. We got everything needed to make the place feel like it was an actual workspace and not just an afterthought. I think this has helped me not feel many of the downsides of remote work that I see mentioned online. I’ve spent a few hours working off of the kitchen island over the past several months, but the vast majority of my work is me at my desk. I think it’s been very valuable to have an a dedicated setup for work.
I have seen a few downsides of working remotely, though. Firstly, I am a bit of an extrovert and having to make an effort to actually see other humans is weird. I’d never realized how many of my social interactions happened at work. This hasn’t been hard to fix – a few hours at a coffeeshop is easy and cheap – but it’s been different and I can see it being harder for someone who needs more social interaction than I do. Past that, I do think it’s harder to stay abreast of everything going on in a company as a remote employee. Thankfully Scorebook Live has enough of us, and enough experience dealing with it, to make it a lot less of an issue through meetings (but not too many!), lots of Slack, and pretty regular in-person visits. I can absolutely see how being a remote employee at a company who doesn’t have experience in how to help you feel “plugged in” would be not very fun at all. As is, just like not being around lots of people every day, it hasn’t affected me very much personally, but I can recognize that it’s probably not a great fit for everyone. I think a lot of the remote gripes I’ve seen people have probably come from people who are more social than they thought or companies that handle remote employees poorly.
Outside of work, I’ve been working on a couple of fun side projects that I hope to get to a good enough spot to show the world soon. I’m writing this while self-quarantined due to COVID-19, so I’ve got a feeling I’ll have plenty of free time in the upcoming weeks. I’ve also been reading more about history – turns out the Earth has been a pretty crazy place for a long time. There’s so much cool stuff out there that I’ve never heard of, and I’m voracious in trying to find more.
Cooking has always been a passion of mine, and I’ve been trying to explore that more. My wife is making an effort to eat vegetarian, so I’ve been doing a lot of the same and, lo and behold, I’ve completely changed how I feel about vegetables. I’ve never been opposed to them really, but realizing that the ground beef is the least important part of a taco has been a real revelation. That combined with working from home has let us try out all sorts of crazy new things that I don’t think I ever would have otherwise, and I’m pretty excited to see what all new foods I’m going to love.
I’ve also been back in the gym more than I have been in a while. Of course that’s taken a bit of a break due to COVID and all, but still. I just got back from a short run around the block. I’m hoping to get back into general fitness being at least a habit, if not the full blown hobby that I once considered it. If nothing else it lets me eat more without worrying about having to buy bigger pants.
“Linell, this post sucks!”
Yeah, maybe a little bit. The truth is that I’ve never really posted regularly here anyway, but I would like to make more of an effort to do so. I’ve gotten out of the habit of writing anything outside of commit messages very often and I want to make sure that my skills don’t atrophy too much. I’m going to try to write more often about what I’m doing, both personally and professionally, and I needed a good spot to start. So you just read that spot, thank you!