A day in the life, January 2018

Five thirty. The baby is making noises. My wife murmurs something I can’t hear while I stretch. It’s my turn. I get up and go to the cot. He sees me and instantly turns away. He wanted mummy not daddy. After five minutes of trying to sleep, he realises he’s awake. I pick him up, take him to the chair and rock him on my shoulder. After half an hour, he gets quiet asleep. I put him back in the cot and wait the thirty seconds until he wakes again. My wife says he needs food and goes to get him some. I wait. She wasn’t going to get him some, she was turning on the heating and going back to bed. I take him to the living room where the baby bottles are. I take him back and feed him. I get him down to sleep. It’s six thirty.

At seven, the alarm rings. I turn it off, then take five more minutes. I get up again, head for the kitchen to make tea and boil eggs. I turn the boy’s light on, to get him used to the idea of morning. Halfway through my tea, my wife staggers in. She’s been getting up four times a night for sixteen months now, and with the recent teething it’s been worse. She’s got a bad cough that won’t go away. She starts to say something, but the baby monitor is louder: he’s awake. She goes to get him. He’s groggy but up. I take the baby and go to wake the boy. He’s reasonably amenable, especially when reminded there’s oreos and milk waiting for him (his daily nutritious breakfast). I tell him he can watch iPad if he gets his clothes on first. He does.

Ten minutes later, they’re getting ready to leave for school. I sniff something on the baby as I’m putting him in the car seat, so I whisk him off to clean up the poo. The boy is being packaged up ready. I deliver the baby to the car, and head back inside for a moment of peace. My morning can begin.

Shower. Brush teeth. Clothes. Check bag. Into the truck. Drive two slow, boring miles to the station. Park the truck. Into the station. Five minutes for the bart. Not bad. Bart seat is only mildly smelly. Not bad. Into the city in forty five mins. Reading Armada on kindle, not very good. No visible poop or visible needles in the station, surprising. A wet walk to the office. Drizzle.

I’d normally head up to nine for some eggs, but I did have one of the boiled eggs earlier, and I have a suspicion there’ll be doughnuts. I head for coffee on five. Wash hands, latte, glass of water. Head to my desk, unpack the laptop. What on earth was I doing yesterday?

Today I needed to get a real answer for a question for auditors. I ask someone, but I know that some of what they’re saying isn’t true. I find someone else, we verify our answer. I stick it in the sheet, all good. I’ve got a few branches to land from yesterday. Landing branches is slow, and some of them need the tests to be rerun for certainty (I’d spent much of the previous day unblocking the test pipeline). It’ll take a couple of hours. I head to the other building where the team is running a hackday. We need to convert every file from CSS files to JavaScript styles. It’s a lot of tedious work, so it’s best done as a team, in a day, in a room, with doughnuts. There’s a prize for the most files converted. I’m not here for the prize, I’m here for doughnuts. I have a doughnut. I pick up a ticket and work on it while landing branches.

Twelve o’clock and we need to get out of the room. It’s basically impossible to book a good meeting room for a whole day. We head to lunch. I’m doing tacos, because they’re always ok, and I don’t mind boring. I often have tacos. I sit with the team until they bring up D&D. I go back to work.

I keep tabs on a login issue. I think it’s more complex than they realise. I have a suspicion that an error page or asset is pointing to the wrong site and logging us out. They haven’t figured it out yet. I’ll keep watching.

Another trivial ticket I’ve been watching hits 100 comments without real progress. It’s time to go rogue. I remove the disputed image from the page altogether, and then remove the links to the page itself. That’ll solve the problem, but it’s two more branches to land. Two more sets of tests to run.

It’s four thirty. I’ve had an extra brownie and some sweets to keep me going, but I’m still feeling sleepy. I dive into an api migration I needed to get a handle on this week. I can’t get it to work, I chat to the team who make the api. They give me a repro case. Feels brittle, but it’s something to work with tomorrow.

Five o’clock, and it’s time to run. Wife texted me earlier, she’s going to the doctor at seven thirty for her cough. I need to get home. Drizzle is wetter. Back to the Bart. Bit smellier this time. Fine though. I read the book but can’t get into it. Back to the truck. Driving through the rain. Stop at home, bring the bins in, grab the mail. Open the door.

“Daddy!” The boy comes running for a hug. He hasn’t done this since he was three, but he started again this week and I love it. The baby is excited and doesn’t know what to do with himself. He hands me the mail I put down on the bench while I drop of my jacket and bag, then follows me to the bedroom to change trousers and wash hands and face. He gets a big hug. There’s no food ready or anything to really make, so I reheat some dried-up pizza from the weekend. I eat while reading tweets. The baby is shouting “mama, mama” at me, like he does. He’s smelly again, so I go and cleanup the poo again. A little has leaked, so my wife gives him a bath. I make pasta for the boy, my wife leaves for the doctor, I sit the baby down and try to feed him food from a pouch. He has a little. I tell the boy to turn off the iPad, and we have a genuinely pleasant few moments, us three, at the table.

We head upstairs to the playroom. We play James Bond. I’m the bad guy spy. The baby climbs on furniture to turn on the disco lights like he always does. We play until eight. Let’s go down. Mummy texts to say the doctor was good, she’s coming home.

Put your pyjamas on. Put your pyjamas on. Put your pyjamas on. And so forth. Teeth are brushed, rinsed. A wee is had. Pyjamas are on. I take the boy in to read, but we don’t read, we play Space Mazes. It’s eight forty. Up to bed, lights off. Quiet. Quiet. The baby is still playing outside the door. I sit with the boy until he sleeps. It’s nine thirty. He should sleep soon, and then I can steal his hot water bottle and go to bed too. Sometimes I have some decaf tea before I do, dipping some chocolate biscuits into it. Not today though. Doughnuts were had.

Good night.

2017

The end of the year once again. Last year, I vaguely remember feeling quite upbeat. Although I apparently had a cold, and yes, Trump had been elected and Brexit had been voted for and yadda yadda yadda. From a personal perspective, I was a new dad, I’d just had a huge break from work, I was going to the gym regularly, and the baby was basically just sleeping and eating, so I had plenty of time to Netflix and chill.

As babies get bigger, they become more work. You can’t let them out of sight for a moment, they’ll toddle off somewhere and start eating cables, or pulling things off tables, or climbing on pianos, or falling down staircases. They’re full of boundless energy, excited to be alive, and very cute as well. It’s exhausting. When I look back to my end-of-year assessment for the similar timeframe of the older boy, I see it says “we survived”. I feel similarly.

So, I must keep on top of the energetic baby and the rambunctious six year old and the wife who wakes up four times a night to feed and to hold, with never a moment off (no babysitters, no nearby relatives – we do things the hard way). In consequence, I quit the MBA course I was taking, I stopped going to the gym, I stopped running, I stopped watching much Netflix, and I haven’t chilled for more than about five minutes straight all year.

When I returned to work at the start of 2017, I decided to re-think my job. I had two prime motivations: one, I loved the heart and soul that my stand-in was bringing to the team and knew I couldn’t match it when my mind was on babies; two, I wanted to get involved in the abuse-handling efforts as much as possible. So, a week after returning, I handed off my team and scouted around the company for new roles. I offered myself as an EM to the abuse efforts, but it was one role they said they didn’t need filling. I considered becoming a PM for some web-related efforts, but that role is very different and I didn’t feel I’d be accepted by the team for that position yet. Ultimately, I realised that the abuse efforts were going to be long-term problems (possibly forever) rather than short-term fixes, and the best I could contribute would be to help push for a migration to a better stack, allowing us to make those changes more easily. I was also in a good position to make rapid fixes to the existing stack for any quick fix work.

And so, once again, I’m an IC. (Individual contributor)

(that means I’m coding again, dad).

It’s been fun. This year I’ve done some legal fixes (ok those weren’t fun), a lot of settings fixes, a world of bug fixes, and my favourite project was working with one of our interns to deliver Nightmode on desktop. It’s been the most positively received project I’ve ever seen. My Intern, David, also overdelivered. He threw in some code to make sure your colours in nightmode and daymode provide enough contrast to be visible, using proper accessibility-based contrast maths. Much respect.

I’d always planned to hop back to management again, but I’m currently reconsidering. It’s felt good to have colleagues again, to hang out and have fun with people who don’t report directly to you. Management can be a lonely job. We’ll see.

I stopped going to the gym because I just can’t find the time. If I cut time from work, then I’d need to make it up. If I cut time from home, then I get less time with the kids and my wife will go crazy. If they could only put a gym car on Bart, then it’d be doable. Anyway, my shoulders are killing me, and I can’t sleep comfortably, so in 2018 I’ll have to find time somewhere.

We went to see the total eclipse! It was AMAZING! Like a hole in the sky! If you’ve only seen a partial eclipse, even 99.9% partial, then you just haven’t seen it. You need totality. We flew up to Oregon for the day with the kids for it.

We had my parents visit for a couple of weeks. We had my mother-in-law visit for a couple of months. It is incredibly important to balance enough time to help and get to know the kids, with the need to not kill each other. The new (bigger) house helps. Mostly helps.

This year the brewery closed up. I’m still pleased I invested in a friend (to help him open), that operated honestly, and made some really very good quality beers. But sometimes you build it and they don’t come. I’ll miss the money I invested (which was significant), but I’ve learned some lessons (should I ever get any more money for investment).

I didn’t invest in Bitcoin, which hit nearly $20k this year. If I’d invested some years back, I could be a multimillionaire, which riles me slightly. BUT, I didn’t invest because I’m an immigrant and didn’t want to be accused of money-laundering (which was a concern at the time), AND I didn’t have much money back then, AND if I’d bought then I’d have used Mt Gox, which would’ve lost my investment, AND if I’d had any I would have sold at $10, at $100, at $200, at $500 and so on. NO WAY would I have the guts to hold.

I feel much better about losing my money to the brewery than I would have about losing money to Bitcoin.

This year:

  • Total eclipse. Wow.
  • Hawaii again (yay) with mother-in-law.
  • New baby is full of beans and friendly as anything
  • The boy started learning the alphabet for real in kindergarten in September. Now he’s reading Dr Seuss to himself. It’s fantastic.
  • My wife continues to be beautiful and indefatigable. And patient.
  • Twitter is still the best employer I’ve had (7 years now).
  • California is still better (sunnier) than London.

Next year (2018):

  • I need to settle my job. Decide if I’m management or code. Or both. Or something else.
  • I need to fix my shoulders. Seriously, I can only sleep on my back, and when I do that I lose feeling in my hands. It’s ridiculous.
  • With a zero-ending birthday impending, I need to stop getting older by *any means necessary*. It’s gone on too long.
  • I need to go home. I want to visit the friends that remember me, any family that still recognise me, and see the places we used to be.
  • I need to blog more. I have some ideas.
  • I need to work on my skills more. Instead of just doing work, I need to invest some time in growing my skills. Maybe I can link that to the blog thing.
  • I qualify to apply to be a US citizen.