With a harsh gesture at the ground ahead and loud but guttural roar of uttered spell, there was a bright flash, a sharp and loud “CRACK!”, and a deep groaning and tearing sound as the earth before them ripped open to reveal a vast chasm into which tumbled quantities of rock and debris as the edges collapsed inward. With a long and wrenching curse audible even over the furor of a great host of men trying to calm their startled beasts, the speaker dove forward into the depths of blackness and the earth closed up over him like the jaws of some huge monster closing over it’s prey. As the beasts were brought back under control by their riders, a silence spread over the assembled host with only the lesser grumbles of the earth settling back into place and the cries of the startled birds soaring overhead to be heard.
I lived in rural Maui back when there was zero bus service and you had to have a car to get anywhere (though we did moderately well for local area access on bicycles via back roads and pineapple fields). The fact that it is an island made out of the slopes of two mountains (one of which is 10,000′ tall!) meant a lot of steep rides though, so like any teenager in a rural location in those days, a car was a significant desire. 🙂
My first automobile was a Chevy Love truckthat I purchased when I was 14-1/2 – six months before I could get a permit and license to drive. $250 and we had to tow it from a neighbor’s yard because it didn’t run. It was in terrible shape. He’d stopped driving it several years prior because the back of the truck was so rusted out that his dogs’ legs were falling through and the water in the puddles in the unpaved road to our group of houses was splashing up into the cab through the giant rust holes. Truly an amazing vehicle! 😛 The back tires were extra wide for some reason, but that just made it seem cooler 🙂 It looked something like this, but with a ton of rust holes:
Of course I was stoked to get it and spent the next 6 months getting it running, putting plywood down in the floor of the truck bed, and so on. Had to get the rust ground off the brakes by a machine shop (raw metal sitting == rust build up fast in Hawaii), clean out the mildew, etc and so on.
The deal with my parents was that if I drove myself and my sister to school (no school buses to the schools we were in) then they’d pay the car insurance and just enough gas money to go those miles. The truck maintenance and gas for any other trips was on me.
I got my permit at 15, and two weeks later my license (minimum required waiting time). The muffler was pretty rusted out and so it sounded a bit like a crop duster when I pressed the gas pedal (i.e., loud and frappy). It also wouldn’t idle so I had to keep tapping the gas pedal at stop lights and stop signs to keep the motor from dying; other teens thought I wanted to race (ha!).
During some periods it wouldn’t start reliably. Had to push start it pretty regularly so I parked it up an embankment that let me roll it down towards the house and hopefully get it to start (yikes!). Some periods I’d start it first and then run inside to take my shower before driving to school so that I wouldn’t have to take a second shower after getting all greasy getting it running.
Anyway, at one point I decided to make a stencil out of legal size file folders (only stiff card stock I had access to for free :)) and spray painta logo on the side of the doors to embrace the crappiness of the truck and so I made one that evoked the circular logo of the state that was on the side of government trucks.
I found the stencil in my mementoes box and without further ado or story telling, here it is:
🙂 Apropos, for truly it was a rusted hulk that should have been scrapped, but got me around the island for maybe a year before I upgraded to a $750 car that burned almost a quart of oil a week and a went through about a quart of transmission fluid every two days until I took the transmission out and got it rebuilt, but that ran much more reliably and had much less rust 🙂 (So bad for the environment – we were so clueless back then! sigh).
Looking through my memento boxes for things for my dad (Geek’s grandfather)’s memorial service and found this poem my grandmother wrote me for my 15th birthday. She was a great grandmother.
It references our relation to Daniel Boone, and the large ranch on the coast of California that our family owned for many generations and that my dad (Boone) grew up on.
Looking back at the drawings Geek & I were doing as a daily practice during the summer of 2009 and wishing I’d kept up with it. Imagining how much better I’d be at drawing now if I’d continued to do a drawing a day for the last nearly 9 years (wow! time flies!). That’s roughly 3200 drawings…!
Good reminder that many things take regular, consistent practice.
Resolving to decide which things to fold back into my regular practices and do so.
Floating in a sea of sadness
Looking for an isle of gladness
Waves of emotion
A vast ocean
No land in sight
Only endless night
Context: Ten years ago, almost a year after Nina died I often slept in my barn office fighting emotional darkness. Woke up one morning with the first sensations ones of pain – physical and otherwise – again. Curl into a ball under the covers and try to shake it off enough to motivate the day and the words above come to me in bits.
Took me a bit today to realize why I was feeling so adrift and emotionally awash this morning. And then I looked at the date to check about an upcoming appointment and realized the dates next week and remembered what this time of year means and how our bodies know and remember our grief even if our minds have shied away from remembering.
I get this question a lot, “I’m having trouble getting into the tech industry in Portland, any suggestions?” Usually from recent college graduates or people who are coming into tech from other than a CS degree path. I just wrote up this response to one and decided I was tired of typing similar stuff in over and over so extractedit and am putting it here:
- Portland Startups Switchboard:
- Portland Women In Tech job board (career mentoring also):
- Silicon Florist job board:
- eBay has a Portland office and city filter (automation job there which is a decent way into dev job):
There are more for sure.
While you search (since one can only spend so many hours a day searching), build something that demonstrates your skills and helps you learn more skills. Picking something you see lots of job ads for (if it’s interesting to you) is a decent way to start. Lot of demand for machine learning these days. Taking online courses can help accelerate this learning but won’t get you a job; building something that works and that demonstrates what you can do is much more likely to.
If you find a place you want to work, get to know people there and let them get to know you.(1) If they like you then they’ll help you know about positions that open up. Learn from them what they need and go teach yourself those things. Ask smart questions (find answers to easy ones online and in documentation).
Finally, big companies like eBay, Apple, Google, Amazon etc open up there internships for current students and recent graduates in (Oct?)/Nov/Dec so inquiring about them can be a good route into larger companies.
1) don’t be creepy! See if you have any friends in common. See if there’s a meetup or other public social gathering they go to where you can meet them. Follow on twitter to get to know them over time. Look for their office having an open office gathering, etc.
In his excellent post Brandon Sneed responds to GM CEO’s “We need more coders” comment: “Let’s talk about the real problem…”
I agree with his comments and would add:
Many large companies seem to waste an astonishing amount of developer productivity. So rather than saying they need more developers, these CEOs might start by fixing their current planning, processes, and methods of working.
Canceled projects/features, mismanaged and/or badly planned projects, developer time wasted in meetings they don’t need to be in or badly run meetings, stupid territorial struggles between upper managers, endless re-organizations, etc. etc.
These kind of things all makes developers less efficient which decreases their job satisfaction and makes them less likely to stick around.
Small companies do much much less of this because they simply can’t afford such waste.
One easy test:
If your company has meetings without clear agendas provided >24hrs in advance of the meeting, and shared post-meeting minutes, then you’re likely wasting developer time. A developer can’t know if they need to attend a meeting if they don’t know what it’s about (agenda) or if they feel like they have to be present to know what’s going on (lack of post-meeting minutes).
Attach an agenda to the meeting invite (>24hrs in advance!) and add only those developers (or anyone else for that matter) who you *must* have in the meeting to the TO/required list. Add anyone else who you want to inform about the meeting and what it’s about to the CC/optional list. Before you send the invite, do any pre-meeting work you can that will enable you to move developers (or anyone else) from the TO/required list to the CC/optional list; use email (don’t interrupt developers!) to ask those two questions you need to ask them before the meeting, for example.
See also @rands’ comment here
awash in the miasma
of async blocks on dispatch_queues
bad data flyin’ like kids from pews
(when church lets out and they go free)
and to the console logging spews
apocalyptic, no good news
mood turning into plasma
Tax Time here in the U S of A. This post is for self-employeed and small business owners in the USA but does not constitute tax advice – you should consult a qualified licensed/certified tax professional – but is just some information to help you ask them some leading questions and pointers to documentation on the IRS.gov website for educational purposes.
As I’m calculating the basis in my SEP-IRA due to some conversions of IRA to ROTH IRA, I’m reminded that I lost out on about 10 years of pre-tax retirement savings due to a bad CPA who said I wasn’t eligible to do so since it was an S-Corp. Got a new CPA and found out the first one was wrong (or the law changed and he was wrong at first but didn’t inform me that it had changed).
I suggest you educate yourself by starting at IRS.gov SEP FAQs and learn enough to ask the questions I should have
The great thing about a SEP-IRA, for an S-Corp anyway (not sure about LLCs or sole-proprietors), is that the business makes the contributions for the employee and these contributions are deductible business expenses.
The limits are also a LOT higher than you as an individual have. From an FAQ sub-page linked to from the one above:
How much can I contribute to my SEP?
The contributions you make to each employee’s SEP-IRA each year cannot exceed the lesser of:
- 25% of compensation, or
- $53,000 (for 2015 and 2016 and subject to annual cost-of-living adjustments for later years).
These limits apply to contributions you make for your employees to all defined contribution plans, which includes SEPs. Compensation up to $265,000 in 2015 and 2016 and subject to cost-of-living adjustments for later years) of an employee’s compensation may be considered. If you’re self-employed, use a special calculation to determine contributions for yourself.
So if you’re making more than $72,000 a year you can start to exceed the $18,000 personal contribution limit to a SEP-IRA or 401K.
This makes it sound like you don’t have to be a Corporation (but read Publication 560 & ask your CPA):
How much can I contribute if I’m self-employed?
The same limits on contributions made to employees’ SEP-IRAs also apply to contributions if you are self-employed. However, special rules apply when figuring the maximum deductible contribution. See Publication 560 for details on determining the contribution amount.
The only real down-side that I’m aware of (again, consult your hopefully better-than-my-old-CPA CPA) is that you make this contribution for all employees who meet the criterion you set in the SEP Plan Document. The IRS has a “model SEP plan document”, form 5305-SEP that I used and that might be enough for you. See the details/restrictions here.
My company mostly used contractors and I set the requirement to full-time employment for 3 years which was likely to exclude all but the most dedicated and valuable employees (and which I already qualified for :)).
On the other hand, having a good retirement plan that is competitive with with a big company’s 401K plan might help you attract employees that you otherwise couldn’t, so you might want eligibility that let’s employees participate as soon as they’ve passed some introductory trial period (90 or 180 days or whatever). Notice that the limits for the SEP-IRA are actually higher than those for a 401K plan once compensation crosses the $72,000/year threshold. So you can actually provide a more aggressive retirement plan with a SEP-IRA plan than with that big company 401K plan (unless I’m missing something).
And the employee can also make a ROTH IRA contribution as well (subject to the usual ROTH IRA contribution limits).
A SEP-IRA is cheaper to operate than a 401K plan (which is complicated enough that you have to pay a service to operate it for you – and they aren’t cheap). Your employees can open their own SEP-IRA account and your business simply deposits money into it. (See the IRS site for details).
Over the 10 years I was operating with the bad CPA I could have saved a lot more for retirement than the ~$4000-$5000 ROTH IRA limit, if only I’d known…. Now you know.
Go forth and save those pre-tax dollars for retirement!
Your 50-year-old self will thank you. 😀
This is not tax advice. All readers should consult a qualified tax professional about any tax decisions they make for themselves or their business.
Here’s a game we used to get Geek to get himself dressed and moving in the morning.
I’d lay his clothes out flat on the floor to make a path of clothing from his bed to the door of his room. Then tell him that the game was to see if he could make it to the door getting dressed as he went without touching the floor. When he picks up a piece of clothing he has to put it on.
The first day they were in a mostly reasonable order – one that matched the order you’d put your clothes on. When he completed that successfully I congratulated him and said that tomorrow would be more tricky (build anticipation for getting out of bed and getting dressed! 😉 ).
The second day the order was such that he had to hop past some pieces and then jump back and then jump forward in order to get the underwear on under the pants, for example.
And you can increase the difficulty to get it interesting. One day I made it essentially impossible and we laughed a lot and then I asked him what two items of clothing could switch with each other to make it possible (teaching programming/algorithms/puzzle solving) and then did the one he picked so that he could get out the door.
Didn’t take long before he was in the habit of getting dressed and moving in the morning and was fun instead of a struggle.