tim: 2x2 grid of four stylized icons: a bus, a light rail train, a car, and a bicycle (travel)
Since it seems that a lot of people don't know what I'm doing (and writing this post won't change that since even if I link it everywhere, the vagaries of various social media software will make sure most people never see it, lol):

I just finished my first week working at Heroku as an engineer on the HTTP Routing Infrastructure team. While most of the first week was spent shuffling ssh keys hither and yon, from here on I'll be writing some Erlang.

I'm living in the Mission (two blocks from Tartine, Maxfield's, and Bi-Rite) for the rest of July, subletting a room in a friend's place.

Since I have the privilege of being able to work remotely, I'm going to take advantage of that privilege for a while (as nice as the Heroku office is). In August, I'll be moving to someplace with lower rent than San Francisco, but within North America (my job is so inflexible ;-) so I can pay off my $30,000 of student loan debt and $12,000 of combined medical and credit card debt more easily. Given my constraints, there are a lot of places in North America to choose from -- specifically, all of them, except San Francisco. Optimizing for relative proximity to people and places I want to visit, proximity to a city with population 100,000+, culture, and low cost of living, I'll probably be looking for a 2 or 3-bedroom rental house in Reno, NV, where I predict I'll be paying about a quarter of the rent that I would pay for a similar place in the Bay Area. Once my debt is paid off (barring anything unexpected, in 6-9 months), I'll probably move back to the Bay Area, but then, who knows what will happen?

It seems that housing is generally "available now", so rather than trying to find a place to live in advance, I'll probably just get in my car at the end of the month and go try to find someplace to live, then return for my furniture and stuff (currently in storage) and my cats (currently staying with a friend in Napa). I'm aspiring to adopt two more cats, assuming I can find a rental place that will allow four cats (and crossing my fingers that my other cats don't hate them).

I would love to hang out with people in the Bay Area while I'm still here, but since I lent my car to somebody for the month to avoid paying half my rent again for a parking space, preferably someplace transit-accessible. I've also been focusing on first-week-of-work panic and finishing-an-article panic, and thus have made zero plans for that yet.
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
A few days ago I was listening to some Vienna Teng albums on Spotify, and her song "City Hall" came up. I realized that this post -- from my LiveJournal on February 16, 2004 -- was almost nine years old. So here it is, nine years today.

If I try to think back, I don't think I thought then that we'd still be fighting for basic dignity and respect nine years later, at least not with respect to the particular issue of whether marriage should be for everyone.

We went to City Hall, in San Francisco, and helped same-sex couples get married! And I met [livejournal.com profile] ubiquity, who I hadn't expected to see at all despite having read her post where she said she was coming here this weekend, since at that point I didn't know I was also going! ([livejournal.com profile] karenbynight and [livejournal.com profile] yakkette apparently got turned away due to an excess of volunteers, and [livejournal.com profile] wkfauna -- wisely given the former -- decided not to make the trek up. And I must thank [livejournal.com profile] wintersweet, who was there on Saturday to perform ceremonies, for passing along the information so that I could be there in the first place!)

We'll display our Assessor-Record Volunteer nametags proudly in the house, though neither of us did much assessing or recording. We handed out donuts for the first few minutes -- if there's anything happier than handing out Krispy Kremes to people taking advantage of their first chance to get married, I don't know what. For the rest of the day we stationed ourselves along the line of people waiting and checked their license application forms for validity. This was surprisingly important, since many people don't understand the concept that when they say "the name on your ID has to match the name you put on the form *exactly*", they mean "don't put down 'John Jacob Jingleheimer Smith' when your license says 'John J. Smith'."

We also had to check that they'd received the booklet on "Your Future Together" that the state is legally required to hand out, and which mostly consists of information on pregnancy (not particularly relevant, since although same-sex couples might have kids, they probably wouldn't do it accidentally) and STDs (which unmarried same-sex couples presumably know more about than married different-sex couples). As one guy commented, "We've been together 24 years." And then there was the couple both of whom were named Kenneth and both of whom were over 60, of whom the older one couldn't remember what his occupation was (he'd put down "Retired" but they wanted the previous job in those cases), and the couple whose members had the same birthdays as David and I (not the same years), and the guy who had to ask his partner what his own occupation was because he forgot...

If I were ever inclined to believe that marriage was love, today would have been that moment. And it's somehow inconceivable to think of the people who will presumably be suing tomorrow in order to protect marriage by stripping 2500+ people of their marriage licenses. I wonder how many of them are just parroting lines they've been told and have never actually met a gay person and can therefore believe that they're all purple-furred monsters with horns, and how many of them actually could have stepped inside City Hall today, watched and listened to what was going on for five minutes, and still believe that letting (mostly) normal-looking people with kids and jobs and dogs get married was a threat to Western civilization. In the first case, I can understand how it's easy to unthinkingly absorb stereotypes. I just can't possibly imagine what it's like to be inside the mind of the second kind of person, any more than I can imagine what it's like to be a jellyfish or a doorknob.

But at least for five days, love won out over hate in San Francisco, and I'm glad to have been there to see part of it.
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
Bunny experts agree that you're a terrible bunny owner if you don't feed your bunnies timothy hay. Problem is, the usual way to buy it is in tiny bags at the pet store, at a factor-of-100 markup. Also, there has been some sort of timothy hay price explosion in the past few years, so even if you want to drive 20 miles to a feed store (and have a car to do it in), it's harder to find places that sell it at all.

Mostly for my reference (but if it's helpful to you, cool), here's a list of places near me that sell it in more economical quantities than a 1-pound bag for $5:


  • Alamo Hay and Grain is where I bought my last bale of hay, back in March. I'm guessing the bale was about 100 pounds. My two bunnies finished it in ten months. (I was also using hay as bedding for most of this time, so it's not like they ate all of that.) It was around $25 if I recall correctly. They are apparently still stocking it as of now.
  • For Other Living Things in Sunnyvale is probably the best place around here to get timothy hay without leaving the urbanized/suburbanized metropolitan area. They sell a 50-pound box of Oxbow timothy hay for $56, which is quite a bit more per pound than if you're buying a bale at a feed store, but still much better than the 2-pound bags you get at Petco and similar places. Also, they're a really nice independent store.
  • The time before last, I bought a bale at Dave's Hay Barn, not too far from downtown San José. However, when I called them later on, they told me they weren't stocking it and didn't have plans to.
  • Felton Feed has a 9-pound bag for $25, which is a much worse deal than For Other Living Things, but might be convenient for you.
  • The House Rabbit Society in Richmond sells small amounts of hay for reasonable prices, but for me they're a bit far.


That's what I know of in the Bay Area. There are farms that sell bales for cheaper in Chatsworth and El Centro (at least), so I should have bought some on my road trip to SoCal!

Feel free to add your suggestions.
tim: "System Status: Degraded" (degraded)
Here's a comment I wrote on a locked post by a friend discussing frustration (as a non-programmer) about being in conversations about programming where people talking about code weren't really making an effort to be understandable. I thought it was worth posting elsewhere.


I can sympathize with this because even though I've been programming for 17 years, I *still* get that "it might as well be Russian" (or Japanese in my case... I know a bit of Russian) feeling quite often when listening to people talk about code... and often, people I feel like I should be able to understand, like my immediate co-workers, or people at conferences (that are dedicated to the small, specialized area I used to focus on). I think part of it has to do with my difficulty processing speech (I can handle small talk just fine, but combine speech processing with any sort of difficult/complicated/abstract *content* and my brain falls over and dies), part of it is anxiety caused by impostor syndrome that ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy (when I can't understand something because I'm devoting too much effort to being worried that I won't understand it), and part of it is that CS and software are just so ridiculously specialized that even confident people with good communication skills just can't understand what each other are talking about if their specialties are different.

But believe it or not, I do know the feeling of alienation that comes from being in one of those conversations... and as with you, I hardly ever get it with any other conversation topic, even ones I know much less about than CS (well, maybe once in a while with physics or math, but most physics and math conversations I'm in on these days are people bullshitting and I'm well aware of that, so...)

Anyway, I'm not sure what the point of this comment is -- I don't think that my lack of confidence in my area of expertise should magically erase your lack of ease talking about an area you have no expertise in -- so I'm not sure what my conclusion is. One is that Bay Area tech culture can be really exclusive (when certain kinds of knowledge are used as a proxy for having had certain life experiences and *not* having had to deal with certain kinds of problems; I didn't have a computer when I was 5 and sometimes I feel like if I did, I'd be able to keep up with my peers). And another is that, well, often geeks just have a really hard time talking (or thinking?) about anything non-technical, and that's a flaw on their part, because part of being polite is to talk about things that won't exclude your conversational partners. I get the feeling people who sell insurance don't talk about it all night while hanging out at the pub. Why can't geeks extend others a similar courtesy? (And I think that also relates to my first point: privilege is *not* having to accommodate other people socially, and if you learned to talk about something besides code you might actually end up including people you'd prefer to exclude.)

ETA: I just came across this post on "technical entitlement", which overlaps with some of what I'm saying but says it more clearly.
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
This Saturday April 9, I'm officially (if belatedly) celebrating my temporary return to the Bay Area with dinner at Ti Couz in the Mission at 5:30 PM, then going to Writers With Drinks at 6:30 PM (show starts at 7:30, but it's advised to get there as early as possible). I've already emailed people who are likely to attend (and some who aren't), but, please join me! Even if you're an Internet person I've never met. Especially if you're an Internet person I've ever met. Possible outing to Humphry Slocombe afterwards.

(Ti Couz may be closed, in which case we'll be at Pakwan -- 16th and Guerrero -- instead. This may be the royal 'we'.)

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tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
Tim Chevalier

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