It’s 28oC indoors, tomorrow’s my last day of summer vacation, and, unsurprisingly, I’m about as keen on returning to work on Monday as stepping on burning coals. In fact, I might actually prefer the novelty of the coals.
This, I think, is the result of being so effectively burned out that I could not even enjoy a three-week break properly, although I did try:
- I ended up disabling both Teams and Outlook by taking them off the home screen and removing my corporate account, simply because my heart rate peaked every single time someone at the office tried to ping me (disabling notifications wasn’t enough, trust me, since I had pending matters, but I got so dismayed by the outcomes that I decided to just step away, and it was this or tossing the phone into the pool).
- A key highlight was spending (very little) quality time noodling with Bitwig, to the extent where I have upgraded from the 8-track license. But I am still mostly playing around with it on my Lenovo, because I just don’t want to use any device capable of corporate access. Or even thinking about it.
- I managed to read six books, three of which covered the rise of high-frequency trading and its impact on the stock market (including the convoluted, twisted tale of NYSE, NASDAQ, Island, Josh Levine and the early days of co-located trading systems).
- That led me down a bunch of interesting rabbit holes regarding high-performance distributed transactions, and spurred by what little I could find regarding actual trading software, I dabbled with C++, Rust and Zig to get a feel for what it would be like to build such beasts today.
- On the side (mostly at both ends of my break) I took a decent stab at rebuilding one of my old pet projects for RSS feed classification and filtering. Since it relies on
redisheavily and Oracle Cloud now has free, RAM-heavy
aarch64instances in Frankfurt (and I didn’t want to use any work tech), I set it up there.
Add to that a number of real-life concerns like the pandemic (the handling of which is still a shambles), our fridge having died suddenly (a little more than a year since our freezer also died), likely due to randomly recurring 2-minute power cuts that make me inordinately annoyed at our power utility (and worried that my UPSes and NAS may be next, which would be an added expense and nuisance I don’t want to deal with), and things are a little distracting.
But the elephant in the room is my current occupation, and I mean that both in the large and concerning the slow pile up of paper cuts on top of trying to actually have a life.
The problem is not (just) that I’ve spent a good part of the past 18 months locked up in my home office (which is actually OK, really, all things considered – even if I now find myself subconsciously avoiding this side of the house), the real problem is that I am not learning anything new, which is killing my creativity, enthusiasm and (obviously) my motivation towards getting back to work.
Managing high-flying international projects can be a lot of fun, but my enthusiasm for doing that (in my current context) is effectively nil thanks to the schedule of wall-to-wall meetings it entails, and I have been trying to do something about that since before I became a Chief Architect.
Sometimes very senior, highly strategic teams can be surprisingly less performant. Paraphrasing Douglas Adams, they look like a fish, move like a fish, but steer like a cow.
My current mood is very much along the lines of burning all the inordinately contrived paperwork I did last year (perhaps as a sacrifice to the gods of strategy, most definitely for the sake of obliterating it from my mind), and giving myself a swift kick in the pants to just go out there and find something else to do, preferably related to actual technology and engineering teams (or at least a better balance between management and hard core tech).
But life isn’t that simple: