I grew up in Orlando, Florida and now live in Oakland, California. In college, I studied music and computer science. While I was there, I was part of a capella group and still love to sing (though I don’t get much opportunity these days).
I’m passionate about gaming and applying aspects of game design and strategy to everyday life. Games have a lot to teach us about ourselves and how we can interact with the world (and hopefully save it from ourselves).
I’m also passionate about finding a cure for Multiple Sclerosis in time to benefit my mom and uncle and some other friends of mine with MS. I don’t have the skills for contributing to the research itself, so instead I fundraise every year.
I’m definitely a morning person. I get up for work before 7am and head straight to work. I usually don’t eat breakfast until I’m in the office, which is usually before 8am. I’ll grab a bagel and/or some fruit for breakfast while I catch up on emails, slack, etc. from the previous day.
At a previous role, I worked remotely for a full year. At first I enjoyed the productivity and lack of distractions, but after a while I really missed seeing and talking with people face-to-face. For that reason, as often as possible I work at the office with my coworkers.
I usually get to work early which still gives me some of that productive, distraction-free time before people get in. Don’t get me wrong, I love being in an environment where we can communicate and collaborate in person and ad-hoc. It’s less productive for me for individual work like coding, but it’s much more productive for more creative work like planning out a project.
I was once addicted to coffee and then quit cold turkey. Now coffee makes me sick, so tea is my drink of choice. I like teas with bold flavors like hojicha. In general though, I try to avoid caffeine. Instead I make it a priority to get enough sleep at night. I don’t remember the last time I had tea in the morning. When I have a cup, I’ll usually have one right after lunch.
I have to cross the Bay Bridge in the morning going into San Francisco. The toll is $6, but if you’re in the carpool lane, it only costs $2.50. So to get to work, I actually hop in a stranger’s car with another random stranger in a program called “Casual Carpool”. I only pay $1 to get a ride across the bridge, and the driver only has to pay $0.50 out of their pocket for the toll (after each passenger gives them $1).
While walking to the carpool or from the drop-off to work, I’ll listen to news podcasts like the BBC World Service or Today Explained. Sometimes I’ll listen to Stuff you Missed in History Class, The Moth Radio Hour, or Ted Radio Hour too. While I’m in the car, I’ll sometimes watch something I downloaded from Netflix. (Right now I’m re-watching Fullmetal Alchemist). Other times if they’re playing KQED (the local NPR station), I’ll listen to that instead.
Most of my news comes through NPR and the BBC. While I find their reporting to be relatively impartial, I think most of their journalists are left-leaning. I think it’s important to hear from both sides, but I’m having trouble finding a reputable news source to balance it out.
My coworkers follow a bunch of different sources cumulatively in the education space and they typically share what’s going on with the rest of the office. Most of my education-related updates are from them.
To be honest, our education system is all sorts of broken right now.
Our teachers do a great job with what they’re given, but the system we have was designed for a different era. It was meant to churn out adults who could participate in the bureaucracy necessary to run a government and industry at a time when keeping track of complex systems was done with a paper trail and filing system.
In the long term, I’m excited to see how education transforms to meet the needs of our current society. (I think that’s going to be a slow and painful process though).
I have very few scheduled meetings, so after eating breakfast I usually get right to whatever the most complicated task is that I have to do. (I’m most productive in the mornings, so I try to spend that time on the hardest problems that I’m working on). That usually involves coding, though sometimes I’ll be working on larger architectural plans or researching other technologies we could be using to solve our problems.
I’m currently working on improving our infrastructure to make our code easier to test automatically. That will help us spend less time manually testing and hopefully catch issues before they become a problem for the actual teachers and students who use our product.
I find manual testing to be tedious so I’m very excited about having more of our app tested automatically. In the process, I also get to research some technologies that other people are using and it’s interesting to see the different approaches people are taking.
For lunch we tend to eat together. My company has a common seating area and we generally will all go out in a few groups to various restaurants in the area and then come back to eat together.
I try not to eat the same thing twice in a week.I have a sandwich place that I typically go to once a week, and I love to take a walk into Chinatown for some dim sum whenever I can convince some coworkers to hike up the hill with me. I also try to catch up with friends at other companies a couple times a month over lunch.
I’m less productive in the afternoons for complex, individual work. I try to schedule what meetings I do have for the afternoons and spend time collaborating with peers. That might look like planning out a project, or it might be reviewing another developer’s code. Because I get to the office so early, I typically leave before 5pm.
I leave the office some time between 4pm and 5pm, which usually lets me beat the rush hour coming home. There’s no carpool coming back East over the Bay Bridge because there’s no toll in that direction, so instead I’ll hop on Bart and transfer to a bus to get home. The whole process takes between 45 mins to an hour depending on how lucky I get with the bus transfer. During that time, I’ll listen to a finance podcast like Afford Anything or Paychecks and Balances. Sometimes I’ll watch Netflix instead.
I don’t have my work email or chat set up on my phone, so unless I get called for a work emergency I don’t typically think about work again until I get to the office the next day. There’s enough work at home to keep me busy like cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc.
At the end of the day, my girlfriend and I will try to watch an episode of something lighthearted together or maybe read together for a bit before going to bed.
I’m currently re-watching Fullmetal Alchemist. I recently finished The Good Place and Altered Carbon (which were really interesting to watch back-to-back). I don’t usually watch more than an episode or two per day including whatever I watch on my commute though so it takes me a while to get through a season.
I don’t have much of a routine to speak of at night. I try to avoid screens in the bedroom after dark and altogether after about 9pm. I usually shower in the evenings and go to bed early to get enough sleep for the next day. I try to be sleeping by 10pm every night and I’m usually successful.
I really like my job and my coworkers, so my favorite part of the day is either lunch or right afterwards when I’m getting back into work and collaborating with them.