December 2021 Life Update




As I uploaded my review on Obsidian, I realized that I hadn't posted anything in the actual blog category of my site for almost three years! (There are a few things in Psychology and Programming that are slightly newer.) Since I have the environment ready to go for uploading, this seems like a great opportunity to put in a brief update.


If you know me, you know I used to be a professional car parts person, and I left that career in late 2019 to pursue a career in software, after experimenting with freelancing either art, blog writing, or both. The good news is, this has worked out great for me! I sold my house in Michigan, moved into my parents basement like a proper millennial, and studied hard. After about six months, in June of 2020, Jason C. McDonald invited me to apply for an internship with MousePaw Media, which was a fantastic learning experience.

I got to contribute to some interesting language processing algorithms for the SIMPLEXpress and Ratscript projects (in C++), which while difficult was really interesting and satisfying work, especially the SIMPLEXpress work. I got to dig into a partially complete library, which the previous developers had put a lot of work into designing regex-like rules, and take the established rules code and build an interface into which one could input text and have it parsed. The most challenging part of that was "solving the greedy problem", which if I can remember enough of the details now a year and a half later ;) would probably make a great blog post. The short version of the question is, how do you prevent a parser from over-matching a multiple character expression, consuming too much of the input string, and incorrectly failing a match when there are additional units to match afterwards that could potentially overlap? (If you're curious about my solution, the bulk of it is this function, Simplex::generosity).


Moving into early 2021, I was nearing graduation in my MousePaw internship, and really itching to have an actual job again. I needed to be productive and useful, and to have independence again. After living on my own for six years, sharing space with my parents again had a host of challenges to me, which I'd like to think I handled well, but probably not always as well as I would like. As a 99th percentile introvert (at least according to every online test I've ever taken ;) ) living on my own is a far more relaxing experience than sharing a household with others, and I think this was the biggest issue. There are, of course, some leftover aspects of differences of opinion (you can get a better idea of details by looking through my psychology posts, if you'd like) that were grating, but in spending time with my family since, the urgency of those is a lot less now that I have as much alone time I as I could wish. I think in the future I will be extremely hesitant to share a household with another unless I'm very sure that we are very compatible across a broad range.

Tangent over: I applied to jobs throughout the last few months of 2020 and going into early 2021, and ultimately got hired by a relatively local medical clinic to maintain and improve their custom electronic medical record (EMR) forms. I have mixed feelings about this as ultimately the offer I accepted was significantly lowballed for the title "Software Engineer" that I accepted, however, at the same time I was a basically unproven risk with only self-taught schooling and an internship to show that I was capable of the job. So definitely I appreciate them taking the risk and giving me the opportunity to demonstrate my proficiency. In April of 2021, just in time for my birthday, I moved down to Clarkston, WA and began work at the clinic in Lewiston, ID.

I'm working another post going over my work there in mode detail, since it's about the only other interesting thing worth talking about in 2021, for me personally at least (the world in general is another story). Broadly speaking, my work involves two major areas of responsibility: the custom forms programmed in the proprietary scripting language provided with the EMR, and the html and Javascript based forms that were added into this (which I ultimately updated to compile from Typescript).

Oh, that and the frogs. In 2020, I built a vivarium for dart frogs, hoping to acquire Ranitomeya sirensis "Rio Patchiteya Yellow" or possibly "Orange". I let it settle in for some time, and then when I thought it was ready to start looking for frogs, our summer was ridiculously hot and I didn't feel good about shipping lil babies in 110+ degree weather; as the temperatures cooled down, I wasn't able to find any availability on either of those morphs at all. Temps continued to cool and I finally concluded that if I wanted to get frogs before it was too cold, I had to make another choice; I ended up going back to a morph of the species that had been my original first choice before I fell for Ranitomeya sirensis: Dendrobates auratus. Better beginner choice, anyway. I got three "Costa Rica Green and Black" from Josh's Frogs:

Boontus (left) and Cyrano (right):

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Moving Forward

When I switched this blog over to Pelican in late 2020, I always planned to set up a theme and otherwise customize how it rendered on the site, but I ended up getting busy applying for jobs and then working and never got around to it. I am hoping to start doing much more regular updates again, so I am reviving that intention and tentatively planning it for "by the end of the year", although that's probably overly optimistic given how many other things I also would like to achieve by the end of the year. Nonetheless, updating the blog and getting more active on it again are definite goals of mine.

As I'm doing most of my writing in Obsidian these days I also anticipate that I will be using markdown for future posts rather than rst. The choice made sense at the time, but moving forward markdown makes more sense. I have a couple hurdles to solve, especially features that rst has that markdown doesn't immediately come with (being able to create inset notes being the biggest one so far). Maybe these updates will be fuel for a couple short posts as well.

I am extremely grateful for where I am in my career right now. I received some generous opportunities and have done my best to make good on them. I am also looking forward to where I want to end up in the long run. I really want to polish and sharpen my skills as a developer, and ideally would like to work with a technology long enough to get deeply proficient in it. (Before I got my current position, I was daydreaming about modern C++; maybe that's still a possibility?) The most fantastic opportunity, in my opinion, would be to work on something in the web3/decentralized web sphere. I strongly believe that peer to peer, decentralized web technologies are the future of the free internet. Cryptocurrencies and blockchains are one aspect of this, but there are others that don't depend on blockchains but leverage other peer to peer technologies and something known as content based addressing, like InterPlanetary File System and its underlying framework, libp2p. I haven't had a good opportunity, time and energy wise, to get into open source contributions on either of these, but I would like to; so setting aside time for that is something I can look at moving into the new year.

I'm also working on a game project with a few friends of mine, and going to start adding blog posts about that as well; you can see the first update here.

Anyway, this is just a brief, general update since so much of my site is out of date right now. Here's to a new year in 2022!

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