Two months ago, I moved to California.
Milpitas, CA, to be precise — from the Spanish for "the little cornfields," a colorful city with a diverse population and an aroma to match. For the past several weeks, I've called it home, making the 30-odd-minute commute each morning to my day job as a software engineer for a large Bay Area technology company.
I haven't written a blog post in over two years. I thought it might be time to fix that.
A lot has happened since my last piece of public writing on the Internet, a not-at-all bombastic exploration of why Google is in serious trubs, my friend. (Incidentally, they have since rectified my biggest criticism of theirs by uniting everything under the Google Play brand; but that's neither here nor there).
In those two short years, I graduated from a university that I once got kicked out of, got hired full-time by a company I've idolized since freshman year of high school, bought my first car, put on some weight, started dating a person, lost that weight, and missed Southwest Rapid Rewards A-list status by 1,000 measly points. Still a little bitter about that one. But I digress.
Klaus, the Volkswagen GTI
Life has been pretty hectic for the past quite-a-long-while, mostly in a good way, but certainly not without its stresses; and as much as most things have stayed the same, a lot has changed, some of it in pretty drastic ways. You already know what's the same, so let's talk about what's different.
Trying to describe the differences between Rhode Island and California is like trying to describe the differences between pigs and humans — there are a suprising number of similarities for how incredibly different they are.
For starters, they're both broke. Like, really broke. If you divide the states' debt by their respective numbers of citizens, you wind up with about 3/4 of a Fiat 500 per person. Remarkably, though, the difference between the two is less than $100 per resident. What is different, though, is how each state deals with its debt.
Rhode Island makes cuts and increases taxes on hospitals and universities, while public works projects like road repairs take years past their original due dates to reach completion (save the notable exception of the lovely new Pawtucket Bridge). California, on the other hand, from what I can tell, just likes to pretend their debt doesn't exist: the roads are immaculate, social services are all still fully-functioning, but there's always kind of this vague sense that we're spiraling into an inescapable black hole of insolvency.
So we've got that going for us, which is nice.
Beyond that, it becomes more apparent each day just how incredibly out of touch with the rest of the world Silicon Valley seems to be. At times, it's amusing, like when my apartment complex informed me that my rent would include a monthly, mandatory "valet trash" fee (yes, it's exactly what it sounds like). Other times it's unsettling, like when protesters go rogue and deliver a portrayal of an entitled Google employee that's entirely too convincing to be comfortable. And still other times it's frightening, because you can't help but wonder how much of that world has already become a part of you.
But most of all, it's expensive. Found a nice one-bedroom for under $2,000? You are getting a deal, my friend. But hey, at least avocados, olives, and apricots are cheap!
Anyway, in spite of the (mostly financial) downsides, the Bay Area is an absolutely wonderful place. The scenery is pretty hard to beat, there are miles and miles of open road for driving, and the weather is… well, you know what the weather's like, I don't need to say it again. It's been an adjustment, but I gotta' say, I'm really loving it out here so far.
What can I say about my life, other than that it's pretty darn good. I don't have much to complain about, and even if I did, what's the point?
I'm not very good at talking about myself. Maybe you can help.
I have picked up a few new interests since the last time I blogged, though. Thanks to a Top Gear indoctrination by my former Australian roommate beginning in the summer of 2010, I've become quite a fan of cars and driving — fortuitous for someone who now lives where everything is so spread out. I travel a bit more than I used to, too, and I've recently become midly obsessed with making my apartment do cool things, especially those involving some nifty lighting. Maybe you'll hear more about all that in the coming months.
Which brings us to this blog. Looking back on the 30-some-odd posts on my old blog (which, incidentally, is still available should you wish to peruse it), I found that most of them were fairly technical, and many of them were… frankly not tremendously interesting. Even for me.
As I've been saying this whole time, though, a lot has changed since two years ago, and I think it's only fitting that this blog change to keep up with the times.
Going forward, this blog is going to be more personal. I'll be talking about the things I'm doing, the ideas that fascinate me, and sometimes the trips I take with my faithful Klaus. Software engineering topics will be more of an occasional footnote, both to appeal to a wider audience, and to avoid conflicts of interest with my new job.
It'll be a different kind of blog, and a different kind of writing for me — there are bound to be some rough points during the transition. But I hope you, dear reader, will come along for the ride.