Wednesday, February 18, 2009

And the thing I meant to say earlier

I was cleaning out my desk and happened upon a great fortune-cookie fortune. It reads:

Your future is whatever you make of it, so make it a good one.

It was great to see this on the eve of a fascinating new future, of course.

This is not really a fortune at all. It is an anti-fortune.

Fortunes tell you what is going to happen, in such a way that you feel powerless to prevent it. "A guest will arrive unexpectedly." "You will meet with success." "Lucky numbers: 2 4 13 25 36 39". "Someone close to you will die soon."

This one tells you that you can shape your own destiny. Paradoxically, it critiques other fortunes but it is a fortune. It is a universal truth that is uniquely personal, yet it was one of thousands of copies distributed randomly to Chinese-food lovers.

Without warning

The end of my time at Lockheed has snuck up on me. My last day is tomorrow, and it's basically a half day.

On Monday, my coworkers treated me to a farewell lunch. They had all signed a poster and we had a good time.

My heart is getting a little full with it all. I started getting misty as I piled up a year and a half of notes and file folders, ready for the memory hole. I've been finding things in my desk that remind me of people. There are about twenty people on the team, so I have already started wondering if I've seen some of them for the last time. I hope they'll email, but I don't know.

I had this guitar in my garage for several months and I told our janitor lady that she could have it. I finally brought it in today, but I didn't see her. We talk whenever she comes around on her rounds. I'll leave it with someone if I don't see her.

The transition has been incredibly fast. It is an off season for the relocation company, so the movers are coming tomorrow. They take our car on Friday and we fly out to Seattle on Saturday. And I start with Amazon on Monday. Our house is in disarray. Alex seems to be worn out and irritable because of all of it. Sarah is working hard as usual.

In a way, I feel like it's better than the alternative, so I won't be pining away after my colleagues while I take vacation on a beach somewhere.

I'm a little nervous about the job, but I am eager to dive in too. My new manager sent me some reading material on software metrics, so I've been dusting off my data mining skills and learning about what makes a useful metric.

I'll be working downtown in the Columbia Center, whose parking rates are highway robbery, so I'm considering taking the bus instead. From my parents' house, the 132 is pretty direct all the way into downtown. That would make home less accessible in an emergency, unfortunately. Maybe I can find a cheaper garage. Amazon would subsidize my parking to some degree, but I don't know what the rates are like.

Give me a mail if you want to see me after we're settled in.

I'm also thinking about starting a technical blog now that I'm outside the Lockheed Martin firewall.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Fate, it seems, has a strange sense of irony

I'm moving back to Seattle! Believe me, I am as shocked as you are. I haven't lived in my hometown for seven years.

As you may know, I've been working on defense software for Lockheed Martin in Littleton for the past year and a half. I'm proud of my work at Lockheed and I don't regret the last several months by a long shot.

Over that time, Sarah and I came to realize two things: we are not mountain people, and we're not really outdoor people. We've made some great friends and had some fun times, but we're ready to be close to family again, in the wet and woolly and green Pacific Northwest.

I'm starting work for Amazon shortly (yes, that Amazon) as a software developer. As an AI guy interested in getting out on the cutting edge, this was a chance I couldn't afford to pass up. To be honest, I racked my brains after my on-site interviews, replaying them for several sleepless nights afterwards, finding ways I could've answered technical questions better. I read somewhere that rat brains do this after the rat runs a maze. Their neurons actually fire in the same pattern that they did while running the maze, dozens of times.

My C++ and SQL questions were fun and interesting. I was thinking about "find the longest palindrome in a string" for several days afterward, still looking for performance hacks.

I was pretty sure I blew my last interview after venturing into some chancy territory about internet technology, with which I have a nodding familiarity, but no great expertise. You can imagine my surprise and my relief when, after my last sleepless night, I looked up the difference between a GET and a POST and found out that I had basically remembered correctly, in a somewhat stressful situation. That was when I began to believe it all might happen.

Last Friday, the hiring manager talked to me again about the position, proposing an interesting project for my first several months, then all was go. The recruiter made me an offer I couldn't refuse, and we were off.

I'm suppose to be there two weeks from today, but I have trouble believing the relocation can happen so quickly. On the other hand, I've been surprised already.