Antisociology

Things I learned

Posted in Uncategorized by antisociology on September 6, 2011

Things I’ve learned about myself and (online) dating in the last four weeks:

  • I actually can get dates. Better yet, some of them are actually willing to go on a second!
  • It’s okay to go out with lots of people. In fact, it’s a great idea within limits.
  • People don’t always resemble their online dating profiles, in both good and bad ways.
  • Anyone you have a bit of emotional/personal/intellectual connection with is worth a second date.
  • Procrastination when it comes to sending the first e-mail or texting/calling after the first date is bad.
  • Short first messages seem to work better than longer messages.
  • Planning and scheduling are hard.
  • Take it slow, keep it fun, let ’em have some space.
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Growing Up

Posted in Uncategorized by antisociology on August 21, 2011

I think I never really grew up. Sure, I can handle my finances and have built a career path for myself that has lots of great options. I can cook for myself and know how to take care of general apartment things. When it comes to interpersonal matters, though, I have a tough time.

I’ve been trying to keep my social calendar filled. I’ve been doing this partly as a way to force myself to learn these things and partly as a way of moving on from some unfortunate experiences that have been happening this year. Dating is tough! Between juggling work, time with friends, and possible dates… I’m exhausted! I think my limit is two dates per week MAX.

I have a social energy quota and it gets depleted pretty quickly.

Product Management

Posted in Uncategorized by antisociology on July 10, 2011

One of the really challenging things about my new job is that I’ve taken a role I haven’t really formally taken on before. In addition to learning all about a new and complex suite of products as well as a new company culture, I’m really learning a new job at the same time. To be honest, I wasn’t even really sure what a “product manager” did when I started interviewing (the product was just that interesting).

I’m approaching the role as sort of an internal entrepreneur. Once I’m up to speed, I expect that I’ll be dividing my time between looking for new functionality, prioritizing feature requests from the field, and doing a little project management in juggling requests. The goal is to make sure that products keep evolving and improving but in a way that is consistent with the current state and future goals of the business.

This is a lot different than my role as a software engineer. Although I was also responsible for keeping the product going, deciding which features to build was somewhat out of my control. I could decide how to build things, but what or when was largely decided by other people.

This has actually been a tough transition on a lot of levels. First off, I am used to having been the one to have built… well… if not everything, close to everything. Secondly, I am having to make a transition from thinking in terms of code, to thinking in terms of documents. There are simply too many issues to keep track of for me to get knee deep in code.

Heavy

Posted in Uncategorized by antisociology on July 4, 2011

Dear Reader,

I apologize for the lengthy intervals between my posts. Between work, matters of the heart, and my own laziness I’ve neglected this blog. So, here’s what’s been going on.

Over the winter I started seeing a girl I’ve had a huge crush on for a while. Unfortunately, the relationship ended. I’m still not completely sure what happened. From what I can tell, it may have been bad timing or, more likely, my own inexperience with courtship. Love seems sort of like credit to me. To get good credit, one has to borrow money, but to borrow money, one has to have good credit. Maybe that’s what dating is. Borrowing a small piece of someone’s heart for a period of time — a small enough investment to get you in the door so you can build up enough credit to say “I love you” and mean it.

An interesting observation about myself. I recently learned (via Facebook, natch), that this girl (as well as another former love interest) has started seeing someone else. This revelation stirred up a response I didn’t expect. I actually got jealous and sad and lonely. To be honest, it still smarts a bit. I’m not sure why this reaction surprises me. I guess I always thought I was the sort of person who would react more cooly and rationally about this sort of thing.

Earlier this year, I had surgery on my finger to remove a benign growth. The surgery was fine, and I recovered in a few weeks. My finger is shorter than it was, but I have full use of it and don’t really notice.

Two weeks ago, I left the company I joined three years ago and started a new job. There were a number of reasons for leaving, none holding greater sway than any other. There were a lot of reasons to join the new place too (a decision wholly separate from whether to leave or not). So, I have a new position (non-engineering), in a new company. There’s a lot to learn, and I’m excited about gulping it all down so I can start making a real dent in things.

It’s summer now. This is not my favorite season, but there are still moments when I want time to stand still so I can just enjoy the moment. I’m working on filling up my life, finding a good balance between work (which I care about deeply), and everything else. I’ve recently started trying to paint again and have been trying to spend more of my time with people new and old.

I hope we can keep in touch more as I settle into this next chapter of my life.

With love, John

What I care about in 2011

Posted in Uncategorized by antisociology on February 6, 2011

Usually, around this time of year, I’d write something about what I tried and liked last year (2010). This time, I think I’ll take the time to try and communicate what I’m caring about this year. In no particular order:

  • The NYPD “bike crackdown” —  The NYPD is currently strictly enforcing traffic laws for bicycles. I have no problem with such enforcement if it is applied equally across all road users (pedestrians are also road users). It is not. As a cyclist, I’m not asking for special dispensation… just equal consideration. Currently, the written laws, enforcement thereof, public attitude, and physical infrastructure are biased towards motorized vehicles and pedestrians.
  • Elected Officials — I have never been one to contact elected officials in the past. However, with the NYPD bike crackdown (and with an interest in promoting alternatives to single-occupant automobiles) I’ve become much more interested in actively voicing my opinion to my elected officials.
  • Life balance — To be honest, work is most of what I know. I grew up with life revolving around external reward and certificates of achievement. I’m hoping I can find a good balance between my own personal ambition, my professional life, and my personal relationships this year. I realize it’s something I need to work on, but I’m also really afraid of things not working out (thanks, laissez-faire capitalism)
  • Mechanical keyboards — I’m a research and development engineer. I spend my life at a keyboard writing software and research papers. A comfortable and positive typing experience is really important. Last month, I rediscovered the joys of a great mechanical keyboard and now I’m out to try as many different keyswitches as I can. I’ve gone so far as to order my own keyboard for use at my office.
  • Art — I’d really like to get back to making art. Last year I bought a bunch of painting supplies. I even prepared some canvases. Unfortunately, I never did sit down and start painting. I hope to rectify that this year. Perhaps I’ll even try and learn an instrument. Banjo and guitar are two instruments I’ve been wanting to learn. I’m also open to re-learning how to play the violin (I played for six years in grade school).

Given that it’s the beginning of the year, that’s already quite a bit. I’ll try and write more on each in the coming weeks.

Tweedier: Bike Commuting in 2010

Posted in Uncategorized by antisociology on April 12, 2010

In the last post, I talked about stuff that bike commuting stuff that worked. One thing I didn’t particularly like about the One-Way, was the position it put me in. The position didn’t seem quite right for commuting and errand running. In addition, the drop bars limited my options for carrying cargo on the front. So, this past weekend, I cleaned up Rolly the Raleigh and installed a new front end consisting of Jitensha/Nitto flat bars, shellaced cork grips, Shimano flat bar levers, and a front basket.

The front basket replaces the Nigel Smythe Li’l Loafer bag I used to use and provides a lot more carrying capacity. I took it on an easy grocery run today and easily carried home some OJ, a bottle of olive oil (not that light!), bananas, coffee, and some peas in addition to my usual bag of stuff and my heavy-ass u-lock. The Raleigh’s low-trail fork made handling with a front load a breeze. The bars are wide enough to proved some leverage, but not so wide as to make it difficult to thread your way through the city.

After riding around on the setup for two days, I think I may need to raise the bars a little, despite my preference (a holdover from riding race bikes the last few years). The grips and bars just aren’t that comfortable with a lot of weight on them and my hands get a bit tired after, say, more than 30 minutes at a stretch.

While I had the bike apart, I cleaned things up a little and did a general look around inspection in addition to replacing the front brake pads. I found some pretty deep dings in the paint including some on the underside of the chainstays where the kickstand mounted. Before building the bike back up, I wrapped that section of the stays with hemp twine.

A few months ago, I replaced the worn out stock brake pads with a set of Velo-Orange squeal free pads. They were definitely squeal-free, but I could never get them set up. If I set them up to provide good power there would be a lot of fork shudder under braking. If I set them up not to shudder, then they wouldn’t provide good stopping power. In addition, the pads seemed to pick up a lot of tiny metal shards from the rims. They did remain squeal-free, however.

I moved the VO pads to the rear (which I don’t use much) and replaced them with the much heralded Kool-Stop salmon pads. These have been fantastic. Brakes that I had previously been thinking of replacing have taken on a new life. The pads provide excellent squeal- and shudder-free power and are easy to modulate. Two thumbs up.

Bring on the Pain

Posted in Uncategorized by antisociology on January 11, 2010

Last year I dipped my toes into the local bike racing scene in Central Park. Last Friday, I finally plunked down the cash for a USAC racing license so I’m now official a category five racer. This still seems a little comical to me, given that I’ve hardly done anything resembling training in the last year. I’ve barely run, and barely ridden my bike. It’s been almost a year and a half since I’ve felt the need to do maintenance on the race bike. Under normal circumstances, I would’ve done major overhauls/rebuilds twice a year. That should give an indication as to how much less I’ve been riding.

So, hopefully, this will be the year I get off my butt and actually do things. As in running, I’ve found that I can forget how much I like cycling until I’m actually on the bike, rolling along. I forget enough that I don’t go out which just leads to even more gloom and despair and lack of motivation. I’m not generally one for New Year’s resolutions, but I’m going to try and get up early enough to get an hour and a half to two hours on the bike before work.

Of course, saying things like that without goals is somewhat pointless. To that end, I want to be well on my way to upgrading to category four by the end of the year, and definitely want to be there by the end of next year. That means that by the end of next year, I need to have raced 10 mass start races. So, let’s say that I want to do seven races this year with at least two top ten finishes.

Given that I placed 11th in a late season race last year, I think that should be doable. The challenge is going to come from dealing with disruptions from other directions. I’ve just found out that my landlord wants to sell the apartment I’m renting. This means that I need to move in June, which will most likely result not only in adjusting to a new apartment, but also the discombobulation of looking for a new apartment. The last time I was looking for places, I had the luxury of having afternoons essentially free. Now I’m working a full-time job and I’m not sure how I’m going to be able to swing this. Weekend mornings, I guess.

Time is a Universal Solvent

Posted in Uncategorized by antisociology on July 6, 2009

It’s hard to face the fact that July has already started. Whatever happened to June? Unseasonably rainy weather aside, we are in the middle of what academics call the summer semester. Usually, for me, this means tons of miles on the go-faster bike, lots of trips to see movies and museums, and gallons upon gallons of frozen blueberries (my favorite summertime treat).

So far, this summer has been a field of uneventfulness punctuated by intriguing, if not exciting, adventure. I’ve gone on a few rides with the Brooklyn By Bike crew and, in the process, met a new friend whose company I adore. On a grocery run, I discovered a new “scotch” that is made in New York. Having not seen it anywhere else, I of course paid the exorbitant asking price for a half (!) bottle.

Long lost people from my past have started to resurface. Just this past week, I met up with two college friends I hadn’t seen in at least the seven years I’ve lived in NYC. One had changed on the outside, but was still quite the same on the inside. The other still looked the same as I remembered her from years ago, but had grown up on the inside. It’s always interesting to me, as a former sociologist, to see the essence of people. “Everything is socially constructed,” goes the chant of the sociology grad student. It’s a hard pill to swallow. The thought that our character — the ways in which we define ourselves and set ourselves apart from one another — is not really our own is unsettling. So, it’s comforting in a way, to find examples where this doesn’t seem to be true.

In a fit of baking, I tried to make scones with strawberries and white nectarines. Unfortunately, I added the fruit too soon, and the sugar and water in the fruit turned my dough into an unrecoverable mass of batter. I suppose the lesson is to add the fruit after the dough is laid out. Come to think of it, that’s how I made my asian pear scones last time. Go figure. Well, at least the cheddar muffins came out.

On the subject of cooking, I finally got around to roasting chicken sans butter or olive oil and am pleased to report that it’s the way to go. Chicken, with skin on, has enough fat that you don’t need to add additional fat. I still need to try it with a non-kosher chicken to see if it is just as good. Kosher chicken, if you didn’t know, is pre-brined as part of the kosher-ing process (I totally made that word up).

So, that’s my summer. Lots of work, a little cooking, and just a dash of catching up and getting smitten. What’s on your plate?

Attitude shift

Posted in Uncategorized by antisociology on May 2, 2009

Loyal readers, I’m afraid I have to apologize for not keeping in touch these last few weeks (months?). To be honest, nothing of note has really happened. I’ve changed a little, though. Well, at least my attitude toward certain things has.

I’ve started investing less of myself in work. Part of this stems from the difficulty of working with a team that’s on the other side of the country. Lately, I’ve started fighting less and taking orders more. I still work hard, I just don’t fight as hard when I think something is wrong. In short, I’ve been acting more like an employee and less like … well … like a founder (which, honestly, I’m not).

I’ve also been trying to care less about any particular girl. Those of you who know me in person know that I can get emotionally invested fairly early on. This, plus my lack of dating experience means that things don’t usually go well. I’m fairly certain I may have blown it with a very hot prospect. At the end of our second date, I wussed out on kissing this particular lady. Several friends advised me to send her a text message and ended up (quickly!) coming up with a haiku. I’m told this is too romantic. I dunno. Haiku is a fairly low investment in my book. It’s basically word play. In any case, this girl seems less chatty and interested in going out now. C’est la vie, I suppose. It’s probably a little early to call time of death on this one, but I can’t but help but feel as if she’s trying to put a certain distance between us.

While I know my friends (all girls) meant well, I suspect that they were speaking of their own in-relationship desires, rather than from the perspective of girls being courted.

I really need to work on this kissing issue, methinks. The whole kissing and flirting thing. Well, maybe just dating in general. Is it really a matter of going out with whole bunch of people? Who has the time or energy to do that?!

Cheddar muffins fresh out of the oven.

Cheddar muffins fresh out of the oven.

To assuage my feelings, I’m making cheddar muffins right now. The cheese guy I bought my cheese from was bragging about how you only needed half what the recipe calls for because his cheese is so flavorful. Ever the pessimist, I’ve made a half batch at full strength, and a half batch a half strength. We’ll see what happens.

Speaking of the cheese guy, I have pretty much been using my commuter bike for all of my trips around the city. Grocery shopping has been especially pleasant. The last challenge I have yet to master is how to get bike and groceries up the stairs at the same time.

Cupcake Commuter

Posted in Uncategorized by antisociology on March 28, 2009

I’ve been commuting on the bike for a few weeks now. Except for Mondays, when I have to lead a group run in the evening, I pretty much ride every day so long as it’s not raining in the morning. I love bike commuting. I have a fairly stress-free commute, so that may be part of it. Really, though, I look forward to the 30-40 minutes of easy pedaling before I get into the grind of the workday. To me, it’s preferable to stuffing myself into a crowded subway car.

My commute takes me down along the Hudson. I start by going south through the west side of Central Park, cut across 72nd, and then zip down the west side bike path. You can find a map of my commute at MapMyRide. I love seeing the greenspaces, strange installation art (at least I think it’s art), and the Intrepid every morning.

I’ve also started taking my bike on general errands. I’m still always amazed that my bike is still where I locked it. Last weekend I rode it to the grocery store and back, strapping my bounty to the top of my rear rack. It was a little awkward. I’ll probably be getting some grocery panniers soon, and have a really nice front rack on order.

Last night, I not only rode to work, but also ran some errands, met up with some friends, and stopped to pick up some cupcakes on the way home. The cupcakes made it home largely intact, if a bit jostled.