Sunday, December 8, 2019
Saturday, December 7, 2019
The day hike began at 1pm, a wonderful and stunning jaunt around Mt. Roberts, overlooking Nelson Lakes. Shantel and I were in great spirits; the weather was overcast and cloudy, but the hike promised to be beautiful and fulfilling even without visibility.
The terrain changed several times; for much of it we were hiking up the side of the mountain in switchbacks, but eventually the trail cut inward off the hillside and into the forest. At that point, we had climbed into the clouds, creating a haunting effect in the woods.
Cresting onto the summit of Mt. Roberts, a cold, bone-chilling wind buffeted us in all directions. But we were treated to some truly stunning cloud movements as it rolled over the top.
We saw lots of bizarre life up there, including this strange moss that I've never seen before.
We could pretty clearly see a final ridge that we were going to ascend over. We powered our way up the mountain. When we ascended the ridge, anticipating that the ridgeline part was over, we would just find... more ridge. Always, every time, just. more. ridge.
It was 8pm. The sun was still in the sky, but light was steadily fading, and we were beginning to wonder when we'd begin descending. The faint, growing fear was kept in check by a steady supply of breathtaking views, however.
We powered onward, not yet worried about our circumstances. The wind wasn't terrible, we still had ~1.5 hrs of light, we had warm gear, and the path was well marked. We kept the conversation going, sharing stories and laughter. We were deliberately staying positive.
Then the path became increasingly less obvious. We were scrambling over huge rocks, up and down and back up again. The hiking was intense, and we wanted to keep moving at a steady clip. It was a full body experience with using our arms for balance and moving us up and down the boulder fields.
- Bring shelter
- Bring a first aid kit
- Check the weather beforehand
- Check the route conditions (talk to the park rangers) and know what you're getting into
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
About two hours ago (11:50pm) I was mugged at gunpoint in Philadelphia. I am safe and unharmed. Only $40 was stolen, I was only threatened and not attacked, and I'm fortunate it was nothing more -- both my phone and credit cards were not taken.
The guy was clumsy. He did a poor job getting my attention, approaching me from behind. I had been on the phone, and at some point he took the phone from me and turned it off, holding it in his hand. There was something strangely human in it, watching him do this thing we all do (ending a phone call).
Once he did and told me to give him my wallet, at first I was incredulous: "For real, you're robbing me?" At which point he waved his gun and said he wasn't fucking around. I was struck by how calm I remained through it, and how agitated he was. He kept demanding my wallet, which I calmly demonstrated was an object not on my person (I only carry an ID, credit card, and small amount of cash). I could see through his eyes the situation, how he was taking this huge risk of armed robbery and coming up disappointingly short, and it was bordering on comical to me. When he disengaged, he unconvincingly told me to run. I didn't, but walked away briefly before turning around to try to follow him as he fled the scene.
I was genuinely surprised he gave me my phone and cards back. He probably didn't want to risk getting tracked. In a strange way, I appreciated that. He wasn't trying to ruin my life, just nick some quick cash off a target. It felt almost like a business transaction, except clumsy and vaguely threatening. I feel hugely grateful I didn't have to add the fear of sexual assault on top of the experience. I am really, really lucky.
The whole experience felt more like a nuisance, a disappointing experience of Philadelphia, rather than a deeply traumatic experience. I almost didn't call the cops because so little damage was actually done, but then decided to in case he could be stopped from committing further crimes. The police were on the scene within minutes, picked me up and then scoured the area. It was impressive how quick their response time was, and it was a whole fleet of cars working in unison combined (briefly) with a helicopter search. For all the shit we give police forces about everything they do wrong (and there are plenty legitimate grievances to be sure), they certainly had their act together in responding here. Perhaps that partially had to do with white male privilege, but in this case I'll take it.
I was pleased with how I handled the situation, but it wasn't flawless. I'd give myself an 80% at best. I remained calm and under control, calculating my risk of fighting back versus complying. But, I was walking distracted late at night, and I know better there, and didn't assertively defend certain items (like allowing him to take the phone out of my hand). I don't like that he could've walked off with information that could've led to identity theft. I could tell the guy was all bluster, I could've defended myself better.
During the line of information gathering from one of the police officers, he asked me where I was walking from. I had been on a 45 minute walk, enjoying the night air, to get home. I informed him I was coming from downtown, about 30 minutes away, to which he exclaimed, "You WALKED?!" Call me a naïve Pacific Northwest hippy, apparently it's unheard of to enjoy a nighttime walk through sketchy parts of Philadelphia. It's moments like these that make me realize I'm a full-blown Polyanna when it comes to concerns about "sketchy neighborhoods" or fear of crime. We'll see how this event impacts that spirit, up to now I've generally believed that life is too short to be afraid of it and I'll just deal with the consequences when they come to me. I hope this event doesn't make me fearful of walking at night, I quite enjoy having that freedom and liberty.
I'm feeling lucky to be alive and mostly unaffected by a situation that could've turned devastating very quickly.
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Favorite moment of the day: sitting in a conference room with a former CEO of Teach For America, talking about how to make life easier for Montessori teachers. Other attendees included a former SVP of Strategy for Teach For America, a tech entrepreneur previously listed on the "Top 40 Under 40," an engineer who built up a platform to remotely monitor the insulin levels of his diabetic daughter in his spare time, and Jeremy who originally built Transparent Classroom on nights and weekends to support the launch of a Montessori school.
There's nothing but all-stars in this room: welcome to the big leagues. It feels like I'm standing among giants, I'm scared witless thinking I'm so outclassed and under-qualified, and yet they still fully engage with my input. It's a positively thrilling experience.
Monday, November 14, 2016
Today marks the beginning of new journey in life: I have left a rewarding and stable job with my previous employer, Amazon Web Services, to go pursue a rare and exciting opportunity working with Jeremy Lightsmith as Engineer #2 on his startup, Transparent Classroom.
Transparent Classroom is a classroom management software platform for Montessori teachers and admins. It has grown 3.5x annually for the past two years, with over 270 schools now signed up, and is commonly referred to as the most user-friendly and useful platform in the Montessori edtech space. Jeremy accomplished all this over four years as the sole engineer while also wearing all the other hats necessary to get a startup off the ground: CEO, CTO, CFO, admin, customer support rep, trainer, sysadmin, sales rep, and designer (to name a few). Oh, and he's also a husband, parent, Agile coach, and facilitator. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to work with someone so passionate to improve education and so capable to actually make a difference with a product that delights users.
I'm thrilled to work with a small and scrappy team, all of us dedicated to improving education and the lives of teachers and children. I can now apply my skills in software engineering to make the world a better place, which was what drew me to programming in the first place.
I would like to thank Jeremy for the opportunity to join the team, to my family for their support and understanding as I give up a perfectly good job at one of the biggest names in software to go pursue my passion, to my friends and community that supported me as I deliberated over the decision and offered such valuable advice. I am so fortunate to be able to take this risk, and part of being able to conquer my fears of the unknown comes from the support and growth through being part of this amazing community.