I’ve been on hiatus for a few months. Aside from the technical writing I usually do on this blog, I haven’t pushed much extracurricular code or read any programming books. So what have I been doing?
Warning: This is going to come off as a diary entry about my life and is not intended as a free, highly technical post about programming. Come back later for more of that.
In mid-April, Canonical went through a major focus shift and with it a major round of layoffs. The company sought to become a more profitable business, and no longer believed the innovative work being done around Unity 8, Mir, and convergence could lead to profitability, and instead decided to focus on snaps and the cloud. Most of us working on the projects I mentioned got the axe, as well as others in various other departments.
To quote Vonnegut: “So it goes.”
I understand the shift from a business perspective, but have many opinions about the layoff process and the future of Ubuntu. Ticket price is currently set at two whiskey drinks. Ubuntu is shifting to Gnome 3 by default in October, making the line between Ubuntu and Fedora a bit cloudier. The open-source community lost a unique desktop environment, an interesting (if ambitious) vision for the future, and a large number of contributors putting in at least 40 hours a week.
In the meantime, my wife had set a date to leave her job and go back to graduate school in another state. We needed to find a new place to live in the next couple months and sell our home in Indiana. Needless to say, losing 2/3 of our income added a little bit of stress to the situation.
A Matter of Health
Ever since I got back from FOSDEM in February, I was slowly losing weight. No matter how much I ate, the pounds continued to drop. After the layoff, my health deteriorated quickly. Going to bed each night, I could hear my heart beating way too fast. I got tired walking up the stairs. It literally hurt to sit on my bony behind. With the layoff, my health insurance was also gone unless I wanted to pay $500+ each month to “take advantage” of COBRA.
So it goes.
Fortunately, I was able to find a new job fairly quickly. There are lots of companies looking for programmers right now, so I had my pick of interesting domains to apply to. I landed at a company called Illinois Rocstar (IR for short) as a Research Engineer, working on SBIR contracts for the Department of Energy and Department of Defense. The company is mostly non-traditional programmers, and I came in with a lot to offer as far as writing software, building applications, and designing processes. It’s a fairly unique experience to work in the world of science with co-workers who come from very different backgrounds. I work in an office again, but it’s an office of fewer than 20 people in the beautiful University of Illinois Research Park.
New Bill of Health
With new job on hand, I acquired new health insurance as quickly as possible and went to see a physician. The diagnosis: adult-onset diabetes. Over the past three months, I have made drastic changes to my diet and significantly improved my health. It’s amazing how carb-heavy the American diet is; added sugar pervades practically everything we eat. I currently make most of my own meals at home, and it has intensified my love of the culinary arts.
We found a new home in our new city (Champaign-Urbana, IL) quickly: it’s a 1913 arts & crafts style home with a tiny yard, big kitchen, and a basement. It’s walking distance to downtown, parks, and grocery stores. We adore this home and were really lucky to find it.
For a while, it seemed the pattern was all tragic events followed by a series of purely positive events. But the story is never quite that simple.
While my health has been slowly improving, my great-grandmother passed away naturally, and my parents revealed that they had been secretly dealing with some health issues of my father’s. Although I am getting better, I still have a ways to go before I could be described as fully healthy; but I’ve found a new physician in Champaign, and we’re working on it.
Although we found the new house in Champaign quickly, selling our home in Indiana is another story. With the housing market the way it is right now, every schmuck on the street was telling us we would sell our home the first weekend we listed. The reality is that it took about 80 days to find a buyer, and the closing date is 134 days after listing (still a couple weeks from the date I’m writing this post). This meant two mortgages for a couple months, which has forced us to stretch our dollar a bit. The good news, of course, is that I will no longer be a real estate mogul in a short couple of weeks.
Enough of my sob story.
I’m just about ready to start looking for opportunities to get involved in programming outside of the office again. I have at least one mobile application in mind, I could blog forever about all the React I’ve done and scientific tools I’ve learned to use, and I’ll be looking for locals to start sharing my experience with.
Time to get back in the game.