De Formae

Latin: With Regards to the Subject of Beauty

How many beautiful things just evaporate into the wind?

One day on my way home from work, I descended the elevator onto the train platform, listening to music. I forget which song I was listening to, but whatever it was, it definitively clashed with the noise of the station. Because this was not ordinary station noise—footsteps, chatter, rustling of paper maps and bags. As soon as I placed the sound, I quickly removed my headphones and stuffed them into my bag.

There was a man playing a beautiful, haunting, nostalgic melody on an electric keyboard. He had a sign up next to him, a whiteboard on a stand. “I hope everyone is having a wonderful day!” it said. “Just trying to get my music out. Hopefully my music will be heard. Feel free to let me know what you think!” This was followed by his Venmo information and, below the sign, a red cloth bag. Until my train came I stood and leaned against a pillar, listening to the music. It was the most amazing music I’ve ever heard, and I wanted to record it, but I hardly had two minutes before my train came and I had to leave for home. I never did let him know what I thought, but I did drop a twenty into the cloth bag.

My fiancé is an artist, but not like me. He didn’t “draw”, he did literally everything else. Anything on the border of that word was fair game—typography, topology, graphic design, architectural sketches, blueprints, you name it—but never proper art. At least, not anymore.

For a long while I had the nicest handwriting (don’t look all envious, it’s a thoroughly useless skill to be good at, in fact it winds you up addressing a lot of envelopes), but then I met him and that changed. Whenever he would come to visit, and for a while even after he was living with me, he would leave me little notes. “Good morning, love. Have a nice day today.” “So you know, I’m headed out to buy some groceries, I’ll be back in an hour or so.” “Hey, darling, would you mind putting a can of soda in the freezer for me so it’s nice and cold when I get home?” I used to keep all his notes. Then there got to be too many and I stopped. When we moved, I left them at my parents’ place.

My youngest sister is a writer—among other things, she does wear other hats—and I used to have frequent conversations with her when I had yet to realize that amateur fiction is something I am neither good at nor particularly enjoy. She has a way of beautifully crafting circular metaphors, where a person does a thing and the thing is blue, and then through the course of the story it shifts colors to gold and then to red but then finally, and usually this comes after the character dies, it shifts back to blue and it’s wonderful and reflective and sad and I am not doing it justice with this poor artist’s description.

I used to want to write down her eloquent phrasings and plots, but then at one point, I was driving her to an event of some description, and she said something particularly eloquent, something about golden braids. I wanted to write it down but I couldn’t pull over to do so as we were pressed for time, and I asked if she could write it down for me and she said, no. I asked why and she said, maybe it’s better to let some words just become air.

There is so much beauty in this world and much of it is unobserved, or, perhaps worse, unnoticed. I wonder who else who heard that man at the station is still haunted by his music. I wonder who else saw my fiancé’s doodlings and notes and the way he organized our bedroom and thought of Sen no Rikyū’s ideals of simplistic natural beauty. I wonder who else read my sister’s metaphors and plots and was moved by their eloquence. It’s entirely possible that I’ll never know.

But why is it even my first impulse, when I see something beautiful, to capture it? Why is it humanity’s first impulse—for this I presume is the reason people put pretty birds in cages? We desire to possess what is beautiful. My justifications involve a desire to experience the beauty more than once and my memory’s inadequacy at satisfying this desire, but they’re just that, aren’t they? Justifications. If you have a seemingly different thought process but it still winds you up with the same result, chances are you wrote the bottom line before the arguments above it.

I’ve tried to deliberately give up this impulse to capture beauty, because I’ve noticed the capturing detracts from the observation. If you’ve already seen something a million times but are trying to preserve the memory for a later date when you’re liable to have forgotten many of the details, this is a good time for capturing. But if this is perhaps your only chance to see the beauty, just see it. “I want to look at it” clashes violently with “I want a picture” and leads to a poorer overall experience of the beautiful thing, and it seems to me that a faulty memory fully utilized is still better than that same memory mostly half-assed plus a blurry photograph. If you don’t see it again you have one good memory; if you do, you can take the photo next time.

I think the man at the station knew that. Besides the message, he only had his Venmo information on the sign: nowhere people could find his music to listen to more, no Soundcloud or Youtube username. Perhaps my fiancé knew it too, though it’s possible he’s just dismissive of his talents: in a society built on self-deprecation and humility, and among humans for whom words shape reality, it’s not surprising that many people are chronically undervalued. I know my sister knew. Recently, I learned. And now, you know too. I hope it is of use to you.

Working Overtime and a Pesach Away from Home: Week 6 at Upgrow, Inc.

I think my perception of time may be getting out of whack. The weeks go by so quickly, I feel like I write one of these updates every day. I wonder what makes time seem like it goes by so quickly—if I had to venture a guess, it would involve the percentage of time that we spend fully conscious of our surroundings. Childhood is spent in this state in perpetuity, adolescence sees it notably less, and adulthood allows it rarely if at all. If that’s the case, is this a necessary evil that comes along with becoming an adult? Or—and I admit this search for an alternative is motivated by a desire to believe this is a possibility—is there a method to slow time back down again?

I’m not sure. If the root cause is indeed a lack of awareness of grounded reality (as opposed to the abstractions which so often fill modern adulthood), a possible solution would be to systematically cultivate this awareness. But while I’ve done this by accident while intoxicated, the idea of doing it deliberately while not under any external influence is heretofore untested by me. I’ll have to update you on that next week.

I bring this up because of what I mentioned previously – about overcoming akrasia. The issue is that when I was in school, I would sit about, actively procrastinating on an assignment and knowing I was doing so. This was the form of akrasia that I thought I might be dealing with again, perhaps unknowingly. But not so; this new akrasia comes as thinking “I’d like to do this thing tonight” while standing on the train home, then coming home and eating dinner and then suddenly four hours have passed and where on earth did that darkness outside the window come from, oh I guess it’s bedtime now well maybe I’ll get to do the thing tomorrow.

So the problem of overcoming akrasia as a college student was solved by getting so overwhelmingly angry with myself that I had to either get my work done or go crazy, but the problem of overcoming it as a working professional seems to necessitate slowing down the perceived passage of time, or if that’s impossible, learning to get more done faster. (Ideally, it would involve doing both.)

Besides my difficulties with getting extra work done in my downtime, I’m doing very well at my actual job. Last week I worked a few hours overtime getting important projects done on very short notice, and my bosses seem to be very happy with me. I’m assisting in the management transition and taking on as much work as I can, which extends beyond my job description into some agency marketing work, including proofreading blog posts for the company blog.

My old boss had a few odd aspects to his workflow: for example, he always had way more projects than he could feasibly finish, he never assigned due dates or deadlines to anything, he rarely specified goals or provided scope specifications, and he was basically never completely transparent with the rest of the company. My new boss is exactly the opposite of all these things, which seems to be working out a lot better. I hope that, whatever company my old boss decided to work for, that it’s a better culture fit for him. He did say it paid a lot better.

The biggest thing I think I need to do at work is not get complacent with my current success. Life has demonstrated numerous times that it can turn on a dime and I need to be prepared for that possibility; and also, mere adequacy has never really been my style anyway. I need to keep taking on more responsibilities and getting even better at the ones I already have.

We have a contract writer who works on the SEO team with me, and I think I just got about as good as he is at writing articles. Now I think it’s time for me to start blowing his stuff out of the water. There’s not much better you can get for SEO than an A++ grade on Clearscope, but there’s plenty of room to improve in terms of rhetorical quality and speed. In every area, I need to make these sorts of improvements.

Outside of everything work-related, Passover (Pesach) was this past weekend, and this was the first time I had one away from home. I had my birthday away from home as well, but I was in the middle of moving in then, and I’d had very little time for any kind of real ceremony. I ate some cupcakes with friends in the community center and my fiancé bought me a stuffed rabbit. But Pesach… that’s a pretty big deal, the kind of thing my parents typically make a big fancy dinner and bring the extended family over for.

Really, Pesach is more “Jewish Christmas” than Chanukah is, despite the fact that the latter happens around Christmastime. (Other cultures have no obligation to stick their major religious holidays around Christmas, y’know.) So if you’d like, you can say this was sorta like my first Christmas away from home.

I didn’t sit around and mope, don’t worry, I’m not that much of an introvert. In fact, I went to a ceremony that was in fact much larger than my family’s—and I have a big family. There were perhaps thirty people there, a good ten percent of which weren’t even Jewish; they just decided to “come in and make Passover”, as the Haggadah says. And speaking of that, we used a rewritten “rationalist’s Haggadah”, which was equal parts tear-jerking and hilarious. After we ate a nice meal, we told a bunch of stories, sung bad parodies of songs from Hamilton and Portal (which were in fact a part of the rewritten Haggadah), and then hung around in a cuddle pile on beanbags in the living room, telling stupid jokes well into the night. I have a few drawings of this night that I think I’ll post here whenever I get around to finishing them.

The next morning I opened some care packages my parents had sent my fiancé and I, which included a lot of candy and chocolate, pancake and hot cocoa mix. (Why hot cocoa in the late spring? Why not? It’s California, it never gets below 50ºF here. Now’s as good a time as ever.) And I hung around being mostly out of it for most of the day, for some combination of the alcohol, the weed, and the staying up five hours past my normal bedtime, eating chocolate in my PJs. The only problem was that I fell off a motor scooter later that day while running an errand. Still, all in all, a pretty good first-Pesach-as-a-grownup.

What is a Feature Flag?

As a digital marketer, I wind up writing a decent number of articles for clients’ blogs. And as always happens when writing about a topic, I’ve learned a decent amount about these clients’ products. Our current biggest writing-focused client is Split, which is a B2B SaaS company selling feature flags as a service. But hold up, what on earth are feature flags? Well, I’m about to tell you.

A feature flag is a piece of conditional code that you wrap around any new feature, which links that feature to a dashboard. From this dashboard you can turn off the feature, release it to only a subset of your userbase, and generally manage all your features so you can see which ones are in use.

Now, how exactly is this useful? To start with, imagine a pre-existing codebase for a currently-working app. You don’t always start with this—one of the ways to implement continuous deployment is to start with a blank canvas—but this is usually how it works and is one of the most common feature flag use cases. Now, imagine a dev team working on a new feature to add to that app.

Without feature flags, this looks like a number of things, all of which are sub-optimal. You end up releasing only a few times a year because you need to do endless testing to make sure things aren’t broken before you push to production. You get crazy long-lived feature branches that take forever to merge back to trunk (“master” in Github terminology) and make a huge mess when they finally do. Or, worst, you accidentally break something but don’t realize until after you’ve already pushed to production, and you have to do a painful rollback to the previous version to fix the bugs, then re-release afterwards, and deal with the fallout from

With feature flags, the scenario looks much better. Instead of testing with your staff before pushing to production, just test in production on your real users—starting with just a select few of them, who have perhaps opted in to be guinea pigs. Instead of making branches which may or may not outlive their welcome and/or create a merge hell when you try to get them back to trunk, you can do everything straight in trunk. And if you break something anywhere in this process, you can just turn the feature off, no rollback required.

Beyond simply making development less of a headache overall, there are some specific things you can do with feature flags that are much harder otherwise. Some notable examples include continuous integration/delivery/deployment, canary releases and phased rollouts, and dark launches.

Continuous integration is the process of constantly and deliberately merging every code change to trunk (/master). Continuous delivery is constantly pushing each change to a production-like environment where there’s only one step of manual testing before it goes to end users. Continuous deployment is similar to continuous delivery, but without the manual testing: automated testing is the only step between the code deployment and the end users.

Canary releases and phased rollouts are similar in that they both involve releasing new features to only a subset of the userbase at first. With a canary release, the userbase subset is chosen and targeted to be test subjects, and they act like a canary in a coal mine, letting developers know whether the feature is safe to release to the broader public. With a phased rollout, you begin with a subset, which you then slowly ramp up until you’ve released to your entire userbase.

Dark launching is, literally, the process of launching a feature while keeping your users in the dark. Specifically, you use all the portions of your real infrastructure that would ordinarily be used in serving the feature, but you don’t actually show it to users. Feature flags can make this happen by letting you restrict access to only internal users, which lets the developers activate the feature in absence of a real code deployment.

There are a bunch more uses for feature flags – some of which are detailed on Split’s or FeatureFlags’s use cases pages, others can be found on Martin Fowler’s blog.

Farewells and Changes: Week 5 at Upgrow, Inc.

At the beginning of this week, I found out my boss is leaving by the end of this week. Initially, I didn’t know what that was going to mean. After all, despite our previous difficulties, he taught me almost everything I know about SEO. The only way I know how to do most things is the way he taught me. Further, beyond the cursory interactions of office smalltalk and the occasional question about some techie thing, I’d had almost no interaction with anyone else at Upgrow until this week. (Well, except Yitzchak. I suppose I should be saying “anyone more experienced than me”.) The exclusive focus had been becoming a better assistant to my boss, and now that he’s leaving, I didn’t know what to do.

Up to this point, the entire SEO team of our company has been three people: my boss, a part-time contractor, and me. So I realized, with my boss leaving, I was going to have to step up. How was that going to happen? The first obvious thing is that we’re in the process of onboarding two new clients, which is a big front-loaded process involving an SEO audit for their entire website. I’d want to prioritize that in addition to my other projects, and further, get to know the rest of my team better.

With that plan in mind, I got started working on Monday. By Wednesday, I’d met the person who might end up becoming my new boss – a fun guy with an intense smile. He’s part-time for now, and he has other clients, but he may come on full-time later on. (Or maybe not: nothing is static in the realm of business.) I got on very well with him, and it turns out he has a background in tech as well. We talked over lunch about programming, career paths, and other such things.

Over the course of the week, I worked with my soon-to-be-ex-boss to transition all my projects as best as I could, and I got the go-ahead to start sitting in on client meetings (one of my main goals for this week, since it seems like a long time coming). I started deliberately talking more with the co-founders in order to take on more projects, and I’m happy that I click much better with everyone else at the office than I did with my boss. I’m usually a very sociable person, and clicking badly with someone like that threw me off a little. I’m glad it was just that relationship, but I’m also glad I found someone like that so early in my career: it taught me a ton of valuable lessons about the corporate environment which I’m sure to use from here on out.

Overall, everyone, especially the co-founders, have been doing their best to make the transition smooth. Still, there’s always that period where almost nothing actually needs to get done and things can just coast on momentum for a bit, and I think this week was that period. If things are going to go downhill, I anticipate that they’re going to start doing so next week.

As such, for next week, on top of continuing what I started this week, I’m planning on overcoming a bit of akrasia. I keep saying I’m going to get stuff done on the weekends and after my workdays, and yet I keep not doing it. I recall something Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote, about the three types of hard work necessary to accomplish difficult things. First, you have to not run away, which takes seconds; second, you need to sit down and work, which takes hours; and third, you need to stick at it, which takes years. The first and third come naturally to me at this point, but the second one has always been hard.

It could theoretically be comforting, to think that one of my favorite writers has the same issues I do with working long hours, and I could leave it there. But then I think, that’s no excuse. In Eliezer’s own words, reality is not graded on a curve. If I’m trying to do something really difficult, I need to get a lot better at this. I’m not putting in a desperate effort as if my life were at stake, though of course, it is. That’s about to change.

A Partial Guide to Modern Marketing

In the past month, I’ve gone from not having any idea what keyword research is to being able to name four different keyword research tools off the top of my head and have a coherent discussion comparing their benefits and drawbacks. Because trying to keep it all in my head is really not the sort of thing I do, I wrote up a little guide detailing the organic SEO process as I currently understand it, after a full month of Intense Marketing Startup.


There are two types of SEO: on-page and off-page. On-page SEO happens on the website and thus in your direct control as the webmaster; off-page SEO must involve other people. They must always be done in that order, since you can’t get others to interact with content that doesn’t exist.

Fundamentally, on-page optimization involves creating popular content. To do that, you need to know what your audience wants to see. This is both an exercise in knowing what topics your audience is interested in and knowing what format they’d like to consume that content in. Since you’ve presumably niched down enough to know the former, and since the latter is more up to each person’s personal preference, you begin with the former and experiment with different types of the latter until you have something that works.

In order to start creating content that your audience will enjoy, start by figuring out in significant detail what they want. Your best way of finding out what they want is finding what they search for: the process of doing this is commonly called “keyword research”, since the phrases input to search engines like Google are called keywords.

To do keyword research, start with some stuff that you presently think your audience would search for, and search in a tool such as KW Finder. Scroll down their list of results, checking any boxes for results with high “search volume”: average number of monthly searches for that particular keyword. Then export those results, pick a few that seem particularly good, and search for those terms. Keep at this until your fingers bleed. You’ll thank me later.

After this, organize your newly-made master keyword list by topics. I find it easiest to do this by cutting and pasting Excel, visually formatting things into lists until I have a set of topics. Each topic becomes a page or, if there are a decent number of high-volume keywords in that set, a cluster of pages. The largest cluster of highest volume keywords that you most care about ranking for, you reserve for your homepage. These are the keywords that are central to your product: not only the ones your audience would search for any reason, but the ones your audience would search for with the express intent to buy your product. (Or watch your video or read your article or download your whitepaper or whatever it is you want them to do. In the industry we call this action a “conversion”.)

Once the keyword list is organized by topics, use that to create your website organization. More central pages, containing content whose keywords are more relevant to rank for, should go closer to the root directory than more tangential pages. This is because Google gives more search weight to pages closer to the root. While you’re at this, make sure all your URLs are intelligible, not long strings of letters and numbers. Rule of thumb: a human should be able to look at the URL and know what the page is about.

This brings us nicely into the other miscellaneous bits of head-tag trivia which matter significantly for SEO. Search engine “spiders” (probably called that because they “crawl” the “web”, ha ha ha) are still robots, so there is a decent amount of techie trivia you’ll need to understand and fix in order to make your site perform well for SEO.

Head over to ahrefs.com and do a quick site audit, noting down the 3XX pages (page redirects), 4XX pages (missing pages), meta description tag problems (too short or nonexistent; too long is not a problem since their definition of “too long” is incorrect), title tag problems (too long, too short, nonexistent), and h1 tag problems (too many, nonexistent). Some of these things will be seen by end-users (they’ll notice missing pages, or a title tag that’s too long, since the title tag is the actual clickable text of the search result when it comes up), some of them won’t (depending on the page style, end users can’t tell the difference between an h1 and an h2), but they all matter for SEO. Fix as many of them as possible.

A momentary note on creating content: Make sure your content includes words. This may seem obvious, and yet it’s fashionable at the moment to create text-minimalistic pages with tons of images and fancy graphics. This is an SEO nightmare. Google isn’t great at interpreting images yet, so without alt attributes, all those fancy graphics are useless for a search spider, and while they might wow a human audience, good luck finding one when you’re stuck in the deserted wasteland that is page 2 of Google.

Once you have good pages with relevant verbal content arranged in a sensible organization that’s easy for search spiders to crawl, you can move on to off-page SEO. This takes many forms, the most prevalent of which is standard link building.

Because an outbound link can take a user off a page, Google counts outbound links on pages as sort of “votes” for the pages they link to. Having a significant number of inbound links to your site from reputable, relevant sources is akin to having a significant number of votes from influential people in your field. And likewise, bribing for either votes or links is bad, but asking for them nicely can prove useful.

The art of asking nicely for links from reputable, relevant sources is called “link building”, and the standard method is to get on Ahrefs, search for a domain that’s related to yours – it could be a competitor, or an expert in your field – and click on “backlinks”. Make sure links are “dofollow”, as a “nofollow” link gives no “vote”; in English, unless your site exists in multiple languages; and one link per domain, to prevent duplicates. If there are still several thousand results and you need to narrow further, use criteria like filtering for a certain type of website (blogs, ecommerce sites, forums, etc), or filtering the results to include the first word of your most important keyword.

When you’ve exported these lists for a number of comptitors or domain experts, stick them all in a spreadsheet and start systematically going through them. To do that, click on the link, but before you read the content, try to find the author’s contact info. Since the end goal is to send them an email, if you don’t have their email (or contact form or whatever kind of personal contact), the whole exercise is moot. Once you have their email address, then you can read the article to see if you’re likely to get a link from them for your client. If so, draft up a nice email that gets straight to the point, containing these four things and nothing else save some nice-sounding phrasing:

  1. Exactly what you want them to add. I’m talking act as if you could directly push your changes live to their site right now, what would you change? Leave nothing at all up to them; spoonfeed it all right to them. Rule 1 of getting people to do what you want is making it as easy as possible.
  2. How adding this link will help them. If you’re also proposing copy additions, make sure you note that too. Don’t be long-winded about it, just imply that their readers will appreciate the additional info.
  3. The exact links, to both their page which you are referencing and the page you want them to link to. When you do this, don’t do links with anchor text: when receiving emails from people they don’t know, nobody wants to click a link they can’t see, since it could be malware or something. Instead, put the entire link, even if it’s long, in parentheses. Being able to see the link content will put people more at ease.
  4. A signature with your full name, job title, company, and email address. This is another way to put people at ease. By knowing who you are and who you work for, and having your contact information, they trust you more.

A common pitfall that you’ll need to avoid with SEO is running down rabbit holes. You will always have more data than you need, and if you try to incorporate all of it, or be anything less than optimally efficient with it, you will spend your entire damn life on one project. This is the reason that you should find the contact info before you read the article: if you spend all that time reading thousands of articles that may or may not actually get you links, you waste a ton of time. Thus is the peril working with the internet.

And as a final note: there are many, many things you can do with a website where it is crucial that you implement SEO processes as you do them. One of these is a site migration: one of my clients (Seal Software) is working on one now. Here, you must be even more discriminating with which data you use – since some pages are not going to exist on the new site so optimizing them will be useless – and even more careful to implement the precise processes you need, to transfer as much traffic from the old site to the new one as possible.

Priorities, Talks, and an Entirely-Un-Asked-For T-Shirt: Week 4 at Upgrow, Inc.

This week, as I promised I would do last week, I made a priority-ordered list of what needs to get done outside of work. Or, more properly, I decided on the One Thing that I’m going to do as much as possible for the next month, then laid out a rough timeline of the priorities for the rest of my apprenticeship.

In short, for the next month, I’m going to continue focusing on improving my Adulting On My Own skills, both in and outside the workplace. That means making sure I’m financially stable for the long haul, cultivating good relationships with my housemates as well as my coworkers, working on improving my marketing skills, and—this is the hard part—maintaining connections I made while I was staying at Reach.

I also got done a handful of other things which I didn’t plan to do in the last update but which are nonetheless very important. First off, I’ve started having weekly meetings on Friday evenings with Yitzchak, my Praxis pal who finally arrived in SF to work at the office in person about two weeks ago. This past meeting, we discussed humanism, religion, morality, and all other kinds of very fun deep topics.

That’s not all, and this last one surprised me too. After work on Tuesday, I was researching one of our clients in the hopes of understanding their industry better, and I ran across an industry talk the next day that the client was hosting at their office! I could not believe my luck and signed up for the talk right away, telling my advisors at Praxis that I couldn’t make the weekly Wednesday call. After work, I took a leisurely walk down to the office, had a nice dinner at a nearby burger place, and went to the talk. There were all kinds of cool people there, and the actual talk itself was about all sorts of cutting-edge time series database related stuff. I got to see a dashboard for a software that won’t exist until September! (No, I can’t show it to you, you perv. Wait till September like the rest of the public.)

After the talk, I chatted with a bunch of different people with the express intent of getting LinkedIn connections, because I’d eat a burrito with a fork before I’d walk away from a social event without making online connections. Turns out, one of the people I ended up talking to was the person on the client staff who hired our company in the first place! We had a super nice chat, discussed tech and marketing, and at the end she not only told me to help myself to the company-branded stickers they were handing out, she also grabbed me an entirely exclusive t-shirt and branded socks! I was literally so stoked. Nobody else got a t-shirt or socks! What did I do to deserve this privilege?? They’re really nice socks and I actually haven’t even taken them out of the packaging yet because they’re so awesome, although I did wear the t-shirt to work on Friday.

Anyway. It has officially been a month at this new job! Month 1 of 6 complete, and honestly it’s going pretty well. I’ve got a cheap and small but nice room in a group house with a signed lease and a security deposit, a relationship with my boss that’s moving in the direction of amicable, weekly discussions with a coworker that I’m becoming very good friends with, and some sweet company swag (and an open offer from my boss to maybe go to other client events to gather intel? what?). Next week, I’m going to work on doing a little bit more of all my stated goals, since I didn’t actually get around to making them in the first place till Wednesday and so I only had half a week to start implementing them. We’ll have to see how that goes; stay tuned!

Places, Past and Future

We met in Baltimore
when the hot lights of the dance floor drove us out to the gardens
before the pouring of the rain drove us back in.

We got engaged in Pittsburgh
under the warm yellow glow of artificial lamplight
and I handed him the ring I’d bought with less ceremony than I’d like
though he seemed to love it anyway.

We’ll get married in San Francisco
surrounded by the warm California sun
by new and old friends
and by possibilities for our future spent together forever.

We’ll grow old among the stars
with the distant descendants of humanity at our side
accomplishing feats and forging friendships we can’t even dream of today.

And we’ll die
if in fact we must die
after impossible problems have been solved
after incomprehensible battles have been fought
after amazing spoils have been wrought:
we’ll die knowing that whatever else has come to pass
humanity has won.

Too Much To Do, Not Enough Time: Week 3 at Upgrow, Inc.

I was sick half of this week, which makes it a bit difficult to pass any significant judgement, but it seems to me that I’ve done pretty well at doing what I wanted to do last week, both in and out of work. I feel like I’m steadily reconciling with my boss, figuring out how he wants me to work for him and working that way. I’m still working on it, but it seems he dislikes me less now, and our weekly 1:1 exclusively contained discussions of projects, instead of its previous status quo of being mostly about the behaviors of mine that he disliked.

I’m also improving at my proper job description. I’m learning how to do a number of things, including link building and SEO article writing, with decent efficiency and correctness of technique. The biggest thing I’ve learned about SEO is that you always have way more data than you can or should try to make sense of, so you absolutely need to winnow it down before trying to work with it, since otherwise you end up going down time-consuming rabbit holes doing things which are not optimally efficient.

The most notable out-of-work things I’ve done this week are completing the move into my permanent residence, signing an Official Adult Lease™, and purchasing a bed, which isn’t that big a deal in the scheme of things but just feels like an Adult thing to do. Staying in a community center for a month was incredibly fun, but it also made me feel a bit like I didn’t have a home. Now, I feel more like I live in California.

My biggest current problem is optimization of time. Now that I’m no longer spending most of my non-working time hyper-analyzing past interactions with my boss to figure out what I’m doing wrong, I have time to do other stuff, but I need to understand what that other stuff should be. Possible candidates for top priority slots include, but are not limited to, resuming work on my tech projects, updating the websites I’ve made using what I now know about SEO, documenting some of the cool and important stuff I’ve learned about SEO from the standpoint of a beginner getting started, doing research on our current clients and learning tons of stuff about especially the tech-focused ones so I open avenues to potentially transition into working for them after I’m done working here, continuing to work on marketing certifications, re-starting work on tech certifications, reading books on business, and going to the community center I used to live at for purposes of networking.

Still, I’m optimistic. It’s very nice that we’ve made good enough financial choices that we don’t have to worry too much about money, even though we’re effectively paying twice the usual rent because we needed to put down a security deposit. I forgot to eat breakfast before I left this morning and I was able to buy myself pancakes at a cafe near work. It’s nice to have a place to call home, though I’m still working on thinking of it that way. (A definition of “home” that’s heretofore been static for thirteen years kinda does that.) And as with every week here, I’ve been meeting and hanging out with tons of interesting people.