Monday, April 18, 2016

10 things I love about Seattle and 10 things I don't like about Seattle


1. Scenery: This state is freaking gorgeous. The snow-peaked mountains. The Puget Sound, the rivers, lakes, the parks, Mt Rainier. It's a beautiful area. San Juan Islands, Ferry to Bainbridge, wow, it's overwhelmingly pretty. Specially for me coming from the Tropics, this is very different from what I grew up with. 

2. Coffee: I live within walking distance of Vivaci, Ladro, Torino, Victrola, Vita, not to mention Starbucks Reserve and more. Good stuff

3. Tech Scene: There's competition for hiring the best software engineers, the big companies like Microsoft and Amazon cannot pump people fast enough. There's tons of smaller companies too and all the big players like Google, Facebook and Uber have offices here, if you can code, you work and live here and not have to pay the high cost of living of the Bay Area.

4. UW: The University of Washington is an great organization, the campus is beautiful, and the ties to the tech industries feed the private sector with world-class talent.

5. City Life: Good restaurants, museums, all kinds of cultural festivals in the city center, there's always something to do here. 

6. Pho and Teriyaki. Enough said. 

7. Nerds and Geek Culture. So there's a lot of scientist and engineers here, so, yeah, there's a lot of geek stuff going on, and it's plain awesome. I've never lived in a city where being a geek was the norm. 

8. Dog Friendly City. You can take your dog anywhere. There's a bulldog meetup, there's tons of dogs everywhere, there are more dogs than kids in Seattle

9. Weekend things with the kids: Hiking RattleSnake Ridge, Chilling at GasWorks Park. Going to the IMAX theater at the Pacific Science Center

10. Safeco Field and Century Link: Going to see the Sounders and the Mariners. I heard the Seahawks are good too, I just haven't had a chance to catch an NFL game yet. 

Needs Improvement

1. Traffic. Probably the worst thing about Seattle is it's traffic. I am not one to complain since I don't have a very long commute. (My office is a 2 minute walk) But still, the way the city is structured plus the lack of a solid public transportation infrastructure make Seattle one of the worst places to drive in the United States. 

2. Pacific North West Passive Aggressiveness. Seriously, wtf? People here are the opposite of, say, New Yorkers, they are nice to you and yet cold to you at the same time. This one warrants more in depth analysis. Just know that people here are...different.  We have met many nice people here, but the funny thing about that they are usually other transplants from the East Coast. Our closer friends here are mostly Floridian, although we've met nice people from Utah, California, Oregon and even Australia, but we're yet to be close friends with any native Seattleites, what gives? 

3. The Weather. It doesn't bother me a lot, but I'd be lying if I said that sometimes the constant drizzle doesn't get old. It's one of those things that you don't think about much as you go about your day, but last week when I was driving back from San Francisco, we had nice weather all the way, until we literally crossed the Washington border and bam, that annoying drizzle again. Maybe I am writing this because we had a brutal super rainy winter, but thankfully the weather has been nice lately so it's making up for lost time. When I first moved here a friend told me that locals just pretend like the rain is not there. That trick actually works most of the time. When you've been driving for 10 hours and want to get home safe, the PNW drenching drizzle is the last thing you want to see on the road. 

4. I-5. See traffic, it's so bad it needs its own entry. 

5. Homeless problem. Man, there's a big problem with homelessness in Seattle. You will see a lot of people on the parks, streets, under the highway, every where. 

6. Drug and Crime. It's not Chicago, it's not the Bronx, Hialiah, nothing like that but, there's a lot of car prowling and petty theft.  It's not uncommon to see used syringes laying on the sidewalks or on the public parks. 

7. Anti-tech sentiment: Amazon has transformed South Lake Union into a hub of mid to high rises with a bunch of new office buildings and a bunch of new rental apartments, as a result, rent has gone up and many people resent it, I totally get why people would get upset if their rent goes up, but the way they express it is by lashing out against programmers and transplants, because we must be the cause for everything that's is going wrong in Seattle. It's ironic that the same people who preach about tolerance and understanding and against stereotypes loves to stereotype the typical tech worker as self-absorbed, boring, white, privileged "brogrammer" when in fact, these companies are introducing a lot of diversity to the city. We transplants are helping the economy and are, for the most part, making Seattle a better place. 

8. House Prices: While it's not as bad as the Bay Area, it's getting there. You can still live quite well out of the city, but then you'd have to deal with traffic. See points 1 & 4.

9. Your vote doesn't count as much. We're all liberals here, so what's the point of voting? the vote has been decided already. If you are a conservative here. Good luck with that. 

10. They don't have a Publix here. (This should have been on top of the list)


How does one live a good life?

This is a good question. I don't want to sit here and ramble a long answer. Part of the reason I am forcing myself to write once a day is to improve my communication abilities. 

When it comes to our desires and our feelings there are two different parts that compete for control. There's the "impulsive" brain and then there's the "reflective" brain so to speak. There's a part of you that is concerned about the here and now, it's the part of you that craves to binge-watch netflix, order pizza, sleep, it's the part of the brain that just want to feel good now. It's associated with the primal desires. It wants to eat, sleep, have sex, be entertained. Then there's the part that wants more than that, it wants you to be better, that better can be different things. Maybe you want more money, more fame, more power, or you want a goal that you care deeply about, like building that bike shed, or running that marathon, losing 20 pounds, or helping the needy, or whatever. 

A good life is when you can satisfy both halves, when you can have a good balance between both sides, also, the goals that you pick matter, it turns out that there are things that are not fulfilling, once you have a certain amount of money, more of it won't make you happier, so what does?

It turns out, the old philosophers were right, improving your character makes you happy. Specifically, The 24 character virtues outlined by Martin Seligman: I recommend you take a look.


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Why I had stopped blogging and why I want to start again.

I stopped blogging ironically because I wanted to write better posts. I wanted to share with the world something worth sharing. The problem is, the tasks seemed so daunting that I would just give up before even starting.

I guess I am just giving up on that and just want to just write whatever comes to my head. Is not like that many people read this anyway.

So what would stop me for writing is that I wonder what would I write that people would want to read?

My life is not boring, but it's not really that unique.

So I'll share with you what's important to me. I strive each day to be better than I was before. But what does that mean? Well, I try to be a better father, a better husband, a better engineer and a better person. I am not always successful, but I try not to make the same mistake twice.

So for the past few years I've been working on that, learning what it means to live a good life, and learning what it means to be a better person. There's actually a lot that has been written about that and I maybe I'll get around to listing them.

Another big theme for me has been the quest for being a good software engineer. I have a lot to say that as well.