2024 Q2 Retrospective

As Q2 of 2024 draws to a close, it’s a good time to look back and reflect. Have I continued the progress I started in Q1? What can I do better?

Another quarter done. It’s been hectic, and I don’t feel quite as jubilant as last quarter, but it’s good to reflect and acknowledge all the things that I did do.

I’ll be structuring this post to be in a sort of “reverse-order”. The sections closer to the top will be things I tend to write about less on this blog. If you like my usual content, scroll all the way to the end.



Maintaining an active social life can be exhausting! There’s definitely been moments in these last few months where I’ve felt that I’m stretched too thin, with various commitments occupying all of my evenings in some weeks. Despite that, there’s still friends that I’ve only seen once or twice in the last few months, and I’d like to work on improving those friendships. One new development in this area is a weekly coworking session with some friends/ex-coworkers from my last job. This has added a social aspect to my working life that I had missed since I started a fully remote role. I’ve also noticed that the more stressed I am, the more strained my personal relationships become, which is something I’d like to work on.


This has not been an amazing quarter for fitness. I have not been as regular as I would like, but I suppose it also has not been a major focus lately. As of today, this year I have biked 708 miles and ran 113 miles. While I’ve more than doubled the biking since last quarter, in these last 3 months I’ve ran a total of 29 miles. Not insignificant, but it shows how the frequency has changed since the start of the year. I’d like to return to a more consistent schedule of exercise, but it’s still not a major goal or focus for the year. Even though the frequency has dropped off, I’ve still been getting stronger and faster and I’ve set some PRs I’m pretty proud of recently.

I would still like to run a full marathon this year (or at least train for it so I can run the Austin marathon next February), but it think I’ll likely resume a more serious approach to training only after the summer.


My goal is to read 12 books this year. I’m currently at 6. Right on schedule! I’ve only read fiction this quarter, but I think that’s a reflection of me needing some outlet for relaxation. I’m hoping to find some fun non-fiction books next - maybe something historical?

My favorite book this quarter was Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb.


I’ve kept up with cooking reasonably well. There’s some weeks where we get takeout almost every day, but there’s also weeks where we only order out once or twice. I’ve managed to convince my partner to unban me from making pasta (long story), and I’ve tried a couple new recipes, and perfected some old ones.


It’s been a busy 3 months. I’ve learned a lot and done a lot. I think I have a good momentum going, now it’s up to me to figure out how to keep this sustainable.


Last quarter I was regularly working from coffeeshops and public spaces. This quarter it hasn’t been as regular, but I at least work from a coffeeshop once a week, and I’ll still occasionally go to one on my own if I notice myself struggling to focus at home. This has in part been because my partner has the summer off, and so our home office isn’t as quiet anymore. Additionally, she has finished setting up her half of the office, so the ambiance of this room is nicer overall.

I’ve also gotten the chance to work on some interesting projects this quarter, which has kept me more engaged and focused. Writing and debugging distributed algorithms is always a fun time.

Not Work

Open source contributions

Two PRs that I opened in the past were finally merged. One, I opened earlier this year, the other almost two years ago. I had no real control over this process, but I did start periodically trying to keep the issue for the two year old PR alive this year, and maybe the maintainer noticed that it existed again? I felt a little bad about pestering them, but I also wanted to know if there was any actions they expected of me to get it merge-able. I think it just came down to the maintainer working through their backlog until they got to it though.

Building a PC

Some of my side projects required more compute resources than I had on my laptops, so I finally built a PC! It was fun to pick out the parts I wanted, assemble them, and also setup SSH access so that I can log in to my home machine even when I’m at a coffeeshop or the library. It was pretty expensive, but I think it was a good purchase. I’ve definitely been using it daily. I did have some initial hiccups - any time I ran anything that used all cores for more than a few seconds, the process would randomly segfault. It was a really interesting process to discovering the conditions under which things would crash, and I eventually arrived at a workload that would consistently trigger the issue. I suspected cooling problems at first, but it seems like the issue was resolved after I updated the motherboard firmware. It was difficult to debug, but I think a younger me would have given up, or fallen into a deep despair if faced with the same issue. I felt like the fact that I was able to calmly and use my skills of science and engineer to diagnose the issue and find the key things to search for to find possible solutions was only possible thanks to the ways I’ve grown over the last few years.

Decommissioning the best laptop I’ve ever used

In August 2016 I begrudgingly bought a laptop. I had a relatively limited budget, and I ended up picking up a ThinkPad Yoga 14, because it seemed like the best I could afford out of whatever the bestbuy in Urbana, IL had in stock. Over the next three years I fell deeply in love with that machine. I loved the choice of materials, with the aluminum top and the plastic body. I loved the selection of ports (especially the full sized HDMI). But more than anything else, I came to love the trackpoint. I didn’t think I would enjoy using it, but it became second nature to me. When the pandemic began, the first thing I did was to install the company VPN on my thinkpad so that I could use that instead of the macbook they gave me (which was so stupid, because our product couldn’t build on macos anyway - they also had a desktop provisioned for my exclusive use on my desk, and the mac was just a thin client for my real workstation…). However, I was not kind to the device, and a cracked screen and years of neglect eventually had it collecting dust in a corner of my closet. I finally got around to disassembling it, and kept the harddrive, keyboard, and trackpad, and dropped the rest off at a e-waste recycling center. It was a bittersweet moment to let go of the laptop that powered most of my education. It was on that keyboard that I compiled my first C program, wrote my first kernel module, learned how to use docker, learned how to use LaTeX, ran sudo rm -rf / --no-preserve-root twice in the same day, set up i3 for the first time, and made many projects that I’m still proud of today. Additionally, when I first got the laptop I started a naming convention that persists to this day - all my devices have hostnames related to objects in space (mostly galaxies). Rest in peace Andromeda.

Reconnecting with academia

I’ve kept up with reading papers, though not at the same pace that I had last quarter. I’ve written about some of the more interesting ones on this blog. I’ve also been working on a project to help investigate properties of distributed graph databases called toposim. This is currently in use at the University of Washington, and it’s encouraging to know that my work benefits real users. There’s more I’d like to write about this, but that will have to be a later post. I’ve also found that my GRE scores have expired, so I’m preparing to take it again to have them around just in case.

This blog!

I’ve made 9 blog posts this quarter, and 23 blog posts this year. The post frequency has dropped off, but I’m glad that I haven’t gone a month without posting yet. My favorite post was the one about pyspark - I like writing about weird things that rational programmers shouldn’t do.


In Q2 I think I felt myself moving slower than Q1. The excitement and novelty of being on a journey of discipline and self-improvement wore off, and reality that being consistent in effort doesn’t mean that everyday will feel as easy set in. That being said, I think I’ve gotten so much better at motivating myself and sticking to a plan. I’m happy that I haven’t given up, I think I’ve made real accomplishments in Q2, but I think in Q3 I’m going to need to define a better path towards consistency. I need to set smaller goals and iterate towards them. I’m trying not to be too harsh on myself, and I’m trying to be very open to the idea that I’m still learning and growing. I’ve finally made the realization that kindness to myself doesn’t mean letting myself be lazy, it means that I can acknowledge when I’m tired or unfocused, and press on. By the end of Q3, I’d like to look back and say that I’m truly satisfied with the progress made, and I’d like to feel like the strategies I’ve found are ones that will continue to work in Q4.

Written on July 1, 2024