Steven Stadnicki's Journal|
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|Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015|
|A month of giving thanks, day 31
...really, what kind of self-respecting month doesn’t have 31 days in it?
Tonight, I’m cherishing the transition between holidays; Thanksgiving is behind now, and Christmas (and other end-of-year holidays) are just ahead. The season brings a lot of chaos and stress, is-this-the-right-gift and how-will-I-put-up-with-That-Relative and travel anxiety and all of it, but it also brings a serene beauty that’s really unlike any other. Tonight we’ve got a beautiful tree nicely trimmed with lights and gleaming ornaments, and mugs of cocoa to nurse, and it all just feels right
And of course, I’m grateful for all of you, for taking the time to listen to these little gratitudes. With a few rare exceptions this wasn’t quite the writing exercise I was expecting it to be, but I’ve really enjoyed it as a kind of simple diary, and it’s been consistently a useful thing for reminding myself with. Thank you all!
|Tuesday, December 1st, 2015|
|A month of giving thanks, day 30
I have to confess, on this last night of November I’m not in a very thankful place; I can’t say that I had big plans for the evening, but I had little plans, and I was no more successful in getting them done than the big ones. But I have a place that I can grumble about it, and people that I can grumble about it to, and not only is this mood a transient state of affairs, I know
deep down that it’s a transient state. And all of those are fine things to be grateful for.
|Monday, November 30th, 2015|
|A month of giving thanks, day 29
Today I’m just thankful for a quiet day. The holiday weekend has been fun
, but in a lot of ways it’s been anything but a break; festivities on Friday meant that Thursday was devoted to cooking and cooking prep, then Friday was of course festivities proper, and Saturday was the day we went Christmas-tree hunting (and came back with a fine tree — photos later, hopefully!). Today had a bunch of small chores catching up on all the stuff that couldn’t get done over the last few days, but they still left plenty of time for relaxing and unwinding.
|Sunday, November 29th, 2015|
|A month of giving thanks, day 28
Tonight, I’m thankful to the me of yesterday (and for that matter, the Jeff of yesterday) for having the foresight to tackle at least a decent chunk of dishes while we were cooking yesterday. There were still far too many dirty dishes today, but there would have been many, many more if we hadn’t been tackling them as we went yesterday.
|Saturday, November 28th, 2015|
|A month of giving thanks, day 27
A late one tonight, but for good reason; tonight I’m thankful for great food and great friends and a fine day of hanging-out, and particularly for the friends who hosted the fall gathering, and for all the much-appreciated effort they put into both offering their place up for the festivities — hosting 20-30 people is never an easy thing! — and for all the food that they made. It was just a wonderful day across the board, and one to be greatly thankful for.
|Thursday, November 26th, 2015|
|A month of giving thanks, day 26
Today I’m most thankful for Thanksgiving itself. Not only is it a holiday generally celebrated with all kinds of wonderful food (and hooray for food!) — when else do most people eat pumpkin? — it’s also a holiday that actively dedicates itself to crediting the better things in one’s life and offering up gratitude for them. It obviously has its share of myths, but it’s by and large managed to dodge the large-scale commercialization that has affected the big holidays on either side of it. I can certainly understand why some people have problems with the day — either because of family or a lack of — but today I really am grateful for it.
|A month of giving thanks, day 25
Tonight, on the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s presentation of the general theory, I’m thankful for relativity. This isn’t just an abstract gratitude, either; I owe my career to relativity. Let me tell you a story...
Roll back the clock to 1990. I’d just dropped out of Clarkson University after my discovery of the (nascent) Internet demolished my grades, and I’d moved down to Pittsburgh to live with some friends who were going to Carnegie Mellon. I actually landed a job with the university, writing UI software for a stock exchange simulator, but I didn’t really have a good idea what I was doing and it didn’t last for more than a few weeks.
The job had been good enough to give me a university account, though, and so I gladly made use of that even long after I’d lost the job. But it didn’t last forever, and soon I got news that my account was going to be purged since I was no longer associated with the university. Meanwhile, during my occasional trips to the library I’d been reading the various computer graphics journals and had come across an article on simulating the visual effects of relativity. It was an interesting concept and an interesting paper, and I noticed that the authors were at Carnegie Mellon. So I spent a week or two putting together a very
rough prototype on a similar idea, and brought it to one of the authors, with the idea that I could tell him “I was working on a similar concept to your research but I’m going to lose access soon, and hey if you’d be willing to sponsor me then I could keep studying it?”
Of course, that’s not what happened. He said, quite sensibly, “well, it seems somewhat silly for both of us to be working on this independently. Why don’t you come join my team and help me develop out my own software?” Once I got over being completely flabbergasted, I obviously agreed, and started working with him. He got involved with a group producing some science documentaries for NHK and did a short animation for them using his relativity visualization software, then started working on other graphics software to do other animations for them. Before long he’d left Carnegie Mellon to start a production company with some of the folks who’d produced his animations at NHK, and suddenly I was being invited to move out to work for them in Beverly Hills. (And oh, the stories from there, but that’s for another day.) After another year or so he parted ways with them and decided to move to the SF Bay area and start selling his graphics software independently, and I followed him again.
Eventually he decided that what he really wanted to do was buy TV programs from the US and sell them to Asian markets, and I wasn’t quite so eager to follow him for that — but by that point I had several years’ worth of graphics programming experience under my belt, and it wasn’t long before I landed a job programming video games; the rest is history. So it’s no exaggeration to say that I owe my video game career to Einstein’s theory of relativity, and I’m certainly thankful for it.
|Tuesday, November 24th, 2015|
|A month of giving thanks, day 24
Tonight I’m thankful for the upcoming Thanksgiving break. Work hasn’t been particularly heavy — if anything, it’s just the opposite! — but I’m still glad to have a stack of days off in a row to try and clean up around the house a little bit and get things organized, and with a little luck get in more time on personal projects into the bargain.
|Monday, November 23rd, 2015|
|A month of giving thanks, day 23
A small thing, tonight, but I’m really grateful for a relatively safe drive on the way home. It rained pretty heavily this afternoon, and one of the worst things about winter in the Northwest is having to drive in the rain and dark. Thankfully my commute is comparatively straight, without many nasty hills or twists and turns, but it’s still anxiety-inducing on an almost daily basis, and it’s always a fine thing when it goes smoothly.
|Sunday, November 22nd, 2015|
|A month of giving thanks, day 22
Tonight I’m grateful for a bright, clear autumn day; for an impromptu bicycle ride at dusk; for mallards and buffleheads and rowboats on an otherwise-placid stream; and for a fine (if ear-freezing) reminder of why I’m here.
|A month of giving thanks, day 21
Today I’m grateful for the amazing farmer’s markets we’ve got around here, and all the market bounty: pumpkins, apples, carrots, cheese, fresh cream, eggs, cider, bacon, and even brussels sprouts, letting me prep for a fine Thanksigiving feast with friends.
|Saturday, November 21st, 2015|
|A month of giving thanks, day 20
Yesterday I was grateful for the chance to meet up with an old friend for an all-too-brief hangout while they were in town, and for on-the-fly lunch planning that wound up coming together almost perfectly and getting great food to go with the great company.
|Thursday, November 19th, 2015|
|A month of giving thanks, day 19
Today I’m grateful that Jeff made it through a phone screen and on to another round of interviews, this time (I think) with a fairly full design group. It’s certainly not a job yet, but it’s another big step in the right direction, and definitely something to be thankful for.
|A month of giving thanks, day 18
As selfish as this one is, tonight I’m grateful for steady progress on my personal project — I’ve been trying to put together a website for some turn-based word games I’m building and I spent a year or two floundering with it, but a technology switch has had me making slow but consistent progress over the last couple of weeks, to the point where I can successfully log in (and out) from the site now. There’s still infinitely far to go, but any progress is good progress and I’m really thankful that I’m making some.
|Tuesday, November 17th, 2015|
|A month of giving thanks, day 17
Today I’m grateful for smooth software releases, and that I work for a company that by and large does a solid enough job of preparation that (comparatively) smooth releases are the norm and not just a happy surprise.
|A month of giving thanks, day 16
Yesterday (a day from which I crashed out all too early) I was particularly thankful for the HOT lanes here. While the socialist in me feels decidedly squeamish at the idea of paying money for the privilege of getting to (or from) work a little faster, there’s no denying that actually having that option is an immensely useful thing, and having something like 20 minutes shaved off of what could’ve been a really ugly commute home yesterday was a huge relief on my commute stress.
|Sunday, November 15th, 2015|
|A month of giving thanks, day 15
Today I’m grateful for what will probably be our penultimate garden bounty for the year: a couple of fantastic little celery-root bulbs, much smaller than the ones we usually get from the market (baseballs, as opposed to the softball- or even melon-sized bulbs the market has) but still with that wonderful bitter flavor and tuberous texture. They were the perfect addition to a chicken soup that was a fine meal for a crisp please-let’s-keep-calling-it-fall-winter-c
|A month of giving thanks, day 14
Today (yesterday, given the time this is being written, but hey), another small gratitude — for the ‘coffeeshop culture’, and for those shops that are willing to let someone park themselves and their laptop for a couple of hours’ worth of writing and coding in a nice, cozy spot out of the rain for just the modest price of a tasty cup of tea and a couple of macarons.
|Saturday, November 14th, 2015|
|A month of giving thanks, day 13
Tonight (and yes, it is altogether too late a night) I am grateful for, very literally, the roof over our heads, and for the crew of laborers who worked hard for several days in absolutely miserable conditions to get the job done.
|Friday, November 13th, 2015|
|A month of giving thanks, day 12
Another one that deserves to have far more said about it, and hopefully I’ll do that another day, but I really want to put it on the record for today:
Today — and so many other days, but today in particular — I’m thankful for the support network I have around me, for the friends and the listeners and even the professionals; all the people who are willing to listen, to serve as sounding board, to offer advice or an ear or even just a few minutes’ worth of respite and refuge. It’s an immense comfort to have that available when I’m frizzing out, and it’s so very, very appreciated.