2023 March recap

And suddenly it’s already April. I was supposed to have skated the Berlin half marathon today, but I didn’t.

As I wrote about in January and February, my physical condition is not very great at the moment. The weather has also been horrible around here (except it’s obviously sunny today), so the past couple of months have been filled with anxiety about how unprepared I was for skating 21km which made me decide against it.

This also made me reflect on how not wired for pressure my brain is. I’ve read a lot about how having an accountability buddy and signing up to do things are supposed to be motivators, and I get that it works for a lot of people, but I mostly just feel stressed out. And most times I’m much more motivated to do something if I’m doing it for myself than if I’m doing it because other people are expecting me to do it.

Although I haven’t been skating due to wet streets, I’ve been pretty consistent with my morning workouts and I’m proud of that. This month I even went jogging for the first time in my life and was surprised to find out I didn’t hate it!

In other news, this month I started splitting my time at work between my team and the Design System team, which gave me a new perspective on things and a new realm of influence. My main frustration with the new job has been that I was hired to work on something new from scratch, by myself, which I don’t feel super qualified for. It’s been an interesting experience, especially discovering ProseMirror and how powerful it can be (if you know how to use it), but after 4 months of writing code in an empty repository, it’s refreshing to be exposed to production code and business logic again. My first self-initiated project has been going through our product’s frontend code, finding all the different variations of custom button components and devising a plan to replace them with DS buttons to improve consistency and to make design updates to the library propagate more easily.

This experience brought me back to how much I enjoy working with legacy codebases to gradually make it better, something I had already experienced in my previous job at Klarna. It comes with some frustrations though, as the expectations are usually for junior/mid-level developers to focus on adding code and not necessarily refactoring it. I’ve always been reminded by other more senior people that I need to maintain a good balance between refactoring and delivering features, keeping in mind the value I’m bringing to the end user. But the more I work with software, the more I feel like this model of having everyone focusing on features until something is unmaintainable enough that we need senior/staff engineers to come in and fix stuff is actually unsustainable. I think this might deserve a separate post, but I wasn’t able to put my thoughts into words yet.

Related, I’m currently reading Kill it with Fire, by Marianne Belotti. It’s been super interesting to get deeper into the problems we face when trying to modernise software, and how a lot of the times, the harder ones are related to people and not necessarily to technology.

A couple of weeks ago I was browsing a comic book shop and I was about to leave when I found a graphic novel somewhat hidden at a bottom shelf that caught my attention. And wow, what an incredibly well told story. It’s Stone Fruit, a debut by Lee Lai and it became one of my favorite graphic novels of all times.

There was another unexpected graphic novel read this month. I had a friend from Brazil visiting last weekend and he had been in Belgium before, where he bought himself a copy of Lightfall: Shadow of the Bird, by Tim Probert, only to find out later it was in French! So when he got here he asked whether I could read French and I was like “I don’t know?“. For context, I studied French for one and a half years when I was in university over 10 years ago, but I never actually used it and, well, it’s been a long time. To my surprise, I managed to read the entire book! The things the brain can do sometimes…

After seven months of listening, this month I finally managed to catch up with six years worth of Lingthusiasm podcast episodes. Now I’m back to having to decide what to listen to while I wait for new episodes!

Well, that turned out a bit longer than anticipated, so I guess that’s a wrap!

See you next time!

Written on a Sunday in April, 2023