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Sean Patrick Hagen

Vancouver based programmer who also does stuff with ttrpgs and video games.

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Looking Back

I went over a lot of this in my post yesterday, but I wanted to take a deeper dive into what’s happened over the last year, and some other things that I’m trying to change. I guess I feel like yesterday was a “hey I’m not dead” post, where as this is more of a “let’s chat about the last year” kind of post.

I think the first thing to talk about is how things have changed because of COVID-19. The biggest change for me has been moving to working from home. I’m really glad that the place I work for said on March 13th “hey, we’re working from home starting Monday, so let’s figure out what we need to do to make that happen”. Mostly it was making sure that everyone had a decent enough computer to use to work on from home, as well as making sure everyone knew how to do video calls in Slack.

As a lead, things were a bit more involved on my end. Because I’m a lead, I had to make sure that I was reporting to the boss “hey, progress on things is happening, nobody is taking a paid vacation”. Because for my company a big part of making the whole thing work was showing the boss that it wasn’t affecting productivity. And I’m happy to say we pulled it off! It was hectic at first, but over the months we’ve definitely fallen into a pretty comfortable rhythm. I think the biggest indicator of that is that at the start we had leads meetings every day ( I think twice a day for the first two weeks? ), and now we have them… occasionally. Not having a set schedule for them is a whole other thing but it shows how comfortable the boss is with this new dynamic.

We’ve even started to talk about how to wrap up the office, as in we might not have one any more. We basically only need a place that’s good to have a in-person meeting maybe every two weeks or so once we’re all vaccinated, and the office we’ve got now is way too big to use it just for that.

There is one thing that I do miss about going to the office every day: the commute. Taking the bus to and from work each day gave me a good hour and a half each day ( the commute is 45-ish minutes one way ) to finish waking up or de-stress from work. I could listen to a podcast, read something on my Kobo, play a video game on my Switch, or just zone out and listen to some music. In the morning it was nice to have time to wake up before having to be on – and having to walk to/from the bus stop helped there – but the time after work was much more useful. If I had a stressful day I had time on my way home to compartmentalize that and deal with it so that it wouldn’t affect my home life, or in most cases even work the next day. I don’t tend to hang on to grudges or stuff like that1 , but having time to process stuff was nice.

I’ve though about trying to get up a bit earlier2, but I have a contentious relationship with sleep. For the longest time I had issues where I could sleep for twelve hours ( or more! ) and still feel tired. Turns out sleep apnea is a bitch, and getting a CPAP machine has definitely helped. The one I wear is just a small thing that sits under my nose, having a beard makes most of the other styles of mask unwearable or ineffective. It took me a few nights to get used to them, but now if I go to bed at midnight I’m actually awake before 9am. As in, I get up without needing an alarm.

However, I do seem to still have a problem going to bed at or before midnight. I think it’s related to something I’ll talk about later 3, but basically I find that trying to go to bed at a specific time each night is almost like pulling teeth. I think part of it is that my girlfriend doesn’t go to bed until 11pm-ish, and I like having some time on my own to watch some YouTube videos or whatever. But due to “thing to talk about later”, I find that I seem to lose time pretty easily. I’ll sit down to watch a video at 11:30pm, and then after watching “one or two more”, it’s suddenly 1:50am. So that’s something I’ve got to work on, but it’s tough because it feels like giving up time. I guess if I was more strict about getting into an early morning routine I could set time aside in the morning for this kind of stuff.

Anyways, point is that not taking transit every day seems to have reduced how much time I have for podcasts & books. I definitely need to carve out some time to start reading again at least, I’ve got a pile of books I want to read. On the flip-side, not having to deal with a commute has made it much easier to help out making dinner which has been a nice boon to the relationship.

Speaking of dinner and food, I’m definitely in the group of folks who’ve gained weight since the pandemic started. I know that it’s not a thing I should feel bad about; the last year has been stressful and scary and gaining weight isn’t something to be ashamed of4. But I’ve been wanting to lose weight for a while and gaining some over the last year hasn’t helped.

So earlier this month my girlfriend and I signed up for Weight Watchers. I’ve got a whole different post to write about how terrible their app UI is, but the main thing is that WW combined with some exercise ( courtesy of Ring Fit Adventure on the Switch ) has lead to me losing almost 15 pounds since I started! I was 255 pounds when we started, and after weighing myself today I’m at 241. Pretty happy with that result.

So, what else has changed?

Well, one thing that has hit the girlfriend and I both is the reduced socialization. We weren’t exactly party bugs or anything, but we were getting in the habit of having someone over for dinner at least once a month – and we really miss that. Even just going out to a bar for dinner and having dinner near people is something we miss. We still eat out occasionally, but getting delivery to eat at home isn’t the same as relaxing in a pub with a beer. Even not being able to record the podcast I’m on in person affected things. We basically put it on hiatus for all of 20205.

I’ve been wanting to do something to fill that void, but video calls don’t quite do it. Back in the summer the GF and I did some socially distanced hang-outs with my sister in a park which was nice, but the Lower Mainland is not an outdoors place from mid-September to May-ish. I have been finding that Party Night6 has been nice; it’s a weekly date I get to hang out with some of my friends. I think it works better than a video call for me because we’re playing games, so the focus isn’t on the awkwardness of video calling.

We both can’t wait for vaccinations to happen though. Part of the reason we’re so excited for our new townhouse is that it’ll be big enough to have multiple people over for dinner. In the old apartment we could have two people over and that was almost pushing it. In the new townhouse we could have two or three couples over and not feel crowded. And we’ll have a BBQ! I can’t over-state how excited we are to be able to have dinners again. We might even feel comfortable enough to have two people over – with the windows open and a fan on, we might be able to do a socially distanced hang out in our townhouse. That’d be nice.

There is one other big thing that’s happened in the last little while. It’s something I’ve been struggling with for a while, now that I look back. Basically, I think I might have ADHD7. I started thinking about this because in the last two years or so a lot of people have been opening up about their experience with ADHD. And I’ve got to admit, there was a lot of “hey, that sounds pretty familiar. That’s weird.” happening. It took a while for the light bulb to go off, but once it had it’s not like things changed over night.

One of my biggest problems is actually doing stuff that I mean to. I think that the term is “executive dysfunction”. Here’s a couple of good explainers:

I don’t have it as bad as some people do when it comes to executive dysfunction, but here’s an example of what it can be like:

Let’s say I need to fix a bug in some code:

  • Well first I’ve got to find the bug
  • “Hey, that library call needs to be updated so I can pass in stuff”
  • Look at library call code, see a bunch of stuff that could be updated
  • “Wait, this isn’t for the bug”
  • Go back to place bug is happening
  • Finally find the code causing the bug
  • “I should fix the verbosity of the GRPC logging”
  • Spend 10 minutes reading StackOverflow trying to change the verbosity of the logging
  • “Wait, the bug”
  • Fix the bug
  • “I should put some error reporting here”
  • Go back to the library code so I can re-remember the best way to report errors
  • Spend 20 minutes making adjustments and optimizations
  • Realize errors aren’t sending context to Honeybadger
  • Spend 30 minutes looking at the code to see if I can fix that
  • Realize I haven’t deployed the bug fix to production
  • Make a build to test locally before deploying
  • Realize Docker images built by the Makefile aren’t getting tagged properly
  • Spend 30 minutes working on how images get tagged
  • Finally get the image built and running locally
  • Write a script to test that the bug is gone
  • Realize I haven’t committed any of these changes
  • Open git interface in editor, try to pick out just the bug fix changes
  • Commit the bug fix
  • Spend 5 minutes trying to decide if anything else should be committed
  • Realize that I need to deploy the fix, do so
  • Realize I pushed some un-finished code or logging code, remove it all, re-deploy

That’s not really made up, it’s pretty much what happened recently.

I find that I’m easily distracted. My girlfriend has probably lost track of the number of times I’ve said “gimme a second to look something up” and then having to poke me because it’s been ten minutes and we’re trying to sort out what we’re going to eat this week so we can order groceries.

Another good example: I was referred to a local ADHD clinic by two separate friends8 who said I should get tested. They both told me at about the same time, back in July or so. When did I finally get around to emailing the clinic and setting up an appointment? Last week9.

So I’m left here wondering how many things in my life have been affected by ADHD and I haven’t realized. Stuff I’ve noticed about myself that I’ve been told is kind of common among those with ADHD:

  • I have a tendency to pick up a new hobby and go kinda ham ( buying lots of gear or spending lots of time researching it ). Fine if the hobby is learning a new language. Not great when the hobby requires buying not-cheap equipment.
  • Easily getting bored towards the end of a project, or putting a project down and basically forgetting about it for months ( and then not having the energy to pick it back up )
  • Somewhat related to the above: trying methods to get organized ( hello to the several times I’ve tried bullet journaling ), and having them fall apart or be forgotten within a week
  • Forgetting what I wanted to say between my brain going “hey what about this” and me actually saying “oh yeah and…”
  • Finding it really hard sometimes to do something simple that would only take like 5 minutes tops ( like taking out the garbage )
  • Constantly losing stuff. If I don’t put something down in a specific spot ( wallet, keys, etc ), I will lose it and have to spend half an hour tracking them down again.
  • Lots of difficulty with routines – brushing my teeth, showering, etc. I’ve found it’s easier to remember to exercise with Ring Fit ( because it’s a video game ) and then shower after ( because sweaty and gross ) than it is to just have a shower every other day.
  • This is a fun new recent one: sensitivity to specific noises. Not sure if it’s this temporary apartment and it’s acoustics, but I suddenly dislike how my girlfriend eats some stuff cause of the noise. Fun times!
  • Having to repeat something to myself if I need to remember it while changing tasks – like remembering an error code on one computer while switching to a different one. There’s a reason I rely heavily on copy and paste when working.
  • Getting so focused on something I don’t hear things like phone alerts or people calling my name.

There’s probably other stuff, but… I’ve forgotten it. And that’s actually one of the ones I’m most worried about. I’ve had issues with my memory for a long time now. Some things I can remember no problem, but I’ve legitimately had to stop and think about what day my birthday is more than once. Is this issue with memory another sign of ADHD, or does it have to do with depression or something like that I need to talk to someone about? I mean, I should be in therapy but when it comes to actually getting that sorted refer to the whole thing on executive dysfunction.

Anyways. I’ve taken a first step: getting the appointment. We’ll see how things change once I’ve had that appointment.

  1. Perks of not having a great memory, I guess??? ↩︎

  2. I’m definitely one of those “now I don’t have to wake up till 8:50 to be at work on time!” people… ↩︎

  3. It’s ADHD. ↩︎

  4. And I’m not, for reals. ↩︎

  5. We’re back though! ↩︎

  6. The weekly show I host on the Cave Goblins Twitch ↩︎

  7. See? ↩︎

  8. Independently of each other, as far as I know ↩︎

  9. And the appointment is in April. At least I’ve got one? ↩︎

This post was authored by Sean Patrick Hagen on 2021-01-31 16:28:41 -0800 PST

Wanna see the commit? Go here: 2fc3ea4eb2920dc762412413142ed4ccd88941d4