Half  time: Retrospection, Introspection & Prospection

Half  time: Retrospection, Introspection & Prospection

By Indradhanush Gupta Comment

With the end of June, I have completed six weeks at the Recurse Center, which means my batch is half over, with another six weeks left to go. It might be a clichéd thing to say, but these six weeks have flown by and I have barely noticed it happen. This also makes me glad that I am doing the full batch.

Retrospection

The days are long and exhausting, but the weeks are short. Instead of planning my routine down to the last detail, I have a general idea about what I want to accomplish each week, even if I do not know what I would need to read or understand to get there. This has led to me overshooting my estimates while also unseen but nice things like pairing with others have happened.

Most of the pairing sessions have been on topics that I am not well versed at. This meant I was unable to contribute to the extent that I would have liked to, but I have learned something out of all of them. However, I would love to change this in the second half of the batch by being able to contribute more from my end to the pairing sessions.

Hack & Unhacks

When building something new, I have tried to get it to work first, without worrying too much about code quality and also been okay with a few blind spots in my understanding. This lets me stay motivated since the sensation of something working acts as a positive feedback loop. I follow this up by digging deeper into the subject and often referring multiple books and resources to eliminate the blind spots. In the process I fix the errors and incorrect assumptions and improve the code. I top it off by writing a blog post on the topic, during which I realize that their are still a few things that I do not understand quite as clearly. Further digging and research help to clear those out.

Most of my time has been taken up by the shell that I’ve been working on and I have published three blog posts on the progress so far. The first two made it to the top of Hacker News and also taught me a great deal about the internet.

Introspection

Being far away from family and friends, I’ve felt lonely at times. This tends to make me not want any human interaction and I end up going out for lunch or taking a walk around the block, all on my own trying to recover and bring my focus back to work. I’ve made new friends here and talking to them about random things helps to get over the melancholic mood as well.

As we reached the mid point of our batch, the Spring 2’s reached the end of their batch and I’ve had to say goodbye to them. There are quite a few people in that batch whom I’ll miss not having around at RC.

Prospection

At the end of batch party of the Spring 2’s, we had a picnic at Prospect park and a bunch of us played football (they call it soccer here). This made me and others realize that RC is not just about coding things up. It is also about doing things outside of code and so far most of my time has been spent in front of a screen. I am going to change this and focus on doing a lot more of other activities that have nothing to do with programming. I am glad I had this realization at the half point instead of at my own end of batch party, which would have been too little too late.

This is also my one advice to the Summer 2’s who will be joining us next week and I am really looking forward to welcoming them and helping them settle in at RC.

That being said, the main focus is growing as a programmer at the end of the day. And that brings me to my programming goals for my second half of RC.

I have been learning Erlang, which also turns out to be my first shot at functional programming. It is taking its own sweet time to sink in and I will implement RAFT, the consensus protocol in Erlang. This will be my first major foray into the area of distributed systems which makes me very excited about the upcoming six weeks.

NYC

I have visited the American Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Modern Art where I had the chance to see Van Gogh and Picasso. I have attended a concert by the Lake Street Dive at the Prospect park, which was an amazing night of music. Central park is a huge sprawling block of trees and is therapeutic to visit. The 9/11 memorial was a sad reminder of the tragic day and the ephemeral nature of life.

The Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center are a visual treat while I’ve ended up at Times Square at late hours of the night and found it to be very much alive with all the lights and people around. I got myself a New York Public Library card, which is one-of-a-kind souvenir and have spent some time working out of the library. The Rose reading room and the Grand Central Station are marvels of architecture and look straight out of the Harry Potter universe.

I had a chance to see the New York Pride Parade and was thrilled with the support shown to the LGBT community by the entire city.

I sold off my bike, since it turned out to be a stupid decision to bike 16 miles everyday, especially with the summer really kicking in to full gear. It was starting to affect my primary goal: RC. The subway is a much more reliable mode of transport and I read, listen to audiobooks or simply look around during my commute, or sometimes doze off at the end of a long day.

I am yet to see the Statue of Liberty, walk the High Line and hit the beach, all of which have been planned out for the weeks to come.

Here are some pictures:

9_11_memorial
The 9/11 Memorial foundation places roses on the names of victims on their birthdays
picasso_1 picasso_2
Picasso's works
van_gogh
Van Gogh's The Starry Night
pride_parade_1 pride_parade_2 pride_parade_3
The vibrant Pride Parade
times_square
Times Square
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