Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

21 Jul 2013, 22:09 p.m.

Writing A Short Varied Life Update In A Fruitless Attempt To Ignore The Heat

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2013 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

All those words for "hot weather, uncomfortable variety" feel about right now. Sweltering, sultry, torrid, what have you. It broils my brain more than hot weather used to; I feel like a Terry Pratchett troll.

I have now watched the first season of Netflix's House of Cards -- interesting, but not as awesome as the British original, although I welcomed seeing so many thought-provoking women. If you liked watching Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada then you'll like the Claire of episodes 1-10. I also massively enjoyed the giant intratextual movie that is Season Four of Arrested Development; props to musician Lucy Schwartz whose song "Boomerang" captures not just the relationships among the Bluths but the tortured disappointed yearning of a fan for her show. Just a few weeks till the last season of Breaking Bad begins!

In long-form reading, I'm in the middle of John Le Carré's The Night Manager, my first Le Carré. So far it has a lot of nice close observations, which I love, but all the women are love interests, which is not so hot. Basically I feel like Jo Walton does this stuff approximately as well, and foregrounds women! I just read her The King's Peace and liked it far more than I usually like fantasy. So I'll probably track down The King's Name and The Prize In The Game and read them soon.

I recently bought a seed account for Growstuff, the new site for home gardeners. I got a reminder to do so: Skud, the project's lead, posted a financial breakdown of expenses and income, and I remembered that I could make a difference in the latter. In June Skud also posted some plans to "talk to a whole range of people and get a sense of what's important and what we should be prioritising." I enjoyed reading questions she will be asking gardeners, and now I've enjoyed seeing their product roadmap for 2013. It makes me happy to help nurture a small business that is doing things right on lots of levels. I think other open source projects and other mission-driven enterprises, especially those seeking to figure out what features to concentrate on or how to be accountable to their constituents, could learn quite a lot from Growstuff's example in transparency, decisiveness, and sustainability.

It makes me happy to see comedians of South Asian descent getting more attention: narrative-meta-obsessed Kumail Nanjiani just had a Comedy Central special (clips), and Hari Kondabolu just recorded a first live album. I'm happy for Kondabolu that he got on NPR, and his analogy to the kids' room at an Indian immigrants' party moved me more than I'd expected. It makes me so happy to watch the comedy of someone who shares that specific experience with me.

Lots of tech folks are passing around this piece on "surviving being senior management"; rings true to me, though I am merely a middle manager. The blog comment that really clicked for me:

The other thing I noticed is that my feedback cycle is very long....To a large degree this is why the stereotype of egotistical executives and researchers exists -- if I can work on anything I want, and I won't be able to tell if I've done any good for a very long time; then I need a durable self-sustaining ego to go into work day after day.

I also got a bit thoughtful after reading about learning, programming, and memory; we know that experts think about situations differently from beginners, and I look forward to gaining that experience and expertise in a few areas of my life, including programming.

Finally: on "creepy" and "creep".

It is still way too hot. I feel so floppy I may as well be five-and-a-quarter. (Joke only relevant to people over 30.)


Trish Fraser
22 Jul 2013, 4:14 a.m.

You might also like Jo Bannister - I like her Brodie Farrell series best, but they're all good reads.