jeffcarp #13

Hi friends,

Where did November go? For that matter where did the 2nd half of 2019 go? I just completed my 3rd week at Waymo. It’s super exciting and I’m learning a ton. Riding the bus to Mountain View every day is not as bad as I thought it’d be—I have a lot more time to read. I’m currently reading On Writing by Stephen King, it’s really great so far. Highly recommend.

Speaking of writing, recently I wrote about:

For medical residents, long hours and sleep deprivation is part of the package. But do you know that this punishing schedule exists thanks to a professor at Johns Hopkins who was literally a crackhead? William Stewart Halsted founded the medical residency program in the US in the early 1900s and was addicted to cocaine, after using it on himself as an anaesthetic. His insane cocaine-fueled hours formed the base of the long hours medical residents still work today.

It seems cruelly ironic that the people protecting our health are exposed to such unhealthy working conditions. Getting less than 8 hours of sleep repeatedly is super degenerative on the human body—or so I've been told by Dr. Matthew Walker in Why We Sleep. This is the most important book I've read this year. Very likely top 5 most important books in my life.

Here are some things I learned from the book.

  • Caffeine has a half-life of 7 hours. So if you have a coffee at 3pm, at 10pm half of the caffeine is still in your system.

  • Breaking down alcohol produces chemicals that suppress REM sleep. So a glass of wine before bed will decrease the amount of dreams you have.

  • The type of sleep you get is dependent on your circadian rhythm, not on the number of hours slept. So getting 8 hours of sleep after going to bed at 10pm vs. at 1am is not the same thing. You miss out on a lot of NREM (non-REM) sleep when you go to bed super late. NREM sleep moves your short-term memory from the day before to long-term storage, freeing up your short-term memory for new tasks the next day.

Inspiration is for amateurs—the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will, through work, bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great ‘art idea’.”

—Chuck Close (American painter, 1940–)

jeffcarp #12

Getting back on the horse

Hi friends,

This is the 4th time I’ve attempted to write this newsletter. The longer I go without writing a post the higher my mental bar becomes for how amazing it has to be, which makes me procrastinate, and the cycle continues.

A lot’s been going on in my life lately (but when isn’t that true for any of us?). Last week was my last week on the Chrome Ops team. I’m taking this week off to hang around SoCal and do some trail running, then next week I’ll be starting at Waymo (formerly Google’s self-driving car project), working on ML infrastructure, which I’m super pumped for.

This newsletter has no articles, no links, no nothing. Just me saying hi.


jeffcarp Monthly: July 2019

Hi there,

I’m super busy preparing to hop on a plane to China very soon, so this newsletter is going to be on the brief side.

Here’s a nice Dolores Park doggo:

This month I want to share 2 articles as a package:

📰 How to Be Great? Just Be Good, Repeatably - Steph Smith

📰 Do Generals Matter? - Cathal J. Nolan

Initially these two articles don’t seem related at all. One is about productivity and the other is about military strategy. But there is a common thread between them: there are no easy wins. Winners are those who are willing to endure a long and depressing string of losses on the road to success.

These articles resonate with me. Software engineering is a career of repeated failure—both getting into the field (tons of failed interviews) and day to day on the job where everything you do is steeped in failure—debugging, rollbacks, bad data—my primary role is on a bug tracker, literally cataloging the nearly 1,000,000 ways Chrome has failed.

I find the lessons from these articles comforting. They tell me not to waste effort on big quick flashy wins. Success is gradual—it’s a function of putting in the work every day.

Updates from Personal Pursuits

Running 🏃

Elva and I ran the SF 2nd Half Marathon! My toe survived. I posted about it and my training season on the gram:

Team Jelva does the SF half marathon!!!! 🎉🎉 This training season didn't go exactly as planned... Sunday would have been my first marathon ever, but due to some training missteps (pun intended) - overtraining and new shoes at the same time - I spent most of the season recovering from a toe injury.

Through the process of being cooped up with an injury I decided what I want out of running is not speed. It's consistency. Getting an impressive time isn't as important to me as being able to be out there running every day, injury free.

So I'm very much looking forward to the Fall season, where I'll be re-attempting my first marathon at CIM, at a very reasonable and injury-free pace. 😁
July 30, 2019

“Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck where you do not belong.”

— N. R. Narayana Murthy, Indian entrepreneur (1946-present)

jeffcarp Monthly: June 2019

Data Privacy, Urdu, Chinese, Trans, and Eng Leadership

What is up y’all!

You might notice a slight style change—I’m trying out a new newsletter service (Substack).

It’s summer (!!!) however I’m not doing summer very well. I haven’t gone to the beach yet.* San Francisco is cold and foggy, and I spend most of my time in an office building. 😂😭

That said, I have a lot of exciting stuff planned this summer. I’m going to see one of my favorite bands, Vulfpeck, in July. In August we’re heading to China to see pandas, eat spicy food, and get married again! 👰😊💍

*I lied. Earlier this month I went to Corgi Con at Ocean Beach:

Here are the 2 best things I came across this month.

Data is Like Plastic

Elettra Bietti, a S.J.D. Candidate at Harvard, proposes regulating the creation of data like plastic, since both are produced en masse and can cause long-term harm if not managed properly.

Both of these things—really useful, both of these things—completely overproduced, each in small scale seems to be great—at large scale produces very abstract and large harms. The difference between them is that data is less visible than plastic, and so maybe we can use the example of plastic to think through some of the harms that data is causing to humanity today.

👉 Watch the lightning talk

Coming Home, One Word at a Time

I thought this article was beautiful. That is all.

“The main difference is not what languages are made of, but what they choose to talk about,” said Ali Taqi, my Urdu teacher. He spoke to me about how words in the language can be ephemeral, experiential: “Urdu has a depth that Hindi doesn’t have, a sentimentality. It is a tool to convey more inherent matters, of pain, pleasure, love. It is much more than just function.

👉 Read the article

Updates from Personal Pursuits

Mandarin 中文

Since I’m going to China in August, July will be my last big push for practicing before I go! 我会加油!

Reading 📚

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Trans is a good read for pride month 🌈 and a pretty detailed education into trans issues today—like did you know an athlete’s performance ranking in their respective gender is about the same before and after transition? (taking into account the one-year buffer period standard in the NCAA & Olympics)

They found that if a runner was (for example) in the 90th percentile before, they were in approximately the 90th percentile after transition. The study concluded: “Collectively, the age graded scores for these eight runners were essentially the same in both genders.”

Several parts are the book get somewhat depressing when you realize laws and society are not on a trajectory to get much better for trans people anytime soon. All the more reason to spread awareness. Here are my reading highlights from the book.

Also: I have a (kick-ass) intern this summer. This is my first time being somebody's manager, so to learn how to not suck at it, I've been reading The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo.

Running 🏃

The toe is slowly getting better! 🦶 My PT cleared me to run anything under 3 miles. I wrote about my personal experience with the cycle of injury and recovery on the blog.

If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story.

—Terry Pratchett, novelist (28 Apr 1948-2015)

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