os28

Please save your work and reboot

I turned 28 last week. Late-twenties are an odd age—a major fork in life’s road. For some career-oriented urbanites, 30 is the new 20. For other family-oriented suburbanites, the biological clock is ticking. Men’s testosterone declines, s0 the window for fathering healthy kids shrinks. This mindset triggers a domino effect of activities: Marriage, home-ownership, career settling, and so on. While both the Barney Stinson and Marshall Eriksen views on age are valid, it’s a false dichotomy that leaves little room for the nuances that make life interesting. That said, there’s an objectivity to age. Tim Urban’s Wait But Why article explains it well with charts like this:

Assuming I live to 80, 337 of my 960 months are now filled. Put simply: My life is one-third complete. I’m reminded of this daily by a browser plugin that displays my exact age in seconds, as it has for the last seven years. There’s a shade of stoicism here, a modern memento mori to remind me of the preciousness of time.

Since I’m inundated with product thinking in my daily work, I framed my 28th birthday like a software upgrade. Each year, a new operating system emerges—a collection of features forged from experience, bug fixes to overwrite negative thought patterns, and unintended new bugs. Here are the release notes for os28.

Major Features

  • Mountaineering. On my quest to summit the U.S. Highpoints, I set my focus on Mount Rainier in 2020. Rainier was a forcing function to 1) buy the $2000 worth of essential gear, 2) build the strength to haul those forty pounds of gear, and 3) learn to use said gear to climb up and down glaciated peaks. From crampon use to self-arrest, force-feeding to reading weather; os28 unlocks my potential for many more highpoint attempts.

  • Writing ritual. os28 now includes a daily word count, forcibly developed through NaNoWriMo. I target 500 words per day and sometimes get fewer than 100, but I average 400. I’m quite happy with that, considering os18 through os27 were characterized by hills and valleys—mostly the latter, due to terrible inconsistency.

  • New W2 income. os26 and os27 were funded by Ekata (which, funnily enough, was just acquired by Mastercard for $850M). Although I learned a ton at Ekata, I’ve begun to learn even more at Amazon. I will not only financially benefit from os28’s funding source, but I can feel my mind and skills expanding with the challenges afforded.

Bug Fixes

  • Security patches. Pre-pandemic, I had many insecurities about work. Although I never slacked off (sometimes to my own detriment), I felt like people were watching over my shoulder and judging how long it took me to respond to an email or why I was researching something I should already know. I let myself get talked over in meetings and felt uncomfortable with small talk, which made me seem aloof and robotic. Working from home has given me space to actually work and think. This helped me grow confident enough to overwrite imposter syndrome. I can better express ideas, which has benefitted my company, my coworkers, and me. This bug fix helped in other ways too. I used to think that sharing my writing would reveal how stupid I am. With os28, this doesn’t worry me. Even if I’m stupid today, I can become less stupid tomorrow.

  • Improved diet. For most of my life, I’ve had a complicated relationship with food. Although that relationship has been better in the last decade, I’ve rarely prioritized it—especially when living alone. Frozen chicken and unseasoned rice were commonplace, which left me with low energy. My girlfriend’s a great cook and a passionate advocate of drinking more water. Being home with her has me eating more varied, tastier meals and staying hydrated.

  • Improved friendship SLAs. COVID removed a lot of distractions from and geographic barriers to friendships. Via Zoom or phone calls, I connected with close friends more regularly. Whether playing Jackbox games, beating them at Catan, or just talking; it’s been fantastic. I’ve had a bad habit of neglecting friends—letting the grass grow long between us—or simply not being proactive with calls, texts, and so on. Too distracted by work or other issues to monitor my service-level agreements (SLAs). os28 fixes this bug, and I look forward to maintaining that for years to come.

Minor Features

  • Card shuffling. For whatever reason, I never learned to properly shuffle cards. Thanks to quarantine-induced cabin fever, I can finally do the damn bridge. It’s come in handy, especially for my default bodyweight workout: The Deck of Pain.

  • Tikka masala. Did I mention my girlfriend’s a great cook? She’s also a good teacher. I’m stupidly stubborn about some things, especially fixing what “ain’t broke.” Eating boring, ill-prepared food was normal before os28, but I didn’t think it was a broken system. She taught me how to make over-easy eggs and actually read directions to prepare not just edible, but delicious chicken tikka masala.

  • Washington State as home. I transplanted myself in Washington during the latter part of os25. But due to busyness and other priorities, I didn’t spend time enjoying this state. Over the past year, I visited all three national parks, the San Juan Islands, towns like Chelan and Yakima, and dozens of places around Seattle. When I get off a plane in SeaTac, I now have a feeling of home. Even if that feeling isn’t forever, it will be enjoyed with os28.

That’s all, folks. I’m sure os28 will introduce more bugs. And there will always more features in the backlog than on the roadmap. But that’s life, right?

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