33 minute read

As the month of May winds down, I want to spend a bit of time to reflect on the trips I’ve taken this month. The month (of May) has been a jam-packed one, make no doubt. Parts of it have been uplifting, and other parts of it have me saddened, sickened inside, and feeling empty and hopeless.

The locations I’ve visited this May, in order:

  • West Coast (Washington State) and Canada
    • Seattle, WA — and surrounding cities
    • Vancouver, BC — and surrounding area such as Surrey, BC
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Tyson’s Corner, VA

I took time off from work at least a couple months in advance — actually, I believe that I announced it close to the start of the year. I knew the 3 locations or events I would be traveling to or for, where the purpose was a vacation by a large, and I wanted to make sure that my calendar would be blocked out for that timeframe, also so I could set time and mind aside for it.

Finals Week

I continue my (seemingly) eternal journey as a part-time Masters student at George Mason. This semester I took Data Mining, which was an interesting course, and enjoyed digesting a lot of the Data-related and Machine Learning concepts introduced in it, even if the Statistics part of the course largely went over my head.

This May 6th, Monday, I had my final exam for the course. A priori to that, I was pet-sitting for my family, as they were out on vacation in the West Coast. I had really wanted to join, but the instructor for the course was really adamant and strict, and a virtual final exam was a non-option. As the final counted for a large part of our grade, it was a given I needed to stay back to take it.

Thus, for a couple days and over the weekend, I was sitting my family’s dog at their house, while they were out on vacation. I handed off responsibility to a family friend early morning Monday, and then I drove a couple hours before the exam time to the campus. Took the final exam, and it was brutal and definitely not easy, but I got it done. I was worried for a while after taking the exam, but apparently I didn’t need to be. I scraped by with an A for the course. Not too shabby!

I headed back home after that, packed up my suitcase, and went early to sleep. My flight to Seattle was early morning the next day. The first Uber ride I booked came by, and I needed a minute to grab my water bottle and sunglasses, and by that time he’d already left. Some people have no patience. I booked another Uber to the airport, and in the meanwhile I reached out to Uber support and got a refund for my earlier ride that cancelled on me. The ride to the IAD airport cost me less than $15, which is pretty respectable. Then again, I live at a reasonable distance to the airport, as well it was pretty early in the morning and not many were Uber-ing around that time, at any rate.

Anyway, it was my first time visiting Seattle, so I was excited for the prospect. I packed pretty standard things for the trip — a lot clothes including gym or workout clothes, sunglasses, hat, a flip belt for hikes, two water bottles where one was plastic (share the microplastics, right!), a small container of unopened Nuun tablets for an electrolyte boost and which I felt I could manage to get past security (TSA), a jacket, a book, and even a Kindle though I didn’t have opportunity to use it much.

Sleepless in Seattle

The flight itself was pretty standard and rather uneventful. I don’t remember much of the flight there. It was a direct flight, and what I do remember is the atmosphere when I stepped foot at the SEA-TAC airport — so-called because it borders Seattle and Tacoma apparently, which I only found out much later. It was a good first-time experience, and was literally like stepping foot in soil that I had never seen or step foot on before. My flight landed an hour or so early, still in the morning at around 9AM, so I took a Lyft from the airport to the Airbnb place my family had. It cost me a pretty penny at a little over $70, but it was the cheapest ride I could find. In fact it would have been cheaper to get a rental car for the day and drive there myself, and I was seriously considering it, but I was convinced to forgo that, since returning a rental car is never easy, and gas costs also need to be factored in.

Actually, I joined my extended family there, and while we only had a couple days in the area, we visited a lot of locations in the Washington State area — such as Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue, and Redmond. The highlights for me were downtown Seattle, the Space Needle, and the Pike Place Market — which has outstanding seafood fare and a seemingly limitless options for dining.

I also knocked out the One Mile Benchmark challenge at a gym studio in the Tacoma, WA area — near Seattle. I went at 1.5% incline and got the mile readout at 4:57, even though the treads only went up to 12, so realistically it was like 5:00, if we’re intent on splitting hairs. That mile run felt a little harder than it should have, potentially due to the slight incline I added. I contemplated taking Uber back, but it was a nice day so I just cut through the park and ran back to where we were staying. It was about a 5K run, and felt hard and challenging given that the pathing and terrain was not meant for running, but was worth it.

Overall I enjoyed downtown Seattle. We also saw the Central Library at Seattle, which is supposed to be an architectural masterpiece. The library has an interesting atmosphere and a welcoming glass exterior. One thing I am reminded of now, as memory fades with time, is the dark green, vibrant, and lush vegetation everywhere. The leaves and the sprawling trees, all a deep green. The waterside — including sea, river, and lake — in the backdrop around downtown Seattle. Seems like these are iconic features and atmosphere of Seattle. The vibe of the city, as it were. I decided I liked Seattle after all, and perhaps one day in the future, I would like to spend a couple weeks in Seattle to fully ingest the atmosphere and digest the culture there. There is a lot of seafood too, which is great. A farmers’ market on the weekends which seems especially lively too — Pike Place Market. In short, Seattle is a beautiful, vibrant city and I can definitely picture myself visiting it again.

Sightseeing in Vancouver

We spent 2-3 days in Seattle, and then we drove in a while rental van to Vancouver, Canada which is in BC (British Columbia). There we did some hiking and sightseeing, including visiting parks and beaches in the area. We also went hiking at Grouse Mountain, where I got 3/4 of the way the top, and it took me a little over 3 hours. I’ll add some photos of that once I find it.

I also went to gym at Orange Theory twice on vacation — once at the studio in Tacoma, which was close by to Seattle, and once again in Surrey, BC which was close to Vancouver, which was my first time going to an Orange Theory outside the country, or even going to any gym in Canada for that case, and coincidentally that was where they were generous enough to slap me with an international drop-in fee, a totally unwarranted surcharge for going to a studio out of country. Oh, well. Amounts to a drop in the bucket in the long run, I suppose.

I enjoyed getting together with the extended fam — and seeing my uncles, aunts, and cousins — and joining them on a sightseeing, on-the-road trip from Seattle, WA to Vancouver, CA. My flight back was on May 12th, a Sunday. I got back at around midnight.

PyCon in Pittsburgh

I want to discuss about my most recent to Pittsburgh, and how it affected me. There were huge bumps in the road, that prevented me from getting the most out of the juice-squeeze, so to say.

Almost immediately, it was time for my trip to Pittsburgh, where I was attending PyCon once again this year, after a 2-year hiatus. My first-ever PyCon was in 2022 in Salt Lake, and I blogged about that too, albeit somewhat too briefly.

I booked the flight and hotel stay about 1-2 months in advance, with the full knowledge that my work was not going to sponsor my trip or cover the expenses involved. Which is rather infuriating, as they are a software-based company. Well, at least I did get free registration for PyCon, since I had applied for a travel grant and had it approved, primarily since my company was not covering the cost — so small victories, I suppose.

Anyway, I locked in flight and hotel as a bundle and it cost me around $800 for the whole package deal, round-trip flight included. For the hotel, I chose a hotel that was reasonable (walking!) distance to the convention center or venue where the conference would be taking place, rather than one of the hotel venues that the conference was offering discounted prices for. “Discounted” prices were still around $200 a day, and I was staying at least 5 days there, so it was basically a no-brainer. The Holiday Inn at North Shore was very well priced in the package deal, and it was less than a 15-minute walk to the conference center, so I went with that option.

On Tuesday early morning, May 14th, I Uber-ed to the IAD airport, boarded my flight, and flew directly to Pittsburgh. The flight itself was rather uneventful, but there was good service on flight. In reality, it was eventually delayed by about an hour. There was an issue with closing the flight main door, and they had to call technical team for maintenance. It was a real hassle and the stress factor skyrocketed up slowly but surely, as everyone aboard was stuck twiddling their thumbs or else biting on their nails. Got drinks (tea and juice) and snacks on the flight. I wore a mask for the majority (or entirety) of the flight, as I wanted to ensure that I didn’t catch anything. To bring that chance down as close to 0% as possible.

Because a few years ago, I flew to Vegas for AWS re:Invent — I blogged about that too — and I believe that on the flight I contracted COVID which was extremely rough and basically knocked me out mid-week for a good day or two. And that prevented me from getting the most out of the conference event. Since I was basically knocked out, taken out of service for however long my body was wrestling with that affliction. So this time around, I wanted to make sure I was taking extra precautions, in order to cross my T’s and dot my I’s, so to speak.

I landed at the Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) at around 10:30am, as we got delayed as there was an issue with closing the flight doors during preflight, as mentioned above. Anyway, I took some photos of the city once I touched down.

I was on a tight schedule, as I had a hop-on hop-off bus tour that same morning. I wasn’t sure whether early-checkin or luggage drop-off was possible at my hotel, so upon recommendation I called the hotel staff to confirm this would be possible. Someone picked up and replied that yea, early check-in would be possible. They told me to come by anytime. That stunned me speechless, and I couldn’t believe my ears. I wasn’t sure if I was hearing it right. Because check-in was supposed to be in the afternoon like around 5pm IIRC. So it was like 11pm which was over 3 hours before check-in. So normally hotels don’t cover such an early check-in.

Apparently, from airport to hotel it is very expensive. The Uber from the airport to the hotel where I was staying — Holiday Inn — was about an even $40, primarily due to exorbitant “airport as source” prices. I grumbled but grudgingly paid it. The drive was somewhat scenic, I suppose. I was on my phone most of the time. Once at hotel, I checked in and I was surprised when they handed me the keys to my room. Early check-in was apparently green-lit. So I hit the big elevator “up” button, and proceeded to my room to drop off all my luggage there. Which in my case was a carry-on bag and my backpack which had my personal laptop and some other stuff. I kept my flip-belt which I put my sunglasses case and a cleverly designed wrap-around bottle, so basically the whole thing just cinched around my waist like a belt, albeit with a velcro. It was pretty cool. I also put my room card in the front which had a secure zipper pocket.

I’d booked that whole-day bus tour with the intention of spending a day sightseeing around the Pittsburgh area, as mentioned, so the first bus left at 9am so I was already late at close to noon. I considered jogging to the pick-up spot for the tour bus, but I was on a tight schedule and running (or else, jogging) is one of the most inefficient modes of travel, beaten only by walking. So I decided to Uber there.

Eventually, checked in at the lobby for the tour spot and got on the bus, and there was an uncovered top deck where I had a seat. Going to fast forward here, but there were about 21 stops in total. I got off at three locations — at Duquesne Incline, at Wholey’s for lunch (Fish at a great price), and Point Park just to sight see, as the tour guide had recommended that spot in particular. Coincidentally there was also a neat little Civil War museum there at Point Park, so I knocked that out too, at discounted rate due to my (graduate) student status.

I wanted to get off the tour bus and do more sightseeing, like the Phipps Conservatory and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (and Art, as they were quite close to each other) but I was a bit late and the time was just after 5pm, which was when they all closed for the day. So, that didn’t work out.

Anyway, at Duquesne Incline, I got out at paid $5 in cash for round trip. I only had $20 but a nice older couple had change so I got $15 back from them, and the $5 went towards the round trip cost ($2.50 to and back). It was only a one or two minute ride up the tram or car up to the top, which is called Upper Station which I painfully found out later. Once at the top, I ran about 2-3 miles to Mount Washington, which was not easy as there were lot of hills and inclined roads and streets on the way. I ran back to the station, or at least attempted to, but I had put Duquesne Incline as my destination on Google Maps, and I forgot that was the entrance where I’d stepped foot in, not the station I’d left from. So that wasted a lot of time and energy, and once I corrected that error and put walking directions to Upper Station, I jogged back there and barely made it in time for the bus pick-up at around 2pm. I got down at Wholey’s around 3pm as I was hungry and wanted to eat lunch. It was great lunch and seafood fare, for less than $15 which included two entrees — which was great. Spent some time walking around the street outside, it was drizzling outside with mild rain, and once it was time I got back on the bus again. Got down again at Point Park upon recommendation of the tour guide, and snapped some photos and visited the museum. Not much transpired rest of the bus ride.

Headed back (Uber) to my hotel and that was my Tuesday. For dinner, I ordered some Indian food with Uber Eats and I got that delivered.

The start of PyCon, which is basically a convention for the Python community, was on Wednesday.

That first and second day, I was attending tutorials. I attended four of them. So I had my laptop in my backpack and I was jogging back and forth to the convention center each day. Jogging cut down the time by almost half. Google Maps estimated it as a 15 minute walk, but in reality it took me closer to 7-10 minutes by employing a light jog. It was a scenic run, and Pittsburgh has these three bridges side-by-side each other, and they are all colorful and identical to each other. I reality, I could cross either bridge to get to the convention center. The three bridges were named Roberto Clemente, Andy Warhol, and lastly the Rachel Carson bridge. There was a rather steep incline in the first half of the bridge, which was rather brutal on my legs, with added weight. The latter half involved downhill which actually felt like second wind. Having ran my first half-marathon recently, I certainly know that feeling of catching second wind on downhill. It makes the uphill worth it. Almost.

I went to the tutorials but I did not learn a whole lot from them, which is rather unfortunate. Friday, I went to all the talks, and two parties that evening for a networking opportunity. It went so-so. Saturday, I was so burnt out from attending all the talks the previous day, that I only went to the keynote, and then, dazed, I jogged back to the hotel and showered, changed, and headed back close to 5pm. I did not attend any talks that day at all. That was also the day I found out I lost my hat yesterday at breakfast, so I was feeling down.

Rejection After Rejection

Anyway — I guess I’m feeling down, because I don’t know if I did anything right. But I know I tried my best, and gave it my best shot.

That feeling is like someone drilling a hole deep inside my chest, straight to my soul. Hollowing me out. It’s been years since I was on dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, or what have you. I gave them up because I don’t believe in them, and they never worked for me.

Quite often I have this feeling, like I’m stuck in a simulation. That life is not real. A scientist believes we do indeed live in a simulation. What prompts me to believe in this the most, is the fact that most of the time, I (and to some extent, others) am just spinning my wheels. Going nowhere. It’s like there is no give. No change. Like I am stuck in stasis, outside of time and space, and I have no way to get myself unstuck. This feeling, of existing in a simulation, that faint but persistent suspicion that real life is not truly “real”, is almost instinctual, like goosebumps rising on my flesh. Other times, it’s a feeling of deja-vu — like the exact moment I am and thing I’m doing, I’ve done already, before. A million times before. In past lifetimes. In past “simulations”. You ever get that feeling of deja-vu? If so, you might understand the thought process and impetus behind the theory that we are all stuck in a one big, giant simulation. If we blow our brains out, we may indeed wake up. Or, nothing absolutely might happen. It’s hard to explain, but when one does not believe in a higher presence such as a “God” or deity above, other explanations of life seem suddenly more palatable, more reasonable. I might not believe in God, but I believe in other things — spiritual forces, reincarnation and the recycling of Lives, that deja-vu is the universe and our hidden brain’s way of telling us something, and lastly that there’s a high likelihood that we are indeed inside the Matrix, and that we are missing the crucial trigger to wake up.

Perhaps that all sounds a bit insane. Or, more than a little insane. In an attempt to justify this further, bear with me while I unwind the ball of yarn, and unknot the knots. Stay with me yet, while I recount this dejecting story of mine.

This time around, at PyCon, I tried to socialize as much as possible. I really, truly did. I tried to talk to everyone I could find. Some people conversed with me, others largely ignored me. What it made me realize, is that people are flawed and have insecurities, otherwise are more anti-social than me, or else they have a lot on their mind, like PyCon, and came here more so for the learning experience than for networking and meeting others. Anyway, I don’t really mind that.

What hurt the most at PyCon, was that this time around I attempted to talk to women too, and it didn’t work out at all. I usually tend to talk to other guys, and their rejections usually I can handle much better.

This time I decided to break out of my shell, and try something new. If I am living in a simulation after all, what’s the harm in trying something different? Because in the end none of it matters anyway, because life is not real. All one can hope to do is find the right keyword or phrase to eject oneself from the unwarranted simulation we find ourselves in.

I must have talked to at least five women. I still remember who they were. I hope to the Nameless God that I never forget. I remember all their faces. Even though one or two of them, due to the mask mandate, I could only see their eyes. But, it’s like I can never forget.

Woman one, works at a University — no need to say, I know which one — was initially nice and makes eye contact and converses easily enough, but is secretly cold-hearted and ruthless. After a ten-minute friendly conversation, just cuts me off, like an alarm clock that abruptly wakes you up and breaks you apart from a nice dream, says “I have to go” and abruptly takes leave. Few rare occasions where I have been so disgusted with someone, but this is one of them. I saw this person at least once again, and I am certain they saw me, but I did not approach them, as I consider myself a decent human being who knows to live and let live, and let bygones be bygones.

Women two and three, chatted with each separately at lunch. Both added me on professional networking platform. The latter of them, seemed nice initially, engaging me in conversation, but later it seemed as if they had thrown in the towel, for some odd reason. At a social and food event later, I saw them, avoided eye contact with me, and did not ask me to sit down next to them, despite there being an empty seat, and despite food and cutlery already laid out there. I did wish them the best, and did sit at another table for that event, because I totally understand vibes and when someone is asking for space. Still, it was not cool. The whole duration of the event, that seat next to them was empty, of course. In short, I don’t understand what I’m supposed to do in this scenario, but hopefully I did the right thing.

Woman four, ran into them in a group setting as we were playing a simple card game at the conference. Seemed nice enough initially, but did not want to continue the conversation for long. We went our separate ways, I ran into them again, and basically it was a lost cause. To describe a parallel, it’s like they were itching to stick a kitchen knife in the side of my ribs. Because, that’s what that felt like. So, didn’t work out, and it’s not really my fault.

Woman five, they were actually really nice, but I was shy and also wanted to talk to more folks, so after brief conversation I jumped to another group to socialize with them. I regret squandering the opportunity to socialize and talk with them more.

Woman six, was apparently a sponsor or similar - they had almost complete apathy, disinterest. Walked away more than once. One final time another day, talked with them, they seemed nice enough, I even gave them some tips of things to do and see around the Pittsburgh area, but sadly it’s like climbing the rope did not lead you out of the well, it only led you deeper into the hole. I thanked them, left and also, did not see them afterwards. Also due to my limited time at PyCon this year.

Woman seven, found them in the hallway, and I strike up conversation with them. Initially it was going great, but maybe I shared too much info, or info that they didn’t necessarily want to hear. They eventually got bored and went off to find snacks. Right. That about sums that conversation up. Felt great, but in the end there are more important things to do — such as “hunt around for snacks”. For some reason, this rejection hurt the most out of all so far. Perhaps it’s because I actually enjoyed talking to them.

Hopefully now one can understand why I have this adamant belief that my life is not real, and I’m stuck in a simulation that won’t end. Perhaps that’s all our past lives are, previous iterations of the same old simulation we now find ourselves inhabiting and potentially sharing together. It’s a sobering thought.

I do think of myself as a generous and giving person. I try to do right on general principle. For instance, late one evening, I helped out a homeless person on the streets in Pittsburgh and gave them a fair bit of cash, and even honored their request to go inside a convenience store and buy them a can of coke and batteries and paper towels. I bought all of these for them, in addition as well. I do strongly believe I am a good person, who generally has good intentions towards others, and this is evidenced by the fact that I help out those in need, when an opportunity presents itself.

I also did sign up for volunteering events at PyCon, and even a volunteer tutor gig at one of the booths there. Despite being a decent human, I do yet fully understand why I am made to endure rejection after rejection from women, and the hard part is I have to force myself to keep trying time and time again. It’s like a vicious circle that never ends, and that puts me in despair when I view it through such a lens.

Continuation of Recap

The next day - Saturday - I was too burned out from attending all the Talks the previous day. I did not go to any Talks that day. I only went to a Keynote that morning, because someone at breakfast had mentioned that it was worth it, due to the speaker’s credentials. I went to the Keynote, and it was by far the most interesting Keynote I have attended at PyCon that year, and perhaps ever. It mainly involved some British chap who was justifying his use of generative AI. Basically he made a very astute statement at the start:

Every time I look at a new technology, I try to understand how it improves my life or makes it easier, as opposed to how it was before.

Maybe I’m not getting the wording exactly right, but the gist of it remains. Essentially he views AI as an enabler, and rather than fear it, tries to ascertain what he stands to gain from its use. Is it useful, or is it not? Does it simplify processes, or not? That’s what the aim is to answer. He basically gave a few examples of how generative AI — specifically ChatGPT — was able to help. Also some tips on phrasing prompts. For example, don’t give generic ones, but try to provide as much info as possible. Also, phrase it like “give me some options” rather than asking for a single solution, as that opens more doors and makes the generated AI response that much better quality. That way, if it’s a code-related question for example, the AI will provide a few possible approaches and code samples, rather than just one. Then the person who made the prompt can cherry-pick which solution is the optimal one, rather than being stuck with one solution that it’s possible might be sub-optimal or have errors in the code. The last part is actually high probability, because AI makes a lot of mistakes currently. That was another focus of the talk — one has to assess everything you get back as a response, because AI is highly flawed and give you incorrect information that is not factually correct. Or only some part of it might be incorrect. The task is to use a fine-toothed comb to navigate through it and pick the facts that are well-founded and eliminate or discard the rest. Also another point was made, was that one might (naively) believe journalists in particular are not good candidates for interacting with AI, because AI as a source could lead them down the wrong path or “confidently lie” to them. In reality, journalists are perfect experimental candidates for generative AI, because as journalists they are conditioned to weed out the false statements from the true ones, because they always need to double check and verify each source, so they are better equipped to tackle this task as opposed to a non-journalist. Which I thought was a very astute observation.

Anyway, I don’t remember much else from the talk but the latter end of it involved a cool background terminal command that he had been running for a while. Finally the purpose of it was unveiled — it was actually a background task to update a counter that was superimposed (on the top right) over all other views on his laptop. The counter - which just displayed a number - was supposed to increment every time he mentioned the term “AI” in a conversation. And it did that perfectly, after a short delay of a couple seconds. To demonstrate, he said “AI” in quick succession five or so times, and after a few seconds the counter bumped up approximately by the same amount! It was magical, and it was really cool. Finally, it was revealed that the bulk of the code was generated by AI. I don’t remember the model he used, perhaps it was an open source one. Regardless, the point was that it had saved him a lot of time. By oneself, it likely would’ve taken an entire day. With the AI as an assistant, it whittled the time down to maybe 5 minutes tops. Of course, an additional 10-15 minutes to polish it down and create the counter in a visually appealing fashion. But long story short, it brought down the time-to-deliver from a day to a few minutes, which was amazing.

So anyway. I lost my hat there, because apparently I left it at breakfast. It was my favorite hat and it was a dark blue color. And I miss it, and I am kicking myself for my forgetfulness. To be fair, I was going on about day two of not having a good diet, or having tea as I usually do for that matter. It is definitely a learning experience, but now just feeling bad about that. Felt bad for it a long time afterwards.

That evening I got back, at around 2am, I kid you not, I realized I hadn’t exercised in about quite a while, so I randomly on a whim got up and since my hotel had access to a gym, I hopped on the treadmill there and ran for close to an hour. I started at 2% incline as I have been reading on social media and forums that this is the minimum incline to simulate running outdoors or on the road. I tried to go minimum 9 mph on the treadmill but it was too fast for me and I wanted to take it a bit easy, also I was likely out of shape, so I dialed it back to slightly below like at 8.7 mph. I also alternated between 2% and 3% incline but rather infrequently. I tried to keep running until mile 7, and achieved that goal. Got a 10K in under 45 minutes, and at around mile 7 I was too out of breath and also drenched in sweat, so I walked it out, and at around 7.25 miles I picked it back up at a 9.2 mph or little above. Ended with a 10 mph, and in total I got over 8 miles in that hour. Finally walked it out on a 5% incline near the end.

It was a good effort and work out, and was completely drenched in sweat after that. I made sure to replenish properly with electrolytes and so on after that, and had a shower immediately after. Basically I felt like my body needed that wake up call and to not get terribly out of shape.

The next morning in the early AM, I was signed up for a gym class so I Ubered back and forth to there to the local studio in Pittsburgh. Cost-wise it wasn’t so bad.

One other time I Ubered to that same gym location. But going back, I took shared transit, a Bicycle coming back. That reminds me, the Bicycle system sucks in Pittsburgh. The Uber back would have taken me less than 20 minutes and cost me $20. The bike ride took me more than an hour, hurt my legs and made me hate the steep uphills and generally bike-unfriendly roads and streets of Pittsburgh, and also cost me about $12. In short, the experiment with public bike system in Pittsburgh, was an absolute disaster. If I had a do-over, I would either run back from the gym, or get an Uber back — probably Uber as it’s much more convenient, and less stressful.

Return Flight

The flight from Pittsburgh to IAD was interesting, to say the least.

It was on a small passenger flight, had about 8 passengers total, and I’ve never been on those small flights before in my life.

My first question to the co-pilot before getting on, was:

And this is completely safe, right?

His answer:

Obviously. What sort of question is that anyway?

Funny little conversation. Put my anxiety to rest for the most part, but still had this small knot in my stomach. It was my first time being in a small plane, like a private jet almost, and I had read these smaller flights had a much higher chance of crashes and passenger deaths than regular sized planes.

Had a layover for a little over an hour at some really small airport, almost like a retreat. It was rather odd to me. There was no food there so I had to request to get something from my checked bag.

Long story short, eventually I made it safe back home. My first time in a private plane like that, but I enjoyed the experience overall, even if the turbulence scared me at times (not afraid to admit it).


I enjoyed the West Coast trip with family.

The Pittsburgh trip was a mixed bag. I enjoyed the day I spent sightseeing, but I made some mistakes at PyCon, even though I had the best of intentions going in.

For instance, I focused too much on going to all the talks. That next day I was completely burned out, and did not even feel like attending any further events at PyCon, talks notwithstanding. Lesson learned: skip the talks, do volunteering, or socialize and hang out, or just chill.

For another, I tried to socialize and talk to more groups of people, as well as talk to more women this time around, as I generally avoid them. To me, in my experience I find them self-centered creatures, who value beauty and appearance overmuch. It was painful handling rejection after rejection, and long after PyCon has concluded, all that is stuck in my mind is the weight of each of those rejections, and all rejections as a whole. Lesson learned: talk to more women at these conventions, be more casual, and do not let rejections get you down.

All said and done, I know that bad things did occur on the Pittsburgh leg of the traveling journey especially, and I am feeling bummed about that. Mental burnout and exhaustion from attending too many talks, and rejection from the opposite sex especially, are at forefront of my mind.

In hindsight, even though the goal going into it was to loosen up, I was still too shy and afraid of rejection, perhaps on a subconscious level.

Lesson here is to talk to more woman. My belief is that I made a good effort at this convention, at PyCon, but I did not talk to enough women. Or I did not talk to the right women. Going forward, I should talk to more, a lot more, and that way I should better learn to handle rejections as and when they occur.

That is easier said than done, because the one thing that hits hard long after PyCon, even after I forget most things about it, is how each rejection stings. Especially one or two of them, they sting the most. Like bee stings that stay with you for some time after.

Going forward, I feel this action plan and advice from my current self will aid me:

Be bold, and talk to everyone and anyone, do not shy away from opportunity. Do not be afraid of trying. Try hard. Do not be afraid of rejection. For even if a million women reject you, after a million rejections you receive from women, on the millionth-and-one time, there will come one who will not. This is the one who deserves your heart, mind, and unwavering dedication.

Part of me wrestles with the idea that all life we live is just a giant simulation, like the Matrix. Maybe we cannot know for certain if we pinch ourselves, that it is truly real. Maybe we truly are all stuck spinning our wheels, acting out a play that has been predestined for us. We have no control over anything we do, or what happens to us. Because it has all been preordained, perhaps due to the nature of said simulation.

I believe in what I have stated above. Suppose on the slim chance that life is after all not a simulation. Then I owe it to myself to put my best foot forward, and try as best I can. Talk to more people. Socialize rather than attending talks and lectures. Network and learn. Absorb everything as a sponge. Make a heartfelt effort to strike up conversation with more women. When doing that, be friendly, respectful, and generous.

Lastly do not let rejections get you down. Do not fight back, let it happen, let it wash over you like water from the waves, and just accept it and move on. There are much bigger fish in the ocean. Do not waste your time with each fish in a vast ocean, where fish are aplenty. Rejections sting, it’s true. Sometimes there is a lesson to be unpacked, but oft times there is no lesson at all. It’s best to move on. Forgive and forget.

Finally – for every million that reject you, there will come one who will not. This is the one to keep. This is the goal. This is the dream worth pursuing. Forever and always, until the day I pass away, or until the great simulation of life unveils itself and lays the truth bare for all to see, whichever comes first.