The day I declared it was time for a sabbatical


December 31, 2015 -- A new year's resolution

It was a beautiful night at Quebec City, Canada. As Iza and I were riding on the ferry wheel put together for the new year's eve at La Grande Allée; I once again realized how fast paced life is. The once little girl has grown so much! And with that, I could not help but take a brief assessment of my life's plans, with a focus on the career path. After all, the years until I get to the promised land called retirement go by as quickly as Iza turns into an adult. Till then, we owe it to ourselves to keep sharpening the skills that keep us in the market. The bittersweet fact is that software development evolution rages on and it has no mercy for old dogs. Especially for the ones that have no new tricks.

As I thought more about the current job, I decided that it was not the work I see myself doing much longer. At least, not in the context where I remain valuable in the computer networking industry. This was the first time I was doing Java development professionally. With a few years of Erlang development, after many years of C++, I was bullish about being language agnostic. But Java proved me wrong. The language is too heavy, too chatty and too black-boxy for my taste. To make matters worse, the way it is used in Opendaylight begs for some level of expertise that only someone who has been doing Java for many years can really master. I found myself unable to repudiate the naging feeling that a lot more could be accomplished with so much less. Needless to say, this is my very personal opinion! If you are a Java person, please do ignore me and rock on. The right tool for the right job has always been my motto. Furthermore, even if I concede to the argument that Java is the right tool for building an SDN controller, it became clear that is was the wrong job for me. Super ironic, given the fact that I have grown a profound liking and respect for my boss and colleagues at Red Hat. Heh, I'm just lucky that way. :P I terminated my employment at the end of January 2016.

Instead of aggressively pursuing my dream job I did something different. Simply put, I just did not. :) What I did instead was to take advantage of a very special situation I had going. I got inspired by the TED talk by Nigel Marsh, together with the health insurance provided by my supportive wife's job, and savings I accumulated over the 19+ years of non-stop working. Thus the time was ripe: I'm giving myself a sabbatical! Another influence for pulling this off comes from one my gurus (and dear friend) Bruno Rijsman. At certain points in time, I witnessed him and his wife taking 6 months to a year off, just to explore the world.

It is now April 2016. I have not seen a paycheck for a while but things are holding steady. ;) I had enough cash aside to purchase all the parts needed to get my oclock project going. Besides that, the exercise routine is beginning to pay off.


As I take routine walks in my neighborhood, I pick up some of the litter I find along the way. I also get to go on the weekly trail clearing that is done by the conservation commission of my town. I finished reading two books. All very modest goals, which is exactly how I wanted them to be.

Book #1 is called: How Linux Works, by Brian Ward. It includes a nice chapter on systemd, which is something that is relatively new in Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Book #2 is called: Abundance, by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler. A must read if you ever wondered how is it that the world has not ended in pollution, poverty and hunger by now. I highly recommend these but realize that I'm scratching the surface on the wealth of good reads out there. I hope to get some more books, but this may be the luxury I will have to let go as work life restarts.

The agreement with the wife was that this party should end in May. So, as I'm getting close to the re-integrating with the hard working society we live in, I thought of writing down these thoughts and to blog on the oclock project.

Life is good!

-- flaviof


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