The 11:30 Post

I know what you're thinking. It's 11:30 PM on Tuesday night, and David's going to miss his first daily update. And you know, I'm sort of disappointed in you for that. I thought you'd give me a bit more credit. The thing is, I actually like writing. I know it's an odd thing for a computer scientist, but I do. I've always had an equal interest in the arts and the sciences. For most of my life, it's simply made me feel like I didn't fit in, but now that there's so much technology in art and there's so much art in science... well, I think the future's looking pretty cool.

And why am I doing said blog post so late? Well, tonight was my night to talk about money with my accountant. It just so happens that he's also a fellow karate student, so after learning to defend against knife attacks number 1 to 7 (and yes, if I ever have to deal with an actual knife attack and running is not an option, I plan to ask my attacker if he or she can assume one of the seven standard attack positions that I've learned – why not?), we talked about all the things I have to do between now and April 30th in the event that I become a permanent contractor.

We talked about many things, and no, I'm not going to tell you about everything right now. I still have to have a few aces up my sleeve, right? But the bottom line is that it wouldn't be a horrible thing to just stay as a contractor. There are advantages and disadvantages to that extra step of independence, and it's not for everyone, but it's nothing to be afraid of. And this gets me to an important thing I've been getting better at but still have a long way to go on...

YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING YOURSELF! I'm an indie musician and an indie writer. I do my own software development on random ideas when I have time on the side (though unfortunately, I have not yet figured out how to monetize any of them just yet – but just you wait... sooner or later, Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hour rule will kick in). When I was in a metal band (yes, you should have seen me with long hair!), we used to take great pride in braving a few hours in -30 degree (that's Celsius, for my American friends, which would be around -22 degrees Fahrenheit... thanks Google!) weather to put up posters for our next show. We were HORRIBLE at actually promoting these shows, but we recorded our own albums, made our own artwork, put up our own posters, and damn it, we were proud of that. I originally took that to web development. I made my own graphics, did all my own coding, etc. That's just what I'm used to. (I'm now smart enough to use WordPress for anything even remotely blog-like, and to buy or search for free things like icons made by awesome designers where I'd have to spend countless hours using the DIY philosophy to make something half as good). And the old me would have tried to figure out all by myself what to do about taxes and trying to avoid losing out by being my own boss.

And that would have been DUMB. Because I hate dealing with money. I really do. My dream is to be able to make enough eventually to be able to pursue any idea that I'm passionate about and not worry about whether it will make any money because the next one will, and while I'm waiting for that, a bunch of previous ideas / extra work are helping me make ends meet. I don't care if I'm a millionaire. I don't even care about early retirement. If I can keep doing stuff I'm interested in, that's all I want. So if I can get someone else to figure out how to get the most, financially, out of being a private contractor, then it's money well spent. But even better, my accountant friend is silly about offering his service to someone he considers a good friend for basically nothing. Now, I'm not going to take advantage of anyone else, especially not a friend, and especially not with something where I recognize the value he's giving. I believe in win-win situations as being the only ones worth doing. So the idea is that he might very well want a web site at some point for his own business and while that's foreign to him, it's a piece of cake for me. And that's what we agreed upon as a good trade. It's kind of funny. I'm following in my computer salesman dad's footsteps, as he did almost the same thing when he started out. Maybe that will make up for his son becoming a Mac user when he sold PCs. ;-)

Tests. I thought more about these, and you know what I think the problem is? It's a Black Swan situation. The only time tests are valuable is when they catch something bad. Until then, you can't know that they're doing any good. The guy who wrote the Black Swan gave the example of a fictional U.S. senator successfully passing legislation to get locked, bulletproof doors installed on planes and if this had gone into effect by September 10, 2001. That next day might never have happened, and people would have hated the senator because, in their eyes, he'd be wasting tons of money on something that's not even a problem. But we know better now. That's the hard thing about preventative stuff. You can go overboard and do way too much work to cover a very small amount of uncertainty. But how much is too much? Especially when the costs of that very small probability event happening can be huge.

And on that super serious note, goodnight! Nine hundred words in 30 minutes isn't that bad, huh? Okay I am cheating a bit and am going to set the timer back 3 minutes to 11:59 PM to keep it as Tuesday's post. But I think that's close enough, don't you?