Scenes from Silicon Valley

August 20, 2019

It’s been just over two years since I first moved to Silicon Valley.

Ever since I wrote Scenes from New York, I always intended to put together another collection of photos for the San Francisco Bay Area. But two years is a long time. For Scenes from New York, I had only been living there for nine months. The city was still new to me, and I could still comment on it as if I were an outsider.

But here, now, in California? I’ve gotten used to its quirks, its advantages, and its dysfunctions. That makes it harder to talk about this place objectively in a way that people from the outside would understand.

But still, I’m going to try anyway.

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The Hierarchy of Conflict

April 17, 2019

I’ve talked before about how negativity and criticism are crucial to growth and should be preserved. This time, I want to talk about conflict.

I’ve found that I have pretty differing reactions when I see or participate in conflict, depending on the situation.

If I see a couple bickering about whether or not they’re going to go out for dinner, I generally don’t have a good reaction. It tends to be a shallow argument, they’re probably hungry and in a bad emotional state, and ultimately one day eating in or out (usually) doesn’t matter.

There’s a more constructive version of this though.

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December 20, 2018

For a brief moment, the wireframe fibres constructing the world were visible. But in the blink of an eye, they vanished, and the man found himself in a comfortably decorated, warmly-lit room with a short, dark-haired woman who looked to be in her early thirties.

She smiled at him. “Welcome back. It’s good to see you again. How have you been?”

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The Chasm of Culture

May 27, 2018

If you know a bit about me, you’ll know that I grew up between multiple cultures: my mom’s side of the family lives entirely in Brazil, my dad’s side almost entirely in Portugal, and I myself grew up in Canada. Those three cultures have some pretty profound differences, from Brazil’s laissez-faire looseness, to Portugal’s focus on social rituals, to Canada’s more British-style aloofness and distance when compared to the other two.

I was exposed to all those cultures young enough that I internalized the different aspects of them. I grew up knowing that these different sides of my family and social groups acted and expected to be treated in different ways, and managed to find a way to center myself in the common ground between them while adjusting myself to fit them wherever necessary.

It’s led to a lifetime of feeling a bit like a misfit no matter where I go, but it’s also helped me have a broad perspective on a wide variety of different issues. I consider that outlook and perspective to be a very fundamental part of who I am today.

But even that kind of upbringing didn’t prepare me for the culture shock I would be exposed to when, as a kid, I moved from downtown Toronto to a semi-suburban neighbourhood in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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