Tag: Arizona

Company Wide Memo from your CEO

By: Danny Geisz | January 5, 2020

Project: #Life

Unless you have been without internet for the past four weeks, I’m sure you all are at least somewhat aware of my situation. Many people have rightly conveyed their concern about my returning to work so soon, and I feel obliged to address this topic. In keeping with the culture of honesty we have worked to cultivate throughout our company, I have decided to share with you all the details of what happened in the Grand Canyon in addition to my motivations for returning to lead XenaCorp again so soon.

Rebecca, Harley, and I spent this Christmas with my parents in New Mexico. It was my plan to take a week of vacation and then promptly return to San Francisco on January 2nd. Before returning I had promised Harley that we would visit the Grand Canyon, as she had been badgering me about doing so for the last four months. Harley would have turned nine this March, but she had already proved herself to be a bit of a daredevil, so I was excited to surprise her with a helicopter tour of the Canyon. Rebecca was less than enthusiastic about the idea, but we both knew how much Harley would enjoy the experience.

We arrived at the Grand Canyon early on December 28th, and Rebecca and I could hardly keep up with Harley as she bounced around the overlooks in excitement. True to our predictions, Harley nearly exploded when Rebecca and I showed her the helicopter that would be taking us over the canyon.

I feel no desire to belabor the details about what happened in the Canyon, as these details are immensely painful for me to even think about, much less write. All I will say is that the pilot believed we were having some form of malfunction with the rotor hub that led to her loss of control of the helicopter.

We were with another young couple in the copter, Pranav and Neha. The sole reason Neha and I were able to survive the crash and be rescued by first responders was because we both were sitting on the right side of the helicopter. That is the only reason. A simple choice of seat. In order to promote my personal well-being, I would appreciate if there was no more talk of this subject. To be more precise, I will fire anyone who speaks of these events in my presence without good reason.

Now then, I believe it would be fruitful to discuss my reasons for so quickly returning to lead the company. Many board members have expressed concern that I am throwing myself back into work as a defense mechanism against my grief. This is a perfectly valid concern, but I assure you all, this is not the case. The loss of my wife and eight-year-old daughter is without a doubt the single most difficult event that I will ever face, and I spent two weeks in the hospital immersed in a sense of inescapable darkness. I do not believe it necessary to divulge any more information about my mental state during the weeks after the Grand Canyon. However, to quell your doubts, I will remind you that I underwent a tremendous amount of mental conditioning during my time in the military. Additionally, I will have you know that I have spoken to three psychiatrists and two trauma therapists, each of whom has deemed me mentally and emotionally capable of returning to my duties as CEO of XenaCorp.

The central reason I have returned is precisely the same reason I founded XenaCorp in the first place: I am absolutely certain that the analysis and services we provide will fundamentally change our world for the better. Rebecca shared this conviction, and it was only through her steadfast support and business savvy that XenaCorp was able to survive its first few years of life. I can therefore only see my continued work leading XenaCorp as a dedication to Rebecca and Harley, and a promise to bring about the change of which Rebecca and I always dreamed.

I have one final note to add. Many of you knew Rebecca closely. Rebecca was gifted with immense intelligence, yet the quality that drew people to her was her unfathomable love for humanity. Regardless of your position with XenaCorp, I ask you to strive to mirror this love in everything you do. I have chosen to dedicate my remaining work with XenaCorp to the memory of Rebecca and Harley. I ask that you would do so as well.

Micromanaging will be the Death of Me

By: Danny Geisz | January 5, 2020

Project: XFA Genesis

Shalom, brethren. I have spent this week of winter recess in Arizona with my family, which means I have had time to obsessively build the XFA site. I understand that many of you readers may not be programmers, but let me tell you, if you’re looking for a hot, passionate night of shameful pleasure, learn Python and then build a web app with the Django framework. I can barely contain my feelings toward Django. It is juicy, juicy sauce. If you are in fact a programmer, and have previously used Django in your endeavors, I’m sure you share my sentiment.

My compulsive programming this week has also been a time of self-learning for me. I know all you readers care deeply about even the most minute details of my work life, so I won’t hold anything back. Actually scratch that, I am going to hold some stuff back. Otherwise, many of you might be concerned I’m an egotistical sociopath, which isn’t good for business. Anyways, I have specifically been paying attention to my micromanaging tendencies. When building a web app you generally have to keep track of several moving parts (models, views, CSS styling, whatnot), and I very much tend to spend far too much time perfecting small details when much larger pieces aren’t in place. For example, you know how sometimes you go to a news or blog site that only displays part of an article, and then the text fades out with a “Read More,” button at the bottom? For some reason, I had a spontaneous love affair with incorporating that effect on the XFA site, and I honestly think I spent an hour (“…A full hour!” –Crazy Craig) getting everything right. Now, this wouldn’t have necessarily been the end of the world, except for the fact that the entire site looks like garbage right now because I haven’t started styling the site yet. The engaged reader might be tempted to ask the question, “Why oh why, Danny, did you spend so much time perfecting the text fade away effect when you haven’t even started styling yet?” Well, my wonderfully engaged reader, I don’t really have a good answer for you, aside from the fact that I derive an irrationally large amount of utility from having perfect control over small details. Some might say I’m a perfectionist. Others would be wrong.

I think because I’ve spent the last five years mostly doing physics (not hard stuff like QFT or GR or String Theory. I’m not Wolfram sigh) I’ve generally been rewarded for being cripplingly OCD about the minute details of derivations. However, recently I have been attempting to tackle more complex theories (the hard stuff like QFT and GR), and I have been running into issues because I tend to spend way too much time trying to understand the incredibly minute details of every equation instead of trying to grasp the central tenets of the theories. It's also hard because the minute details of the mathematical theory usually give me the most pleasure (the details are a bit fuzzy, but at one point I believe I was accused of having romantic feelings for eigenvalues. I can’t say that’s too far off the mark. Honestly, eigenvalues are the Django of basic linear algebra). The issues I’ve been having with these theories specifically have genuinely caused me to wonder if my brain is already slowing down, but I think it’s far more likely that my perfectionist tendencies are finally catching up to me.

So then, the ~groundbreaking~ (really pretty obvious) conclusion I’ve come to is that I have to be much more militaristic with myself when it comes to my organizational approach to learning new subjects or working on my projects. As a practical example, I will have to force myself to implement the architecture of the XFA site before I go about trying to style the thrice-fracked thing. This organizational approach is pretty obviously the best way to go, but my time of self-reflection has really showed me how shamefully unorganized I’ve been with my past projects.

As an example of this shameful, shameful behavior, for the past two semesters, I’ve been doing a research apprenticeship for the ATLAS group at Berkeley (For the uninitiated, the ATLAS detector is a detector in the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland, which just so happens to be the largest particle collider in the world). I won’t go into the specifics of my projects with ATLAS, but this last semester I was primarily working with the incredibly elaborate data readout system used by ATLAS.

It’s honestly a bit painful to think back to my project this semester, because I really did a poor job learning the necessary material to do the project I was working on. The fundamental issue was that in order to understand anything about anything, you had to first develop a basic understanding of the system as a whole. This was an issue for wee physicist Danny because I’m used to reading out of a physics textbook, understanding equations line-by-line, and then watching the main ideas unfold before me like the glorious phoenixes they are. When confronted with a subject that wasn’t possible to learn line-by-line, I hopelessly floundered about like the weird fish in Harry Styles music video for Adore You.

The moral of the story is that if you’re a perfectionist, you’re annoying and I don’t like you. JK, we’re all friends here. The moral is that in the future, I’ve learned that I need to make a much more concerted effort to outline whatever it is I’m working toward, and only dive into the details when I can see how they support the bigger picture. Unless I’m just looking to trip out on some delicious math. Then I’ll just shamefully and giddily open Weinberg’s QFT book to the section about the topology of the Lorentz Group. Until next time, my friends.

Forging the Blog – Entry 1

By: Danny Geisz | January 2, 2020

Project: XFA Genesis

Like so many others, today was a remarkably interesting day. As the title might suggest, I began work creating the site for XFA today. I am currently refamiliarizing myself with Django, which is a python framework for building web applications. I naturally will need to have perfect control over the XFA site in order to convey the precise information and emotion I wish to convey, and thus I feel as though I necessarily must build the site myself, instead of turning to some easy way out, like WordPress. I simply cannot convey my excitement about enacting my vision for the XFA site, and it is a gift from life itself that I have the ability to birth this site from my mind in the form of succinct blocks of code.

Now then, I feel as though I ought to expound upon my first statement pertaining to the interesting character of this very day. After a brief stint journaling, I began reading Srendniki’s book on Quantum Field Theory. Up until now I have been attempting to learn the subject by means of Weinberg’s text, but let me tell you, that book is dense. A good friend of mine suggested I use Srendniki’s text instead of Weinberg for an introduction to the subject, so I decided to give it a whirl today. I read through the first section which motivated the use of Quantum Fields to deal with the problem of unifying special relativity and quantum mechanics, and the math was quite interesting. I am currently on Winter Recess and am spending time in Arizona with my family, and at about 12 I went to play 18 holes of golf with my father, brother, and Grandmother.

It was a truly gorgeous day. Arizona can sometimes be reconkulously hot, especially when playing golf in the desert, but this winter day was wonderfully temperate, and the sky was an incredibly compelling shade of eggshell blue. Anyway, I was able to enjoy the day and the golf for about 9 holes, when I was suddenly overtaken by the compulsion to work on quantum field theory problems. Gone was my enjoyment of the day, my family, and ridiculous sport of golf. This compulsion is very interesting to me. It happens fairly frequently to me, and it honestly seems quite silly. It robs me of the joy of living and fills me with a profound sense of anxiety.

I’m going to abruptly cut off this entry simply because it’s nearly midnight, and I’m quite tired.

Stars; in your multitudes; scarce to be counted; filling the darkness.