VINTAGE (adjective) of old, recognized, and enduring interest, importance, or quality; dating from the past.

I am unsure if it’s my middle age creeping up to me but I have been reading more historical books and documentaries in my late thirties more than any other point in my life. I also began looking into collecting vinyl records when I chanced upon this Taylor Swift-powered beauty at Saatchmi a couple of weeks ago. It’s still a theoretical type of desire or just a notion at this point, unlike my new crocheting hobby where I began hoarding more yarn than I can possibly work with on my free time:

Taylor Swift’s Lover Album in Saatchmi Vinyl Store and Cafe

My kids are still tiny and extremely curious little boys and I fear that they’ll turn my incoming vinyl record collection into a spinning top. So far they have turned my luggage into a makeshift boat, the sofa foam into a makeshift slide, and the pillows and bedsheets as an occasional fortress during their post-school playtime. I love their imagination but they are so young and do not yet fully grasp the context of fragile and rare things. They are the most creative, the young ones. But they are also the ones who run the risk of destroying the old and fragile if they are not trained to be careful about it. I try to instill in them the value of honoring old traditions in some part, though I am highly unconventional as a person. When my kids are not distracting me with increasingly complex questions about life and the world, I try to give them an anchor with which they can feel me in life long after I’m gone. After my mom died, I ate Mediterranean food and coffee cake when I miss her. I’d like to think my adult sons will eventually visit bookstores and feel comforted that I am “there” because that’s my heaven here on earth.

A Wall of Vinyl in Beautiful Saatchmi

During a couple of recent museum visits, I kept seeing Remington typewriters and I wax nostalgic. Oddly, the old displayed equipment symbolized my own ambitions to become a professional novelist and it evoked certain feelings, which is probably why I began writing in this blog again. Everyone is all ChatGPT powered and immersive with multimedia video experiences like TikTok content. I am still here, typing out my thoughts.

I actually encountered an era where I learned how to type from a typewriter and not a computer keyboard before I entered my teenage years. At the time, my parents did not want me to end up poor and unable to feed myself so they kind of squished my radio DJ and creative writing ambitions. It was done too harshly for my young and sensitive soul at the time. They did this with love, though. I realized this in hindsight sometime in my thirties. This decade is pretty much the time I allowed my inner child to heal for all the possible turns of my life story that never happened simply because I needed to measure my dreams and hopes in the standard benchmark of a paycheck. Mindfully, I’d do things just for the sheer joy of it.

A DJ Moment in Sentosa Singapore

When I did a public speaking engagement for a bunch of Gen Z engineers from the university, I did not focus on tools and technology stacks; I focused on the human being running those tools and reiterated to them an often-forgotten fact the moment you become a working adult: that it is you who is the craftsman in technical practice. You define the tools, not the other way around. It’s so easy to get lost in the assembly line because people are cookie-cuttered here and there for the sake of efficiency. Still, the beauty and the pauses and I dare say, the errors and bugs you need to refactor in your non-ChatGPT produced code allows us to live and breathe a little, and remind us of our shared humanity.

A Remington Typewriter

Circling back to my contemplation of buying vinyl records, I know also that it’s not going to have extra pump or bass the way the modern amplifiers serve as background music for community Zumba workouts. But it’s just this beautiful part of our living room that I can dance to when everyone’s out and about; I know that with the soothing sounds, I intend to only play it at a reasonable volume. In this very ageist world, I’d say out loud: old things can still be so magnificently beautiful, if you have an eye for it. Eventually, it can cease to work in its original intended function but it still serves as a crucial part of development and history. As a young girl, I mixed songs from FM radio on mixtapes. In this age of streaming giants like Spotify and Apple Music, it’s almost unthinkable how you would rewind and painstakingly replay and pause songs using a casette tape player or recorder. That was such a core memory for me as a child, though babies of these days will not be able to imagine the inconvenience of not being able to access songs and song snippets on demand.

In like manner, I’ve been hearing the word vintage thrown around a lot in the context of legacy systems and old objects. Depending on who is talking about it, sometimes it drips from the mouth with the tone of impatience of those who wish for the benefits of upgrade at a frenetic pace, sometimes it’s a sugary compliment with genuine admiration at the enduring quality of old coded systems from the perspective of a coding craftsman, and sometimes it’s just a matter-of-fact neutral statement. Technology is laden with vintage objects in the flotsam and jetsam of an organization’s technology stack.

A Remington Typewriter

I know that obstinate legacy coders do not get a lot of love. A refusal to innovate is hurtful to any business, after all. But letting go of code you’ve done for years is pretty much like letting your baby go when he or she grows up. You can’t just rip the bandaid out of decades of hard work. The people side of change management when changing routines is so underrated these days. It’s actually the most pivotal factor that will determine if the cutting edge technologies you are proposing will be adopted and will stand the test of time in the future. These so-called soft skills of communicating and translating across business and technical domains has become so important these days. It’s not really too fair to call them soft skills at this point. I have seen far too many technical geniuses operating on ego that the organization loses the capacity to synergize because they have too many main characters in a set that also needs producers, directors, propsmen, and other behind the scenes people.

I usually do cloud native stuff but I also make sure to detach myself from the work as soon as it’s done. Because it’s already obsolete the moment it goes into production. That is the nature of my industry. For a sentimental person such as myself, technology can be an anathema for a career choice. But I thrive in irony and making neural connections out of seemingly unlikely things. That is basically the Aquarius placement in my natal chart speaking.

When I have to work with people who have been coding as far back as the time that I was in diapers, I treat them with a lot of love. Even if sometimes they employ the technology seniority, I will never run out of patience for them. Because I respect the role they played in building the foundations of the old code, and though difficult, I marvel as well at how my own work will build on top of it. We are both craftsmen in different decades. I just happen to be wearing a fresher technology stack. In between tasks, I’d listen to their stories of how they built sorting algorithms without the usual Numpy libraries and methods. I will always have a soft spot for old things such as that, even if they can sometimes be tagged as obstinate or broken. Deep in my soul, I know that I will always have the drive to build new things on a tapestry of old and new, and upskill wherever it’s required. That is why I shifted to a technology-centered career and continue to be happy in it.

These days, I stop looking at life, work, old and new things as separate ladders on a track. It’s hardly the case that we are made up of disparate things. It’s more like a tree if you come to think of it– massive, complex, generally sturdy, branching out in all different directions but still forming a cohesive whole if you have the appetite for silence and integration.

Tree of Life eme

I stop here to plant more DevOps seeds on my working weekend. But yeah, to borrow from Gen Z parlance: “I f.w. vintage f.r.”