This year’s crop of lanterns. The really scary-looking one is Ingrid’s; she went all in. Adrian did his own carving for the first time ever – I was almost expecting blood and cut fingers but nothing of the kind happened. I wasn’t in the mood for crafts at all and did the bare minimum to keep the kids company.

We made a trip to the recycling station yesterday. Not the small local one that takes old newspapers and all kinds of packaging, but the large one that takes just about anything. We had a heap of batteries and light bulbs, an old frying pan, a broken lamp and a few more similar items. And some old furniture.

The recycling station has a collection point for furniture and other things that are still fully usable and could be sold (possibly after some refurbishing). That’s where we tried to drop off the furniture. But the staff were not interested in the items we had. I guess either they get more furniture than they can handle, or nobody wants old pine drawer units in their home. It was a pity to throw them into the skip to be crushed, but we also don’t want old pine drawer units or CD shelves in our home any more.

Random snapshot of Ingrid on scooter.

Not my last day at work, but the last day most of us are still together as a team – one of the guys who handed in his notice after me actually leaves before me. (I still have a week to go.)

We went for dinner and a few rounds of shuffleboard, which has sort of become our team’s go-to after-work activity. It’s social, mildly competitive, but easily combined with chatting and drinks.

We kept stepping around the elefant in the room for most of the evening, but gave up all pretense halfway through the dinner and spent a good while discussing the new CEO. By the end of the dinner we were all still mostly baffled and bewildered both about him as a person, and his plans for the product and the company. Then we switched to more wholesome topics.

We drove to Mos for some late evening shopping. Halfway there we noticed the car was making an inordinate amount of noise. Turned out we had a flat tire. We ended up changing the tire in the (gradually emptying) Mos car park. More excitement than I really want out of a normal Thursday night.

More interviews. Which means I get to visit interesting parts of Stockholm that I don’t normally see. This is the Kungsträdgården subway station, one of my favourites. It’s very deep (the deepest in Stockholm I believe) and has interesting decorations. The station walls are plain bedrock, in places, with water trickling in through the ceiling. Moss grows on the walls, including species that are not present anywhere else in Stockholm. It smells like a cave.

On the topic of interviewing… If I am to search for a job, and if I want to find a good one, it makes no sense to meet one company only. I need to meet a bunch of them so I can compare and contrast. I have interviews scheduled for most days this week and next.

The obvious question is, what do I consider a good job? What kind of job do I want? What am I looking for?

I am looking for a developer job, not a manager position. (That’s a discussion worth an entire blog post on its own and I’m not getting into that now.)

What makes a good developer job?

First, there are the obvious things – competent colleagues, sensible bosses, a stable company that will be paying my salary on time, a decent office etc. Those are things that anyone would agree with, in any business, so they are not particularly interesting.

Next, there is the MAP triplet, things that I imagine any skilled worker would want: Mastery, Autonomy, Purpose. On the “purpose” side, specifically, I want to work on “good things” – projects that make some part of the world a tiny bit better, rather than worse. That means a no to online casinos, for example, and to all kinds of digital marketing.

I am a strong believer in the agile development philosophy. I want to work together with other developers rather than on my own. I want to work in close communication with customers/users.

I believe in quality. I want to work in a team that takes pride in doing an excellent job and believes in producing quality work.

I have started searching for a new job. Today was my first interview. (I took this photo in the lobby of the building where that company has their office.)

I’d been postponing this inevitable task, mostly because I didn’t want to take the first steps. One of the first steps would be to update my CV and I find that both boring and difficult, so I kept not doing it. But now a (soon to be ex-)colleague put me in contact with the company he is going to join, and that was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss, so now I had to start working on this stuff.

It’s just the CV and letter-writing part that I don’t much like. And it turns out that even some of those boring steps have been stripped away from the job search process, on some recruitment sites for the IT industry at least.

I do quite enjoy job interviews. At “good” companies, with “good” people, there are often interesting conversations to be had. I get to learn about an interesting company and their product(s), and to talk about things that interest us both.

Speaking of children and eating, I find their food preferences quite puzzling sometimes.

Today’s dinner included roast sweet potatoes. (The little curly thing in the photo is a sliver of lemon zest.)

Both Ingrid and Adrian love roast potatoes, and potatoes in general in almost any shape and form. Both also love most sweet vegetables, such as carrots, peppers, and corn. But sweet potatoes – no.

And at the same time they can be quite fond of things that are not at all as “eager to please” the palate as most vegetables. Garlic bread, for example, is one of their great favourites, and I’ve never heard them complain about too much garlic in the food. (As long as it isn’t raw.)

Ingrid is gradually outgrowing the age of general food scepticism and is usually happy to try most meals I cook. She even ate some feta cheese recently, quite voluntarily. Adrian is more conservative – his sandwiches are all still just bread and butter, and I have to coax him to try a piece of tomato.

Sometimes one of their friends stays for dinner, and then I’m reminded just how much I challenge the kids’ taste buds. Whenever another kid eats with us, I know I have to cook the dullest food I can stomach. Even then, I see the other children separate the food on their plate and push it around and leave half of it. “I’m not so fond of this or that.” “I’m not very hungry.”

Lemon merengue pie, for Ingrid’s birthday party.

Twelve eleven-year-olds were an interesting party crowd to have. Mostly of the time they seem so grown. They eat lemon merengue pie instead of ice cream with sugar sprinkles. They have party decorations in silver and black. They mostly don’t need adults to entertain them or to arbitrate in their games, unlike younger kids. There are no tears because a piece of cake fell over, or because someone got a pink straw but wanted a green one.

But there were times when I was clearly reminded that they are still children. Especially when they get tired. When they couldn’t agree on whose turn it was to hold the pen for some part of the treasure hunt, or when someone thought that the others were doing it wrong, they really weren’t that different from a bunch of pre-schoolers – they still needed an adult to coax them through it, so the party could end without fights and tears.