Millheads: a great place to get your ears lowered

Four years ago I walked into a Great Clips and got the absolute worst haircut of my life. It was so bad that when I got home, Benjamin said “oh wow, that looks terrible — what happened?!”. I turned around, went back, and had a different stylist “fix” it by buzzing my hair. Vowing never again to set foot in that establishment, I switched to the Rudy’s in Belltown, always taking the next stylist in line.

Flash-forward about 6 months and I find myself getting a haircut at Rudy’s by a stylist that looks familiar but who I just can’t place. About half way through, I realize it’s the same stylist who butchered my hair at Great Clips and she was doing it again! After she had completed her hatchet job, one of her coworkers Paul Pugliese came to the rescue. I specifically requested him the next time I went in. Now, Paul is the only person who I will let touch my hair — he always does a fantastic job.

Last month, Paul opened his own place down in Pioneer Square: Millheads Hair Cutting Company. They cut men’s and women’s hair at reasonable prices and accept appointments and walk-in traffic. Being down in Pioneer Square just off South 1st and Yesler Way they’re easy to get to via bus, lightrail, and the new streetcar. Their location is doubly-good for me being just a few blocks north of my office.

If you’re looking for a place to get your hair done, I highly recommend giving them a chance!

Millheads Hair Cutting Company
83 Yesler Way
Seattle, WA 98104


In case you didn’t get the title, it’s an old saying from my Papa Jack meaning “to get a haircut”. Think about it…

Career levels across Seattle-area tech employers

Disclaimer: These thoughts and opinions are my own and not my employer’s, although if you didn’t know that already you’re clearly not paying attention.

EMC Isilon recently refreshed their career level definitions and it got me thinking of how difficult it is to map levels from one company to another. EMC uses a P1-P7 numbering system, IBM uses a band 6-band 9 numbering system, Microsoft uses levels numbered 59-68, Amazon calls theirs levels L1-L10, etc. How is anyone suppose to make sense of this mess across companies? So I set out to do what any engineer would do: determine if there was a mapping between them.

From my experience at IBM, pre-acquisition Isilon, and now EMC I was able to do some of the mappings myself. I then reached out to friends who have worked for at least one of the three and asked how their current companies mapped to it. The following table includes the results thus-far:

IBM pre-EMC Isilon EMC Microsoft Amazon
P1 – Entry 59/60
band 6 SDE 1 P2 – Intermediate 61 L4 – college hires
band 7 SDE 2 P3 – Senior 62 L5 – mid-career
band 8 SDE 3 P4 – Principal 63 L6 – Senior
band 9 P5 – Consultant 64 L7 – Principal
STSM Staff P6 – Senior Consultant 65/66/67 – Principal L8 – Senior Principal
Distinguished Engineer Distinguished Engineer L7 – Lead /
Distinguished Engineer
68 – Partner L10 – Distinguished Engineer
Fellow Fellow Fellow

Discussion frameworks, not absolutes

The chart above is useful primarily as a framework for discussion. Even within a large company the skills for someone at given level may not map closely to others at that same level. Add cross-company evaluations into the mix and the above is, at best, a guideline.

Why is this important?

People change jobs frequently in the tech industry (no surprise given employees who stay in companies longer than 2 years get paid 50% less). My 10-year career at IBM and 4+ years (so far) at EMC makes me an outlier in a field where most of the resumes I see have people staying just 1-2 years between jobs.

The chart above can be useful when changing jobs across companies. When I left IBM to come work at Isilon this would have come in very handy. Instead of moving from my band 9 position at IBM to at least an SDE3 or Staff position at Isilon, I moved over as an SDE2 — two steps down. Next time I’ll have more data to make a solid lateral (or upward!?) transition.1

Levels !== Pay

Everyone I’ve talked to has confirmed that pay does not directly map to levels. It is common for the upper end of the pay range of level X to overlap greatly with level X+1 and maybe even border the lower end of level X+2.

What about Company X?

I’d love to get other large tech companies like Google and Facebook on here, I just haven’t found anyone willing to share their insight. If you have overlap with one of the above drop me an email and lets fill in the blanks.

1 FWIW, I currently have no intention of leaving EMC Isilon for another job.

Broadway, aka BankWay

In five blocks of Broadway, there are five banks and one credit union. One of the banks opened last month. Another two will open in the next month.1 No one can convince me that financial institutions are suffering in the least.

The credit union (BECU) is mostly worthless to me. Despite being a part of the nationwide credit services network, the location on Broadway has no tellers to provide said services.

So many financial institutions and yet none of them useful.

1 The full list in walking order north from John:

  • US Bank
  • Bank of America
  • Chase
  • Umpqua Bank
  • BECU
  • Wells Fargo (coming soon)
  • 1st Security Bank (just opened)
  • HomeStreet Bank (coming soon)

An introvert’s report of Seattle Pride 2012

This was the best Pride I’ve ever attended. Not that the Pride itself was particularly amazing, although the weather was perfect. But rather the friends I hung out with made the entire weekend. Pride lasts all weekend, with events happening on Saturday, mostly up on the hill, and Sunday both near the Seattle Center and up on the hill. Last year I went to the parade on Sunday, spent about 30 minutes at the festival at the Seattle Center, and then bailed for a movie by myself. That’s it.

This year on Saturday, Chris asked me to join him and Will for dinner on the hill. What I thought was just going to be dinner turned into a bait and switch of dinner then going to the Purr block party for 4 hours. The introvert in me physically cringed at the idea of the block party, but I really enjoyed myself after getting there. One of the things I love about Chris is that he has a great read of me on when to push me outside of my social comfort zone and when to back off. It helped that we arrived at Purr early in the evening, so it wasn’t as insanly crowded, and Chris knew a lot of people which made hanging out fun. The Buffy Sunday crew (Jay, Phil, Anthony, et al) showed up later as well. Eventually I reached my tipping point of too many people and my legs hurt from standing so much (standing for 4 hours after running 13.1 miles that morning wasn’t ideal).1

Sunday morning Chris and Shaun came down for brunch at Mecca Cafe. We caught the first part of the parade where Will joined us. I’m not a huge fan of parades, Pride or otherwise, but I like showing support for the companies (such as Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, F5) and organizations (eg: Seattle Public Schools) that support my community. We left about an hour into it and headed to my apartment for a brief respite before tackling the chaos at the Seattle Center. Having my apartment be, literally, a block from the Seattle Center festivities was super-handy. Drinks, bathrooms, and a break from the crowds within easy walking distance. The absolute highlight of the ongoings at the Seattle Center happened when Chris, Shaun, Will and I were sitting down on a small rise when a gentleman whom I’d chatted with online months ago, but hadn’t met in person, stopped, saw me, and came up to introduce himself. Did I mention this gentleman was very handsome? No? Well he is. After we exchanged a few words, aforementioned gentleman realized he knew Chris and Shaun and said hello to them as well. But he stopped because of me.2

I put on my extroverted hat again that evening and went back to Purr with Shaun where we ran into Brian and his friend Shara. We briefly checked out the line at the Cuff, decided it was too long, and went back to Purr. When we walked in, “Call Me Maybe” just started playing — a song that I hate to admit I love — and I danced to it. This completely floored Shaun, and probably Pip and Robin who were there as well, as I don’t dance. But then they played Pink’s Raise Your Glass, then Third Eye Blind’s Semi-Charmed Life which are probably some of my favorite songs so I danced to those too. Around 11p we meet back up with Chris, grabbed a quick burger at Dick’s, and called it a successful Pride.

I had an absolute blast this weekend and realize, again, how much I love my friends. Chris and Shaun made the weekend an unforgettable experience.

1 That night I posted this very poorly written update to Facebook which garnered numerous chuckles:

That’s a first — Casey out at a club on Pride. Between my legs hurting from the race and the mass of people, I think I left at the perfect time.

2 Later that night we exchanged a couple brief messages, but the one that made my weekend was this one from him:

You caught my eye all sorts of up down and sideways. We need to hang out very soon :)

Day-to-day context

I realized this week after talking to my grandparents that they, and likely the rest of my family, have no context of my day-to-day life (and certainly no knowledge of my personal life, but that’s another blog post altogether).

Therefore I’ve decided to do a pseudo-photo essay of things I see and encounter on my daily life in Seattle and the surrounding area. Photos are unlikely to go up daily (let’s be realistic) but hopefully a few a week will wind their way online. I’m 4 for 4 this week so far.

Reason for the Season

It’s around this time of year, mid December, that I get all atwitter about the reason for the season: the winter solstice (what, you thought it was Christmas?). Being at a higher latitude, it’s not hard to understand why people have celebrated the winter solstice for millenia and in so many cultures have attached mystical significance to this date. It’s the turning of a corner, the lengthening of days, the renewed hope for natural vitamin D.

So here’s hoping that the next 7 days, literally the darkest week of the year, will fly by and this time next week we’ll raise our glass — like millions of people before us — to the coming and passing of the winter solstice.

Seattle public transit: you’re a usability nightmare

I waited 20 minutes at the bus stop this morning and apparently missed two of the busses I wanted. Why? Because they weren’t labeled with the route number. One simply said “downtown” and the other “ryerson base”. The first one is ambiguous, many buses go downtown then peel off and go elsewhere instead of to my stop. The second tells the rider nothing — it’s not on the posted sign at the stop or the online app OneBusAway. Fucking ridiculous.

That combined with the confusing “do I pay when I get on or when I get off” and “routes change numbers mid-way through their run” nonsense makes the use of Seattle public transportation challenging for the uninitiated (and non tenacious) and impossible for tourists and visitors.

I’m a huge advocate of public transportation, but the Seattle system has massive usability challenges.

New commute: 4x further

Friday is the last day Isilon will be at 3101 Western Ave. Starting Monday, we’ll be in our new headquarters at 505 1st Ave S. That changes my commute from a 0.3 mile walk to a 1.8 mile walk. Or more likely, catching one of a half-dozen buses that go from my neighborhood down to the new office.

I’m looking forward to the new location. After living and working in this area for the past 9 months, I know the Lower Queen Anne and Belltown areas very well — time to get to know Pioneer Square and the International District.

The only downside is that we are literally two blocks away from both CenturyLink nee Quest Field and SafeCo Field and will get all the traffic those generate (both street and mass-transit). I’ll have to start paying attention to when games and other activities are going on and act accordingly (leave early, work from home, etc).

An authentic vacation

Last night I got back from a week-long trip out to the DC area to visit my sister Renee, her husband Robert, and my niece RG. Aside: in the past I’ve referred to Renee as my “virtual sister” or “sister by choice” but really, family is family – she’s my sister.

I had a great time visiting the R^3 crew and it was a very much needed break. We went on hikes, hung out, spent several lazy afternoons by the pool (I have a sunburn/tan!), and in general just spent time hanging out together. This morning it dawned on me that aside from spending time with people I love, the best part about the vacation was that I felt free to be Just Me. I’ve known Renee since we were 3 (or so she claims, I thought it was closer to 5 but there’s no arguing with Renee!). She’s one of a very few people who knows almost everything about me and with whom I feel I can share anything. And Robert, despite only knowing me 10 years instead of 30, accepts me as family without question. As for RG, I’m “silly” Uncle Casey end of story!

Since moving to Seattle I’ve not spent enough time with people around which I can be Just Me. I’m not the type of person who puts on a full personality costume when I go out, but it still takes me a while to open up to new friends. That process is happening but it’s slow. The situation is compounded by the worry about “what other people will think” that’s been ingrained in me by my parents which I strive to overcome on a daily basis. And while it isn’t up to the Will & Ned-level of effort, it’s still tiring.

I’m resolved to try and model ‘s MO of daily living life more authentically and spending more time in the company of the people here in Seattle I feel most authentic around already (Jeff, Jonobie, and Kevin – I’m lookin’ at you).

Seattle Visitor’s Guide

Knowing there are more folks coming up to visit, I decided it was worth throwing a list together of some cool things to see. Most importantly a list of all the museums and theatres to see what’s showing when someone comes up! I expect to add more things to this list as I find them (either myself or via replies to this entry :)

Seattle attractions or fun oddities:

Seattle theatres:

Seattle museums:

Seattle parks:

Area attractions: