Coding since about 1993, I mostly deal with LAMP systems around perl and PHP but have good exposure to a wide range of languages.
I made a clear decision earlier in my career to stay with higher-level languages on interest's grounds: building large and complex systems is more meaningful to me than extracting the last possible CPU cycle out of my hardware. However, I routinely compile kernels, build diskless systems and pick through C or C++ code. To summarise, I'm a pragmatist.
Another career decision was to step away from finding bugs in other people's software and in to creating systems myself. I found that it was more challenging to create systems, given the constraints of limited time and resources, than it was to pick holes in them. This is something I still strongly believe in.
In all of my work I strive to think ahead, to try to foretell future problems before they happen. This gives me great pleasure, though obviously, like everyone else, I sometimes fail ;)