Thank you Elon, Zuck, and Spez

19 July 2023 • Personal

Delete your social media

Shout out to the three biggest twatwaffles in tech these days, as they have actually conspired to make my life better!

As someone who spent decades being “chronically online”, the last month or so has been really weird for me. And it’s all thanks to the brilliant (lol) decisions made by the heads of Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit.

I should back up a bit.

My online experience started with AOL Instant Messenger, or AIM. Everyone seemed to have it back in my junior high, and I remember racing home from school to hop online and chat with my friends that I’d spent all day being around. We all had the cryptic away messages, about info, and all that. I can’t remember most of my screennames over the years, but I do remember my last one: ihatelockers. (I got in a very minor scuffle the final week of 9th grade, and my punishment was that I had to come back for 4 hours the day summer started and help clean out lockers. The other guy showed up an hour late, and had to stay all day + come back the next day. Sucker.)

Me at a UNI basketball game

I lived through the LiveJournal, MySpace, Xanga, and Tumblr eras. I was a leader of the grassroots effort to keep Facebook from opening itself up to people without .edu email addresses back in 2006. I was on ESPN multiple times because I interacted with the various show hosts on Twitter (or because I stuck my face in front of a camera at my school’s token appearance).

I’ve made friends, gotten jobs, joined WoW guilds, first interacted with my now-wife, and more all because of social media. There are so many amazing experiences that I know people have had purely because of the networking abilities these various apps have provided to people.

But now? Now, the landscape has been fractured, and I’m Very Tired™. I can’t keep up with everything that’s going on nowadays. Everyone was on Twitter, and now it’s all split up, because Elon Musk is a giant manbaby. Mastodon has the tech conversation. Bluesky has the ultra-liberal gamers that are (apparently) trying to tell Dril how to post. Facebook has the family. And Twitter still has all the sports stuff (and, let’s face it, pretty much everyone else from Bluesky too, because we’re in that phase where nobody wants to pull the plug). Plus, there’s Discord, which is full of a handful of communities and friend groups that I interact with more than anything else. And finally, Reddit recently made changes to their API, effectively killing the best 3rd party apps, and resulting in a lot of subreddits I followed going dark indefinitely.

I had a folder on my iPhone home screen for ages that was full of all the various apps. I caught myself just flipping between 5 or 6 of them nearly non-stop a few weeks ago, and got really mad at myself. None of this was serving me. None of this was even fun anymore. It was a chore to try and interact with any of the people I wanted to interact with.

So, I went… what’s just under nuclear? Whatever that is, I did it. I still have all my accounts across the various services, but a lot of them (Ivory for Mastodon, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter) got deleted, and a few others (Instagram, Bluesky) got relegated to the App Library - accessible if I need them for something, but out of sight/mind the rest of the time.

I can’t believe that the thing that finally broke the social media chokehold on me was the various owners being complete garbage humans… and yet, here we are. I have no idea if any of these services will ever return to my life in the capacity they were before. I sure hope not. I do miss a lot of the people I would interact with, and I’m trying to be proactive about connecting with those that I really appreciated (if this is you, hello, come talk to me), but I’m doing best to not let the allure of what once was suck me back in to a space I know is not good for me.

Friendly reminder: if you’re not paying for it, YOU are the product.

Waves (R.I.P. Pixel)

10 June 2023 • Personal

A picture collage of Pixel

I am laying on a beach.

It’s not a particularly nice beach. It’s got sand, and water, but that’s about it. It’s lonely; no birds are circling around. It’s cold; there’s a breeze coming off the water, and it’s a little chilly.

I am laying on a beach, on my towel, where the waves can reach me. They come rhythmically, but with a timing I cannot predict. Some are gentle, swirling up underneath my back. Others are forceful, crashing over me with a violence I am not prepared for.

I could move, if I wanted to. All I have to do is stand up, pick up my towel, and move back to where the waves cannot reach me. But I just feel… heavy. Tired. Sad.

The tide comes in. I am swallowed by the sea. The waves continue to pound overhead. I should really move. I finally stand up, and make for dry land. The waves pummel me as I strive for solid footing. Every step is treacherous. Why did I stay here? I don’t want to drown. I want to breathe.

I make it to dry land. The waves continue to break upon the beach behind me. I towel off, and go down the boardwalk. Check out some shops. Grab a bite to eat. Wow, this is a really good donut.

Then suddenly, as I’m enjoying this little round delicious sugar bomb, I feel guilt. How could I possibly be enjoying this moment when there are waves I need to feel on the beach? I throw the donut down, run back to the shore, and dive headlong into the oncoming crest.

It smashes me flat. But somehow, that feels right. I don’t enjoy it, but this is where I belong.


At 2:45pm on Thursday, June 8th, 2023, my wife and I put our beloved cat Pixel to sleep. He was one week shy of his 5th birthday.

We took Pixel to the vet on the 1st, and discovered that he had bladder stones, 2 of which had caused a blockage. We were going to try and bring him home on the 4th, but he got blocked up again early that morning. He had an emergency cystotomy on the 5th, and we were able to bring him home the evening of the 6th. He had a somewhat normal day on the 7th, just wandering around the house and trying to be as much of his normal self as he could. I spent the 6th and 7th sleeping in the office with him in my sleeping bag, so that he didn’t have to worry about being alone as he healed.

On the 8th, we realized Pixel hadn’t eaten or drank anything since early that morning, and he was extremely lethargic and didn’t want to wake up from naps. We took him back to the vet, and discovered that he now had 6 or 7 stones causing another blockage. We made the decision to forego another rough and potentially complicated surgery, and let him rest.

Pixel knew it was time, I think. At home, he’d pawed at my lap for attention and basked in some belly rubs before stealing my office chair and drifting into his deep slumber. At the vet, he crawled straight into my lap after his x-ray, and stayed there until he took his last breath.


Pixel was an amazing cat. He was an orphan, off by himself when we saw him, and we knew we had to bring him home with us. He melted the cold heart of our eldest cat, Bearcat, and was the bridge between him and our 3rd cat, Beau, when he joined our family. He was mischievous, always diving into open closets or attempting “freedom runs” onto the patio when we slid the door open. It took a long time for him to enjoy and seek out cuddles from us, but once he did, he’d share every bit of his warmth with your lap. If you ever met Pixel, there’s no doubt that he flopped down in front of you demanding you pet his belly. Pixel taught all of us how to love everyone unconditionally (but still hiss at a motherfucker who needed to be hissed at [this was usually Beau]).

My final happy memory of Pixel is maybe one of my favorites of him ever. He was laying on the couch sleeping, and our daughter V (who is 15 months old) was sitting next to him. She reached over and gave him a few pets on his side. I said to her “V, can you give Pixel a big hug?” and with no hesitation she went face-first into his belly, giggling and hugging him tight. It was so precious, so perfect, and I couldn’t ask for a better lasting memory that I’ll cherish forever.


I have never felt grief like what I experienced Thursday, or what I’ve been struggling with ever since. Not when my mom passed, not when my dad was going through a bunch of severe medical stuff, not when my childhood dog died… they all sucked, and I felt sadness, but Pixel passing just ruined me.

I did a speed run of the grief stages Thursday at the vet, and then have been going through them again slowly over the last few days. Denial that this was as serious as it was. Anger at the vet for not getting all the stones during the surgery. Bargaining for just one more day, one more meow, one more belly rub. Depression about… well, everything.

They say that grief comes in waves. I’ll probably get better throughout the week, and then I’ll see the notification of Pixel’s birthday this coming Thursday and get sad again. Or I’ll hang a photo I have of him. Or I’ll go to close a closet door and instinctively check to see if he jumped in. Or I’ll fire up Zelda and find my horse Snowball (what I was adamant about naming him before we settled on the name Pixel [also, fun fact, his original name was Ralph]).

I’ve found myself feeling a lot like the guy on the beach these past few days. Friday I went to Target, trying to go about life. I had a podcast on that made me laugh. I was, in that moment, happy. And then I was like “oh shit, how can you be happy, your cat just died” and I went spiraling downwards.

I know that’s not what Pixel would’ve wanted for me, or for us. Pixel was a beacon of joy. He was there when we were sad, or mad, or sick, or busy, or tired, and he gave every ounce of his energy to bring us back to level. He made me laugh with his antics constantly. All he ever wanted was to share his joy with everyone he encountered. We were so lucky to have him with us for 1,744 days, and I’ll cherish those memories of him forever.

Am I ok? Hell no. Shit sucks, I’m sad, and I’m gonna be sad for a while. But I also know that I don’t have to punish myself for moments when I don’t feel sad by diving headlong into the grief. We just have to handle the waves as they come, and not stand on the shore waiting for the tide to come in. As the Dr. Seuss line says, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” Pixel brought me joy every day; the best way to honor his memory is to continue to live joyously.


Farewell, little buddy. You’ll always be my first kitten. You were the best cat. I love you so much.

ClackTrack - Coming Fall 2023

23 February 2023 • ProjectClacktrack

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I’d like to present to you a new project I’m working on called ClackTrack. ClackTrack is a new application coming out in Fall 2023 for iPhone and iPad, allowing users to catalog their mechanical keyboard collection.

This honestly all started early 2022, when I asked myself, “why haven’t I learned how to make iOS apps yet?” I’ve been a web application developer for most of my career, but the prospect of making apps for iPhones has appealed to me since the day I got my iPhone 4S1. But at long last, I finally took the plunge and started learning SwiftUI.

It’s been… slow? Having a child will definitely stunt any hobby progression, but I’ve also never really been a person that makes software in my free time. That all changed this winter; for someone that rarely has any project ideas kicking around in my head, I went on a tear where I had a whole bunch of them back to back. Mostly small, script-y things that I could do to improve my life, or extensions that I could write for apps like Alfred.

But then I got one really fun one in my head: “What if I made the Hurley Number app in SwiftUI?”2

That quickly spiraled out of control - what if it had this feature, and that feature, and, and, and… and then, the idea of a cataloging app just hit me full on. A lot of people I know do theirs in a Google spreadsheet - functional, but not really elegant. What if I took that and made it, well, Better™?

So, this is a post announcing the announcement of the release of ClackTrack. It’s to build hype, to keep me honest, and to share with everyone what I’m working on. If you’d like to stay in the know about it, you can sign up for emails on the site.

  1. Had to wait until Sprint had a white iPhone. It showed up the same day that an ex and I adopted a puppy. Guess which one I was more excited for? 

  2. The Hurley Number is a quasi-joke metric thought up by the Relay.FM Discord members for tracking how extensive your mechanical keyboard collection is. You can see more in the FAQ section on the site. 

This Is Thirty Six

13 February 2023 • Personal

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In years past, I would sleep in on February 13. Today, I’m up at 5:15am, a full hour and a half before my wife and V, which is odd (the being up before anyone else part, not the 5:15 part).

In years past, I’d take the day off of work and play video games all day. Today, my game time will start when V goes down for the night. Could be 6:30. Could be 8. Maybe I’ll be too tired to start anything and I’ll just fall asleep instead.

In years past, I’d get a phone call from my dad at 10:54am, so he could sing me an annoying rendition of “Happy birthday” at the time I was born. Today, I’m crossing my fingers he remembers, given everything that he’s had happen to him over the past 3ish months.

In years past, I’d have no plans for my day. Today, I’m calling an orthopedic surgeon for a consult on my messed up shoulder, and my wife and I are going to try and go for a walk.

In years past, I’d have no responsibilities to attend to. Today, my daughter is everything and all-encompassing, and I’ve spent the whole morning with her and my wife playing in the living room.

In years past, I’d be blogging from my laptop. Today, the only way I can write 350 words is on my phone in short spurts.

In years past, I’d be annoyed that it’s always snowy and cold on my birthday. Today, I’m loving that I get to bundle up and stay inside.

None of this is to complain (ok I’m a little pissed about my arm, so that one might be). All of this is just change. Not good change or bad change. Just change. For years, I’ve been so resistant to change. I’m stubborn and selfish, and I was nervous about having a child because of it. But now? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This is February 13, 2023. This is the 44th day of the year. This is Monday. This is a day ending in “y”. This is another day where my family is healthy, my daughter is happy, and the house is warm.

This is thirty-six.

Now

6 February 2023 • Personal

Now That's What I Call Content

Taking a cue from a few other people, like my good friend Patrick Rhone, I’ve gone ahead and implemented a new Now page.

I have my own personal lists of things that I try to stay on top of in regards to what my current priorities are, but exposing them to the world allows others to keep me accountable (“hey, how’s Project X going for you?”), or invites people to read/play the same things I do, or just shares info with the world about what my life is all about. I’d encourage you to share your Now pages with me - I’m always curious what types of things people are working on.

Music for Programming

1 February 2023 • PersonalMusic

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I found a post on Reddit a couple of weeks ago about a great playlist to listen to while programming or coding. So far, I can say that it’s been doing a great job - lots of ambient, chill, yet still energetic music that’s helped me be less distracted throughout the day. The original URL from the Reddit post is dead, but I’ve managed to rescue & recreate the playlists in both Apple Music and Spotify using a slick service called TuneMyMusic.

Additionally, I also discovered MusicForProgramming.net, a very cool looking site that has a bunch of shorter playlists of music for this same purpose. I haven’t dug into this one much, but I will, and thought y’all might be interested in this as well.

Death of the Third Space + Quiet Quitting

27 January 2023 • Personal

A very tired person with their head on their desk holding a sign that says "help".

I think by now, most people have heard the phrase “quiet quitting” floating around, though some may not know what it means. The way I see it, “quiet quitting” is when you aren’t feeling invested in your job, so you do juuuuuust enough to get by. Got something that’ll take 5 minutes to do? Maybe I’ll get to it after a 15 minute walk to the coffee machine and a 10 minute bathroom break. Someone needs help? Eh, that’s not really my problem, is it? They’ll figure it out. People get their core responsibilities done, but nothing more. They don’t show up early, they don’t stay late, they don’t attend any meetings that aren’t mandatory, and they don’t do any work outside of what’s expected of them.

There’s been a lot of talk as to why this is a thing. Mostly, it stems from burnout at work, especially during the pandemic & return to “normal”. We’re becoming more aware of toxic behaviors, and less forgiving of them. When the job doesn’t care about us, why should we care back?

I think I inadvertently stumbled on to another possible reason as to why this burnout might be happening: the death of the third space.

What is the Third Space (or third place)? Per Wikipedia:

In sociology, the third place/space refers to the social surroundings that are separate from the two usual social environments of home (“first place”) and the workplace (“second place”). Examples of third places include churches, cafes, clubs, public libraries, gyms, bookstores, stoops and parks. In his book The Great Good Place (1989), Ray Oldenburg argues that third places are important for civil society, democracy, civic engagement, and establishing feelings of a sense of place.

If I think back on my own life, I’ve had a lot of third spaces. I spent countless hours in church from age 10 to age 29. I’ve been Chronically Online for most of my adult life. I spent a lot of time playing video games with my friends. I moonlighted as a bartender at a brewery in my city, both to make some extra money, but also to be around people I enjoyed.

None of these third spaces exist for me right now. I left the church for a myriad of personal reasons. Twitter is dying a loud & obnoxious death, Facebook is already a toxic cesspool, and Mastodon is still new enough that it still feels like everyone is just making noise for the time being. Now that V is here, I don’t play games with people online anymore, and I don’t bartend anymore. I’m sure I’m not alone in this; while not everyone had kids, we all had to deal with the pandemic throwing a wrench in our personal lives, basically eliminating this Third Space for a lot of us.

Additionally, lots of people (myself included) stopped going in to the office, leading to a growing number of people merging their First and Second Spaces into one weird mishmash. Many people have tried to put physical limits on their time at work in various ways (dressing in work clothes during the work day, having a dedicated office for doing everything, going to a co-working space, etc.), to a wide range of success.

But think about it - people no longer have their Third Space, so they don’t have any sort of outlet to relax, vent, and unwind after a long day. And now their First and Second Spaces are overlapping more and more, so any sort of toxicity from their job is having a more direct impact on their home life. All of the individual spaces have become compressed down into one space.

I’m suffering a lot from this right now. My org was one of the many tech firms that announced layoffs earlier this month, and while I survived, my morale and mental state has definitely taken a hit. I can’t help but bring that home with me any time I use the restroom, or get water, or check in on the family. My separate spaces no longer exist, and it’s very frustrating.

I don’t have an answer for this. I wish I did. It’s just something that’s forefront of my mind, and something I need to make sure I’m thinking about & being proactive at trying to rectify. Perhaps you’re going through something similar and didn’t realize it; if so, I hope this helps you.

GitHub Repository Helper - an Alfred Workflow

20 January 2023 • ProjectAlfredGithub

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Yesterday, I posted about how I consolidated some of my Mac helper apps. I was talking to members of the Relay.FM member’s Discord when going through this exercise, and I happened to mention an Alfred workflow that I had helped create for work. Enough people seemed interested in it that I went through the whole process of getting it set up for other people to download.

Introducing: the GitHub Repository Helper workflow for Alfred.app

This workflow is pretty straight-forward. You first scan all of your repos tied to your GitHub account, and then you can pull them up using Alfred with the command gh {repo_name}. At that point, you can press enter to go straight to the repo in your browser, or hold various keys to copy the repo’s URL, or jump straight to the repo’s pull requests, issues, or projects page.

You can download the latest version of the workflow on GitHub, or view the latest release.

Mac Helper Apps, or Where The FUDGE Is This Triggered From?

19 January 2023 • Personal

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Over at the Relay.FM member’s Discord, a lot of different conversations take place about a variety of topics. I spend a lot of time in our #apple channel, talking about everything Apple news related, along with discussions about hardware & software. One of the conversations that Rosemary Orchard started in prepping for a future episode of the Automators podcast actually gave me a great idea for 2 blog posts - this is the first one of those.

One of the best parts about using a Mac is the sheer abundence of apps and utilities to help you be productive. Clipboard managers, app launchers, ways to dump snippets of text on demand, controlling audio… that’s just scratching the surface.

However, one of the issues arises from having a multitude of apps and utilities that have started to aggressively expand their feature set. I remember when BetterTouchTool first added app window management - it was a huge deal for me, as I’d not experienced that before. But then I went “oh, there’s other apps that do this in a better, more powerful way. I should use that instead.” Same thing with clipboard managers - I used the one built in to Keyboard Maestro for years, before switching over to Alfred’s, now that I have the Powerpack, it seems like a no brainer to utilize it.

And therein lies the main point of this post - do you know what all of your Mac Helper Apps are doing? How much legacy content do you have just hanging around, not doing anything vital, and/or requiring you to spend money on it for a subscription?


Ok, time to audit. Let’s check a combo of my menubar and my apps folder to see what apps I am using, and what they’re being used for:

A shot of my menu bar

I’m just going to get ahead of this now: my menu bar is split thanks to Bartender. Top row left to right: iStat Menus (from weather thru the calendar icon), Bartender, & Control Center. Bottom row: Maestrel, Zoom, DisplayLink, 1Password, Music.app, Adobe CreativeCloud, Alfred, TextExpander, Rocket, Keyboard Maestro, MacMediaKeyForwarder, Spotlight, Karabiner-Elements, native Keyboard switcher, BetterTouchTool, Users, spacer, Magnet, Nightfall, Moom, Bluetooth, Wifi, spacer, Superpowered, Docker, Zscaler.

  • Alfred (app launcher, various workflows, clipboard manager)
  • BetterTouchTool (mouse & trackpad gestures)
  • Karabiner-Elements (custom key commands on my MacBook to match my mechanical keyboards)
  • Keyboard Maestro (a very small set of keyboard commands to trigger actions)
  • Magnet (window snapping via drag/drop or key commands)
  • Moom (auto-set window placement when my laptop is hooked up to my external monitors)
  • Nightfall (toggle light/dark mode)
  • TextExpander (expand snippets of text)

I’ll start with the easy one. Keyboard Maestro is really only doing a very limited subset of things for me; controlling Apple Music (play/pause, prev/next song, vol up/down) or quitting all of my running apps.

A shot of my existing Keyboard Maestro actions

It turns out that both of these are absurdly easy to reconfigure in Alfred. All of those Music.app features were available as Workflow presets, so I just combined them all into one workflow and called it a day.

A shot of my new Alfred workflow

Additionally, I (re)discovered that just typing quit into Alfred prompts me with the ability to quit all running apps. Boom, one app removed!

A shot of my Alfred's quit action

Edit: it turns out that Alfred also supports Music.app via play, pause, and similar commands. Their volume controls are a bit more limited, however, only offering max, half, or mute. This may be more your speed, but I’ll stick with the new workflow for now.


What about Nightfall? A neat app, sure, but do I need an app dedicated to just doing one thing maybe once a week?

It turns out, no, I do not. Another simple Alfred workflow, and now I can either type in darkmode or press ⌘⌥⌃ + \, and boom, it switches!

A shot of my Alfred workflow to toggle Dark Mode

Behind the scenes, this is just running an AppleScript:

tell application "System Events"
    tell appearance preferences
        set dark mode to not dark mode
    end tell
end tell

Also, unlike Nightfall, this implementation has the added bonus of not mucking with my appearence preferences - I have it set to Auto, so it switches to dark mode at sundown and light mode at sunrise, but Nightfall would override it and set it to whatever mode I put it in. This script method changes the appearence, but leaves it on Auto, so it will continue to flip like normal the next day. Win/win!


Text/snippet expansion? I’ve been a TextExpander user for a long time, but admittedly have never utilized it to its full potential. The extent of most of my snippets are quick pasting my phone number or email, or dropping in a 5 paragraph lorem ipsum. The biggest lift was a reply I’d send out to recruiters when they’d send me a job posting, where it would prompt me to put in their name before pasting the message.

A shot of my old TextExpander snippet

Surprise surprise, Alfred comes to the rescue again with its Snippet feature. They don’t work exactly the same - TextExpander would pop up a very legacy-looking window prompting me to fill in any dynamic content before pasting, whereas Alfred will paste the content in and then let you move the cursor to where you have to type. For my needs, though, this is perfect. (What the heck, Alfred’s pretty powerful…)

A shot of my Job Search snippet in Alfred


I still want to play around with some of these apps and see if I can replace Karabiner-Elements, along with one of Magnet or Moom, but at this point, I feel like this was a very productive exercise. I’ll be able to save some money not paying for a TextExpander subscription, clear a couple of apps off my computer, and I feel like this gives me cause to dive even further into Alfred’s feature set to see what all is there. I encourage you to do an audit as well - who knows, maybe you’ll unlock some pretty powerful features as well!

Year of Sustenance

20 December 2022 • Personal

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As 2022 wraps up, it’s time for me to iron out my yearly theme for 2023. I did Year of the Garden, and it went… ok, I guess? Could’ve been better, could’ve been a lot worse.

But! I learned a lot. I learned more about what makes me tick, what I see as being valueable or worth my time & attention when I’m looking down from a 5,000 ft. view. I learned the kinds of things I need to do to keep my theme at the center of what I’m doing. And most importantly, I (think I) learned how to make this year a rousing success.

General Thoughts

As I went through the exercise of thinking about what this year would look like, I started taking a bunch of notes. Things that I looked at and went “yes, focus on this” or “this sucked” or “here’s what I want to be important next year”. I also examined how I spent my time throughout my days. When was I feeling fulfilled, when was I struggling, and what could I do to get more of the former and less of the latter?

As I started to sketch things out, I noticed something - no matter how crafty I got with rewording my thoughts, it looked nearly identical to Year of the Garden.

I zoomed waaaaaaaay in on Discord just for this shot. You're welcome.

Initially, I was very upset about this. Why the heck would I want to just repeat my theme again? That’s so boring! I’m a creative, dangit!!!

But the more I thought about it, and the more I talked to people about it, the more I realized - maybe my theme is so similar because that’s what’s really important to me right now. Instead of trying to upset the apple cart, perhaps I just need to stay focused on the garden I was trying to tend to last year, in order to make it grow.

Deliberations

So I went back and forth on a lot of different things. I almost stole Myke Hurley’s theme from last year, Year of Structure, as a way for me to build the building blocks. But, I’m not constructing something new, I’m continuing what I started last year. Other ideas that were floating around were Year of Foundation, Bedrock, Groundwork, Pillars, or 2022 2: Electric Boogaloo (thanks, Izzy, this one gave me a real good laugh). But ultimately, I ended up with…

2023 - Year of Sustenance

Sustenance. “Food and drink regarded as a source of strength; nourishment; the maintaining of someone or something in life or existence.”

As I type that above sentence, I realize how perfect Year of Sustenance is for me for this year. I’m continuing the theme centered around the garden, but now I’m less focused on getting stuff to grow, and I’m more directly tied to growing things that are going to sustain me, my family, and those around me. Yes. All the yes.

My goal with the Year of Sustenance: Renew my focus on the habits, hobbies, and behaviors I formed last year, and take action on them in order to establish a baseline to build my future upon in the years to come. The garden, so to speak, has been appropriately razed of weeds, pruned of thinkgs choking out the rest of the garden, and sowed with nourishment for the year to come. Now it’s time to put that all to good use. I have 3 main areas that I want to focus my energy on this year:

Work

I’m truly blessed to have a job that allows me to be remote so I can be with my family, and to have the time flexibility within my workday to help out with my daughter or with things around the house when they need to be done. That said, I need to make sure I’m not just coasting, but actively ensuring that I have a future that I can rely upon. My goals this year:

  • Continue to advance on the career track, and get a promotion + raise this year (ideally March)
  • Learn new languages to expand my toolkit & help provide opportunities or a safety net (currently working on a SwiftUI/iOS app, and then learning Python)
  • Revamp my daily schedule to block out opportune times to maximize my productivity (i.e. no meetings when my daughter is napping, if at all possible)

Health

We’ve had a bit of a family health scare in the family at the end of this year. I’m fine, but it’s really making me evaluate and reflect on what truly matters to me. At the forefront of that is my daughter, my wife, and the family we have built. And I can’t enjoy that if I’m not taking care of myself.

  • I’ve done pretty ok with cutting out soda + sugary drinks, and making healthy meals. I want to keep going on this train, as well as ensure that I’m drinking enough water to stay hydrates (especially as winter rolls in)
  • I need to exercise. Something, somehow. Whether that’s just some light cardio in the home, or whether I end up going to a gym, I need to get my heart rate up and move my body. Ideally, I still am carrying around 35 lbs that I would love to dispose of somewhere. But ultimately, I just want to be able to keep up with my daughter as she zooms around the house, not feel like a loaf every time I go to pick her up, and be able to get on the floor to play with her without fearing that I can’t get back up.
  • Continue to meal plan every week. My wife and I started doing this towards the end of the year as a way to keep us focused, make as few trips to the store as possible, and have fewer converstaions that start with me asking “so what do you want to eat tonight?”

Personal

This is really just a catch-all bucket. Things here relate to both work and health, while also being about my free time, my life, and other things.

  • Start using time blocking in order to be as productive as I can. This goes for work (i.e. focus time during V’s naps), but also for my free time. I struggle a lot when it comes to actually picking something I want to do, much less getting the thing done. If I can put a little prep time in each week to make sure my time is going where I want it, I think this could be a huge success. My goal is to pick 2-3 things that I have the option of doing each evening, and choosing from those specifically (with the caveat of, if I’m feeling compelled to do something else, I can! The structure is just to help me start).
  • Get back to using my Theme Journal’s daily & weekly checklists. The dopamine hit I get from checking off a task is so much better for me than just hitting a checkbox in Reminders. Plus, I always say that I forget things if I don’t write it down, so this is gonna be the way I combine all of that.
  • Do monthly “garden pruning”. Look at the things I’m doing, the information I’m ingesting, and Marie Kondo the shit out of it. Things like podcasts, newsletters, RSS feeds, social media follows, my time blocks, etc. will all be up for an audit every month. And I’m going to be harsh. My time is valuable, and I need to make the best use of it that I can.
  • Put my gosh dang phone down more. Utilize screen time, focus modes, and uninstalling problem apps in order to stay more present and less distracted. When I’m on my phone, it needs to be on less “distractiony” things (lookings straight at you, Marvel SNAP).

As far as my personal time blocking goes, I’ve sorted things into 3 buckets:

  • The Very Yes List list (things I definitely want to be doing more of): reading, writing (blog posts, a D&D campaign, short stories, or whatever), and programming (whether that’s Ruby/Rails continuing ed, or learning a new language)
  • The I’m Cool With This list (things that are important to me in healthy doses): video games (my actual backlog of games, not just Marvel SNAP), watching sports, and watching shows/movies (I barely watch anything that isn’t live sports anymore, and I wouldn’t mind catching up on a few shows that I’v missed)
  • The Maybe? list (things that I’d love to pursue, but I’m unsure if I want to dedicate the time to them): learning how to draw, learning to crochet, playing music (guitar, piano, writing/recording new songs), and (re-)learning a language (probably Spanish, maybe ASL?)

And an example schedule might look like this:

  • Monday: Exercise, then read or program
  • Tuesday: Program or video games
  • Wednesday: Exercise, then video games or write
  • Thursday: Write or Spanish
  • Friday: Exercise, then Spanish or read
  • Weekend: Free for all - what’s made me feel the best this week?

I have NO CLUE how this will actually play out, but I’m excited to give it a shot. I do think that this theme is going to be a great continuation of the foundation I laid for myslef last year, and I look forward to having the scheduled audits to help me refresh what’s important to me.