From The Double Bind

This touched on something I’ve been thinking for a while now. But go read the article, it’s very interesting.

These middle Americans see one party as the shield of super-rich “job creators” and the other as the shield of a growing number of government dependents and beneficiaries.

2013, A Wish List

2012 was a crazy ride. The first part of the year was tough. I didn’t get a job offer I was really looking forward to, my grandmother passed away, and I didn’t see 2012 as going anywhere good. But that all changed. I got a new job at Clockwork in May, a job that has been amazing. Busy, challenging, and sometimes stressful, but almost always in good ways. I love working in a place that lets me do my work as I see fit, as long as I don’t suck or fail to meet deadlines.

So got a new job, the girlfriend continued to put up with me, went on a couple really fun trips, and accomplished a few goals I had set for myself. 2012 ended up going pretty well. But as 2013 starts I came to some realizations. I’ve found that I don’t do some of the things I used to love. I never blog anymore, neglect Twitter often, and haven’t pulled my DSLR out of the bag in almost a year. I decided I need ot change that.

I have a job now that doesn’t leave me defeated 2 out of 5 days a week. I get to use up some of my creative energy at work every single day. But I feel like I need to do more things. I need to write more, interact more, and do more. So I have decided to post a couple belated New Years Resolutions.

  • Create more, I have this blog, I need to use it. I have a plan to turn this site into an aggregator of a lot of the things I do online. I’m not quite sure how I’ll implement this, but I have an idea. Photos, writing, and code will all be present though. But before I do that I need to just write here more.
  • Interact more, I’ve been living in a bubble for a while now. It’s time to let my extrovert side out again.
  • Connect more, I’ve let a lot of great friendships fall to the wayside. It’s time to see if I can fix that.
  • Control it, last time I was really involved socially online I let everything interrupt everything else. Now I have no push notifications, email is only checked when I check it, and I am much happier. I’m going to keep doing this. The only messages that get through without question are text messages and phone calls, and those can even be disabled if necessary.

The Cocktail Question Redux

This weekend I’m sort of meeting The Girlfriend’s (I know Mom, I need a better nickname) family for the first time. I’ve met a handful of them here and there, but her brother is getting married, which means I’m meeting almost everyone in two short nights. But this isn’t a post about that.

Last night I was talking to one of her uncles, and I asked him “What keeps you occupied?”. Which has become my version of The Cocktail Question. and he asked me whether I was referring to work or outside of work. And I told him I never ask anyone what their work is, because people rarely define themselves by their job. We talked a bit, and it turns out he bikes, so point one in his favor, and he drives classic cars. I still don’t know what his job is, but I know he has some fun hobbies*.

As I left the rehearsal dinner I started thinking about that conversation. And I realized that for the first time in my life, I can gladly answer the questions, what do you do, and what’s your job with the same answer. I’m a web developer**. And as of this week it’s what I get paid to do and what I enjoy doing. Granted I also love cooking, eating, drinking, making cocktails, writing, reading, exploring, biking, photographing, talking, video gaming, board gaming, and many other things. But I’m one of the lucky few that gets to answer the question “What do you do” and actually respond with my job description, if I want.

But I’m not going to let that change how I ask the cocktail question. It’s still about how you define yourself. Gardening, beer brewing, woodworking, widget collecting, or skydiving. Everyone has a story to share, and often it’s not what pays the bills but what you go to work to be able to do.

* This has the added benefit of being easier to remember than someone telling you without excitement that they work for an insurance company.

** I may have forgotten to mention  a few weeks ago that I accepted a new job at Clockwork. I’m building websites alongside some of the most talented people I’ve met. I’m pretty excited, I started Monday and it was a really fun and interesting first week. 

Project Page

I created a  Projects page with links to things I’m involved in. I decided that my lack of blogging inspiration is no excuse for not link to interesting things I’m working on.

12 Months

I’m in a period of some turmoil in my life. I’m working several avenues for a shift in employment, I’m debating moving within the next five months, and I’m possibly going to be out of the state for much of April and May. This morning was sort of a confluence of all of those things. And I started looking back on the last 12 months. Considering how 2012 started, I’m actually amazed at how many good things have happened since last spring.

  • Launched and revamped a website that has been more successful than I ever expected. Considering I created MSP Street Food because I was tired of being asked about where the trucks were today, I’m excited so many people are looking for food trucks every day. Traffic is already up from last year and it’s only April. Cannot wait to see what the summer brings.
  • Participated in the Overnight Website Challenge.
  • Joined the Uptown Market board
  • Found a pretty cool girlfriend who is still putting up with me.
  • Became Chair for of the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra Tech Committee
  • Dug into a crazy complex project at work and am getting to the tail end of the initial steps.
  • Had my entire family come visit me and kept them entertained for most of a week even though it was 100 degrees the entire time.
  • Actually saved my tax return instead of blowing it on something I didn’t actually need.
  • Published a project on Github. Which means someone else might actually use code I wrote for a project.
  • Became 90% more proficient with jQuery.
  • Made plans to collaborate on a project with two other developers who are always doing cool things.
  • Successfully went without beer for a month. Learned that I’m allergic to hops(ok this wasn’t a fun thing but it was a good thing)
  • Went home for Christmas. And my parents bought a new house last week so that means next year we can all stay with them. Very exciting.
  • Reached a savings goal on time for the first time ever.
  • Finally figured out what I want to do for the foreseeable future. This is the biggest one. And even though I haven’t gotten to the point where I get paid to do it, knowing the answer is amazing. Of course I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up. But hey, little steps right.

So yeah, it’s been a good 12 months. Where is that champagne?

Overnight Web Challenge

The past few years I’ve wanted to participate in the Nerdery’s Overnight Website Challenge(OWC), but ended up choosing going to the WCHA tournament instead. This year the two events did not conflict so I was able to do both. I was pretty excited to dedicate my Saturday to this event, even if it did mean missing my friend Art’s famous Beard Off.

For those of you that don’t know about the OWC, it’s an event where teams of web pros get together and build websites for non-profits in 24 hours. The teams get paired up with non-profits, and you don’t know your pairing until you arrive at the event. The event starts at 9am Saturday and ends at 9am Sunday.

My team, Team Bios, was paired up with Neighborhood Community Housing Services of St. Paul. Their current website is flash based and very drab. This is not consistent with how great this organization is. When the site we developed goes live it’s going to be a major improvement. The design is so much better, the content speaks, and I’ll pat myself on the back and say the functionality is also impressive.

I had an amazing time. I posted on Facebook on Sunday Morning, “You know it’s an amazing event when you are completely exhausted, over caffeinated, sore, tired, and have wanted to kill your teammates at least 3 times in the last 23 hours yet you say the words ‘Next year the plan is….’” I wrote that after being up for 25 hours and I meant it. I had so much fun and even though we didn’t finish in 24 hours, we came dang close and will be done in the next few weeks.

It was inspiring seeing what some of the teams did in 24 hours. The designs themselves were all really well done, and some of the functionality left me feeling guilty I wasn’t as good as some of the other programmers in the room. Nothing has inspired me to be a better programmer the way this event did. There are some incredibly talented people living in our little corner of the world.

Happy New Month Eve

Yes, the first 24 days of 2012 didn’t go as planned. Yet I’m ready to take on the next 11 months of this year. Part of that came from being able to go home and attend Grammie’s funeral. It was tough, I held it together pretty well and even stood up and read. Overall the weekend was about as good as one could expect under the circumstances. I saw cousins I hadn’t seen in much too long, cousin’s kids I had never met, and spent most of Friday remembering Grammie and just being together.

Plus, the girlfriend and I are celebrating New Month Eve. Neither of us had a great January, and both of us decided that we needed a fresh start. The idea was hers but I jumped on board immediately. I’m quite excited that we aren’t waiting for 2013 to change course on an arbitrary day chosen by the calendar. And you know what, if February happens to go poorly as well, we’ll just do the whole thing over in 29 days.

Speaking of the GF, I think I mentioned her in the past. Regardless, I was excited when she introduced me in her blog this weekend. She has a nickname for me which I support so she doesn’t have to type the word boyfriend, and her blog was one of the reasons I asked her out in the first place. So I consider this an overall win for me. And, no I’m not going to link to her blog, we’re not quite at the point.

So here is to the next 11 months of 2012. Hopefully your January was amazing and you don’t need a fresh start, but if you do, grab a bottle of champagne(or some other bubbly wine) and celebrate New Month Eve with us.

Oh, and someone figured out what day Ice Cube’s Good Day was, so January wasn’t a total loss.

Go Applebees

Now I’m not a fan of Applebees, mainly because for me it stands for everything I hate about suburban chain food culture. But this tweet that my friend Brandi retweeted made me smile. And then get a bit frustrated. The fact that anyone asks that question is bothersome. But I’m really happy Applebees not only told Edward that the fried chicken salad isn’t healthy, but that nothing on their menu is healthy.

Go Applebees! I might actually go get a drink there sometime soon to reward them.

The First 24

If there is ever a movie made about my life, I hope it skips the first 24 days of 2012. Considering I went into the year full of hope and excitement, things have kind of turned right around and drove off in the opposite direction. Yesterday I got the news that my Grandmother had passed away, a little less than a week after I got an email letting me know she had been placed into hospice. I spent yesterday in a bit of a daze. Sad, uncertain who I wanted to see or even tell, and waffling between wanting to hunker into a ball and sob and trying to laughing a bit as I remembered all the good memories. Grammie was one of a kind, and we will all miss her. I woke up today in a better frame of mind, ready to go home and say goodbye with the rest of the family.

So that put the final cap on the start to the year. Since taking down my calendar I’ve been rejected from a job I was not only really excited about but thought I had nailed the final interview for. I wasn’t called back for a second interview at another job I was excited for. I’ve watched someone I care about a lot have to turn down a great opportunity for a reason that sucked, and not being able to help was really difficult. Another friend got rejected in attempting to pursue a dream, and again, not a damn thing I could do.

A lot of other little things crept in too. I found out I had made a fairly major mistake at work that is taking me a ton of time to fix. My car is acting a little funny, and I killed off a plant.

Ok, the plant thing wasn’t that big of a deal, or even that unusual. But you know.

Thankfully good things did happen. I rang the New Year in with a great group of people. Got a cupcake delivery from a friend on a day I needed a hug. I met someone new from Twitter while drinking beer and eating Jucy Lucy’s at Matt’s, I had a friend over to teach her how to make pizza crust and had a great night doing so, and I attended the wedding of an amazing couple who I could not be happier for.

So I haven’t been completely defeated by the first two dozen days of 2012, but I’m not exactly happy about them. So the goal for the next two dozen is to make good things happen, because even though a lot of the not so great things weren’t things I could control, it’s still up to me to make the good memories that outweigh the not so good memories.