Lack of proper planning

I’m writing this from my father in law’s mountain home, it’s almost eleven PM. I’m doing this out of sheer habit, trying to keep my writing streak going. I was just pulling up in bed with a Kindle book when a voice in my head said: BLOG POST. And so I am compelled to commit something to the ether.

This morning was rough, I was woken several times in the early morning by Younger as her and Missus played Musical Beds throughout the night. The kids were mostly well behaved while I worked, then I shuffled them outside for a few hours while we got ready for our trip. I drove straight through for almost three and a half hours, non stop, driving over a windy mountain highway in the dark rain while the girls snoozed soundly in car. We got here just before ten, and now the kids are too rested too sleep, poor Missus is in the bedroom next to me, telling them stories or otherwise trying to get them to fall back asleep.

We obviously miscalculated this trip. We initially planned to come up here for a canoe trip, but the weather report says that it’s going to thunderstorm all day. So I fear we’ve basically driven all the way here just to wind up watching TV all day tomorrow. We even forgot to bring our board game. We packed the car to the brim with suitcases, laptops, and bags of food and a cooler, which seems to be overkill for a simple two day trip. At least it’ll be a day off from work, and the kids can spend time with their grandfather.

Work was interesting. Almost eight years in and we’re still trying to figure out the basics of dispatching and managing our workflow. I’m putting the hammer down with one employee and created a Kanban board just to track their work. I was being super micro-managery today, calling him every two hours to check status. This is after years of giving up on him as unmanageable. I said “thanks for working with me through this, cause if this doesn’t work, then we aren’t going to work. You understand me?” They said yes, so I’m going to give it another week or two, or at least as long as it takes to find a replacement.

I also decided to start working through some AWS training with an eye toward a certification. I figure it will be helpful to me just to know more about how to manage my EC2 instances, and who knows what else it will lead to. I had a call with a young entrepreneur who was trying to create a startup around business process as a service, BPaaS, or as I call it, business process automation, and it went pretty well, so I figure having a handle on AWS will be an advantage. I’m not going to be able to settle between AWS and Azure right now, given so much of my world is in the Microsoft space. AWS has its advantages; it seems price is much cheaper for starters. Having another certification certainly won’t hurt though. On a slightly related note, this cloud native landscape chart is completely overwhelming.

I can feel the fatigue setting in, and should be turning in now. I’ve got a glass of IPA next to me that I’m going to finish while I read about stoicism or something, and spend tomorrow trying to find some tranquility in light of the situation with the weather.

Fight mind-set

pair of pink boxing gloves

Not tolerating failure

It’s the end of the day here, the kids are asleep, and I’m sitting down to write now because I had a dentist appointment and it threw my morning routine off. The trip to the dentist was my first since COVID, and I bring Elder with me, so I was a bit anxious about what to expect. I shouldn’t have worried, since we’re dealing with medical professionals here, so everyone was wearing PPE and we didn’t run into any patients, except for one lady who quickly exited past us as we were walking out. She wasn’t wearing a mask, but I forgave it as I figured it was just a lapse since she was coming out of her cleaning or whatever. It was a black woman, about my age, although I wonder if I would have had the same reaction if it had been a white person.

The office was understaffed for a couple of reasons, so the dentist himself did my cleaning, tearing through it in record time. We talked for a bit about what was going on, and he admitted problems they’d had with PPE previously, and that they were unable to get the disinfectants that they usually used.

The kids were ok today. Elder and I continued our stalemate for most of the day. She wanted to ignore me and read a book, which was fine except for the extent that I had to keep an eye on Younger as a result. She decided to play with some slime on the back deck, and now the whole thing is stained with the residue of purple paint and glitter. If I wasn’t planning on ripping everything up in a few weeks and laying down new boards I would have been mad. Elder’s defiance continued until after lunch when she began to realize that she wasn’t going to get what she wanted, TV, until she spent sufficient time studying, and I managed to get her to do some math work. I even got her to do piano this evening as well.

A few days ago I printed up the following image from a metalearning post on Medium. Elder has this tendency to get frustrated at the things that I try to get her to do, saying things like “I can’t” or “I don’t know how” whenever she doesn’t want to do something, usually the dishes or some other academic point that I’m trying to make to her. We fought over it yesterday when I tried to get her to go over it with me, and she finally sat down with me this afternoon. Missus was in the room, giving me side eye for “trying to force freshman level psychology on our seven year-old”. Elder got it though. I asked her which side of the diagram that she thought she was, and she said, “I’m this side (growth) for my teachers and mommy, and the other for you.” That kid.

Overall, it was a good day. I managed to keep the kids from tearing each other apart by interjecting at even the hint of conflict, and Missus was more available to take over during the day instead of locked away in the office like she’s been more recently. We spent some time preparing for our getaway to the mountains Thursday evening, I did some yard work and the girls got their bags packed. We’ll be spending a couple days away, going canoeing, and maybe a hike.

Work was OK. I finished a small job for a Zombie, LLC partner outside the Denver area, which is nice because having contacts out there would be great in case we ever want to leave where we’re at. The owner is an old software development guy, more upper management than coder, based on what he told me, but it was nice to show off what I knew. In this case it was just a simple, single server Active Directory setup, but I did most of the prep yesterday building a Desired State Configuration in Azure. I just ran the script and was done in an hour and a half.

Today was also a bit amazing cause Boss actually agreed with me and seems to have decided to finally dump our problem employee, E., after what seems like three years after I first said that he has to go. Boss asked me to manage a couple projects, and I did my best to do so for the past two weeks, but E just refuses to check in with me, which forces Boss to get involved managing him. I told Boss this was the same pattern of behavior that we had fallen into several times before. If I’m going to manage someone, then I have to manage them, not him. And the time that Boss spends managing someone is lost time. Boss is our bottleneck. I think today he finally realized the E. is going to lose us a lucrative contract, so he told me I was right and that he was going to contact a potential new hire. Thank goodness, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

I’ve been continuing with RemNote today, just getting into the habit of recording some of the things I read, trying to get into the habit and figure out how to use it. I also spent some time looking at videos for Notion, and I’m leaning more toward cancelling my Basecamp subscription. I think the only thing I’ll actually miss is the communications features, since I like having that record instead of relying on text messages. For now I’m just using it for work related documents, while I give RemNote a proper chance, but Notion does so much more I think it will wind up cutting out several other apps I’m using, such as Google Drive. It reminds me a lot of Airtable, the way Notion’s spreadsheets resemble databases. Even the font’s look the same, so I’m fairly confident that there’s some sort of relationship there, even though I can’t confirm it.

Since I’ve been working on this tonight, I think I’m going to take a break from working on Substack and pull a couple other cards out of the kanban that I can knock out. Tomorrow night I’ll be on the road, so I’m going to really have to make an effort to get my posts in while we’re out of town.

Personal Knowledge Management tools

Experimenting with digital brain software

It looks like I have a bit of a new obsession this week: the digital brain. Note taking apps like OneNote and Evernote have been popular for some time, but the latest generation of apps have added backlink features, a sort of hypertext link between notes, creating nodes and graphs between individual items in the list. I was first introduced to Roam Research through Yak Collective, but found the fifteen dollar a month price tag a barrier at this point. There are a number of competitors out there, including Obsidian, Notion, and RemNote, which all have slightly different features and use cases. None of them are strictly productivity apps in the way that OneNote/Evernote are, but are geared more toward creative work than task management.

Reading through a Reddit post on RoamResearch alternatives is quite disorienting, as there are a number of alternatives out there, and I felt a bit lost. Obsidian seems to be one off the best offerings out there, and I had made a half-hearted attempt to use it a few weeks ago. It doesn’t support blocks as linkable objects, which seems to be a requirement for a good Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) system. Obsidian does have nice Markdown features. Data is stored locally, which can be a plus or a minus, depending on your needs. I took a quick look at Notable, which seems like a slimmed down version of Obsidian, but only took a cursory look at it while I was watching a YouTube video on the others.

I’m now moving forward with RemNote. It’s geared toward students, and the spaced repetition features are interesting to me as someone who’s used Anki in the past. I’m not sure that it’s the best to use for straight up writing and editing like RoamResearch is pitched as, but I’m going to give it a shot for a few days and see how things work. I may also take a look at Notion, since it seems like it has some interesting features and may be more suitable for some of the work and personal projects that I have been working on. I don’t see dropping Trello’s Kanban boards for it yet, but it may be nice to save that hundred dollars a month on Basecamp if my consulting work doesn’t take off from here.

I hate getting caught up in all these tools, spending more time experimenting with different platforms. In a way, it’s a distraction from actual work, but on the other hand, it can be viewed as sharpening an axe before taking the first swing at a tree. Trying to find a mix of physical and electronic tools that works well together is a challenge. My Kanban wall of Post-Its in the dining room went completely untouched yesterday, and I’m tempted to tear them all down right now and start over in Trello or somewhere, but having something physically present, and prevalent in the room seems important, and is something that I don’t want to do away with just yet.

The Zettelkasten system kept coming up in my searches yesterday. The word literally means “a box of notes” and was used by a prolific sociology researcher, Nikolas Luhmann, who wrote some seventy books and published over four hundred papers during his career. He attributed his success to his Zettelkasten system.

I’m hoping that a mix of one of these note taking systems can help me organize my thoughts, and that Kanban can help me prioritize my personal, professional, and familial projects. I’m going to give RemNote a shot for a couple days, maybe play around with Notion for work. And maybe, just maybe, do something about these Post-It notes.

Live free

silhouette of person standing on rock surrounded by body of water

Dreaming of a life of financial independence

Today I’ve occupied myself mainly by watching the price of Bitcoin on TradingView. I went to bed last night with the price having settled a bit above ten thousand, and woke this morning to find it up another three hundred dollars. It had been bouncing around a bit this morning before just blasting up and testing eleven thousand a few hours ago while I was out making a short trip out for work. Days like this I become obsessed with my IRA, checking in several times a day to see if I’ve breached another ATH in my retirement account.

We’ve got a dry erase magnet on our fridge, about the size of a sheet of paper. I’ve written “FIRE by 2024” on it, along with a list of debts: mortgage, student loans, and my car. At the bottom is the price that bitcoin needs to hit before we can wipe all of that out: $67K. Not that I have a solid plan to sell everything and just retire at that point, it’s more of a psychological reminder of freedom, where we’ll be secure, and be able to walk away from everything if we need to. Of course that doesn’t take into account for taxes and ongoing expenses, and selling all of our bitcoin would have the tremendous downside of well, not having any bitcoin, but it represents the promise of being secure in our future, not just for myself and my wife, but for my kids as well, who have their own accounts set aside on my cold wallet and with BlockFi.

I’m in a bit of competition with my wife, who took a very different track earlier than I did, going into grad school and getting her Masters’ and working hard to secure a government job with immense benefits such as healthcare and a pension. I spent much of my adult life under twenty five fucking around, honestly, getting by with life on easy mode, partying and boozing it up until our orbits came together. We’ve spent sixteen years together now, and I owe much to her for getting me out of my comfort zone these last few years. I credit becoming a dad as probably the biggest single factor in that equation.

We still have remarkably different approaches to life, I’ve always used the term complementary to describe how we mesh. She’s playing the safe, long game, intending to collect her government pension, socking away her contributions in whatever index fund offered to her, stacking a modest amount to the kids’ 529 college funds. Me, I’m buying bitcoin instead, running miners and picking stocks based on my knowledge of technology, trying to follow trends and carve out more aggressive gains from my more modest contributions. I’m hoping to win big, she tells me not to jump off of any buildings should the market crash.

Another example is a bet we have about autonomous vehicles. She told our daughter Elder that she’ll make sure that she gets a driver’s license when she turns sixteen, in about eight years. I bet her that Elder would never need one, since I expect autonomous taxis to be cheaper than private vehicle ownership. I hedged on whether manually driven cars would still be on the road, whether Elder could still get a license. I even did a book swap with her, giving her a copy of The Future Is Faster Than You Think to make my case, but she hated it so much that she didn’t even finish it.

And now our current COVID landscape has brought everything into question. Everything is up for re-examination, all of our assumptions up for debate. We’ve been reconsidering our jobs, our house, how we live, our relationships with friends and family, and what we want out of life. She’s always been focused on working for the future, and all of that has been called into question. Maybe part of it that the stability she’s cherished and sacrificed for has been called into question, while I’m finding myself in an environment where I’m thriving.

There’s a lot to suss out. Over the last day or so, my brain has started coalescing around an idea for my next longform newsletter. I had been focusing on the future of work, but I think this time I’ll branch out a bit more and look at the the future as it relates to these new possibilities. There are a lot of books that the two of us have been sharing recently and I want to explore some of the thoughts around stoicism, minimalism, and life design in a post. It’s going to be a challenge, and I want to put some notes together around them before I start writing.

I’ve never had a want for hobbies, and have basically lived my life as I could if I was retired. I won’t say that hermit is an apt term, but the lockdown hasn’t really affected my social life, if you know what I mean. I’ve been content, troubled only by the way I’ve allowed my temper to flare in response to the way the kids misbehave. For me, I’ve always found solace in reading books or blogs, or putting that knowledge to work in front of a keyboard. Missus has always relied on vacations or trip to the spas for rewards, and all that has been taken away by COVID, so it’s been more challenging for her. She’s been forced to adapt much more than I have, and is finding refuge in gardening, for one.

The kids are young enough that they’ve dealing fine. Younger will probably forget before the pandemic in a few years. All the local teachers unions have come out for virtual classes for the start of next year, which means we’ll probably just pull them completely and do homeschool. This furthers our desire to opt out. Choosing a school was one of the main reasons we bought this house that we did, and with the entire family effectively turning into digital nomads, we can effectively live and work anywhere with a fast internet connection. The fact that Americans are effectively restricted from entering most of the rest of the work is another problem entirely, but at least we have domestic options.

For now I will write, and teach the kids, work on our mini-homestead and learn how to function in a COVID world, all while waiting for $67,000 bitcoin, and dreaming about what we’ll do when we get there.

Lazy Sunday

Today has been a lazy sunday. I made the foolish mistake of purchasing a nine percent IPA, and wound up staying up late playing video games. I snagged The Outer Worlds on Epic Games for only thirty bucks, which seemed like a good deal. I read that the campaign is only about twenty hours, which seems reasonable, so I went ahead and indulged myself.

I still managed to get up at seven this morning, with more than a bit of a headache, and wound up cooking a large breakfast for my dad and the family. I finished mopping up the rest of the water in our fully-drained hot tub, and have been knocking some items from my personal kanban board while the girls watch Ballet Shoes on the TV, which has reluctatly been returned to its place on the entertainment center.

The rest of the afternoon is still up in the air, but I seriously want to attack the overgrown juniper bushes, which have grown over our back deck and high in front of our porch. I might put the water slide out for the kids as well. Other than that, the only thing I plan on doing is ordering groceries and reading a couple books. I’m still working my way through Hamilton, but I’m still working my way through several other books as well. Continuous Delivery, Digital Minimalism, Designing Your Life have been my go tos before bed, and I’ve recently grabbed a number of other books off Pirate Bay recently, including Niall Ferguson’s The Ascent of Money and William Irvine’s A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy. I also need to add Continuous Integration to my Kindle as well, to go with its cousin. I also have a large stack of The Nation magazines, along with issues of Wired, Dissent, and Jacobin that have been sitting on the shelf for some time.

Earlier this morning I noticed that Bitcoin retested ten thousand overnight, peaking at $10,150 before retracing to $9980-9960, where it’s sitting now. If it holds I’ll have a nice jump in my GBTC holdings tomorrow morning. Of course I hope it continues. The TradingView trollbox has people eyeing $11.1K before the day is out, which would be remarkable. I’m of the mind that a close over ten K would be very bullish and confirm an ongoing trend. Especially if we can close out July above it.

This upcoming Friday marks Missus and my eleventh anniversary. We’ll be driving back up to her father’s house in the mountain again, to do another canoe trip, and hopefully do a short hiking trip with the girls as well. I can’t wait.

For now, I’ve got about an hour before 3PM, and I’ve promised the girls I’ll set up the waterslide while I trim the bushes. So it’s time for me to grab a magazine off the shelf and relax.

Hot Tub Time-Suck Machine

Why having a friend with a pool is preferable to having one oneself

A few years ago my father in law ran across someone giving away a hot tub, and although he didn’t want it himself, he told my wife, who decided to take it. She had been dreaming about one since we moved into this house. When we first viewed it some five years ago, there had been a hot tub on the lower wood deck, but the owners had taken it with them as part of the sale.

She accepted it without talking to me about it. I have never desired one, and realized that even a free hot tub would come with several costs. The first was getting the electrical hooked up to it. There were some problems with it, so we had to hire an expert to deal with some electrical issue, and also paid a friend with an electrical license to come and hook it up. Then there’s been the chemicals that it requires to keep the water balanced.

My wife was incredulous that I didn’t want a hot tub, and tried to argue that if I didn’t want it that I shouldn’t use it. Of course I would use it, but I have not enjoyed it proportionally to cost. Perhaps if she had let me drain it during the winter I wouldn’t be so resentful after listening to the heater trip on four times an hour during the winter nights.

Earlier this spring I noticed that the water level was low, and attributed it to evaporation. We had run into some problems with the cover leaking and capturing condensation and I assumed that it was leaking out through this. Deep down I knew something else was going on. We had to refill it several times over the past few months, but I kept putting things off. I had noticed that there was constant moisture around the bottom of the tub and the deck, and I knew that something had to be done.

That time is now.

Yesterday evening the family decided to have a hot tub party, and while we were in it the tub lost power. I checked the breaker and found a ground fault, quickly realizing that my plans for tomorrow had been superseded by this event. I knew that I either had to repair the electrical issue, or drain the tub. So this morning, instead of doing the bushes as I had planned to, I shut off the electrical to the breaker box on the back of the house, pulled the fifty amp breaker out and made a trip out to a couple hardware stores to find a replacement breaker. I figured this easier to troubleshoot than the tub itself.

Unfortunately, neither of the big hardware stores carry breakers that big, only selling the entire box for a hundred dollars. But after speaking to my father, an electrical engineer, and the staff at one of the stores, I came to the conclusion that the tub itself was the problem. So I went home, put the breaker back in, and then began the chore of removing the side panel from the tub. Instead of pulling off the panel by the pump, I pulled off a different one, closer to where the water had been pooling out of the tub. Several of the screws were rusted and gave me some trouble, but I managed to finally get them off and was able to peer inside.

It was a mess. The intake had a drip…drip…drip… coming from it, and the entire underside of the tub was soaking wet. I showed my wife, not to gloat, at all, and then pulled the garden hose out and began draining the tub.

I’ve been waiting for the sun to retreat before I deal with it more. The deck under the tub is rotten in places, so my deck rebuilding project has gotten considerably more complicated. Moving the damn thing will probably take four hands. The deck won’t be that big of a deal unless the cross beams need replacing. I should be able to manage that. But we’re looking at sealing the leak, dealing with whatever electrical issue there is, and replacing the cover if we’re to salvage it. I’m not sure what we’re going to do.

The rest of the day has been a mixed bag of adulting. I had to remove the television from the den, stashing it behind a couch in the front office after I came home from my earlier errand to find the kids driving Missus insane. I managed to prepare another batch of my Mr. Beer home brew kit, this one an IPA from Brew Demon. And Missus has found some joy with her new carpet cleaner, having successfully banished some long-standing spots from our carpet. And as soon as I hit post on this, I’m taking everyone out to a local nature park for a walk and a picnic. When we get home I’ll need to put the cover back on the spa and put the hoses away.

I’m not sure what we’ll do the rest of the day, hopefully I can talk Elder or Missus into playing a board game with me, but I have a feeling they’ll finagle me into putting the TV back where it belongs. I’d rather not. if I was being honest, it does not spark joy in this household, at least not the way the hot tub has.

Seeking joy

I’m writing this at the end of the workweek, perhaps the last thing I do before I decide that there is nothing more productive to be done today and crack open a cold one and plop my butt in front of the TV or a video game. Today’s has been slightly better than the rest of the week. Yesterday’s storms seem to have broken the five day three-digit heat wave, allowing the kids some outside time with their friends. I was not terribly productive at work, although I am managing to get some things done with my cryptocurrencies that are way overdue. I’ve mostly been knocking out little random things that weren’t necessarily on my lists, distracting myself from working on any big projects for the past day or two.

I’ve been limiting the girls television in the morning to PBS kids, instead of letting them watch whatever they want. Elder gave me trouble about it earlier in the week, but they’ve been misbehaving and being disrespectful quite a bit the past few weeks, and something needed to change. I am seeing some improvement in how they’re responding, and I’m trying to adjust my behavior as well so that I’m not being unfair. I’m having to take more of a hands on approach with Elder’s math and music lessons. Leaving her to herself is causing her to miss some of the more subtle points about what she’s learning. In both cases she’s trying to rush through everything without taking the time to read the question. And in cases where she’s getting the right answer, she’s missing the method that they’re demonstrating which makes it easier to do the calculation in your head. Similarly with music, she’s mostly focusing on the fingering numbers instead of the actual notes. With Playground Sessions, with the instant feedback of the score, she’s paying more attention to the visual feedback than she is to the actual notes she’s playing. She’s not listening.

And trying to tutor her myself seems to trigger some sort of defiance in her, where she either fights me and shuts down, or acts passive aggressive and refuses to answer correctly. Or again, perhaps she’s not listening to what I’m asking. Today I took my time with her and tried to be patient, and we were able to work through everything correctly, even with her difficulties.

My BEAM mining seems to be going well. I’m currently gaining about six dollars a day in crypto. I haven’t calculated my power consumption, but I was able to reduce my power consumption quite a bit and increase my hashrate by ten percent, so I’m doing better than the calculations. I’m probably netting more than three dollars a day right now. I’m going to wait another week to decide if I’m going to unload it. I’d have to make sure my Binance account is still good and figure out a way to automatically move the coins based on my pool earnings for the week. After two and a half years, I still haven’t traded any of my coins.

Yesterday I decided to use some of my Microsoft Partner Network benefits, namely my Visual Studio credits, to spin up an Ubuntu instance in Azure and see if I could sync up multiple blockchain nodes on one host. I was able to get BEAM and ARW up and running, but I shut it down earlier today until I can figure out exactly how I want to structure things. I fixed a firewall issue with my AWS node that I’m using for IDEX, so I think I want to run the nodes on it and keep wallets accessible from here at the house. I haven’t accessed so many of my bags in some time, so one of the first tasks is going to be getting my XDNA node up and running. I’ve got enough for a small masternode, about sixteen hundred dollars worth of fiat, so I may as well get that back online and start earning. The IDEX node isn’t using any CPU since the Ethereum node has been offfloaded to

Other than that, I just paid some house bills and checked my accounts. I linked one of my credit card rewards points to Amazon and found that I have over five hundred dollars worth, so I’m trying to resist the urge to blow that all at once.

And at work today I did have a call with the embedded systems firm. I was amazed at how they operate. No version control, no test driven development. I was shocked really. I’m going to start by going over their developer setup environment and converting the build process to something that can be automated as part of a new build chain. It relies on some custom Eclipse version from their hardware supplier, which integrates different Texas Instrument libraries. So hopefully I’ll be able to help them build out a brand new CI/CD pipeline for the project that they’re starting in the fall. I don’t know where it will take me, but it feels good to be able to put my computer science degree to good use in a professional environment. We shall see where it goes.

So I’m going to go crack that beer, dig into some hot wings in about an hour and try to watch a movie with the girls. This week marks the anniversary of the moon landing, so hopefully we can watch a show about it. I can’t stay up too late tonight watching Dark or playing video games, cause there’s a lot of projects that need to get done tomorrow morning, and I don’t want to waste too much of the morning sleeping in.

Here’s to a good weekend.

Morning pages

Lambo1, my six-GPU cryptocurrency mining rig, is operational again, fans running incessantly across the room. After a false start with RaveOS, I was able to get it up and running with SimpleMiner yesterday, finally getting it up and running mining BEAM, which is a new one for me. Getting it up and running was a bit of a challenge, both the node and the wallet. Apparently the wallet has to be online to receive a transaction, which is an issue with mining pool payouts. I’m not happy with my setup, running the node on my downstairs server with it’s old five hundred gigabyte SATA drives. I’m tempted to stand up a new cloud server to run all these blockchains, and I very may well do that since I have some Visual Studio Azure credits that I can put to use.

Bitcoin finally broke out a bit this week, ostensibly because off stimulus packages in Asia and the US. It’s a modest breakout, but we’ll have to wait and see if we threaten $10K again anytime soon. Patience.

Last night I combed through seven years of brokerage statements, making a spreadsheet of transactions that didn’t carry over from the Scottrade/TDAmeritrade merger. I want to add the activity to my total realized gains, so I can gauge my performance. My post-merger activity has outperformed the SPY by a significant margin since 2018, but carries a lot of purchases from before the merger, and I want to incorporate the gains and losses that I took before then. I haven’t finished calculating the numbers, however just looking through the transactions brought back a lot of memories, some good, some bad. There were a couple sales of some strong positions that I used to finance some other purchases that haven’t worked out well, so I might need to add some opportunity cost calculations to my spreadsheet. Also missing, dividends. There were just too many to go through, but I will likely need to incorporate it somehow. I’m wondering if there’s a proper application that I can use to incorporate all this historical data, or if I should write some custom software. After I figure all this out I want to dig up another, closed brokerage account going back to 2003. I’m sure I’ll be embarrassed by what I find there.

I finally registered my business as an LLC yesterday. I can’t even say how long that one has been on my list, but now I’ve got to prepare some documents before I kick off any of these new projects that I have to do. Only one of them is actually for hire, but I need to spend the time developing the documents for the next one, before I get sucked into another off-scope

Now that the last WordPress project is off my list, I’m enjoying being able to spend some time pulling whatever I want from my Kanban board. After having that project on there, staring at me for several weeks, it’s exhilarating to be able to work on something that’s not urgent. Seeing my rig sit there for weeks was starting to bother me, so I’m glad it’s back to work. There’s still a lot of work to be done. Being able to pull tasks from my backlog instead of having them pushed on me is a different type of feeling, and I like it.

Toward a personal blueprint

Last night I was just starting to doze off when I remember that I had left the shed unlocked. I put on my sweatpants and went outside, and was shocked to find the sky afire. The heavens were flashing like a strobe light to the northwest, multiple flashes going off every second, one after the other, making the sky seem like daylight. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. I locked the shed and came back to the porch and sat down for a few minutes, tired as I was, wanting to witness this amazing display for a bit longer. There was no thunder, although for the most part I had no direct line of sight to the lightning itself. Most of it was occuring over beyond the treeline to the west of our property, and I tried in vain to find a vantage point where I could see better. Occasionally a small cluster of lightning would light up far overhead in the sky but I never heard the sound of thunder. It was very eerie.

I tried to capture the phenomena on my phone, but between it’s camera and display, I wasn’t able to tell if I was capturing anything other than a blurry flash of light. I’ll find out later this morning when I show the girls.

I had trouble getting out of bed this morning, and only rose when I heard Elder mulling about in her room. I’ve been having trouble sleeping falling asleep the past few days, perhaps due to drinking too much on Friday and Saturday. I feel rested enough, and so far Elder seems in a good mood, and is actually doing her school work right now so that she can watch a show later.

Last night I wrote a lengthy message to my client, trying to salvage whatever personal and professional relationship can be due to the way that things have been turning out. To be honest, I’m ready to move on. I wrote that we had gotten off on the wrong foot, mostly due to the casualness that we entered into the arrangement. I also felt that charging a fee without a proper contract or scope of work was detrimental. I obviously had a longer time frame for delivery of the goods, and envisioned a perpetual arrangement, but failed to communicate this to them. I again expressed my desire to keep working on the project, explained where I thought the failures were, and tried to provide a way forward. I made sure to end on a positive note, trying not to make this a bad breakup letter. I said that I hoped to see an encouraging word from them on my phone sometime this morning and have a call this evening to continue showcasing and testing the work in progress. If I don’t, then I’m just going to move on.

Sending the note relieved the last vestige of stress that I had been carrying about the situation. I’ve been trying to maintain a clear head about it, but on the other hand I am very disappointed. I have learned a few lessons that have spawned a few requirements that I will need to adhere to moving forward.

  • First, I will need to incorporate my LLC first thing this morning. Everything up until now has been through my sole-proprietorship, but I need to protect myself from liability moving forward.
  • Some sort of formal document detailing the time commitment being made by both parties. I can’t afford to spend thirty or even ten hours in a month for the small monthly retainer that I’ve been charging. If I’m to do more than a few hours a week, then I’ll need guarantees that the relationship is going to continue.
  • Additionally, I’ll need to set realistic expectations about deliverability. I can’t have clients thinking that a fully designed web site is going to manifest itself in a month without frequent feedback from the client. And I’ll need to provide a price sheet detailing the true cost of services (compared to the competition) along with the discount that I’m providing. This discount must be considered against my time commitment. No more overages, unless some sort of annual agreement with termination clauses can be negotiated.
  • Also, I need to set requirements about acceptable communications. I pay a lot of money each month for BaseCamp, and have yet to get any traction among my clients with it. I think I’ll continue with it for now, but it’s my biggest monthly expense right now. If I can’t get clients on board with it then I’ll have to dump it. It’s extremely useful for keeping myself organized, but I’ve got to get clients using it to contact me instead of ping me with text messages. Perhaps some sort of primer will be needed.
  • And absolutely no, no work without some sort of scope of work agreement, even if it is just a memorandum of understanding. It’s just bound to end up with miscommunications and hurt feelings.

I am going to work on fleshing out these documents for the next engagement. It’s time to get to work.

I only see my goals, I don’t believe in failure

white book with text

Another rough night. I went to bed on time but couldn’t fall asleep. Younger woke up around eleven and I was still awake, and put her in a fresh diaper and let her come in the master bed. Then, just after I had dozed off, the fire alarms went off. I don’t know why they only go off in the middle of the night. Never during the day, only at midnight. The same thing has happened in many times before, when the batteries gets low. They’re tied into the house’s power, and I think something about the HVAC kicking on causes the signal to drop below some threshold and off they go: BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP. I actually had some fresh nine volts, so I threw them in and went back to bed. Whether from the adrenaline, or from Younger tossing and turning, I still couldn’t sleep, so I just grabbed my pillow and went to Younger’s bed, and fell asleep close to two AM.

The girls have been completely demanding, despite the fact that they’ve been playing most of the day building a secret hideout in the living room. I managed to get Elder to do a lot of studying this morning before I let them watch TV; I’ve decided that giving them an hour beforehand makes it difficult for me to get them to do anything. The weather has been so hot lately, with heat advisories and temperatures topping the high nineties, so the girls have been indoors almost the entire day. I don’t think they’ve seen their friends since our little house party last Saturday. They’ve been getting along for the most part, but Younger has been acting out and refusing to follow directions.

I’ve been getting a lot done at work. There hasn’t been a lot of unplanned, urgent, anti-work coming at me lately, so I’m getting a lot of my queues cleared, cleaning out old tickets that have been sitting ignored for weeks or months. I’ve made some good progress rolling out Apple Business Manager with federated Azure Active Directory domains, so I might be able to use native mobile device management capabilities between the two and dump this god-awful third party solution that we’ve been using. Once I get that cleared up, I plan on looking at ways to supplement our configuration management using some native and open source tools. There are some interesting solutions that have come to my attention that can help standardize some of our build processes. Hopefully this will make me more valuable to other franchisees in our network, and help me get some more project work.

I’ve decided to start broaching the subject of a raise with my boss. I’ve been kicking ass since coming back from the July 4th holiday and implementing kanban into my workflow, and I want to wait another two weeks or so before I have a discussion. Zombie, LLC. may still have some life left in it. The printer repair subcontract that we’ve taken on seems to be doing well enough that Boss wants me to start taking over operations, and we’re also going to start targeting voice services in the area, which seems to have less competition going than our managed services offering. I re-registered a domain for this purpose yesterday and will be working on the website for it soon.

That makes four current WordPress projects that I’ve got, active or queued up. I hope to be wrapping up the one I’ve been working on by the end of the month, it may be tomorrow, depending on how the conversation with the client goes over the next day or two. If there are any conversations, I might say. There’s been radio silence since they essentially fired me and I responded that I was going to continue and follow through with my delivery objectives. In a way, I don’t recall feeling this heartbroken since my last breakup.

This project has consumed a lot of time the past two months, and I’m looking forward to putting it behind me. I had allocated eight hours a month, based on the retainer that we had agreed on. My timesheet for last month shows thirty hours spent, and I’m going to hit twenty for this month after another call or two, and possibly another ten if things go well. It can’t keep up at this rate, and I was hoping to add this site to my portfolio as a way to garner additional business.

The other sites that I have ready to go after include one for a local civil rights chapter, a rental booking site for my father in law, and now this site for the telco branch of Zombie. And it feels like I haven’t touched a code editor in weeks. I’ve been mucking around with some small tasks, like checking out lazydocker, and trying to get my cryptominer up and running with RaveOS, but I’ve purposefully kept any actual project work off my WIP board until I got this client taken care of.

I’m looking forward to getting my hands back in an IDE and doing some work, starting with some fintech stuff. I’ve got some refactoring to do with my equities trading protocols, work on the TDAmeritrade package has been progressing at a clip, and I haven’t even logged into Github in several weeks. Likewise, I haven’t filled out a job application in almost two weeks as well. I’m sure my Sixty Days to Six Figures deadline has come and gone. I stopped keeping track when this WP project consumed me.

I think I’m doing all I can do right now, honestly. I’ve practically given up all social media use. I haven’t logged onto Twitter in days. In the morning I rise, make my tea, and meditate, then write this blog if I’m up early enough before the kids. I work all day, take a few breaks for reading, cook and clean, and maybe watch a short show with the girls before dinner. Then after they’re to bed, it’s another two hours of work, and an hour of reading before bed. I’m not sure there’s much else I can do other than what I’m doing.

I’m forty-one now, and frequently looking back at where I’ve been and wondering if my trajectory is sufficient to get me where I’d hoped to be in life. I get to spend time with my kids, no matter how frustrating it is, and am able to give them everything they need. What more can I ask for? I was watching a John Oliver segment yesterday and they showed a supercut of TV anchors bemoaning being stuck home with their kids. I caught myself griping to someone on the phone today and caught myself thinking about it. Why should this be the norm?

I’ve been pushing the kids, perhaps projecting my own insecurities on them. I tell myself that it’s a different world that they’re inheriting, and that they’ll adapt to it the way we’ve all adapted to living with COVID these past five months or so. I want to give them the tools and a headstart on certain skills that I think will be needed in this future world, but Missus called me a control freak while we were arguing today, so maybe that’s part of it. No, that is a part of it. Having my kids close by, and able to guide their development at this early stage of life is probably the greatest opportunity to arise so far as part of this pandemic.

It’s hard for them, and it’s hard for Missus and I. We just have to keep working on it.