It’s been a remarkably productive day today at the homestead.

We allowed the girls to stay up a bit last night, I wound up going to bed a bit earlier than usual on a Friday as I had my bender Thursday night. We all woke up and were out of bed by seven. Even Missus gave up on trying to go back to sleep as she normally does.

We were expecting rain this weekend and most of next week due to the hurricane that’s been moving through the gulf coast, so I went out as soon as was neighborly and did my monthly weed-eating. Missus tended to her flower beds, and even I wound up pulling some weeds and laying some mulch myself. I also downed some limbs in the backyard as well. All of this before eleven in the morning.

Missus had me hang a new shelf over the bathtub, and I don’t know what was getting into me at that point but I must have felt motivated, cause I started cleaning out old piles of computer junk. My downstairs office almost looks empty.

I’ve got about a dozen or so hard drives that have just been laying in boxes, ones I’ve pulled out of clients machines out over the years, lots of five hundred gigs and under. I actually recabled one of my machines so I can start inventorying them and cleaning them out so I get rid of them. So now my upstairs office is a mess, but I have a plan to get rid of a lot of old equipment, routers and access points, all kinds of stuff that’s just been laying around the house. The reorganization is long overdue, and it’s helpful to see how things are developing. Calming, almost.

I’ve done enough for today, so now I’m going to spend some time working on my programming projects, restoring some blockchain wallets, and doing some research on LINK and ETH 2.0 nodes. You know, the kind of things one does on a Saturday night.

Casa kanban-a

two blue and red Sharpie pens

Getting ready to decorate the walls

Forgive the horrible pun, my head is already swimming with things I have to do, and this morning I’m already trying to remember where the Post-Its are so I can convert my dining room wall into a operations board. I even had an idea to put the letters of the alphabet in lanes to track which ones my four-year old knows. That might not be a bad idea, actually. There’s a chair guard running across the middle of the wall, I could put Elder’s above the guard and Younger’s below, household stuff on the other wall. If anything, it would allow the kids to visualize not just their work but all of ours as well. Maybe it would help them realize just how much work there is to be done around here. We’ll give it a try.

I went to bed a quarter after ten last night, slept well for the most part as Missus and Younger were in the other room. I woke up just after four this morning from a dream where I had sold my car to an ex-girlfriend that I haven’t seen in near twenty years. I’m not even going to try and analyze that one… Four is just too early for me at this point, so I went back to sleep and got up an hour later.

A lot of things came up in my head during meditation. I’ve got a lot on my plate today, including an important client meeting for Zombie. I had a call yesterday with the head of what is now Zombie’s current cornerstone client, and it went pretty well, but I’m not ready to rename them quite yet. We had some conversations about doing some WordPress SEO work yesterday, so that was interesting. Keeping work and side work separate is becoming a bit more difficult.

Besides work work, I’ve got weekly work meeting with my current WordPress development client tonight, and a hard date to get the new deployment up by the end of the month. It’s doable, but I have to get them to understand that launching isn’t the end of the process, it’s the beginning. I’ve been struggling to find some good resources for “web design” that aren’t just about the how-to technical process, but about the higher level stuff where I’m lacking. Most books and courses that I’ve been coming across are tech tutorials, but I’m looking for something different at this point. I suppose it falls more along UI/UX design than anything else at this point. Hopefully we’ll be able to start converting some of the traffic that the current design is getting after relaunch.

I’m way overdue with my Substack, so I need to spend another hour on that. I’ve got a couple ideas to add to my review of The Phoenix Project so that it’s more newsletter-y. Yes, one of them is about kanbans, and I might add a response to an email that I got from the last issue that went out. And I’ve got to figure out a pipeline for them so that I’m not always behind. Since I can’t add capacity, I’m going to have to reduce the frequency (bi-monthly?) or the amount of content. I had the thought or releasing one issue publicly on LinkedIn, and making the second for email subscribers only? We’ll play around with it.

Anyways, Elder is up early, so that means I’m done here for today. Off to find the Post-Its.


grayscale photo of girl doing face palm

When getting things done turns into getting things done

I’m not sure what did it today, but I am B-E-A-T. I woke up at five AM and went back to sleep before finally getting up and starting my day. I worked on my Substack instead of writing here, writing a short review of The Phoenix Project. I’ve got more to write, this week’s (or is it last week’s?) post will likely be three shorter segments instead of one long one like I’ve been doing. I just got to keep writing.

Work really kicked my ass. I had clients texting me near the end of the day yesterday, so I got an early start. It didn’t end until almost three. Missus is still on leave from work, so she managed the kids, so managed to get a lot done. A LOT. I started reading Personal Kanban last night, so I decided to give Microsoft Planner another shot, and started by creating three lanes: to do, in progress, and done. I limited my work in progress to four items, and started cracking. It helped me stay focused, and I managed to move four tasks to the done lane. I’m going to leave them there till next week, so I can see what kind of progress I’m making.

I’m going to have to create another board for my work outside of Zombie, LLC. I’ve been using Trello to try and keep track of things that Missus and I are dealing with, but it’s devolved into a bit of a mess. When I heard that Personal Kanban is a bit of an evolution over Getting Things Done I became really interested as I’ve never been able to really make GTD click. I started really trying to give it a go a few months back, and kept writing things down on index cards, going over them once a week at our review. I tried sorting the cards in a small recipe box, but they just got too many and I couldn’t keep them sorted. Our current system involves writing new tasks on cards, then processing the cards into Trello during the weekly review. I tried to have lanes for the various tasks based on category, and one lane for doing/to do, but this lane soon became populated with things that we just want to put off further and further down the road, like replacing the deck, or other expensive projects. It has been successful in getting some of our recurring duties on a calendar, like balancing the house accounts, or weed eating the yard.

I also really like Nirvana. It’s a great app, and seems to be geared well toward the GTD methodology, but when it came time to choose something to manage the house, I went with Trello instead. I think it’s time to go back to using a wallboard. Take the tech out of the equation completely until we get into a rhythm and have something that works. Having it in Trello means that I’m the only one that’ll do it, and looking at it once a week isn’t really helping us keep on top of things.

If today is any indication, it looks like I may wind up with a board for work, a board for family stuff, and a board for consult clients. I’m using Basecamp right now, and I’m not happy with the way my todo lists develop on there. I do love it for communication and client management though. If only my clients would use it more… I think that’s going to give me about twelve tasks for my work in progress across the board. That may be too much, but we’ll see how things go. Four for Zombie seems like a good number, but it already looks like blogging and the Substack are going to take up two of the slots for the consulting lane, so I’ll have to figure out a way to break the larger projects into smaller chunks if I’m going to be able to keep my capacity to a manageable level. Having FINISH PROJECT as a card isn’t really going to do it.

For today though, I’m going to turn in early, read a bit more and see what time I wake up tomorrow. I’ve not been very consistent at all, so I really have to make sure to turn in on time if I’m going to get up early enough to get things started. And tomorrow’s the last day that Missus is off work, so after that the kids are on me again. Missus is really pushing about having them go back to daycare, and I’m not really happy about that. I finally feel like I’m making progress, financially, and not looking forward to losing that money again. Part of me likes having the kids around, however there’s no denying that they distract me from work. Missus is concerned they’re missing out, especially that Younger isn’t going to have the educational head start that her sister did. I’m not as worried about that, but she’s the one with a background in early childhood development.

I think it’s more important to have them nearby and be able to bond with them, but that means that I’ve got to make sure that our interactions are positive. There’s just too much strife in the house. I don’t think it was any better when they were at school, to be honest, but taking breaks from work to talk, play, and care for them is probably better for my stress in the long run than just spending six or seven hours a day focused on work tasks. I’d say it gets easier, but I know it doesn’t. It just gets different.

Up before dawn

car on highway during golden hour

Getting it together, turning an inadvertent alarm into opportunity.

It is going to be a long day.

My Eldest, bless her heart, was using my iPad yesterday to film herself and her sister play with Legos, and afterward started playing with the stopwatch. She somehow wound up setting the alarm on my device for 4:35AM, so I got roused way early this morning. I tried to go back to sleep, but I think I woke myself up too much trying to disable the alarm. Que sera, here I am.

I must have spent at least eight hours working on the WordPress project yesterday. I can’t remember the last time I was that focused on anything for that long. A good half of that was trying to figure out why the header slider I was working on wouldn’t show up on the page I was creating. Turns out it was a sidebar setting. Lesson learned: WordPress’s page template hierarchy is quite complicated.

My internal GitLab server is already proving it’s worth, and has proved the need for some reengineering of the way things are currently laid out around here. I don’t have the development database fully under source control, so I was doing most of my work yesterday through a Google Remote Desktop session. And last night I was forced to edit images on Photoshop, check them into to version control, then import them into WordPress on the guest VM on the same machine, because I never properly setup guest to host file sharing and network communication. Well, I have a task for today.

Today’s Thursday, so tonight is the night I’m supposed to write tomorrow’s Substack. I’m having a bit of anxiety since I don’t really know what I’m going to write about. Maybe something about improving oneself during this time of self-isolation, with some mini-reviews of some of the books I’ve read recently? I hope I get a better idea before tonight. I haven’t checked my subscription stats since last week, so maybe I’ll see if anyone’s responded.

I am also expecting a delivery in sometime today. I ordered a new mesh wifi router, and am looking forward to setting that up. The wifi here has been garbage for a long time, and it is time for my old Netgear to go. I went all out and got an ASUS ZenWifi AC with all the bells and whistles, so we should be good to go. I just have to promise myself that I won’t set it up until after I finish my Substack, otherwise I’ll wind up distracting myself.

And I am going to start brewing beer! I made some preparations to use my Mr. Beer kit yesterday, and we should be good to start today. I also discovered that I did not need to order extra bottles, since the rest I needed were actually inside the brewing vat. Alas, now I’ll have some special ones I can use for gifts or something. The vat is assembled, the water is chilling in the fridge, and we’ll be ready to do this one with the kids as a project for today.

I must say that removing Twitter off of my phone may turn out to be another one of those life-changing steps, like when I dumped Facebook. I took a look at it yesterday after posting the blog for the day, and then looked at it once briefly during the day. I didn’t even feel the urge to pull it up during the evening, so focused I was on working on the WordPress project. My phone has turned into this strange, useless device now. I pick it up and look at it out of habit, but nothing on it has the same draw that flipping open Twitter and scrolling through it. Certainly not LinkedIn, that’s for sure.

And it has been several days since I filled out a job application. I’ve been somewhat discouraged by the requirements of some of the positions that I’ve been looking at, and my lack of experience in certain areas. For example, Twilio had a whole slew of postings up over the area recently, and there were several that I thought I would be a good fit for. One of the application questions asked “give an example of something you built using Twilio”. Ummm…. well, I put an Airtable base together that used Zapier to blast text messages during one of my campaigns, but I don’t think that’s quite what they’re looking for. I’m probably selling myself short.

I think the problem is two-fold. One, finding out from Boss that my future with Zombie, LLC was mostly secure for the near term, and that I’m not in any danger of losing my job. That has definitely reduced the sense of urgency. But secondly, I’m really so focused on finishing this damn WordPress project that I don’t want to risk abandoning it. It sound stupid really, that I’m holding back on finding that $100,000 job because I think it might take me away from this project that might lead to recurrent income.

Well, now I have my orders for the day: fill out that application for Twilio; write tomorrow’s Substack; and reconfigure my development VM so I can see it on my local network. That’s on top of doing whatever’s on my list for Zombie, and taking care of the kids and house today.

I’d better get started.

Refactor everything: COVID Day 95

woman standing near brown combine harvester

Minimalism and keeping the world out

Monday was filled with the usual challenges of dealing with the kids while Missus is locked in the office on the phone with patients. It’s been raining, and trying to keep the kids indoors while limiting their screen time is tough. They fought again, I think we all got up in a rough way as Younger wouldn’t listen to my direction and wound up having a tantrum before the rest of the house was up. We managed to their Dad Summer School work, and wound up having a little dance party before bed while I played beats on the keyboard. (I really want some sort of LoopStation!)

I had a heart to heart with Boss yesterday about the future of Zombie, LLC. It was the most frank conversation that we’ve had in a while. I didn’t go so far to volunteer that I was actively applying for work, but did tell him I was under the impression that we were operating with less than two weeks of runway and that I would either be going on furlough or unemployment from that point. He assured me that it wasn’t the case, and understood that without me, there was no company. The other two members of our staff are not so lucky, and might have to go hourly. We talked a lot about pivoting, and what that might look like. Unfortunately we’re still locked into a franchise contract for the next two years, so we’ll have to stand up a new DBA for whatever we do.

One of our clients makes embedded systems, and just wrapped up a major project. They’re preparing for a new one, and I got a request from them about standing up a GitHub server for internal use. They’re not using any version control internally. I was shocked. They’ve got two C++ devs that are geographically distributed, and they’re basically sharing code between the two of them wrapped up in in VirtualBox images. I wound up spending two and a half hours writing up a proposal document on how to go about rolling out a VCS system internally, proposing training and gathering business requirements to determine whether to go self-hosted or cloud based, and to choose which of the various vendors to go with. We’ll see if they bite. I’ve been managing the systems for this firm for over five years, so moving into a development position there might be feasible. We’ll see.

My life as a WordPress developer continues. Last night I discovered that the database I was running locally was pulled off of my botched staging site, and was missing half of the sidebar widgets from the production site. This was after two days trying to figure out why the logos were missing from my local host. Still, I’m learning how WordPress works. I’m not sure how helpful it is to be starting from this abomination of a theme, but I told the client I was confident that I could make it happen. I have a feeling that I’m about to get way more involved in the design of the site than I have in a really long time.

Many years ago, when Zombie, LLC was still new and growing, we had a young guy who was working with us. He bragged to me that he made most of his money working freelance, standing up Drupal sites for clients at ten thousand or more a pop. I was sceptical, since he had the air of someone who grew up with money, but he did move on very quickly, working with the DoD and other large firms as AWS architect and devops manager. In some sense, I guess I was jealous, and that jealousy lead to keeping him at a distance. I think he recognized early on that Boss didn’t have the vision to lead us where he wanted to go, and he got out early. Que sera.

I’m sitting here with Designing Your Life next to me, turned open to the section on writing a lifeview reflection, my next homework assignment. The first example question is why are we here? and moves on to what is good , and what is evil? and so on. I was planning on addressing it here, but these blog entries are always to long-winded for the type of short, two hundred and fifty word answers they require. It will be very hard to keep my answer short, and will be a lot of work. It’s almost easier to write a thousand words about “matters of intimate concern” than it would be to just two fifty.

Younger has come downstairs, and is playing in the living room singing. Moments like these make me wonder why we ever lived like we did before coronavirus. Again, I ask myself why would I send this babe off to daycare for two hundred dollars a week just so I go to work. I can do my job from home now, so why would I send her away. But the Fall will come, and her big sister will probably be going back to school in some regard, and keeping the little one home with me, might be more than I am ultimately prepared to take on. When I was younger, daycare was my grandmother, or a family friend down the street. Of course I have no family close enough to take the girls on like that, so it’s either keep them home or send them off.

Last night, in Digital Minimalism, I read a chapter about the Amish, and the Mennonites. They both follow the biblical creed to be “in the world, but not of it”, and the description of the mindfulness with which they allow technology, or anything, really, into their lives seems like it’s a great approach. We’re all living in some sort of minimalist lifestyle right now, separated from the world we knew. Everything has been refactored, daycare, schools, work, the way we shop for groceries, the way we interact with friends. My wife may be forced to go back to work soon, but I can tell you that the rest of us are never going back to life as normal.

It only remains to see how we allow the world back into our lives.

What is work?

two white rabbits

Down one rabbit hole after the other

I spent most of yesterday really digging into WordPress in a way that I really haven’t before: theme files. My current project has a customized version of the Twenty Seventeen theme, with lots of custom templates, fields, and functions that I need to move over to a new template. It’s taken me weeks to finally understand what the previous developer was doing, and there’s a fatal bug in the system somewhere that is deleting post data that I’m trying to uncover so I can clean things up. I figure my best course of action is to migrate everything to a staging site, start with a new theme, and start going through the plugins one by one to rebuild the content on the site. There are multiple pages and types of posts with custom fields that need to be displayed properly. I’m not really looking forward to having to debug someone else’s stylesheets, though.

Doing this kind of development isn’t ideal even on a staging site, given that the WordPress native code editor isn’t really suited to real work. I haven’t done PHP work in over ten years, but I downloaded PHPStorm and got started setting up a development environment. I was hoping to setup some sort of Git workflow for the site, but I didn’t find any options that were production ready, so I grabbed the files via FTP and quickly set to work.

WordPress has an official Docker image, so I set about configuring a Compse file for my local environment. There I ran into problems. I was trying to map my theme directory to the container’s, but I ran into issues with file permissions. I haven’t quite figured it out. I can change the permissions within the container to allow the container to use the files, but then they’re locked on my development host. So that’s my challenge for today, and one that will no doubt lead down many more rabbit holes.

This is just an example of the kind of stuff I do, that most people call work. Now this doesn’t have anything to do with my regular day job responsibilities, it’s for a client. And even if it wasn’t, it’s still the same type of activity that I would be doing for fun anyways. Although if you asked my wife if she thought I was having fun last night, she would have said that all the cursing and muttering I was doing under my breath would indicate otherwise. This particular project is a challenge for me because it involved a level of technical expertise that I don’t have, that I am forced to pick up in order to understand the issue — and hopefully solve it! It’s this area, right outside my current capabilities, that puts me in the zone and makes time fly.

It’s a drive that has gotten me where I am today, and has served me very well. Unfortunatley, it’s not something I find in my current day job, and is one of the main reasons why I’m looking else where these days. Part of the problem is the fact that the company constantly hovers on the edge of sustainabily and closure, but I have trouble reconciling that situation with my responsibility for it. Perhaps it’s that I don’t have any stake in the company, other than my current minimum viable salary. It’s allowed me to pursue other projects, including school and political activities, but has not offered anything for me in the way of growth in several years. I am not in sync with my boss in the way of the direction of the company or even the type of customers that we take on. The challenges are rote, and therefore not interesting to me. And they haven ‘t changed in years. Neither has my salary.

I’ve started reading Designing Your Life, by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, and one of the first exercises that they ask readers to write a workfview reflection, defining how work relates to their life, money and others. This is my response to that, of course. Work has such a broad meaning to me. It’s not just your job, it’s also the things you do for your family and friends, chores around the house or the yard, spending time with family, and yes, helping your dad or whoever with their laptop from time to time. And one thing my dad taught me, that I’m trying to impress upon my girls, is that when there’s work to be done you just have to suck it up and do it.

Work is rewarding also, and can be fun. That’s not to say it can’t be repetitive or stressful,, the most panic-inducing heart attack moments I’ve had have been related to failures at work. But I’ve helped a lot of people, and it’s often fulfilling. That’s not to say that I haven’t had horrible, dirty jobs that I had to take because I was unemployed and living on couches, but most of them have been knowledge work, and pretty chill. These days it pays the bills, but it’s the work I do outside of work that is where I continue to learn and grow.

Hopefully my girls will be as lucky as I am, and be able to make a living doing what they love. Actually, it’s not luck, it’s by design. Obviously I am not where I want to be right now. Sure, my work life is probably better than ninety percent of the world’s population right now, and I have no room to complain about anything, but it’s it the human condition to want more, to want to be more? And to me, that’s what work is, the drive to improve, to become better. Constant improvement. Refine, iterate, repeat, repeat, repeat.

The clock ticks

And another row on my life calendar begins

My birthday was good. My dad came over, and my mom and brother were able to join us over Zoom to celebrate. I got a craft beer kit and a board game that I’ve been wanting to get my hands on for years, Dune. The kids played outside most of the day with their friends, and I set up the slip and slide for them to play on. The day was wonderful, but was marred by my neighbor knocking on my door to literally tell me to keep the kids off his grass. Its an ongoing cold war that unfortunatley has taken up too much space in my head for the past two years.

Today begins the first day of what should have been summer vacation. In an alternate dimension, I would have just dropped them off at daycare, and my wife would have gone into work. I would be returning to an empty house, to myself for eight wonderful hours. That was another life. In a sense, having the kids home has exposed how little of my day was productive before. I don’t even remember what I spent my time on, I usually aimed for two hours of billable time a day, the rest was just administrative or non-productive. A year ago I was on the last week of a tense campaign which I would lose by thirty points, before sequestering myself away for several months.

Last night, we managed to get the girls to bed on their regular schedule, and Missus and I were able to get to bed on time as well, despite all the revelry. I already told the girls that even though school was out for the summer, Dad School was not and that we would still be continuing their studies. They protested, but we’ll see what happens. We’re also relaxing our self-isolation, which has been broken in all but name anyways, so that they’re free to play with any of the neighborhood kids.

As far as COVID goes, our state has moved into Phase 2, which means larger gatherings. I’m still avoiding public places as much as possible and wearing a mask whenever I go out. I’m still not going anywhere that isn’t necessary, only grocery stores, drug stores, and takeout. There was some good news out of Italy that the virus may be weakening, but this has been disputed. So it looks like we’ll continue to live with the thread of coronavirus for now.

Today looks like it’s shaping up to be another day, another Monday, back to work. Here’s to another week. I’ve been using a life calendar for the home screen of my web browser, so every morning when I open Chrome I’m met with a picture like this:

That’s my life, up to now. Almost halfway through an expected lifespan of eighty-five years. Of course, no male in my family has lived that long. My grandmother is eighty-seven, and she’s doing ok. But there are no illusions about my father’s current health, or mine, given the way I drink. This life calendar is just my way of reminding myself that the clock is ticking, and a way to stay focused. My wife saw it the other day and thought it was some morbid sign of mental illness. She also thinks that that I get morose when my birthday rolls around, as I contemplate my mortaility.

I don’t think there was much of that this time around, it was probably as much an artifact of approaching forty, it’s not that big of a deal at forty one. And anyways, I don’t need my birthday to remind me that time is passing. I see it tick by with every week now, a momento mori on my home screen, a reminder that this day is a gift.

Now it’s time to get to work.

Life goes on: Day 51

Life imitates art, as they say, and Groundhog Day is probably the movie that life most represents right now. Life has collapsed to this house, and our street, and while it’s not just me that’s stuck in this time loop but the entire world. Routine has become destiny, and everything seems to be about structuring the day to make things as low-friction as possible. Kids are acting up during morning scrum calls? Move their TV time up an hour so it’s not ending when then call starts. Kids want to horseplay before bed? Don’t forget the afternoon bike ride to let them get it out of their system. Make a little progress on this project, do a little bit here. Pretty soon, ten thousand days will have passed and we’ll masters off the universe.

At the start of this lockdown, I thought I was going to be able to settle into some sort of rhythm between working and taking care of the kids, but deep work is proving impossible to come by; the sisters are fighting. Younger smacked her sister in the face with a doll yesterday, Elder has a mark under her eye now. The crying and whining and yelling pulls me out of whatever I’m trying to do and breaks my train of though. Even now, they’re in the other room. Elder is trying to get her sister to help with some task, and the only way her sister knows how to negotiate is by yelling back at her like some toddler Earl of Lemongrab. I can’t help wondering where they get it from, and fear I know the answer.

The DadPoint bribes have done little to help them focus on picking up after themselves. If anything it’s made me less high-strung about it. Yesterday was a bit much since I slept horribly and needed two naps just to get through the day. We’ll see if today is better. I’ve given them a goal to allow them to get a cat, which Missus and I have been talking about with them for many months, and Elder is very excited about it, although she seems to be more focused on the less routine tasks that I’ve set up for her; mopping the floor is still new enough that she’d rather do that then actually set the table.

Last night in bed, as I was reading about technological unemployment in The Future is Faster Than You Think, Missus remarked that we were so lucky to have chosen the fields that we’re in. “Everyone needs therapy at this point,” she said. I’m still not convinced that the current situation has been traumatic for the kids, any more so than average. We’re just lucky we have a large house with a backyard, and not holed up in some Italian apartment. I can only imagine what that’s like. I keep thinking about the bomb shelters of the Cold War era and thinking it amazing that people thought they were going to survive like that? Life goes on, I suppose.

Grades came in for my numerical methods class: A-. I got penalized because I couldn’t submit my solvers as single files; this was expected. I sent one last email to my professor to try and milk a bit more out of it, I’m not sure quite why, I suppose it was just to say goodbye. Perhaps I was looking for some kind of acknowledgement from him, after much of the extra work I did was ignored. Last night I wrote up a Docker guide for independent study. I have one or two more pages to write, guides for students and faculty on using GitLab for collaborative learning. Degree conferral day is Saturday, and then I will have my BSCS.

I’ve got two retainer clients now, and have a third to sign up. $250/month for two hours a week is not where I want to be in the long run; I’ll start charging more as we start making results. Maybe some project work will come. After I wrap on the schoolwork, I’ll put some more work on the CV site and get a resume posted, then start applying to jobs on LinkedIn and Monster.

Mother’s day is Sunday, and I haven’t bought gifts. I was going to get my mom a pair of socks with my brother and my faces on it — a gag gift — but I haven’t ordered it yet. I think I’ll go ahead and order them along with a copy of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. I think I’ve seen her do everything related to art: craft painting, stained glass, now felting, but I think drawing is about the only thing I haven’t seen her do. My wife, on the other hand, just wants a clean house and sleep.

Confirmation bias

So I have proved once again that drinking sucks. I went over one hundred days, probably closer to 110, and have spent the past several days back in old habits. Nothing bad has happened, but nothing good has happened either. I’ve actually fallen off of several habits, dear reader, so I am hoping that coming back here and writing will help drive the demons out. I’m being melodramatic, so I guess I should explain.

I had settled into a bit of a routine, waking up early, meditating, drinking some tea, fasting, turning off screens at 10PM and going to bed at a decent hour. I felt like I was getting a lot done, and I felt great. Then I guess I settled into a few bad habits that started a decline. I’ve been drinking way to many caffeinated drinks, and then started staying up too late. I justified it cause I’ve been watching the MIT CS videos. But I wasn’t getting good sleep, so more caffeine, and so on and so on.

Before I stopped drinking, I had bought a bottle of wine, and after I ceased someone gave me a bottle of Scotch. The two bottles were sitting next to each other on a hutch in the dining room, next to the other drinking paraphernalia. I could see them every day, and as long as they were there they functioned as sort of a totem. I knew they were there, and I was proving something to myself by not choosing to drink them every day. And hopefully, days would pass that the thought would never even cross my mind.

Of course, I do not live alone. And I’ve never tried to impose my abstinence on my spouse. I may have even picked up something for her at the store a time or two. But on a particular day this last week, she had a ‘really bad day’ and wanted something to drink, but the only thing that was left was the wine and the scotch. After a bit of half-hearted protestration, I opened the wine. And I poured two glasses. Cause I would be damned if I was going to let her drink my bottle of wine without me. And so it was began.

The next day, so the seal on the scotch was broken. And over the next few nights, finger after finger I drank. And so on and so on, until I was buying and drinking an entire six pack of IPA until well after midnight this morning. I wasn’t hung over, but as I laid in bed this morning I determined that I would get back to the schedule. Wake. Meditate. Write. Be present.

This is my confession. And this is my reset.

Keeping on

This blog has become somewhat of a journal for me. I’m still holding to the principle of writing something every day, even if sometimes when I start writing, I have no idea what I want to talk about. Like today. Sometimes I sit down expecting that nothing important will come out, but I keep writing to build the habit and maybe find some truth that I can speak for that day. Sometimes I think it’s just because it keeps the search engine spiders coming back.

I’m still keeping my meditation and intermittent fasting habits, although I’ve been slacking on Naval’s 60 For 60 challenge. I started breaking the sessions up into shorter 20-minute ones because I’ve been sleeping later. As a result I’ve only been getting 40 minutes for the past couple days. I’ve got about 10 days left, so let this serve as a written promise to hold myself accountable if I don’t get back on track. I suppose this means that I need to quit writing and go do that last twenty minutes before the day ends. I’ll save a longer detail on my experience with that after the 25th, when I’ll decide what further adjustments I’m making to the routine.

I still haven’t had anything to drink in about 75 days now. I haven’t found it that hard or difficult at this point. I don’t even find myself thinking about drinking like I thought I might. I remember hearing an old alcoholic tell someone that they hadn’t had a drink in years, but still thought about it ‘every day’. What I have noticed is that I’ve reverted in other ways, and have been eating and drinking a lot of sugar. I’ve been drinking a lot of energy drinks, and am pretty sure I’m addicted to drinking caffeine right now. I’ve been staying up a bit longer than I want to, and have been finding it harder to get out of bed like I had been a few weeks ago.

That may have something to do with the fact that school is back in session, and I’ve had to deal with classes and a few other projects that I’ve picked up in spite of efforts not to do so. And World Of Warcraft rebooted around this same time, which I totally shouldn’t have subscribed to, but somehow have wound up with a level 15 troll priest and several alts already. And on top of that I broke out my old M-Audio 61-key USB keyboard, and have been teaching my oldest how to play through Playground Sessions. Of course I’ve been spending more time on it than her, trying to get my skills back up to where they were years ago.

But, I did manage to get out and go for a run tonight, which I haven’t done in a few weeks. And I did manage to finish the whole route instead of bailing out like I did last time after eating too much, so that’s progress.