Year thirty-eight was pretty strange, y’all.

I went to look back at last year’s birthday post so I could address my successes and failures—and I didn’t make one. I suppose that’s basically 2018 in a nutshell. Some thoughts about the last year of my life, though:

My thirty-eighth was a year of professional growth.

I hit some personal milestones I’d set for myself in my career last year, and it feels pretty great. I’ve been working on an important and long-term project at VIP, and seeing that progress has been really good. I feel respected and valued, even when I’m not feeling great about myself or my abilities.

I’ve also been able to continue to build a reputation as a hard-working and dependable volunteer at fighting game events in the Midwest, and have been recognized with staff positions at Frosty Faustings and Combo Breaker, the two premier events in the Midwest.

Having teenaged kids is pretty fun.

I now have three teenagers, and I’m constantly interested in how fascinating it’s been to watch my kids grow up to be young adults. It’s challenging at times, and I feel old a lot more than I used to, but I really enjoy engaging with them and finding out what they are interested in and who they are going to become.

My health continues to be problematic.

I’ve really failed at this one, yet again. I’m still around the same weight I’ve been for several years, and what started as a fairly dedicated gym routine at the start of the year ended up being months of just not going and putting in the work. I have no-one to blame but myself on this one. I just haven’t been able to turn my diabetes around and get ahead of it.

Here are my hopes for year thirty-nine:

It’s time to learn JavaScript.

I’ve been neglecting this professionally for too long. JS is becoming more and more the language I’ll have to work with on the web, and not being at least somewhat proficient with it will eventually become a deficiency. I’m spending some of this week at work on experimenting with JavaScript and trying to learn how it and other modern front-end technologies work.

I’m using NodeCG as a bit of a starting point, because it has a lot of crossover with my hobby life, and presents interesting challenges I can attack that will teach me the concepts I need to continue to develop my technical skills.

I’d like to hit 250 pounds by Combo Breaker.

Can I lose thirty-some pounds in the next five months? I’m invested in finding out. I need to lose some weight. It holds me back in so many aspects of my life, and is a prime indicator of how well-managed my diabetic condition is. I know that weight can be just a number, but this is just a part of my life I feel I need to conquer before I’m 40.

And in the end, the only person I can be accountable to is myself. It’s going to be hard work, and I’ll have to give up things I really like—such as being lazy and a number of food items I love—but I need to get back to physical activity and pair it with controlling my carb intake properly.

I want to start streaming local events.

Last year, I came back from Frosty Faustings and my first work on stream direction alongside Will English with goals to establish myself in the St. Louis area as an event streamer. I have most of the gear I need for the job, and really enjoyed helping run the stream at Frosty. For various reasons, this never materialized.

There’s a possibility that the opportunity will present itself again this year, and if I can smartly approach it, I plan to. I’m still not going to stream anything where I’m unable to attach my name or channel to it in some way, and I hope attitudes towards that have changed here in a way that will allow for me to get more event experience. We’ll see how it goes.

I’d love to be able to engage with the FGC outside of those two specific events every year, but it’ll take some effort and luck.

I’m going to conquer learning Japanese.

Some of you know that I started down this path last year, a bit too late to take advantage of the yearly sale at WaniKani. I managed through the first two levels of learning kanji, and put my learning on hold around mid-year so I could purchase a lifetime membership to the site once the sale came back around at the end of the year.

I purchased my lifetime membership a couple of weeks ago, and I’m already back to where I was when I stopped (I reset my progress back to level one when I purchased the membership).

I’d like to be at level 20 by the end of the year, and start working towards speaking proficiency as well. I’ll be reading through some grammar within a few months, and I would like to be able to take the test for N5 proficiency in December.

So I begin year thirty-nine.

It surprises me sometimes when I think about how much stuff in my life is now significantly far away, temporally. Lots of things have been over for a while now—high school was two decades ago and change, my career change is now over a decade old, and my children are approaching the age when I went off to college. We’re officially done with the “little kids” stage of our lives, and there’s an uncomfortable inevitability to that notion.

I recently listened to a recording of a performance I was part of when I was only two years older than my oldest son. It was sobering to consider.

I’m by no means done with, though. My life didn’t really have solid direction until I was thirty, and there continue to be opportunities that will present themselves as we continue to forge along in life. I count myself amazingly fortunate to be accompanied on this journey by my wife, who supports and encourages me along the way. And we are likewise enriched by the presence of our children.

I’ll try to check in on this stuff every so often throughout the year. And I’ll be streaming live on Twitch later today, as well! It’d mean a lot to me if you’d stop by on my birthday.

Be seeing you.

Another year; another winter vacation has come and gone, and with it the marking of another year of my trying to figure my way through this life thing as best I can.

2016 was a weird year; a lot of it felt pretty aimless and even a bit disconcerting. It felt kind of like one of those days you have when you work a lot and you know you were really busy, but you have a hard time feeling like you accomplished much in the end.

With each month that passes now I realize slowly that I am no longer in that phase of my life where I am parenting very small children, and I’m adjusting to the fact that I’m going to be parenting teenagers for many years now. I find I will miss the tiny little humans part of my life, because by the time we were done with that part, we had become pretty good at it.

And I have no real clue how to parent teenagers. It probably involves a little booze and a lot of hoping and praying that you are teaching your children not to be jackasses and to be compassionate humans. It’s definitely going to be an adventure. I think—so far—we are doing a pretty good job. My children are very fascinating people who share a lot of my idiosyncrasies and are starting to discover who they are and who they want to be. I can’t wait to find out where those journeys take them.

It was also the year I witnessed my wife find a new confidence in herself and who she is. It serves only to make her more attractive and wonderful to me, and I am gifted with her presence in my life. She makes me a better person. She also went above and beyond for my birthday today, making an amazing turkey dinner. It was delicious.

I could not imagine my life without my family. They are amazing people and I find myself wondering constantly what I have done to deserve them.

I posted previously regarding my goals for 2017 here and here, so I won’t belabor them much more in these words. It is enough to say that I am hoping to increase my personal skills in a few ways and to do good things for the communities of which I am a member.

In just over a week, I’ll be celebrating seven years with Automattic, which is crazy to think about. I’ll write more about that when it happens, but it’s probably the craziest chance I ever took with my professional career, and it’s paid off in spades. I have amazing and talented colleagues who inspire me to be better every day, and I can only hope to work alongside them for many years to come.

2017 carries a lot of uncertainty for a lot of reasons. It’s impossible to know where it will lead. Here’s to hoping it’s full of new opportunities, lots of learning, and continued self-improvement.

(If you want to give me a birthday present, follow my Twitch channel. You’ll see me there more often this year if I have anything to say about it.)

Another year; another birthday. Last year was a fantastic one, with the St. Louis 250th anniversary celebration and the Belleville 200th providing our family with lots of opportunity to celebrate where we live. Yes, it was a year with some decidedly negative things happening in the St. Louis area, but it was the year we fully realized that St. Louis is our home.

It’s also the first full year I spent on the VIP team, which has been a great place for me to get some really good work done with a great team. I love what I do professionally more than ever before.

(I’ll probably write more about 2014 in another post yet to come.)

For my 36th year, there are some things I want to accomplish, and I’ve tried to make them attainable:

Elevate my exercise to every day of the week.

I’ve been going three times a week to CrossFit, and so far it’s been a fantastic choice. It’s hard to go at times, but I have finally found an exercise regimen that I’ve stuck with. (For four months-plus now.) This year, I want to get to the point where I’m going to the gym every day instead of three times a week.

Conquer my diabetes.

I’ll be honest: I’m horrible at managing my condition. I don’t really watch what I eat, and I’m prone to bouts of complete loss of self-control. This year, I want to finally get my blood chemistry under control by paying closer attention to what I’m eating.

You’ll notice there’s no weight goal in here this year. I’ve decided that’s largely a mistake when it comes to my planning. Instead, I want to focus on habits as goals and see where that takes me.

Write at least weekly.

Yeah, this one’s been around for a while, and everyone at work seems to share it. I work on and with WordPress; I should be using it more personally. And writing more of what I’m thinking is a good exercise and shares that thought with my friends and colleagues.

Raise at least $5,000 for Extra Life.

This was a goal I half-heartedly undertook last year, and didn’t really devote myself to the task. One 24-hour marathon does not a $5,000 fundraising goal make.

That said, if you want to do something for me for my birthday, the campaigns for 2015 have opened up, and you can make your first donation for the year on my fundraising page here.

I’m going to try for $5,000 again, and this time, I’m going to make it, because I want to:

Stream at least once a week.

I like streaming out my game-playing, even if very few people watch. I’d love to try to build an audience that I can interact with, because I think that’s the secret to doing it more often. (It’s kind of hard just talking to yourself for a couple of hours.) This is only going to happen if I try to stream regularly and on some kind of schedule.

I hope you’ll watch. Please follow my channel if you are interested.

And the last goal for this year:

Submit a committed patch to core WordPress.

I always tell myself this is just around the corner, and I never get around to doing it. It’s so important to me, and I work on one of the teams that’s perhaps one of the best places to work on core WordPress improvements. This is the year it happens.

And through all these things, I want to strive to keep the same balance between work and life, between the personal and the professional, that I’ve managed to keep over the last few years. I’m truly fortunate to have a kickass family who loves and supports me, and a job that’s among the best in the world. I would be crazy to give either of those less attention than they deserve.

Here’s to year number thirty-six.

Today was my 31st birthday, and by any reckoning it’s been an amazing year.

  • I left my job of four years at Concordia Publishing House.
  • I started working for Automattic, the best company in the world filled with fine people I now call friends and colleagues.
  • My kids turned 7, 6, 5, and 3. They are getting too big for my good.
  • I made my first trip out of the country (not counting a quick jaunt to Canada when I was a child) – to Lisbon, Portugal and had an amazing time. I really must go back someday.
  • I bought my first digital SLR camera.
  • I submitted my first accepted patch to the core WordPress project.
  • I landed in the hospital with heart trouble and re-affirmed a commitment to better health.
  • I curled for the first time (and definitely not the last).
  • I went to my first WordCamp (in San Francisco, also my first visit to that city).

I’m sure there are many things I’ve done in the past year that I am forgetting here, but it’s been a good one with lots of great experiences shared with lots of people.

Thanks to all of you for making it the best yet. (Especially to my wife, who continues to put up with me for reasons I sometimes cannot fathom.)

Yesterday was my 30th birthday.

To say that it was an exciting and momentous occasion in my life would be somewhat of an understatement. My birthday was like a carefully focused cone of chaos and change. I had a nice dinner with my family and best friend, received some amazingly thoughtful gifts, ate the delicious cake you see in the picture above, and put into motion some really amazng things.

It also gave me some time to think and to set some internal goals for myself for the next year. I don’t necessarily like New Year’s resolutions, but rather think my birthday is a good occasion for considering where I am, what I’m doing now, and what I’d like to be doing the next time I celebrate another year of life.

Here’s some of the stuff I’d like to do over the next twelve months. (Some are more trivial than others.)

Less of Me

I haven’t been happy with my health for some time, and it’s time I did something about it and stuck to it. Over the last three months or so, I let a plan that I had already put in motion slip and disappear from my personal schedule, and now I have very regrettably watched my weight push back even higher than it was before.

I don’t want to dwell on the negative, but it’s frustrating and embarrassing. It irritates me that I have somehow let this one thing defeat me in a way.

So my goal is to get that under control, and to do it with simple, sensible measures. Less eating and eating at weird times, and more activity, both on my own and with my family. I’m sure I’ll talk more about this over the year.

Earn That Nerd Merit Badge

Those of you who know me professionally and may know me closely personally know that I have always wanted to learn more about coding, but have never been able to push past the basics or to involve myself on a deeper level with a programming project. More and more of my professional life now involves working with applications.

I also have learned a lot more about open source in the last year than ever before in my life. I’m a true believer in the power and the freedom that come with open source software and in the communities that form around them. (WordPress is of course a prime example for me.)

So the goal before I turn 31 is to work on my coding knowledge and skills to the point where I am able to submit at least one accepted commit to an open source project. Maybe it won’t even be some PHP. Maybe it ends up being some style or a small tweak to something else. But I’ve been using open source software for so many years and feel the time for me to give back has come.

Build an Office

I have a huge basement. It’s full of boxes.

I also need an office in my home—a technological hermit cave.

The goal is to finish at least one room in my basement before this time next year, slap a desk and a way to listen to music in it, and sit down for a day’s worth of work in my new home office.

Play More Games

No; not video games. (At least, not only.)

I believe you learn more about people when you play a game with them than at any other time. You can watch them deconstruct the rules, find a strategy, and learn how to out-think each other. We used to play games relatively often in our home, and I’ve let that go away too easily. It’s a good way to learn more about my children and to teach them critical thinking skills, and a great way for me to spend time with my wife. It’s also a great way to interact with our friends and family.

So I’d like to play a game—no matter how simple—with each of my family members at least once a week.

(And on the video game front, I have a backlog longer than you would believe. I should work on clearing some of my “pile of shame.”)

Pen, Meet Paper; Hands, Meet Keyboard

I don’t write as much as I used to, which is a shame because writing is something I love and something I can always become better at.

It’s also how my friends and family keep up with what I am doing and what I think. Sometimes they go too far between updates. :)

The goal here is to simply write more often. It doesn’t have to be more words, and it doesn’t have to be something horribly insightful or profound, but I just want to practice the craft of writing through repetition. I don’t want to set a goal for this, because I think quota-writing defeats the point, but I want to make a determined point to sit down and deliberately write more often.

(It pains me slightly to say this, but I’d also like to learn—gulp—Dvorak typing.)

That’s It; It’s a Short List

I’m sure some of these things will be easier than others, and some are simply more involved or ambitious.

But on the day I turned 30, a few things changed. I sat down and thought about it. And this is where I landed.

Thanks for all your support and your birthday wishes yesterday. This will be one interesting year.

This weekend promises to be a nice one. We’re currently celebrating my eldest daughter’s fifth birthday, I have some fun stuff planned to work on, and tomorrow night I’m headed back to CP Pinball with my friend Bob.

A picture of the birthday girl:


Yes, only a few short hours ago, I officially turned twenty-eight years of age. Thanks to all the people who left messages and/or e-mails for me or threw something up on my Facebook wall, or similar actions.

A whole lot has happened in recent memory, and it’s only now that things seem to be calming down to the point where I can take my time and make decisions without needing to worry that a situation is going to change drastically or circumstances will be altered enough for me to worry about it.

You’ll notice that with my birthday, I’ve altered the theme used here for a while. There’s no banner at the moment (I haven’t installed anything I can use to work with images yet on my new computer), but I hope to have that up and working sometime tomorrow. This will be my new launching point for a redesigned look and an attempt at something different. I have a “plan b” in place as well, so don’t be surprised if the final effort looks very dissimilar. Most of what will happen is a question of how far I can successfully stretch my CSS editing skills.

This post isn’t really for catching up or anything of the sort – more like checking in. The combination of the new year and my birthday lend themselves quite nicely to trying out new habits, one of which is more frequent posting here (more than just funneled tweets from Twitter).

I’m also working on a nifty little project for those of you who are Lutheran Service Book users, one which I think you’ll enjoy and (hopefully) use to the fullest. I’ll have more to post on that sometime this week.