Another year has come and gone. I can’t believe it. I think I’ll look back on 2022 as a year of milestones. It’s been a year of new jobs, new challenges, new products, and new hobbies. This is my second year piecing my year together from my monthly vibechecks. I think I’ve boiled those posts down to some major themes from the past year.

My new job at Luro

Overview screen for Luro

The biggest change this past year is my employment, I’m working full-time on Luro. What began as a side project app has grown into it’s own little stealth startup. And when I say startup, I mean startup. Over the course of the last year, we took a bit of pre-seed investment, made our first hires, re-architected the app, and onboarded our first round of private beta users.

There have been ups and downs starting a SaaS business in the headwinds of an economic recession, but I’ve never been more sure of Luro’s value and potential. It’s an absolute joy to see people’s eyes light up when they understand Luro and then start describing the product back to us. I know I’ve been a bit cagey or cryptic about what Luro is and what it does but that should all change in 2023.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed directly and indirectly to Luro so far. I appreciate all the thoughts, feedback, and code you’ve all contributed.

Five Hundred ShopTalks

Chris and I went published our 500th episode of ShopTalk in 2022. Another year of wonderful guests and lots of Chris and I talking about websites. Behind the scenes: Chris sold a blog, I started a company, and we trade off each month on who has the back pain. With this year a wrap, it’s a surreal feeling to be looking back at 11 years of podcasts and 546 episodes.

The D-d-d-discord is going strong and there’s a lot of Shopomaniacs from all over the world in there. It’s fun that people are chatting around the clock. It’s the right mix of nuanced #hotdrama. We fell off on the YouTube channel due to general busy-ness, but I’ve got some ideas brewing for next year. If you or your company would like to sponsor some of the YouTubes, reach out.

And that’s a good time to mention, the plan for next year is to self-sponsor the show. That’s right. No ads, except for a CodePen or Luro spot potentially. If a good partner comes along and wants to reach thousands of listeners each week, reach out and we might consider it, but we’re going #NoAds for a bit. Yowza.

My Web Components Course

In April, Frontend Masters invited me out to do a workshop on Web Components. They recorded the workshop and offer it along with all the dozens and dozens of training courses on their site. It’s a little over four hours in length and is a beginner course designed to take you from a zero-to-intermediate experience with Web Components.

Another sub-goal of this project was to have an answer to the oldest of all Shop Talk questions: How can you give me money? I’m joking, but it’s nice to be able to point people to a resource that makes me money if they find it valuable. Thousands of people have taken the course so far and while it’s not “course on React” popular, I’m pleased on the progress so far. The nice thing about a course on Web Components is that as long as the Web Platform has Web Components, the content should be relevant.

A lot of time and effort went into this project. Over a hundred hours at least. I extrapolated a workshop from a talk, built a guidebook, and researched a ton of questions I had along the way. Behind the scenes, Frontend Masters and I talked about the course for over a year, so wrapping that project up was a relief. I enjoyed working with the team there and publishing a course is a career milestone for me.

Watch my course on Frontend Masters

My Gundam Phase

Photo of all my gundam models arranged on my desk.

2022 was the year I entered my Gundam phase. It started with making my first plastic “gunpla” models (in Japanese, “gunpla” or “plamo” refer to “Gundam Plastic Model”). It hooked me after the first model. I ended up making over 20 of these little robot buddies in varying in size, quality grade, and price. Most of them are ~$15 and a great way to kill an evening or two, but they can also be hundreds of dollars if you want.

Getting into the hobby led me to trying to watch the entire Gundam franchise starting from the original 80s to current day and mixing in some of the modern day series. The Gundam series timeline is complex and there’s thousands of episodes to catch up on. It’s a unique connection to a show when you’re building a robot from one of the shows you’re watching.

Am I a grown-ass man making little plastic robots for his bookshelf? Yes. Do I know it’s Level 900 dork shit? Also, yes. For me, it’s way more satisfying than something like LEGO.

ADHD, PARA, and “Projects have an end date”

I spent a lot of time this year understanding my brain. I’m pretty convinced I have adult ADHD that I self-medicate with caffeine. I should get myself formally diagnosed but that would require remembering and taking time to make a doctor’s appointment and well… there’s the problem. It’s a vicious cycle.

The best way I can describe my brain is as a boat with a sensitive rudder. Any thought or suggestion (internal or external) nudges the rudder in a different direction. It’s not uncorrectable, but it does divert course. Whatever I can do to lessen the nudges, the better. This all sounds negative but there’s a lot of positives that come with having a brain like this, as others know. You may forget to eat and show up 10 minutes late to an important meeting because reading a wikipedia article on whale songs took precedence, but I wouldn’t trade it for a neurotypical brain.

To manage some of the mental chaos, I utilized a framework called PARA. While I didn’t strictly adhere to PARA throughout the year, embracing it made me take inventory of all the Projects and Areas in my brain. The most challenging idea in PARA was that “Projects have an end date” because most of my projects are never-ending. This made me look long and hard at projects and activities I’m involved in and forced me to reevaluate some commitments. As work/life-stress compiled, I stepped out of some projects; a DnD group, and open source group, and a podcast to name.

I miss those activities, but I think it’s for the better. I’m buying back mental bandwidth. I can tell my brain is closer to its natural state when it thinks about making a dozen different video games all the time.

Checking in on my 2022 KPIs

On to the full transparency report, checking in on last years goals I set for myself.

Goal Status
Make my personal health part of my job Failed
Read 40 books Success (51)
Read 10 paper books Success (19)
Read 10 sci-fi books Success (11)
Figure out what truly relaxes me Failed

You can see I somewhat succeeded on the metric based objectives. For the failures:

  • I fell off of pickleball due to a sociopath at my club. I had one good month of exercising consistently and while I can celebrate that, my goal wasn’t to exercise, it’s to make my health part of my job.
  • I still haven’t figured out what relaxes me 😣 but I do think I’ve identified some of my stressors as well as physiological and psychological responses. I guess that’s something.

Gunpla quasi-fits into the relaxation category and I certainly leaned into it. It’s a methodical, linear process but I think I’d label it as a “constructive occupation” of my time rather than a way to relax. I could harness more of the “Zen and the Art of Gunpla Maintenance” aspects of the hobby I’m sure. Perhaps this was the one tool I found this year that offers some calm.

Books should fit into the relaxation category as well, but I use audiobooks as a reward mechanism for doing tasks I don’t want to do (e.g. wash the dishes, etc). So. Not always relaxing. Feeding information addiction isn’t super relaxing either. It’s chasing dopamine for my dopamine-starved brain. And since I’ve had kids, it’s hard to find a quiet place to read in the house.

Looking towards 2023

Next year. Well. Luro. That’s the big one. We’ve got some nice new features on deck that I think you’ll love. I may even get to blog for my job. But after a big monorepo refactor we’re setup to handle more users. I’m looking forward to cutting some more feature as well as responding to user feedback.

I’m excited for the Spring and baseball to start back up. It makes for a busy time, but it’s nice to be outside watching kids be kids. I expect they’ll wrangle me into the scorekeeper job again but that’s okay. Inject that Americana into my veins.

I think a good mantra for next year might be “2023: Watch more TV.” I have over-indexed on books and weird anime that I’d like to catch up on some of the cultural zeitgeist.

I have some SMART goals (loosely held), broken down by quarter. I’ll track progress here:

Goal Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
Record 5 videos for Shop Talk 0 0 0 0
Watch 2 TV series 0 0 0 0
Have 5 relaxing days 0 0 0 0
Read 1 Japanese manga 0 0 0 0

Let’s try this. But my true goal in life is to be so bored I read a magazine. Nothing else to do. No open tasks. Me, so bored with nothing to do, that I pick up a magazine and read some of the articles. The goal is to experience boredom.