It’s been two months since my last vibe check. I needed a break. My last Jan/Feb vibe check was so bad I forgot to include the part where my wife had COVID for a week. Anyways, she’s fine now and went to the hospital for an entirely different reason.
In the last two weeks…
Let’s start fresh and move backwards. It’s been a rough couple weeks.
- Thu: A woman with road rage threatened to shoot me in front of my kids on the way home from school.
- Fri: Kids out of school
- Sat: My dog died
- Tue: Daughter came home from school with pink eye
- Tue: Baseball game going to 10pm on a school night
- Wed: Baseball game going to 10pm on a school night
- Thu: Wife went to the ER at 8pm and got her appendix removed at 2am
That’s a lot to deal with on top of base levels of stress of launching a startup. Ironically, when I think about a vacation I don’t think about a vacation from work (although I need one of those too), I think about a vacation from daily life.
In late March, Trent and I went to Brooklyn for Kinference, a spiritual reboot of a conference we attended 10 years ago called Brooklyn Beta. Heard some wonderful talks, some talks at the edge of my comfort zone, but the most memorable part was seeing all those familiar faces after a decade. Like stepping into a wax museum with statues of your friends. Familiar faces, weathered by age and kids, yet illuminated by maturity. Without hyperbole, the people in that room had an enormous impact on my life and career. A wonderful reunion of likeminded folks and also nice to meet new faces as well.
While at the hotel bar one night, a drunk man offered me his $27,000 watch. No way I take it and end up in some kind of mafia life debt situation. And it’s a good thing I didn’t take it, because later watch aficionados told me that the $27,000 watch wasn’t even a good $27,000 watch. That’s a lot to ponder.
A couple good nights and weekends
We didn’t travel for spring break this year. Ticket prices were astronomical, I’m busy with work, and our sick dog limited our travel options. But in exchange, we had a good streak of weekends and visitors to keep us busy.
- The Longtime - an amateur sandlot baseball league with a band and a honky tonk bar that serves Lone Stars and hot dogs.
- Longhorn Baseball - college ball is good quality and low logistical drama
- Austin FC - went and saw the boys in green play, fun to watch.
- Lake Austin - friends took us out on their new boat, some wake surfing was had (but too cold for me), kids got to do some tubing.
- Family visiting - over the last couple months we’ve had my dad and step-mom visit, my wife’s parents visit, and my brother-in-law and his daughter visit.
As you may well know, I’m not sporty but I’m getting a taste of what retirement might be like; wandering around, filling my time with sunflower seeds and ice cold beer. In that spirit, Otis is playing baseball again this Spring. Baseball season is fast and furious but watching Little League is the right amount of Americana each week.
Rewilding my attention
I spent a lot of February and March learning about ADHD. I know it’s dangerous to watch YouTubes and TikToks and self-diagnose yourself, but some videos caused me to utter an audible “Holy shit that’s me.” In three words, I felt seen.
One idea I identified with most is the concept of “optimal stimulation”, which comes from a theory that ADHD isn’t always about an attention deficit so much as it’s dopamine starvation or “low-arousal”. You pile on activities to get the dopamine levels right… but pile too much stimulation and you’ve jack-knifed your brain. It’s a fine line to walk.
I’m on a side quest now to find out what’s optimal stimulation for me. It’s difficult to describe the impact a clean desk, a clean house, lo-fi beats, and visible but organized objects can have but I can feel a palpable shift in my brainwaves. I’m not great at managing optimal stimulation yet with life crashing in, but I have a goal now.
In that spirit, I found myself in a series of posts by Clive Thompson, author of Coders. He wrote a post called “Rewilding Your Attention” based on a Twitter thread by Tom Critchlow, who – to bring this full circle – I met in Brooklyn at the conference. It gets to the heart of what I’m after for my attention. Less algorithmically driven dopamine blasts and more dopamine via exploration. That “Small b blogging” is what I’m after.
I know Mastodon disappoints some folks, but I’m neurologically thriving in the slower, less politically charged atmosphere. Conversations feel more helpful. The pace is so slow that people are blogging and not vomiting hot take after hot take. No algorithm pushing you to be angry all the time. Tyler said it best:
My Mastodon timeline regularly proves what I’ve always suspected: I’m better at curating my feed than any algorithm.
– Tyler Sticka (mastodon.social)
On that note, I think I’ve broken the YouTube algorithm. I’ve watched and liked enough disassociated content, the algorithm has a hard time recommending quality content to me. It makes me feel like I won the game of Internet. It’s so bad that I’ve started watching Ancient Aliens on Peacock for a dose of quality garbage.
One item I’d add to Clive’s listicle of 9 ways to rewild your attention is reading books your friends recommend. Sure sex is cool, but have you ever read a book someone you know recommended!? Have you ever put your trust in another person like that? Have you ever talked with them about it afterwards? Powerful thoughts and lifelong emotions in exchange for a handful of hours of your time.
Mentioned a couple times, Luro is keeping me busy. We’re in an extended sprint to get more people into the application, so we can get more feedback and build out the right features and improvements. In the last two months we’ve done some incredible work:
- Launched a Documentation feature: Less wiki, more “sticky”
- Launched a Figma Analytics feature: Component usage stats next to your components
- Redesigned the Homepage and simplified the private beta signup process
- Overhauled spacing on the entire application, feels way better now
- Overhauled the editing experience, auto-saves and more seamless
- Fielding heaps of helpful customer feedback
- Finally added the ability to use custom avatars and team icons 🤦♂️
- Exciting new features baking in PRs
- Tons of other bug fixes and quality of life improvements
Thrilled and proud of the work we’re doing. It’s fulfilling to be working on design nudges as well as bigger picture features. We’re beginning to show and tell more about Luro – what Luro is and what Luro does – and that’s an exciting moment to share your baby with the world.
The Quantified Realm
The real reason you came.
- Thanks for the Feedback - I read this because Val recommended it. A book I wish I had at the beginning of my career. Gets into the types of feedback (compliments, coaching, correction) and how often workplace breakdowns are a result of mismatch between feedback expected and feedback received. A little repetitive, but a great book on dissecting feedback to find the actionable parts.
- Crucial Conversations - Another Val recommendation. Also a book I wish I had at the beginning of my career. Of the two I’d read this one again.
- Jesus and John Wayne - A look at masculinity, patriarchy, gender roles, and anti-communist war mongering in the Evangelical church over the last 50 years. This hits close to home.
- It’s OK to Be Angry About Capitalism - Bernie makes a good case about billionaires and their over-sized impact on American society. The biggest takeaway was “Are you free if you have to work every day to survive?”
- The Adventure Zone: The Eleventh Hour - Tres horny boys at it again.
- The Ministry of the Future - This is a long near futurism sci-fi book about the world reaping the consequences of failure to act on climate change. It almost reads like non-fiction, but the library recalled it at the part of the book where they asserted “Cryptocurrency will fix climate change” (which, lol) and I’m not sure if it’s worth continuing.
Luro blog: Made my debut blogging on the Luro blog.
- Why We Have Performance and Accessibility Insights in Luro - why we built a big Lighthouse machine in Luro
- How Projects Work in Luro - my opus on how we think we can improve the project management process
Personal blog: 9 posts in the last two months, not bad.
- Creating Web Components on the Kevin Powell Livestream - I like Kevin Powell and got to be on his YouTube channel
- The case for Flex applications - A tongue-in-cheek critique
- The Feature Work → Maintenance Work Loop - A process post
- A bag of distractions - A post about my brain
- The internet has broken gift giving - My wife and I have trouble giving gifts
- GameDev Journal №1: Otis’s Zelda-like - My son and I are going to make a Zelda game
- Limitations and websites - Thinkpiece about limitations and the web
- Goodbye, Rudy - A eulogy for my sweet dog.
- Japanese manhole cover fabrication processes - Man vs machines vs robots
As mentioned above, I’ve been learning a lot about ADHD and “rewilding” my attention.
- Ant-man and Wasp: Quantumania - I liked it but it’s basically a CGI cartoon and you could feel some of the budget crunch.
- John Wick: Chapter 4 - Pew pew pew. Enjoyed it.
- Super Mario Bros. Movie - Prepared for the worst, but enjoyed it. I think it sets the stage for more movies in the future. I’d love to watch a Luigi’s Mansion movie.
- Severance S1 (Apple TV) - Little slow for me at first but the premise is so good.
- The Big Door Prize S1 (Apple TV) - I love Chris O’Dowd from IT Crowd, so easy to get into this.
- Game Changer S5 (Dropout) - This has been the best season of GameChanger yet. From the musical episode, to the Shakespearean episode, to the episode they trolled Brennan, to The Bachelor series, to the escape room, to the Survivor-style battle royale. Incredible.
- Total Forgiveness (Dropout) - How far would you go to pay off your student loans? Would you get a tattoo? Sleep with an anaconda? Sing the national anthem at a ballpark? Take a shit in public at an art gallery? A comedy reality competition show that raises awareness about the crushing weight of student debt.
- Attack on Titan S1 (Netflix) - A cool thriller. Lots of yelling. The nationalistic “We need more than just self-defense” undertones are not lost on me.
- Demon Slayer S1 - Rewatching Demon Slayer S1 with my son. He doesn’t watch much violence/gore, so he’s in for a wild ride and that’s why I’m co-piloting.
- CodePen Radio - CPR went on hiatus but I was happy to catch up on some episodes. Obvious biases, but CodePen is one of my role model companies.
Normal months of Shoptalkin’ with some great guests. My entire goal with the 12th season of Shoptalk is to expand the pantheon of characters in the Shoptalk Podcastamatic Universe (SPU).
- TypeScript, DX, GripeScript, and Astro v2 with Fred Schott
- Jamstack Thoughts with Brian Rinaldi
- Andrey Sitnik and Using OKLCH for Color
- Esoteric Weird Content Editable Problems with Kristin Valentine
Mech keys: Back on my Moonlander for my wrists and got the new Platform mount. I thought I’d never go full tilt, but two months later I’m at the max vertical tenting angle.
Gunpla: Backsliding on my plastic robot obsession due to busy-ness.
- HG MSA-003 Nemo - Started on a HG Nemo, but never finished. Got hung up on stickers and trying to paint and failing.