A Crazy, Crazy November Approaches

This year, when Bryanna moved out, I took over her room. I repaired the walls, painted them, and didn’t bother with a drop cloth because I knew the next step was ripping it all out and replacing it with laminate flooring. The project took a bit of time, money, and effort, but ultimately increased my happiness by orders of magnitude. I have a bright, happy place that is climate controlled and comfortable to work and play in. It honestly made the whole house feel better.

Today, I took the first step in doing the same thing to our bedroom. I moved our bed into the living room. Once we clear out all of the rest of the stuff, I’ll do the same thing: repair the walls, paint, rip out the carpet, and put in laminate.

That project is going to be going on in November.

This is the 26th blog post of October, an exercise I do every year that I want to succeed at NaNoWriMo. I’m dedicating myself to writing 50,000 words in 30 days.

NaNoWriMo takes place in November.

Work continues to be busy, and I’m trying to be as productive as possible. Then there’s the side projects, such as the next keyboards I’m building, including the one I’m going to finish for a family member. I’ll have to build it in November if I want to have it delivered by Christmas.

November is going to be really full.

I think that’s okay, though. I seem happier when I’m busy. I don’t think it’s just a matter of distracting me from dealing with my emotional issues. That’s likely a part of it, but I think staying busy, working on projects and making things, gives me feelings of worthiness and accomplishment that nothing else manages to imitate.

One of the reasons my room brings me so much joy is I can look at it and know that I did this. I’m sitting in a happy, comfortable place that exists because I made it so. It makes it extra special. It’s the same thing when I type on one of the keyboards I’ve built.

We are made to be makers, I think. Creativity is a part of being human, and I think a lot of people that struggle simply haven’t found their creative path yet. Not all of my November will be creating, but a lot of it will be, so when I say that November is going to be really busy, I think I’m also saying that it’s going to be very satisfying.

Hopefully NaNoWriMo won’t stress me out too much.


Dealing with Disruptions

Before going to bed, I started a print for one half of the base of my next keyboard. I’m really looking forward to finishing this project. I have all of the electronics and the cables. I just need the case finished. The case is made up 6 parts, 3 on the left, 3 on the right. The base parts are the largest, and are estimated to take 10 hours to print each half. The middle and top parts are 4 hours each. These are estimates, though. The reality is that the base actually takes closer to 12 hours to print. So, starting the print before going to bed is a good idea, when the print goes well.

At 5AM, Melissa heard a crash. It did not wake me up, which I’m thankful for. My body has been waking me at 3AM quite a bit lately, so sleeping through the night is a necessary treat.

The crash was the glass printing plate of my printer hitting the floor, along with the unfinished and warped print.

It was my 3rd or 4th attempt at printing the bottom left part of the keyboard case, and once again, the corners of the print lifted from the glass. This disfigurement meant that as the machine worked, there was a chance that it would catch the unfinished print, and things could go badly. That’s what happened at 5AM. I came into my office and found the glass and unfinished item on the floor, along with a tangled mess of PLA strings strewn across the bare hot plate.

Fortunately, the glass was undamaged, and it wasn’t that hard to clean up. I took care of all that, changed the print temperature, and started again. I’m about an hour and a half from a finished print, and it’s doing great. I think we’re going to make it this time.

This unfortunate incident with the print represents a disruption. Plans were made, and something unexpected came along and caused emotional distress and shifted the timeline. In this case, I was able to deal with it calmly, cleaning up the mess and trying a different approach. But I’m not always able to deal with disruptions quite so easily.

My ability to deal with disruptions is dependent on my mental health and the importance of the task. I’m excited for this new keyboard, so the task is important enough to me that I can push through minor setbacks. Mentally, I’m feeling pretty good right now, which gives me the strength I need to remain calm and move forward.

My normal Tuesday night schedule is to join a Shut Up and Write, with the potential of joining Michael’s stream and then participating in the Zoom session afterwards. Tuesday nights have turned into my weeknight writing night, and it’s fantastic. I get stuff done, and I get to socialize with friends and other writers. But, I’ve got this work thing which demands my attention tonight, so I’m not going to be able to follow my usual routine.

This is a disruption, and initially, it locked me up. If I focused and got the work done, I might have been able to come in late to one of the other activities. I suppose it’s still possible. Michael’s stream doesn’t start for another 20 minutes. But it’s been a long day and I’m a little bit scattered. I had to take a break. I watched some videos, paid my bills, then watched the action of the printer. I enjoy the order and precision of it. It’s calming. Now I’m writing this blog post. When I’m done here, I should have the energy I need to finish the work I’ve been putting off. That’s how I’m dealing with that disruption.

I don’t always deal with disruptions well. I had planned on doing a full year of Wordle. I had a streak of a couple hundreds days going, but then some bit of travel kept me from playing one day, and after that, I didn’t feel the need to play it again. The reminder after every game of the broken streak is enough to disincentivize me to ever play again.

I have attempted NaNoWriMo 6 times and succeeded 3 of those times. The first year, I didn’t know what I was doing. The third year, I didn’t have a good story in mind. But the last year that I failed, it was just too hard to deal with the disruptions. Too much travel. Too many unexpected things to deal with. I had a good story idea, and I’ll revisit it another time, but that was a month where the disruptions defeated me.

There’s less than a week before the next NaNoWriMo starts. I don’t feel like I’m prepared enough. If I can just take a couple of hours to work on the outline, just a little bit more, I think that’ll be enough. But even if I’m prepared, I’m not sure ready to deal with another month of disruptions. I think November is going to come at me sideways.


People Online are Still People

I want to talk about two things before I get into the main topic. First, I started printing the new keyboard body again, and it looks like that’s going to take a while. The bottom parts are 10 hours each, and I was 8 hours into the bottom left section when it peeled up off the glass and tried to eat my printer. The printer is fine, but I had to pitch that and start it again. More glue should do. I hope.

The second thing is that I mentioned a different topic, which is a consolidation and possible addition to my writing posts. I was going to maybe do that tonight, but that’s going to take a bit more work than I have time for. It might be best if I do that post on Friday or Saturday. I decided for tonight I’d go with a simpler topic for me to talk about.

And, I don’t know if I’ve talked about this before or not. It seems like the kind of thing I would write an essay on, but there are a lot of posts here. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and even accounting for the breaks, there is still a lot here. So if I’m repeating myself, I apologize. However, even if I am repeating myself, this is worth saying again.

The people you communicate with are just as human you are whether or not you can see them. They have feelings, just like you do. They deserve as much respect as you do. They are people.

There are individuals that don’t care and will happily try to ruin someone else’s day for fun. Those people are assholes, and I don’t think they read my blog anyway, so I’m not going to try talking to them. Those are the people you should block on social media and ignore whenever possible, online or offline.

Some folks just forget that there are people on the other side of the screen, so they behave differently than they would if they were face-to-face. You see this a lot in online video games, actually. Frustrations rise, and suddenly your sweetest friend is yelling at a stranger online for not playing the game well enough. When I was younger, I definitely said some things to people I shouldn’t have. I think it’s probably happened to all of us.

Games are one thing. Social media is another. It’s weird seeing people be so nasty to each other online when it is so needless. Just block and move on. There are so many people I disagree with on Twitter, but I don’t spend my time responding to them, trying to correct them. If I can do so gently and in a way that isn’t going to create additional drama and conflict, I might say something. But usually I just move on and let people be wrong. If they’re particularly offensive, I block and move on. It is exceedingly rare to change someone’s mind online with a Tweet or a Facebook post or an Instagram comment, or whatever.

I feel like I should give an example of this. How about J.K. Rowling? She’s completely wrong about transgender people and feminism. She has doubled down on this multiple times. Her stance is hurtful to people that already have a hard time. There is nothing I can say or do that will change her mind. So I have her blocked and I don’t engage. If everyone that disagreed with her just blocked her, she wouldn’t have much of a platform anymore.

That’s an extreme example. A milder one… I saw someone online say that Ultraviolet is a good movie. First, I was shocked someone could hold such an opinion in their mind, as I believe Ultraviolet is one of the worst movies to ever come out on my birthday, or maybe ever. But, as wrong as that person’s opinion is about a truly terrible movie, I didn’t try to correct them. I didn’t block them or mute them, either. They’re not actually hurting anyone with their ridiculous opinion.

I think the last thing I’ll say on this subject is that supporting people online goes a long way. Further than you may ever know. Toxic positivity is a thing, so it’s important to avoid rolling in with all sunshine and rainbows all the time. If you stop and listen to a person, you should be able to tell what kind of support they need. Imagine how you would want to be treated in their situation and be the change you want to see in the world. But continue to listen and don’t take it personally if your well-intended words do not have the effect you were hoping for. Words are hard and confusing, and tone is often lost when it’s text alone. If you’re supporting someone, you are not owed any reward or attention for your support.

In summary:

  • Remember that the people you interact with on The Internet are people just like you, deserving of respect and consideration
  • Do not seek conflict and try to correct people online unnecessarily. If they’re particularly offensive damaging, report them when appropriate, and block them and move on
  • Support people online. Treat people the way you would want to be treated.

Why did I feel the need to write this tonight? I’m not sure. I write things like this knowing it won’t have much reach, and the only people that will see these words probably don’t need this message. But writing this is more hopeful than not writing anything. If everyone followed this advice, The Internet would truly live up to its enormous potential.


The Return Home Update

Melissa and I just got home. Laundry is going. Chores are getting done. We’re unpacked and unwinding, so now is a good time to get my October 23rd post finished.

In the car, between Reno and Sacramento, I told Melissa that today would probably be a “greatest hits” day, in that I would search all of my blog posts for ones specifically on writing and then put links and summaries here for them. I’ll do that tomorrow. I had packages waiting for me, so I’m going to go through all the things I have in front of me.

Keyboard Parts Arrived

The electronics and PCBs arrived, and I’m super excited to start soldering and getting this new keyboard built! There’s just one thing: I might have ordered the wrong parts?

When I started building these new keyboards from scratching, printing the base and hand wiring them, I started with the print files from Thingiverse. That seemed the best place to start, and it pointed me in the right directions to learn when I needed to learn. As I’m writing this, I’m still using the Michael Gallowglas keyboard, because it’s awesome and I’m still testing it to make sure it’s going to be satisfying for him.

With this new split keyboard design, I started in the same place. I downloaded the STLs and started printing right away. The prints came out fantastic. The bottom part is glow-in-the-dark and the top part is a mint green, which goes well with the bottom whether it’s glowing or not. All the parts fit together perfectly. I was stoked to buy the electronics and PCBs and get this thing going.

Unfortunately, I thought I printed an Ergodox base, but I think I printed a Redox base instead, which is smaller and shaped a little bit different. All the Ergodox electronics are here now, and it’s not going to fit in what I printed.

What I’m probably going to do is just find another actual Ergodox base to print and do that. Once I’ve finished that keyboard and I’m happy with it, I’ll do build another keyboard in the base I already have printed. There are some hand-wired options for it, which I might try. I’ll need more electronics, but that’s not a big deal.

The Speaker Stand Print Jobs

Just before Melissa and I headed to Oregon, I started building stands for two of my speakers in my office. I haven’t been able to hear them since I moved in here because they’re on the floor, underneath the futon. I want to elevate them above the futon, which meant shelves on the wall, or some other creative solution.

I chose the “some other creative solution” path, and it’s been fun. I designed some feet that can affix to 1/2″ dowels, and a shelf to sit on top of the dowels. The dowels were purchased for 5 bucks from Home Depot, and the parts on the top and bottom were designed by me and printed. It took a little trial and error, but I think I have it just right. The feet aren’t quite wide enough for stability, so I’ll glue them to some spare wood pieces I have laying around.

It’s a neat little project! The design of the shelf was giving me a little bit of problems, because it needs to be shaped just right to hold the speaker, but I thought I had it about 15 minutes before Melissa and I jumped in the car. Getting home, I can see that the shelf printed nicely, so I just have to print one more, plus the parts that affix it to the dowels. I might have that project finished tonight.

VR Headset

After seeing my doctor and hearing that I need about 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day if I want to live, I ordered a Meta Quest 2. It arrived the same night Melissa and I left, so it’s one more thing that was waiting for me when I got home. I’ve opened the box and it looks pretty easy to setup.

For some reason, I feel a little nervous around it. I don’t know why. I had a headset that my old phone plugged into, and that was fun. There’s something about this one, though, that intimidates me. Maybe it’s that it is deep in the Facebook/Meta ecosystem, when I’ve been trying to distance myself from Facebook. Maybe I’m nervous that my plan to use it to trick myself into exercising won’t work. I don’t know.

I’ve been following VR news for years. I’m excited about it, and I think it could be a major game changer if it continues to gain users. I think AR is going to be a more profound communication shift than VR, but VR has grown in popularity over the last few years and looks to continue to grow. I’m going to have fun with it.

I’m going to plug it in and let it charge. It takes hours for the print jobs to finish, so I’ll have a little bit of time to mess with it some tonight. Maybe I’ll finally try Beat Saber.

The Spare Man Arrived

I pre-ordered Mary Robinette Kowal’s book The Spare Man and it finally arrived while Melissa and I were away. I’m really looking forward to reading it.

Additionally, I purchased The Book of M by Peng Shephard and I want to try and read it before the end of the month.

I have a lot of reading to do, and a lot of writing preparation to do.

So that’s it. I’m home. The drive wasn’t too terrible, though the last stretch between Reno and Sacramento was a little frustrating. People don’t know how to drive. I need to keep the laundry going and make sure that we’re all prepared for the next work week. Hopefully it’ll be a lot easier than the last.


The Incredible Brian David Gilbert

Let me begin by saying that if somehow, you ARE Brian David Gilbert, I’m not a stalker. I’m just a fan. I hope a page on some stranger’s blog about you doesn’t creep you out.

With that out of the way, I’m going to talk a little bit about BDG, and why he’s the topic today.

First, this isn’t going to be an exhaustive look at his life. There is a Polygon fan page that does a better job of that than I ever could. I’m going to talk about his art and a little bit of what I know about him (again, this information is derived from publicly accessible information, I am NOT stalking him).

I’m certain my first exposure to BDG’s particular flavor of comedy came from one of his Unraveled videos when he was still with Polygon. I don’t remember which one was my first, but they’re all incredible. My favorite is probably the one where he breaks down the qualities of Waluigi.

BDG’s talent was obvious to me, and so I sought out more videos on YouTube featuring him. I found his personal channel, and watched everything he posted, including his video audition to Polygon and apparently, his first viral video. It’s short, so I’ll embed it, too.

Also on his channel is a series he created called Dances Moving! which I highly recommend people watch. BDG showcases his storytelling talent in this series, and it’s ending is honestly quite powerful. The final episode features a song that is in my Favorites list on Spotify, and if you haven’t watched the series, don’t just jump to the end. Watch the whole thing. It’s not that long, and it delivers a surprisingly emotional punch.

That’s the thing about BDG. His art will surprise you. He has very strong comedy chops, but he’s not afraid to branch into horror. One of my favorites is where he becomes his own boss.

He can write. He can sing. He can play the hurdy-gurdy. He can sing about Pokemon, turning it into a real gesamtkunstwerk. If you’re wondering what that is, click the link to watch the video. He explains it well.

As a talented individual named Brian myself, I look at BDG and draw comparisons. He went to school and got a degree in creative writing, and he had ambitions to write novels. I went to school and while I did not get the degree, I have completed three novels. He and I both spent time on stage doing musicals, though I think he took it much farther than I did. And… uh… we’re both named Brian. I don’t actually know him, so that’s all I really know that we have in common.

This weekend, I realized who BDG really reminds me of. It’s Tim Curry. They have different styles and strengths, but I think if someone wanted to cast a young Tim Curry in a role, they would do well calling on BDG. Here’s a picture of Tim Curry from The Worst Witch.

Here’s a quick screenshot I took from one of BDG’s Aaaaaba songs posted last year.

Trust me on this. If someone were foolish enough to try and remake Rocky Horror Picture Show, BDG would be an excellent choice as Frank N Furter. He’s got the range to pull it off.

I could say more about BDG’s videos, but maybe you’re still wondering why I’m talking about him in the first place. It’s a funny story. BDG’s videos entertain me, and I often share them with Melissa. Whenever Melissa sees one of BDG’s videos or tries to talk to me about him, she says, “Oh, that’s your friend Brian.” It makes me laugh every time. I shared with her BDG’s latest videos, which are cover/monster parodies of a couple of Bee Gee’s songs, and when she referred to BDG as my friend again last night, I knew what today’s topic was going to be.

So that’s it! BDG has a ton of videos on YouTube. He has a Patreon. I love the art he puts out, and while he’s not actually my friend, he seems like a really cool guy to me, and I hope he’s having a great time.


Are You Doing the Right Thing?

I’m still in Lakeview, so my options are a bit limited. I was able to work just fine, but when the work day finished, all I have are a couple of laptops and a longing to do things at home. I want to play Cyberpunk, or work on my new keyboard, or try out my new VR headset and see if it’ll be enough to trick me into exercising.

While at my mother-in-law’s home tonight, someone on Twitter reminded me of this post I wrote last year, about doing what you love. I reread it and it’s a good one. “Do what you love” is one of those messages I need to remind myself of from time to time, because it’s all too easy to get stuck in a rut, doing things just to get by.

Again, I’m in a hotel room, so I can’t exactly do the what I really want to. I can do more preparation for the novel I’ll be starting in… holy shit… 11 days?!? What the hell happened to October?


Most of the things I really want to do, I can’t do right now. That doesn’t mean I’m just going to sleep until Sunday morning, when I get to drive us back home. I’m going to do stuff.

That’s where this follow-up idea comes into play. If you can’t do what you love, is what you’re doing making you happy?

While sitting in my mother-in-law’s home eating dinner, I was forced to watch local television, and it definitely did not make me happy. I avoid TV so much now that it felt like I was consuming poison. I think they’ve shortened the time between commercials, so you’re constantly flooded with half-truths and calls to action, with no time to catch your breath and think about what they’re forcing into your eyes and ears.

Melissa saved me from that by shutting off the TV, and it felt like the tiny home filled with air again.

Right now, I’m writing this blog post. It’s not exactly what I love, but it does satisfy me. I’m using this cool keyboard I built, sharing my thoughts with the world, moving one step closer to finishing my goal of writing at least one post a day, every day in October. It is good. It makes me happy.

Sometimes, we must to do things we do not want to do. We have to deal with the loss of a pet or loved one. We have to do that thing at work that no one wants to do, but if it isn’t done, the project will fail and no one will get paid. Sometimes we have to mow the lawn when we’d rather be playing video games, or do our taxes when we’d rather be reading a book. Responsibilities are a part of life.

It is good to do those tasks, even when they don’t make us happy. Sometimes we have to do something just because it’s the right thing to do.

I think it’s important we stop every once in a while and examine what we’re doing. I spend a bunch of time on Twitter, and not all of that time is good. It isn’t edifying me or bringing me joy. It’s not fulfilling any need or responsibility. Sometimes it’s just doom scrolling or participating in the current drama, which none of us should be doing ever. That isn’t to say that Twitter is always bad. I have friends there, and I get some measure of socializing when I chat with them. I just need to stop and recognize when it’s time to close the tab and look at something else.

Last year’s post was the answer to the question I’m asking today, which is, “What should I be doing right now?” I should be doing what I love, and if I can’t do that, I should be doing what is right.

If I’m still not sure what to do, I should do something. I just need to make sure that I don’t overdo it, especially if it’s not the healthiest activity.


Progress on Several Fronts

Melissa and I made to Oregon without any problems last night. We came in just before 11PM, got our room, and promptly crashed. While Melissa is on vacation until Monday, I’m working Thursday and Friday. I’ve worked from this hotel before, so I knew coming in that it wouldn’t be a big deal.

Speaking of work, I was able to deploy something to production today. There’s a feature that’s been about 90% successful the last few months. In this industry, that missing 10% is basically an F grade. It’s bad, and I’ve spent a bunch of time and energy trying to get it fixed. Especially this week, where I changed course and tried a completely different way to solve the problem.

It worked in Dev, and now it’s working for a site that was completely broken in production. It was a very low risk deployment, but it feels great to see the effort realized on the screen. When I’m done writing this post, I’m going to do some more work, deploying the updated product to another trouble site. It’s pretty exciting.

One of the mental health care liaisons from UC Davis called me today. We had a good chat, and she pointed me in the right direction to see a psychiatrist for an evaluation and also find a new therapist. In some ways, this is the most significant progress on any front I made today, though I still need to make some phone calls on my own in order to take the next step. It would be really great to have my depression under control, and to have additional tools at my disposal to deal with those times when I lack executive function.

This evening, I joined Melissa at her Mom’s place and I fixed her TV. Melissa and I are back at the hotel now. She’s on the bed reading. I’m at this cruddy table, using my work laptop to finish all the things I still need to finish.

Twenty for twenty as far as Blog-tober is concerned. Not too bad. Yesterday was the most likely day for me to miss, but today could have been a miss as well, considering all the work I have in front of me, and diminished capacity to do that work. My laptop screen is small.

Today’s post feels lame to me, but that could be because this is sort of the middle slog. The middle of every story is the hardest part to write, because so much has happened yet there’s still so much to resolve. There is uncertainty. That’s how the middle of this month feels.


The Next Work Project

It’s lunch time, and I don’t have a lot of time. I’ve been up since 6:30AM working. When 5:00PM rolls around, Melissa and I are jumping in a car and heading to Lakeview, Oregon, where I’ll be working until Sunday. Just like NaNoWriMo, I have to write during lunch sometimes, otherwise I won’t make my goal. And I have every intention of making all my goals.

Because work is on my brain, I’m going to talk about the next work project. I won’t get too technical or dive into code. I think I can make this interesting without giving away company secrets or getting into esoteric fields.

Before I can get too much into the new product, I need to talk at least a little bit about the product it will be replacing. We have a suite of applications that work together to present information about solar production to our customers. The customer owns land with equipment on it, including solar panels and batteries, and we talk to this equipment, allowing the customer to control it all. Additionally, we provide reports and metrics for how well things are going. It’s pretty sweet.

Unfortunately, time is a thing, so the decisions we made 8 to 10 years ago when building this system are no longer the same decisions we’d make today. We used some technologies that have aged out. We built the whole thing based on the requirements of that day, which are no longer the requirements of today. Everything has to be both bigger, faster, and run on cheaper hardware. Those three requirements on paper should be mutually exclusive, but we think we can do it. And, we think we can save a lot of money along the way.

The current system requires a lot of setup time. People with specialized skills have to build out components of the system. Once those parts are built out, they’re then able to configure the website to work with that equipment. They currently can’t do much in the website until the components are configured, because the website won’t have anything to talk to.

That approach made so much sense at the beginning, because we didn’t have the website when we first started. We just had those components, which are good at talking to the equipment and reporting to the agencies that are interested in power production. That was our specialty in the beginning, so those components were designed to be very good at fulfilling that task.

We realized fairly soon that we could build on top of that, and so we did. That’s how we got to where we are today, and we’re very successful. We do good work. I have an excellent team.

But now let’s talk about the new product. If we want to make it bigger, faster, and cheaper, what is our path forward?

For starters, we’re going to start building the new system from the other direction. We’re going to make it so that we — or the customer — can use our platform to configure the site before they’ve even broken ground. No equipment or components will have to be configured in advance, because our website will be the way the configuration tool.

We will use advanced simulation software so that the person configuring the site will be able to see what it looks like when it’s real. All of the tweaking and adjusting required to make a satisfactory presentation, controls platform, alarming, and reporting, will be done in advance. If we do it right, the customer will be able to do it themselves. When they’re satisfied with how it looks, they can place their order to make it a reality.

Based on how the site is configured, we will ship out the equipment necessary for the operation of the site. This could be a few devices or a few hundred devices. Instructions will go out with this equipment, and either one of our field technicians or the customer will do the install. Once the hardware is in place, it will phone home, register with our software, and the configuration will be shipped down to the site.

At the site, the configuration will be split out over however many devices are available on the network. The main component will monitor all the satellites, shifting pieces of the site configuration around for load balancing. All of that happens without user intervention. When a piece of hardware fails, the other hardware takes up the slack and alarms are raised, so that the bad hardware can be replaced when convenient.

Our biggest pain point right now in terms of cost is configuration. It takes people with specialized knowledge hundreds of hours to get all the configuration correct before the system operates. Our new approach will reduce this considerably. If we make it so that the customer can do the configuration themselves, it could eliminate our configuration costs entirely.

The configurations can be bigger, because we’ll distribute them. The system will be faster, because we’re using new technologies more suited towards getting the higher throughput we need. And the installations will be cheaper, because we won’t need to send multiple expensive servers to a site for the operation of the equipment. Instead we can ship an appropriate number of inexpensive devices, all working in tandem to provide greater stability.

That’s the next work project. I have a great team, and I think we’re going to make the best version of this software that exists in our corner of the market. We just have to stick to our vision and not be scared and compromise when things look tough. If we do it right, it will change the game.

I am excited for this. Am I as excited about this project as I am about the next novel I’m writing? Well… it’s different. My novels don’t sustain my family. They just keep me sane and happy. The technical projects satisfy me, and I appreciate making a living. I will keep working on my writing and striving for that to become my next full time job, but the job I have now is a good one, even when the hours get a bit long.

Okay, that’s it. Now I have to pack a bag, so that Melissa and I can start driving as soon as we’re both done with work.


Just Work Harder?

Yesterday, I put in a marathon of coding and work. There are a lot of different parts to my job, and I don’t usually have time to do all of it. By staying up and working until 11PM, I was able to get most of it done. Not quite all of it. I focused on the most important item, which is a change in the way we move data from the sites to the cloud.

I did an unreasonable amount of work, and I’m going to do another unreasonable amount of work today. It’s Tuesday night, so I’m going to enjoy some time in Shut Up and Write, then I’m going to join Michael Gallowglas’s stream where he’ll have Jennifer Brozek on as a guest. It’s going to be a great evening for writing things! But as soon as that’s done, I have to switch back to the work laptop and get some more stuff done.

Some of this is a reaction to what I was feeling yesterday, about wanting to quit. Rather than look externally, I’m focused internally, trying to do as much as I can so that I can be as blameless as possible with regards to my work. It’s not necessarily healthy, and it mirrors how I deal with other problems. I blame myself first, then try to fix it by fixing myself.

What effect did this have?

My boss is very happy with me. He wanted something done and I did it faster than anyone could have hoped for. I wrote a major feature in less than a day, and it’s already tested, primed for going out in the field. He expected it to take about two weeks to get to this point.

The coworkers I showed this to seem impressed, too. They also seem a little bit hurt that I didn’t use their expertise. Basically, our boss wanted a team to get this thing done, and I did it all. Not because my team couldn’t do it, but because it was the fastest way to get from point A and point B. Also, if I didn’t do the work, it would have reflected poorly on me, because I’m the one responsible for this system that’s been failing.

I should probably clarify something.

Would it actually reflect poorly on me? I think it would, but it’s not the sort of thing that would show up on my review. Some of what I’m describing is how I interpret the situation. My intuition told me that if I didn’t stay up late and get the entire feature finished, it would have been bad for me. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true, but it’s the information I have to work from.

I’m not working for a sweatshop. Trimark has always taken good care of their employees. I have always felt valued there.

If I’m wrong about the various levels of approval and disappointment I’m wading through, then making the extra effort isn’t going to hurt my standing at work. If I’m right, then I’m doing exactly what I need to do to continue to be valuable to the team.

It’s definitely way too much and is not sustainable by any stretch of the imagination, but what can I do?

I have some time right now to get this blog post done, then I’m going to rest a bit while I listen to friends of mine talk about writing. Once that’s done, I’ll go back into the coding mine and extract and refine the next feature.

There is no way I’ll be able to do Nano next month if I keep this kind of workload. I’m going to need to write during lunches, and I’m going to need to spend extra time on the weekends in order to get ahead, in case I have a really bad work week. I’ve succeeded this way before.

I’m also going to have to fall in love with my story and really believe in it. I’m not there yet, but I’m getting there. Right now I think it’s a good idea with some interesting potential.

That’s it for now. Tomorrow, I’ll write my post during lunch, and hopefully talk about something other than work.


How Long Can I Keep This Going?

I don’t intend for the title to sound alarming. This isn’t about depression, though the bouts with depression do not help. This is about staying in the same house, in the same family, at the same job, maintaining the same relationships, sticking to the same routine, and participating in the same hobbies. Sunup to sundown. Seven days a week.

I like most of the things I just listed. I like my house. I love my family. My hobbies are fantastic, and I do pick up new hobbies. The mechanical keyboard thing is relatively new, and making stuff with the 3D printer is also new.

It isn’t that I don’t appreciate what I have. I do. I just feel stuck most of the time, and I don’t know what to change.

Everything is great with Melissa, so don’t misread anything into what I’m saying. The reason I’m writing this tonight is because today was a really difficult work day, and it’s not even finished. A lot of time, in order to accomplish what I need to accomplish with work, I have to sacrifice parts of my evening. It’s the only time I have to actually focus. The rest of the work hours are all about helping other people and putting out figurative fires.

Today, I really wanted to quit. I just wanted to tell my boss to shove it, and that they can figure it all out on their own.

Maybe if I was twenty years younger, I would have. I don’t know. Now it feels too irresponsible to upset my whole life just because of a bad day. I know that it isn’t just one bad day, that these feelings have been building up for a long time, but it still seems like a bad idea.

I like working in the solar industry. I like my company. I like my coworkers. I just get tired of feeling powerless to affect change, which is weird as hell because I actually have power at my company to get things done. What I lack is time and energy.

It’s exhausting. Things break, and then I break myself trying to fix those things, and then stumble into the next problem, wishing I could just catch my breath and focus for a few days.

The vacation was supposed to help with that. But Covid impacted the efficacy of the vacation, and when I got home, the same problems I thought I fixed were still there, and now that’s all I’m able to focus on. I’m not gaining any ground. Everything is slipping, and it feels like it’s my fault.

I put my head down and I keep trying, and it feels like I’m going to get fired, no matter how hard I work.

I’m tired. But I’ll keep going.

I wish I could just write. But at this point, I don’t think I’m ever going to make money doing that. To be a successful writer, you have to have already made it, or you have to be a good salesperson.

I’m not giving up on the writing dream. I just don’t feel a ton of optimism at the moment. I’ll keep going. At least the writing part brings me a great deal of satisfaction.

It’s going to be a long week. And I don’t know how much longer I can keep this going.