Last weekend, we had our great landscaping crew come out and mulch the front and side yard. I asked for them to till the areas that were getting mulched first, hoping that would cut down on stuff going up through the mulch a little bit more. And then, since they had the tiller out, I also got them to go out into the back yard, behind my office, and till up three beds, about 10 feet long and maybe 5 feet wide.

My plan had been to rake the tilled dirt up into a raised bed in the center of each of those strips (that was the reason for doing them as wide as we did). Unfortunately, we quickly discovered that under what looked like just a nice patch of grass, there was a pretty thick layer of river rock, resting on top of landscape fabric. A former owner of this house loved landscape fabric, and it is everywhere in the yard, so that’s not too surprising. The river rock, on the other hand, was pretty disappointing.

I considered just getting in a load of fill dirt and covering the whole mess up — but our back yard only has a single small gate for access, which would mean getting the dirt delivered to the driveway and then wheelbarrowing it back in loads. Plus, there’s an area in the front of the house where I’d really like to put in a little rock pathway, and hey, look, it turns out we’ve already got a lot of rock in a spot where we don’t really want it!

After researching this a bit, this seemed like a doable thing — I just needed to buy a soil sifter. I could get one on Amazon, but I was in a bit of a hurry, so I visited several hardware stores around town, coming up empty every time. I came across a set of plans online though, and it seemed like it wouldn’t be that hard to build one myself.

About six hours later, I had made myself a soil sifter! I mostly followed the plans as given, but after a bit of use, I ended up partially disassembling the outer frame and rebuilding it slightly differently — and then in the first major use of the v1.1 sifter, I broke the outer frame when slamming the inner part back and forth trying to move the soil, so I ended up adding some additional screws. Here’s a condensed version of my changes:

  • For the “frame guide”, don’t use 3/4 x 3/4. Use a 1x2. The smaller lumber didn’t provide enough of a “track” for the casters, and I was constantly trying to keep the inner frame from slipping off. A 1x2 joined to the 1x3 such that casters roll on the longer side works really well.
  • In addition to the screws holding the 1x2, I also added 3 metal “corner brackets” to the mix. I bought “inner” brackets, so they’re actually on the inside of the frame; if I were doing it again, I’d look for “outer” brackets. (I may still add some for additional strength).
  • I mentioned I snapped one corner of the outer frame open. After that happened, I went back ad added a second deck screw to each corner.
  • I also added handles on either side of the inner box. Not totally necessary, but they do make it easier to shake the box when it’s heavily loaded.
  • Finally, I added two cleats to the outer frame (just barely visible in that picture). They let the outer frame “lock” onto the wheelbarrow and make the whole thing a little more sturdy.

I spent most of the weekend sifting out rocks, and ended up completing a garden bed that’s about 4.5 square feet (that’s about 1.4 square meters for you sane metric types). I’m planning on gradually doing the rest of the planned garden area over the rest of the summer…

Hi there. Remember me? I was posting here, every so often, talking about plans and what I’d gotten done and stuff?

So, yeah, kinda fell off the wagon there. Big props to Shawn for yelling at me for not doing these updates — much <3 and appreciation. The combination of a weeks vacation for the kids spring break, followed by 3 days of business travel and then 2 days of illness, pretty much have destroyed any semblance of a routine I had going. Given that I’m traveling again at the end of this week, to speak at the DC-Baltimore Perl Workshop, I’m refraining from getting to deep into goal setting right now.

Let’s look at the explicit goals I set the last time I updated, a month ago:

  • Get AppleCare activated on Ms13’s iPad — ended up not being possible because Apple delivered shitty customer service (long story)
  • Implement new blog theme — after doing some work towards implementing it, I backed off the theme I had picked out, and am back to looking for alternatives. Aside from getting ready to deliver my DCBPW talk, this is my primary focus for the coming week.
  • Deliver Swift talk at Hack Salem — done, and I think it went well. Looking forward to giving this one a few more times!
  • Make a dent in the GitGot issues queue — haven’t done squat, but moving this back off the front burner for a bit.

So, yeah, more travel at the end of this week means I’m gonna have a fairly modest set of goals for this week, because really I need to get back into the habit of wins more than anything. So, goals:

  • Deliver talk at DCBPW
  • Post update next week — I will be traveling when this is supposed to happen, so this is a bit of a challenge
  • Re-establish exercise routine — see above re: travel and challenges
  • Finish March Pull Request Challenge — and, yes, fuck you, I know it’s a week plus into April. Have we not established that the theme of this whole post is how much I suck?

Hope everybody is having a more productive time of things than I am, and see you all next week.

It really was just an off-the-hook awesome day for me (not braggin’, just sharin’…)

  • We got new gutters installed on the house, fixing several “waterfall” issues that have been present since before we moved in
  • The flooring was installed in my new office (and the wall paint was finished later in the day — pictures of that tomorrow!) The contractor has been working on the office since not too long after we moved in, and it’s been a series of (understandable, but still) one micro-delay after another. It’s super gratifying to see things getting close to complete and to realize that I’ll likely be working from there within the month
  • My new monitor was delivered and it is sooooooooooo big and beautiful and OMG this monitor y’all! If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.
  • I gave a (I hope!) well-received talk on Swift at Hack Salem. It was a lot of fun to give, and I got to plug an awesome book some friends have written. Really looking forward to doing some actual coding in Swift
  • I had several really awesome conversations with friends and coworkers about various things — some important, some kinda mundane. Not going to go into details here, but I’ve got a lot of people in my life right now that keep making me happy and humbled to just be able to hang out with them and share thoughts and experiences. <3 to y’all

So, yeah. My life is pretty good even on a bad day (perspective, yo), and today was one of those days where pretty much everything lines up on the ‘grrrrrreat!’ side of the scale and it’s almost overwhelmingly incredible in its awesomeness. I hope you have one of these types of days soon!

(I’m up much later than I should be, so tomorrow is probably going to be significantly less great as a result but that’s okay too…)

Aside: the dates on these just increasingly don’t make sense, I should do something about that.

Once again, it’s the traditionally one day late weekly goals post. Whee!

Last week’s goals were:

  • Finalize paint colors for the new office: done! Ceiling has already been painted, in fact.
  • Maintain exercise routine: done
  • Find a new blog theme and get things rendering in that: this only got half-way done, in that I did find a theme I think I like, but I didn’t get any work done on implementing it.
  • Get AppleCare activated on Ms13’s iPad: total fail here, I just didn’t get this one done. Mock me for the loser I am, if you are so inclined.

Goals for this week — and we’ll stick with four, since I only got 2.5 out of 4 last time — are as follows:

  • Get AppleCare activated on Ms13’s iPad — because it still needs doing, doesn’t it.
  • Implement new blog theme — because ditto
  • Deliver Swift talk at Hack Salem
  • Make a dent in the GitGot issues queue — where “dent” means closing the open PR and at least 5 of the existing issues.

Cool thing I heard this week: Help by The Front Bottoms — mainly because it’s fun to be driving around screaming “This is what I want motherfucker / make it happen for me” along with the song.

That whole “goal post up on time” streak didn’t really last, did it. In my defense, I had a sick kid home 3 days this week, and a different sick kid home yesterday. My routine-fu is strong but not that strong…

Goals for last week were:

  • Install shelving: done!
  • Submit to 2 CFPs: done, with the caveat that (a) I ended up deciding a few CFPs weren’t actually for me, and (b) the second one I submitted to is YAPC::NA, which feels a bit like cheating. Still, technically, done!
  • Get this blog rendering in a static site generator: done! Still has a ton of issues, including the content not being up to date, but it renders, yay.

(We won’t speak about how all three of those were accomplished at the last minute, on Sunday.)

Goals for next week — and I’m going up to four goals because, hey, why not, clearly three was doable… :

  • Finalize paint colors for the new office: I’ve been going back and forth with the designer over this. We’re doing a third round of color options, and I need to make that be the last round of color options.
  • Maintain exercise routine (3 days running, 3 days bodyweight exercise): I’ve got a pretty good streak of this routine going at this point, but I’ve got a spot of travel this week that’s going to make this more challenging (see above commentary about disruptions to the routine).
  • Find a new blog theme and get things rendering in that: it’s time for a site refresh, and what better time to do it.
  • Get AppleCare activated on Ms13’s iPad: long story, but this is something I’ve been putting off since Christmas. Have called them a couple of times and failed for various reasons, but I should have all ducks in the appropriate rows now, and I just need to call them one more time and JFDI.

So, there we go, 4 goals, all again totally doable. Please hassle me on Twitter, Facebook, and/or in person if I should fail to accomplish any of these — you’re doing me a favor by doing that (and if you’re a friend, it’s probably something you’ll enjoy…)

Sadly, no “cool thing I’ve seen this week” this week, as I’m coming up blank on something new and cool. Hope yours is better.

Hey, look, this is an actual on time weekly review post! Wonders will never cease.

Thinking back, even though quite a bit got done this week (including work launching a thing, something I had almost nothing to do with), I still sort of feel like I’m not making a lot of progress on longer term goals. The day-to-day stuff is feeling fairly solid by now, which is good, but I continue to fail to have a lot of movement on longer term things, and I’m not sure the format I’ve been using for this is really supporting me in getting more done.

So, let’s try to shake things up a bit — instead of listing big long-term things and then documenting my non-existent to minimal progress on them, I’m going to list just a couple concrete things that will advance these longer term goals, and I’m going to commit to having them done by the time I do another post next week. Hopefully the need to not look like a gigantic failure will provide motivation — let’s see!

Goals for the coming week:

  • Finally install the shelving in the storage area under the stairs (said shelving was purchased well over a month ago). This is going to involve learning how to use the circular saw, cutting down some shims, and doing the actual installation. Implicit secondary goal: no lost fingers, no trips to the urgent care…

  • Submit to 2 CFPs. I’ve been kicking this can down the road for 3 weeks now and it’s stupid. I’ve got talk proposals written already, I just need to sit down and put them in.

  • Get this blog rendering in a static site generator instead of MT. I’m pretty sure that I won’t be able to convert all the content into Markdown in the course of the next week, but I can at least get the basic stuff working. I’ve got a good chunk of it in place from earlier efforts, I just need to put my head down and finish the job. Watch, which will be the temporary home of the thing until I get all the archives done.

There. Three very concrete goals, all of which are highly doable within the next week. Check back next Sunday to see whether or not this provides me the motivation I so clearly need, and please — do heckle mercilessly on Twitter or Facebook or via email or whatever if I don’t accomplish these. You know I’d do it for you.

(Oh! I almost forgot — cool thing I heard this week - The Shade by Metric. On the one hand, I kinda wish Spotify would find something other than New Wave-ish stuff to throw in my discovery playlist; on the other hand, as long as the stuff it keeps throwing in there keeps being so damn catchy, do I really care…)

Late again, late again, jiggity jig. I could blame this on the three day weekend but given that I should have had this done on Sunday before the holiday day, that would be … less than true. Really, I continue to suck at the “review stuff and write goal post” portion of my routine.

Everything else, at least routine-wise, seems to be falling into place. Looking back at the week, however, I’m not sure how much else I actually really did. Let’s see, shall we.

  • Be more intentional: See above — the routine continues to gel. Not sure my day-to-day stuff got anymore connected to the long term. I think this is a solid ‘C’

  • Re-develop exercise routine: Finished week 3 of C25K and did 3 days of bodyweight stuff too. Clear ‘A’ week on this one.

  • Speak at 3 events: Three weeks running: “CFPs submitted to this week: big fat zero. Grade: ‘F’” double sigh

  • Revive my blog and make at least 2 posts / month: No posts, no progress on the conversion. ‘F-’

  • Learn C# and Swift: Still in a holding pattern on this one. The work project divestment took a bit longer than planned but I’m fully clear now. Grade? Incomplete.

  • Fix up landscaping on front and west side of the new house: Still in a weather-related holding pattern on this one.. Grade: N/A.

  • Build brick path from back door to office door: Ditto — but still more office progress, which is a good sign.Grade: N/A.

  • Host one dinner party a month: Talked with TheWife and decided to punt on this until the office work is complete and we have something to show off. Rationalization? Perhaps, but we’re gonna call this one an N/A too.

  • Cool thing I heard last week: Amazeballs New Order cover - Age Of Consent by Geographer

See you next week. If I haven’t posted something by Sunday 10pm PT, send out the ninja SWAT team to smack me around

Yes, yes, I’m pushing a whole day late on this one — and none of you called me on it! Jeez, folks, the whole point of doing this performance in public thing is you giving me shit when I’m late. It’s like you don’t even appreciate what I’m doing for you here.

Um, anyway. This week felt a good bit more settled and productive, but I don’t know that I ended up getting that much more done. I do feel a bit more settled into my routines and the new habits I’m trying to cultivate. I think the thing I’m going to be working on next is making sure there’s a clear connection between the day-to-day TODO items that I’m trying to check off and the bigger weekly/monthly/yearly goals that I’m (theoretically, at least) working towards.

So, about those goals:

  • Be more intentional: See above — the routine is firming up; the connection between the day-to-day and longer term is lacking. Didn’t get squat done on any of the automation stuff either. Did intentionally opt out of a direct role in a work project that I’d been helping out on, which is good. Call it a ‘B-‘.

  • Re-develop exercise routine: Finished week 2 of C25K and did 3 days of bodyweight stuff too. Clear ‘A’ week on this one.

  • Speak at 3 events: Let’s just re-use the report from last week: “CFPs submitted to this week: big fat zero. Grade: ‘F’” sigh

  • Revive my blog and make at least 2 posts / month: I did a tiny amount of work on the “port to another blog platform” sub-project, but no posts. Middle of the road ‘D’ there.

  • Learn C# and Swift: Again, repeating last week: “No C# progress. Read more about Swift, but haven’t gotten to the point of writing any real code yet. Grade: ‘C-‘.” The good news here is, divesting myself of that work project frees up some cycles for this one.

  • Fix up landscaping on front and west side of the new house: Still in a weather-related holding pattern on this one.. Grade: N/A.

  • Build brick path from back door to office door: Ditto — but still more office progress, which is a good sign.Grade: N/A.

  • Host one dinner party a month: Zero progress on identifying invitees. Grade: ‘F’

  • Cool thing I heard last week: Another Spotify new music playlist discovery, Palisade, by Mineral. At first I was convinced this was a new Sunny Day Real Estate track. But no, it’s a different band, that broke up going on 20 years ago. Have I mentioned I’m really enjoying Spotify? Because it’s totally proving to be worth the money. I apologize to all of you that I’ve scoffed at in the past when you’ve raved about it — I was totally wrong!

As always, thanks for reading. See you next week if not sooner.

Really felt like a bit of a crap week, didn’t feel like I accomplished much of anything and my mojo was totally missing in action. Let’s look at the board:

  • Be more intentional: I finally (about 20 minutes ago) got the mess of crap I dumped into OmniFocus semi-organized. I did spend some time thinking about how this is all going to work, and it’s clear that I need to do a little automation around Jira, and maybe Trello, if I’m really going to stick to the “one inbox to rule them all” plan. Solid ‘B’ on this one this week.

  • Re-develop exercise routine: Finished week 1 of C25K and did a couple days of bodyweight exercises as well. Giving myself a C+, because one of my January goals was to get to week 2, and I didn’t, despite having a decent overall week.

  • Speak at 3 events: CFPs submitted to this week: big fat zero. Grade: ‘F’

  • Revive my blog and make at least 2 posts / month: I think I’m going to revise this goal to be “2 non-goal-summary posts / month”… In true yak-shaving fashion, my immediate goal is to convert the blog to a different platform, which I did zero work on this past week. Another ‘F’.

  • Learn C# and Swift: No C# progress. Read more about Swift, but haven’t gotten to the point of writing any real code yet. Grade: ‘C-‘.

  • Fix up landscaping on front and west side of the new house: Still in a weather-related holding pattern on this one.. Grade: N/A.

  • Build brick path from back door to office door: Ditto — although some solid progress was on the office renovation this week, so maybe I’ll be able to actually start on this one this month. We shall see. Grade: N/A.

  • Host one dinner party a month: Talked to the wife about the plan and she approves. We still need to figure out who to invite. Another ‘C-‘.

  • Cool thing I saw last week: Chapter One: When Hearts Are Large — came up on my Spotify new music list and it is just beautiful. When it comes to music, I’m totally a lyrics guy, and this one has several spots that are just gut-punchingly good.

Thanks for reading, folks. Really appreciate those of you that took the time to send in positive feedback on the experiment here — it’s still early, but I think it’s helping.

Now to start growing.

(Aside: I need to figure out a way to title these that isn’t going to drive me nuts and isn’t a complete ripoff of Allen’s week number scheme. What I’ve got now isn’t it.)

So, let’s see how we did on those goals last week, eh?

  • Be more intentional: I declared OmniFocus bankruptcy and started re-populating based on my current commitments, but it was way more of a struggle to do that than it should have been. Giving myself a ‘D’ on this one this week.

  • Re-develop exercise routine: I did squat here. Solid ‘F’ on the week.

  • Speak at 3 events: I got the news that the talk I submitted to DCBPW was accepted, so that’s good. I intended to submit to a number of new CFPs this week, but didn’t get any further than looking past the open tabs. Another ‘D’.

  • Revive my blog and make at least 2 posts / month: This is the second post so far this month, assuming it’s not totally cheesy to count this as distinct from the previous post (it’s totally cheesy). Rating this one a ‘B’.

  • Learn C# and Swift: I bought a(nother) Swift book and read a few pages in it. Didn’t make any progress on C# to speak of. Giving this one a very generous ‘C’.

  • Fix up landscaping on front and west side of the new house: Not quite the season to start with this work yet. Did spend some time thinking about what the landscaping might end up looking like. Grade: N/A.

  • Build brick path from back door to office door: In a holding pattern, waiting on both the weather and the office renovation work. Grade: N/A.

  • Host one dinner party a month: Zero progress here, for another solid ‘F’.

Not really a great first week with this new system, but this means there’s nowhere to go but up, y/y?

Next update should happen this upcoming Sunday (the 31st); please apply virtual asskickings if that doesn’t happen.