Every so often I stumble across a blog that has a design reminiscent of the early layouts that were common on b2, WordPress, and Tumblr in the mid-2000's. The layout generally has a title bar across the top, posts underneath and to the left, then a narrow section on the right for lists of recent posts, categories, common tags, and monthly archives. When I visit a site with one of these layouts I'm reminded of those early days of blogging when people would use StumbleUpon, Technorati, or link-exchanges1 to find new sites to read and the optimism that came with the medium. Anyone could be a blogger and, for a while, it seemed that many people were2. As the activity matured, themes changed to accommodate the different purposes people might have when publishing their words online. Landing on a site that uses an original layout — with a centre-aligned, 800-pixel, fixed width box, and simple colour scheme — tends to signal that the site has been abandoned by its author. Imagine my surprise when I landed on a blog with one of these classic designs to find that not only was the site active, but it's been active for 185 consecutive months!
Eighteen months ago I stopped blogging here daily primarily because everything seemed to be a rant. I was upset with the world, upset with the day job, and upset with some personal things. Given all that was going on at the time — and still are in some instances — I gave up the daily publishing of rage, opting instead to keep the missives locked away and off the server. Since making that decision, a number of things have changed.
1 — I don't write daily anymore
I like writing, but so much of it has become repetitive. Why would anybody read this? I wonder. Why would I read this? usually follows. Instead, writing has become more of an intellectual exercise than a journal or stream of consciousness. The note will start with a question or idea, followed by an examination. It's a way to rationalise an argument or opinion to see if it holds water, as writing forces a person to slow down and think things through. One of the many aspects of writing that I find useful is the ability to have an obvious list of references and citations. Running an idea through the mind is fine for initial examination, but having it down as structured text really forces an idea to prove itself.
2 — I quit my job
Well … this is one way to describe it. However, I was incredibly angry and frustrated with things at the day job for just over two years, and this was bleeding into my personal life. Stress levels were through the roof constantly, and nothing good — aside from the bigger pay cheque — was coming from the endeavour. So, in an attempt to regain some sanity and not be a complete jerk to the family every moment of the day, I stepped down from my role and requested a transfer to a different division in the organisation. After a small transition period, people started to notice that I wasn't angry all the time anymore and would often laugh and joke around during meetings. The wife and kid even enjoy spending time with me again, which is certainly a bonus.
The one thing I do miss about the old job, though, is the ability to lead when solving problems. While I can still do this to a degree with the current role, there are a whole lot of people who are in a position to veto my efforts and suggestions "just because", which can result in problems existing for much longer than they really should.
3 — I'm becoming a landscaper
Another slight exaggeration, perhaps, but I've really started to enjoy taking care of the yard. Earlier this year we replaced the dull soil surrounding the house with some proper grass, trees, and other plants. Since then, I've been outside daily — often several times a day — to get my hands dirty by tending to the greenery. The trees and leafy plants are regularly watered. Weeds are pulled. Grass is trimmed. Stones are redistributed. Seeds are planted and nurtured. While I won't win any awards for the effort, the hour or two that I spend outside in the yard every day is something I look forward to every day of the week.
In Search of Calm
The last few years have been incredibly challenging. However, after giving up on some of my career goals3, life has become a heck of a lot more manageable. There's time to walk every evening. There's time to play with the kid. There's time to walk and play with Nozomi. New routines are being developed and patterns enjoyed. This is something I probably should have done a lot sooner.
At this point, I don't know if there will be a return to a regular posting schedule, but I would really like to start publishing longer-form writing again. There are also a couple of things I'd like to add to the 10C platform to make it a little more unique when it comes to playing audio, displaying RSS feeds, and ensuring ownership of posts.
Time will tell, of course.
One could argue that many people are still blogging. One would be right, too.
There were three specific projects that I wanted to bring to life. I was working on one, the other was taken and given to a different team, and the third is something senior management still doesn't want to think about.