To 2016 I Say: Bye, Felicia!

This is the first in what will hopefully be many blog posts in the next 12 months or so. I'm writing about New Year's Resolutions, things I want to do, or not do, or accomplish or avoid during 2017. So, if you find that sort of thing unpalatable or otherwise don't like it, feel free to move along. I won't be hurt by it, I promise.

There's a theme song. For this post, I mean. As a web developer who's been doing this since the 1990s, I know better than to put some kind of auto-playing audio in a web site. So here, embedded below, is the official video for Night Ranger's 1987 hit from the film of the same name, "The Secret of My Success."

Hit play, then keep reading.

I'm breaking this down into a few categories: Personal, Professional, Financial, and Spiritual. Here goes.


Lose 20 pounds. Just 20. To be honest, I need to drop probably more like 100. But every time I've resolved in the past to lose that much, or even like 60 or 80, it has (quite predictably) been a massive failure. So this year is different: lose 20 pounds, as quickly as safely possible, trying really hard. Then just keep it off. Don't worry about losing weight the rest of the year, just be active enough, and don't eat like an asshole, for the rest of the year. If that works, great, try the same thing again in 2018. Maybe by the time I'm 40 I'll be 60 pounds lighter and that much healthier.

Be a nicer driver. I'm a safe driver already. I'm not aggressive, but also not so timid as to confuse those around me. But I could be nicer. So I'm going to let everyone-- literally, everyone-- merge in front of me. I'm not going to speed more than 20% over the posted limit (so 30 in a 25, 48 in a 40, 78 on the freeway). I'm going to travel on 2-lane highways in the right lane, using the left only to pass. I do some of these things some of the time, and other times, I don't. Time to be a nicer driver all the time.

Make my interactions with others as positive as possible. I'm a nice guy, I'm not a jerk, and I think anyone who knows me personally would agree. But I think I want to be more conscious, more present, in all of my interactions with my fellow human beings this year. In every interaction, I will treat myself and the other person with respect. I get the feeling we're all going to need a little more of that in the coming year.

Write every month. Here, or at Medium, or whatever. Every month. About myself, or parenting, or work, or sports, or whatever. Doesn't matter. But I need to put words to the digital page at least once a month.


Rewrite my personal projects in Ruby. Most of my personal side projects over the last couple years have been written in NodeJS. Express for dynamic sites, Metalsmith for static. I'm going to re-do all these in Ruby, because I never should have left it behind in the first place. I got it stuck in my head that JavaScript on the front end and back end was somehow a desirable thing. All it made me do was write lots and lots of JavaScript. So I'll be rewriting my dynamic sites and apps in Rails, and static sites I'll start managing in Middleman.

Figure out the next step forward in my career. Then commit. I was promoted this year, to Senior Engineer ("T5" in the Alphabet/Google parlance). T6 is the next step, then, but there are several ways to go about it: become an individual contributor with impact literally across multiple organizations, like the whole company in the case of something Nest's size; become a manager of people and help multiple teams achieve their goals. While I won't be able to achieve either of these things in 2017, it's important that I know which way I'm going to go, and that the ball is well on its way downhill this time next year.

Grow Henry & Laffite to a $2,000/month company. Our (Heather's and my) side business, Henry & Laffite Mercantile, where we design and sell Disney Parks-themed original design t-shirts, launched this past Fall. It's starting off well, though we took the holiday season after Black Friday off. By the end of 2017, I want to build it up to $2,000 per month in revenue. Profit? What's that? Worry about that later.


Max out the charitable contributions my company will match. I'm not even sure right now how much that is, but I'll find out. (EDIT: a helpful coworker has informed me that the yearly max for match i $6,000) Alphabet matches charitable donations to approved charities up to a certain max. So many people out there need help, and we're doing well. So I want to make sure we're giving back at least enough that the free money that comes along with it goes to people who need that help.


Start, and continue, a regular meditation practice. In early 2016 I began meditating every day. Somewhere along the line I stopped, and I need to pick it back up, and stick with it. It was good for me, and I think it will be again.

That's it. Nine resolutions. A lot? Maybe. But I think all of these things are achievable in a real way. Writing about them, I'm hoping, will push me to stick with them.

Last but not least, 2016 can piss right off. Farewell to David Bowie, and Prince, and Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, Arnold Palmer, Alan Thicke, Abe Vigoda, Garry Shandling, Doris Roberts, Mohamed Ali, Garry Marshall, George Michael, Florence Henderson, John Glenn, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Kenny Baker, Robert Vaughn, Patty Duke, George Kennedy, Sharon Jones, Leonard Cohen, Merle Haggard, Keith Emerson, Glenn Frey, Nancy Reagan, Gwen Ifill, Harper Lee, Craig Sager, Jose Fernandez, Denny Green, Gordie Howe, and last, and latest, but far from least, the great Carrie Fisher.

May 2017 be kinder, to all people, in all ways.

Hunting for a side project

The blank sheet of paper there is no mistake. It's my brain right now.

I have a couple side projects I already work on... the No Whine Timeline, for one. A site for my fantasy football league, for another. But I'm hunting for something else. I know what everyone says: pick a side project that solves a problem you have. I'm just trying to figure out what problem that is right now.

The fantasy football site solved a problem I had, needing some way to track rule change proposals in the fantasy football league I run. But this may not be all that applicable to other people. And it's been created, so far, with no concept of ever working for any other league. But that could be refactored. I could do that.

I've been intending to refactor the No Whine Timeline from a Node/Express app that queries MongoDB and does a bunch of date manipulation to render its tables into something built in Ember, with an API that does that heavy lifting. The API is written, so maybe I should do that.

But I also want to find something else that I think might matter to more people.

The fantasy football thing only works for my league, so 11 people plus me can benefit from it. That could change if I radically alter its infrastructure and add a lot of features.

According to, like 50-100 people per month find their way to the No Whine Timeline. Its performance is pretty reasonable, sitting in about 60MB of RAM, and running perpetually thanks to PM2 behind an Nginx proxy. So changing the infrastructure of that site won't necessarily make it "better," but it could be a fun exercise and Ember is decidedly not lame.

But man, I'd like to find something bigger. Something that has even the possibility of affecting people.

Or maybe I'll just write a little helper to handle my wife's and my annual Holiday Movies Draft, where we pick which dozen-or-so holiday movies we will watch between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. Using Google Sheets seems so pedestrian...