January seemed like two months. The first January was the time before my new semester started, a time of coding, designing, reading, messing casually with music, and working out in the yard. The second January was the beginning of the Spring semester. After the long break, the onset of Omicron, and some changes in my approach, I’ve felt a little slow to find my footing, but I’m mostly back in the swing of things now.
Otherwise, no big news or events, which is really probably a good thing these days.
With the Omicron spike, the events have been pretty minimal. But I did get in a couple of outdoor activities:
- Birdwatching class at Pioneer Farms. This is my second one, and I had a great time. I’m really starting to like birding.
- Had a psychonautic excursion. Enjoyed the experience in a backyard surrounded by Hill Country nature.
- Games out at my friend’s house in Lockhart. We’ve been workshopping a new boardgame together. It’s showing promise!
- Had a lovely afternoon walk around the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower center.
- The Wheel of Time, Season 1 — I haven’t read the novels (the fourteen-book commitment has always been too intimidating), but my wife has and was looking forward to the show, and I was certainly at least curious. The series is good enough to be worth watching, but it’s frustrating as well. It’s filled with scenes where you find yourself thinking that it could be really effective if only it were better directed or if only they had taken their time to set up the relationships and conflicts involved. On top of that, the show’s creators don’t seem to have the ability or interest to make the characters and cultures feel believable for a medieval-level world, resulting in situations and character decisions that just seem off because they don’t quite fit. For me, the biggest effect of watching the show is that I keep imagining how good all these elements must be in the books where they are undoubtedly better handled. Fourteen-book commitment, here I come?
- Get Back — As a massive Beatles fan, you can imagine my excitement about this one. It’s nine hours of fly-on-the wall perspective as the band creates one of the greatest albums in history. I took my time watching it all, digesting Peter Jackson’s kaleidoscopic editing and all the on-screen brilliance. One of the aspects that really struck me about it all is how little the Beatles seemed to notice that every single song they were writing was timeless and amazing. Just magical.
- Last Night in Soho — Edgar Wright’s new psychological horror film is captivating. As always, Wright brings a sense of style and kinetic energy to the film that pulls you in to the action. The script isn’t perfect—some of the character motivations are a bit shaky and the ending gets a bit silly—but in a film this enjoyable, who cares!
- Hawkeye — Meh, it’s fine. Just good enough to keep me from quitting. There’s some pretty cringeworthy directing, particularly of the action. Honestly, I’m not sure what it was that kept me watching episodes. I suppose there’s some whisp of the sunk-cost fallacy that makes me continue to care about what happens in the MCU.
With my extra time off and the hiatus in events, I had plenty of time in January to work on my own things!
- The biggest project by far was refactoring the entire HTML and CSS Guidebook to run on Eleventy. Before, the site was pure HTML and CSS with Vue mixed in for the fancy interactive bits. By setting up static site generation, I was able to reduce the payload and code repetition, reduce the amount of Vue components, make the chapters aware of one another for easy crosslinking, and add a handy live search without any additional dependencies. Definitely worth the effort.
- I’ve also begun working in earnest on my next web book project, which will be a primer on visual design. As with the HTML and CSS Guidebook, my main goal is to codify information for my students, but the subject matter is very different and will require a very different approach. I’m in early stages, but right now my plan is to start writing, designing, and building in the open so that readers can start making some use of the chapters even when they are simple bulleted outlines. Will see how raw I end up letting the content be when I make it public.
- At long last, my filmmaking partner Jonathan and I are pretty much finished with Sanctuary, the documentary we started long ago. After an extended period of dithering because I didn’t have the time or confidence to color grade it or finalize the editing, we ended up hiring someone to do those things. It’s been such a weight off of my shoulders and the woman we hired has been fantastic! Next step, see about entering film festivals.
- Finally, I designed the cover to the Spring issue of Rust and Moth. Sometimes, all you need to do is put a bird on it.