Now: January 2022

Reading

Jen had a concussion this past autumn, and for a while, reading was difficult. I started reading books aloud to her, and we've continued well past any problems she was having. We've worked our way through the various Witches books in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, and we're now reading the Tiffany Aching books in the same series. Jen particularly enjoys the various voices I come up with for the characters. This latest book has been particularly amusing, as the Nac Mac Feegle (pictsies in the Discworld), speak Scots; early on, she asked me to read what was written instead of using the accent, and I had to point out that I was reading exactly what was written!

Listening

Jen and I listen to music while doing art, usually with auto-generated playlists, or from shared playlists. Groups on heavy rotation lately, in no particular order:

  • The New Pornographers
  • Taylor Swift
  • OK GO
  • Lorde
  • The Bleachers
  • The Decemberists

Watching

  • Stay Close. We've been fans of the various Harlen Coben series, and this one didn't disappoint.
  • Taskmaster. We all need inane levity from British comediens.
  • Great British Bake Off. Pure comfort television. Added bonus in that it inspires me to learn how to bake new things like Macaron and cream puffs!
  • Big Mouth. This is literally the best television depiction of puberty you'll ever see. Raunchy as hell, but with an insane amount of heart.
  • Matrix Resurrections. Liam and I watched the original trilogy over the winter break, and then watched Resurrections this past weekend. Honestly, it's my favorite of the series; the people are so much more, well, human, then the previous movies, and it leans heavily into the fact that the principal characters have aged. I was genuinely delighted with it.

PHP

I'm still doing PHP, though a fair bit less of it (see next section!). Lately, my primary efforts have been helping the Laminas Project (where I still act as project lead) update libraries to support the latest PHP version, 8.1. Mostly, this is reviewing patches other send in, helping them finalize them, and then merging and releasing. In a few cases, I've been more hands-on, particularly when they are in an area I have a lot of experience in (e.g., mezzio-swoole).

Work

This marks my first full year as a Product Manager at Zend by Perforce. While I've been at the company for over sixteen years now, and through two different acquisitions, this year has definitely been the most challenging, as I've had to pivot hard to my communication and organizational skills. The hardest part has been learning about the business of running a business: how to determine what products customers want, whether or not the return on investment (which includes engineering, training, support staff, marketing, etc.) will be enough to justify investing effort, understanding why customers buy — and why they don't, and learning how to ensure all teams have the information they need to be successful. I've had my ups and downs, with some days feeling like I'm in the wrong career entirely, and others feeling like I'm on top of the world. Overall, it's been a strenuous year for me, in no small part because I've also been discovering something about my mental health, which definitely affects my ability to perform on many days.

All told, though, I'm pretty proud of my progress, and it's borne out in the fact that they've raised our sales goals for next year, which shows they have confidence in the products I'm shepherding.

Mental and Physical Health

Over the course of this past year, I've done some reading and research into the Autism spectrum, and found that I'm likely on it. It accounts for a huge number of my behaviors: trying to please people, inability to make close friends easily, ability to focus on something so much that one of my kids could be screaming and I'd not respond, problems with prioritization, and more. Identifying as on the spectrum doesn't really solve anything, but it does help me recognize certain behaviors, and respond differently. I take each day one step at a time.

I've not caught COVID-19 yet, which seems like a feat given my state's complete lack of response to the pandemic. Everyone in the family is fully vaccinated (and boosted!), and we mask up wherever we go — even my youngest son, who is still in secondary school, where masks are only "encouraged", and he is often the only one he sees all day wearing one. Still, it only feels like a matter of time before we get hit.

I'm finding the pandemic incredibly isolating, and I've definitely been suffering from depression. This means I'm also not exercising, and that, of course, makes everything worse; I'm getting close to 50, and I often wake with pains I don't even know how I got. My plan is to get a recumbant tricycle this spring, and start going for regular rides. I hope between that and camping, I can help pedal myself out of the funk.

Drawing

The main thing I do for my mental health is to draw using the Zentangle method. I've been drawing for 2.5 years now, and participating in Eni Oken's Art Club for 18 months of that. Most nights find Jen and I sitting across from each other at our desks, with Jen creating huge prints and collages, while I draw tiny non-representational 4-inch square tiles. You can find me and my artwork on Instagram @phlytangle .