The James Website

It’s Been a Year?

Whoa! My last post was in January?? And it’s December now?!


Thus this post is going up to (a) promise I’m coming back with future posts and (b) haven’t forgotten about the loyal few of you who actually read this!

First and foremost — Gina! You commented on my post back in January, then I never responded because I’m horribly ADD about keeping up with comments. Better late than never: Heck no I haven’t forgotten you, and I can’t put into words how much what you said meant to me. No joke — it’s stayed on my mind all year.

Now, for everyone else — Here’s what’s up:

All the Projects!

I have mostly retreated from both online and real social life this year so I could really, really hardcore buckle down and engage in some deep self-reflection, skill-sharpening, and serious exploration of some personal visions. Life has changed in big — and good! — ways over the past couple of years, especially with my mother’s funeral behind me, which means my family-crisis-managing and family-care-giving days are likewise behind me. That has…opened doors deep within that I didn’t expect.

I have a LOT more physical and emotional energy. I’m in a really good place, so I’ve been capitalizing on it. I started by revisiting some old dreams that I had unconsciously let go of.

Taking a Stab at a Book

So I’ve always wanted to write a book. Science fiction. Weird stuff. If you look back at my previous posts, I have a crap-ton of experience writing right-brained stuff. Believe it or not, I do have a left side, and I’ve been working on waking it back up.

I have no delusions of grandeur or mid-life-crisisy-type vision of being the next big thing or whatever. I just always wanted to do it for funsies, see what happens, so what the hell, gonna take a stab at it. Thus far, it’s mostly been a lot of creative writing courses and book reading and story architecting so I have the fundamentals (structure, narrative voice, themes, etc.) down first.

It may very well suck and you may never see it. But its’ a good exercise for the soul.

Learning to Code

Once upon a time, early-20’s-me waltzed into college with high dreams for a computer science degree. I then took several semesters of C++ and bombed my first attempt at Data Structures (which I’ve learned — way too many years later — is more or less a rite of passage). Growing up always acing classes and not knowing how to cope with not doing so, I immediately gave up and switched majors. As you do.

(Hmm. Future blog post maybe? That topic’s got some history to it.)

Since then, I’ve been doing fifteen years of tech support. Which — don’t get me wrong — hasn’t been all horrible (especially in the higher-end niche areas I’m in now) and the pay has been really dang good…but nonetheless, I didn’t start this journey with dreams of tech support.

I’ve been revisiting (and forgiving) my younger self on this one. I’ve actually picked up a lot on the job over the years, so getting back into coding has been a pretty speedy ramp-up. Earlier this year I released my first-ever application that I developed for my team to use to ease a complex manual process we were having to perform at the time. It was a small amateur-hour little thing written in Python, but it worked (works!), and so that was a major milestone.

Since then I’ve been delving further into Python and Java, with some JavaScript dabbling here and there, all the while fending off imposter syndrome every step of the way. (I may need to blog about that too.)

Currently I’m learning to develop an Android app for myself that I could really make a lot of use of. (I’m a believer in learning by solving actual real-life problems.)

Technical Writing

Certainly the most boring-sounding of my endeavors, but I’ve really developed a knack for tech writing. In its most default form, tech writing is just whipping up software manuals left and right, but I’ve been exploring it in the broader sense in which it can be a real educational tool with some creative personally added for pizazz (I’ve heard the term “content engineer” floated about as an alternative). I won’t bore you with the details here, but I’ve been acting as the unofficial content lead and (only) dedicated tech writer for the product I currently support with hopes that I can sooner than later finally transition from technical support to technical writing. For me, it’s all about making something as opposed to fixing something.

It seems a logical step while I’m pursuing the other loftier grander goals above. It’s fun.

If you want to see what that looks like, you can find my name plastered all over

I was also featured on my company’s blog here recently.

Tech for Good

Speaking of lofty goals, I’ve always wanted to save the world for as long as I’ve drawn breath. While that’s not gonna happen, I have been researching and learning about possible ways I can perhaps find a way to combine my passion for nonprofit (and profit-for-good), morally-crusading service and my love for technology.

I’ve spent the last year discovering what that landscape looks like (and being pleasantly surprised it actually exists!), which has meant learning about the good work some organizations and companies like the Mozilla Foundation, DuckDuckGo, the Tor Network, Brave, and others have been doing.

And That was 2019

So that’s why this blog went dark for the better part of a year. 2020 is going to be all about taking eeeeveeeeeryyyything I learned this year and making a real action plan out of it. I’m excited.

It’s also been an exercise in trying to learn to quiet myself and listen for what I believe is God’s calling — what exactly that calling is and what a proper bringing-to-life of that calling could look like.

I turn 40 this year! Which, what? I’m pretty sure I’m still waiting to grow up. But I figured, hey, good round number — good a time as any to do some looking back for the sake of moving forward!

Lots more to come! Bear with me! In the meantime, let me know if you’d be interested in me rambling about anything particular on here in the future.