Matt Hackmann


The thoughts and goings-on of some programmer dude.

Annual, but not Only

2023 was an odd year for this blog. Where it had seemingly become a home only for reflecting on this annual letter to myself, this year saw nearly a solid month of random reflections. But, a 30x increase in blog posts does not mean that the staple content will go away. In fact, here it is!

Dear FutureMe,

How were your final days of being in the DINK camp? Yes, that is how I will open this letter.

Obviously, the big thing coming up in your life is an additional life in your life. From my vantage point, the Wee Baby Evan is scheduled for arrival in June. I hope you call him "the Wee Baby Evan" to his face as much as possible. Or perhaps the NIPT was wrong and it's the Wee Baby Emma? Not a likely scenario, but an interesting one to think about, especially hot off the heels of seeing all the little princesses on the Dream. I'd prefer not to have nail biter hoping for a daughter with #2.

2022's letter was an interesting skip year for a particular recurring topic: employer. Right now, it's still all SurveyMonkey all the time, but that ship is getting old. Most especially the part where you play "learned old man" to all things billing experimentation. I prefer not to entertain the notion of bouncing companies with four months of paternity on the horizon plus that sweet sabbatical just waiting to be used, but it's a thing on my mind. At the very least, joining Tim's team would be a bop back over to product focused development... assuming he's still at the company himself.

Those are the big items that are top of mind, here's on to the list of personal goals that I'm eyeing achieving in 2023:

  • Princess half-marathon is coming up soon and your sweets laden body isn't ready for it. I don't doubt you'll get it done, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous
  • Following from the above point, the fact that last years holiday chub never dropped off has been a sore internal point. Working out has probably slowed the scale tipping upwards, but the bad eating habits are kind of negating all that work. Your goal: at least 215lb by the time you read
  • You've got that sweet, sweet laser machine. Will you have opened that Etsy store of Disney Cruise related items? Park items? Make videos of lasering things?
  • Can't write one of these letters without mentioning the infamous SNES boombox. You realize it will have been six years since you conceptualized that, right?

Obviously, with the Wee Baby, taking time to do things for yourself will be much more difficult, but be sure to do it. Don't expect perfection, just be better than cruise vloggers. The bar is pretty low :)

The obvious big thing looking into the year 2023 from the end of 2022 was the birth of Kayla and I's wee baby boi (who is definitely assigned boy parts, something I'm reminded of multiple times per day). It hasn't been all smooth going, but Evan's by far the most chill baby I've ever been around and I've been around a lot of babies. His self-determined schedule is wonky, but he's mostly been a sleep through the night kid, pretty happy over all (even while travelling), loves taking long walks with daddy, and lately has become mobile and able to get into all the things we've been waiting to baby proof. I love that little dude :D

The SurveyMonkey story became interesting all around me in the year since this was written. My position didn't change and, indeed, the stuff I did was even more of what I complained about in the letter and probably worse. I'm a weird pillar of knowledge for multiple subject areas and it's burning me the fuck out. Everybody leaning on me for answers is not doing anybody else a service, especially since I'm trying very hard to bounce teams into different waters (hopefully waters where I have some betters/peers from whom I can learn from). But to the point of everything changing around me, there were layoffs and the company being taken private, given a new CEO, and a "new" direction. The job is good and I'm very grateful to still have it, but it's time for this cowboy to go play in a different part of the pasture. With the state of the industry, jumping to a different company entirely is a scary prospect, so I'm keeping that in my pocket for a different time.

Alright, let's go down the bulleted list (srsly; I should just do lists every year...)

  1. Princess virtual half-marathon was done and accomplished, achieving slightly better than the time I was hoping for. With the Disneyland half-marathon coming up in two weeks, I'll be doing that again but through the parks and with other people. I don't have any hopes for a particular time, just to finish the whole race.
  2. I did not hit this weight goal, in fact I climbed through early to mid-summer before finally starting to take some weight off. As of before New Years, I was still under where I probably was when I wrote this letter. Ample consumption of sweets since combined with travel eating, I don't know where I am now...
  3. While I didn't open an Etsy store of lasered good, I did a good number of projects, including one that was a complex project with lots of video shot that's stalled in editing...
  4. No... no movement on the SNES boombox. My now-famous GBA projects brother says that some other guy is working on a similar idear, so I should probably try a little harder at this...

To the last point, yes. Trying to do any personal projects with a growing baby is very hard and I'm happy to be able to get in my exercise daily. That's a good enough goal for me right now and I'll add more things to that as I can.

Bloggy Blog 29 - Road Tripping, Day 4 + Finale

Alas, I'm pulling another skip, missing out on the final day. That makes for three total days skipped of the 31 days in August, though I definitely did do some time shenanigans to keep things caught up. I may continue to blog, though. There are things to talk about, like part three in a three part series, electronics YouTube channel things, and how the chicken sandwich is one of the best dishes you can order at a restaurant. Thanks kindly to my mom for pushing me to add more posts to this blog over the last month than I have for last several years combined!

But, on to that road trip thing.

I won't go into too much detail about day four, as it was in pretty similar vein to the day previous, though we started earlier and finished later. The wee babes got to ride Pirates of the Caribbean, Small World, and Buzz's Astro Blasters (playing a laser tag shooting gallery with one arm holding a baby adds extra challenge). Well... he experienced two of those, Small World was summarily slept through, which is probably for the best so as not to ruin his brain with that earworm of a song. Still, anything for air conditioning. The night was wrapped by going to our favorite restaurant in DCA and getting front row seats to their water fountain spectacular... which he also slept through.

For the drive home, we did Anaheim to the Bay in one go, with extra shitty traffic going through the grapevine (something like thirty minutes to go five miles). Mr. Babyface slept pretty much the entire time, with the occasional request for a bottle. We did make one stop in the middle with the intent of giving him a diaper change, getting ourselves some food, and letting everybody stretch a little. We chose the little convenience store + TBell that I'd accidentally told Kayla I loved her at so many moons ago because it seemed cute.

Bad idea.

None of the bathrooms had baby changing stations, so I was left changing the biggest blowout yet on the passenger side of our new car. In the store itself, Kayla was looking for Ritz crackers as something easy for her angery stomach to calmly digest, but no dice there. When we moved over to TBell, they had a bat flying about the place and were trying unsuccessfully to get it out. (The bat had actually been in the attached convenience store when I was looking for the changing station). "Fuck this shit" was said to the whole situation, and we just finished the drive. The only time baby child went nuclear was when I stopped up the street from our house to get that TBell I missed out on. So, of the seven and a half hours of time on the road, he cried maybe five minutes? As I write this, we've done the usual bedtime routine and he's sound asleep in his bassinet.

Did I mention he might be the best baby?

There's one logistical thing that I don't think I mentioned that really helped make this trip possible. Due to the amount of bottles and milking supplies required on a daily basis, we intentionally sought out hotels that had rooms with dishwashers. This allowed us a full compliment of sanitized bottles everyday without doing a bunch of hand washing that probably would've been done in the bathroom sink. It's quite the array...

Thus ends our little family road trip and the pressure for me to update this blog daily, though I'll still post as I have unfinished things to say.

After all, I don't think it can be overstated how amazing a good chicken sandwich can be.

Bloggy Blog 28 - Road Tripping, Day 3

Day three of our road trip saw no actual tripping on the road. We're at our destination, time to enjoy it.

We actually took the morning really chill, by which I mean we didn't even leave the hotel room until the afternoon. Having an annual pass to Disneyland affords us the ability to not feel like we need to squeeze every drop of enjoyment out of park tickets, so we've abused that notion many times. In this case, the first half of the day was used to take a breather after the journey down from the last couple of days.

Once we did head out, we hit up the Disney employee store that Kayla's travel agent status wound up getting her access to. There was quite a bit of merch there that we'd never seen before, and on deep deep discount. I wound up with a hat and shirt, and Kayla found a few shirts for herself. We walked out of there for less than any meal we paid for in the park today...

Micro Center is still on pause, and we decided to park our car at the parks instead of walk over from the hotel. The 90+ degree heat was the catalyst for that (and also a factor in hanging out in the hotel for so long), and it was nice to have the journey from the parking garage greatly shortened (and more exciting). We only hit DCA today, but actually got in a couple of rides and saw the Captain America musical that's being put out to pasture tomorrow.

Evan handled everything like a champ and basically just raked in the compliments all day. One person even said something to the effect of "there's baby cute, and then there's him", so apparently Kayla and I spawned a particularly attractive baby (don't know how when he shares half my genes). If I were to ask for one thing regarding him, though, it'd be for him to be more willing to ride in the stroller. If he's not fast asleep, he wants to be looking at everything... in daddy's arms. Hence, my arms are pretty tired now. Reminds me of a particular trip to the Tulsa zoo forever ago where one of my twin siblings fell asleep in my arms towards the start and I carried them for the remainder of the trip. The difference between then and now is that I'm twenty years older and less supple...

But, I digress. All in all, even though we didn't hit the parks with our usual vigor, I'd say we got our fill of doing things while experiencing just being there.

Most importantly, I got my Blood Orange Cali Squeeze from Pym's Tasting Lab.

Bloggy Blog 27 - Road Tripping, Day 2

Today was day two of our Disney bound road trip. Much like yesterday, it went pretty smooth as far as the wee babes went. Nothing much need be said there. Traffic was a bit more of a pain, first because Waze took us through a windy highway that was under construction and down to one lane in a spot, two because infamous LA traffic. The worst of the LA traffic was in getting to our lunch destination, one Firestone Walker brewery who happens to make a couple of my favorite beers. They also happen to make a pretty damn good lunch spread.

They're the (now) maker of my favorite line of fruited wheat beers, Cali Squeeze. I first had Cali Squeeze during a food festival at California Adventure. It was a particularly hot day in November, and that beer may have hit the spot more than anything else has ever hit the spot. Then it was made by SLO Brewery, which happens to be where we were trying to go for dinner yesterday. In the intervening years, the Cali Squeeze recipe and brand has been sold off to Firestone Walker who've run with the concept. They also now sell Blood Orange Calisqueeze at DCA, and I always make it a point to get one. The larger beer in the photo above is the peach pomegranate variant only available at the brewery. It's not as good as the OG blood orange, but possibly the second best. On the way out, I had to snag a Cali Squeeze shirt to add to my growing collection of brewery T-shirts.

From the brewery, it was a pretty easy pop down to our hotel (once we found gas). Upon checking into our hotel room, I crossed over into new territory: luggage dad.

Because of time delays from our morning departure and the traffic woes, we decided to forego the shops visits we'd planned for the day. That just meant getting into the parks earlier... which still happened to be mid/late evening. Honestly, that's not necessarily a bad thing as we're in the middle of a heat wave and wandering around outside after the sun has beamed down its harshest rays is a plus. Doesn't mean it wasn't uncomfortably warm, but was slightly better.

We spent the evening wandering around both parks, not riding rides, just kind of enjoying being back and with the wee babes. He was pretty okay for the most part, falling asleep in the front pack on the walk from the hotel, though eventually waking up with his usual thirst for food. We crashed the baby center in Disneyland for a bit to feed him where I had a small mental breakdown. As we were sitting there feeding him, removed from the action and hoping his mood would improve, lots of folks were walking in the door, mostly for diaper or clothes changes. The ages ranged from baby to 5+ years and it dawned on me that a day where the whole family enjoys Disneyland with few child care pit stops was a very long way off. This was my life now and I'd never have nice things again (dramatic hyperbole added for effect).

Existential crises aside, we returned after park close where we are now. I've managed to get baby child down for now, the dishwasher loaded (more about logistics maybe later), and Kayla is sleeping off some unwellness that has befallen here. I'm incredible nervous about tomorrow, what with the temperatures being very high and the sun melting everything its light touches.

At least there will be Blood Orange Cali Squeeze.

Bloggy Blog 26 - Road Tripping, Day 1

Following from yesterday's post, we have successfully completed the first half of our journey to Disneyland with the wee babes. All told, it went fairly smoothly. We finished packing this morning, bundling up an awe inspiring amount of support materials for just Mr. Baby. Kayla and I have roughly one bag each, he's got... far more. I haven't counted. Maybe you can try.

Once all was in the car, we swung by Micky D's for breakfast/lunch and hit the road. It was pretty much a three hour straight shot down to San Luis Obispo, with only one break towards the beginning to make sure the car was adequately gassed up. It was during this gas stop that babykins had his only fussy fit (on the highway). Once the car got moving again and a pacifier was popped in his mouth, he returned to dreamland until we pulled up to the hotel. And it was smiles for days!

Pretty much immediately after the above picture, his body caught up and realized he hadn't eaten for hours and was a starving child. Nothing that a whole bunch of bottle can't fix. After his meal, it was time for Kayla and I to sate ourselves. Sadly, the place we were originally going to go was closed to memebrs only, so we had to find a backup. Where we wound up was a little marketplace that housed a few small restaurants and a taproom in the center. We gnoshed on some delightful Mexican fusion food and I grabbed some beer from my favorite Tulsa based brewery downstairs. It's not often that I see Prairie beers on tap, so that was also a delight.

Once done there, we went up the street to Target to collect some supplies we'd forgotten, and then have been crashed in the hotel room since. Tiny man has been pretty good the entire time, only really getting fussy for food as he does. As I write this, he's konked out for probably a chunk of the evening. I haven't yet tried to put him in his crib, but that's been setup and I shall try.

Tomorrow's driving situation is pretty similar to today's, maybe about a half hour longer depending on how LA traffic fares. I'm feeling fairly optimistic. As mentioned, once in town we'll find me some more craft beer and bites to eat. Following that, we'll visit Micro Center, my favorite electronics/computer store in the world. Somewhere in there, we'll be hitting up the Disney employee store as well as Kayla has managed to score a way to get in there. When all that's done and we're checked into our hotel, it'll be time.

We will return...