Matt Hackmann


The thoughts and goings-on of some programmer dude.

Revisiting Ancient Cherry Picking

Occasionally, I get bored and/or anxious and, instead of doing something productive, I will turn to reading the deeper regions of this very blog. On one such occasion earlier this evening, I ran accross this little gem. For those who don't follow the link, it's a post in which I posit that, every two years, my life checks off some societal major milestone. While an argument could be made that the provided evidence is heavily cherry-picked to support the argument, some compelling points are made. Starting college, beginning my career, and moving out are all big life events. That these all happened at a cadence of once every couple of years is interesting.

What's more interesting was the end of that post, where I attempted to predict the next several cycles of earth shattering life events. To be fair, the ideas put forth aren't very novel and aren't necessarily wrong... except the timing. And that brings us to the conceit of this article: let's catch things up and see how that theory held up.

Catching Up


In the original post, I suggested that 2015 would be the year I started going steady with a "nice girl". This was probably more projecting of my desires at the time than anything based in evidence, and I most certainly did not have any long term romantic situations in 2015. I was correct in that I was still at LinkedIn, but the biggest thing I think happened that year was probably moving to San Mateo. Not a huge shift, really. I suppose it was also the year where I started my spiral into depression?


Well, I certainly wasn't married to the "nice girl" that I supposedly was dating in the previous milestone year. In fact, the biggest thing I think happened in 2017 was moving to a different apartment in San Mateo. And got more depressed?


Here's where my original ideas start catching up to reality, if not in timing, at least in sequence. Found that "nice girl" in Kayla and we moved into a house together. Sweet, we're back on track.


Got married in 2021 to the same person I was seeing in 2019, restoring credibility to the prescience of my 2013 self.


And, rounding it out, 2023 will see the birth of our first kid. Also, I've now been living in California for ten years? What the fuck?

Okay, we're caught up and kinda-sorta vidicated the predictions of my past self. Let's do this extrapolation exercise again, looking forward to the next three cycles.

The Future


Given the plan as it exists now, somewhere 2025 we'll be expecting child number two. Does that count as a big life event after becoming a father once? Probably. (If you're reading this in the future, child number two, I love you :D)


Y'know... at this point, we're kind of running out of giant life events. What's left? Sending a kid off to college? Starting a mid-life crisis? By this time, I'll be over forty, but crossing that line will have happened the year before, breaking the proposed two year cycle. It'd be nice to have a house attached to the ground, but that's not a huge life event and really falls into the vein of years 2015/2017...


I got nothing. Maybe at this point, huge life events are just staying alive...

I started out writing this as an interesting though exercise, much like I'm sure the first one was. Despite the radical difference that my day-to-day life will take in the next few years, life really is kind of hitting cruising altitude. There's nothing wrong with that, it's just how things go.

Maybe I'll wait another eighteen years before I revisit this idea.

The Duty of Diligence

If there were a way for a casual viewer to passively keep tabs on updates to this blog, they might think that the lack of an appearance of the one thing that has remained consistent would be harbigner of said blog's final demise. But, while late, here we are. Being in the middle of travel pushed out the publication of my annual reflection, but it is here.

Hi, you. Welcome back.

I'm in an interesting position this year, I feel. Even different from past years, where I felt I was in some sort of limbo waiting for things to happen. Indeed, there's a certain amount of "limbo" now that you're a married man and the search for love is over, but it's basically a limbo at a known cruising altitude. Okay, whatever.

What's in store for 2022? Assuming your little swimmers are as good as that app says that they are, you're either Daddy Matt or soon-to-be Daddy Matt. How that timing plays out is anybody's guess, but I'm putting my money on the "soon-to-be" version of history.

As for the things that pad your life around the expectancy of spawn... well, that's the unknown. Disney trips, sure. There's the talk of going to New York City. Dennis' 50th birthday bash is... coming up very soon, actually. Lots and lots of house projects on the brain: exercise room, changing office rooms, doing up a nursery, building more furniture. And, of course, there's that burning desire to Hakk's Lab it up: SNES boombox, house sign, anything utilizing the fun of the maker's space, possibly those house projects?

I dunno. Whatever you've done this year, I hope you take care of yourself and your wife and just enjoy things.

Before I go into it, a muse. The format of this series of letters at some point devolved into predictions of the future and perhaps a short list of things I wanted to achieve at the time of writing. What that leaves me with at the end of the year is a "hey, I called it!" and "didn't achieve that... again" post. I suppose the whole point is to capture my thoughts at a moment in time, and later reflect on it with the benefit of hindsight. Is that useful? Is it a notch in the ruler of my life that I can use to measure whether I've improved over the previous year (whatever that measurement looks like)? I dunno...

The "limbo" thing is an interesting note to open this letter on. At various points in my life, it's felt like I was waiting for something. Be it college, career, relationship, or some other fourth thing, I've often had a background feeling that I'm just waiting for the next thing in life. I'm sure the feeling has been touched upon somewhere in the depths of this blog's archives. Per my message to myself, I'm in a perpetual "limbo" now, but it feels less like it. Probably because my future is progressing with more knowns than unknowns these days; variables like career and relationship are much closer to constants. Still, with fewer and fewer seeming big milestones left ahead of me, I find myself in the beginning stages of dreading the end of the ride. That's fun.

To the point of things planned, Daddy-to-be Hakk was a spot on bet as Kayla and I are expecting the birth of the Wee Baby Evan this coming June. There was a small hiccup in the process of child creation, but all things considered, wound up pretty much exactly what we hoped for in an optimal scenario. Kayla is going into week sixteen of pregnancy and, thus far, no puking has happened. I don't think she's appreciated my open readiness for barf bowl fetching (as I was conditioned to during my mom's pregnancies). We haven't done much prep at this point, mostly getting over the "bad statistical chances of miscarraige" hump plus all the holiday stuff we've been doing, but now that all that's past, I anticipate the "get ready for baby" machine will be starting up very soon.

The remaining things I mush together in that one paragraph were fairly spot on, with 2022 acting as a little bit of a catch up after our plans to do just about anything in 2020/2021 were foiled by the pandemic. A week was spent shredding gnar up in Heavenly with the LinkedIn gang, centered around Dennis turning 50. Kayla and I did a lot of various travelling, including but not limited to many Disneyland trips. We visited New York, hit up Las Vegas during a rare work conference for me, and went on a small road trip up to Bend to see Weird Al in concert. Making up for her absence in 2021, Maggie even paid a visit in July and we showed her all the fun things life can offer outside the confines of boring-ass Oklahoma.

Of the various projects mentioned in that paragraph, a lot of that was a hit as well. We repainted/refloored the room off our bedroom into a pretty kick ass exercise area. While I never actually made another visit to Maker Nexus after the writing of that letter, I did obsess over and eventually purchase a CO2 laser that I haven't quite taken advantage of as much as I could have yet. The house sign did get cut, though remains mostly unassembled. But 60+ keychains were made for our Disney cruise that I'm quite pleased with.

Hakk's Lab, as it often has been, was a no show. I have no good excuse for why this is outside of good old fashioned procrastination and debilitating perfectionism. I should just be filming things, perfectly tuned narrative be damned. The arrival of the Wee Baby Evan is going to make this much of anything towards [video] making more difficult. Though, I do have illusions of editing while front packing a sleeping babby...

There's my thoughts on my thoughts on 2022. This next year is going to be interesting, for sure, and I'd like to do a better job of documenting it on this website that I pay money for every month. Will I in actuality? Who knows...

Only I control that fate.

The Corona Report - Day 881

Yes, I verified that number, it's accurate. Over three bloody years into this. And, for three bloody years, somehow Kayla and I have avoided to catching this thing. Even with the reintroduction of travel, trips to Disneyland, and going to restaurants all during both the delta and omicron waves, it seems we're impervious. Sure, we're still good about masking and we're both triple vaxxed, but you'd assume at some point it'd catch up with us.

You can go ahead and change all the verbs in the above paragraph to past-tense, because it did catch up... at least for me.

Last week, during the SurveyMonkey summer company shutdown, Kayla and I treated ourselves to a short cruise to get away from it all before we both returned to work (end of summer break for her). Now, we'd gone on a longer cruise as part of our honeymoon in December, a much longer cruise on a larger boat right as omicron was beginning its meteoric rise. And yet, we somehow escaped that one unscathed, despite the fact that I kept referring it to as the "COVID Cruise"; I was convinced we were going to come away infected. Perhaps its because our booster vax was still fresh in our veins, or perhaps its because mask enforcement was still a thing on cruises at the time, but we walked off that boat with clean bills of health. Whatever the reason, I actually hadn't given that much thought to the "COVID Cruise" joke this time around, despite raised infection rates due to the BA.4/5 variants of omicron currently floating around. But, given the timing of appearance of my symptoms, I most definitely caught it while we were there.

Oddly enough, Kayla is still as-of-yet unnaffected despite the fact that we were pretty much in the same places all the time.

Originally, I thought I had caught something else. I was doing daily self-tests coming off the boat, and those were all turning up negative. I'd spent Saturday helping Kayla pull her classroom together, which, after months of non-occupancy, had become quite stale and dusty. I'm allergic to dust and some of the symptoms lined up. Going into Sunday evening, however, I had that familiar feeling of being internally too warm. A quick IR blip of my forehead confirmed that my temperature as a bit north of where it should have been. Despite my negative test that morning, I decided I'd do one more test that evening.

A deep swab of the nostrils (I'm a masochist), a swish in the test juice, and four drips onto the test pad. Set timer for twenty minutes...

There it was. EXTERMELY faint such that I needed a flashlight to confirm for sure, but the second line was indeed there. I had Kayla confirm as well and then started going through the mental exercises of "oh god, what do we need to do?" Should I isolate? I should isolate. But Kayla's already been hanging around me and should've caught it from the same place I did. She was about to go back to school and be around the public at large, should she go ahead and call out sick? We decided that she would take another test and, if it was negative, I'd isolate and we'd both test again in the morning to determine if I had a false positive and if she was good to head to work.

She tested negative, and, after a slightly tearful "good bye", I resigned myself to the guest bedroom. Luckily, we'd just refurnished it in anticipation of my sister visiting, so I'd have a comfy bed and a TV. Quite cush, really. However, the fever continued to rise, hovering just under 102, and I never really got sleep. Morning came and we did our tests. Kayla once again was negative, I was very definitely positive. I guess my nose was now holding more viral load.

That's pretty much been my life for the last nearly twenty-four hours. I've watched untold amounts of long-form video essays on YouTube and still haven't really slept. My fever broke for just a bit this evening, but now seems to be coming back. The only real down-side (outside of not being able to be around my wife) is the fact that we did not plan meals with the anticipation that I would be at home this week. That's meant a lot of trail and chex mix for me throughout the day. It's definitely gotten old, but I didn't really feel like trying to be clever and cook something either.

So, this is my prison for the remainder of the week. Maybe I'll finish playing Ace Attorney Chronicles. Maybe I'll finish reading Dune. Too bad I won't be able to tell my intern "buh bye" in person, as it's his last week. Despite the fact that I tried to rest today, I'll probably be back WFH'ing tomorrow.

Hopefully I can get some sleep first..

Per Annum

Some things in life are fairly constant. Sun comes up, goes down, things die, people do dumb things, and this blog will be updated no fewer than once per year. And no greater.

Oh dear me, another year, another letter to myself.

I don't blame you for getting everything about 2020 wrong (except where it counted). Everybody did. I want to be optimistic about this year, but also want to keep that tempered in reality.

Let's get the obvious out of the way: you're gonna marry Kayla. With any luck, the pandemic cooperates enough to have a lovely little wedding and a lovely little getaway to Hawaii. Be sure to get down to 200lbs and have a sweet beach bod before you go, though. Thaaaaanks.

Still no reason to believe that you'll be gone from SurveyMonkey by the time you read this. Staff eng? I dunno... some days it sounds nice, some days it sounds like more pain than its worth. Pricing pages have gotten old and I don't know if I want that to be the feather in my cap or if it'd even be enough of a feather. I can do more good elsewhere.

Other things I'd like for you to achieve this year:

  • Finish the SNES boombox and any/all Hakk's Lab videos that would come with that.
  • Get back into running, at least a little. It fucking sucks, but it also works. If you can half-marathon, awesome. I'll settle for a 10k, though.
  • Complete one piece of woodworked furniture, don't care what it is.
  • Go to Disneyland. Really, that's out of your control, but hey.
  • Figure out the damned random blue screening of this computer...

Okay, so that's my letter to you in the most New Year's Resolution form it's ever taken. Have a good 2021, buddy. I'll be you on the other side.

This letter took an interesting form over previous years. Indeed, it really devolved into a "honey do" list for myself. But, what do you even write after a year like 2020? This, I guess. That list is entirely useless, too; due to how FutureMe's email system works, after that letter is written, it waits in the ether until it arrives in my inbox one year later.

But on to the itemized commentary of said letter's comments.

Kayla and I did indeed get married, and very nearly everybody we invited attended in a lovely little ceremony and get together. So much of our year was laser focused on all the bits and bobs that go into making the wedding machine chooch, that I find myself almost at a loss on what to do with time now. Doubly so since the hooneymoon is now officially over. To that point, we were able to lounge the beaches of Kauai, one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen on planet Earth (sorry, Bend). I've made the joke a few times to people and I'll leave it here for my own posterity: I didn't know nature came in those colors. It's liked the big man opened Photoshop and cranked up with saturation and said "yeah... that'll do nicely". After the Hawaii trip, we spent the week leading into Christmas on a cruise ship, avoiding COVID while enjoying the relaxation of having all your whims tended to. Once back in port, we made our way over to Disneyland to spend the actual holiday. It was cold and rainy and probably the closest thing to "seasonal" that you'll see in southern California. This wasn't too much of an issue as far as attending the parks, though, as I'd set up a surprise stay at the Grand Californian hotel on property, complete with a "secret" entrance right from the hotel into California Adventure. It really made that whole experience a little more special and much more relaxing, a great way to cap the end of the beginning of the end of my life.

If last year was the year I lost the staple of "let's theorize about the future of my love life" that's been part of these letters, then this year I lost the staple that was "maybe this is the year for staff eng". After taking the engineering lead position on a project that lasted pretty much the first half of the year, I apparently proved to the suits above me that my work is deserving of that "Staff Engineer" label. It hasn't necessarily changed the things that I do day-to-day, but I do have a new sense of pressure on myself because people _do_ notice the title and I feel like it has changed the nature of coworker interactions, especially for folks I've not interacted with. Or that's in my head. One thing I'm looking forward to changing is the work from home situation. Again, I'm very thankful that my job is such that I can achieve these things from my own house, but my brain needs that mental separation of "work there, live here" that I'm currently not afforded. Supposedly, the office will be opening back up again in two or three weeks, but with the introduction of COVID-19 v3, we'll see.

Okay, let's hit that list of things to achieve and see how I scored:

  1. Not part of the list list, but I mentioned (again) hitting 200lbs. Didn't achieve that this year, but I managed to fall from my Christmas high of 236lb fairly quickly last year and settled in around 217lb going into this Christmas season. I did put on cookie/booze weight, but ten pounds fewer than last year.
  2. Nope. Hakk's lab made zero progress this year. Still have projects, still have scripts, have even more cool camera equipment and access to the nifty tools in the maker space I belong to. Oh, I guess there was that GBA unboxing video I made for Tiktok, but those GBAs are sitting mostly unfixed and unloved at this point, just waiting for their time on camera. Really, my free time efforts were entirely thrown at the wedding and resting from throwing effort at the wedding. I'll really have to do a post on all the things we made for that as it was quite a lot.
  3. I did do quite a lot of running last year, especially in the latter half of it. Accordingly to Strava, I logged nearly 130 miles ran. While I never did anything longer than 4mi, I was doing 5k up to a couple times a week, even an in person race! And while my speed remains shit, and I have a hard time in distance, I've gotten to a point where I don't hate running. Not sure I'd say I enjoy it... y'know, I might actually enjoy it. That's progress!
  4. I actually did this one! I built myself a shelf to hold my record player and records. It's nothing super spectacular and there are some... off measurements here and there, but it works well and I'm actually fairly proud of it. The first of many things, I hope!
  5. Been to Disneyland lots. Went for their outdoor only food fest in March, went for my birthday after they reopened, and we're card carrying members again as of , with trips lined up for the next three months. We've got a lot of Disney to cram in before wee ones enter the picture and make that a trickier situation.
  6. The blue screening computer was an odd item to add to the list. I built this machine in 2017 for video editing and it had the most random blue screening problems. It often happened while using Adobe products, but sometimes it didn't happen for months at a time. I guess when I wrote that letter, the issue was rearing its head again. Well, I did find the root of the problem and it turns out I had a bad stick of RAM. New RAM, not a single problem since. Yaaayyy...

Okay, so that's my look back at my look forward of 2021. What will 2022 bring? Probably 2022 new versions of COVID from the petri dish of an unvaccinated install base of humans...

The Corona Report Day 292 - Past Me Can Only Be Wrong

Per annual, I recently received a letter from my former and younger self. I've been anticipating this one, because... well, didn't really see 2020 coming (eye pun intended).

Dear FutureMe,

Well, that was one hell of a 2019, with 2020 looking even crazier (but in a good way). From my vantage point, these are the big ticket items:

A lot of things lined up for you and Kayla. The cruise should be fun, hopefully not a repeat of her previous cruise experience. Japan via Hawaii had damn well better have happened; it's been far too long since I've been back. Just hope Kayla enjoys Tokyo even a fraction as much as we do. But speaking of you and Kayla, barring anything cataclysmic happening (god, I hope not), she should be your fiance when you read this. I've got a few ideas about the proposal already (Disneyland or her birthday in August, maybe a beach-side proposal in Hawaii), but I'm curious to know how you'll have approach it. Don't do it half assed, but don't make a spectacle.

Assuming SurveyMonkey doesn't go under, you'll still be there and probably on growth. If you play your cards right, maybe a Staff Eng? Will be curious to see if Salesforce makes a move...

In theory, you'll have run definitely one half-marathon, but potentially two if Dennis comes through on his word. I'm hoping you'll have figured out a good workout routine and have broken the 200lb barrier. Do it for me; I worked damn hard this year to get this close.

You'll have probably put out at least one episode of Hakk's lab, the one about the SNES boombox. The house is still a mess at this point, but I'm ready to pounce on that very soon. If things get into a good cadence, maybe a few episodes? Try breaking the 1000 subs barrier this year. That'd be dope.

Okay, getting wordy. I'm not going to leave a cryptic message at the end of this one, because nothing's gonna happen.

Don't fuck up 2020!

(Trump won't get re-elected, btw. Drinking a bottle of cabsav for me if I'm right)

Before I get into the ranting, I should say I'm thankful for what I did have in 2020; namely my own health, the health of my friends and family, a very stable job, and the greatest lady I could wish for to weather out a pandemic with. Okay, that was important to say and now I've said it.

Good god, right out of the gate. "2020 looking even crazier", but it definitely wasn't in a good way. I mean, there were definitely some very high points that I'll remember for the rest of my life, but ugh... What's the opposite of prophetic? And I accidentally turn phrases like this not once, nor twice, but three times over the course of this letter. Shall we get into it?

It's a strange thing to be in this position I am now, writing this usual letter, because it always starts off with "hur hur, how's Matt's love life?" and now I'm in a committed relationship. In fact, one of the two things I actually got right in my future gazing was that we'd exit the year engaged. Arguably, a lot of that happening was in my court. Indeed, on April 12th in front of a green screen in one of the spare bedrooms, I popped on one knee and asked the question (for posterity, she said "yes"). Before that, we did get our cruise to the Bahamas and, even though I was clearly set on it when I wrote this letter, my actual decision to ask Kayla to marry me was made on that trip. Good thing we snuck that in, because it wasn't a month later and shelter-in-place happened and we've not been able to hit a single other thing mentioned in that list. Love that line about "barring anything cataclysmic happening"... I yearn for Disneyland, now nine months closed. I yearn for Hawaii, a place I've never been to. And, of course, I want to return to Japan. Hawaii was in the cards for our honeymoon (bought and paid for), but the ongoing pandemic forced us to push the whole wedding thing to the end of the year... so we hopefully will be chilling on a beach while everybody else is eating turkey and cranberry sauce. And maybe we can go to Disneyland again. Funny the attachment I've developed for the place considering I first went in 2019 (with Kayla, to be fair).

SurveyMonkey's doing fine and I'm more or less where I was, though I've stumbled onto a different growth focus and somewhat different team while at it. I'm being considered a technical lead there, but haven't cracked the Staff Engineer nut quite yet. And there's absolutely no basis for the Salesforce comment. I don't have material information like that and, obviously, you shouldn't trade on anything I say. It's pure speculation on my part, but an acquisition wouldn't be that surprising. I'd prefer it to be MSFT, though, and get roped back into the fold... (again, speculation).

Nope, no half marathons. Once the RunDisney thing got cancelled, I more or less just stopped running. Work from home also threw a bit of a wrench into my exercise routine. Most of my exercise had been done at the office and was quite routine, but that kind of went away with the routine of going to work. Kayla and I invested in a Peloton bike in early summer and that helped get things into a better situation. In addition to that, I got some resistance bands to try and replace the free weights I no longer had access to and also try to get in long walks a couple times a week. Not quite what I'd been doing in 2019 where I was just boredom'ing away free time with random power excursions, but the last third of the year was pretty good. I was making meaningful weight loss again and feeling pretty good... only to literally gain it all back as cookies and beer weight in December. For real. On December 3rd, I weighed in at 221lb (my lowest number since March) and when I stepped on the scale yesterday was at 237lb. Ooops. That 200lb goal is still in place, then, though I'd like to hit that in time for the wedding. Gonna kickstart that this month by going dry, closing my exercise rings every day, and avoiding sweet treats.

Hakk's Lab is 1.5 years without a new episode at this point. I've got projects in flight, I've got scripts written, just haven't shot anything. Some of that can be attributed to the shift away from personal projects to wedding planning/DIY when we're still operating towards our original wedding date of February 13th. Some of that is good ol' perfectionist procrastination on my part. Some of that is I'd rather just hang out with my fiance. I'd like to make more headway on that this year, the SNES boombox at the very least. Once kids enter the picture, it's going to be much harder to pour any kind of time into these endeavors. Though, with a baby chest holster, editing and coding would still be possible...

"Don't fuck up 2020!"... Three strikes, you're out.

Lastly, I was correct in my election call, though not as cush in margins as I would have liked. And, I couldn't have predicted the nonsense train that happened afterwards. You get a secure feeling in the structure of your government when those acting in it at least try to have an outward appearance of civility. Still, when inauguration day chimes in and the power is officially transferred, I do have a bet to call in...