Matt Hackmann


The thoughts and goings-on of some programmer dude.

Bloggy Blog 25 - Disney Bound

Catching back up to real-time, this'll be my second skip. But perhaps not my last.

This evening, we're getting ourselves packed and ready for a multi-day trip down to Southern California. With an annual pass burning in our pockets, Disneyland beckons. Of course, with a two month old, it's not as easy as our previous casual outings. But, given we don't know how he'll handle a longer car trip, we've really broken it down.

But first, a quick history lesson.

My very first trip to Disneyland was way back when Kayla and I were freshly dating. In trying to figure out a date thing to do, she had somewhat jokingly said "what if we go to Disneyland this weekend lol". Me, wanting to look cool and spontaneous, replied "let's do it". Within hours, Kayla had the whole thing planned out. This was a Thursday, we'd drive out the next day after work and be at the parks over the weekend, coming back on Sunday. It was a blast of a time and a cornerstone of our relationship, not only because that's when I first told her I loved her.

In the years since, we've done enough return trips to pretty much have the thing down to a science. We know the best flights and airports to fly into, the best hotels to stay at, and how to optimize our time at the parks for the most rides/best time. Leave Saturday morning, come back Sunday evening. For special occasions, we'll do something extra like stay a little bit longer or at one of the Disney hotels, and make it a little more special.

I can't explain what it is about being there that's a magical time, but it is and has kept us going back. We've deep dived into Disneyland history and lore, which only enriches the experience while we're there. It seems there's always some new nook or cranny to explore, something new to see, something we haven't eaten. All that said, stands to reason that we'd want to start experiencing this as a family as soon as possible (the aforementioned annual passes help).

Back to the original topic.

Traveling with a two month old comes with its own new set of logistics. Clothes, diapers, feeding supplies, transporation. All of these things need to be thought about in advance and packed for, with extra thought for multiple contingencies. Granted, it's not like we're leaving the comforts of America behind; a big box retailer will always be somewhere close by should we need something. And it's not like Anaheim is that far away, just a six to seven hour drive. Which is a lot for a baby sure, but we're taking baby steps.

Day one, we'll drive half way and stop in San Luis Obispo. There, we'll chill at a brewery I'm a fan of, get some grub, maybe hang out at the beach. It's also a point to assess how the wee babes is handling things. If he absolutely hates driving for that long (and there's evidence to the contrary), it's only three hours. The next day, we'll finish the journey into Orange County, stopping along the way at a brewery/restaurant we've not been to and hitting up a couple stores before checking into our hotel. From there, we can enjoy some casual time in the parks before properly visting for the next couple days (or three; it's in the air).

I'm mildly apprehensive about keeping baby kid fed and happy for that much time while in the parks, but it'll be a learning experience for all of us. We'll figure it out and adjust as we go, and I'm sure a great time will be had by all. I don't want the family trip to be an elusive thing that's just waiting for "the right time". The right time is when we make it.

And that time is now.

Bloggy Blog 24 - Doing Hard Things

Perhaps not hard so much as incredibly inconvenient.

My Peloton app has been harassing me over the last few days about my next bike ride being my 200th. Hoping to obtain one of those sweet shout outs, I selected a live ride with a certain Matt Wilpers, one of my favorite instructors. If my Peloton user name were to pass through anybody's lips, he's at the top of the top three I'd want to make that happen. The big problem with live Peloton rides is that their studio is in New York City. And those usually happen in the morning. Three hours ahead of us.

This ride was at 5am.

I did it. It was fine even if I didn't get a shout out. But, my god is that early. I tried to bail, but Kayla encouraged me to do it, if only because my alarm had woken everybody up and it damn well have better been worth something. It was during this ride in the wee hours of the morning that I realized that this was part of a larger trend I've taken in the last decade or so of my life: setting a bar that's annoyingly (but not unachievably) high and then using social pressure to force me to do it.

In a very similar situation, when my LinkedIn colleagues and I were going through our bikes phase - seriously, I need to write a post about the various phases that happened in that group - we would organize group rides from San Mateo into the office, which was then located in Mountain View. That's a solid 24 miles of biking and a hell of a way to wake up. Why from San Mateo? That's where everybody lived... except me. I was in Sunnyvale. That meant to join up with every one at 5-6a to be at the office around 7:30a, I was taking the 4:45a train to get from Sunnyvale to San Mateo, not including the ten minutes it took me to bike from my apartment to the train station. But, that social pressure and FOMO "forced" me to do it.

As a more professional anecdote, one of the first big projects I took on at LinkedIn at over advertised my abilities. I was going to be writing the browser component regardless, but we were strapped for backend engineers so I said I'd take that on as well. LinkedIn's backend is written in Java, a language I'd touched maybe once before. On top of that, I had very little idea of how any of that stuff was stitched together. Still, I had a fair amount of general knowledge, was able to trial and error my way through code, and had written a whole bunch of C# in my previous job, which isn't too dissimilar to Java. It was going to be annoying and tedious, but I set the bar annoyingly high, ensured somebody was holding me accountable, and I got it done. Had to pull a couple evenings at home making it happen, but I learned a lot and built up clout with other members of the team.

These are but a couple larger examples of me doing this, but there are lots more. Hell, this little blog challenge could be considered in similar vein. I set the bar annoyingly high and my mom is the accountability check, though Kayla has since joined in that camp as well.

Now, if only I could find somehow to be held accountable for the annoyingly high bar of making an electronics YouTube channel...

Bloggy Blog 23 - Zelda Must be Talked About

I have a long history with Zelda. My first encounter with it was in the mid-90s when my family had acquired an NES and we were looking for new games to rent. Though to this day he won't admit to it, my dad chose Zelda as his rental option on a particular rental trip. I don't think he played much, but my brothers and I were hooked. Since then, Zelda has been a cornerstone of our gaming lives, staying on top of most every release (main line releases, at least). To this day, I consider the SNES's A Link to the Past to be one of the greatest games ever made. As a kid, it took a whole year to complete that game. Zelda was all the time ever time. In adulthood, Zelda was not quite as all consuming as a kid, but still there. A new game would come out, I'd play it to completion for two or three dozen hours, and then I'd move one.

Then Nintendo releasd Breath of the Wild.

In some ways, it's barely a Zelda game. It has various proper nouns that have been a part of the series since forever, but the refined narrative and gameplay mechanics that took root in the SNES/N64 era of games was mostly gone. But, it's also the most Zelda-like game, the OG Zeldas where you roam around and discover the vast world you've been set in. There's a reason it took a year to finish ALttP (beyond being limited to playing twenty minutes at a time): there's a lot of nooks and crannies to check out. Somehow, Breath of the Wild had successfully translated this to a modern setting. Run towards a tower you haven't actived but be distracted by ten cool looking things on the way there until you've wandered so far off course, you don't even remember what you were doing originally. And it manageed to keep doing that for dozens upon dozens of hours of gameplay. I played that game for over a hundred hours before I finally threw up my hands and decided to actually finish the main story. I could've done that at any point, but there was just so much to see.

And then they released a sequel to that game.

Surely, lightning could not strike twice. But, as I look at the play time for Tears of the Kingdom, I've put in a load more hours than I did Breath of the Wild. Not only is there that giant world from the original game to re-explore with all the changes that come with the narratives big Upheaval, but an entire uverground of the same size and a vast amount of stuff floating around in the sky. It's easy enough to get in the zone running around chasing down shrines, then doing light root exploration underground, or floating around from island to island tracking down god knows what. You can do that for five minutes or hours. Some of the best video game playing I've ever done and I really don't want to finish the main story line, even though all I have left is to defeat the big baddie.

And yet, I don't know if I'll ever feel the same way about Tears of the Kingdom or its predecessor how I feel about A Link to the Past. While it's come close to giving me a sense of the child-like wonder I felt playing that game in the 90s, it doesn't consume my every thought.

Probably because everything as a kid is a million times more magical and all I want now is to sleep and take an adequate shit.

Bloggy Blog 22 - The Eyes Doth Protest Too Much

My eyes burn with the fury of a thousand suns. It is late, I attempted to run more and faster today, but it's left my body in a state. Tomorrow, I'll need to be cogent while Kayla picks her parents up from the airport and I watch the wee baby at home.

What I'm trying to say is "I'm tired and I want easy content". One minute blog challenge it is. Actually, let's make it two minutes. Typing is slow. Here we go.

Writing a daily blog is a tiresome thing, especially when you're trying to do anything that has meaning and flow. My writing style tends to be very stream of consciousness, with very little in the way of pre-planning. This is probably self-evident if you read anything I write. There's some flow to it, but I'm easily distracted. Honestly, I approach a lot of things in life like this. When I'm working on a problem at work, I tend to do nothing for a long time, staring out the window and chewing through the bigger details in my mind. Then I kind of write everything in a blind fury, filling in the details as I go until I hit a problem that hadn't occurred to me. So... I don't know what any of this has about blogging dail-

And there it is. I'm going to do that thing about putting the baby down I talked about yesterday and hopefully get another 5-6 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Bloggy Blog 21 - Do We Have the Best Baby?

When you see a hyperbolic question posed in the title of an article, it should be assumed the answer is "no". But, what my theory presupposes is perhaps the answer is... maybe?

By far the most resounding joke made to and about new parents centers around sleep deprivation, and with good reason. Whether your new human is constantly fussy or just needs to be fed every two or three hours, a normal adult sleep schedule is going to be interrupted. Instead of relying on multiple hours of continuous uninterrupted sleep, get used to sleep in shorter bursts whenever you can get it. This hasn't been untrue in our case, but I feel like we've definitely gotten the easier end of the stick. Me especially since I've volunteered for the night shift.

It's morning as I write this, and we've exited a what's become (and is currently) a fairly typical night. The routine starts around 10-11p, where the TV is turned off and we begin migrating towards the bedroom. The variability is generally centered around waiting for the wee babes to get hungry or for us to finish watching whatever we're watching; I'm not going to be beholding to a particular arrangement of the clock hands. Once the move is made, a bottle is made and begins warming as I do a diaper change and stuff the kiddo into a swaddle. Moving to our bedroom, we've turned off all but one lamp that's set to a dim red and flipped on rain sounds. (I don't know if he actually cares about the rain sounds, but I like it; I often have rain sounds playing behind my music as I work). There, he'll be fed the bottle until he stops eating and passes out, usually making it about half way through. Once he's been calm for what seems like long enough, I put him in the pack and play bassinet that's next to our bed.

And wait.

About five minutes later, he'll wake up and start fussing, just a bit. The rest of the unfinished bottle is administered and he gets some tummy time on the soft bed that is my very hair chest. Again, once he seems calm enough, I put him back down in the bassinet.

Mission accomplished.

At that point, he'll sleep upwards of six hours with a fifty percent chance of needing a quick twenty minute feeding session in between. It's a pretty great way to be, though the feed-put-down-wake-up-feed-put-down ritual gives me some anxiety. Like, what if I put him down the second time and he doesn't stay down? What if he fights it?

That kind of leads into the second way that he's "the best baby", because sleep isn't the only part of that equation. Since birth until now (and, if we're lucky, it holds true going forward), he's been a very needs oriented complainer. Meaning, he really doesn't fuss unless he actively needs something, and that something is a bottle nine times out of ten. It was entertaining being the parents in the mother/baby ward sandwiched between two rooms where you heard babies constantly screaming and ours was just super chill. There was one night that was a little worse than the others, but again, that's for a different post. All told, if he's not in distress, he's either sleeping or a happy baby soaking in the wonder of life outside the womb. And that's pretty damn cool.

So, do we have the best baby? No. The best baby is all of the above while organizing food drives for those in need and fighting for trans rights.

But we have a pretty damn good baby.