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Paternity Leave Project: Blog v3

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Welcome to my redesigned blog! I've been away on paternity leave for the past few months due to the arrival of my second child (Welcome Emma!). Being able to spend some much-needed time with my family has been a blessing, and I feel recharged and ready to tackle new challenges. I spent the time revamping everything here from code to content to art to design, so feel free to explore a bit or stick around here to hear how leave went. Enjoy Hulce Thoughts -- version 3.0!

I realized about halfway through my leave that I hadn't taken such a long break from working since the summer of my freshman year of high school. When my son was born, I was still running Optyx and could only really disconnect for about 4 days before I had to at least be back on top of customer support again, and back to full-time within 6 weeks. Although my time away from work was well-spent with my family and the house not as quiet as it used to be with two under two now, I still found myself unsure how to fill my small amounts of free time.

Like all good stereotypical web developers, I turned to a blog rewrite! It was both a creative outlet and a way to keep my skills sharp. While I've revamped the design and some new content, the core of my blog remains the same. It will continue to be a place where I share my rather personal thoughts, experiences, and insights for my own benefit. Whether you're a fellow developer, a curious reader, or just passing through, I hope you'll find something here that resonates with you, but even if you don't or no one ever reads this, it was still a blast :)

I couldn't let redesigning my blog to just be a code overhaul though. I wanted to spruce things up a bit and round out my content too. I've accumulated lots of blog post fragments and ideas over the years but never had the motivation to sit down and flesh them out. However, over the past month and a half, I've finally be able to go back and put the finishing touches on a dozen posts to make them publishable.

It was actually pretty incredible and gratifying to take so much time to reflect on my experiences and accomplishments of the past decade. Practicing gratitude and re-establishing a lower quality of life baseline is one of my favorite life satisfaction hacks. Revisiting the Bardos Foundation, my sale of Optyx, achievements with Lighthouse, or even just how much better I've learned to handle cold symptoms was an excellent reminder of how much I've grown.

I've done my best to create a diverse range of articles, from more technical breakdowns to deeply personal essays that reflect my experiences as a developer, entrepreneur, and dad. I hope you enjoy the new content, and please feel free to connect with me on Twitter / Mastodon (UPDATE: Threads, how fast can we keep up!) to share your thoughts too.

I also took the opportunity to play around a bit with Midjourney, a generative AI tool that's ideal for artistic compositions. As a photographer, I frequently have pretty clear vision in my head that I'm striving to capture, but I've always been limited by my complete lack of drawing ability, reality (can only really photograph what's really there), or patience (in my youth I did a lot more photo composition in Photoshop but these days with 2 kids ain't nobody got time for that). However, with Midjourney, all of these obstacles were erased, and the iteration time between a vision in my head and pixels on the screen was practically instant.

The experience was a ton of fun, and it was incredibly satisfying to no longer be so limited in fulfilling my vision. I was able to add unique and personalized artwork to all my blog posts for the past 10 years, which brought them to life in a whole new way. It also allowed me to experiment with different styles and techniques that I wouldn't have been able to do at all (Pixar-style self portrait anyone?).

While I can definitely see the concern for artists and their future in a world of cheap AI art, I also can't help but think of all the people who felt shut out of this beautiful art world but can now express their ideas visually. Midjourney has opened the door for people with limited artistic abilities to finally create their own pieces. I hope the community at large can find a way to ensure all participating artists are fairly compensated while still democratizing access to this incredible tool for self-expression.

As my paternity leave comes to a close and I stare down my first day back at work in over 3 months, I'm feeling a mix of emotions. I'm anxious about being rusty. I'm excited to participate in a world of grown ups again. I'm sad to be missing out on time with my kids. And I'm relieved to be getting back to a more familiar work-family-kid balance. Don't get me wrong, parenting has brought me the highest highs I've ever known. In fact, four out of the top five moments of my entire existence have occurred in the past two years since my first child was born. But too much of a good thing can make you forget its value.

I love my kids, and I will undoubtedly miss being able to randomly take my son to the zoo in the middle of the week because he was thinking a lot about elephants that day. But, as any parent who has been stuck in quarantine with a toddler can attest, absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder. I'm looking forward to being able to enjoy my professional pursuits and always be excited to see my children's little faces again at the end of the day.

That being said, I'm definitely still a bit anxious. My role at work has increasingly shifted further and further from the code, and sometimes I wonder if I still have what it takes to get things done. Could my attention span still handle a 10-hour coding session? Has my brain turned to mush from too much Baby Shark? I guess we'll find out soon enough.

When I do find out, I'll be sure to keep you updated as I continue writing in revamped blog v3, so stay tuned!