Posted by Shane Becker on
It’s the end of the Gregorian calendar year and we’re all getting reflective and aspirational. So, in classic “I didn’t blog much this year, but it’s the end of the year so I should do a wrap up post” fashion, here’s a wrap up / looking forward post.
First of all, there were a bunch of bigs things that I didn’t do that I had been doing in years prior (and wanted to continue) or things that I wanted to start (or finish) in 2017, but didn’t.
I basically didn’t touch Dark Matter (my #indieweb implementation / Ruby on Rails CMS that powers my site) all year. I didn’t scuttle the project, but I decided that it was a much lower priority this year.
Indie Web Camp
I didn’t attend the annual Indie Web Summit this year. That’s the first one that I missed and I even lived in Portland this year. (I didn’t go to any regional Indie Web Camps, either.) I probably would’ve attended even though I didn’t do anything new to talk about, but it was a on a weekend that I got chemo poison pumped into my body.
I also was nearly completely inactive in the #indieweb IRC/Slack channels. I did pop in for a little bit to help transition Ben Roberts to being the Microformats gem owner.
Because of cancer and chemo, I didn’t really travel anywhere this year. The total solar eclipse and the post-cancer Hawaii trips are the exceptions.
The best laid plans always fail. At the end of 2016, my girlfriend Morgan and I had a plan for how we could pay off all of our debts in 2017. And then 2017 happened. “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Instead of paying off debts, I got diagnosed with cancer and accrued more debt. Same same but different.
I can’t save money until square up my debts. So this was a non-starter this year.
A combination of a few things discouraged me from doing any meaningful van improvements. 1. No extra money in the life budget for van work. 2. We weren’t living it, so van work was less pressing. 3. Cancer / chemo zapped me of any energy for physical projects.
I didn’t do anything resembling exercise or physical fitness this year during cancer and chemo days.
Looking back, I’m surprised and impressed by how much I did accomplish this year though.
I worked the whole year for my good friend Sarah Shewey at her event staffing startup called Happily as the sole developer (Ruby on Rails).
End of #vanlife
Morgan and I lived in our 1987 Volkswagen Westfalia camper van full-time for 18 months from July 2015 to January 2017. Our van is named #LittleMisadventureTime It was amazing. I don’t regret it at all, but we were both ready for a home in a house.
Portland and N8duke
We ended #vanlife by moving into a house owned by one of my BFF’s (Nate Duke, my longest friendship) and living with him and his special lady friend, Sarah Murphy. They were great at being our roommates and even greater at being my support tribe during chemo. Somehow, this was the first time that Nate and I have lived together.
At the start of 2017, I helped launch a new website and a new publishing model for CrimethInc. We publish a lot more frequently than in the past. Our eventual goal is one article per week day. For now, it’s about 3-4 articles per week. We published two books this year and have lots of plans for next year. There’s also been a small but impressive group of random strangers contributing to the project. They’re great.
This was, of course, was the biggest thing of my year (my life). I got diagnosed with advanced stage Classical Hodgkins lymphoma early in the year. In hindsight, based on the night sweats as a symptom, I think I had this cancer slowly smoldering inside of me for 5ish years.
After a bit of hurry up and wait to get to the actual diagnosis / prognosis / treatment plan. I went through chemotherapy every other Friday for six months. It was both much harder and much easier than I expected.
PS. If you ever have to go through chemotherapy, I absolutely implore you to get a port installed. Getting the chemotherapy directly through your arm veins is such a bad idea. Avoid it at all costs.
Remember that one time that I had cancer? That was so weird.
All told, I got very unlucky and then very, very lucky. The cancer that I had was one of the couple few that’s actually curable, not just treatable. I had the very best treatment and support network a person could hope for. One month after my final chemo, I got the confirmation PET scan showing that (as far as anyone can tell) the cancer is gone for good. There will be checkups over the next few years to continue to confirm that it’s still gone gone, but all signs (and statistical data) points to it’s gone for good.
Morgan’s Code School
Ben Roberts has been around #indieweb land for a long time. In a total surprise (to me), he showed up one day with a pull request that basically rewrote the entire Microformats Ruby gem.
Several years ago, I started the tiniest version of this gem and then quickly realized that it would be much bigger than I expected. Jessica Suttles took it over from there and built the first real version which was nearly spec complete. Ben brought it up to spec completeness and feature parity with the other language implementations of Microformats parsing.
I helped him release a deprecation warning version since so much backward compatibility would break. Then we released a new full version with all of his work. Then, by chance during this time, I got ownership of the
microformats gem, so we were able to rename the
microformats2 gem to simply
microformats. Dropping that 2 felt good. It also felt good to hand over the keys to the castle and let Ben fully own the gem and releases. He’s done a great job.
I launched a simple Microformats explainer site and parser sites for each of the language implementations.
One of my BFF’s, Bookis Worthy and I co-founded a startup called Sandstorm. We worked on it nights and weekends style during chemo days. Near the end of the year, we applied to Y Combinator and did not get accepted. Subsequently, we launched our first customer using Sandstorm in production: Breaker.
Total Solar Eclipse
The only traveling that I did during chemo days was 70 mile drive south from Portland, Oregon to Albany, Oregon. The occasion was to see a total solar eclipse. It was without question the most amazing experience of my life. I’m definitely going again in 2024, but hopefully I can arrange my life to see other ones between now and then.
Pretty early into the chemo process, Bookis asked me what my travel availability / plans would be in December 2017. I had no idea, but when he told me that he and the family were going to Maui for a month, I said I was in. (I’m writing this post right now in Maui.) Morgan and I booked a place for the whole month and invited friends to cycle through one week at a time.
No one really needs a reason to spend time in paradise, but this trip in particular trip was to relax with friends after this hellacious year and to celebrate that I don’t have cancer anymore. It’s been amazing. (And because of my plane ticket buying error, Morgan and I will be spending a week on Oahu too.)
Like a lot of my past end of the year wrap-ups, I have ambitious goals for next. I almost always come up short, but always still do lots of great things. I’ll likely not finish all of my goals for next year, but I’d rather aim high. That’ll be in another post.