Aside

A dream

So with this in mind, I began to reach out to people of this marginalized community to get to know them more. And then I had epiphany number 2: These people are brilliant and amazing. Actually that doesn’t encompass it well enough, the are BRILLIANT and AMAZING. Yes, all caps is needed here.

The people I met are super intelligent, creative, patient, passionate and compassionate. They have discovered methods and tools to accomplish many of their goals, which are usually the same as yours and mine. Yet, despite being able to prove the desire and skill to do what drives them for a living, they are denied employment.

That’s the dream: To build a design and development agency comprised primarily of people that have the skills but are denied the opportunity because something allows the government to call them “disabled”, because they are not.

I’ve been thinking of something like this in the dark corners of my mind. But this is the first time I’ve seen it written down. And you know what that means? It’s more likely to happen! Read more about Gregory’s idea.

Aside

12 months, 12 journeys, 12 lessons

A quick shoutout to my friend Marissa at Abled Is. She is undertaking a fascinating exercise in empathy in 2012 by getting to know a new person each month who has a health condition or worthy cause that needs to be learned about and shared. She’s calling it “12 Months, 12 Journeys, 12 Lessons”. I’m thrilled that she has asked me to be one of the 12 participants in order to share about my condition, spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). It’s going to be interesting and fun and I can’t wait to see who all she interviews. Stay tuned.

See the very raw video explaining the idea.

Social novel writing and inclusion

It’s well into December, almost Christmas actually, but I suppose that it’s never too late for a NaNoWriMo farewell post. Anyone who follows me on Twitter, Facebook, or this very site knows that for the entire month of November I was occupied running a marathon. Fifty thousand words in thirty days. For the second year in a row I did not officially win the event (which is to say that I did not get to 50,000 words by midnight November 30). But I certainly had fun and I made it much further along than I did during my first year in 2010. I also found that National Novel Writing Month is an unusually inclusive event.

NaNoWriMo is both an easy and hard thing to define. It’s an event. It’s a challenge. It’s a game. It’s work. It’s art. It’s paradoxically social and anti-social. The event takes place on the NaNoWriMo website and in the computers and notebooks of aspiring writers the world over. The latter is where the work gets done and the former is where everyone goes to talk about it. The site lets you keep a tally of your word count, chat with other Wrimos on the forums, and stay up to date with all things NaNo. It’s social novel writing. And it’s brilliant.

It’s also inclusive. Thanks to the concept of a “home region” on the NaNoWriMo forums, I was able to get in touch with folks in Mississippi who were participating in the event. A few of us got together in person just before the first of the month to talk about our ideas (and then several times throughout the month). It was the first meetup I had been to. It was interesting and fun meeting new people who had the same dorky goal as I did. Something occurred to me. At our table, there sat a lawyer, a high school student, a waitress, an architect, and a web designer. It was a diverse bunch indeed.

And that’s when I realized that I had stumbled upon something special. I had found an activity that was inherently inclusive. At a concert or sporting event I would need special seating and other accommodations. And many activities that I can do are passive. They involve watching and being entertained. But NaNoWriMo is active, and I can participate as well as anyone else can (except the ones who finish their novels; they are totally out of my league). I think it’s important for people with disabilities to have social activities that they can participate in, especially if they spend a lot of time confined at home. NaNoWriMo is a good one because one can talk to fellow writers on the website and one can step it up a notch and attend a local meetup. And a local meetup is usually a small group conversation over coffee, so no worrying about large crowds, weird access problems, and other obstacles people with disabilities run in to.

I didn’t get to the finish line this year, but I had fun and learned things that will help me get there next November. If you are looking for an inclusive, social activity be sure to check out NaNoWriMo. And if you can’t wait until next November, then check out other Office of Letters and Light events, including Script Frenzy, and Camp NaNoWriMo.

From a broader perspective, I see NaNoWriMo as yet another exhibit of evidence that creative pursuits are worth the time and effort and that they can be especially beneficial to people with disabilities. So to all my fellow creatives out there, keep doing what you love. And to all my fellow Wrimos, here’s to a wordy 2012.

Imagine Conference 2011 – Day 1 Keynote

I am going to attempt to document as much of what I learned at Imagine Conference 2011 as I can, starting with the opening keynote. This was my first time attending the conference. In fact, I’m surprised that I had not heard of it before. I can’t say how long the conference itself has been around, but I can tell you that it is put together by the Mississippi Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities and that organization has been around for over 20 years (according to my conversations anyway). I learned a lot, saw a lot of good speakers, and came away with a better perspective of what inclusion can and should mean for all types of people with disabilities.

The opening keynote on Day 1 was the perfect way to begin a conference — of any kind. It was titled “Dwelling in Possibility: the Values, Beliefs & Habits of Inclusive Schools” and was presented by author and speaker Dr. Paula Kluth. I’ll be the first to admit that as someone who has finally finished the “schooling” part of his life and is mostly focused on employment, I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by a talk about our nation’s school systems. Boy was I wrong! In hindsight, this talk set the foundation for the rest of the conference.

A vision bigger than our vision

Rightly so, Dr. Kluth began with one of the most prolific civil rights dreamer of our time, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King was a visionary. In his epic “I have a dream” speech, he described what he saw was possible at a time when such things were very impossible. We have come a long way since then. But, sadly, people with disabilities fell behind in the civil rights movement.

It took a while for children with disabilities to gain access to schools (because why would they need to be educated, right?). Even when children with disabilities got access to schools, they didn’t necessarily get access to educations. Even when I was in grade school in the early 90s, kids with disabilities were often segregated from the rest of the kids and educated at a level deemed appropriate for them. And how was this level determined? Standardized assessments? As it turns out, neither IQ nor behavior patterns, nor any other typical data point is a good indicator of how well a kid with a disability would be included. The most reliable indicator for inclusion is zip code.

Yes, where you live is what determines how well you will be included.

Communities, parents, teachers, and administration who have higher rates of inclusion do so because they see what is possible. Had Anne Sullivan not come along and saw what was possible for Helen Keller, what would the world be like today? And what if she had given up after weeks of seemingly useless teaching? But she had a vision. And she stuck with it until Helen had her defining moment.

The point is that if people are willing to see what is possible for a child with a disability, that child has the potential to go far. The most dangerous assumption is that the student won’t learn anything. That he or she won’t understand. The least dangerous assumption is to believe that the student will understand and will learn. Because the reward will far outweigh the risks. We have to have a vision instead of writing people off. And when we think we have achieved everything that is possible, we need to have an even bigger vision.

We still have our dreams

Something happened the other day. A coincidence of sorts. I had a moment where everything came together to lift me out of what seemed like a hopeless situation. This is the kind of coincidence that one feels was intended to happen. To explain, I’m going to have to be honest and open. It’s hard for me to write about disability sometimes because I am not anonymous on this blog. You know me. I’m Blake Watson. You can look me up. I have no anonymity. But in the interest of shedding light on what I’ve been going through, I must be a bit more liberal about my own privacy. This is going to be an epic blog post.

I’ve been out of college since May 2009. I’ve been trying to find work ever since. I know I am a good web designer. I know I have a lot to learn. But I know I can succeed if given the chance. I want to contribute. I need to contribute. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life on disability.

I’m an avid learner when it comes to web design. I read constantly. I keep up with best practices and technology. I study principles of design and apply them to my work. All this has managed to keep me satisfied. I justified not having a job to myself by saying that I have been using the time productively, getting better and better at my craft. My good friend Jeff Horton, president of Stop SMA, put me to work on Stop SMA’s websites, and that has really helped me keep going during these last two years.

Earlier this year, I worked briefly as a Happiness Engineer for Automattic on a trial basis. In short: it was awesome. I could work from home just like everyone else in the company. I got to interact with great people. And I got to help people with their WordPress.com blogs. A win-win-win. But I’ve always told myself that I wouldn’t go for a position if my disability kept me from doing a good job. The primary function of the job was replying to email. And one of the things I am slowest at is writing email. Code is easier. I have tools that make me much more proficient at writing code. But good old-fashioned English language I can only output at the mind-blowing rate of about 18 words per minute, thanks to HippoRemote and KeyStrokes. Otherwise it would be a lot slower. Let me be clear. Automattic did everything right. My team leader said she was looking at quality over quantity. They gave me honest feedback and they offered to help however they could. I will forever be grateful for that. But in the end, support requests were flooding in and I didn’t feel like my output was going to help the Happiness team much. In the interest of the company and the users, I ended my trial with Automattic on good terms. It was back to square one.

About three weeks ago, things looked like they might turn around for me. I applied for a web-related position with a Mississippi-based company (of which I won’t name). I completed a questionnairre that was reserved for only the “serious” candidates. I did a one-hour phone interview. The next day, I did an in-person interview. I talked to three people and the entire interview was nearly two and a half hours. Few candidates made it that far, possibly me and one other person. I was told I would here from them, regardless of whether I was hired or not, in a couple of days.

It’s been three weeks. I’ve yet to receive any contact whatsoever. I may have to eat my words (in fact, I hope I’ll have to) but it seems that they hired the other candidate and the courtesy of calling me to let me know just fell through the cracks. I’m not making any accusations, but after a while, I start to wonder why I am able to make it to in-person interviews but never get an offer. How much does my disability affect my chances? I don’t want to think it affects them at all because that would be a tough pill to swallow.

So here I sat. At the very desk on which I am writing this post. And somehow, I stumbled upon the September 1 episode of The Big Web Show with Jeffrey Zeldman and Dan Benjamin. Let me set the stage. This podcast is big, as the title suggests. Jeffrey Zeldman is like the Godfather of web design. His circle of influence hit me early in my quest to be a web designer. And Dan Benjamin is this mad genius with a perfect radio voice who, I’m convinced, can carry on a conversation on any topic with any person and look like a seasoned expert in that area.

So there I was. And I they were covering a topic dear to my heart. Disability. And not just the usual screen reader angle. They interviewed this amazing woman, Marissa, who in many ways is going through the same thing that I’ve been going through for the last two years. And they were just chatting about her disability. And she wants to be a web designer. And she needs to work from home. And Jeffrey and Dan were taking to heart her struggle and sharing it with the world. And it was amazing.

Back in 2008, I managed to attend the awesome conference for people who make websites, An Event Apart (co-owned by Zeldman). It was one of the best learning experiences I’ve had. And I want to go to another one. But traveling is extremely difficult. And accessible hotel rooms are expensive. And the conference ticket price is expensive. So I haven’t gone back. I don’t have any web designer friends in my area. I’m isolated from that world. And it’s hard to get in when you’re isolated.

But here was Marissa. She made it to The Big Web Show and she was sharing with Jeffrey and Dan my exact frustrations, as well as my aspirations. While listening to the podcast, I get a phone call from my Mom. She felt bad about the whole job thing and wanted to take me to eat and see a movie (don’t hate, Moms are awesome!). It was in that moment that I realized something.

We still have our dreams.

Regardless of whether this company hires me or that company hires me, I am going to continue making websites. And with each one I will get better and better. Hearing Marissa’s story made me remember when I was in that same predicament. Well, not exactly the same. But close. I was just getting started in web design. It was scary. I didn’t have the means (physically or financially) to go to a design school. But I knew I wanted to make websites. I lucked out and had what may very well be the best course I ever took: Advanced Languages I with Dr. Rodney Pearson. In it, I learned JavaScript and HTML basics. I began picking up CSS and design principles on my own. I started making websites. Starting is at least half the battle. Regardless of what obstacles came in my way, I pushed forward in stubborn ignorance, determined to do what I wanted.

Sitting at my computer the other day, I realized that I had, indeed, become a web designer. I make websites. And not having a job right now isn’t going to take that away from me. I still have my dreams. One day, something big is going to happen. I’ll land my dream job. Or I’ll become a successful freelancer. And even if neither of those things happen, I’ll at least keep volunteering for charity, working on personal projects, and contributing some of my creations to the world (WordPress theme is in the works!).

We still have our dreams. We have them when we are frozen with fear. We have them when people think it silly to reach for them. We have them when it seems everything is working against us. Sometimes life can appear a bit hopeless. But when we don’t quit believing in ourselves, when we have friends and family behind us, and when we take a leap of faith, who or what is going to stop us?

The mystical gods of employment find favor in our very own, Matt Watson

That’s right, my friends. Matt got a job. And while finding any job in this economy is honorable, I find Matt’s efforts in seeking employment to be vastly unequal with the corresponding reward born of those efforts. Is there an explanation for this? Yes, there is now.

Matt, the savage dictator

Matt, the savage dictator

You see, looking at Matt’s life from the perspective of an outsider, one might be tempted to believe that Matt, having a severe disability, has managed to break through the glass ceiling and, by virtue of his unwavering determination or perhaps by his rabid stubbornness, has done what a large percentage of people with disabilities have yet been able to do—get a job.

But I’m not an outsider. I have the scoop on the strange course of events that led to Matt’s recent hiring at Mississippi State University as a Spanish lecturer. And I am about to reveal to you how my own suffering led to Matt’s good fortune.

In my brief, nine-month stint as a sixth grade student at Whitten Middle School in south Jackson, I had but one friend. The janitor. This man most likely did more work than he was being paid for, had a better attitude than many folks making more than him, and, most importantly, was willing to do a job that no one else at the school was willing to do—assist me with using the restroom. Though this was enough to let me physically survive the school year, the conglomeration of all the other terrible aspects of that year left my parents with little choice but to invest more dough into my education by sending me to private school.

As I had paved the way, Matt was soon to follow. In his fifth grade year, he began his journey to fame and fortune as a lowly newcomer to the fledgling south Jackson private school, Southwest Academy. There he began to work his way upwards through the ranks of academia. The school was very small and very poor, and eventually would close down due to successive drops in enrollment. But not before Matt exploited it for everything it was worth.

Journalism was Matt’s first love (technically second; the first was… well, you know who you are). In his senior year at Southwest Academy, he was chosen to be Editor-in-Chief of the school’s newest publication (my superior publication, the KBG Times, had since been retired). He worked extremely hard doing approximately nothing to publish the entire two issues of the paper that were designed and printed by a teacher at the school. Yet, Matt had another resume booster as Editor-in-Chief of SWA Today.

That overstated accomplishment would serve him well in his college career. That’s right, he managed to get accepted into college by scoring a 32 of the possible 36 on the ACT. However, the validity of that score is widely disputed.[1. Obviously he cheated, right?] Nonetheless, his eventual start at Mississippi State’s student newspaper, The Reflector, ushered in a new age of prosperity that Matt had not seen since his SWA Today glory days.

Matt called on a political favor to get the job of opinion writer for The Reflector. His column, Gray Matters, became an immediate hit and amassed a cult following.[2. Laz and I, and apparently some pretty hot girls that he would never introduce me to.] When the paper’s Opinion Editor was ready to move on just months later, Matt was interviewed for the job. I use the term interview loosely, because as Matt recounted to me the experience, there seemed to be much more compliments than questions. On the perceived strength of his SWA Today experience, he was given the Opinion Editor position and made him self the arbiter (read: suppressor) of truth for two years.

His experience as Opinion Editor led him to an internship at local NBC affiliate, WLBT. His general slackery and dismal job performance[3. Need I mention the "Didn't Hear His Name Called" fiasco? Or how about the "Get Burt Case to Wrap" incident?] there was heralded as a fantastic experience and inspirational accomplishment.

After graduating with a double-major BA degree in Journalism and Spanish, Matt joined the Spanish graduate program. During this time he became increasingly snobbish, often showing out his fellow students and brown-nosing his professors. His manipulation paid off when he was accepted to be a Teacher’s Assistant and was given the responsibility of teaching Spanish labs. His performance was at best lackluster and at worst rude and demeaning. He naively thought his pupils should participate in class and even (gasp!) do homework. These poor Spanish students were subjected to all sorts of cruel teaching methods such as two-minute speeches and one-page essays. Oh, the horror.

Matt graduated in May 2011 with an MA in Spanish. Needing not even apply for a job, the MSU Department of Foreign Languages called upon him out of the blue with a job offer. No, not an interview. An offer. Fittingly, the Spanish dictator in training is now among the ranks of the establishment committing all sorts of atrocities as a Spanish lecturer—and being paid for it.[4. At least enough to be a middleman of the nationwide conspiracy to distribute wealth to apartment property owners. But that's another article for another time.]

As I have made painstakingly clear, my suffering as a child at Whitten Middle School directly corresponds to Matt’s unearned ascension to power. Had he truly overcome his disability and rightfully merited his place among the American workforce, I would have applauded him. But as you now know, it was greed and corruption that were the catalysts of his prosperity. The once lowly fifth grader at a now-defunct school became a monster charged with the task of educating the next generation of workers and leaders. What a cruel world this can be.

We Hate Stairs: A creative community

In a post that I wrote not too long ago, I talked about a website where people with disabilities could discover and collaborate on creative projects. The idea is that there are people with disabilities who spend a lot of time alone and who have skills that, combined with others’ skills, could be used to make or do some pretty cool things.

Enough introduction. Down to the point: I’ve started building a site which I’m calling “We Hate Stairs.” I see We Hate Stairs as being a place where people with disabilities aren’t treated so much like people with disabilities. I’m not going to be cramming disability-related advertising down people’s throats. In fact, besides the name, there’s really no reason that a user needs to be disabled. Ah… the sound of inclusion.

So as things are getting off the ground, I’ve found myself thinking and rethinking the purpose of the site. At first, I envisioned it as a place to discover projects and collaborate on them. But this vision is too large in scope and will end up forcing me to reinvent the wheel. What We Hate Stairs should really be about is the discovery of projects and opportunities to collaborate. The actual nitty gritty collaboration is not what We Hate Stairs should be about. There are plenty of great solutions for collaboration over the web[1. Seriously. You could create a free blog at WordPress.com. And if you make it private and use the P2 theme, you'd have a rather awesome place to collaborate. Hey, it works for Automattic. There are also paid services like Basecamp and the new Mac-oriented app, Kickoff.], and honestly I don’t see how I could create anything better. What I want to do is facilitate the discovery of projects. I want to connect people with different skills together so that they can create things or do things better than they could make or do own their own. To that end, I am going to focus my efforts on discovery and leave the collaboration up to the user.

I see the site working something like this: There are Members, who can create Projects. Members can add other Members to their Projects as Contributors. Each Project has its own page, describing what the Project is about. That page will also show a list of Contributors, and, if the Project admins mark the Project as “open,” the Members can ask to join the Project as Contributors. The Project page will also contain links to any external websites (a project blog on WordPress, perhaps, or a Twitter account about the project).

That is the core of the site. But I also want Members to have a way of following projects without necessarily having to visit any external sites. I also want to avoid dozens of people asking to join a project as a contributor just because that is the only way the site allows members to interact with projects they like. So I’m thinking of giving members a way to “fan” projects they like and perhaps creating a basic “status wall” system for project teams to keep their fans up to date within the We Hate Stairs site. I will probably look into ways to integrate RSS feeds from blogs or latest Twitter updates into project pages, but that might be a feature that gets added after the initial launch.

So, please, let me know what you think. This is the perfect time for ideas. The project is still soft, moldable clay waiting to be transformed into something great. And I can’t do that all by myself.

If you would like to be notified when We Hate Stairs launches, subscribe the notification list. No spam, I promise. Just the rare email to let you know of any huge developments, like launching!

A place for creative crips

Though many people with disabilities are able to work, some are not. I’ve worked some part-time and have done freelance web design work as well. And while I believe I would make a, quite frankly, awesome employee at a small web design business, I have had trouble landing such a position.

Part of it is the economy. Part of it is a stigma that I have as a person with a disability. I hate to say it, but it’s true. I had a potential employer that was interested in me, but when they learned that I was disabled, I never heard from them again.

The point I want to make is that employment for people with disabilities can be complicated for a variety of reasons. I’m not passing any judgement on people with disabilities who are working. More power to them. I’m also not passing judgement on people with disabilities that aren’t working (for whatever reason). But I know that there are some pretty talented disabled folks out there who, regardless of their possible unemployment, have some great skills to offer.

Now that you know the backstory, here’s the idea:

Create a social networking site for the purpose of connecting people with disabilities with common interests and various skills and facilitate their collaboration on projects of their own creation.

Let me give you an example.

Let’s say Dave has a passion for fantasy novels. He also enjoys strategy board games. He decides that he wants to create a board game. Dave is a great writer and has all sorts of ideas about the storyline behind the game. He has some idea of the gameplay. But he wants the game to have great fantasy art as well. And Dave is no illustrator.

So he creates the board game project on our community site, describing what the project is about.

Soon, Lee sees the project listing. Lee loves fantasy art and is a pretty good illustrator. He contacts Dave through the site. Dave creates a group on the site and sends Lee an invitation. Now the two of them have a place to collaborate.

They get some great concept work done and want to share their progress with the community. So they create a blog on the community site as a place to post updates about their project. Pretty soon, they’ve got quite a few people interested in what they are doing. That’s when Ava, who loves paper crafts, contacts the team about helping create the board and pieces for the game. Dave and Lee are excited about the opportunity and invite Ava to the group. After some hard work by the three of them, a sweet new fantasy board game has been created.

Who knows? If the fan base is large enough, perhaps they sell the game and split the resulting revenues.

The point is that, individually, they could not have completed the project. But by combining their skills and passions, they were able to create something that benefits themselves as well as anyone interested in the game. And they became friends along the way.

Admittedly, the idea has little to do with disability. That is, anybody might enjoy such a site. But the idea here is to connect people with disabilities who spend a lot of time alone. There’s no reason to spend so much time in isolation when you could easily connect with others who are in similar situations.

I don’t have it all worked out. This is the inception of an idea. I don’t know that anyone would care to join and foster such a community. But I think it would be a great way for people with disabilities who have trouble getting out to meet new people and make or do some cool things.

What do you think?

Hit the ground running

In my previous post, I mentioned things that I wanted to accomplish in 2011. Well, it seems I have really hit the ground running.

The biggest thing that has happened is that I am now working for Automattic (makers of WordPress.com) on a trial basis for the next six to eight weeks as a Happiness Engineer. That’s just a silly title for the folks who do support-related work (and as I am discovering, so much more) at Automattic.

For those of you who don’t know, WordPress is this awesome blogging software that people can use to publish content to their very own websites. It’s software that runs on the Internet as opposed to your computer. It was built and is continually improved by a community of developers. WordPress is open source. That means that the code is publicly available and free to modify. WordPress is also free as in it costs nothing to download and use (except you’ll need a good web host). The observant among you will notice that I am running this very blog using WordPress. WordPress is available at the aptly named WordPress.org.

Now then, WordPress.com (as opposed to “.org”) is a service where Automattic manages the software and you just focus on blogging. Anyone can go to WordPress.com and sign up for a free blog. No downloading, installations, or web host shopping required. Easy peasy.

So now you might be thinking, “How does Automattic make money if the blogs are free?”

It’s a tech startup, it doesn’t have to make money. There are these magical unicorns that—

Kidding.

There are plenty of nifty blog upgrades that you can purchase to have even more power under the hood, so to speak. WordPress.com also runs a limited number of advertisements on it’s network. Even though they are hardly intrusive, you can always purchase the no-ad upgrade if you want to get rid of them.

There’s also a VIP program with paying clients. It’s a pretty impressive list of clients, including well-known media outlets and funny-looking cats.

And some other stuff, but those are the big two.

I am fresh out of my first week of training and getting ready to start my first official week of work tomorrow. I am so pumped about this opportunity. Once my trial is over, if all goes well, I will go from being on trial to being a full-time employee. Words fail to express how awesome that would be.

Other resolutions

So my work-related goal has been a huge success thus far. Here’s how I am doing with my other resolutions.

I talked about seeing a pet project through. Specifically, I talked about a little gradebook application I was working on. Lately, I haven’t worked on it much. It’s not dead, but I am focused on other things right now.

However, this blog is a pet project. At the time of this writing, I have just launched (after a week of being down) with a new blog theme. I designed the theme myself and I think it is one of the best blog themes I have made. For you nerds, it is a child theme of Thematic. I am planning to clean up a few things and eventually release it to the public. Yeah, I gave up on making a premium theme. But hey, free is better, right?

Some other resolutions were:

  • Eat healthier/lose weight
  • Read the Bible in 2011
  • Meet new people
  • Get involved in a group or club
  • Write a novel in November

I am failing miserably at eating better. It’s difficult. Especially when you’re unable to prepare your own meals.

Although I didn’t start until about a week in, I began a Bible reading plan with BibleGateway.com. They email me my reading each day. I’d recommend it if you check your email a lot.

I am meeting new people through work, so I guess that’s a check.

I have yet to get involved with a local group or club. Still need to do that.

Speaking of which, this coming November I will try again to write a novel as part of NaNoWriMo. There are a good many local writers, so maybe it counts as getting involved if I actually attend the meetups (which I missed last time around).

It’s been a great year so far. God has blessed me richly.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

How are your resolutions coming along?

My handful of worthy goals for 2011

I am sitting in the dark at my living room table as I peck this article into my iPhone. As folks in Mississippi know, Byram took a beating from a tornado this New Year’s Eve leaving just about everyone without power. So I am mainly updating this blog out of boredom. But it deserves an update. So why not talk about things I want to accomplish in 2011.

Wow, that’s the first time I have written that. It feels alien. This year has gone by so fast. I don’t feel like I accomplished much in 2010. But here’s to making 2011 more productive.

My main goal for 2011 is to work. For money. This can either be as an employee or as a freelancer. But it needs to happen. If I did anything in 2010, I added greatly to my knowledge of web design. It would be great to get a chance to put that knowledge to use on more than just a handful of really small projects. Don’t get me wrong though. I have enjoyed being the webmaster for Stop SMA and I hope to make it’s web presence even better in 2011. But I think I could do some great work for larger organizations if given the opportunity.

Another goal I have for 2011 is to see a pet project through and not quit on it. I usually start several projects out of personal interest and curiosity but they end up being abandoned before they get off the ground. This past month, after watching my brother struggle for a week with end-of-the-semester grading (he’s a TA), I decided to develop a web application for managing grades. It’s just a simple online gradebook. Actually, simplicity is it’s biggest feature. I’m sure I’ll be writing more about that project soon. Suffice it to say that I want to stick with this project and make something useful out of it. Who knows? Maybe I can make some money with it.

I failed to write a novel in November, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t get anything out of the experience. I plan to take what I learned and try again in November 2011.

I also have some goals for the new year that many others likely have. I want to eat healthier and lose some weight. I want to stick to a one year Bible reading plan. I want to meet new people and maybe get involved in some kind group or club or something.

I guess what I want is to be able to look back 365 days from now and know that I used each one to do something that mattered.

Is that too much to ask?