Yes, I’m 40 today. Seems like a good time for some reflection on the last year, and even the last decade. This might be kind of long, so I’ll make it easy for people who are here for less personal reasons to skip over:

Home and Family
Ten years ago, I wasn’t married, though that was to happen barely a year later. One year ago I was married and Cindy was pregnant with Amy. Yeah, quite a change in this department. I know it’s a cliche that having children changes your life, but it’s a cliche because it’s true. I’ve changed a few things outwardly, like getting up a lot earlier in the morning so I could finish a full workday in time to get home for Amy’s dinner, but the outward stuff is the least of it. The biggest change is internal, in how I see myself. We all have multiple identities. For me the most important have been as a husband, a programmer, and a writer. Now I have this completely new role that’s more important than any of the others: Amy’s father. That’s significant in far more (and far more subtle) ways than I could explain in a paragraph or so.
Ten years ago, I was a developer at Clam. Since then I’ve worked at Dolphin, Mango, Conley/EMC, and now Revivio. A year ago I was the product architect here; now I’m a developer again. It’s not quite as dramatic a change as at home, but it’s still quite a bit. I’ve learned a lot about various technical areas, about technical leadership, about relationships with customers and investors, and on and on. Overall I’m glad that I know those things, but equally glad that I don’t actually have to deal with them day in and day out. I’m much more comfortable designing, coding, and debugging at my desk than dealing with plans and budgets and personnel issues in meetings. I know I’ll never again be able to get away from those less pleasant things entirely, but that’s a kind of “career development” I no longer consider desirable or necessary. That’s a good thing to know about yourself and the environment you’re in.
Ten years ago I was working out regularly at a place near Clam, and playing volleyball semi-regularly as well. One year ago I was finally back to working out regularly again. I was finally in at least as good shape as before, and down to the same weight. I sort of had a vague plan to be in better shape at 40 than ever before, but I think I missed that by a bit. I’m really not working out as much or as long as I was last year (even right after Amy was born), I’m really not quite up to the same level aerobically as I was last May or September, and my weight has crept up a bit to 187-188. Still, though, I got my weight down from a peak of around 210, 1700 calories per hour and a resting heart rate of 50 are nothing to sneeze at, and I have no other significant problems. Even the indigestion/reflux/whatever I used to get has gone away since I lost the weight. I really shouldn’t complain.
With Amy, and work, there really isn’t much else except for online stuff. Ten years ago I had kind of given up on Usenet and the web wasn’t really there yet. One year ago I was often posting 10-20 times a day on Whistle Stopper, plus moderating, plus my activity here. Now I’m down to only a couple of posts a day there, but I think my posting rate here might actually have increased a bit. Basically I’ve gotten tired of being on the ideological front lines. The dishonest people pushing broken political or philosophical ideas are just too tiresome. For a long time I’ve realized that I’m not writing for them anyway. They’ll never change their minds or admit error, no matter how badly they’re beaten. At best they’ll just quietly disappear, or call in their friends to play an endless game of “yesbut” and “whatabout” until the discussion peters out and they can claim a draw they actually never earned. My hope has always been not that the conservative/libertarian extremists can be converted into functioning human beings, but that something that’s said during the exchange might spark interesting thoughts in those who are still salvageable. Nowadays, though, I find myself less and less willing to endure the deliberate unpleasantness of the extremists for the sake of such a vague hope. I can still write here, where the podium is my own, but I think I’ll be spending a lot less time confronting people in environments that have never been neutral or have ceased to be (such as Whistle Stopper, which has all but succumbed to both sheer numbers and to subversion by one of the supposed leaders of the community).

All in all, that’s quite a lot. Where do I go from here? Obviously I’ll still be spending a third of my waking life on work, and much of the remainder being Dad. The other responsibilities of just being an adult (e.g. exercise, housework, reading to stay informed, maintaining basic social ties) will take up some of the rest. Take time out for necessary R&R, and there might not be any gaps left to fill. That’s OK, though. That’s a full life, but not an overcrowded one, and overall it’s a better life than my 20-year-old self (still struggling between stints at UofM) would have imagined at 40.