Let’s do this

Over six years ago, when I met my wife, I began learning Spanish. Most of my acquisition has come through talking with family and friends, parroting them, and from movies (mil gracias, Netflix Español y Pantaya) and music (if it were not for Natalia Lafourcade I wouldn’t have met my wife). So while I’m mildly conversational I’d still call myself functionally illiterate because the most taxing reading I’ve done to date in Spanish has been the occasional newspaper article and museum exhibit placard.

Today, I start the first book I’ll have ever read in Spanish.

This Post Is A Cliche

Even writing this week is trite, however, here I am with my thoughts. I don’t make resolutions because I break them within minutes of making them, because they put pressure when there shouldn’t be any. The past year has been the two rocks of personal and work pushing against each other with tectonic force. I am lucky to be thinking about the whole year before us let alone even the next day.

Rather than making and breaking empty promises to y self I am going to list my loose goals for the year.

  1. Read my first book in Spanish: I have been learning Spanish for the better part of 5 years now, through talking with my family, listening to music, and watching spanish language movies and TV. I can read long form pieces in spanish with a fair comprehension, however, I want the thrill of being able to sink into a book, get lost in a narrative, and improve my vocabulary and grammar.
  2. Start learning how to dance: before my wedding, my wife signed me up for private lessons in her hometown. The dance studio was downtown in a corner building, second floor walk up. It was humid, the air listless, and y instructor was half my age and half my size. I was awkward and uncoordinated. I could clap to the clave and tap the bass line yet old barely to get two steps in before stepping on the instructors foot or dripping sweat on their head. It was awkward and embarrassing. This year I’d like to spend time with my wife toppling furniture as we bang around the living room following a Yes You Can Dance The Merengue video on YouTube.
  3. Return to writing music: there had been a time in my life where I spent hours sketching riffs and beats then weaving the into songs. Years ago I had the energy to arrange enough of those songs into an album that I’d trade on cassettes for zines and art. Today, surrounded by instruments and desire, the most music I muster is off key whistling. The goal is to at least to pick up a guitar up and hit record for a moment during the week.
  4. Be outside more, nothing more. Working from home can mean that there are days (hi, yesterday!) where the most “outside” I get is looking out a window.

If none of these goals work out at least I might be able to say to myself this time next year that at least I wasn’t just waiting for the days to pass by.

Hosting Woes

When I decided to resurrect this domain and get back to writing, part of the motivation was to get back to doing “technical” things. I’d completely forgotten that some things, looking at you MX records, can be less than enjoyable and that AWS Lightsail really and seriously abstracts things away which can make it tough if you are cobbling things together in the way that I have with elwoodicious.com.

Running WordPress on Lightsail was my 2nd choice to replace the Jekyll S3 site I’d been “running” prior, I’d first tried Ghost, however, the AMI was outdated and it had an ever so slightly steep learning curve to configure. It was fairly easy to standup, especially considering that I only opened the documentation after several failed starts, which were mostly because I’d been trying to make Lightsail behave like AWS proper. Anyways, I’d stood the site up by intermittently working on it over the course of a day, part of it from my iPhone, which is a real testament to the overall simplicity of things these days.

Except for MX records.

I accept email on elwoodicious.com and during the last two weeks or so I’ve gotten no email. This ought to tell you how much I check email, it took several physically mailed banking statements, including one that sent a very polite letter asking me to check my email settings, for me to wander over and see that no mail was flowing. I tried a couple of different ways to get MX records working in Lightsail, however, none worked.

To me this is a failure of Lightsail, honestly, it shouldn’t have a separate system and pipeline for managing and publishing DNS records. It ought to be a skin on top of Route 53 and afford you the ability to manage those records in Rout 53 if you want to or need to. When this site was Jekyll S3, all the DNS was managed in Route 53, including MX records. That no longer works if you bring a domain into Lightsail.

My domains are purchased through Google (don’t @ me) and I had been using the custom DNS feature to set Route 53 as the authority. Last evening, I rolled back those changes and I am letting Google handle all of it, an A record pointed to an Elastic IP address for this space and email is flowing again.

This would be embarrassing if I could only muster the energy to do better.

Hasta Raíz

There was a time when I wrote. I wrote about music and books. I wrote about computers and building systems. I took photographs and wrote about the process and my inspirations. And in that, I met some wonderful people, though, much like the internet, nothing was forgotten even as it was all ephemeral.

It has been years since I wrote and I missed it, so, here I am.

When I think back on when I slowly stopped writing it coincided with the rise of social media. It was easier to dash off an inarticulate thought on Twitter, share a photo on Instagram, and skip the class reunion thanks to Facebook.

This is not to say I have regrets. In the past decade or so I’ve lived a life that I’d been dreaming of since I was a kid. I’ve traveled widely, fallen in love and fallen out, fell in love again and married. I learned and forgotten some Arabic, wrestled my understanding of Spanish into a place where I can joke and have deeper conversations with my in-laws. I’ve climbed mountains, literal and figurative, and I’ve rebuilt my life repeatedly in those ten years.

However, I am ready to get back to basics. Hasta raíz.

Blogging is inherently a narcissistic pursuit: I am writing for myself, slapping those words on a public edifice, and occasionally wondering if a passerby paused for a moment to consider it. It’s all about me.

Books, music, cocktails, cooking, and meanders are what I plan to re-learn my voice writing about. Books, music, and meanders have been a constant in my life, cocktails and cooking became new passions in the pandemic and in of themselves are pushing me towards new places.

Maybe it’ll be a book review or some song that hit me at the right moment in the right place with the right mood. It could be a cocktail I learned or shook out in that late night desperation when all you have are random liquors and a desire to be taken some place new. Whatever it is my hope is to start again pinning words and sticking sentences to my feelings.

Ya empiezo de nuevo.