Why blogging?

I started blogging because of one person: Chris Coyier. Well I guess two people, Chris Coyier mostly, but also some guy named Tim who made Timothy Training.

Around 2011, I was spending my winters in Reno Nevada with my girlfriend who was in grad school at the University of Nevada. I had a seasonal job at the time that was eight months during the summer, with the rest of the year off. When I finished working each fall, I would pack up all of my stuff and drive across the red rock desert and a sea of sagebrush to Reno, Nevada.

I spent two winters there with her. The first year I was there I played around with the idea of getting a job, but I had job attached unemployment and not working sounded pretty good to 23-year-old me. And what I thought I really wanted to do was ski and drive to Bishop, California to climb. Now, the truth is, I really should have gotten a job because between the ski days and climbing trips, which I loved, I still had too much free time. I spent as much time as I could climbing, riding, and skiing. The rest of the time I just slept in and went to coffee shops. This lifestyle left me, a person who seems to have an internal need to be busy, feeling worthless. It didn't help that almost everyone I interacted with was a geologist in grad school. I was sitting on the coach, unemployed, going skiing and climbing, and sampling the local coffee shops (I also got pretty good a bowling, but that is a story for another time) and everyone I hung out with was getting an advanced degree. I guess I can say I kind of felt like an unemployed bum at the time, which is good because I actually was an unemployed bum. That feeling made me want to find something productive to do with my time.

I have no idea why one day I decided to learn to program. At the time, I didn't even really know what programming actually was or did. Nonetheless, one day, for some reason, I started taking an edX class from MIT: programming 101 (or something like that). The class was in python. I got everything set up, I started writing programs, but after the 3rd lesson I got to a problem that kept crashing my computer. Being stuck and learning to program, when I could be skiing, or biking, or climbing, or bowling, or going to coffee shops, just seemed a bit too tedious. In other words, learning python from MIT was a bit too boring when compared to the alternative activities that were available to me. Loop over these numbers, count to this, print this, etc. After getting stuck I gave up on the class. But for some reason I still wanted to learn to program.

I don't really remember how I decided that I should learn web development next. I mean, I was sitting on a coach wearing PJs for the most part while all of this was going on, I remember that. But I somehow I found Timothy Training Courses (amazingly this site still exists) and started learning web development in Dreamweaver from one of the Timothy Training tutorials.

From that day on I never stopped programming. Almost every week from then on I've done at least some programming. For whatever reason my brain was hooked on moving boxes around, adding colors, images and icons. Within a few weeks, I was spending six to eight hours a day on these courses. The problem was that even though I was hooked, the courses were based on templates Timothy would provide. And the only thing you had to do was add padding: 15 to line 12 or something very simple like that. But I loved it. Web development scratched an itch in my brain and made me feel like was learning something. I finished the Tutorial and immediately started building a website for my girlfriends parents. Pretty quickly, it became pretty apparent that I really hadn't learned anything from replacing text in templates.

At some point I found the blog Chris Coyier started, CSS-Tricks, while looking for more tutorials. For the next two years I probably spent every other day on CSS-Tricks for at least an hour and on some days I would spend all day on CSS-Tricks. Chris had this amazing ability to turn on a screen recorder and microphone and build a website while explaining everything he was doing in an easy-to-understand way. To this day he is probably one of the best tutorial instructor I've ever come accross. I've probably watched most of Chris's YouTube catalog of which there are over 200 videos at this point.

I learned a lot from reading Chris's Blog and watching his YouTube videos. But, more importantly, Chris was the first person I encountered that believed in writing and doing to learn. He would write posts to cement concepts into his brain. He also believed in learning by doing and that the only way you learn something is to do it over and over again. And you can do anything so long as you just try and practice. I'm not sure how much Chris said this stuff explicitly. He always said "Just Build Websites". But I think some of it was inferred by just seeing what Chris was doing.

It's odd, but for some reason, these things hadn't really occurred to me at that point in my life.

It took me a while to get to blogging, but I think sometime after that I started a blog about being a Federal Employee. I wrote about how to get a job as a Fed and how to do NEPA. I don't think I wrote more than a dozen posts. The blog was at schmidtyworks.com, which I have since converted to the site I used for my Web Development business, which I've since closed, but you can still find the static site on github.

Anyway, I digress. The point of this is that I have a blog, am a programmer and have had a much enriched life because of those unemployed days, in my PJs reading CSS-Tricks and watching Chris Coyier tutorials on YouTube. If you are a web developer and have been for a while I bet you know who Chris is too. It is my opinion that he did a lot to advance web development in his blogging heyday and bring people to the web. Chris has since sold CSS-Tricks to Digital Ocean but all of his content is still on there. He now has a personal blog chriscoyier.net and started CodePen. I think the point of me saying all this is that there is a lot of good that comes from people sharing what they do with others in an open and friendly way. I'm not sure I'll ever be as prolific as Chris, and honestly this blog is more for me than anyone else. But there is something to putting your thoughts on paper and sharing them with people. It's good for you, it can be good for them. You don't have to do it regularly or often. But there is something about just doing it. "Just Blog".