We’re all pretty brilliant folks (especially you, since you’re reading this) and convincing us we could be more-brilliant about stuff isn’t always easy, especially anything that deals with our businesses, relationships, or visions for either or both.

We need evidence. We need proof that if we’re going to change up our strategies or approaches with our money-makers, they will actually work and not be another experiment or “valuable learning experience.” I mean, I like learning new things probably more than most people, but I am not a fan of re’learning something I already thought I knew.

The world is round – I don’t want to learn that it’s not – and CaboPress will teach you how to navigate the WordPress business world regardless of its shape. Here’s how I navigated CaboPress this year.

Reapply sunblock. Don’t forget your ears.

I’d hear this about a hundred times over the next 4 days, and was growing increasingly thankful with each passing 99 degree hour. CaboPress isn’t a vacation, but I suppose you could treat it like one. To get the most value out of the (purposely) limited time, you really need to enjoy it for what it is – a comprehensive, intensive workshop to prove you can improve.

Breakfast at 8.

It’s the most important meal of the day, I guess. I don’t usually eat it, which I guess says something about me. Coffee, eggs, bacon, and try to sit with people I don’t know yet.

This was when everyone was just booting up and readying themselves for the day ahead. Donuts, omelets, cereals, waffles; you name it, I ate it. Here we shared quick stories about ourselves, travels, accommodations, and what we hoped to get from the days ahead. Apply sunblock.

In the pool by 9.

Morning sessions start at 9 on the button. If you’re late, everyone will know because they’re already in the pool and you are not. There are 2 sessions going on at once, one on each side of the pool and usually a different pool each day. My favorite session was Syed’s (of WPBeginner fame) because he’s as passionate about converting visitors to customers as I am about open-sourcing my code. Probably more, actually; and he convinced me that I should be doing more, better, and different.

The pools weren’t private, which meant we were sharing them with all of the other people at the resort. Our swag package consisted of red Gilligan hats and water resistant lanyards, so our crowd stood out amongst all of the others. Not a day went by where someone didn’t ask who we were and what we were doing there. It was fun in a way. Of all the curious retirees, only two really engaged with me about anything – most just seemed confused. They didn’t know what they were missing!

I loved these pool-side sessions. Everyone was so comfortable, and relaxed, and the conversations were unlike any other WordPress related event I’ve experienced. The closest is the WordPress.com VIP Workshops in Napa Valley, which I adored and helped with a few years back. Don’t forget your ears.

Lunch at noon.

There were several restaurants on the resort, all of them had amazing food. My favorite was the Pollo Kiev I found on the final day, and it shot butter onto my swim shorts with my first slice into it, which is exactly what a good buttered-bird does.

We were broken up into very specific lunch groups of 6 people, and we ate with the same people every afternoon. I liked this, because it was really the only predictable interaction on any given day, and acted as a foundation for knowledge sharing across the sessions happening on the other side of the pool.

After lunch, we were free to roam about the resort until dinner. This gave us time to reflect and stash what we learned in the morning, and was really a great idea. We all took advantage of this free time to go snorkeling, take naps, hang out, get drinks, socialize, and get fancied up for a nice relaxing meal with new friends and cocktails. Reapply sunblock.

Dinner at 5.

I don’t usually eat 3 meals a day, but all this social learning meant I needed to keep my wits about me, and everyone knows you can’t do that on an empty tum-tum, so I indulged a bit each night with appetizers, desserts, and wines by the beach.

Each evening we were given a question for our dinner tables, usually about what we learned earlier in the day, but also about what we plan to act on to improve the general profitability of our businesses in the future. This really brought our groups together, and offered up a nice combination of what we each learned and how we’d apply it to one-another’s plans. Don’t forget your ears.

Rest.

We were at breakfast by 8 every morning, so a healthy morning mind meant more than coffee and eggs, it meant a relaxing evening to wake up invigorated for everything the day had to offer up. No sunblock necessary here, since it’s dark by now.

Every night after dinner, some kind of event was occurring. Fireworks, fire juggling & dancing, disco, and so on. I pretty much loafed about in a pool or found a circle of CaboPressers to chat with about various odds and ends. I found this to be a really nice way to cap off each night, with the anticipation of more fun the next morning.

Rinse.

After reapplying sunblock all day, it’s time for a shower. Don’t forget to shower, otherwise you’re going to slime all that stuff into the bed and roll around in it all night, which is pretty gross. The rooms were spacious and comfy, the staff were exceedingly polite and accommodating, and the water was potable so there’s no worry about using it no matter the faucet.

Repeat.

With 60’ish attendees, it’s an intentionally intimate group, which helped solidify the relationships we all made while bobbing around in a pool together. This was 4 non-stop days of networking, but it was also the 4th year in a row, and my first. I hope I’m invited back, not just for the experience – which is amazing – but to share some success after applying what I learned, and to thank people in person for being so helpful and inspirational the entire year between.

You’ll probably notice I haven’t included any group shots, and not a ton of details about specific oooh’s and ahhh’s. That’s on purpose, really. All of us bonded in person with our stories and vulnerable moments, and that’s the kind of stuff you keep in your heart, not on your blog. And, well, I want you to consider coming next year and having these experiences yourself.

Thank you, Chris, for the invitation and warmth. Thank you, everyone else, for teaching, listening, and encouraging.

Reapply sunblock. Don’t forget your ears. We didn’t! ☀️

Paul’s birthday this year wasn’t particularly eventful. Usually we try to do something special for him on his special day, but there’s been so much happening around the house and in the coming weeks that yesterday just ended up being a normal day, with some extra treats and puppies sleeping in the bed to celebrate instead.

He’ll have an eventful weekend in Ann Arbor, though, and he’ll have a week’s vacation with our friend’s dogs all next week, too.

Sorry, buddy. I promise we’ll give you a full day’s puppy-snuggles ASAP. 💜

Yesterday, the wonderful Doc Pop drew up a cartoon for Torque that made the rounds and got some attention from a few pals and ex-colleagues that work on the Jetpack plugin for WordPress.

Torque Toons: Where’s my Jetpack?

For some reason, this comic bothered me. Well, not the actual comic itself, but my reaction to the comic bothered me, which then further bothered me enough to publish this here.

I noticed right away that the man on the right pretty closely resembles Doc Pop himself, and so it’s safe to assume it’s probably literally him having drawn a reasonable facsimile of himself that he titled “Me.”

On the left are two women having a conversation about a lack of Jetpacks in their lives, and Doc has written them to be relatable, and really… normal.

But… I’m actually worried for Doc.

My recent experience with strangers on Twitter is developing into its own type of PTSD where I’m beginning to censor myself and change my behavior to try and continuously re-prove that inclusion and diversity are important values to me, ones I prioritize.

Then someone says “no they’re not because of that we’re true you’d do this” or “you’d do that” or “I’m offended because you used this word this way.”

And so an innocent comic from a creative acquaintance made me worried that his portrayal of two women as being “not as into tech as he is” would turn out poorly for him in a way that I know he doesn’t actually believe.

This is me having been bullied, and trying to protect someone from attackers that might not ever even exist for him, and so it’s completely irrational to intervene.

I’m not offended, and I know Doc didn’t intentionally draw his comic in a way that’s demeaning towards anyone but maybe himself and what he sees as his own quirky passions, but because I could imagine a very real threat, it became really hard to not interrupt other people’s conversations to say “hey look at this potential threat I’ve identified.”

The interesting thing about this realization, is what I just laid out IS the cycle. It’s exactly the way that the abused become abusers, and the bullied becomes bullies. Someone beats me down, and now I want to prevent others from being beaten down, but that’s impossible unless I become the person who mentions something first, making me the bad guy.

It’s a really complex problem that has me seriously considering giving up engaging on social sites like Twitter and Reddit entirely. I feel like I have an intimate understanding of these types of elements of human interaction (more than most?) and am really growing tired of people assuming that “you need to learn a lesson” or “you can’t possibly understand what I’m going through” when I know that I deeply do, more than most, am more willing and able than most to help, but the offer to help actually will make things worse for everyone somehow.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think the comic is offensive because I know Doc didn’t intend for it to be. I don’t think it portrays anyone poorly. I don’t think it’s an issue. But other people might, and other people might be mad at me because I don’t feel how they feel. It’s all behavior that I don’t subscribe to, think is unhealthy, and try to avoid.

But, I wanted to write this out, and didn’t feel comfortable shouting it all over social media.

Got myself a Trek i3 last week. It’s a 3-speed, belt-driven, street-hybrid, and it’s really cool.

Keri and I have already gone on a bunch of bike rides around the village and down to the lake. Her new bike is a Zektor 2, but it’s basically the 16 speed version of mine because she likes to go fast.

My only complaint so far is that the seat isn’t very comfortable for the lean-forward riding position, otherwise everything else seems really nicely made, designed, and assembled.

For my entire life listening to music, this is the first time I’ve seen someone put beats to words instead of sampling words on top of beats.

(04/28 UPDATE): I’m now running my first-pass patch right here on my own site. 🚀

WordPress is an extremely flexible piece of software, and it comes with many different settings. Some are made visible to users via Admin > Settings and others are stored invisibly so users aren’t bothered by them, but all of them are saved in a single database table named wp_options. Today, it looks something like this:

The wp_options database table schema

Continue reading