An Important Update about Rami Abraham

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

A brief history

About three years ago, I quit smoking. The primary item I used to assist in gradually lessening cravings to inhale the smoke generated from smoldering leaves and paper within a paper cylinder is a vegetable glycerin vaporizer:

An assortment of vaporizers, also known as "vapes", "pens", "bro sticks", "cyber cocks", "bro bone", "tiny saxophone", and "e-cig".
An assortment of vaporizers, also known as “vapes”, “pens”, “bro sticks”, “cyber cocks”, “bro bone”, “tiny saxophone”, and “e-cig”.

Gradually, I decreased the amount of nicotine present within the vegetable glycerin. Eventually I was using a vegetable glycerin which contained no nicotine at all.

This is sort of the goal when using a vaporizer for smoking cessation. You get lower and lower, then you stop. Took me the better part of a year, slowly weening off of sweet nicotine poison delivery via smoke/vapor.

A continuance of the cyber-blunt

Except, I didn’t stop. By then, I’d become enamored by the countless flavor varieties available for vegetable glycerins. Google it; it’s a thriving, billion-dollar economy.

In the back of my head, I knew it was a waste of money. Yet, a harmless vice, I told myself. Using a vaporizer became routine. It had no (apparent) affect to my disposition, and displayed no (apparent) side-effects physiologically. I mean, it’s better than heroin, right*?

*Heroin is way better actually

Self-awareness

Then, slowly, I started to notice things.

Lame things.

I began seeing a culture of sorts developing around the usage of vaporizers.

Two things were happening internally, in my mind:

  • I noticed I was greatly at odds with the subculture developing around vaporizers, and
  • Me using a vaporizer for no reason, save habit, became increasingly unacceptable

Vape-free (that’s me!)

Effective immediately, I no longer use vegetable glycerin vaporizers.

After considering the considerations considerately, I’ve concluded that the minor benefits of using a vaporizer do not outweigh the unpleasant internal and interpersonal effects that arise from usage.

While I do, incidentally, have friends and colleagues of whom I’m fond that use vegetable glycerin/propylene glycol vaporizer devices, the greater “vape culture” contains many affects, mannerisms, gesticulations, and personalities at-large that are not compatible with my personal behavioral profile, nor my requirements for participation in this sub-culture.

I’ve been at odds with these metastasizing attributes since first hearing the word “vape” about two years ago.


Dénouement: Brief Observations of the Cigarette Break

Cigarettes, which are organic, leaf-based cylindrical nicotine-delivery devices which employ standard combustion as an energy source (devices upon which vaporizers base much of their design and functionality), offer some benefits that were once very alluring:

  • Desirable effects of nicotine on the central nervous system.
  • The break of time-segments within a day that the “cigarette break” affords.
  • Cigarette breaks are frequently used as micro-social-gatherings. There’s probably a TED talk about it.
  • These micro-social-gatherings offer frequent recuperation for the brain, as well as the development of bonds with peers. A fellowship begins (despite it being centered around slowly giving ourselves cancer).
  • An unspoken hierarchy develops within cigarette breaks, in which the person whom is either worst or best at quitting is the “winner”. It must be one or the other.
  • If two people are present during a cigarette break, one deemed the “worst at quitting”, the other “best at quitting”, it is an automatic draw. The tension between both persons, especially if one or both have notable egotism attributes of their personality, are frequently amusing to the other attendees of the smoke break.

In my initial usage of vaporizers, I observed that traditional cigarette smokers, frequently referred to as “smokers”, also allow vaporizer users to join them during these ritual moments. A common result is that the vaporizer user wins the above contest, as they’re a non-sequitur. They have both quit and have not quit.

In addition to that super fun stuff, the smoke break is steered invariably toward discussion of one of the following topics:

  • The cigarette-smoker(s) wishes to quit and try a vaporizer
  • The cigarette smoker(s) tries the vaporizer
  • The vaporizer user misses smoking
  • The vaporizer user has very little will-power, and asks for a cigarette

An oral fixation manifesting as an intermittent desire to place the tip of a cylinder in my mouth, inhale smoke from it, and shortly thereafter exhale the smoke was a bizarre-enough development of my life. I will no longer tolerate my inclusion in a subculture that is comprised (almost) entirely of Bud Bundy’s.

Rami is so mean.
Rami is so mean.

Acknowledgements:

Credit to friend and anthropomorphic pizza-rat Eric Andrew Lewis for the featured image:

A post shared by Eric Lewis (@ericandrewlewis) on

Handle your health: Yes you, you big nerd

Hi. You probably work at a computer like me. And like me, I’m guessing you love your career. Open-source software in particular seems to attract very passionate people.

It’s easy for me to forget to take care of my mental and physical well-being. Even today, as a cynical jerk in possession of the typical array of freelance client horror stories, long bouts of stupidity questionable technical goals doing things like working with Objective-C, and even having the fortune of dealing with a few burn-outs over my career, this issue resurfaces periodically.

I’ve gradually learned to spot signs early, and respond by taking a typical vacation, or a variety of other stress-relief measures.

However, much like preventive maintenance on a website, what’s really important are not the staccato occurrences of a two-week long vacation once per year, but your on-going attention to having recurring, healthy practices that minimize the impact on your mind and body that having a badass career in technology creates.

Oh wow! If I just cancel plans with my friends this weekend, I can actually turn this thing into a really handy jQuery library!

Stop it.

Wow, if I just work through the night, I can knock out this client site, and get paid sooner!

STOP IT. Are you starving? Is the rent late? If yes, then just stop reading right now and go hustle. Sometimes that’s what you’ve got to do. But if you’re like most colleagues, you’re a well-paid professional that can afford to give yourself at least a few hours per day in which you concentrate on self.

Hey, look. If you haven’t been nodding along so far here like “duh, Abraham”, I know what you’re saying to yourself. I was there. In weak moments, I still find myself there.

But Rami! My “self” sucks! There is no hope for my mind or body, the core of my psyche is but a massless purgatory, and my body is a mound of shifting sand to which I should pay no attention, as it will surely crumble before me!

I get it. Here’s my anology:

– Your body is a server.

– Your mind is code running on that server.

What happens when you set the max_upload_size to 1kb on a photographers’ site? Or start randomly inserting emoticons into mod_security rules? What happens when you ftp into prod and regex wp_ to lol_?

Bad shit, that’s what happens.

Eating at Burger King for three days in a row, followed by leftover pizza? Yeah, you just installed Joomla! 0.9 into wp-content, way to go pal. Oh cool, you’re going to drink for five days straight, then start on that re-branding project? That’s you moving from a lamp stack with PHP 5.4 to an IIS server with 5.2.

Good luck autoloading your ass out of bed on that one.

I’m a pretty average person, in that I don’t meditate for two hours per morning, or run nine miles every afternoon, or spend $1800 each month on health shakes imported from some tiny village in Peru.

But I want to share the simple routine I do nearly every day:

– Eat a small amount of protein about an hour after I wake (eggs, bacon, maybe a shake or soy product), and a small amount of natural sugars. Have some matcha green tea.

– Code for an hour or so, or practice guitar (anything creative in nature works here) before starting the actual work day. Many people more eloquent than I have written on this concept, including my friend Norcross.

– Silence my mind, if only for a moment. Sort of defrags your memory and focuses you. This is the core tenet of Buddhism, and beyond the comically limited scope of this post, but if there’s any take-away of value here, I believe it to be this.

– Have at least one hearty, old-fashioned lol. Yeah so what, it’s corny. Your mind has creative and analytical power, but it’s also still a reactive muscle. You provide stimuli, then it does things. You bring the lolz === happy brain. It immediately brightens your disposition.

– Define goals for the day. Even if it’s only one. Write it down. Seriously.

– Stop at least once per hour, if only for a moment, and do nothing technical with your mind. Look at a bird. Kiss your husband/wife/child/boyfriend/girlfriend/dog/cat. Space out.

– Cardio. It doesn’t have to be this BIG THING™. If you haven’t been working out – or even if you never have, I know the horrifying mountain that appears to be before you. I tried books, ebooks, trainers, diets; the only thing that helped me was when I forgave myself for focusing on my intellectual pursuits for so long at the expense of letting my body go, and made it ok to start slow.

Do five pushups. Use that exercise bike in the corner of your living room – yeah the one collecting dust with the conference shirts on it – don’t bullshit me, I see it right there. Use it for ten minutes. Just ten. Just today. Too tired after five minutes? Then stop after five minutes.

Forgive yourself. And try to do six minutes tomorrow.

That’s it. This has been a very long and gradual journey to self-improvement, with much more to go, but it’s made an eternity of difference in my life.

You’ll forgive the cliché – but if I can do it, you sure as hell can.

Yeah I don’t have an ebook link or anything down here. Just fucking handle your health shit, ok?

A Year Where I Sometimes Wore Pants

mnn-mascot

As the cron job that just fired on my server has informed me via phpmail, I’m happy to report that I’ve been with Maintainn for one year so far! Holy cow that went fast. I’ve written and spoken about support-specific development extensively, so I’ll skip an account of my first year.

It was, let’s call it, a Year Without Pants. No. A Year Where I Sometimes Wore Pants. I’ve been lucky to have made countless friendships, and get to work with some of the smartest people in web development.

I really have no way to articulate how exciting and fulfilling the past year has been, and look forward to many more, in which I may or may not wear pants.

If you'd like an ebook of this post, just save the page to a pdf

WordCamp Baltimore 2014: Uncommon Javascript Libraries

Here are the slides for my talk given at WordCamp Baltimore 2014.

Also here’s a great article a factual article an informative article an article about Baltimore I wrote. You should read it if you’ll be staying in town a while.

WordPress 10th Anniversary Blogging Project

Dougal Campbell wrote a great post a few days ago. If you haven’t already, I recommend giving it a read – especially if you build things with WordPress.

It’s been ten years since WordPress was released, and although I’ve only been creating with it for half that time, it’s been an amazing ride so far.

My introduction to WordPress wasn’t as a development environment – it was as a way to blog. I started in this industry with freelance, static html website design. Incidentally, I also started a WordPress blog in October 2007. I’d been using a different platform before then, but many points of frustration lead me on a search that ended with WordPress.

Following that, I continued freelancing for a few more years, philosophically-powered by the principle that I’d never sell out to an agency, and never hire other people. I wanted to be my own boss, work my own schedule, and choose my clients. I was a magical internet man! Surely I could do whatever I wanted, forever, and make millions of dollars.

And it worked…for a while. I gained a local reputation for being very transparent, pleasant, and fast.

During my time freelancing, I was lucky to build a few hundred sites with WordPress. I saw the light and dark side of it – from the few-but-evil sketchy backdoor freemium plugins, and themes with encoded spam links in footers, to a plugin developer who lived half a world way, sacrificing his night helping me with code until I got my sites back up.

As things progressed, I found myself more frequently on the other side of those email threads, helping clients and other WordPress developers and designers until everyone was happy. I’d do maybe 3 or 4 cheap sites per month. I didn’t make a lot of money. But I loved the life, and I was helping people.

Then came:

The Great Drought of 2010

Things started to dry up. So I’d do pro-bono projects and consultations for non-profits, and a bit of networking here and there. It helped a bit, but I ultimately chose to re-think my ideals. Why am I against working for an agency? Is it all agencies I dislike working for? Eventually I figured out I just dislike feeling like I don’t matter. Big ad agencies, working my days away on snippets of anonymous code. Endless stacks of project managers and marketing heads above you.

I decided it’d be ok, as long as I didn’t work for an ad agency.

I applied to a few firms and was lucky to get a few offers, which lead me to one of my current jobs, at ArtComp, as lead dev.

What about the next ten years of WordPress?

WordPress may be entirely different by then. It may indeed be forked, as many are currently talking about. But not by me. There are two things I can count on – WordPress will always be GPL, and will always have a great community behind it. Most recently, I’ve become active on WordPress.org with some projects; and as intimidating as it can be to talk to your nerdy heroes in IRC, or have a core developer submit a pull request to my sub-standard code, it’s great.

Postcard Popcorn


Postcard Popcorn is a small side project that just launched. It’s a curated collection of old postcards spanning the past 100 years or so. The collection was purchased from an antiques dealer at the super neat Avenue Antiques store, in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

There’s a total of 2,618 postcards in the collection. About half of them are blanks that were never written on or sent. I’ve only got 20 or so in there as of this post, but will be working on it in December to get everything in there.

Each featured postcard contains a transcription of the message, and Editor’s notes.

I spent most of this Thanksgiving break on creating the responsive grid-based website, and a bit of OAuth twitter goodness for twitter comments.

I went with a responsive layout because – let’s be real – it’s the lazy version of dedicated device solutions. Did all the major viewports, but come on. Like they said at the Smashing Mag conference:

Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so.

Status update: Trying to balance web design, cooking, writing music, and practicing guitar can be difficult. Maddening, at times. I use many services to sync calendars, task lists, and contacts; prioritize projects. But, I am only an Earth-baby. I need to socialize; live, laugh, get into adventures, tickle things, be slapped. It may be a fort-night before there are any lengthy posts or tutorials on any of the tutorial/template sites. If you have comments, questions, or bugfixes, still email me, of course. If only The Room of Spirit and Time were real…