My Year, For Sure

Wood carving of a dragon. Photo by zoo monkey on Unsplash

Michael Mechmann
Michael Mechmann


My new year update is so late this time around that it’s well into the Lunar new year, but this is auspicious in its own way: as it happens, this year is the year of the Dragon, and that means it’s my year. And I intend to make that count for something!

Looking back, 2022 and 2023 together became a one-two punch to my life. Like I said before, there ended up being a lot of things that interfered with my ability to do anything outside the bare minimum of coping and living.

That sucked.

Renewal and Growth

It’s a nice coincidence, then, that in the Chinese traditional calendar not only is it the year of my birth sign, the Dragon, but the year’s energy and element are yang and wood, with yang representing positive motion and energy (and, well, masculinity, but as with all astrology we’ll just ignore the inconvenient bits), and wood denoting growth, life, and change. With the Dragon of the Chinese calendar being noted not just for power but for a collaborative spirit and generosity, a lot of people are hoping this year is one where people work together to make things better.

I don’t really buy any astrology, but those are still goals I can get behind. So in the spirit of these characteristics, I’m pushing myself this year to just, generally, improve. Hopefully, this will apply not just to my life but to the lives of those around me too.

The World Is a Mess

Let’s back up a second. Things right now are bad, and I’m not trying to say they’re not. As of this writing, Israel is perpetrating a months-long campaign of genocide against the Palestinian people, and the US stands by and even supports them in it because they’re off murdering civilian children in Yemen. Ukraine is locked in a drawn-out war with Russia, which history tells us is a bad situation to be in. Right-wing populists are gaining ground in elections around the world, and Trump continues to win US presidential primaries despite multiple active lawsuits that may yet prevent him from holding office legally.

But I do think it’s important not to lose hope. One of the true benefits to the internet is the proliferation of information to the people of the world. Yes, this has been abused to spread disinformation and harmful material, but at the same time it has enabled popular movements to gain more publicity and support than ever before. And there is still power in collective action by the people, so long as we remember that and remind those who are in power and abusing it of this fact. And that means that we can’t lose hope.

I do my part for the world, what I can in my limited way, and I hope anyone reading this has not given up just yet.

Inward and Onward

As I grow beyond the grief and pain of the past few years, I’m looking inward and finding my creative spark again. I want to do things. I want to share them with people.


So, to kick things off I’m reviving my idea for 2022: 12 in 22 will now be 12 in 24, which is a little nicer mathematically don’t you think? I’ve already written sketches for January and February, so I should be posting the project page and sharing more details about the pieces as they get fleshed out in the next few weeks.

There’s, obviously, lots of music that’s been bouncing around my head for ages, and I’m hoping to channel some of this new energy into making something of it. Even if it’s just a sketch in the music notebook, I want to go through the process and compose again.


Blaseball is dead, RIV. It was a minor obsession of mine that got me through some of the darkest days of the early Covid times, and the hackathon (that I ended up winning? I guess?) gave me the chance to do not one but two fun projects. The numbers station one is pretty esoteric and largely complete as-is (though there’s always room to improve things), but the hardware viewer sits, still unassembled, waiting for me to put it all together. I’d love to get my hands back on the soldering iron and get that thing going.

Hey, There Was That Clock Project Too

Yeah, the Cold War Clock is also sitting, disassembled. That one is way more complex, though, and involves high voltage electronics, so I’ll probably ease myself back into things with the Mlattel handheld first.

Other Stuff???

Yeah, I’m also working on some other projects behind the scenes, but I’m still not ready to announce anything yet (and may never be ready, so yeah).

Bringing It All Home

One interesting thing about the constant enshittification of … everything, is that I’ve been making moves to bring more tech-related things back under my own control. For example, I’m moving more of my code off of Github onto my own hosting with a frontend powered by Forgejo, using Syncthing instead of Dropbox, etc. It’s very Web 1.0, but with fewer <frame>s. Honestly, I hope this becomes a trend. I think more people would benefit from getting out of walled-garden platforms and rigging things up themselves or joining smaller groups of people who know how to do the rigging.

I’m also hoping to do this with my tech as well; while I rooted my phone (it’s a OnePlus, it’s allowed!) I never got around to going full open-source and flashing LineageOS, but the way things are going with Google I think I probably will in the near future. I also swapped my Samsung smartwatch for a Bangle.js and I honestly love it. I wasn’t using almost any of the flashy features of the Samsung (though honestly I do miss the rotary encoder selector ring around the watch face…), and so the Bangle fits right in with my use cases: notifications, reminders, weather, and calendars synced from my phone, basic heart rate and step count monitoring, alarms and timers and a stopwatch. And, of course, customizable watch faces, so mine uses an LCARS-style interface that delights my nerdy heart. And the battery lasts for the better part of a week despite daily usage! I might do a whole post on my thoughts (there are definitely downsides).

And of course, as I mentioned in a previous post, I’m using Linux as my daily driver on all my computers (except my work-mandated Mac, sadly) now, which is such a relief. If I never had to boot into Windows again I would be happy forever; as it stands, however, I really just need to figure out how to hibernate Linux while I use Windows and then restore my Linux session where it was — kind of ridiculous, I know, but as someone who abuses private browsing tabs extensively it would make starting back where I was a lot easier!

And since gaming on Linux is more viable than it ever has, I’ve taken the past few months to explore my newfound identity — no, not that, I mean I’m a Dark Souls player now. Or, at least, as of now I’ve beaten 1, played a few hours of 2 before realizing I was having a miserable time, and gotten halfway through 3 (plus Elden Ring, if you count that). This is such a fundamental shift in how I’ve viewed myself as a gamer that it’s still taking some time to adjust my self-image… but in the meantime, they’re still just really fun games!

But all in all I see all of this as another extension of positive energy and change: I’m slowly but surely taking back control of my digital life from megacorporations who see me as just another monetizable data point to sell to the highest bidding-advertiser.

Red lanterns hang above revelers at a New Year street fair in Chinatown, San Francisco

Auspices for the New Year

So that’s about where things stand. As is so often the case, there is much work to do — both the deeply personal, and the profoundly collaborative. But hopefully, whether the stars or the sun or anything at all have anything to say about it, maybe this year will be better than the last.

That’s what I hope, anyway.

Happy year of the Dragon! :dragon: