I work from home. Sometimes in the middle of the day people swing by to hand me pamphlets decrying false religion and immoral sex and just about everything else in the world that could be considered fun. These pamphlets also predict the end of the world, in some vaguely backwards attempt to motivate me not to participate in false religion or immoral sex or Las Vegas, which isn’t a city so much as a glowing physical manifestation of the first two.

Think of Vegas as a crystalline form, a precipitate of sorts, that coalesced out of the sultry, boiling solution that is modern human life. Ayn Rand may have believed that Hollywood was mankind’s greatest invention, but I think the unabashed purity of Vegas definitely puts it in the running. Vegas exists for one thing, and one thing only. Well okay, maybe two things. But we’ve discussed those already.

So what does this have to do with work? Well, everything. Nothing. Sometimes people ask me how the business is going. It’s been a year, or over a year, or less than a year if you count my sabbatical in the wilderness, since I started Brainside Out.

All in all, things are going really well. I have clients who I really enjoy working with, I’ve designed and built some nice stuff that I’m proud of, and I’ve started collaborating with some people in the industry who do stuff better than I can.

That last one is the kicker for me. I did the one-man army thing for the first year of Brainside Out, which let me throw every lever, flip every switch, and pretty much get dirty in every aspect of building websites, from start to finish. In so doing I got a broad familiarity with my industry, from design to development, project management to information architecture, user experience to usability. That being said, I’ve since realized that I’m not the best person for every job in all matters web design.

In my most recent projects, then, I’ve been zeroing in on what I do exceptionally well, and collaborating with other designers to fill in for my weaknesses. And this, this feels right. If I can be confident of one thing, I’m confident that this shall be the direction of Brainside Out. There are so many opportunities out there for building kick-ass websites, and it would be a shame to keep all the fun to myself. As I’m looking at my workload over the next few months, I’m not sure I could handle all this work on my own, even if I wanted to. This is both frightening and delicious.

As far as everything else, though, I really have no idea. Honestly, I don’t even know what kind of work I’ll continue to do here at Brainside Out. I have a couple ongoing projects that will be, well, ongoing, but as far as what cog I will play in which infernal machine, I don’t know.

Given my strengths I’ve recently been leaning away from design (pixel-pushin’) and more towards development (code-slingin’). Currently my front-end development skills are rock-solid, and I can slice up designs and throw down the XHTML/CSS like nobody’s business. I’ve played with enough javascript that I can get down and dirty with the DOM, and I’ve been experimenting with frameworks in that regard. I know enough about scripting and databases to be dangerous, and in my lifetime I’ve managed to rebuild an e-commerce engine or two (or one).

More recently, I’ve spent a lot of time researching web application frameworks and learning their ins and outs. I’ve built stuff in CakePHP and Django and Ruby on Rails, and I think I’m finally wrapping my head around their shared MVC architectures. That said, I’ve had the most success in figuring out Ruby on Rails, and I think that’s the one I’m going to grab and run with.

I’m not a good programmer, but I have a weird intuition for discerning good code from bad code. Even though I know very little about it, I’m a huge fan of the discipline and organization involved in object-oriented programming. Ruby, which is natively object-oriented, is a surprisingly beautiful and clean language, one that I believe is worth my attention.

I’m all for lazy, no doubt, which is why I’m looking at MVC frameworks rather than trying to build web apps from scratch. However, I’m drawn to the aesthetic of working in a language that requires you to write in OOP (Ruby), versus one that only recently grafted some weak-ass OOP functionality onto itself (PHP). Putting myself in a position where I’m unable to cheat will be better for my education and productivity in the long run.

Anywho, that’s the state of things right now. Talk to me tomorrow and it will all be different. Jake and I have discussed starting a printing company, and recently I decided that I want to start a tiki lounge here in Hood River. Plus, Luke will probably need help starting his own brewery since Mark is busy turning algae into gasoline, and what with Kate’s goals of saving the world and all…

Yup. Full plates all around, here.