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Goals for Q2 2019 & review of Q1

Yo! So here we are again. I had a very intense and busy start of the year but still – kinda – managed to accomplish my goals for the first quarter of the year. Let’s review them:

  • Write: I wanted to write 2 posts a month and I – almost – did it. I’ve been working on other stuff but I’m happy with what I’ve done. I wrote about my thoughts on this blog, my goals, creative design, god or whatever and Inktober/Wordtober.
  • Get married: Yuuuuuuup!! And not once but twice (and one more coming xD). Aneesha and I got married on 3rd January at the Indian Consulate in Dubai and between February 14 and 16 we had our hindu wedding in Mumbai. It all went really well and it was an amazing experience for various reasons (like getting together people from all over the world).
  • Make and publish 3 Chai & Churro: done. Here, here and here. I’m really happy with how C&C is going. Still struggling with consistency in the art but I have a pretty streamlined process now with my iPad. I will talk more about this on the goals for the next 3 months.
  • Lose some weight: I somehow managed to lose 3 kg (91 to 88). And last week I even got down to 86.9, TEN KILOS less than when I started making changes in my diet (September 2018). Food happened over the weekend and I’m back to 88 but I’m happy with the progress.

Very happy with how things have gone. I’m also very happy that I got the chance to visit Japan, something that I thought I would never do and now I feel in the position to confirm it: yes, it’s paradise.

For the next quarter I don’t have much in my mind. It’s an extension of what I’ve done in the first quarter with some tweaks. Let’s check the list:

  • Write but different: I might write something for the blog (I have a couple of ideas) but I would like to work on creative writing. I have a little something prepared that I will post soon and I want to keep exploring this path. We’ll see.
  • Chai & Churro: Well, C&C is now a bi-weekly comic strip and it has a Facebook page and an Instagram account. I have found the workflow that makes it work for me. I could be more ambitious and do it weekly but it wouldn’t leave me with enough time for things like the next point.
  • Improve my drawing skills: This is a work in progress and it will never end but I want to take it seriously. I want to improve in key areas for creating expressive characters (hands, eyes, faces…) and improve the art as a whole. The consistency of my drawings it’s a problem (each Chai & Churro looks fricking different) but I hope to improve on that too.
  • Study: I hate studying. I’m lazy and I get easily distracted buy in my line of work is indispensable. I will focus on front-end web coding and UX as that is what appeals to me the most and where I think my – immediate professional – future lays.
  • Be there for my people: All these goals are very cool but they don’t matter if I’m not a good husband, brother, son and brother. I want to improve as a person as much as I want to improve on the things I like to do. This is always priority number one but is good to remind it to oneself from time to time.

Well, that’s it… not much more to say. I guess we’ll talk in July, until then peace, love & Periphery IV.

A month for creativity

Have you ever heard of Inktober? No? Well, Inktober is a challenge that has gained some traction over the years. It was started in 2009 by illustrator Jake Parker and it consists in making an ink drawing every day of the month of October. Participants share their work with the community – Twitter, Instagram, etc. – and interact with each other. Not only you can see amazing art, you can also see people encouraging their peers in what seems to be a pretty healthy environment.

The official Inktober account gives a daily prompt to keep the challenge interesting. It’s up to the artist to interpret the word and translate it into art.

The event has grown over time and it is now quite popular. And that has given birth to parallel challenges like Wordtober, in which I participated last year. In Wordtober the objective is to write a tweet-long story using the daily prompt as a starting point. It was a really fun and positive experience. The time, topic and length limitations boost your creativity. There’s no time for second guessing, you have to use your instincts. No place for unnecessary words either, you have to get to the point. Aneesha – who also participated – defined the process as word vomit. Writing without thinking it twice once. Maybe it is like that but I surely was doing a lot of thinking before everything “clicked”.

Based on my experience last year, I think anyone with some interest in any art form should find the Xtober that fits their interest. It’s not only a great training tool, it’s also a ton of fun.

Goals for Q1 2019

Hi there! As I explained on my previous post I’ve decided to set quarterly goals for myself. If you’ve been following my you’ll know that I did it in 2017 and even though I failed to accomplish all I wanted I found it to be a good practice. I have a very active mind, always thinking about new project. And that can be quite distracting. Having public goals helps me focus and keep working on what I want to accomplish instead of jumping constantly between new things without finishing anything.

I have a couple of things I want to accomplish this year. This first quarter I’m going to be quite busy so my goals are not too ambitious:

  • Write: I’m not going to be ambitious here. Publish 2 posts a month for the next three months. I prefer to post less and things that matter to me the most than just randomly write about anything. Let’s see how it goes next month because…
  • Get married: Aneesha and I are legally married already but we still have two more weddings to go. The first one will be in India in around 20 days. I have to survive to 3 days of events. Wish me luck 😂
  • Make and publish 3 Chai&Churro: recently I bought and iPad pro and I’m starting to get used to it. It’s an amazing tool and I hope it will help me be more productive. My goal is for Chai&Churro to become a bi-weekly thing but that is not going to happen now. I aim for 1 comic strip a month.
  • Lose some weight: I’ve changed my eating habits quite a bit over the last 4 or 5 months. It has worked out well and I’ve lost 6-7 kilos but my weight has been going up and down around the same number for the last couple of months. I want to make some progress, even if it is only a couple of kilos (down).

I’m going to be between India and Japan for a full month. I’m not sure of how much free time I will have. I’ll do my best to be on track and fulfil my goals. I’ll be doing the quarterly review at the beginning of April. Until then, peace, love & death metal ✌

Reflecting on the past and future of this space

I’m back. Last year was a complicated one. I had a crazy busy second half of the year, with lots of grown up things happening (remember? I’m a child with a grey-ish beard), and this had kept me from writing as I would liked to.

And yes, I also went through some kind of crisis regarding my blog. I had to “look myself in the mirror” and ask why am I doing this. What’s the purpose of my blog? Does it make sense? I was writing about a bunch of stuff, things that I like: games, movies, music… But in the end I realized I wasn’t getting anything back from it on any level and my time was better spent somewhere else.

As a result of this I’ve decided 2 things:

  • I won’t write anything for weeks (or months) if I don’t have anything to say. It doesn’t mean I don’t have a goal for this blog. It just means I won’t write about whatever just because I made myself a promise to write.
  • I don’t want to write anything review-like. There are professionals that do that and they do it way better than I do. If I write I want it to be related to what I do in my life, things that matter to me the most, like Chai&Churro, my drawings, coding or writing.

To start this new stage I’ll be looking at something I did in the past: set quarterly goals for myself. I did it throughout 2017 and I found it useful to keep an agenda and remind myself of what are my short term priorities.

I’ll be writing a post for my Q1 goals soon. Stay tuned 🙂

Chai&Churro, creating a comic strip has been one of the most humbling and overwhelming moments of my life

As a kid I loved to draw. I spent countless hours with a pencil in my hand, drawing whatever my obsession was at the moment (Dragon Ball, Sonic and others). But at some point, for whatever reason, this hobby got lost and I never really went back to it. My love for the 9th art also dates from those days; with many people influencing me. Those people lead me to dive into manga and american superhero comics but also European comic (Tintin, Asterix, Blacksad) and comic strips, mainly the Spanish ones (Mortadelo y Filemon, Superlopez, 13 Rue del percebe, etc).

Chai & Churro

A few weeks ago I told Aneesha about an idea that had been in my mind for some time. I wanted to do a little comic strip about situations in our life. We are people of different race and culture and that creates a context where funny situations are quite common. Putting that on paper shouldn’t be that difficult, and it would be a good creative effort, fun and entertaining.

Aneesha loved the idea, and we discussed some situations that we could use. After that, I worked for a weekend on putting together the first comic strip. I needed to find a way of creating characters that looked like us and, after some tries and some feedback from Aneesha, I created the first comic strip. You can see below these lines:

A FIRST DATE WITH INDIAN FOOD (Swipe right to read the whole comic) Guys, I’m so excited to announce this! @francisco_caal has come out with a fun comic strip on our lives as a mixed race Spanish-Indian couple living in Dubai! This comic summarized his first experience with Indian food 😂 This series is called Chai & Churro and this is his comic #1. Needless to say, I’m absolutely chuffed about this 😁🧔🏻👩🏽 Swipe right for #ChaiandChurro and let me know what you think of it! ❤ #WhenChaimeetsChurro . . . . . #comicstrips #creativepreneur #creativelifehappylife #creativityfound #calledtobecreative #creativebusiness #creativedesign #createcultivate #createeveryday #thenativecreative #doitfortheprocess #designisinthedetails #designinspiration #designideas #colorhunters #colorlove #colorcrush #livecreatively #livecolorfully #herestothecreatives #mybeautifulmess #flashesofdelight #pursuepretty #explorecreate #dowhatyoulove

A post shared by Aneesha Rai | Dubai Blogger (@omnomnirvana) on


Yes, we started with a toilet joke. I know is not the most original thing in the world but believe me – spicy Indian food and Spanish stomachs are not the best combination. Chai & Churro was born and we were ready to put them out into that wild place that is the internet.

What happened next

Creating this comic strip was meaningful to me. It’s been a way of blowing off some creative steam, it has connected myself with my partner and at the same time with my inner child. I thought it could be special for Aneesha too. But to be honest, I didn’t know what her reaction would be. I’m not gonna go into specifics, but the things she’s said meant a lot to me.

When we published it on Instagram I was expecting some “likes” and some people finding it funny (because I believe it is). That obviously happened. We tend to “like” everything these days. But as soon as we published, we started getting a bunch of comments. People asking for more. People saying that we should open a separate account for the comic strip. I wasn’t expecting that. I think is the first time in my life that I do something and people asks for more.

But that’s not it, something else was coming. We got people telling us how much it meant for them to see a representation of an interracial couple. Specially one with an Indian in it. The Indian community is not used to see this kind of representation. And for that, I wasn’t prepared. I was just having fun, doing some creative stuff because I have an urge to do it. I was writing the most silly and stupid toilet joke. And yes, I know that in the online world, 200+ likes and some dozens of comments are nothing. But for me, if something I’ve done becomes meaningful for just a couple of people… well, it means the world to me.

I don’t know what’s gonna happen with this comic strip in the future. I have another one ready to publish and ideas for a couple more. After that I can’t promise anything because I honestly don’t know what I’m doing. The response to Chai & Churro has been overwhelming and really humbling, and I just want to say THANK YOU for all the “likes”, comments and messages.

A brick wall that read 'We like you too"

You are more than your job title

In this time and age, it seems like career is all that matters. You have to do this, you have to accomplish that and is your career what defines you. If you ask me, that’s utter bullshit. Your career is just a little part of who you are as a person and of what you bring to this world. Your job is what you do to make money. To survive in a capitalistic world that is harsh and relentless.

Obviously, in an ideal situation, you like your job. I’m lucky to say that I like what I do. It has good and not so good moments (like everything), but overall I’m satisfied. Not so long ago I wasn’t that happy about it. I had that attitude towards my job that I was describing a few lines above. I was obsessed with reaching certain goals, accomplish what I thought it would demonstrate that I was worthy. Because if I didn’t reach my goals as a professional I was a failure.

It has taken me lots of unhappy (and scary) moments and almost two years of fighting anxiety and depression to realize that I’m much more than a what my job title says. I’m a partner, a son, a brother, a friend… I’m a naturally curious person with countless hobbies and a strong creative gene that I’m still trying to develop every day. Fuck, I’m even an occasional blogger 😀

In this two years of struggle I’ve changed the way I look at my job and my career. I’ve learnt to develop myself as a person instead of as a professional and the benefits of it have translated to my workplace.

Your job is just that, and it’s ok to set goals and wanting to progress in your profession, but don’t let it take your happiness away. I can tell you from personal experience, is not worth it.

Photo by Adam Jang on Unsplash
Web design

I, Designer

My first job was as a web designer / front-end developer. It was a different time, and I was fresh out of university where, apart from a bunch of other things, I studied some design. That first job was quite easy, I had clear guidelines that I couldn’t bypass and web design wasn’t as complex as it is today. After that first job, others came, but never as a designer. I fashioned myself more as a coder (I still do) and, being completely honest, I’m not good at designing. I can appreciate good design, I understand the theory behind it and I have the knowledge. But anyone with a bit of experience in life knows that from theory to practice there’s a long way.

I’m writing about this because I’ve spend the last (almost) five years working on a designer-less environment. It never bothered me. The CEO had a clear vision of the company’s brand and image, so between my limited designing skills and his input we’ve managed to create a product that is quite decent, if not good. Or that is what I used to think. Recently I’ve been reviewing our website in detail and I’m not happy with what I’ve seen. But not everything is negative. Yes, we have a lot of inconsistencies and some poorly designed elements, but I believe we have the foundations of a good design.

So I got back to work (is not like we can hire a designer at the moment) and I’ve started a digital Design Guideline. So far I’m just trying to put things together. We have a lot of good stuff on our website but is not standard. There are variations of the same elements here and there, and that is the first thing that needs to be addressed. I’m using the Material Design guidelines as a reference. We have relayed on Google’s guidelines in the past and I believe is gonna help me find the consistency that we need.

In the near future I’d like to post the new guide and some examples of how we have improved things. I’m never gonna be an excellent designer, but I trust myself to do this job.

My first visit to India with Aneesha

Wins & Fails of Q4 2017

At the beginning of 2017 I decided to set some goals for myself. Instead of setting yearly goals I did it for every quarter of the year. Yearly goals are easy to forget as you don’t review them often. So for the past year I’ve been doing quarterly reviews, and this is the last one. You can check the previous ones here(1st), here(2nd) and here(3rd).

My idea was to write this a few weeks ago but Christmas got in the middle. I’m (finally) starting to get out of the food coma that comes with the combination Christmas + going back home, so let’s have a look to the last quarter of 2017:

  • Keep learning web development stuff: I’m actually quite happy with this. I’ve been learning a lot of Javascript lately. More importantly, I’m happier with the way I write JS code now. There’s still a lot to learn, but I’m on the right path. Win
  • Improve my exercise routine: It’ll be great to be able to do exercise for a few weeks without getting injured or sick, but I haven’t been very lucky on that front so far. If we forget about that, I think I’ve done some improvements. Now I’m playing football once a week with a group of guys in Al Quoz and I’m still doing Yoga. I’ve gone with Aneesha to a couple of extra classes, including a Muay Thai class that was both difficult and fascinating. Win but I can do better
  • Keep improving on time management: I fricking suck at this. It has been probably my worst quarter of the year on this matter. Fail
  • Do some creative work: I have actually done some. Didn’t know what I was gonna do when I put this on my list and it turned out that I wrote a short story. Well, part of it. Anyway, it was cool to do that. I might or might not publish it on the blog in the future, if I finish it. But the point was to do something different, even if it was only for a few hours and I did it. Win

As you can see, I’m not setting goals for Q1 2018. I haven’t decided if I’m gonna do it this year. I could do it, but I’m going to need some time to think about what I want for this 2018. Anyway, I hope all of you have accomplished whatever you wanted this past year And I hope you have a great 2018 too 🙂

P.S. The picture was taken on my first trip to India!

ian-espinosa-223462

Fe-men-ism: boys do cry

Twitter is a great place to be. You can find all kind interesting stuff on the social network. Yesterday I came across a series of tweets by a guy called Matt Haig that I believe it’s an important thing to discuss:

I don’t know the accuracy of the data he talks about in the first tweet, and to be honest, I don’t care. I don’t think that’s the point. We tend to keep an idea of men and women that are not a representation of reality. You can’t group people by their sex and just tag them as strong or weak. That’s not how it works.

I’m pretty sure that being a man, and from Spain, some people might tend to think I’m some kind of Spanish macho that runs in front of bulls or some nonsense like that. But it takes 5 minutes of talking to me to see I’m not like that. In fact I’m a sensitive and emotional person, I’m scared of a bunch of things and I’ve experience some of the issues described above, like anxiety and depression.

As this Matt guy says, it’s okay to cry or being scared being a man. As it is ok to be the bravest or the strongest of the group being a woman. Don’t let anyone tell you how you should be.

P.s. Obviously that title is too much word play for me, thank you Aneesha for helping me all the time with my blog 🙂

Photo by Ian Espinosa on Unsplash

The one-man development team

It’s a bit weird when you are your company’s whole development team. We’re used to work in groups and collaborate with others. It can be pretty stressful, specially if what you develop is the software that the whole company uses to do their work.

That’s been my case for the last 4 and a half years. Most of the time it’s been fine, but it has had its little drama here and there. I still remember when I had to look for a laptop in the middle of the night while on holiday in Thailand to solve an issue that was too urgent to ignore.

With all these years of experience, I believe that there are a few things that you can do to deal with it without going crazy in the process:

  1. Understand that you are the only one doing this. We all want to take our time to do our job, we don’t like to be interrupted, and we don’t like to change tasks continuously. But in this kind of job, that’s a luxury that you can’t afford all the time. There will be times when you need to solve an issue, bug or maybe change your priorities. That’s how it is, but you should also…
  2. Mark your territory. This is very important. Software development is your thing, you are who knows about it. You have to be able to tell people that they’re wrong. It doesn’t matter if the one who is wrong is your boss. You’re the expert and you have the last word.
  3. Learn to say no. This apply to life in general, but it is extremely important on this case. I’ve learnt it the hard way. It took me a few years to realize that I’m not Superman (yeah, I’m dumb). Sometimes what you’re asked is just not feasible, and you shouldn’t try to demonstrate anything. This is about getting things done, and done properly. You don’t have to demonstrate anything.
  4. Be aware of your limitations. You don’t know everything. And you’re gonna make mistakes. Probably lots of them. There will be things that you do really well, and other maybe not so much. That happens when you’re asked to do many different things. But don’t get angry, just learn from you’re mistakes and keep going.

I think when you’re in a situation like this, the most important things are not about coding, are about the way you work. This is the best advice I can give. Ah yes, I almost forgot, don’t reinvent the wheel.

P.s main pic is by Simon Abrams