Somewhere Else To Be

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INT. STARBUCKS – SEBASTOPOL, CA – EARLY AFTERNOON

A man in his early 30’s is sitting in the back corner of the café, staring at his computer screen while sipping coffee. He has headphones in and is fading between where the music takes him and where he is at the moment. It’s obvious he’s been there a while (banana peel, napkin, empty sandwich bag) and is struggling with what he’s trying to write. This is because he’s trying to write about where he is, and he’s not even sure how he got there.

Well, that’s kind of a lie. I know exactly how I got here, but to get into it is to recap the entirety of 2012. Fortunately, that’s what this post is for.

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Watching Past The Day [Updated]

Magnetic North
Magnetic North

2011 fades away, and what a year it was. I’m going to be breaking this into multiple posts. A couple that are my year mostly in numbers, like books, movies, travel, etc. The other mostly made up of intangibles, life, love, lessons, and the like. This will be one of the former. I tend to document and record lots of data as kind of a side function of my everyday goings on. It’s not that I’m particularly stat focused or live life by numbers, but I like to keep track of where I go, how I got there, how much I did. It’s pretty easy to do now-a-days, especially since a lot of record keeping is automated. All you have to do is know where to look for the data. For example, I can look at my Verizon Wireless account and see that I spent 3289 minutes [52.4 hours / 2.18 days] talking on my phone this year. That doesn’t include Google Voice, GMail, or Skype calls, so the total is probably a bit higher. A more impressive number is texts. 20,608 from my phone and another 15,223 from Google Voice, for a total of 35,831 text messages. So, all the info is out there, it just needs to be added up.

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Social Anxiety Order

One Year Later
Cambridge - One Year Later

I’ve certainly never been a stranger to social/internet outlets. I’ve been consistently wandering around the online public space for a long time. I explored AOL 1.0 in the early 90’s, was part of online communities, forums, etc. I started building websites around the same time and was part of the “Independent Web” movement in the late 90’s/early 00’s. I watched the death of camportals and the rise of the “blog” (I remember Josh Kinney famously asking me “What was the internet before the blog?”). Originally it was “push to publish” services like Blogger and it’s lightweight version, Blogspot, that gave every person on the web a chance to have a voice. The rise (and fall) of assorted social media waypoints has provided a nearly continuous supply of outlets for anyone and everyone looking to fill up the internet with their personal content. More well known sites like Makeout Club, Friendster, MySpace, etc, to the smaller ones like BME:IAM (One of the first, real, networks. Sadly, currently in it’s death-throes.) and DeviantArt (though I’m not sure DeviantArt can be considered “small” anymore), and the millions in-between. We all know these stories. We live them every day, for the most part.

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Some Very Strange Birds

Unit Still

So last weekend I was in Olympia, WA and found myself shooting unit stills for an indie film, which was pretty amazing.

I’m going to try and recap this the best I can, since the reality of the situation is that I’ve been pretty distracted lately. A lot of things remain in question about, well, a lot of things. Vague, yes, but for the time being they have to be. Thinking about it all saps my motivation.

Anyway, Olympia.

Basil
Basil

So originally I wasn’t hired for any kind of photography, I was, well, I should say, my lenses were hired. I had spoken to filmmaker/producer, and friend of a friend, Basil Shadid, at the opening party for BedlamBedlam (see below). We got to talking about cameras and lenses and I mentioned the lenses I had with me while I was traveling. A couple days later he got in touch about renting my lenses for a film shoot he was going to be working on in Olympia, WA, specifically, my:

I was hesitant to let those lenses loose in the wild, especially my beloved 28mm (yes, I know the 10-22mm is like, 2x the price, but I love my 28mm so much) so when the offer to join the on-set crew was included, I wasn’t going to say no. Tack on transportation, accommodations, food , and free reign to shoot on-set and I couldn’t have really asked for a better deal. The experience alone made it worth it.

Om... nom?
Om... nom?

And overall it was. I shot about 2500 photos, with about 400 of them being select worthy, and about another 400 being passable (in my opinion). That’s a pretty good ratio and some of the selects came are really good, some of the best I’ve shot. There is no gallery up yet, and there won’t be, until I talk more with the director and the producer about them. They expressed interest in buying some of them from me (even though I was not the official set photographer), so that’s pretty awesome.

I brought along back-up lenses because I knew that some of my best primes would be used by the film team (seems funny to call it “film”), so I brought my:

I didn’t know what kind of environments we were shooting in, so I figured that would cover my bases. The film guys ended up using all of my lenses (including the 3 above) at various points in during the filming, which was pretty awesome. They also used my tripod and the ballhead off my monopod, which I was happy to offer. Even my Speedlite 320EX got put to use (finally got to seriously use the video LED). One of the cool flip-sides to having them use my lenses, was that I was able to test drive Basil’s EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM. It’s a pretty nice lens, I live shooting on it, but I don’t know that I’d take it over my beloved EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM, especially since it’s due for a refresh soon, hopefully adding IS to the mix.

The lens that really saved my shooting though, was my EF 50mm f/1.4 USM. We ended up shooting on some really dark sets and the speed of the 50mm was just unbeatable. I tend to shoot wide open a lot, so I was used to framing and shooting at f/1.4, which can be a challenge when you’re trying to keep two or more actors in focus on different planes. f/1.4 is a pretty unforgiving depth, but knowing how to shoot that shallow really helped me grab shots that would have been impossible otherwise. I also tend to shoot with a -1 exposure bias, so my experience with that offered me a bit of extra shutter speed.

2nd Lead

I also learned a lot about what I am and am not interested in when it comes to being on a set. I also learned more about my personal strengths and weaknesses.

  • I really like set photography. It may not be glamorous, but I really, really, enjoy it.
  • A lot of my technical skills were put to good use. I know my equipment and what it can do.
  • My ability to creatively problem solve, especially in a production environment, is as strong as ever.
  • I’m still adaptable to fill pretty much any role that is needed in a production environment and my practicality still runs strong.
  • I feel like I could take on a DP role, especially with the combination of my eye and my knowledge, but I definitely need to study up.
  • I still love writing and creating. As I was photographing, I was also re-writing and directing in my own head. I kept a lot of notes during takes, I’m interested to see the final cut of the film.
  • I definitely do not know enough about light. I know how to utilize it effectively, but not create it as well as I should.

Another thing that is interesting is a conversation I had with the Gaffer, Alex Walsh. We were talking about light, how I wasn’t used to shooting in scenarios where the light was so perfect, and how it was making for some stunning photographs. We got to talking about “seeing things as a photographer” vs. “seeing things as a filmmaker”. For me, when I see a perfect scene, I imagine it as a perfect photo: how I would shoot it, what I would need to capture that exact moment. Alex talked about how when he looks through a viewfinder, he asks himself “Why am I taking just a photograph? I could be filming this.” It was an interesting conversation about how different people see the same thing, and it also represents the same way my brother Troy and I see things. It’s one of the reasons we work so well together when we collaborate. I really hope I get to work again with Alex in the future.

So all in all, the whole thing was a pretty excellent time. I met a lot of really cool people, learned quite a bit, and got to put a lot of myself back into practice. I haven’t been part of a production in a while, and never part of a film production, but it’s good to know that my skill-set is pretty much applicable across the board.

It was also nice to shoot in that environment (perfect lighting, all the time) and know that I don’t have to sacrifice quality for application. That I can integrate into a production in a capacity that I really enjoy. Photography has always been a part of my event production, but never the focus. I’m still not 100% comfortable with it being my main role though. It’s a bit difficult to detach from wanting to help out with all parts of a production or event (which I kind of did anyway), but I just had to assist where I could and remember that photography was the real reason to be there (though, I hadn’t been officially hired as the set photographer, I still treated my role as such).

The drive back to Seattle was fine. I rode with the producer and writer of the film, Brent. We talked a bit about travel, working, identity, and purpose in life. Talking with him reminded me that I am basically sitting on the equivalent of close to a thousand pages of writing. I’ve almost posted/published them here a few times, but for some reason I’m far more protective of my writing than I am of my photography.

I was only back in Seattle for a day, repacking and getting organized for moving on. I couldn’t finish this out without mentioning Steve Barta and Gennifer Holland, both of which showed me incredible kindness and hospitality during my stay in the Emerald City. My own personal Wizard and Glinda, though I’m not sure Gen will appreciate that reference. Ha!

I’ll have more on Seattle up, and an update on where I am now, next time.

One apple, Two ideas

Petit Dejeuner
Petit Dejeuner

Notes for the week:

WiFi + Bistro = Wistro. I’m not sure I like this name, but it’s everywhere here.

Average daily calories.
Average daily calories.

I was told that I need to start making food more of a priority. This is actually pretty true. For some reason eating just sits at the bottom of my daily “to do” list. I can go an entire day on a cup of coffee and a croissant and just not feel hungry. It’s not that I don’t like eating, or food (quite the contrary), it’s just something that slips through the cracks. I actually love sharing meals with people as a vehicle for conversation and interaction, so maybe that’s part of it. When I’m on my own to eat I guess it just doesn’t seem important. Speaking of priorities, every time I hear that word I can only think of the following quote from Jim Collins:

If you have more than 3 priorities, you don’t have any…

Works for me. Oh wait, you wanted to know what they are? Hmm… maybe next time.

Real Life & Real Time
Real Life & Real Time

Real Life vs. Real Time. This is something I’ve written about in the past. It is essentially the conflict between people and the world we live in as it relates to expectations about interacting with each other within the context of that modern world. Technology now bends us toward “Real Time” interaction, but the reality is that we exist in a “Real Life” setting. This is something I’ve experienced first hand in my life, from both sides, and is something I go back and forth with. These days, when you receive an email, or a text, or a missed call, etc, from someone, “Real Time” dictates that you reply immediately simply because you have the capacity to do so. Technology has given us nearly 24/7 availability and can provide us with the options for a near instantaneous response time. Because of this, the sender has an expectation about how quickly you will reply because they know you have the capacity. Not meeting this expectation can result in conflict (I’m sure that if you live in the “modern” world, you’ve experienced this, it’s often very passive-aggressive). The truth of the matter is though, that expectation usually does not take “Real Life” into account. Just because you have the technological capacity to reply immediately, doesn’t mean you always can… or should. This is where the line exists when it comes to compromising “Real Life” for “Real Time”, that the communication should exist a kind of bubble. Now, I say “compromise” on purpose because there is a lot of the time where this competition just doesn’t exist. If a person is sitting on a park bench and they get a text, email, etc, of course they can just immediately reply. That isn’t really compromising anything critical or high impact for the sake of availability. But if you send an email while someone is in a movie or on a date or in a meeting or… whatever, and then get mad because they didn’t reply until it was over (even after they may have told you where they were), that is kind of, well, the essence of this idea. The expectation that a reply will come back immediately because they are enabled to, and the obligation they might feel do to so for the same reason, is a little silly. And that’s the weird back-end of this, the sense of guilt or anxiety from not replying immediately. It’s almost like “Real Time” is becoming human nature, an innate desire and need to be that available, to provide “Real Time” responses to everything, and supplanting the concept of “Real Life”.

Now, this isn’t all to say that “Real Time” should never be considered. It’s very easy to read through this and say “You know what, screw “Real Time”, I’ll reply whenever I feel like it!“. I suppose no one can tell you not to, but there is a bit of modern courtesy and practicality involved. Not replying just for the sake of sticking it to someone’s ideas about an appropriate time-frame, or to prove a point, is just as nonconstructive as sacrificing “Real Life”. Some people just have priority status, and of course there are things like emergencies and other mitigating circumstances. The point is to find a balance and not let one take over the other, and if you do let it fade either way, to make sure it’s for the right reasons.

This image has nothing to do with the following paragraph.
Unrelated Photo

I was also thinking about the correlation between coin money, comparing the Dollar to the Euro, and speaking French. So, first off, there is a common American joke about the “man purse”, or “European man bag”, etc etc. Well, it’s for good reason. COIN MONEY. Good lord, there is a coin for every possible denomination here and they are used exclusively in a lot of places (i.e. no bills) so you have to carry them around with you (This does lead to a fun game though, of having a “coin money” day where you just try to get rid of all of it). So having some kind of bag makes a lot of sense here, which is good news for me since bags are my one real retail weakness. This kind of ties into living here for a while now (does 2 months count as “a while”?) and the need to stop comparing the Euro to the Dollar. It is incredibly difficult to do, especially as someone who will end up back in the US at some point, and even more-so as someone who watches his money like a hawk. The Euro is strong against the Dollar right now so money goes quicker than anticipated. It’s easy to keep comparing, but it is also maddening to do so. I was thinking about this relationship and it reminded me of learning and speaking a different language. At some point you just start to innately understand the new language instead of using your native tongue as a reference. I was only thinking about that because I really need to get on the ball about learning French.

My 60D
The Great 28 on my 60D

The last thing I’ll yammer about is the Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM. This is a bit of camera nerdery so feel free to skip it if that is of no interest to you.

So, the common recommendation for prime lenses when you first pick up a DLSR is the classic 50mm. If you’re a Canon user, this is the EF 50mm f/1.8 II, aka The Nifty Fifty. No doubts, it is an AMAZING lens (although I use it’s big brother, the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM) especially since you can pick it for about $99. It’s incredible for portraits, but a bit tight on a crop sensor, like the 60D, for everyday use since it actually becomes an 80mm. For a while I was shooting walk-around on the EF 35mm f/2. It is the classic length for full-frame photography and it crops out to 56mm on the 1.6x sensors, so it’s is decent to work with in standard shooting, although the quality of the lens itself leaves a little to be desired. There isn’t currently a mid-tier USM version of the 35mm in Canon’s line-up, there is just the 35mm f/2 and the $1500 EF 35mm f/1.4 L USM. It’s too bad, since it’s a good length and probably a better prime length to cut your teeth on than the 50mm. The real hidden gem here though, and what has become my most used and most loved lens, is the often overlooked EF 28mm f/1.8 USM. This lens is my little workhorse and it produces some amazing images, especially of flowers (yeah, that’s right, I like to take pictures of flowers. So what. Wanna fight about it?).

Flowers
28mm Bokeh

It produces bokeh unlike any other lens I own, adding a sense of almost “hatched motion” to unfocused backgrounds. A lot of the photos in my Flower Flicker Set were shot on the 28mm for this very reason. It’s similar to how the 50mm f/1.4 produces the “dream” effect around subjects when it’s stopped down all the way. I pretty much never go anywhere without my 28mm because I know that it can pick up any of my daily duties in a pinch. It crops to 45mm so it can handle portraits, as shown, it’s amazing for flowers (rivaling even my EF-S 60mm f/2.8 USM Macro) and other daily shots, and with a little distance, can pull off wide-angle duty. It’s very a much a “frame with your feet” lens, but given it’s small size, it’s easy to get right up on whatever you’re shooting without too much hassle. If I could only ever bring one lens with me anywhere, it’d be a tough choice between the Great 28 or the EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM. That’s saying a lot for an obscure little prime, but it has made a believer out of me.

Well, that’s all for now.

The War of Art

Writing II
Writing

And so here I sit. Watching tour boats travel up and down the Seine from my spot on Paris Plages, next to the pétanque courts. My croissant is mediocre and I’m treating myself to a Fanta Orange (I stopped drinking soda a long time ago). There are people painting around me, and people filming the people painting, and people photographing the people filming the people painting (how meta). The sky is dark, which seems to be the usual lately, I expect rain.

If you read the last entry here, (it’s long, I know) you know a little bit about how and why I’m here. If you were aware of my plan before I left, you might be asking yourself why I am still here. Then again, if you were aware of my plan before I left you are also psychic and don’t need to be reading this. Here, I’ll concentrate for a second and you can just skip this whole website thing.

Happy now? While I was waiting for you, a bee drank my soda.

Soda Thief
Soda Thief

So, expanding on things for those of us who are not so fantastically mentally endowed, part of my time here, and even prior to coming here, was to take a long look at the people in my life and where they fall within this kind of behavior spectrum I’ve been visualizing. This spectrum basically ranges from people who primarily “take” from the relationship to people who primarily “give” to the relationship. And that isn’t just about time or things; it is about understanding, expectations, trust, and support. Overall, really, though, it is about acceptance. Acceptance that people live dynamic lives, that things change (although people often don’t: see below), and that not everything goes to plan. I tend to give people a wide breadth. I understand that people are flawed, circumstances sometimes dictate, and that things don’t always turn out the way we hoped. Note: I use the word “relationship” here to describe all general interactions between people and myself. It does not exclusively mean “romantic relationship”. I have a great relationship with my best friend, Stephen, but I don’t want to date him. You know, in case that wasn’t clear.

In any case, I started looking at all these people and realizing that there are only a handful of people who I feel like I can say “No” to and not feel like it’s going to be the end of the known universe.

This is one of those things I recognize explicitly in myself and something I have worked quite hard to overcome. I just did not like saying “no”. I did not like feeling like I was disappointing someone by not always being available to them. I don’t like feeling like I am closing doors to opportunities I would otherwise have by staying open to any possibility.

Generally, I just took a kind of ambivalent viewpoint and stance that didn’t require me to commit to a “yes”, but left the door open by also not directly saying “no”. I’m sure you can imagine how infuriating that must have been for a lot of people. In my mind though, I was convinced I was keeping people happy; they get what they want from me no matter what direction they swing. Well, generally I like giving people what I think they want so the relationship stays open (good) to possibilities. It all kind of made sense in my head.

Life allegory photo.
Life allegory photo.

Yeah, except life doesn’t really work that way and, for the most part, neither do people. I had to realize that by saying “no”, the world wasn’t going to suddenly end. I had look across that spectrum of people and start to realize that if my relationship was going to end with someone because I stopped being so ambivalent about everything, then it probably wasn’t worth it in the first place (Thanks, Nina). So I did. I started setting those boundaries. I had to. It wasn’t easy. It required being explicitly direct. It required taking a chance that a relationship could end. That you could lose someone from your life. It required the conviction and courage to make a choice.

Time out: Ok, I know this all seems pretty silly. So much angst over the simple, silly, act of saying “no”. It’s more than that really. It’s more about not wanting to lose people close to me by not giving them what they want. It took a lot of time to accept that some people just take and that they really don’t deserve the attention and affection I tend to freely give.

Anyway, so I started. I had the best possible reason.

And, well, nothing ever goes as expected. Some people reacted just like I feared, that saying “no”, just once, was grounds enough to not want to be friends any more. It hurts. A lot. I felt, and still feel a bit like I let those people down. I caused that end to happen by not always being there. I miss them, I suppose, but ultimately I needed to be able to say what I did. The caveat here is that by giving to less people, I can increase what I do give to the people in my life who truly deserve it. Quality vs. quantity as it were. And I very much like that.

Move Forward
Move Forward

Well, that’s where I stopped writing. I’ll be picking things back up in the next one. I have a ton of notes I want to get in here.

Trial by fire…

I’m sitting in a Starbucks. It’s a cold, rainy, night in Las Vegas, NV. I flew here this morning, by way of Los Angeles, CA, from Boston, MA at 5:00 AM this morning. I’m here to build a huge Rock Band stage for The Las Vegas Nightclub & Bar Convention and Tradeshow.

Without knowing any better, you might think that I’m living the same life i was a few months ago. Well, that’s true, but only partially. I don’t live here anymore. Instead of being here for a client, I am the client. It’s surreal, and kind of exhilarating. It’s something I’ve worked towards for a long time. Something I’ve always wanted. Something I plan on preserving for as long as I possibly can.

Well, that’s all wonderfully vague. It’s been a while since I wrote here and it will definitely be a while after this. Blogger is discontinuing it’s FTP publishing, which means I have to radically rebuild this site in the near future. I’ve already started working on it via WordPress, but I’m having a hard time giving up the control I’m used to having by hand coding everything. A lot of the WP options and features are really cool, things that would take me forever to hand code, but the trade off is that i don’t get to control every line of code. It’s like giving up my baby and I’m really struggling with it.

Anyway, back to what I was saying earlier.

Since I wrote here last I’ve gone from a fulltime professional freelancer to the fulltime Event Specialist for Harmonix Music Systems. Yes, you read that correctly. For 10 years I’ve worked incredibly hard as a freelancer, always just outside a legitimate, actual, job in the video game industry. Now I work for, easily, one of the coolest video game studios in existence. I’m busting my ass to keep it that way.

I’m still adjusting to being back in MA, but it’s my home state so it’s not difficult. Next month I’ll move into Cambridge proper and ditch the ridiculous commute I have at the moment. I say next month because I’ll be on the road for nearly all of March. If you’re out and about, swing past and say “hi”.

Dates: March 7th – March 10th
Event: The Las Vegas Bar & Nightclub Convention
Location: The Las Vegas Convention Center – Las Vegas NV

Dates: March 10th – March 22nd
Event: South By Southwest Music/Film/Interactive Conference and Festival
Location: The Austin Convention Center – Austin, TX

Dates: March 24th – March 28th
Event: PAX East (Penny Arcade eXposition)
Location: The Hynes Convention Center – Boston, MA

I’ll actually be involved in a lot of other events, but those are the major ones this month.

I’d like to think I’m transitioning well into my new position, but this month will put that to the test. Trial by fire, but all fire I’ve walked through in the past.

In other news:

  • The epic saga of my battle with Helio/Virgin Mobile/Sprint has come to an end. As expected, the doors will be shut on Helio forever in May. I’m glad I got out when I did. I carry an Eris now, chock full of Android, on Verizon. It’s really just a hold-over until Windows Phone 7 Series makes it’s debut. I will be all over that when it hits shelves. My experience with Helio has left me as kind of a buff on mobile technology. It’s been quite the fascination for me recently. I plan on writing up a recap of the saga and the absurdity of what I had to go through just to get off the sinking ship before I was pulled down with it
  • I need to buy a bike again. I haven’t ridden seriously since I was run down years ago (mangled me and my bike up pretty badly). With my relocation to Boston, it’s time to start cranking again.
  • I have a new love affair with Timbuk2. I carry a small, custom, TB2 laptop messenger everywhere now. It’s almost knocked my Ogio Hip Hop off it’s golden pedestal. I still consider the Hip Hop the greatest messenger bag ever created. My TB2 hasn’t been through everything my HH has though, so it remains to be seen if it can take top honors. I also have a large TB2 custom that I use for travel now. It is amazingly comfortable and the True Fit cam buckle is possibly the greatest invention in bag history. I can’t really say enough good things about TB2. If these two bags survive this month, they’ll become my new full time bags.

Well, that’s all for now. Build day for Bar & Nightclub starts at 8AM tomorrow and I have to walk back to the MGM Grand in the rain. Fun.

The clanking of crystal.

So this is the new year. Again. 2009 was a hell of a year for me. My Rock Band year (but that’s a different story/post/whatever). This year hasn’t quite started like I was hoping, but I’m financially in better shape than I thought I would be. That’s at least something. Once of the biggest “looking back” things I’ve been working on is how much I didn’t write this year.

I’ll clarify a bit. I actually did a lot of writing. In fact, I was published multiple times this year over on the RockBand.com ‘Zine. I had a great time writing those articles and the response I got was overwhelmingly positive. I enjoy writing, a lot. The problem is that no one would know that from this website. This blog/journal/whatever it is offers pretty slim pickin’s when it comes to providing solid examples of my literary pursuits. The site is obviously not finished, since work keeps me out on the road so much, but the reality is that there is a single overwhelming reason for the lack of creative writing.

Most of my inspiration for writing is born out of personal experience, as I imagine the case is for most writers. The issue, though, is that I can craft and revise my narrative very quickly in my head. Anyone who hangs out with me knows this. I have a penchant for delivering highly articulated rants and lengthy monologues within minutes of having my imagination sparked or my ire set aflame. Of course, I’m almost never behind a keyboard when this occurs. Even when I plot out the entire course, every detail, of an article in my head I’ll lose the majority of it before I can commit it to any kind of medium. If I could record my thoughts at time of conception, this website would be updated on a daily basis, if not moreso. I usually just find better things to do. My inspiration, or at least my desire to act upon it beyond thought or speech, is fleeting.

A good example is the post just before this one. That entire transcription, from start to finish, occurred in a matter of minutes in a Subway, over a foot-long turkey on wheat with lettuce, tomato, and honey mustard. My next destination just happened to be a Starbucks across the street so I was able to get it down and out quickly. Those are the kinds of things I compose in my mind every day, but never get into any kind of long term form. My next subject, distraction, anything, is just on the horizon and as soon as it comes into focus, the last one is lost.

Even now, in the sidebar of Windows Live Writer, are dozen of drafts for posts I started but never finished. It’s not that I didn’t want to; it’s just that the next best idea for one came on too quickly and I had to shift gears. It’s interesting to me because it’s pretty much the only area of my life where I don’t see a task all the way to its finish.

Something I like about myself, typically, is that I have a pretty strong OCD streak when it comes to my work. I am notoriously meticulous, almost to a fault. I will work to nail down every little detail, tweak every possible option, and adjust anything that can be. I subscribe to a simple philosophy: Perfection is unattainable, but that’s no reason not to try. The devil is in those details. This is especially true when it comes to consumer interaction. I’m tweaking and adjusting things they will never know about, but all those little things will contribute to a better overall experience. The consumer should be totally focused on that experience; the best possible result is what they should be walking away with. The downside is that people I work with think I’m an obsessive nutcase. A lot of people subscribe to a “good enough” mentality and that’s a very hard thing for me to do. My work is a reflection of me; It has to be the best it possibly can be every time.

Anyway, I’m like that it nearly all aspects of my life, except this one. This writing. It kills me. I’ll spend hours creating highly specialized metatags and non-existent sub-genres of music to keep my iTunes library in a ridiculously precise order. I even hacked in half-star ratings for more rating structure control. I can’t take 30 minutes to commit thought to word though.

Twitter helps a little bit. I’ll send the base ideas out for later cataloguing, hoping I can respark interest in a later date or letting me get the gist of something out there. It’s not a substitute, but at least it’s something. I suppose. It’s not like giving up twitter would help, all those things would just back up and get lost in my mental æther.

Let’s take a look at what I can remember (at the moment) not writing about this year:

  1. My Rock Band Year. (This may still happen)
  2. The total eclipse of Helio. (An ongoing battle)
  3. Hello East Coast, I missed you… kind of. (I’ve been back for two months)
  4. The Take Away. (Needs to still happen, more site related)
  5. Leaving Las Vegas, without the drinking myself to death part. (See “Hello East Coast”)
  6. Observations on human proximity.
  7. A guide for the unexpectedly freelance. (Been working on this for too long)
  8. “I just kind of fell into it.”: Observations on employment.

Alright, this is a great example right here. Everything prior to this sentence was written a week ago. A solid week. In that time I’ve wanted to write about like, 15 new things, but I knew I still had this to finish. At this point, having been removed from the writing and the mood I was in when I was composing, I, of course, am not nearly as committed to it as I was during mid-creation.

Fortunately, as I re-read this, I’m not completely disgusted by it (only partially). The fact that you’re reading it means that I didn’t hate it enough to not publish it and saw to it that I at least attempted to complete it. I suppose that’s a good start for the year.

I still have so much to do around here. Little things, like the fact that this site doesn’t display to my satisfaction on my netbook (right gutter needs to be narrowed) and that while my portfolio is constantly expanding I need to work on the fact that my professional persona is more than just the sum of my contracts. The cold, hard, facts only paint part of the picture. They are what I do, not who I am.

So, anyway. I have tons more to write about but this particular document it already an idiotically long wall of text. If you’re just scanning over it:

TLDR Version:

The writing process is the one aspect of what I do that constantly evades my meticulous, OCD, perfection seeking, nature. I’m working on it. I promise.

In case of brawl, smash…

So I’ve been meaning to post here recently, but as you can tell from the post dates, I often fall pretty short of any kind of quota. I’ve always been more of a stream of consciousness kind of writer (unless it’s fiction, science fiction mostly, but that’s for a different post) which is why my Twitter feed gets updated approximately 97625916 times more often than this blog/journal/whatever it is. Anything that’s too big for Twitter, I plan to post here. As well intentioned as that idea is, planning it pretty much always falls apart and I just end up with this giant car-wreck of ideas smoldering in my melon, blocking the rest of traffic, and causing any number of violent, premature, deaths. Typically when it reaches an intolerable capacity I force myself to at least start writing something. By that point, though, I usually end up looking at novel length posts, months apart.

Oh well, I learned long ago to not make excuses for my posting frequency. It’s my site, I can do what I want with it… or so I tell myself. Something I love about Twitter is that I can look back over my timeline and be reminded about what it was I wanted to post about. I kind of want to start a once a week kind of deal, but I don’t know if I can make that kind of commitment. Heh.

Anyway, topics randomly floating around in my brain are:

  • Magazines: The only three I read on a regular basis (Wired, Maximum PC, & Game Informer).
  • My trip to San Francisco and working with Cisco for the Cisco Live! event.
  • Las Vegas and the fact that my lease is up in a month.
  • My never-ending quest to keep my resumé updated and relevant.
  • My diet, but only because between the last post and this one, I turned 30.
  • Misc stuff like, games I’ve been playing (return to FFXI), Starbucks, web comics, so on, so forth. I know I’ll think of other things even as I’m typing this.

Chapter 1: Magazines

So yeah. Print is dead, RSS, blogs, interwebs, etc, I know. I read three magazines on a regular basis, one because the subscription came with my GameStop Edge Card (Game Informer), one because I received a subscription as a gift, but that was so I’d stop paying shelf price every month because it’s the greatest magazine ever published (Wired), and one I pay shelf price for because I was moving and didn’t want to subscribe and then have to immediately change my address and then possibly have to change it all over again if I wasn’t staying where I moved to for more than a year (Maximum PC).

Game InformerI’m immediately speculative of anything associated with GameStop, not as much as I am Best Buy (that’s another story), but when I got my Edge card the subscription was free so I just said “Sure.”. Turns out it’s probably the best video game magazine out there, although Play is damn close. Here’s the thing, I love spoilers. I love knowing everything about something before I see/play/etc it. To me, information about something is not the same as experiencing it. I don’t see films for the story (generally) and it’s pretty much the same for games. I see movies because I like to see how things unfold visually. Similar with games, I love experiencing how it all unfolds as a complete package. With that in mind, Game Informer is always months ahead of other magazines with their info and I love knowing all that info way ahead of time. The magazine is also packed, packed, with info. They use awesomely small fonts in some of their sections and just cram loads of words, notes, letters, tidbits, articles and whatnot onto the pages. You have to read through GI like 5 times to get everything read. I love that.


Wired Magazine If the world somehow magically burned down tomorrow and was then instantly rebuilt the next day with some kind of remarkable extraterrestrial world shaping technology according to the descriptions in an ancient tome, I’d hope that tome was Wired. Wired is geek brilliance with an almost fictional level of style, or said wondrous style with brilliant geek influence, I dunno. Maybe both. In either case, it’s always spectacularly well written and full of articles on topics that seem to be handpicked from the cream of the modern technologically relevant world crop. It’s hard to even describe. If you read Wired, you already know. If you don’t, then I doubt this description here will convince you to start reading it religiously, or probably even at all. Pick up the magazine once, if you have even a passing interest in the modern world, you won’t be disappointed.

 


MaxPCOn my trip to San Francisco I was unfortunately stuck between Max PC issues. I’d already read July, but August wasn’t out yet. I picked up an issue of Laptop Magazine for something to read and that’s when I realized the ultimate downfall of being a devoted Max PC reader; once you start down the path that is Maximum PC, every other computer magazine just seems so watered down, bland, and patronizing by comparison. It’s a sincerity thing (which I have a major personal issue with, more on that later). The Max PC slogan is “Maximum PC, Minimum BS” which is exactly true. Everything in the magazine is presented in such a sincere, genuine, no BS, manner that when you read any other computer magazines they just seem patronizing. Now, I also understand that Max PC is for hardcore PC people (which I am). They know that the demographic reading the magazine is well aware of what the score is out there in computer nerd land. Other magazines are typically written for people who may not be so hardcore about this stuff, so I’m sure that’s why they’re written the way they are. Once you get used to reading Max PC though, it’s hard to take any other computer magazines seriously. It’s the only magazine I will actively hunt down if I know there’s a new issue out. The other big issue I have with Maximum PC is that when I’m done reading it, I have to wait a month for the next one.

 

Chapter 2: Cisco Live!

I’m going to write about this later. (I started this post 2 days ago, and just came back to it. Distractions, hooooo!)

Chapter 3: Las Vegas

The short story here is that my lease is up in a month. I’m kind of stuck in living situation limbo until I can nail down potential work opportunities. More on this later.

Chapter 4: My Resumé

Also going to write about this later.

Chapter 5: Diet

I’m skipping forward to diet, mostly due to the fact that I just finished the new Wired (July 09) and I’m feeling terrible about it (my diet, not the magazine). I also promised myself that in this last week I was going to eat better, just as an experiment. Yeah, experiment was fail from the start. The night I made that decision I also decided to order two sausage pizzas from Papa John’s. Although, discounting pizza and, I guess, Quiznos, as a rule, I do not eat fast food. I also don’t drink soda.

It’s not even that I eat a lot of crap, it’s that I don’t eat very much at all and the stuff I do is of questionable nutritional value. I can go a whole day on a bowl of cereal, but I know that’s just not any good at all. I’ve also been mulling it over because, as I stated above, I turned 30 between the last posting and this one. I’m not as spry as I used to be (or so I feel, people keep telling me 30 is the new 20) so it weighs (ha!) on me that I need to start paying more attention to what I put into myself. I’ve always had the benefit of a blisteringly fast metabolism, but I know it’s slowing down (something my Dad loves to point out). I should probably exercise more too, but as it is I walk way more than most people. I wish I was more regular about better exercise, but that’s another story (see a theme here?). I am in decent physical condition for someone of my height/weight (5’10, 160lbs), but I know it’s going to take more work to stay that way as I get older. As it is, I could stand to lose a few pounds and be in better shape.

I started a new personal Twitter feed for myself. I’m just going to tweet everything I consume as I’m eating it. Not the nutritional value, calories, fat, etc. Just what it is. I don’t need all that data to know whether or not what I’m eating is good for me, common sense can fill that role. I followed myself with my main account so I can’t escape it. The idea is to build a list that will eventually shame me into eating better. I know that what I eat most of the time is garbage, but not forgetting that I eat it might help somewhere down the line. Only time will tell.

There are a few major hurdles, or routines, I suppose, to overcome here.

  1. Waking up in the afternoon. A more recent development. When I first moved to Vegas, the shift to PST did wonders for my sleep schedule. I was asleep at a decent hour and up early every morning, i.e. 12:00 AM to 8:00 AM. It’s slowly succumbed to my old EST schedule and in the past week I’ve found myself falling asleep around 5:00 AM and up around 1:00 PM. The obvious solution is to move further west until I catch up with myself, but for now I need to just work on regulating out my sleep schedule. This sleep routine impacts my diet because I also end up eating on a terribly shifted schedule. “Breakfast” is at 2:00 PM, if at all. Dinner is at 2:00 AM, which is no good.
  2. Starbucks. Oh my beloved coffee shop, don’t hate me. A lot of times when I get up in the early afternoon the first thing on my mind is “Go to Starbucks for my usual.” (a Triple Grande No Whip White Mocha and an Old Fashioned Donut, shut up). A lot of days this will be the first thing I consume, since it’ll take me from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM to wind up, get basics covered, and get rolling for the day. Unfortunately most of the time, “the basics” doesn’t cover eating anything, although I usually think to myself “I really need to eat something before I dissolve my stomach lining with espresso.”. Thinking and doing are two different things.
  3. I originally changed this list from “2” to “a few”, but now I’ve forgotten what the 3rd item was. Maybe I’ll remember it later. I fear greatly that when things like this happen, (forgetting) it’s also related to my diet.

So anyway, yeah, TL:DR is “Eat better.

Now, what’s left on that list? Oh…

Chapter 6: Misc

  • I’ve ingloriously returned to Final Fantasy XI. Ok, well, technically, I never really left FFXI. My playtime was in the single digits per week though, if at all. My Xbox 360 had stolen me away (I play FFXI on PC) again thanks to a whole heaping of awesome titles. Also, work had picked up and I was keeping pretty busy with a lot of good gigs. FFXI represents a huge investment in time that I just didn’t have. In the past week or two I’ve had some more time to log on. I’ve stuck mostly to Campaign and personal skilling up (I just recently capped all applicable skills on all my jobs, see image), since it affords me ability to make my own schedule. I’m sure my linkshell isn’t thrilled about this, given that I’m one of the last “old guard” LS members. I don’t even recognize ¾ of the LS anymore. I’m still playing for personal reasons though, when I have the chance. There are still some goals I want to see realized.

All skills capped.

  • Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2. I think I broke my thumb playing last night. I’m mostly just going for achievements now. The game is a huge, repetitive, time sink when it comes to achievements, which kind of pisses me off. I’m halfway there though (15/30) so I have to keep going. Read the post before this one for more details.
  • Fallout 3: Point Lookout. I have a love/hate relationship with Fallout 3. Mostly it loves to make me hate it by spectacularly glitching out and causing me to lose disastrous amounts of progress at the most (least?) inopportune times. I got through all of Point Lookout with only a few issues. I’m only missing a few achievements from the main game (the karma/level ones) and I’ve yet to play The Pitt. Still not sure if I will.
  • Rock Band 2 is still in my rotation. I just hit the halfway mark on its achievements (25/50). I know I’ll never get them all and that’s fine. Expert Drums? Yeah, right. Some of the recent DLC has been awesome. If RB2 had real life achievements like “Transition between multiple monitors without missing any notes.” and “Convince a group of total strangers who have never played Rock Band in their life to play onstage in front of a large group of other strangers.” I’d be on the top of the charts.
  • Starbucks. I kind of addressed this in the Diet chapter. I go there. I go there a lot.
  • I’m thinking of starting a web comic. Nothing huge, just ideas I want to get out somewhere.
  • I’ve spent waaaaaaay too much time on
    t=”_blank”>Wikipedia the last few days. “Torchwood” lead me through all of “Dr. Who” and I pretty much read every Gundam article ever posted while I was researching “Zeta Gundam“.

Ok, ok, this has gone on long enough. I still have to port this all over to Windows Live Writer, fix links, add pics, etc. (I wrote this in Word for portability). I’m not keen on the idea of letting a program write my code for me, so i expect a long, drawn out battle.

Hopefully I got most of the accident cleared out of my brain, but I can already see another pile-up on the horizon.