I'm out of my mind restless tonight. Video games weren't doing it for me. Can't hot tub because it's too windy. Already saw a movie. Went out to dinner last night. Nothing I feel like watching. Aaaaaargh! I'm likely annoying the shit out of Diana in the process of not being able to engage in anything.
The new feature I wanted to roll out to CoasterBuzz this weekend isn't going to happen. I think I could get pretty close, but originally I wanted to deploy it tomorrow, on the site's ninth birthday. I could almost make it, but I feel like it would be half-baked and not well tested. I'll wait.
I'm in heavy coding mode at work again, and I just don't want to touch my own stuff at home when I'm in that mode. I suspect I'll spend some time on it this weekend, but if I don't feel like it, I won't beat myself up about it.
We watched Forgetting Sarah Marshall tonight, for the second time as we saw it in the spring in the theater. The other day we were talking about Hawaii, Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis in various situations and it all added up to me ordering it. Funny, funny, fucking movie. Can't even tell you how many times I laughed out loud.
The screenplay is damn funny and at least somewhat clever, even though at its core, it's just another goofy love story. A goofy slightly chubby guy scores with a hot chick love story at that. But as is the case with all of the Apatow-related movies, you just can't help but pull for these characters. And I think the reason even chicks dig them is because the guys are not movie star types, so their flaws are a lot more believable.
But what really gets me is that point about it being a love story not entirely different from every other one that you've seen. My personal hang up in writing a screenplay is that I find it easiest to write from experience, and there's just nothing particularly unique about it. Movies like this one show me that it doesn't matter if you can put the right elements around it. For example, my "you gonna eat the rest of that" gag is begging to be worked into any otherwise ordinary script.
The special features on practically every movie also make me realize that I really long for the experience and collaboration. I think I could give two shits about editing something, but shooting it I think would be a blast. Managing people and process at work, I'm showing myself how well I can lead and push my vision, and I think that would translate well to directing. Plus, I have someone who is really organized who I bet would enjoy producing for me. Although she may freak out at the size of the budget I have in mind!
It's not surprising giving some recent posts that I've been thinking about the ups and downs I've had the last few years, and I think there's a perfect opportunity to draw a story out of that. And one thing that I like is that those stories do not have the traditional happy ending, because obviously in real life I ended up with Diana. But there is some happy twist in the other relationships, because of their enabling effects on my life. I'm trying to figure out how to spin that in a way that would make the audience smile in the end.
Dammit I gotta get this story out of me.
Every time I hear a sappy song it makes me sad lately. WTF is that about? Here I am in love and getting married and yet these songs just suck. I theorize that right now they seem to bring back the loss I've experienced over the years. That's the problem with being a part of many epic love stories is that they all end with a break-up unless one of you dies first. (Cheerful, no? :))
I'm still grateful and generally have a good attitude about all of those relationships though. I feel fortunate, like I've had more than my fair share. I think it's the seasonal affective disorder that's getting to me.
Calacanis wrote this little gem about online empathy and the dehumanization of life via the wire.
I think there's a lot of truth in what he says, although the rules and situation are a bit different in the realm he lives in because his life is an online life. For most of us, it's just a distraction, as we're not celebrities. Well, Gonch is a micro-celebrity, but you know what I mean.
An interesting read, regardless.
Well, technically she's opening for some cat I've never heard of, but whatever. It'd be cool to see her regardless, though I wonder if she performs "Paperweight" with anyone other than Josh Radin.
And if she seems familiar, yes, she was the goofy tree-hugging, animal loving girlfriend in Orange Country.
I have all of the air travel booked for the marital festivities, except for the actual flights to and from Ft. Myers. The plan is to fly back to Cleveland first, because unfortunately it's less expensive to do it that way, then the next day leave for Hawaii. We'll stop in Honolulu and fly to Hilo on the Big Island, and after getting our lava on, head to Kauai the next day. We'll spend most of our time there, then head back to Oahu for our last night. We'll do Pearl Harbor and look around, and that evening begin the long journey home.
I don't have any of the hotel stuff figured out. It's looking fairly certain that we'll be staying in a bed-and-breakfast on the Big Island, because that's all there is around Hilo and the national park. All of the big stuff is on the west side of the island, which is nearly three hours in driving time. As the volcanoes are the primary reason for visiting that island, I'd rather be closer to them. We really only need a place to sleep.
On Kauai, I'm hoping I can haggle down on the rate at the Hyatt, because I really want to stay there. It's not just that it's super nice, it's also one of the more secluded parts of the island. There are only a few golf courses and hotels in that area and it's not near the airport. It's also closer to Waimea Canyon an the Na'Pali coast.
For the last night back on Oahu, I'm hoping we can really get the friends and family rate at the non-Waikiki Marriott, because the rate would be a third of normal. Being able to relax the last night and morning is important. And given its position on the coast, the sunrise could be spectacular.
So I feel like it's coming together, and as soon as I book hotels and cars, we're golden. My credit card is melting a little, because I'm stimulating the shit out of the economy right now. I'm confident that by the time of the trip I'll have all of the air and at least the hotel deposits paid off. I think by Independence Day I'll be back even. Although honestly, I can't really put a price on this kind of trip. You only get one honeymoon!
Meanwhile, I still need to find what I plan to wear. And I have to decide if 32" pants is the better plan, as the 34" are starting to get kinda loose.
I'm sure you've heard about this case where a substitute teacher was charged with exposing porn to minors. The long and short of it is that the computer was infected with spyware, but instead of getting the facts right, the state went ape shit to convict her of whatever they could. It was completely fucking ridiculous.
Now while I question why she was teaching when her husband "had just taught me recently how to do the computer," the fact remains that every asshole who wanted to make an example of her, and subsequently ruined her life, is not accountable at all for what they did to her. That sucks.
My mom called this morning to let me know that my grandmother died. She seemed to be OK, and I think everyone was expecting it. She hadn't been well for some time, and she hadn't been happy for at least a decade, maybe more.
My initial reaction was me wondering why I didn't feel bad about it. The last time I saw her was December 2006, and she was a shell of a person even then. Instead of greeting you with excitement, it was more about how terrible her life was. I'm not sure when depression took hold of her to that extent.
She wasn't always like that. She was very much the 60's homemaker archetype. She cooked and cleaned, and had lunch ready for grandpa when he came home for lunch. When I was a kid, she didn't seem unhappy with the arrangement, but thinking back I'm not sure. She had an accident in a skating rink when she was younger that caused her to lose her sense of smell and taste, something that came up often. When we were little, she liked to scratch our backs, and it seemed we were always stepping on her toes. We called her "Ga Ga" then, presumably because it was one of the first things I was able to say.
She'd definitely look out for me whenever I visited as well. We'd have Thanksgiving over her house, and for some reason, someone created the expectation that I didn't like turkey. I don't remember ever making that choice, but she'd always make a couple of hot dogs for me.
It was a habit for a long time for us to go to my grandparents' house after church (where she'd always give us quarters to put in the collection plate), where we'd have sandwiches and watch bowling on TV. They had a big old canister of Tinker Toys and I'd build stuff. Those were safe, relaxed times.
I don't really know when the depression came in, but I guess she tried to commit suicide a couple of times. It's unfortunate she spent so much time being unhappy, but I hope she's able to rest easy now.
Diana has had a migraine now for several days. It may or may not have been triggered by the vertigo (the doctor thinks it's unlikely). Because of her allergies, she can't take the really useful medicines. If the headaches are in part triggered by hormones, she can't go back on the pill because we obviously can't wait forever to have children. This leaves her in a pretty crappy place.
She feels less than human and I can't help. That frustrates me, because I'm a fixer. She gets even more upset by it because she doesn't want it dictating her life. It just sucks all around.
I do enjoy a good solid nap. I don't know why it seems that once you grow up, you don't really nap anymore. Naps were especially useful in college, especially if you had a class that was earlier than 11.
In various times of unemployment, I made naps a daily feature if I was also staying up late. (I did back in 2001 as well, but I think that was mostly depression.) The key is setting up the parameters for a successful nap ahead of time.
Above all, set an alarm. It varies for everyone, but if I go much over an hour, it'll hose my overall sleeping times. I know that it's especially tempting to just keep sleeping, especially if you're having one of those dreamy-imagination things going on. It's nice to indulge in some kind of fantasy, but sleep too long and you end up with a headache or feel like a slug.
I get hung up on my notion that I should always be doing something, so it feels good when I nap and think, "You know, I listened to my body, it said I was tired, and I responded." I just had one of those experiences!
I don't know what it was about today, but I didn't like it. Me and Diana had some issues to work out, plus I had issues with a friend, and just generally speaking I felt uncomfortable and crappy over it all. I don't like feeling like that.
And I was already feeling not-ideal because of some issues at work yesterday. I guess in the grand scope of things none of these issues mean jack in the long run, but that doesn't absolve me from feeling crappy about it all.
By late morning I got into my forum coding project, and things went slowly through the afternoon. I couldn't stay engaged and I wasn't thinking in any critical fashion. I just spun my wheels. I made up for it a little tonight, but I feel like I wasted precious weekend time.
On a positive note, I got the wedding weekend hotel booked, but I still haven't called Hawaii to haggle with the place I really want to stay. I haven't even explored the one-night options that we're bookending the trip with, or booked the extra flights. I do, at least, have the CLE to HNL legs booked, so at least that's set.
We cranked out recent episodes of House and Fringe tonight, so we don't get too behind on the DVR stuff. BeyondTV rules. TiVo can suck it, with its lack of SmartSkip.
I just wish I had a do-over for the day. Now that I'm working, and being surprisingly intense in my role at this gig, I really treasure the weekends more. And yet it's counter-intuitive to expect productivity out of your leisure time. I miss the hot tub. It's just not practical in these single-digit temps.
Tomorrow will be better.
I've mentioned before how much I like Jungle Disk, and I'm here again today to endorse it some more. They just released a new version that runs as a service. This is good on the Mac because it's one less icon in your dock, and it's good for Windows because it means I can finally run it on my server.
It's only twenty bucks for the software. I've got about 100 gigs of data on S3, and Amazon is billing me less than $20 a month. That's my entire digital life backed up redundantly online. Worth every penny.
My lunch date bailed on me today (again), but I really wanted to get out of the office for awhile. Since I'm only about seven miles from Kent, I decided to roll out there to BWW. It just so happens that it's on the other side of the river from where Stephanie had her apartment, and boy did the memories start rolling through my head.
There were a great many stages I associate with that area, from the holy shit she moved out stage, to the things aren't getting better stage, to the let's get divorced stage, to the holy shit I'm divorced stage. Even more incredible is that it all happened in the scope of two years.
That led me to an even bigger line of thinking, about how after only 35 years my life is so filled with intense "stuff." I connected the dots with a comment that Kara made ("And then even more unexpected things join the picture and make me re-think my re-thinking"), and the reality that I already sensed is now obvious: It never, ever stops.
I'm a little overwhelmed by this realization. In my previous post about stability, I've come to realize that there might not be any such thing. And while Gonch is right that there are more things at risk as you go through life, the change management is daunting.
Ultimately, I think the way you roll with this is to see change as an opportunity whenever possible, and you accept that it's how life goes. What you can't do is sit back and rely on the notion that "everything happens for a reason." I have a friend that says that all of the time, and I think it's cop-out bullshit that makes you sound like a victim. Everything happens because of some reason. The outcome is still up to you.
Diana showed me her baby book last weekend. She thinks she wasn't a very cute baby, but she was pretty adorable in her grade school years. There's a lock of her hair in there, which is kind of gross, but it was almost more blonde than red.
The funniest damn thing is that her mom saved a letter to David Cassidy, in which Diana asks why he hadn't written back. I mean, she had a bunch of pictures of him and all, so what was his deal? What a dick. Still, she wonders why it always came back to her that men were somewhat intimidated by her. Well, duh!
Also, very small world, but among the visitors signed in to see her were Katie Holmes' parents, almost nine years before Katie was born. Strange connection there.
I decided tonight to work on the little project I started over the weekend, involving my first genuine attempt at working with Silverlight. Even though it's two years old, I don't use my desktop enough, despite its four-core awesomeness. Seriously, the big cheese grater is still pretty ridiculous.
But it's damn cold down here. I love this room and its huge windows, but when the sun isn't out, or it's winter, it gets so cold. My fingers are actually cold. My legs are covered in a blanket, and my feet are still cold. I'm freezing my tits off!
Anyway, my little file uploading thingy has really come along. It has progress bars and all of that too. I'm pretty excited about it. I feel like Silverlight has the potential on the client to deliver what many thought Java would do back in the day. The two-way binding action between objects and UI is too awesome for words. Love the full network stack in there too. I'm compelled to try and write a chat app some time. That would be pretty neat.
I need to crawl into bed with my warm companion...
I think it's safe to say that you frequently have no idea when a cat was actually born since most of the time they come from shelters or some other agency. Diana therefore has assigned her cats, and now Cosmo, a "meow day" as their birthdays, an approximate time around which they may have been born. Today is Cosmo's day.
Stephanie and I picked up Cosmo at a Wal-Mart almost 12 years ago. Her mom called and said one of the shelters had cats they were showing there, ready for adoption. So we showed up, I buried my face in her orange fur as an allergy test, and we took her home. And she talked the entire time (Cosmo, not Steph). She's been a talker since the start.
Unfortunately I don't have any photos of her at that young age, as this was pre-digital and I didn't even have my SLR at the time. I think Steph may have one or two of her on the futon we had in our first apartment, but I'm not sure. What I do remember is that she was one nutty kitten.
When we had her fixed or de-clawed, I don't remember which, I remember the doctor overdid it on the anesthesia or something, because she drooled and washed herself until she was wet. Poor thing just hid under the bed the entire time. I felt pretty bad about that.
In our bigger apartment, she loved to run up and down the hallway, belting out a huge meow when she got to the living room in the middle of the night after literally bouncing off the wall. Our place was on a corner of the building and the entire complex, with a road wrapping around the corner, so she liked trying to "get" the car lights as they went by.
Flying was a regular thing for her the first few years. Her favorite thing was for you to put your arm out standing, making the "claw hand," and she'd jump the five feet into the air, grab on and read-dig your arm. Pretty funny stuff.
We really messed with her world when Steph's mom brought over Luna, and we (somewhat reluctantly at first) decided to keep her. Even though she was bitchy to her, I know Cosmo loved Luna and looked out for her. She's still the only animal that Cosmo would allow to touch her.
I remember shortly after moving into the house, the week I had between jobs that year, I was putting some stuff down in the crawl space. Unknown to me at the time, Cosmo snuck down there. She climbed up on a heat vent that ran next to a wood beam, and got stuck because she couldn't turn around. I thought she had escaped, until I heard a faint meow under the floor. She was there for about eight hours, and I thought I lost her.
During the early parts of our separation, when I was most distraught, Cosmo very obviously could sense what was going on. She wouldn't leave my side and seemed to realize a certain peace when she'd plop down next to me. Between the break ups, Luna's passing, lost jobs and other sad times, she still just knows. Weird how an animal can sense that.
When Cath and I were dating, I think Cosmo secretly loved fucking with her canine namesake. It was almost as if she tried to make the point that she was smarter than the dog. But every once in awhile they would chase each other, and that was good fun.
She's not very fond of the other cats, but she does tolerate them most of the time. The boys just don't understand when she doesn't want to be fucked with. She still asserts herself as the leader of the pride though by way of indifference to them. Hopefully the boys will learn to leave her alone as she gets older.
So after 12 years, wow, that's a long time! She seems to be in pretty good health still, and when she has the right toy she gets pretty nutty. She's had a tough time keeping up with that fur in winter, but I try to help her out. I hope she still has many years to go. She has a somewhat evil streak to her, so I can only imagine she'll march on. I love that cat.
Seemingly out of the blue, Casale Media sent me e-mail today indicating that they were dropping my sites from their ad network. The reason was that our audience didn't convert well for their advertisers. Funny, I was thinking the other day that the problem was more that their advertising sucked and no one would ever click on it.
While this is annoying, I'm sure life will continue. They've been delivering pretty low CPM's, and their fill rate has been all over the place. Still, having several ad networks in place is a nice safety net. They were at least producing a few bucks for PointBuzz, but almost nothing for CoasterBuzz. I don't ever want to be in the position I was in 2001 after getting dumped by DoubleClick.
Relying on ad income sucks. The membership thing is only a partial solution, unfortunately.
I find it interesting, perhaps it makes me sad, that some people feel that there is too much hype and fanfare over the inauguration of President Obama. It seems to me that there can't be enough.
Let's think about where we've come from. The last two inaugurations were met with a fair amount of indifference, and the last one was barely a footnote to the day's news. People have been apathetic toward government for a long time, which in my estimation is exactly why it has failed us for so long. So for people to be energized and excited the way they are, that seems to me to be a good thing.
I also believe the historical significance of this can't be understated. While I don't believe he won because of his skin color (in fact many pundits believe it was a liability), the fact that this country is not being governed by an old white man for the first time in its 233-year history is huge. The symbolism of that both at home and abroad can only work in our favor. As much as we'd like to sit in the burbs and pretend race doesn't matter anymore, it does.
Much has been said about the news media's coverage of this event as well, and I'm not sure why. We don't install new presidents very often. It's strange to me that there have only been seven presidents in my life time, and I'm not sure I count Ford since I was too young to know what a president was. And again, given the historic significance of this one in particular, it deserves the attention. But more to the point, I have to bring up again that the news media has to make a judgment call on what it thinks the public finds important. Sure you have the fringe outlets that tailor the content to an audience, but generally speaking, I believe they make the right call to cover this carefully. They've been reasonably critical of him so far in the news that I read, and I don't doubt that will continue now that he's officially on the job.
Obama has probably some of the highest expectations of any president since the Civil War. He seems to be surrounding himself with smart people and he's very collaborative. I have high hopes for him, but only time will tell if he can meet the challenges in front of him.
But you know, the guy has been president for an hour. Let's see what he can really do.
I booked the big flights to Hawaii today. We're going through Houston both ways to Honolulu. As soon as we figure out which islands to hang out on (likely Oahu one night, Kauai most of the time, and one on the Big Island), I'll book the island hoppers as well. Sadly, there aren't enough open seats to use our miles for first class upgrades except for one leg of the trip (Houston to Honolulu).
The hotel thing I'd like to nail down this week too. I think I know which one we'll stay at on Kauai, so it's just a matter of finding the one-nighters on Oahu and Hawaii. All told, I'm reasonably certain that most of it will be paid for by the time we get home.
I also booked the trip in March to MIX for work. I managed to get the deep discount rate for starting the registration before the deadline (not that I have to pay for it). Even at $800, it's a little steep, but I really think it's worth it. I've been to two of the three so far, and I got quite a bit out of it, especially last year's.
Actually, I skimmed through Carrie's blog entry the other day, but didn't want to just peck out some random bullshit in response. Now that I've got a moment I feel more inclined to write.
Everyone writes for different reasons. I started in 2001 or so because I needed an outlet in a tough time of life. Sometimes it was just silly nonsense, but other times it was because I wanted to write the way I did in college in my newspaper column. I've always been reasonably careful about what I'd write about, because while I am relatively open, some things aren't meant for public consumption. When you end up having a great many people reading what you have to say, they mistakenly may believe that what they read is a complete picture. I hate having to explain that.
Blogging can be a narcissistic enterprise in some ways, but I think that's OK. One might think that of Tyler's blog even, but I think if you talk to the guy even once you realize he doesn't take himself nearly as seriously as you'd think. He has an enthusiasm for a lot of things, and his blog shares that.
Gonch blogs for reasons unknown.
Carrie asks some good questions at the end of her post about the effects of her blog, but I suspect she knows that the answers don't matter. I've never felt that she was writing for anyone but her. I do suspect though, if she's anything like me, that she does write to share with a specific group of people. This smaller group of people I know from this community (i.e., mostly people invited to my wedding) are the people from which I would listen to the responses. It's a means to share parts of my life with them, without having to talk every day.
Of course, there are still much deeper conversations that happen offline. Like I said, I don't spill everything here. Some things are just nobody's fucking business, which some folks don't understand because they think if you blog, all topics are fair game. Those are people I don't talk to.
Blog on, Carrie!
I'm gonna try and crank out this forum plug-in that I've had on my mind for awhile, by the end of the weekend. I'm not saying it has to be polished, but I'm gonna try and make it happen.
There's some challenge to it because it includes a Silverlight app, which I've never done before. Already I'm blown away by what's included in the runtime. The networking stack is pretty awesome. I've not looked into animation or anything, but the UI capability alone is outstanding.
If I can figure this out, I can easily add a feature to CoasterBuzz that a lot of people have been asking for.
This post from Gonch made me realize that I tend to like women who have some unusual or anti-traditional beauty sort of feature. For example, I like women with big noses, big ears, excessively tall, excessively short, one slightly out of place tooth, way too much black eye liner, extreme freckles, a pierced lip, small breasts, unusually disproportionate big asses and, of course, a cat tattoo.
It's not that Malibu Barbie is a turn-off, but there's a certain charm that's hard to resist with women who don't even remotely fit that mold. It's hard to explain. Beauty I think comes in the form of variety.
It seems that most of the Cavs games I go to end up not being very good. I think when Cath and I were dating, we went to at least four games, and of those the only good one was a loss against Washington.
Tonight was boring and I thought they played horribly. Sure, they got the win, but it was like watching a slow motion game. Andy was a non-factor, Lebron was being a crybaby drama queen and freakin' Pavlovic and Szczerbiak carried the team the first half with threes. It was a mess. I suppose my expectations were high after the Boston game a couple of weeks ago.
Meanwhile, we killed some time by walking over to Tower City before the game. I haven't been there since college I think, or shortly after. The Terminal Tower is still kind of a neat old building, and certainly the city's big symbol. I remember my grandfather taking me down there once when I was very, very young, before they built Tower City. There wasn't much in there, and the big room that went to the trains decades before I was born seemed impressive at the time. We found a photo of how it used to look down there.
Cleveland does have a lot of interesting and cool things. I suppose that having live in the area my whole life I just forget. I'm kinda done with it, I suppose. I'm ready to live somewhere else, but there are lots of things dampening my mobility.
I'm fascinated by the story of the plane that went down in the Hudson River. It just seems too fantastic to be real. But that said, the thing that makes it so great is that the ending was overwhelmingly positive.
ABC News had an interesting factoid that surprised me. They said that the notion that most people in plane crashes die is a total myth, that in fact 95% of people in commercial airline crashes survive. It's probably that only the most spectacular and deadly crashes grab big headlines. Those and water landings.
I find myself blogging less, or at least not as consistently as usual. I can attribute this to being busy at work, spending more time bundled up on the couch with Diana (fireplace on) and generally having more offline distractions.
I can recall blogging more when left to my own devices for more time, either from non-employment or being single.
But writing less I think causes my brain to get lazy, even though I tend to write about some stupid shit a lot of the time. I need to make time.
It looks like the new 17" MacBook Pros won't actually begin shipping until the first week of February. That's the impression I get from reading the official Apple support forums. People mention though that they've been known to ship sooner on new products, so who knows.
I put in my order on Amazon, as best I can tell, within an hour of when it appeared there. And I can still cancel. Now that the initial holy crap has worn off, I know that a 15" model would actually be adequate for the most part, but there are two features I have a hard time overlooking. The bigger screen at the ridiculous resolution is great for coding (I know this from the 24" screen at the same resolution I'm sitting at). And the other thing is obviously that battery. Eight hours is a long time. Heck, even if real world is only six hours, that's still a hell of a charge.
And of course, this is gonna have to last three years, much as the previous one has. I do get frustrated with the old one because of the RAM limitations, but other than the random shut-off issues that were fixed, it has served me in a remarkably reliable fashion. It continues to be the best computer I've ever had.
I'll keep the order in, for now.
A couple of weeks ago I was thinking about how I might manage to alter the forum app to allow plugins to alter the way topic and posts were displayed and added. My main design goal was to minimize changes to markup, and I think I finally found a good solution. Of course, I get stuck in these framework moments and try to design for every possible scenario, which is stupid since I'm pretty much the only one who ever uses it.
So I was able to add in just a couple of placeholder controls to the markup, and the rest works in code. The first try will be to adapt the news forum on CB, which already work with some hard coded stuff to swap out the first post with the news item control. If that works out, I think I'll try something really wacky and mashed up.
I've been looking at a whole bunch of source code lately for various libraries out there. There's a really cool C# library that does Jpeg manipulation, and it has no dependencies on the .NET Framework so it works in Silverlight (think resize and upload, a la Facebook's Java thingy). Google has an extensive class library for use against many of their services, including YouTube and the apps. Lots of neat stuff out there.
The guys at work are jQuery ninjas, and I've had fun toying with it. I used it once on CB for drag-and-drop track records, but beyond that it integrates really well with Visual Studio and the ASP.NET AJAX framework. So much cool stuff.
I'm actually writing code at work for the moment, as there's a fairly intense project that needs attention. That means I'll probably be less motivated to work on my own projects, but I'm going to let myself be OK with that for a change.
Stability does two things to you. On the plus side, it tends to make you feel safe. When things aren't likely to change, you can relax and take comfort in that. Comfort is a good feeling. We can all use a lot of good feelings, because the alternative is generally bad feelings. I like feeling good.
On the flip side though, stability can totally hold you back. If you are able to rest in a certain amount of comfort and safety, you are less inclined to break out of it. Often you can't achieve an even better kind of stability without breaking out of the current one.
The world is a very uncertain place right now, and not particularly stable. I'm trying to view that as an opportunity. It doesn't seem like there's ever a good time for instability and the risk associated with breaking out of it, but I think that's just a frame of mind.
For example, this is a big year for me, for me and Diana, and an opportunity to begin a new life. That's a little scary, but in the bigger picture I'm just trying to get my head around whether or not the perceived constraints I have to fully achieving the new life vision are real or not. The reconciliation starts to come from the realization that the level of stability we have isn't nearly as high as I think.
I guess I feel like I spend way too much time living in fear. Fear of failure, financial ruin, cancer, war, Republicans, etc. (Just kidding about the last one. Or was I? ;)) I'm not sure how I got that way, beyond the turbulence of my life the last four years. With all the talk recently with college friends showing up on Facebook, I realize how disturbing it is that I've lost a lot of my idealism and hope, and replaced it with fear and doubt. That's shitty.
But as they say, admitting you have a problem is the first step in fixing it. Perhaps that's where stability counts the most.
Given a few recent conversations about musical theater, and for my stage managin' futurewife, I thought this was good for a laugh, especially since I hate Rent...
I'm at the point now where it's an enormous pain to try and uncheck songs from iTunes for syncing to my first iPod (a 20 gig 3rd gen model). I did an iTunes song "upgrade" and the replacement files are all twice the size due to the larger bit rate. I'm about a half gig over budget. This is the iPod I use in my car with a radio transmitter made for that specific generation of iPod (with the funny little extra plug in it).
I'd like to just switch to my other iPod, but I really don't want to spend money on another transmitter because I assume the next car I'll buy, hopefully a year or so from now, will have a good old fashioned auxiliary jack and I won't need to go through the radio.
My car has two payments left, incidentally, and I actually briefly entertained the idea of buying a new one while watching the Cavs game the other night, littered with Toyota Prius ads. That was pretty stupid. Frankly, I'd like to enjoy a good year or more with no car payment.
So I think 2010 might be the year. I'm not confident that Toyota will sell the Prius as a plug-in by then, but the new body style and slightly higher efficiency are enough reason to wait. Oh, and apparently someone leaked a video with Blue Man Group in it (you can see the poster frame here, but the video was taken off of YouTube). I hope that the crashing demand for new cars doesn't kill the development of more fuel efficient cars.
I've uploaded a couple of clips I've had sitting around to Vimeo now, and if I compress the original large enough, the quality is pretty good. The Maverick video isn't HD, but that's because I shot it in anamorphic 480p. I didn't have my huge 32 gig P2 card back then (it didn't exist yet, actually).
I tag everything I shoot with the HVX200, and it's pretty sweet if you follow that tag and see there are more cuts with that tag than for cats! You can also see how, with the right lighting and gear, it doesn't look like video at all.
One of the cuts I saw on there demos the Letus 35mm adapter, which is pretty amazing. If you want to really outfit your camera with one of these, you're looking at spending a good $3k once you have a follow focus and matte box, but the images you can get out of the camera are pretty amazing.
Today I generally felt pretty good. This is what I mean about the radical swings up and down. Strikes and gutters. The rug really ties the room together, man.
It was shockingly sunny this morning before the winter storm got into full swing. I spent most of the time up until 1 or 2 getting my UV. Having big old windows is nice. Being able to close my door and get real work done is even nicer. I was pleased to hit one of the big milestones I was striving for.
The snow made the evening commute somewhat of a challenge, and I passed a family climbing out of their overturned van that slid off the road. I drive a rural and hilly road. It was mostly in good condition, and it's usually the assholes who are too cautious that cause a problem. One big 17% grade hill I've been stuck on before because people wouldn't attack it, and then they'd slide down. Or they brake at a bad time and slide off the road.
The key to winter driving isn't always fighting the sliding, it's learning to slide in a controlled manner. If you brake too hard when turning, guess what, you're gonna slide off the road. Get the wheels pointed in the right direction and get on that accelerator! Practice in a parking lot. It's fun and you get to know your car.
We used the gift card my mom got us for Longhorn (it was Outback last year, and I don't think she remembers I haven't had red meat in almost four years). The service sucked, but the food was pretty good. I ate all my chicken, but left a lot of rice and most of the fries, which is very yay for me. I'm on course to lose a pair this week if I don't screw it up over the weekend.
The Cavs completely fucking owned Boston tonight. That was fun to watch. The team is generally fun to watch this year. I hope we can get that championship this year. Cleveland really needs it. And we need it to keep Lebron in town.
I got Diana the ice cream maker attachment for the KitchenAid for her birthday. Maybe it's not the most original thing, but I'm so impressed with the mixer itself that I'm happy to do anything to make it even more useful.
I like the snow for now, but I'll be displeased when I have to dig us out in the morning.
Today was one of those days where it felt like the world at large was just frustrating the shit out of me. I was even frustrating myself. I won't go into all of the reasons why, though that correctly implies that I don't even value my own feelings enough, and that's frustrating too.
I don't know what my deal is lately. I know part of it is just the long periods of gray, but the day to day crazy mood swings are insane. I need to figure out how to level out.
Part of it is that I've been very "un-Dude like" as of late, letting shit get to me that is totally outside of my control. I also find myself getting invested emotionally in a lot of things, which can be rewarding but always runs the risk of extreme disappointment.
And as tax season is coming, I was surprised to see that I actually did pretty well this year, despite the non-working periods. I've also come to realize that it's not the money that I care about when it comes to work, jobs and my own business, it's the ability to earn that matters. I tie a lot of my self-esteem in the ability to earn, not having money itself. I see the ability to earn as a measure of my ability to be a provider, my skill and my value potential to others. The problem there is probably that two out of the three have less to do with me.
Three months from now, I'll be five time zones away, and I find myself hanging on to that. And, you guessed it, I even punish myself for that because I'm not living for today.
I can't turn off my brain, and that's no fun.
I kept people out of my hair this afternoon and spent a good long run writing framework code at work. It was satisfying. In this case what was cool about it is that I've written so much in my career that the problems the framework solves I've handled many times, and this particular iteration of those solutions has come naturally and with cleaner code.
Apple announced today that they're dropping DRM from all of their music. I honestly haven't bought anything from them since Amazon started selling plain old MP3's. But I still have a fair amount of iTunes tracks that are locked down to the Apple ecosystem.
Honestly, it never really got in the way for me, save for the odd times here and there where I wanted to give Diana a song to use on her iPod without having to sync it to my comprooder (which as far as I'm concerned is just like loaning a CD). But I've always hated the idea that if one day Apple decided to turn off their authorization service, my files would be useless. And the tools that stripped DRM (on the Mac anyway) have been ineffective since v6, so I couldn't even cheat my way into files I can truly own.
They said 80% of the library is now DRM free as of today, and the rest by the end of the quarter. Naturally, they're allowing you to "upgrade" your files (which is partially true, because at least they're encoded at 256k instead of 128k). iTunes says they can do 221 of my songs for about $55, or a quarter a piece.
Will I pay it? Yeah, probably. I don't like it, but I'll do what I gotta do to finally "own" the files I paid for, and continue buying from Amazon in the future.
Again, I've never really been annoyed with Apple over this, and I doubt online music sales would exist at all has they not worked out the initial deal with the record companies. The music industry should be kissing Apple's ass for saving theirs. But I'm still annoyed that I have to pay a little more to free all of those files.
Yeah, I pre-ordered the new 17" MacBook Pro from Amazon about two hours after it was announced. Who knows what the final price there will be, or when they'll have it in stock. I can always cancel it if I chicken out. I figure by the time it ships, I'll have my tax refund, which I already estimated will cover most or all of it. I'm tired of thinking about it, so I'll just do it.
I think I finally had a breakthrough tonight on the lack of clarity I had in developing a plug-in system to my forum app. The last two nights I sat thinking about it all tired and not clear, and I'm glad that I just let go. Tonight I think I came up with something more clear, following common design patterns and as little Web changing (i.e., mostly library code) as possible. The simple and obvious test will be to see if I can make the CB news forum work in this context.
Speaking of work, today I got nothing done at the office, with constant interruptions. Things seem frantic a lot there, and I'm trying to get my head around how to change that. So far I feel like I'm doing a good job getting better processes implemented, but I need to figure out how to change expectations so that people aren't willing to simply drop in on each other and ask for things. That practice is especially disruptive for programmers. And as for me, I'm trying to lay some foundation with a code library, which is likely one of the few things I'll code myself in the long run.
I'm officially depressed today. I have absolutely no reason that I can think of. It has to be an environmental issue. Perhaps I need to put in request for a transfer to the Orlando office. Well, if we had an Orlando office.
Alex just IM'd me to let me know that Mac Rumors Live got hacked, and it was really fucking funny. That makes me a smile a little.
The new gig is in a building next door to a funeral home. The parking lot behind the building is actually owned by the home, and my office faces the back at ground level.
I've seen a number of funerals leave, but this morning I saw a guy in a minivan pull up to the back door and unload a body, wrapped in a blanket on a gurney.
I'm not sure how that impacts me exactly, although I've only been to two funerals my entire life (great grandmother and a friend's father). I guess it reminds me that I can't really know when it's my turn, so I better make the most of today.
One of the things I mentioned in my annual summary of life is that I reverted to eating like an asshole. Lots of comfort eating, eating out of boredom, and eating to cope with the anxiety of job hunting.
My goal is to get back to my 2005 weight, which actually came pretty easy paying attention to what I was eating via Weight Watchers and coaching. I remember actually feeling sexually attractive that fall, which I don't think I ever felt. I wasn't ripped or anything, and I didn't want to be, I just wanted to feel fit.
I'm up about ten pounds since then. That's not realistically a lot of weight, but it really is a night-and-day difference for the way my body works. I'm still about 16 away from my peak, so it's not like I've totally reverted or anything, but I remember how empowered I felt when I hit my goal. Of course, that month in particular was intense for a lot of personal reasons, but I think a lot of it had to do with how I was finally looking out for myself.
I found an iPhone app called "iLog It" which is basically a Weight Watchers points calculator and log without the formula. But you can easily look up the formula (it's on Wikipedia, referenced to the patent), so you just plug it in. It doesn't track weight, but I think I can handle that.
So I'm back on the plan. Of course my immediate goal is to feel fit and look good by the time of the wedding (which, holy shit, is three months from today), but in the bigger picture I just need to get back into that lifestyle change.
I've come to realize recently that I don't spend much time with my IM client open, and as such, don't feel like I'm connecting with my friends as much as I used to. I don't really like to sit around with it connected when I'm hanging out with Diana, because I'd rather have the face time with her. But even at other times, I often forget to fire it up.
The last year or so was interesting when it comes to the friendships that I have. I can only think of two or three close friends who are local anymore, and lots of "acquaintances" for lack of a better term. The rest are all out of town, or even out of state.
I think a part of it is that I felt like some relationships weren't worth keeping up. I'm still astounded at how some people are your BFF in person but willing to kick you in the nuts to anyone else. I've always given those people the benefit of the doubt, and I have no idea why. I've stopped doing that.
Granted, I do think there is some level of richer interaction with friends via Facebook. It's not quite in real time (not that it was ever a requirement) like IM, but I've especially managed to rebuild college friendships that I thought were long lost. We've all changed so much, and yet, we still have that experience that we shared. Maybe this will finally be the year that all of their sorry asses go back for homecoming!
I realized today that there is an important difference between the way I approach work projects and projects for myself. At work, I multitask, even more so now that I have this quasi-management role. I need to have my head in several different things because it's the only way I can operate.
But when it comes to my own projects, I find myself incapable of breaking from some sequence that I've come up with in my head. For example, I recently came up with some interesting ideas in my head about what I can do with the forum app to make it more extensible and flexible. But I won't dive in and experiment because I feel as though I must complete those big projects first. Instead of doing what I feel right this moment, and writing some fucking code for a change, I don't do anything at all. That's messed up.
I wish there was another me to tell me about my strange behaviours sooner.
We went to Target today to do a gift registry. Scanners are fun. That popcorn machine is amazing. Not sure why the square plates say "online only" since everything on the list we scanned in the store.
We also did one for Amazon.
So here's a question for my iPhone-toting geek friends... Do you think that the sweetness that has come in the form of iPhone apps makes people more open to the idea of using Web-based apps that you might call "rich Internet applications?" These apps do interesting things that work better and more efficiently than HTML-based Web pages.
For example, the Facebook, Amazon or any Twitter app... would those ideas translate well to browser-based apps if they loaded quickly? (Think Flash or Silverlight apps.)
Last time I went to Hawaii, I used AAA to arrange everything. The reasons were two-fold: It was a lot of money to spend without some human help, and the trust level with online sites wasn't quite there yet.
I went back to them today to talk about the honeymoon, returning after another visit in October. On that trip, it was still too far out and there was solid speculation that prices would come down. The woman I talked to has since left. I get there today, and the "manager" is blowing people off because she says she's sick, and the woman who looked stuff up for me is stuck with some cats who don't know anything about Disney World.
After 20 minutes the manager comes back out and gives me some stuff printed out, which adds zero value to this trip. I can look this shit up too... I'm looking for advice on the best flight plans and how to get the best hotel rates.
So I'm thinking I want to wing it. Hopefully we can use our Marriott connection for room discounts. Flight deals are hot, as low as $500 round-trip from Ft. Myers, but only about two and a half months out. I feel like I should risk it and hold off booking just two or three more weeks.
We went to see Yes Man today, and it was surprisingly good. I say surprisingly because Jim Carey hasn't been in anything interesting in a long time. If it weren't for Zooey Deschanel being in it, we wouldn't have gone to see it at all.
But she's so damn adorable. Not even someone I think I'd put on my laminated list, because it's not like that. More like, she's someone you could totally give a big hug, or cuddle with or something. Does that even make sense? It's a different kind of celebrity crush.
The movie had a lot of charm to it, and I could relate to it a great deal. I mean, it's about a divorced guy who needs a push to snap out of it and live life. I've certainly been there!
With the new year started, it's time again to get up on ye olde server and zip and delete the old server logs. This year's uncompressed total weighs in at around 15 gigs or so I think, and that's including all sites running on the box (there are about seven, plus some subdomains serving images and such).
This is the kind of shit that absolutely bores me to tears. I hate server admin stuff, networking and all of that nonsense. I just wanna upload my shit and see it fucking work.
This was a crazy, crazy year for the world. It feels like so much of it went to shit, and yet there's this feeling of hope that comes with a new president, and what seems like a general resolve to not let things go to shit.
For me personally, things were significantly less turbulent. It's probably the closest thing to a "normal" year that I've had in a long time. Parts of it didn't go smoothly, but overall, I don't have a lot of room to complain.
The year started with the most significant change, when Diana and the kittehs moved in. In the general sense, living together has been pretty easy. We have quirks and minor annoyances for each other, but none of it is show-stopping material. Dare I even say that it's what Gonch describes as not being a lot of work. People say that relationships are things you have to work at, but ours doesn't seem like that much work.
The one thing that wears on Diana is that she still has her house, which has not sold after eight months. She sometimes feels like a freeloader of sorts because she doesn't contribute to "my" mortgage. I think it was particularly hard for her when I wasn't working. But it doesn't bother me at all. I knew it wasn't going to be particularly easy to sell her house.
In late May, we finally got engaged. This was not a decision I took lightly, which is why I didn't bring it up a lot sooner. I loved Diana dearly, obviously, but I didn't want to do it just because it seemed like the next logical step. I've got abandonment issues, and a history of feeling that I wasn't good enough or the right guy or the right time or whatever. I'm grateful for having some really epic relationships, probably more than my fair share, but I needed to work it out in my head that the list ended here. I don't think it really had anything to do with anything Diana did or didn't do; I just needed to understand in my own mind how this had nothing to do with previous relationships. What makes Diana special is that she's Diana. It isn't more complicated than that.
My career took some interesting turns too. The year started with me working in a different group at ICOM, one where it seemed that there was going to be more opportunity for me to really take ownership in some things and be a contributor beyond code monkey work. As the first half went on, it felt like that wasn't how things were working out. The problem was two-fold. There were already too many other people I'd subside in the shadows too, so I wasn't being utilized to my fullest potential. The second problem was that I wasn't able to figure out how to engage either. Between those two situations, it's probably not that surprising that they decided to let me go when the company needed to shed some people.
I really took that in a variety of ways. On one hand, I felt like maybe I got as much as I could out of the gig. On the other, I felt a great sense of loss, because it was the people there that made me what I am. In those two and a half years, I would periodically try to create opportunities, by prototyping this, or championing that. But I could never quite get a foothold. There were already too many rock stars there, with a lot more tenure, and it was hard to compete with that. But how can you not like having the opportunity to work with people who are so fucking smart? I've not had any other jobs that impacted me to that extent, and who knows if I will again.
About a month before being laid-off, I had the chance to interview at Microsoft. It was totally random, and I'm still not sure how they paired me with the particular position. It frankly didn't go very well, but I was excited to be flown out for it. The people I met with, except for one not part of the position I was in for, were not very cool, and I left disappointed. It doesn't color my opinion negatively of the other groups that I've had contact with in the last few years, however.
I spent July and August building CoasterBuzz part-time. The rest of the time I was experimenting and trying to learn as much as I could. I also had a gig that I was hoping would become a reality, if the guy's client came through. It would have me leading a team to do interesting things, playing more of an architectural role and mentoring. That finally came to be a reality in late September.
And by reality, I mean it wasn't at all what we had talked about, and showed no sign of becoming that either. It was really disappointing, because I blew off a fair number of gigs for that. Finally, in early November, he let me go. I was looking anyway, but that still made it easier.
Less than a month later, my current employer called me, I met them on a Friday, started the next Monday as their technical architect. My role in the broad sense is to raise their game and in the long run, guide their platform. It's exactly the kind of gig I wanted, and so far, so good. I'd like this one to last... I'm sick of looking.
An area of my life that has not gone well is that of taking care of my body. I slipped up a lot this year. I'm about ten pounds over my 2005 weight. I'm lazy, and I don't do shit. Not coaching has been a disaster. In the anxiety of my various job hunting activities, I was eating for comfort. I need to get my shit together, and drop at least those ten pounds before the wedding.
The big activity this year for me was easily travel. I racked up 12,500 miles on Continental alone, and another 2,000 or so on our wedding shopping trip. Oddly enough, we didn't go to many different places, but we sure racked up the miles.
It started with a $95 round-trip to Orlando in February to start drinking Disney Kool-Aid. Then in March I went to Vegas on ICOM's dime to the Mix conference, which was completely awesome. At the end of March we went to Seattle for Nina's baptism. In June I flew to Seattle again for the Microsoft interview, and later that week went to Orlando for some Universal action. In August we went to Ft. Myers for the wedding recon. In October, to the Twin Cities to visit Kara. November got us to Disney World and IAAPA.
I got somewhat in touch with my coaster geek roots too. We went to CP, Kings Island, Waldameer, Kennywood, Holiday World, Valleyfair and the Mall of America. And of course, all of the Disney and Universal parks.
The Disney World trip was pretty intense. I really enjoy the place, despite years of feeling like I shouldn't. And with Diana never having been there, everything was new to her. Heck much of it was for me too. It's still very fresh in my mind as one of the highlights of the year. I just wish it would've been warmer. We'd like to go back, perhaps during the Christmas season.
I feel like I had a lot less angst this year. The stability of my relationship life has certainly allowed me to think a great deal about my professional life. Working for The Man doesn't have to be bad if he's not giving you soul crushing work. I still do a nice business on the side with minimal effort. I see the potential for harmony. Maybe I'm figuring it out.
As for 2009, I don't see a lot of reason to make a bunch of promises. I definitely need to take care of myself better, but beyond that, my goal is to get married and have an epic life and new adventures. I feel like I've set myself up well for that. Let's hope the rest of the world gets there as well.
I feel like I'm obligated to myself to look back at the year and make some kind of overall assessment. In keeping with previous years, I'll do one for my biz and one personal entry.
I think this year I'll keep the career stuff in the personal entry, because it has a lot more to do with my personal life than the business. POP World Media did about the same it did last year, despite some otherwise ugly statistics. Ad revenue was down, but not as much as traffic was, so on a per page and per user basis, things were actually better. That's how I'm choosing to view it, anyway.
Two years ago I would've said how cool it was that there were so few coaster and amusement park sites out there. With less competition, you can get more of the pie. But I had the realization this year that the competition isn't within the niche, it's Facebook and Tumblr and RSS feeds and a number of other things. It had not occurred to me that this was the case until I realized my own Web surfing habits. I spend a lot of time on all kinds of sites, and not nearly as much on my own as I used to. People have a finite amount of time, and the niche isn't nearly as interesting as it used to be.
The solution to replacing that, in my view, is to expand into other niches. I've got two in mind. I've got a goofy experiment I'd like to try for a subscription based service too. I'm not sure, however, how to make the time for them.
Getting laid-off from ICOM in July was difficult in a lot of ways (I'll write about that in the personal brief), but one thing good that came out of it was a commitment to finally, after far too many years of talking about it, rebuild CoasterBuzz. With a lot of possible gigs out there, I took it slow, I relaxed, and I tried to spend four or five hours a day working on it. Most of the time. OK, grand total, it probably was only 80 to 100 actual hours of work, but on September 1, I relaunched that sucker. There was much rejoicing. Maybe not for everyone else, but certainly for me. My inability to get through that project for the better part of four or five years was not good for my self-esteem.
There weren't a ton of super clever things that I did for the site, though there were some fun science projects here and there. It got me engaged again in writing code. It assured me that I could finish a project. Granted, I had no day job to go to, but I really got into it. The metrics since then show some promise overall. People are hanging out longer, and those who find the site are spending more time there.
In February, Walt and I conceived of a new project, and it hasn't come to fruition yet. I blame myself, because I'm the code guy. In October I came up with what I felt was "the" feature to help it stand out, and since then it hasn't moved because I haven't made the progress on it. It's still the next thing in the queue.
Probably the most important thing I did with the business this year, despite not being sexy, is get it to be debt free. It's the first time it happened since, well, I think since it became an LLC in 1999. It had peaked at $30k in credit card debt in early 2005 when I bought all of that video gear.
I actually ended the year with some debt, as I bought a little more gear to shoot some video in the fall. But it was totally worth it. While not the most incredible or glamorous stuff, I was pretty excited to finally post very high quality HD. My HVX200 is now almost three years old, but now that P2 cards are (relatively) affordable, I can finally shoot the way I always wanted. I bought a 32 gig card in the fall, which allows me to do 80 minutes of 720p/24. Consumer gear can't touch the images that thing can make!
So overall, I'm fairly satisfied with how things went, though I obviously need to expand the work to new sites to keep up the revenue. I'm disappointed that Cedar Point isn't building anything new this year, because that would've made a difference. My goal for the forthcoming year is to at least get the project with Walt live, though I'm still trying to feel out how to balance the day job with my own projects on nights and weekends. The fact that I won't likely be doing a lot of coding on a day to day basis will probably help.