Posted
Comments 0

It’s still November, and the year isn’t over. But as I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, this year kinda sucked.

So here are some of the things that clearly did not suck in my 2020. Maybe there’s still more to add, but I wouldn’t take any one of these things away.

Best Album = “Lock-in” Fat Freddy’s Drop
Okay, if you know me you know I’m a sucker for these guys. But this is a really good live album any way you slice it, and I wanted to include it here so you’d have a soundtrack for the rest of this post ;)

Best Purchase = Synology NAS
For a while this blog was just about me trying to get my tech together. Getting off of Google, Apple, Microsoft, etc. Getting onto Linux, Nextcloud, FreeNAS. Well, my friends, the simple answer to everything was $1200 away. And had I known how much time and effort and expense it would take me to still not get the results I was looking for, I would have put that thousand bucks on a credit card in a heartbeat. If you want your own automated data backup, your own webserver, your own music/video server, your own email/calendar/contacts host, your own VPN, your own video transcoder, your own data deduplication, your own collaborative document sharing platform, your own cloud…look no further than the commercially available Synology platform. I am seriously impressed. And a bit ashamed that it took me so long to give in and go this direction. I got the DS920+ and four 5TB hard drives in a RAID 10 setup in July, and I haven’t looked back. Best purchase, hands down.

Best Investment = Palram “Bella” 8×20 greenhouse
Okay, well then there’s my greenhouse. I had to give this a different category because it’s a renewable resource, not a one-time expense. Though it was an initial and a significant one-time expense. I have the ability to grow my own food now. I don’t have any extensive skills or knowledge yet, but over the next year or two this will change. Growing your own food was one of those pandemic-response kind of actions that truly has no downside. No matter what happens in the world or doesn’t, I’ll be very happy to grow some of my own food. I grew up being barefoot in a garden a lot of the time. It’s happy-making for me :) It’s also a critical life skill in case of emergency. And where I live in Utah the growing seasons (we have two) are both pretty short. This greenhouse can extend both ends, and maybe someday even handle the middles. I’m feeling great about the investment I’ve made in my future! And I’m already enjoying the rewards.

Best Decision = Plant-based diet
I’ve written a bit about the diet change I made at the beginning of the year. It was a challenge at first, sure. But it was MUCH less of a challenge than I expected, and has had far more benefits than I expected too. My new relationship to food is flexible, yet solid. It has simplified my life, improved my body, decreased my risk, and increased my awareness. Man, why didn’t I do this years ago?

Best Surprise = full-time employee (for someone else’s company)
I didn’t want to do this. This was one of those “kicking and screaming” kinds of things that took me 9-months to warm up to. But I am so very, very grateful to be where I am now! Working for ConvaTec in the role I’m in ain’t easy, and it’s not nearly as sexy as I talked myself into thinking it was when I accepted the offer. Still, as someone who hasn’t had a full-time employee job since…um, ever? This is pretty sweet. I haven’t met one of the 10,000 people I work with in person — and that might not ever need to happen. I’m no longer on the entrepreneurship roller coaster, getting penalized at every financial turn. I’m still learning a ton and growing by leaps and bounds, and though I’m not entirely in charge of my own schedule, in practice I’m more in control than I’ve ever been. With less hassle. This is not where I saw myself heading at the beginning of 2020. By the end of this year, I’m glad I didn’t know and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Best Trip = Yellowstone
Yeah, okay this one is kinda easy because I didn’t go many places this year. But I’d never been to Yellowstone before and especially after the weirdness of 2020, going someplace where the epic geology and stunning nature just don’t give a f*** was a fantastic thing to do. The excuse for this trip was my partner Denise’s birthday. I made sure she had a very nice birthday. but I had an incredible time myself :)

On this Thanksgiving day, it’s a great time to reflect. What are some of your best “bests” for this year? Put’em in the comments, I’d love to know.

Author
Categories ,

Posted
Comments 0

Every so often I go on a binge where I try to get rid of stuff. How about you?

It’s getting to be that time again, and encouraged by the book Goodbye Things that I just finished, I’m tackling the identity element much more than I have previously. As the author points out of his own journey from packrat to minimalist, most of the things he possessed were actually the detritus of hobbies and passions that were no longer active, but served as reminders to anchor his identity.

It’s a helpful perspective, and it gives me pause to stop and reflect:
  • I’ve got a lot of livestreaming & video stuff lying around. That used to be stuff I used everyday and carted around with me to help teach others and produce live events. But it hasn’t been since July, and I don’t think it will be again maybe ever. Could I refine down to just one office and one mobile setup?
  • There’s a ton of music & audio gear everywhere around me that I look. I used to be a professional musician, and it took me many years of saving & searching to collect all that I have. But I’ll likely not need to tour with gear again, and may never take the time to learn to play all these instruments well. What if I kept only the things that I am currently passionate to play and record with simply for the joy of making music?
  • Computers and networking devices clutter my office. Though I intended to create my own network of a dozen computers for different uses over a year ago, plugging it all in at once proved to be too much power draw for my 30amp circuit. Also, since I purchased my Synology NAS and got to know my Raspberry Pi 4, I can’t say I’ve needed all the rest. Very occasionally, I do need up to 3 computers at once for testing purposes. What if I only kept one personal computer, one work computer, and my Pi? One router, one NAS, one printer? One phone, one tablet, one VR headset? Surely this should be more than enough even for a technologist like myself, right?
  • I have more clothing that I don’t wear than I do wear. I don’t like buying clothes, and it shows. I have hand-me-downs from my Dad, my uncle, and my friends, that it may be time for me to hand down too. I have costumes from my many years as a performer that might be at home in my native San Francisco or at Burning Man, but are truly out of place here in the middle of Utah. Which outfits are linked to my identity, and which are the ones that fit my body and my needs from 2020 forward?
  • Books seem to stack up around me faster than I can ever read them. The truth is, I consume more audiobooks than print or electronic books these days. Looking back, it’s probably been this way for years. Books that I don’t read can’t make me any smarter or better, they can only gather dust. I’m only keeping them from the people that want to read them, restricting the flow of information, hampering their benefit. Who could I give these books to that would appreciate them enough to actually read them and put them to good use? Could they tell me of the great knowledge buried inside these covers?

Do you have other such thoughts or recommendations that have helped you? Comment below as you please :)

Author
Categories ,

Posted
Comments 0

I’ve been a lot of things, mostly improbable things. Things that don’t make any sense when you put them all together, and that stack up to something suspiciously beyond my 44 years of living. Some examples:
  • Int’l award-winning solo a cappella / beatbox act
  • Expert Witness
  • Star Trek alien
  • Acupressure Practitioner
  • Web Developer
  • Personal coach, Mastermind Leader & Group Facilitator
  • Social Media & Marketing Consultant
  • Audio Engineer & Video Producer
  • Author & Public Speaker

And that’s just the stuff I once got paid to do.

In any case, today I’m the Global Learning Technology & Analytics Manager for the global medical solutions provider ConvaTec. Yeah, I know, go figure. Believe it or not I’m actually somehow well-qualified for the position.

I’ve done a lot of my life out of sequence from the standard. This year, I took my first full-time employee job in…well, ever, I guess. It’s early yet, but it’s working so far. Great timing, in fact! As the rest of the world is falling apart, I’m leveraging all my skills toward helping things fall together for a business with 10k or so employees spread all across the globe.

Because this gig is pretty full-on, and because the rest of life is so haywire these days, I’m not actually taking anything else on at the moment. I’ve barely kept in touch with friends and family in the last few months. It’s a weird time.

If you happen to be one of those friends or family, I’m sorry. It’s nothing you did, promise. We’re good, I’m simply of a different focus these days and have pulled back a lot on my public visibility and even private availability. You can still hit me up anytime as you wish, please do :)

For anyone who doesn’t know me yet, thanks for dropping by! And, uh…how did you get here? Nice to see you and I hope you like what you see around here. I tend to think a lot, and post here every few days. Comment on any post and I’ll respond. Wishing you all the best!

Author

Posted
Comments 0

I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you that we don’t get to make decisions for other people. And that this is how it’s supposed to be.

“But those other people are stupid! They don’t know what they’re doing! They’ll be trouble for us all!” I hear you cry.

Maybe so. We can surely find many examples of people acting with stupidity and recklessness.

Can we please first make sure those people aren’t us, though?

Here’s the thing that’s so easy to forget but so critical to the whole equation:
to those other people, WE are the others

In other words, if we say that we get to make decisions for other people, then we are implicitly saying that they get to make decisions for us. “You’re not the boss of me” only works if we don’t pretend to be the boss of them either.

Either that or we’re saying other people don’t deserve the freedom to make their own choices and that we know what is best for them and will ignore and subvert their expressions of free will. Is that really what you want? To me it sounds even worse.

The good news here is the realization that we really do get to make decisions for ourselves most of the time. We don’t get to get our way for our the entire community, but we do usually get to get our way on a much smaller scale — for ourselves.

True, the world doesn’t always give us all the liberty we want. If I don’t want to be spied on or don’t want to pay taxes or don’t want to die, at some point I’m outta luck. But with work, I can reduce and obscure or potentially eliminate surveillance on my activities, I can legally reduce my tax burden to near zero, and I can make choices that are likely to extend my natural life rather than shorten it.

I don’t get to decide who is President. But that’s a good thing, because if I did then you could decide all on your own too. And your choice might be different from mine. As it happens, I did cast my vote (as I do every chance I get), and now I don’t get to have any more say on the matter.

I’m okay with that. Because the alternative is even worse.

Author
Categories ,

Posted
Comments 0

I recently received an Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headset. Supposedly it’s because I’m testing stuff for work, but really it’s just one of the coolest things ever.

Though I’d been in a VR environment before, in tradeshow demos and in phone-based headsets of the Google Cardboard variety, the sound has never been right. So much of what we intuitively know about our surroundings subtly and subconsciously amounts to psychoacoustics. This is the first headset that sounds good to me, and the visuals are way better than anything I’ve seen before too. 90 frames per second? Sure, that’ll do nicely.

I took to the environment very quickly. Things just make sense to me in VR in a way that’s hard to describe. I’m no whiz with the controllers just yet, still struggling to juggle virtual blocks in the land of make believe. But the logic of the different environments is something that I’m instantly at ease and yet entertained by. Maybe it’s all my improv training, I don’t know. I just know I like it!

So basically I put on the goggles and never wanted to take them off again. Especially in a year like 2020, the virtual world kinda has more going for it, y’know?

But the thought that occurred to me within 5min was “this is the last screen I’m ever gonna buy”. I don’t want to go back to looking at monitors or computers or screens like the iPad I’m typing this on right now. I want a virtual screen instead. Why would I ever get a bulky, 2D device when I can have the infinity of variation and quality that is a 3D headset? There’s no reason I’d want that, other than a communal experience with others in a physical space. Although why settle for that when I can have a communal experience with others all over the world?

It’s not easy to explain all this to someone without a frame of reference. So let me close by saying that you should never, ever put on a high-quality VR headset. Don’t do it! Because if you do, you might end up like me. I never want to settle for anything less ever again ;)

Author
Categories ,