Rejected blog ideas

Because sometimes I’m lazy, sometimes I’m not timely enough, and sometimes my ideas stink.

  • Depends squirmy legs ad and Meta user Michael Strahan’s poo dance
    • Reason for rejection: I used to see these two commercials a lot and wanted to riff on them, then they stopped airing them.
  • Video games of yore (home)
    • Reason for rejection: I actually mean to get around to this one. You can read the arcade version here.
  • Reality TV shows I actually like
    • Reason for rejection: There aren’t that many and it just didn’t seem that interesting. For the record, a few I enjoy are Forged in Fire and The Curse of Oak Island.
  • Apple Watch revised review with pictures and stuff
    • Reason for rejection: Lazy, waited too long. Who wants to read a review of a watch that is two generations behind? Not me!
  • Google maps, now with melancholy
    • Reason for rejection: I actually quite like this idea. I’d use Google Maps’ Street View to “visit” my hometown and lament the loss of old corner stores I went to as a kid and so on. I felt there wasn’t enough there to work with, but I may revisit this.
  • Amusing photos from my phone camera
    • Reason for rejection: It turns out I have very few amusing pictures on my phone
  • Best and worst super powers
    • Reason for rejection: This seems like such an obvious thing. Maybe too obvious. Every time I thought about it, I found my mind wandering on to other things. Kind of weird.
  • Internet of Things comic: standing at the fridge saying “Open the fridge door, HAL.”
    • Reason for rejection: Too much effort for a pretty lame joke
  • Bad design: glossy keyboards
    • Reason for rejection: Pretty think subject for a blog post, but for the record, glossy keyboard are bad because they reflect light back at you, and are fingerprint magnets
  • Places I’ve lived
    • Reason for rejection: After some thought, I didn’t find it interesting enough to pursue, but I was thinking too literally. I may come back to this someday, because I’ve lived in a few places that might be worth talking about.

The internet is getting old

I don’t mean old as in tired and passe–though others might make that argument, with some justification–but rather, it’s actually been around a good long while now.

I recall articles in computer magazines (almost as quaint now as the pre-internet days) in 1994 were touting two major developments in the tech world: the forthcoming release of Windows 95 (originally known only as “Windows 4”) and the rise of this new form of online communication known as the Internet.

I was already a regular participant on some BBSes (my roommate in the late 80s had a BBS running off four Commodore 64s) and participated in early forums that were part of FidoNet. Looking back it seems hilariously primitive. You connected to the host, downloaded all of the new messages on the forum, made your replies, then uploaded them and…waited. The conversations were not only not real-time, they weren’t even same-day. It would typically take two to three days for the turnaround. It didn’t prevent people from hurling insults and contributing little, of course, but it helped.

By comparison, my first cable modem and the actual internet–first introduced to me as a separate “premium” service by my ISP–was like stepping into the future. Your connection was always on (!) and you could visit multiple sites at the same time. There were multiple sites!

A big part of the early days for me revolved around gaming and one of the first games I got into online was Tribes, released in December 1998 (I bought it a month later). It got me into a gaming group and I still regularly converse with members of that group twenty years later. Back then I had the reflexes of a thirty-something, so I was already behind the curve, but I held my own. I read a bunch of gaming sites, many of which are either gone now after living on in a zombie state for awhile, like Voodoo Extreme, or have been abandoned after the parent company vanished, like PlanetQuake, which is still up, but hasn’t been updated since 2012 (its parent company, GameSpy, was shuttered the next year).

And then you have something like Blue’s News. Not only is the site still being updated regularly (by the same person, no less), but visually it is unchanged. Yes, the site looks pretty much exactly like it did 20 years ago. It was my home page for a long time, but I haven’t regularly visited any dedicated gaming site since consoles entrenched themselves as the primary way to game. There’s something both admirable and awful about not changing your website design for 20 years (for the record, I find the look today to be pretty ugly. Dense, small text on a dark background is not my idea of readability. On the plus side, the layout is about as straightforward as you can get).

The internet is an inescapable part of our lives now, and much of it is a terrible place. Facebook and Twitter serve as staging platforms for hate, enabling the spread of misery, violence and death. The wealth of information is vast and impossible for any single person to even begin to sift through. You choose your interests, put your faith in Google (or Bing, or DuckDuckGo if you really want to go full rebel) and hope for the best. Sure, you can find stuff through the recommendations of friends, but most of those will come via Facebook, anyway. And there’s always the echo chamber effect, too.

In the olden days the array of content was exponentially smaller. Sites themselves were smaller and updated less frequently. Messages downloaded as pure text at a rate slow enough to read as it downloaded. It wasn’t better, per se, but it was simpler. And in a way, that made it better. Or it created the illusion.

Fun Fact: this site turns 14 years old (!) on February 4th. In my first post I ranted about sites using white backgrounds. How things change. :P

I bought a tiny nightstand

My previous nightstand was six cardboard banker boxes with a towel draped over the top. Height-wise it was nearly perfect next to the bed, and it did what it needed to, providing room for my alarm clock, phone and tablet.

It was, as you might suspect, not overly stylish, and the tops of the boxes got a bit lumpy over the years. Yes, years. I’m not sure why, but I kept this setup far longer than would seem reasonable for something that was intended to be makeshift and temporary.

No more! As part of my Big De-Clutter, I am starting to replace boxes-posing-as-furniture with actual furniture. I started with the nightstand because, well, it’s the only boxes-posing-as-furniture that I actually have. But I’m still replacing other real furniture for various reasons, as I’ll cover in a future post (hint: some of it has to do with what I like to call “granny styling.”)

I picked a suitable replacement from IKEA, a handsome baby Malm that would fit in perfectly next to the big brother Malm already there and serving as my new, improved clothes dresser. But somehow I had measured something wrong (math is hard) and the baby Malm is maybe too much of a baby. It sits significantly lower than the bed (admittedly, we have a massive uber-Queen size that is something like three meters tall. You have to take a running leap to get into bed at night). It’s not unmanageable, but in the end it isn’t what I wanted. I was sad, briefly. Then the cogs in my brain started turning, as they do from time to time.

The tiny Malm could replace the kind-of ugly end table in the living room, as its diminutive stature would not be an issue next to the couch. Voila, nightstand re-purposed, buyer’s regret vanquished (mostly)!. I then began looking for other nightstands that were actually height-compatible with the bed and may have found one at one of the 1,000 furniture stores on United Boulevard in Coquitlam. We will be checking it out on Saturday.

I’m also turfing my L-shaped computer desk because the L-shape ended up annoying me and the desk is too shallow, and the fake woodgrain looks a tad tacky. But that will also be another post.

For now, Furniture Quest 2019, part of the Big De-Clutter and general life improvement stuff, is well underway.

Bye bye books

This past weekend I gathered up nearly all of my paperback books–four cloth bags and a cardboard storage box in all–and dumped them into a book donation bin.

The majority of books I had already read–in some cases decades ago–while others were bought on a whim and then forgotten, unread and still in pristine condition. Most of the books were in near-perfect condition, actually, only the ones I loaned to friends were worn. My 43-year old copy of The Exorcist was definitely showing its age, though, with the cover taped on and the pages yellowing and getting a bit foul [devil/possession joke here].

On the other hand, some other books nearly as old almost looked brand new, because I was a very careful reader. Why, I cannot say. Looking at my bedroom, you would never have said I was a neat kid. And yet my books were treated like treasures. I suppose in a way they were. I read all the time when I was younger and the last few years I’ve rekindled [Kindle joke here] my love for both novels and non-fiction.

So why did I toss nearly all of my books away, keeping only a precious few, like signed copies or reference guides that are still relevant? Because I am determined to strip away the clutter in my life, and the books hold no sentimental value for me, though some had pretty snazzy covers. Most of these books I’d read long ago and were stuffed away in boxes and bags. It’s been many years since I had a bookshelf, and given the, shall we say, uneven quality of the books I indulge in, I feel no great need to hang onto them or display them for all to see.

And so off they went, to find homes elsewhere. I don’t know if someone will want to read my 1980 paperback copy of Salem’s Lot (I finally read the eBook version in October 2011), but it’s in darn good shape if they do.

In the meantime, I have less clutter, both in the condo and in my mental space. It feels good. The de-clutterfest will continue this coming weekend.

Still technically writing every day

I have not found my groove yet early in this new year when it comes to writing, but I am writing something every day, as I had vowed to do. So yay for sticking to it for nearly a whole week so far! Only 51 more to go.

Part of the problem is my mind feels cluttered by negative thingamabobs, mainly but not exclusively related to a growing professional dissatisfaction. Maybe all those years of not working in a field I am passionate about is finally having an effect. I’m not saying there is something I am passionate about–clearly I struggle with writing, no matter how many books I read on the subject, and how diligently I follow all the little tricks and things to keep you going–but I can’t help but think there might be something I’d be generally more satisfied in doing in my work life.

But every time I take one of those “This is the work you SHOULD be doing!” tests, the results are always somewhat dubious. So I’m not sure how to go about investigating a possible career side-step. I’m also aware that I’m not exactly a 20-something that can freely experiment with a bunch of different jobs to see what sticks (or maybe I could, who knows?)

Anyway, the important thing is I wrote something today and maybe I’ll hit the treadmill again tomorrow. Also, only two more months until we are back on Daylight Saving Time, hooray. All right, this concluding paragraph was a little random. Maybe I accidentally lapsed into free writing. There are worse things that could happen. Like scurvy or the return of parachute pants.

Haiku to The Rains

We’ve had a rainfall warning the last few days, which, as you might guess, means a whole lot of rain– between 40-90 mm, depending on where exactly you are. It’s been quite wet.

The Rains

The rains fall heavy
Vehicles splash and spray me
My spirit is damp

The rain actually doesn’t bother me–this is definitely the wrong area to live if it does–and I’ve learned to avoid the areas where splashing and spraying can happen.

But I still remember that dark winter day last year when I was learning that lesson, diverting along the one block stretch of Brunette Avenue between the Sapperton SkyTrain station and my place, unable to take the much nicer hospital lane, closed (and still closed until December 2019) due to construction. This section of Brunette tends to be driven at highway speeds. I don’t know what the actual speed limit is here, but I am reasonably certain it’s not highway speed. The combination of excess water on the road and the aforementioned high speed led to me getting soaked with a great wave of water that fanned over the sidewalk. I stood for a moment, trying to register the fact that this little slice of a comedy movie had actually happened to me.

I walked on and got soaked three more times. I was very wet when I got home. In the end I found it kind of funny. And instructive. I’ve never risked the same trip along Brunette again during The Rains. The safe diversion adds two blocks to my trip, a small price to pay in exchange for not getting a metric ton of water sprayed on me at high velocity.

Welcome to the year 2019

As I saw noted elsewhere, 2019 is the year that both Running Man and Blade Runner are set in.

Noted elsewhere on the internet:

Predicting the future is hard. Predicting the near-future is hard. Heck, predicting what I’ll be having for lunch in two days is hard.

(To be technical, you could probably say that Philip Dick and the creative people behind Blade Runner were not specifically imagining the future, just creating one possible vision of it for story-telling purposes. But that’s no fun.)

I think the best part about Blade Runner’s version of 2019 is how they just couldn’t pass up on flying cars.

Their version of a pollution-choked L.A. is actually not that far off from some of the mega-cities in China (and elsewhere), though. And corporations are already monolithic, evil entities. So maybe Blade Runner isn’t that far off, after all.

New Year Resolutions 2018: This time for real

First, a review of the resolutions I made for this year and my grade on how well I did on each. First, a review of the resolutions I made for this year and my grade on how well I did on each.

  • Drop to 150 pounds. Grade: D. I ended the year at 168.1 pounds.
  • 100% donut-free. Grade: A. I stayed donut-free, though it didn’t help much, weight-wise. Alas.
  • No farmers tan. Grade: C+. I didn’t run as much, so not as much of a farmers tan. Kind of a dumb resolution.
  • Write 250 words of fiction per day. Grade: D. Total fail, unless you split the 22,222 words of NaNoWriMo into 250 word chunks and spread them out over the year (and I’d still be way off the 91,250 total).
  • Run at least three times a week. Grade: C. Knee problems slowed my running in the first half of the year and weather/laziness took over in the second half. My worst year for running since I started in 2009.
  • Read at least 32 books. Grade: A. I read 40 books, woo!
  • One drawing per week. Grade: D. I did a few drawings the entire year.
  • Win the lottery. Grade: B. I won $10.
  • Eat better. Grade: D. Not a good year for self-control when it came to (comfort) food.
  • Curb my web surfing and put my WoW sub on hold. Grade: C and A. The C is for web surfing, which I have not really reined in much, though I think the quality of the content I read is higher now. I dropped my WoW sub.

Not exactly a banner year. For 2019 I am slimming down the list:

  • Drop to 150 pounds. Third (or whatever) time is the charm?
  • Write something every day. No minimum limits should make this possible.
  • Run at least once per week. Again, lowering the bar, but it could lead to more.
  • Read at least 52 books. Yes, a book a week. I think this might be possible if I cheat with some really short books.
  • Eat better. For real this time.
  • Learn and practice meditation. I think this will help a lot if I can take it seriously.
  • Stretch. I am stiff as a board and it’s not good. I need to get more flexible.
  • Redo the Complaint Free World 21-day challenge. I’ve regressed on the no-complaining thing and need to do better.

We’ll see how things look in just 12 short, zany months.

2018 kind of sucked

I started my 21-day “complaint free” experience in January of this year and after a couple of tries, I managed to go the full 21 days without verbalizing a complaint to another person. I became much more aware of how often others complained–often, I suspect, without them even being conscious of it–and I became very aware of what came out of my own mouth. Since I have a preference to not prattle on unless prodded (prodding me can lead to excessive prattling), the transition from “complain about the weather along with everyone else” to “just smile and not say anything” was easier than expected.

But it didn’t last.

I tried again. I even got the official purple Complaint Free World bracelet. It’s the child size, as I have strangely thin wrists. I could blame my lapsing back into a semi-complaint-filled experience because of the weather–not that it’s bad, but that when it gets cold I’m wearing long-sleeve shirts and jackets, so the bracelet isn’t visible most of the time to remind me not to complain about stuff.

But that’s an excuse, because I did get through the exercise successfully when the weather was cold and wet. It was January, after all, as I mentioned in the first paragraph.

So what happened? Well, a few things. The problem is they were spaced just far enough apart that it felt like, as the old saying goes, “if it’s not one thing, it’s another.”

My health was kicked in the junk this year. Speaking of my junk, I did not have a testicular cancer scare like last year, so that was good.

Instead, I got a tooth infection in a tooth that had been broken for years. That it hadn’t gotten infected much earlier was pretty much dumb luck. Once it did get infected, it had to be dealt with immediately, so I had to pretend to overcome my existential fear of dentists and get what remained of the tooth yoinked.

It actually didn’t go that bad, though keeping stuff out of the resultant gap while it healed was tricky.

But just as I recovered from that I experienced an odd “too hot/too cold” sensation at work. This was May, so neither condition really made sense. I would shiver for ten minutes, then sweat like I was in a sauna for the next ten. I looked up the symptoms and found they could apply to almost anything, but I know my body and its sordid history, and this smacked of YAI. Yet Another Infection. I was right!

I guessed bladder, but it was my kidney. They’re pretty close, so it was a good guess. I waited a couple of days to see a doctor, because I slipped into Guy Mode (don’t need doctors, don’t need maps, don’t need instructions–you know, basically DUMB). I spent a night running a high fever, felt utterly delirious, and was so weak that when I did go to the nearby clinic it took my hours to work up the energy to make the three block trip.

On the plus side, the antibiotics killed the fever amazingly quickly, and I recovered fairly quickly after. The kidney has been a (literal) pain a few times since, but the most recent blood work (which took two arms to obtain successfully as my left arm apparently contains no blood) indicates it is on the mend.

Did I mention that the antibiotics I got for the tooth infection turned out to be another I’m allergic to? Another all-body rash and this weird sensation that my face was glowing (it was, as confirmed by co-workers).

Then my knees gave out. For years they have been getting worse when I crouch or kneel, but I don’t crouch or kneel a whole lot, and running (and walking) was unaffected, so I really didn’t pay much attention.

This spring I paid attention because suddenly my knees really didn’t like it when I went jogging. And when I say suddenly, that is not hyperbole. It just happened, like a tipping point was reached and now my knees were Sore Knees. I watched my running pace get worse and worse. It was discouraging and depressing. I thought I might have to stop running, which has become my go-to Zen relaxation thing since I started back in 2009.

But then the knees…well, they didn’t exactly improve, but they did seem to hurt less. Was I just getting used to it? Whatever it was, my pace began to improve and by summer’s end I was pretty much back to normal, speed-wise. The knees still get sore, but they recover, and it’s never so bad I need to stop. So thumbs sideways there.

My weight loss has been more like weight maintenance. The problem is I’m maintaining at about 15 pounds higher than I want to be. My partner and I are going to suffer diet together for the new year, so I’m hoping there’s more progress there.

Work has been a bit of a trial for various reasons. It’s not terrible or anything, and I don’t want to go into detail on a public blog, but suffice to say it has had its share of frustrations. I don’t see it improving much, unfortunately, but you never know.

I only made it 22,222 words into my 2018 National Novel Writing Month novel. On the plus side, I am committed to continuing it, and did an actual outline, a major change for me. Other than the blog and NaNo, my writing has been pretty quiet this year. This was not my plan.

BC voters voted by over 60% to keep the first-past-the-post system for provincial elections. The referendum ballot was a muddled mess, so I think people probably would have voted for whatever was listed first, no matter what it was.

But 2018 has not been all bad. On the positive side:

  • I have developed (ho ho) an interest in photography and now take all kinds of photos with my smartphone. I don’t know if I will graduate to a dedicated camera again, but it’s already changed how I view the world. I’m always looking for a good shot. You can see some of them here. Looking for shots has the side effect of making me see (and appreciate) detail than I skipped over before. The world is a richer place now.
  • It hasn’t snowed this winter and none is in the forecast. (Technically I think we got a little wet snow while I was in bed a few nights ago, but it was gone by the time I woke up, therefore NO SNOW).
  • After buying a bunch of mechanical keyboards, I finally found one I really like, the CTRL from Massdrop, with Halo switches that are clicky, but not clacky, if you know what I mean.
  • I started baking bread.
  • I finally learned to love the treadmill. Well, maybe not love. More…not hate. (Also, the treadmill is now way easier on my knees than the elliptical.)
  • I remained donut-free after renewing my vow.
  • Um. The world didn’t end?

I may add more positive things later. While the year mostly sucked, I continue to be more optimist than pessimist, so I do not dread 2019. Next up: my New Year resolutions list, because everyone needs a good laugh.

Winter Solstice 2018

The winter solstice was actually yesterday but I was busy entertaining myself troubleshooting browser issues and realizing how little I enjoy spending my time troubleshooting things anymore. Which is not a great thing, since it’s also my living. Oops.

Anyway, yesterday was the shortest day of the year, meaning that today and every other day this year (all nine of ’em) will keep getting delightfully longer. Or to be technical, the sun will set later, giving us a smidgen more daylight.

So although December 21st marks the official start of winter, for me it signals the official countdown to Daylight Saving Time (I advocate switching to this year-round–make it so, government people in charge of clocks or whatever) and the beginning of summer, the best season of all.

I’m already thinking about my first sunburn.