A haiku to fall

The season, not like falling down the stairs or something.

The days get shorter
And the trees explode with color
Then everything dies

On the one hand, the last line is rather bleak. On the other, fall ends on December 20th and by then the sun sets at something like 3 p.m., it’s always cold and almost always raining, the trees are stripped naked and vegetation is all withered, dead or gone.

But lawns still look really lush and green.

All right, then.

The days get shorter
And the trees explode with color
It sucks after that

More accurate now. But fine, here’s a “happy” version:

The days get shorter
And the trees explode with color
Hot cocoa and gloves

Rainbow cats

This CBC story explains how putting a colorful collar on a cat can help warn off birds they might prey on, as birds have good color perception.

I just like how fabulous it makes the cats look.

I don’t know where the nearest McDonald’s is

I consider this progress in my quest to eat healthier and better (no offense to McDonald’s, which does have healthy choices on its menu).

But now that I think about it, I could really go for a Sausage and Egg McMuffin. I love those things.

I have now used internet technology to find the closest McDonald’s, and it’s apparently a 29-minute walk from my place, or five Starbucks away. How is this even possible? What sort of world do we live in that I need to walk for almost an entire half hour just to get a McChicken? This is way beyond impulse purchase territory for me.

Which is for the best, really. But still.

August 2021 was not so hot

I say this for two reasons:

  1. The weather simply wasn’t as perpetually scorching as it was in July, and today it barely climbed to 17C, which is below average for this time of year. We’ve had some actual precipitation. The bit of rain has been enough to revive lawns and take everything from tinder dry to just dry. Fittingly, the weekend promises more showers, so the FIRE DANGER signs may at last come down.
  2. In other not-so-hot news, COVID-19 numbers have been way up. The only good part here is that almost all infections are unvaccinated people (meaning the vaccines are working), and the numbers may have already plateaued. It’s still a bummer because we have clearly regressed when many thought the pandemic was finally beginning to wane when we moved to Step 3 on July 1st. Eventually we’ll be able to go back to something similar to how things were without requiring vaccines, vaccine cards, masks or deep sea diving helmets.

A brief essay on how my broken logic mired me in the wrong job for years

Read and learn from my logical error.

Many years ago I thought about what sort of career I’d like to have, instead of just bouncing from job to job and/or relying on networking to essentially do the same.

I thought about what I liked to do and what I was good at and where they might intersect, taking the approach as a self-designed “What color is my parachute?” thing.

What did I like? Tech! I’ve always had a geeky interest in tech, whether it was video games, digital watches (hey, back in the olden times they really did seem cool) or other gadgets.

What was I good at? I was always into making things, so I was pretty much a creative person. My childhood and teen years are filled with sketches, comics, short stories and an incomplete balsa wood roller coaster. Being creative wasn’t just something I enjoyed, it pretty much defined who I was.

But I ignored this.

Instead, I came up with the answer of “I enjoy helping or teaching others.” This is true enough, and it seemed a more practical thing to try to turn into a career. By combining these two things I was set!

  • I enjoy tech
  • I enjoy helping people

=

  • A career in tech support!

The problem is tech support doesn’t require being creative at all. Sure, someone may tell you that you need to be creative to find solutions, but that’s just playing semantics. The actual skills required aren’t anything close to what you use for drawing or writing or acting. It’s all about research, organization and puzzle-solving. While I enjoy those things, they aren’t the same, but I went ahead into tech support anyway, because logically it just had to work!

And it did, in a way, for a while. But the reality is that tier 1 or even tier 2 tech support is pretty basic stuff. Depending on how well-designed the systems you work with are, you can find yourself doing a lot of very repetitive stuff, like resetting passwords, re-enabling 2FA access or things like that. These are menial tasks, and ultimately they came to bore me. And then I burnt out. I felt very much like the guy in the motivational poster in Futurama:

I faced the horror of having most of my job experience being in tech support, and how was I supposed to get out from that? It turned out that the best way was to make a clean break entirely, at least for now. I had to accept that I had made a critical error in assuming that enjoying tech + helping people = a great career.

I’ll never work as a tier1/2 tech support person again. I’ve done that enough to have wrung out everything I can get from it. And after realizing my fatal flaw in combining what I liked with what I felt I was good at, I’m now asking myself, “What do I enjoy doing and how can I build a career around that?”

More on this soon™.

Who is Matt Black and what does he have to do with the next iPhone?

Matt black looks amazing.

Matt black yes plz

Matt black color option? YESSS!

(Quotes from the discussion of a possible matte black color option for iPhone 13 on MacRumors. Sometimes I am easily annoyed. Or amused. Or both.)

The Great No Soda Experiment

It’s actually more modest than great.

The plan is, starting tomorrow, to not drink any soda for the next week and see what happens. What will I drink instead? Here’s a list:

  • Goat blood
  • Motor oil
  • Liquid soap
  • Molten lava

No, wait, that’s the list of what I won’t be drinking. Here’s the actual list:

  • Water
  • Chocolate milk (after a run)
  • Tea

I am curious to see if anything at all noticeable happens. And if I can resist the siren song of that delicious1For relative values of “delicious” diet soda.

I will report back in one week with the results, possibly presented in chart form or as some kind of multimedia extravaganza.

  • 1
    For relative values of “delicious”

Big enough to be big, small enough to be small

There, I just gave you the secret advice recipe of probably a billion people on the internet, which is:

  • Be [this kind of thing]
  • But also be [the opposite of the above]

So you get things like:

  • Learn to be patient/Never wait too long
  • Take action without deliberation/Think carefully before acting
  • Go for red!/Go for blue!
  • Up is down/Down is up

Thank you and subscribe to my newsletter.

–James, Clear

Why am I listening to The Go-Go’s so much?

I don’t know, but I am, and I’m not sorry!

I recently grabbed their third album, Talk Show, which I never got back on its original release in 1984. Sorry, Go-Go’s, I’m one of those people who helped contribute to the album’s relative unpopularity. I enjoyed the (hit) single “Head Over Heels” but for whatever reason the album as a whole didn’t appeal to me. I think the cover actually was a negative. Not only is it incredibly 80s (which offers a certain amount of kitsch value now), but it demonstrates a serious lack of imagination–unlike the album, which is actually their most sophisticated. Let’s compare covers:

  • Beauty and the Beat: Not only is the title great all on its own, the cover features the band members pseudo-anonymously dressed in towels with beauty cream covering their faces. It’s fun and clever.
  • Vacation: This one looks like a postcard from the 1950s, with retro typefaces and colors, and the band water skiing in formation in puffy pink and white outfits. Once again, it conveys a tremendous sense of fun.
  • Talk Show: This one is simply the five members of the band all photographed straight-on, the photos cropped and lined up to span the cover. There’s a multicolor border. That’s it. Even leaving aside the fabulous 80s hair and fashions, this cover is just boring. It also turned out to be prescient, because it was the first cover to not actually have all the band members posing together, hinting at the split to come after the album was released. Also, I still don’t know what the asterisk after the words “talk show” refer to.

There’s only one more studio album to go, 2001’s God Bless The Go-Go’s, which is allegedly a fine but not outstanding addition to their sun-dappled oeuvre. This means I’ll soon probably put these albums aside for a while. For now, though, I got the beat.

A new chapter in my book begins

Hey hey I guess it hasn’t hit me yet
—Blue Rodeo

The book that is my life, that is.

Yesterday (Friday the 13th–dun dun dun) was the last day of work at the place I’ve been working since November 2012. I chose to leave to start doing my own thing, to be my own boss, set my own schedule, meet my own goals.

It’s a leap into the unknown, and I know I could fall on my face.

But it’s also exciting, and I’m looking forward to taking on challenges I’ve set for myself.

First, though, two weeks of vacation. Woo!

More to come…

A case of the blahs

Hard to explain. Could it be…

  • Uncertainty about the future
  • Global warming (sort of related to the above)
  • General sense of flabbiness
  • Something intangible and unknowable
  • The fact that the Styx album Kilroy Was Here really got made

I’m listening to “Mr. Roboto” right now, and I’m leaning toward the last one. I loved this album when it came out in 1983. I was 19 years old at the time. I present this as my only defense. Well, that and being a sucker for concept albums, apparently even bad ones.