Category: General

December 22, 2017

604 Days Later

Write something.

There’s been no lack of time, opportunity, or content. And yet this is feeling like an immense struggle. I’m having to really pull the words out from myself.

My dad used to read this, it was the way he followed along with what was going on in my life. Learning that he was still following along was first concerning, then comforting.

Dad died on June 22nd, and I suspect that brought the readership numbers back down to zero.

Is it strange to have the wind taken out of your sails thus? That the writing might seem less valuable for lack of an audience? Who am I writing for, here?

I never really thought about an answer to that question.

It’s always been that I just write, and then I’ve written and then it’s over.

You know what, that’s not true. Diana reads this when I update it. In fact, the times that the blog has gone the longest without updates coincides with the absolute lack of people that might give a shit to read it. So that’s interesting. The content doesn’t really change with the readership, but the lack of readership makes this feel like a waste of time.

This is getting a bit easier.

I launched three websites today, and I’ll probably talk about that some other time. But the net result as it relates to this place as a writing space is that I can use it to work through problems and generally heal. The fragrance-related stuff is going to another blog. The sysadmin stuff is going to another blog. The DDR stuff is going to another blog. The diary stuff is…here. And it’s perhaps the sensible way to go about it.

Or it’ll be a huge mistake when some future employer (or, hell, my … (More) “604 Days Later”

May 20, 2016

Mark’s Feed Bag, to be precise.

I gave a little mention to GTD on the NBA subreddit yesterday, noting how it would’ve made a big difference in college had I not been double-majoring in whiskey and pulled pork, and encouraged people to ask me questions about it. I got one this morning and I gave an answer in lieu of a blog post. Here it is.

Hey, if you have any spare time I’d love to talk to you about the book especially how you would do things differently back when you were studying. I haven’t read the book so I’m wondering if it will suit me.

Hey, sure. I’m on the train into work right now so I can give it a little thought. Like I mentioned, I was too concerned with keeping up appearances. GTD would’ve been a very useful tool, if I wasn’t too stubborn to take the advice. Good chance that I might’ve been. But I was doing a lot of stuff, going Greek, student council, freshman leadership council, intramural soccer, and then the actual studying for an engineering degree. My organizational system was pretty much nonexistent, if I happened to get a scrap of paper telling me when something was happening or due I kept it in my laptop bag, otherwise I tried to keep it in my head.

What that turned into was the laptop bag became a cluttered mess, and when I finished my classes for the day, I would know vaguely that there’s a lot going on, but I couldn’t think of anything specific that was due the next day, so I’d go to the fraternity house and shoot pool.

I give freshman me a lot of shit, honestly. But just having the capturing habit, to keep track of everything I have to do, would’ve given that year … (More) “Mark’s Feed Bag, to be precise.”

April 29, 2016

1, 2, 3, Cancun

Happy Read-Only Friday. It hasn’t been a tremendously successful week. Best I can do at this point is try to close it out strong. I’m jumping between writing this and sending out some emails, delegating some things that have sat for a while.

I’m sincerely hoping skipping coffee was strictly necessary. It’s a big difference.

I’ve been torture-testing myself in Rocket League, playing a lot of 3v1 and 4v1. I win all the games at 2v1, about half the games at 3v1, and none of the games at 4v1. It’s a pretty good test, really. Playing those unfair modes means you have to really play perfect, keeping the ball in front of you at all times. If you don’t, you won’t be in position to do anything about the counterattack. It also makes for good keeper training, just staying in goal and letting 4 players fire at you. If you don’t mind losing 15-0, you can get a lot out of your five minutes.

The Boston Celtics were knocked out last night in a rather lackluster display. I’m not sure whether that was more on the Hawks playing exceptionally well or the Celtics just not making their shots. The Hawks did rack up a shitload of blocks. Dennis Schroder is better than I gave him credit for, he made four or five really nice plays around the basket. Tonight there are three Game 6 games happening. The Blazers and the Hornets both have a chance to win their series at home. Honestly, it’s going to mean a hell of a lot more to the Blazers if they advance than the Clippers. So much of the media wrote the Blazers off at the start of the year. That wasn’t an outlandish thing to do, either. They lost 4 of their 5 … (More) “1, 2, 3, Cancun”

April 13, 2016


As I’ve grown up, I’ve begun to really appreciate the benefits of proper sleep. More topically, the drawbacks to not getting enough sleep. My legs are still feeling heavy from yesterday. Should’ve gotten to bed probably an hour earlier, but it’s a hard sell when I only get a couple hours between getting home and going to bed, and I already have to fit food and a shower in there.

Today I’m stepping back on Nutanix and letting my systems guy work with Dell to get us going. Wednesday is my one day a week with no obligations, no meetings, no plans. So it’s good for those larger projects, like drafting a plan for the new file server infrastructure to present at the manager meeting. This is one of the things that got me the job in the first place, the ability to plan and use resources effectively. It’s funny how my direct reports keep trying to reassure me that I don’t have anything to worry about with regards to the probationary period, they’re really trying to help relax me. I finally had to explain it as, “As long as there’s some objective amount of uncertainty that I may or may not keep this job, I’m going to worry about it.” It’s not a terribly productive expenditure of energy…or is it? I’m working pretty dang hard because there’s that uncertainty, that obligation to prove my value through actions.

We’re in an interesting line of work. There’s a lot of room for automation, and you can really work harder now in exchange for not working so hard in the future. I’d much prefer to spend some time busting my ass building some automated systems, so down the road I’m just monitoring hardware and working with some orchestration tools for whatever piece … (More) “88/240”

June 18, 2012

Letter to David Lowery

David Lowery wrote a tremendously compelling piece on his blog responding to a self-professed music lover with 11,000 songs, of which only about 15 albums are legally owned.


My mind is all over the place as I write this. I’m troubled as this is the second time this week I’ve read about Spotify’s per-stream rates being dismal, David McCandless put things into perspective with a great infographic, and your own blog puts them at $0.005 per play which is actually about the highest I’ve seen. Spotify, for me, has been the service that I wish I had years ago. I use it primarily as a music exploration tool, and if I find that I’m listening to one album a lot, I buy a digital copy, either through iTunes or Amazon MP3, or occasionally buy physical CDs for their liner notes or if they include something neat like a poster. Spotify has connected me to artists I’d have never found otherwise, and it has saved me from making purchases I would’ve regretted.

The issue, that would seemingly sweep the rug out from under your argument if it were not so, is that Spotify pays the artists a pittance. To this, I ask: How are the obviously failed negotiations between Spotify and the labels my fault? The issue really goes much deeper, when you realize that the big four record labels own a combined 17% of Spotify, and the two founders own 52%, so nearly 70% of Spotify’s decision-making process comes from people that are profiting very, very handsomely from the status quo. These labels simply were not acting in good faith, were not representing the best interests of the artists, and should be the real target of the outrage, here. Spotify is a business whose prime directive is … (More) “Letter to David Lowery”

November 30, 2011

Am I a writer? Or just restless?

There’s a certain self-righteous quality to calling yourself a writer when you have no published/paid work to your name. At that point you are closer to the truth if you refer to yourself as a “typist.” I have some friends, though, that exhibit that trait that I think is the telltale sign of a “real” writer, and that’s the urge to write almost constantly.

I have these urges, but I am usually sated by a one-liner or statement that’s been on my mind. I have several friends that are finishing up on their NaNoWriMo projects today. A novel! Jeez. I don’t think I can keep a train of thought from derailing for that kind of length. An overactive imagination needs an outlet, though, and I have many. Lately it’s been Skyrim, but other common pastimes have been making perfumes, designing houses in The Sims 3, writing, trying to come close to the talent level of my 18-year old self at FL Studio, making stepcharts in StepMania, designing board, card, or role-playing games…I can keep busy. There’s something deeply satisfying about writing, especially on a platform like this where I can toss these words into empty space and whatever happens, happens.

Every creative outlet of mine has a muse, and for writing it is two entities. The first, my long-time muse, has been Jerry Holkins (Tycho Brahe) at Penny Arcade. He puts out the most amazingly smooth, polished work three times a week and his tone just makes me happy, his sense for when to drop the flowery language and rage-curse for a while is incredible. The second, a somewhat more recent find, are several of the writers at Cracked. What’s more, they blatantly encourage writing at all skill levels. Somehow, a website that routinely publishes lists like “The 7 Most … (More) “Am I a writer? Or just restless?”

August 1, 2011

Music Club?

I’m thinking about starting a Spotify-centric music club. They’re a lot of fun, they get you to listen to stuff you wouldn’t normally listen to, you get to share your favorite artists with others, and you get to do some critical writing. I’m in favor of all these things.

The format would be something like so: Each round, there is a theme, as vague as “Favorite Album” or something like “Guilty Pleasures”, “Favorite Release of the last 12 Months” or “8 Favorite Covers”. Each week, we listen to one member’s selection and review it. The order is determined at random for the first round and then the order is reversed every round after. So a big club can take a while, but there’s no real rush and a week gives everyone time to listen and write, and if everyone’s done early you can start the next persons entry. There’s a standardized grading scale to use, as well.

I’m probably gonna start this idea whenever I use up all my Spotify invites. If you know you’re interested now, let me know and I’m gonna start a Facebook group.… (More) “Music Club?”

January 5, 2011

On The Love And Loss Of Friends

The holiday season is a trying time for most of us, for a whole variety of reasons. This year, many former coworkers of mine and friends had to deal with the suicide of Jon Vance, a guy that was as intelligent as he was sociable, and one who I never would have thought was capable of such a thing. That was back on November 23rd of 2010, and I’ve found myself thinking about him every day since. I think part of it is because I haven’t had the closure of a funeral, or even seeing a grave, I experienced all the tragedy with none of the healing that comes with moving on.

Even hearing that guilt is a normal mechanism for suicide survivors, it makes the burden no less onerous. The argument with myself is that I should’ve spoken to him more, let him know he had friends and we really do care and want to see him do well, and not hurt. The placating counterargument is that I’m all the way out here, and he’s so far away, how much would it have meant? How much good would it have done? It’s the pain of never having an answer to that, no matter what and no matter how much you want one. Justifiably or not, I think a lot of us share a sense of guilt.

I have had closer deaths to me, my mother nearly six years ago and my grandfather around the age of 9. But I’ve never had to deal with someone I know taking their own life. Why does it feel so different? I did have plenty of time to prepare for losing Mom, after two near-death scares and seeing her the night before she died, I knew exactly what the call was at 4:45 … (More) “On The Love And Loss Of Friends”

December 15, 2010

PHP Lessons to my 16-year old self.

Over the past five days I’ve turned a sketch for a Basenotes March Madness site into a real, working application, and did it with efficiency, normalization and security in mind. Web design was something I started messing with when I was about 10 or 11 years old, with a little 64-page book that actually gave a good understanding of the basics. Though I don’t need to consult that book I still keep it around, maybe I’ll find some young nerd to pass it along to although quite a bit of it is deprecated code now. It wasn’t until 18 and in college that I learned C and subsequently PHP, and really got a feel for the database design that had always intrigued me. I’ve had several projects of varying scales, and picked up a significant bag of tricks. If I could go back and get my 16 year old self to do all the stuff he wanted to do, I’d have these words of wisdom for him.

  • Go pick up a copy of The C Programming Language. Forget about Perl, C will get you where you want to be.
  • MySQL is much, much easier to get started with than Oracle, and forget about ColdFusion, it’ll be dead soon.
  • JavaScript is sometimes a necessary evil. It can do things that are either way too cumbersome or flat-out impossible any other way. But don’t worry, JavaScript is becoming respectable.
  • Keep all your code from old projects. You’ll be amazed how much wheel reinvention you’ll save yourself when the time comes to implement a login system again.
  • All those ideas you’ve had in your head? You need to use $_POST[] and $_GET[] to make them work. That’s how you send data from page to page. GET is only useful if you only care
(More) “PHP Lessons to my 16-year old self.”
December 9, 2010

Polished Turds and Reinvented Wheels

I did a pretty major reskin of the blog, in anticipation of some upcoming projects. I liked the previous theme, don’t get me wrong, but it was difficult to work with and had some nasty bugs of it’s own. This one is simple and quite a pleasure to use so far.

One thing I’ve come to accept is for the past 7 years I’ve been blogging, it’s been largely an emotional outlet. I have Twitter that serves admirably in that regard, and it’s taken away from the amount of other writing I do. I’m hoping I can keep motivated through 2011 and stick to the weekly schedule of Music Mondays, Wildcard Wednesdays (photography, gaming, rambling), and Fragrant Fridays. The latter will be crossposted on Il Mondo di Odore, a blog run by several high-profile Basenoters and some good friends. I’ve never been a contributor to a blog that wasn’t my own, so I’m quite excited about that.

The site is more secure than ever, I’m seeing the occasional 500 error I can’t pin down, but a refresh always seems to clear it up. I have four days to finish my final group project for Professional Writing and then I suspect I’ll start trying to get a feel for the self-set schedule and how much work and design I want to do. Stay tuned.… (More) “Polished Turds and Reinvented Wheels”