Too Many Interests

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ve really gotta pare down my interests and learn to focus.

For the most part, I’ve been managing to stick to my guns and keep doing the things that need doing: the novel’s getting written, and it’s been a while since I’ve let a weekday go by without posting something here. I’d call that progress.

But oh man, the rest of my time has just been shot to hell by one distracting, tangential pursuit or another.

Photography? I don’t know if it’s fair to call that a distraction anymore. I’m enjoying it, seem to be a little good at it, and I’ve been sticking with it consistently enough to feel like I’m building up my skills. That said, I have no idea what I want photography to turn into.

Is it something I want to do for fun?

Is it something I think I can make money at?

Having gone forty years without even thinking about visual art of any sort, the idea of pursuing one seriously is so alien to me that I can’t wrap my head around it. So, I haven’t really bothered to try. I’m just doing it, and worrying about what it’s going to be later.

Then there’s poetry.

I’ve been meaning to write a proper post about this interest for a while, but it’s probably not happening anytime soon. Suffice it to say, I started digging into poetry a few months ago—its methods, its classics—and enjoyed the experience enough to try my hand at it. And while I can’t say I have much skill at versification, I can say that I like it.

Unfortunately, I’ve neither been reading nor writing poetry with nearly enough consistency to get much of anything out of it. I maybe spend an hour, broken up, every other week on it, which means it’s little more than a depressing distraction.

A distraction, because I’ll have nothing to show for the effort. And depressing because doing any makes me feel like I should be doing more.

Finally, there’s the newest distraction: film making.

Look, Ma! It’s a still from a movie I inexplicably spent half an afternoon making!

Holy hell, where did this come from?

My DSLR camera actually takes decent video, and there are quite a few guides on how to go about doing just that. So, in the spirit of trying to learn the various features of my camera, I decided to shoot a few test videos in my house.

Just to know how, you see? Nothing more.

Two days and five hours of Adobe Premiere later, and I’m looking at a reasonably-creepy, 56-second scene and writing notes about a short film it inspired.

What’s wrong with me?

Whatever it is, it’s getting old. I have things I need and want to do, and while they’re getting done, fighting all the distractions is leaving me exhausted at the end of the day.

And not the good kind of exhausted, like you get after a great workout. It’s the bad kind, like you just spent twenty hours running from a horde of zombies and know you’ll have to do it again the next day.

Whatever.

I’ll just write this on the list of things to speak to my therapist about.

Wherein I Say “Goodbye” to Linux

Last weekend, I officially bid Linux “adieu,” and installed Windows 10 on my laptop. And while this may not seem like a big deal to you, it’s a fairly significant milestone in my life.

Since ’96 or ’97, I have always had at least one computer running some derivative of UNIX. And since about 2002, that’s meant a GNU/Linux distribution. Well, there was that year I owned a Mac Mini, but the less said about that the better.

Twenty years of Emacs, binutils, and a shell that made sense. But also twenty years of hardware woes, incompatible file formats, and moving-target user interfaces.

Well, things change.

My level of patience, for one.

I have a six-month-old Canon printer in the other room which only barely works under Linux.

Half the time, I have to power cycle both the printer and my laptop to get it to work, and Linux has not once condescended to allow any other computer in the house to even see it.

My printer is also rumored to be a scanner, but anyone who has ever gotten a scanner working under Linux should probably be burned as a witch.

And yes, I’m sure there are solutions to these printer/scanner issues, just as I’m sure there are solutions to all of the dozens of problems—both big and small—which have plagued me for years.

But that’s just it: we’re talking years. Twenty of them.

And after twenty years of reading HOW-TOs, digging through mailing list archives, and suffering through “helpful” advice like “switch distros” whenever something’s broken, I just want to plug a printer into my computer and have it work right the first time.

So, over the last few months, I weened myself off of all those things I’ve used Linux for, and last weekend I pulled the trigger.

I’ll miss the good things a nerd-friendly OS gives you. The lack of Emacs alone is something my therapist and I will probably be talking about for some time. I’ll cope, though.

And my printer will work.

Anti-Social Networking

I’m awful at social media.

I’ve lost track of how many accounts I’ve started and abandoned within days. And how many I’ve gone back to with every intention of sticking around, only to watch them be ignored and fall once again into oblivion.

Then again, I’m kind of awful at being social in general.

A few years ago, I saw some web comic (or maybe it was an article, I don’t know) that explained introverts and extroverts more or less like this:

Introverts gain energy from being alone and doing alone-type-things, and spend that energy when they interact with others. Extroverts, on the other hand, spend energy when they’re alone or do things on their own, and actually gain energy by being around other people.

I don’t claim this explanation has any real scientific or psychological validity, but it seems to describe things pretty well from where I’m sitting. For me, interacting with other people takes effort. And sometimes that effort could be fairly compared to scaling Everest without the benefit of supplemental oxygen.

Or sherpas.

It’s not that I dislike people, mind you. Or that I don’t enjoy me a party every now and then, or can’t have fun with friends out at a bar or wherever. I like people, but they’re exhausting. And you know, I always find it weird when I see others criticize this view, or when friends claim that I don’t actually like people, because if I did, hanging out with them wouldn’t be so draining.

You can really like running, but you’d be totally justified in collapsing after a marathon.

Shit, this post has gotten way off topic.

The point here is that I’ve decided to give social media another go, make an honest attempt to interact with people, and not let it all fall apart within a week. I’ve resurrected my Instagram account, and I promise to use Twitter as more than just a place to write “I’m tired” every other day. Then there’s Tumblr, which I guess is like having another blog, only somehow less useful.

I’m also on Facebook, because I’m old and most of my friends are old, but I really only use that to share music I’ve found, repost memes, and make (often terrible) jokes. I also complain about technology, but that shouldn’t surprise you.

So, click one of those links (or use the hard-to-see, unclickably-tiny graphics in the “Social” widget on this page) and follow me on the social network of your choice.

 

If I keep this up long enough to clutter your timeline, it’d be a miracle.

The Week, Winding Down

Alex has been on vacation this week, and the extraordinary weather has let us enjoy almost every minute of it. Taking walks around the neighborhood and downtown, visiting the local library, going out to eat—we’ve had a full schedule, but it’s the sort of schedule that recharges you, rather than leaving you a dead, shriveled up husk on the floor.

Although I am sore.

I think I’ve walked twenty miles this week, and since that’s about eighteen more than I’m used to, my legs and feet are…less than happy with me.

It’s raining today, though, so my feet get a break, and Alex and I get to watch television and play board games. Specifically, we get to watch MST3K: The Return, Lost, and Babylon 5, before playing Scrabble, Battleship, and whatever else floats our goat.

Pretty damned perfect end to the week if you ask me.

P.S. I’ve also been using this week to add to, organize, and edit my growing collection of photos (including the one at right, taken in my back yard). And you know what? I think I might be kind of good at it.

 

The Dark Misery of Tech

Everything sucks, it’s a miracle anything works, and I think we should all take a moment to seriously consider setting our every scrap of technology on fire and heading back up into the trees.

I got up this morning with the best of intentions—get an hour of writing done, maybe spend an hour organizing my growing collection of photos in Lightroom, then get outside to enjoy the weather. I really, really, really just wanted to do the bare minimum amount of work to assuage my guilt, then blow off the rest of the day with my daughter.

But no.

No.

Instead, I had to spend that hour or two dealing with a bunch of computer bullshit, and a tech support person I could barely hear over the phone.

What the hell were we thinking, turning our lives and livelihoods over to these poorly-understood, frequently-dysfunctional, little black boxes?

What was I thinking?