Sketching

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It’s nice to rediscover pens and pencils lately, although I’m not sure I’ll stick with these newfangled ‘brush pens’ for long. Too much pen, not enough brush IMO. Beautiful morning of sun, coffee, Jimi Hendrix and a clear page in the big Moleskine.

Chill

The holiday break has been wonderful here, albeit a bit colder in weather than I would have hoped (which is mostly unnecessary whining, as we still wore shorts to the beach on Christmas Eve).

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(Yeah, I’m wearing thermals in the pic above, but swear I was actually wearing shorts over them.)

Mostly it’s been a quite chill-as-in-relaxing holiday week for me more than the get-a-sweater variety, and I’ve spent the entirety of it with my wife and son. Doing randomly stupid but oh-so-therapeutically-beneficial tasks like shooting stomp rockets at the beach, kinda like this:

But that’s not all…

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Holidays

My 2012 Holiday to-do list.  Not ambitious at all.

For the body– I already agreed to up the exercise quota back to late-summer levels.  The last few months I’ve seen my exercise regimen  slipping wildly due to the loss of Daylight Savings time, colder weather and wetter beaches, and many, many more excuses just like that.  So I’m going on a run a day.  Doesn’t have to be a big one, just a good one – that’s all.

For the soul– I need to finally quit my sneaky, occasional cigarettes.  I like to insist that I’m “not a smoker” simply because it’s not a daily, recurring habit for me.  But enough’s enough, so it’s time to throw out the hidden pack of Spirits and return the lighter to our candle drawer where it belongs.  Just the peace of mind (and clarity of vocal passages/reduced risk of cancer) this would bring me – priceless.  I’ve been fighting this one for years, though. Wish me well.

For the mind– I need to be able to kickstart my creative process more spontaneously, and finish equally as quickly. Writers’ block is a bitch, and I’m tired of submitting to it.  So I’ve decided to host a few small, private sci-fi RPG sessions this holiday week, as building a good campaign will both expose my son to math and storytelling in an approachable way, and force myself to learn how to create on the fly again in the process.  Win/win.  Being a game master forces you to tell an interesting story on the fly and is a great way to get comfortable being spontaneous with your muses.  1d20 vs intelligence?  Critical success!

For the spirit– we’re going to our friends’ Xmas dinner instead of cooking this year.  It’s a simple statement to make, but such a relief in practice.  I’ve (nearly) always planned and cooked Christmas dinner when we hosted the day in our Oakland house.  However, as we’ll be self-contained this year, it’s time to stop acting like a stressed-out host and relax for a change.  I’m also going to spend as much time as possible off this computer and on with my family, as frankly – family is what the holidays should be about.

All my best for a wonderful 2012 holiday season, and a fantastic 2013.

Proud

In retrospect, I’m honestly not sure how 2012 turned out so well, given how it started.

Last December I was suffering a job that demanded more and more of me in my time, ethical compromises, sanity and grey hairs, yet returned less and less as time wore on (salary and benefits notwithstanding).  My wife was increasingly depressed, struggling to keep a therapy business afloat in an area (Oakland) that was already ravaged by the macroeconomic landscape before Occupy Oakland and the Oscar Grant riots tore it even further apart.  My son was happy but at great financial and emotional cost – a very expensive school that would only support him for another year before we had to choose between bad, worse or unacceptable options locally, or ship him off to somewhere with an affordable option for the attention that his wicket-smart brain already demands.  (With a lot less of Oakland’s well-documented senseless crime to either tempt or threaten it.)  Looking back now, I can easily see how I rarely felt proud as a father, or even as a person in that environment.

So believe me, to say I’m really proud of 2012 is something I hadn’t seen myself doing, not by a long shot. And there’s a lot of reasons why.

Continue reading Proud

Consolidation

If you’ve arrived here looking for my old website ‘thebigdark.com‘, I’ve moved here as of August 2012.   Although there was a ton of old blog posts at my old site, I decided to start afresh a month or two ago, so apologies if you were looking for something specific – drop a comment here and let me know.

Trimmer

I love numbers and graphs. They help you visualize progress and data over time, and although I’ve gotten really good at data acquisition and analysis in regards to web sites and applications, not a bit of it was helping me in my quest to get – and stay – more fit until recently. That said, I think I’ve finally cracked the nut on this whole tech/fitness thing, at least for my own personal needs. In my earlier post ‘Trim‘, I talked about my earlier forays and stumblings at tech-enabling fitness efforts – but have now settled down to a much better, more robust solution now that covers all my primary goals.  I’ll lay out what I wanted, what I had, and what I ended up with after kissing a lot of frogs.

What I wanted(!)

  • GPS/Map tracking of runs/bike rides
  • Track/monitor heart rate
  • Track general daily activity
  • Track sleep effectivity
  • Track of calories burned
  • Track body measurements
  • Track workout and total distances/efforts
  • Set goals across workouts/general fitness
  • Share results & workouts with friends
  • Connect with friends on Nike+
  • Connect with friends on Fitbit
  • Connect with friends on Runkeeper
Um, yeah. Pretty tall order for any one system to provide all that, which is why I had so much trouble early on. Using different apps/systems just wasn’t easy or working out- I generally gave up on the setup/prep if it was too convoluted. So I wanted to find one way to track my run/workout that fit in with whatever I was using to track, dashboard and monitor my biometrics and ideally share/collaborate/compete with my friends online too.
What to do?

Continue reading Trimmer

Cans

Yeah, all the cool kids call them ‘beats’ now, but I never got down with the shoe/kicks vibe either. To me, headphones will always be cans (thanks for that, studio life), and an integral part of my life both personally and professionally. Obviously a clear, uncolored set of cans/headphones are great for studio work so you can translate your mixes/etc to the real world more effectively, but I’ll admit for recreational listening I tend to go for a little more ‘oomph’ in the low end. Having tried a TON of headphones (and headsets) over the years, I’m slowly settling down to three pairs (plus one ‘wildcard’). Here they are, why I still use them all regularly, and their pros/cons from my perspective.

Beats by Dr Dre - Wireless

Beats Wireless – General Listening
Somewhere between the Pro & Studio and the Solo models, the Beats Wireless cans have a great balance of fidelity with some fat low end for a rich listening experience. Although the Studio model is much more accurate, there’s just something about the sound of these that I’ve come to love, they tend to warm up the bass guitar range (my personal focus area of the spectrum) and have a pleasing high end, not too brittle or crisp. But the convenience is the best part, they’re so comfortable and easy to use without the connecting cable that I often forget I’m wearing them, or need to stay within range of my phone/tablet/laptop.

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