§It’s Like a Parking Lot in My Head

I have a lot of ideas, and a lot of good intentions to write them down and do something with them. The problem is that a lot of the time I can’t get them down in time or fast enough, and I end up with a bunch of noise in my head.

Yes, I use (or have used) these:

When I’m able to write down more I feel like my head is definitely clearer. The problem is capturing it and trying to keep it in roughly the same place so I remember to look at it again later. The irony is that writing more means that I’ll have more ideas to try and get some piece of before they disappear into the ether of my unconscious mind.

Another aspect to all of this is reading into the bits of my mental state over the past several years. I created my current spark file in October 2012, but it has some stuff from back in 2004 from another file I used to write down ideas. What happened in-between? I don’t know, unless I can find some notebook or stack of index cards to fill in the gaps. Five+ years of ideas ends up with a lot of snippets to go through.

Having all these basic ingredients isn’t enough though. Something needs to be done with them, preferably in a coherent way that other humans can understand - not in all cases, sometimes it’s really just for me to enjoy. As good as it feels to write them down, it’s better to read them later and have that “oh yeah!” moment. Even better is to connect some of the ideas together into a whole new idea. That can’t really happen without reviewing the ideas altogether.

What do you do to capture those ideas? How do you use them later?

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Write That Down

§Pen, Pencil, Crayon, Phone, Whatever

Early in my life, I didn’t like writing. At all. I don’t know if it was motivation, or subject matter, or the people around me (teachers, family, friends, etc.), or maybe just me. If there was an assignment where I had to write more than a few sentences, I would procrastinate until the last second, and sometimes even after that.

In third grade, I remember having to write a paper on Mars. I went through all of the National Geographic issues that we had in the house after exhausting the small amount of information I had gotten from one encyclopedia at the school library. It was the night before it was due and I was up later than I should’ve been at that age, frantically scrambling (as much as I could at age 8) to make sure the paper was done enough. I woke up the next morning to find out that we had a snow day, and my mom asked at one point if I was going to work on that paper any more than I already had. Nope, it was done, I didn’t want anything else to do with it. No idea why that stands out, except for cementing the idea that I didn’t like to write.

Fast forward to high school. I wrote an essay for Mrs. Wright on how grades weren’t an indicator of anything useful other than objective work. It wasn’t how smart someone was, just that they worked hard enough to complete the assignment, and I think something about having no lasting effect. Ironically I got an ‘A’ on it, not that it mattered (right?).

After taking the first semester off after high school, one college class came along in early 1996. After all the dislike of English classes, I thought I would get Freshman English out of the way so I wouldn’t have to deal with it when I went full time. Gail Rondeau was the teacher, and she was great. She got me into writing and made sure to keep the class interested by changing topics from class to class and having us work on one longer-form piece while we wrote other assignments which would give us a portfolio at the end of the course. My final piece was how violent video games do not cause people to be violent, and in a lot of cases prevent physical violence by giving people an outlet. I remember a lot of revision and explanations through discussion, even though I don’t remember what the final result was… although I didn’t pass the class by way of not completing enough to pass. Oops.

Jump to full time classes at UNH Durham, and I had to take Freshman English. Again. This time it was with Rebecca Dawson - someone who also inspired the class and gave guidance to get us to where we were writing a few pages every week. I’ll always remember that she wanted us to write even when we didn’t think there was anything to say. It was like a faucet that hasn’t been used in a while. When you first turn it on the water that comes out might be dirty and grimy, but eventually the clear and good stuff will follow and that’s where we want to be.

I think I wrote more during that semester than I had in my entire life until that point. My final paper was on body modification, especially piercings, and I had my own anecdote to add to the story (maybe I’ll share that some other time). I ended up with an A for that class, one of only a couple that semester (it’s what I get for enrolling as a Mechanical Engineer who didn’t like taking Physics).

Those two semesters of Freshman English turned it around for me. Looking back, it also makes me wish I’d had some better influences for writing, even if that meant drawing from something within myself.

Today, I enjoy writing both personally as well as for my work in ISIT. Work-wise, I don’t mind writing technical documentation, sending messages that go out to a wide audience, and proofreading other people’s work (when they ask). Outside of work, I write a lot of ideas down, and finally started on a few stories that have been slowly building to a point where they need to be shared. I’m even working on something with one of my kids where we’re bouncing a lot of ideas off of each other. Luckily I have kids who love reading which helps too.

The more I think about it, this isn’t a matter of liking or disliking something. It was finding something in myself to ignore the outside influences and do what I wanted, even if it’s only for my own satisfaction.

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§…or, Why Didn’t I Start This When I Wasn’t Doing So Much Already?

(the original title reads better anyway)

It’s been a weird and rough few weeks - at work, I’ve gone from a team of two to a team of one. On top of my current role as Supervisor, I’m also doing the day-to-day work of the person who was working under me[1]. Oh, and backfilling the position, meaning that I’m reviewing resumes and interviewing people. Put all that together and my work day isn’t as inviting as it used to be, which could be why I want to speed up the hiring process. Yes, I know that it’s better to take my time and get the right person and not have to go through this again in three (or six or 12) months.

At home it’s also busy. We’ve been taking the past several months to reduce the stuff all around the house. Anything that didn’t make the cut was moved down into the garage… and once the garage was pretty full we had a big yard sale, and donated a bunch of other stuff. It felt good to get rid of a lot, just time-consuming to get to that point. Since all the stuff is out of the way maybe I can start getting the lingering projects finished and start on the other stuff that needs attention. blech.

I was really hoping I would have more time so I could write for here as well as on some personal projects. It feels like I need at least four more hours a day to get that done (factoring in time to actually get the stuff I need to get done finished). The summer feels like it’s slipping away and there’s still so much to try and cram in before winter hits.

Could I just win the lottery and have someone else do some (ok most) of the less fun junk for me?

§To Do

  • Theme
  • Layout tweaks
  • More plugins
  • Write, write, write
  • Build out project git repos

  1. Good friend, went to another place for good reasons

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Over the years I’ve wondered how long it takes to build a following, almost entirely related to the Internet. Early on, it was just getting anyone to read what I wrote, then getting any kind of comment or reply. One of the better experiences I had was on xanga, even if I got there through a bizarre marketing ploy[1]. This was back in 2001, before social media was really a thing. Looking back, I don’t know why I actually checked it out, but still…

I had people who I talked to regularly, and even got to know some of the more popular people on there beyond just being a subscriber. The appeal is getting that hit when someone likes something you wrote, and then to get a comment? Whoa, that was great. If the person asked a question or otherwise invited discussion, I’d ride that high.

Yes, it wasn’t necessarily “real” but I was able to talk to and find more people like me than anything physically local. Even some of the people who weren’t like me were part of great discussions, both on and off that site. It’s one of the reasons that starting in a community-driven site can get you a stronger starting point than having a site just out on the Internet. Today it would just be joining a social network and work from there, linking to your full site if you do the longer-form thing.

  1. Fake message from a “person” who said that I should check out xanga to start a blog.

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Family man, big geek, awesome beard.

Application Support, ISIT