Learning Experience

I’ve spent the past few months telling myself to update my blog, and a couple days the past few weeks actually doing it. I installed a blank theme, and started editing it from scratch, with the goal of “make it look nicer than it used to”.

Well, if you’re reading this on the site, you’ll realize that things look fairly similar to what they used to look like. In fact, you might notice some things that you think look worse, like I do. As I started updating things, I’d pull samples from my old layout because I liked how they worked. Lo and behold, I’m sitting with things almost identical now.

Everything we do in life can have a learning experience attached to it, if we look hard enough. “Don’t open the beer can that dropped on the floor”, “Charge your laptop before you go to a busy coffee shop”, or “Look both ways before you cross the street” are all great pieces of advice, but somewhere along the way, someone learned those lessons the hard way.

I have a tendency to set extremely broad goals. Here’s my to-do list right now:

  • Finish my 2nd EP.
  • Record a side project idea I have.
  • Be a good boyfriend & support my lovely girlfriend as she takes Pt 2 of National Boards so she can be a kick-ass doctor.
  • Cook a bunch of stuff so I have leftovers next week.
  • Read more.
  • Write my novel idea I’ve been sitting on for 2 years.
  • Finish updating my blog.

All of these make sense, and are great end goals. But without the steps in between, they’re not very attainable.

I feel that’s a place where a lot of millennials struggle. Everyone has taught us to set goals throughout our life, and to reach as far as our dreams will go. But very few people teach about the stepping stones. No one climbed Everest without first tackling smaller mountains first1.

We roll before we crawl, crawl before we stand, stand before we walk, and walk before we run. Don’t be discouraged when you can’t get off your back and sprint right away. Things take time to achieve. Set those intermediate milestones for yourself, and watch your spirits soar as they start getting checked off one by one.2

  1. Ok, I’m sure SOMEONE did, but you get the point
  2. So, for example, my EP list idea could look like: sketch out/record more song ideas, get all keys & basses recorded for each song, go and record all drums and guitars for each song, mix/master each song, release EP. And even then, some of those could be chopped down even more.

A “Swift” Beginning

I am firmly of the mindset that everyone, regardless of gender, race, age, or occupation, should learn how to program.

Now, I’m not advocating that you should strive to spend hours upon countless hours stuck in front of a computer screen, hoping to come up with the next Facebook or something. (If you do, and this post was what inspired you, kickbacks will be appreciated.) Rather, I feel people should at least understand what it takes to make a computer program, and how complex yet simple it can be.

We want the future generations to be problem solvers, and I can think of no better way to develop those skills than to learn how to program. These skills can take many forms; you could create simple text-based applications using C (like I did my first semester as a computer science major1), you could develop web sites and implement PHP and Javascript in your work2 (because “real programmers” will yell at you and say that HTML is not programming), or you could pick up Objective-C or Swift and make applications for Macs, iPhones, and iPads.

Programming can easily help you develop people skills3 and figure out how people think. When you make an iPhone app, not only are you working to solve your issue, but you’ll probably be tackling things like graphic design, functional design, human interaction, marketing, and technical support. Anyone can make an app, but it takes understanding of all of those above-mentioned things (and more) to create great apps.

With that being said, I’ve started my journey into the Swift programming language, and I’ve got a pretty decent idea for an application that I’ll be shooting to release. I’m not going to get rich off of it, but I’m hoping that it helps me further develop my skills, and possibly set me up for future success.

  1. My Comp Sci I final application was an atrocity, spanning 97 pages. About 2/3 of it was just copy/pasted nonsense in order to accomplish what I want. My professor was PISSED when he accidentally printed it off 3 times. You can view the code here; the cringe-worthy stuff starts on line 614.
  2. This is my day job now.
  3. This amuses me, because the reason I got out of computer science was thinking “well, I don’t want to be stuck in a cubicle all day the rest of my life”. A programmer who can’t communicate with other people is just a person who can write code.


Being paralyzed sucks.

Certainly, physical paralysis falls into that above statement. I, however, am talking about mental paralysis, something I have far too much experience with.

I seem to experience mental paralysis whenever my plate gets too full. When I have nothing to do, I’m bored. When I have a small group of things I’d like to do, I can pick one or plan ways to get them all done.

But when there’s a large number of things on my plate… I’m helpless. I become paralyzed. Fear of starting down the wrong path. Annoyance that projects X, Y, and Z will require a large amount of invested time to begin, and leave me little flexibility to do anything else. Frustration that I don’t have more time to do it all. The list goes on.

Here’s an incomplete list of things on my “Do Something, Stupid!” list:

  • Work on my blog, both writing and the visual
  • Work on my new EP
  • Work on programming skills (Apple’s new Swift language has jumped to the top of my list)
  • Read
  • Play through the dozen or so video games I own and have never beaten
  • Work out
  • Cook

Reading, cooking, playing video games… I can pick those up at any point and just roll with it. But blogging, recording, or programming… those are things where I get tunnel vision and will spend countless hours working on it. And I’m just afraid to even begin.

Anyone else have this issue? Any good solutions?

A New Beginning

Today is Sunday, June 1st, 2014. Today is the beginning of a new adventure.

As I browsed through Twitter yesterday, I saw David Kadavy post about how he had been blogging for 10 years, and talked about how his life had transformed from then until now. It was a cool experience, and it made me wish I’d kept better track of some of my old blogs.

… on second thought, no. Those were full of angst and hormones. I’m glad those have disappeared into the nether of the internet.

I’m at a transition stage of my life right now. I’m dating a great gal, and things are pretty serious. I just took a new job 2 weeks ago as a programmer/web developer, and I’m loving it. I’m working on a new EP. I’m about to get new roommates. For the first time in a very long time, I am happy with life.

However, there’s still an itch I need to scratch. I’m an artist at heart, and creation is a big thing for me. I got to build a “guitar” tonight a la Jack White. I’ve had an urge to redo my blog. I’m working on my newest The Music Plays You EP. I’d like to get more into web and software development, making apps or just updating my blog.

So, I’m hitting the reset button. As of today, I’m rocking a brand new install of WordPress, a blank theme, and a goal; I want to still be here in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years. I want to look back on this site and have a log of everything that I’ve done, everywhere that I’ve been, and to see how I’ve accomplished all my goals along the way.

Care to join me?

Left Foot, Right Foot

When I was in 5th grade, we started doing the Presidential Physical Fitness test in gym class. Pushups, sit-ups, the reach-past-your-toes thing, the rope climb, and running. I was tubby with no upper body or core strength. I did like 15 pushups, maybe 10 sit-ups. No way I climbed the rope. I think I did ok on the flexibility thing. But when it came to running… hoo boy. I remember it took me 16:30+ to run a mile. I was 2nd to last in my class, about a minute in front of a dude with awful asthma. I was unbelievably embarrassed, and I’m pretty sure I went home, told my mom, and cried.

Fast forward to 9th grade. I’d been running around my block pretty frequently, playing more sports, growing, and so on. I knocked out 40 pushups easy. I did 106 sit-ups, which got my name up on the board. I did great on the stretch thing. I climbed the rope (!!!!!!!). And as for the run… well, they had switched to a 12-minute run by then, seeing how far you could get in that amount of time. I did 1.5 miles in 11 minutes, and called it quits. I was super stoked with myself.

But that was 9th grade. I’m now 27, and haven’t been able to run in forever. Pain and discomfort in my ankles, knees, and/or hips, plus a general shortness of breath, made me disheartened and prone to giving up. I tried on Tuesday and could barely go a half mile before my leg started to kill.

Come to find out, it was my shoes. A new pair of light stability shoes later, and I just knocked out 2 miles in 23:30 (running and walking). Not exactly world class, but I can’t even describe how good it feels to be able to run that distance without pain anywhere in my body.

Becca and I decided that we’re going to run a 5k together at the end of June. That gives me about 13.5 more weeks to get into shape. I just did day 2 of the 9-week Couch to 5K program, and so by my math, I’ll have roughly a month to improve my pace a bit before giving it a shot.

It just feels great to finally hit my stride with something (pun totally intended). Between eating healthy and exercising, I feel great, and can’t wait to see all the changes. I’ve got 30 pounds I want to knock off, and I’ve taken the steps to make that happen.

A Life Update

For ages, I’ve been thinking about blogging again. I’m notoriously bad about it… I’ll go for a week or two blogging with regularity, and then I’ll go completely silent for weeks. Believe me, this isn’t intentional; it just kinda happens. I get wrapped up in different projects, the sport of the season, a new video game, or other aspects of life, and just don’t carve out enough time to actually write up a blog.

So… what’s new in 6 months? Quite a bit, actually.

New roommate, since the old one graduated and moved away. This guy is here working an internship through the summer. Not really sure where I’ll end up once this lease ends… staying in CF? Moving away? Who knows.

Still playing at church, but taking time away from playing guitar, since we have an influx of electric players right now. Playing bass and drums (DRUMS!!!) now. Played drums at the beginning of March for the first time in 8 years, when I tore a tendon in my wrist and had to leave the music ed program. Great feeling.

My newest EP is… still not started. It’s named, the tracks are named, but the recording process just hasn’t gotten off the ground yet. Need to do that.

I started a food blog. Yesterday, in fact. I cook all the time, love cooking, and am flabbergasted by all the people that say “but cooking is haaaaaard”. No, it really isn’t. Cooking is fun. Just like anything in life, you start by following the directions to the letter, but eventually you start branching out and adding this or that, and suddenly your recipes are all your own. My blog will have recipes, as well as tips & tricks I’ve learned over the nearly 2 years I’ve been living on my own. If you’re curious, you can follow it over at http://thefoodweb.tumblr.com.

I feel like I’m missing something important…

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Oh yeah! I’m dating this nice lady named Becca, and she’s super pretty. I met her this fall through a friend, and we started dating in January. If you follow my Instagram or Twitter feeds, no doubt you’ve seen pictures or references to her popping up everywhere (sorry, not sorry). She’s a chiropractic student down in the Quad Cities. She has a pretty swell taste in music. Her cat is the coolest cat I’ve ever met. She laughs at my jokes. She pushes me to be a better person, in many aspects. She’s pretty cool, and I think I’m gonna keep her around for a while. (Sorry, ladies.)

I promise I’m going to try and be better about my blogging. I know there’s a lot of people out there that enjoy it quite a bit. I used to try to keep a hard separation between my tech, my music, and my personal life, but I think that’s all going to change. This is my blog, right? I can do what I want. So, you might see posts about this or that cool thing that happened, or about this new game I’m playing, or about music, or sports, or whatever. But hey, that’s better than nothing, right?

The Best Gift

I know the best gift that you can give to anyone.

It’s not something physical. You can’t touch this gift. No one else will ever see it, so you can’t give it and expect the recipient to show it off.

No, the best gift you can give to someone, anyone, is the gift of listening. Not just hearing, but listening. Understanding. Comprehending. Showing them that you pay attention and care.

Sometimes this can manifest as a physical gift. “I really like this watch” is a subtle hint. “Man, I could use a break” is an excuse to take your friends to a movie or out for a drink. “____ is my favorite color!” …. Yeah, you get the idea.

But more often than not, showing the person that you genuinely care what they say is a gift beyond measure.

So shhh. Just for a minute.

And listen.

The Small Things

Calling that friend you haven’t chatted with in a while, just to check in.

Texting someone, instead of waiting/expecting them to text you.

Visiting your parents unexpectedly.

Cleaning/picking up for your significant other.

Helping out someone on a big project they have due.

Driving to jump someone’s car in the dead of winter.

Everyone always puts the big things on their list… “Remember our anniversary.” “Get that birthday present.” “Don’t forget your lunch meeting.” etc. But it’s the little gestures that you make for someone that will mean the most. Always. Every time.

My best friends are my best friends because of the little things that they did for me. It’s not necessarily how much we have in common or the big extravagant things we did, but rather the times we could vent to one another, go grab food, or other little things that solidified our friendship.

Take care of the small things. Everything else will fall into place.

Set Your Expectations

For those of you that don’t follow me on any form of social media, yesterday was 6 months since my mother lost her battle with cancer. I’ve spent that time being the strong one for my dad, moving home (and then into another place in town), changing jobs, and a bunch of other stuff.

I decided earlier in the week that I was going to bypass the VEDA (Vlog Every Day in August) topic for yesterday (which was “show us your baby pictures”), and instead do a tribute to my mother. It seemed like the right thing to do. But as the day grew closer and closer, I realized that I was anxious, nervous, and kinda scared about sitting down and recording.

By Thursday, I had convinced myself “yep, Sunday is going to suck”. I started warning people about my impending grumpiness. I didn’t make any plans, specifically so I could just sit at home and mope my myself.

Saturday night, a friend of mine gave me a push. She doesn’t know me all that well, but I know she could sense my hesitation about recording it. There was no demanding or coercing, but more of a “hey, go do this now while you think you can”.

And I did. And it turned out pretty well. And it lifted a huge weight off of my shoulders. Sunday actually turned out to be a pretty good day, full of far more smiles than I expected.

I took one very important thing away from this… I need to stop setting low expectations for things. “I’m going to be grumpy and sad today, because of reasons.”, “Today is going to be so boring at work.” and so on. I need to reach higher and make this a life worth living.

p.s. Thank you to everyone for the kind words on the video yesterday, and for all the support over the past few months. And sorry if I’ve been a grump. Mom never would’ve wanted that out of me or my dad. So I’m doing my best to fix it.

5 Months

We have 5 months until the end of the calendar year. How the heck did this happen?

To say that this year has gone by in a blur would be a huge understatement. With my mom getting cancer/passing away, I’m not sure where the first quarter of this year went. Then apparently I’ve been at my new job for 4 months now. No clue where that time went either. Actually, it’s hard to grasp where all my time has gone since I graduated last May. Yeesh.

Anyway, I have a HUGE list of things that I still want to accomplish between now and the end of the year. In no particular order, other than what comes to mind first…

  • Successfully complete VEDA
  • Accomplish my goal of reading 25 books this year. If I keep trying to read all the Game of Thrones books, it may not happen… but they’re SO GOOD!
  • Record my 2nd EP. Song ideas are there. New gear will be in place Monday. I have no excuse.
  • Don’t screw up my very custom fantasy football league I’m the commissioner of. Once the draft is over, I think I’ll be ok. (D&D for sports nerds)
  • Get back in the f***** gym. Get on the bike or the treadmill or grab some weights. Someone yell at me.

There’s some other minor things, but those 5 top it. I just feel like I don’t have enough hours in the day. Womp womp… first world problems, right?