This URL is Haunted

Well… not this one. This one.

This is a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster I culled together from old projects.

Current bits: Node.js, Grunt, Bower, jQuery, Handlebars, Sass, Compass, and Instagram’s API. Code is open source on Github here.

Hoping to port it, cleanly, either to Angular or React soon. (Though it’s fairly simple so there won’t be much flexing of either framework, rather, it’d just be more practice for me than anything.)

Technology and Community

At the forefront of getting older in a major metropolitan area is the continued emphasis that should be put on community. People treat each other differently when there’s connection, understanding, empathy. Often this connection is strongest when you’re a few feet away from someone—the bandwidth with which you can experience those emotions is extremely high. But when that opportunity is not available, meaningful connection is not a lost cause. There are ways to link people to other people, and then there are ways to study, organize, and improve that connection with a now-familiar method: technology.

I’ve worked on products that have reached millions—even tens of millions—of people. [Quick ego check: I still find this mind-boggling and am humbled at what can occur through sustained team-effort.] Getting feedback was sometimes solicited at the company-level, for business reasons; sometimes at the journalistic level, for publicity, review & quality reasons; and other times it was incidental: people knew—and sometimes knew intimately—the product in question, and would not hesitate to give their opinion, feedback, and critiques. Luckily for me, it was often good, and an intriguing joy to listen to.

Having strangers, acquaintances, or friends know about—or be users of—something you created isn’t community per se. But the conversation that arises can be considered fringe aspects of community. For instance, with video games, like a lot of other hobbies/diversions, there is common language (argot, even), shared experience, organized gathering, criticism, critique, and influence taken and given to other forms of media. I choose that example because I used to work in that industry, albeit from one (very large) corner; my experience was thus limited by time and insulated by other factors, namely, working for only one company on one franchise. I also choose that topic because of the strife and crisis that it as an industry, a medium, an art-form is facing.

Not long ago I was introduced to a new type of community concept that has been around for centuries if not millennia: that of yoga kula. “Kula” is a Sanskrit word meaning “community” and I was exposed to it, in theory and in practice, when I completed a certified 200 hour yoga teacher training last October. That committed study has impacted my life in a profoundly positive way. But the relationships built and explored with my other classmates and the instructors were not confined to our daily study within the venue of study—we are in touch and connected, even when we haven’t spoken in many weeks or months. There will always be more ideas, more practice to explore; it is an unending community, and one that deserves to grow.

I want more—and new—impactful experiences like the one mentioned above. Who wouldn’t?

Currently I’m, with careful deliberation, seeking my next professional move. I look forward to discovering roles that not only align with my technical skills, but roles that offer causes I can get behind. Namely: creating understanding, building relationships, empowering individuals but also fostering lasting, harmonious relationships between people.

[note: I wrote a specific cover-letter to a company recently that explored a lot of these ideas, some verbatim. I decided to spin it off—and expand upon it—as a post here.]

If it bends, it’s funny. If it breaks, it’s not.

Michael Ian Black is one of my favorite comedians. His stand-up. Stella. The excellent MATES (Mike and Tom Eat Snacks). His books My Custom Van and You’re Not Doing It Right.

And of course, his Twitter:

What to expect if you engage him without knowing his character:

Another riposte:

To end the phrase, a statement that reminds as it divides: if you haven’t gone through it, don’t bother reacting. And if you have, the exaggeration is contextualized, enhancing the comedic effect:

A confident tightrope dance that few could pull off. These tweets are an eon ago in Internet years, but still one of my favorite examples of how a talent showcases their nuanced comedic skill through brevity and conversational dynamism. This is organic comedy on a (relatively) new medium, informed by the skills that stand-up comics, especially, must hone over years and years and gig after gig. And of course, this interaction includes dealing with hecklers, other comedians (or wannabe comedians), and irate standers-by.

Everyone is free to @ reply Michael on Twitter; just know what you’re getting into.

Impostor syndrome relapse

Welp, I’m back on the job hunt, and am self-diagnosing myself with a strong case of Impostor Syndrome. This is something I’ve grappled with before, but is exacerbated by being out of the web-development game for so long (~8 months). I’ve worked on a few pet projects here and there since leaving my last position, but that world moves so fast that keeping up—even when in the thick of it—is difficult.

I’m hoping to rectify the situation by doing some deep dives and focused learning, as well as reviewing past work and material. I know there are a lot of roles out there I could fill and succeed in even in my rusty current state, but I don’t want to be merely adequate; I want to excel. I’m also branching out and learning Swift + iOS 8, and finally getting around to playing around with Python to complement my Ruby knowledge. My current core skill-set of Javascript+CSS+HTML is strong, but there are certainly changes that are fresh that I haven’t dug into yet.

While this is a mainly dormant blog, if anyone is curious, here is my LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn itself is fairly fallow in some respects, but my profile is there, complete, and current.

Experimentation

So much good comes from experimentation; if you don’t set up the circumstances to approach the same old things in new ways, you’re doing yourself wrong.

Though this idea applies so readily to creating art, I think it’s applicable to so much of modern life. I’ve been meaning to read more in-depth at Nietzsche’s ideas, specifically his idea of the Ubermenschen, which, as I heard it put recently, isn’t about the inactive despair of Nihilism—nor is it actually proto-Nazism—and has more to do with living all aspects of one’s life in an artful manner. Put another way: it’s like active buddhism; taking control of your life and redefining what the middle-path can be.

I’ve also been meaning to muse on “good failure” and the importance of play.

Altered coding

Coding while stoned is such a double edged sword: you will see new approaches to old problems, but you will also go on wild-bug-chases that are rivaled only by some of your earliest/stupidest programming blunders. The “aha!” moment, when it comes, may be ridiculous, so it helps to laugh at it. Coincidentally, certain substances predispose one to laughter.

I don’t think any sort of altered state is a good default for day-to-day problem-solving, but regimented and used strategically and sparingly, it can yield good rewards. As with most things, careful reflection is important to maximize future potential.