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2009.04.10 identity crisis*:

* "Crisis" is definitely overstating it a bit, but nevertheless…

Earlier tonight, I told an old friend that "I couldn't be happier with where my life has led," and, of course, that is true. What i've been struggling with the last few years has been the "where."

In high school, i wanted nothing more than to start my own business, be my own boss, stay in the hick town where I grew up and be a "computer consultant" (whatever the hell that means.) I knew that I would a) be awesome at it, and b) be totally happy with my life. Instead—when i realized my father's brain would melt and my mother's heart would flop right out of her chest if I didn't—i went to college.

In college, i met some awesome creative people, broke out of my mold, and made sweeping plans for taking over the world with the most profound art, music, and literature the world had ever seen, together with this band of misfit geniuses in whom I'd found a family.

Then the 'net happened and I found another niche. I was going to carry this empire of sight, sound, and word into the year 2000, and become the best damned webmaster this side of the Mississippi. I was going to shift paradigms, set trends, and lead the denizens of the 'net to the next level. Not that I could see what that next level was yet, but that was my plan.

Luckily, I landed a job that let me do the only thing that I'd really want to sit still long enough to get paid for. Unfortunately, i discovered that it wasn't always possible to innovate on a deadline, for the kind of clients a high priced web firm dealt with. That, and I didn't have the base skills to really push the envelope. I was, after all, entirely self-taught.

As technology progressed, I collected plans and hoarded them for "when I had time." My work, psycho ex-girlfriends, the internet, and my plans themselves sapped my energy to the point where little got done. Occasionally, I'd have a burst of activity, and accomplish something neat, or push a pet project a little farther up the hill. Then I'd go back to the news feeds, or the game of Dune, or whatever.

I was going to be a first-rate poet, the next Kerouac, a top notch photographer, a musician, a publisher, a record producer, a freelance web guru, a gallery owner, a coffee shop owner… the list goes on.

It's taken me a few years, but slowly, I've realized that I can't do it all. And those grandiose plans I made years ago—the empire I built on dreams—depended on that family of friends as a static, unchanging unit with infinite reserves of energy and patience. To meet my dreams, my friends would have had to stay just as they were.

What I've come to realize is not that I can't count on my friends (because I know they'll support me in whatever I choose to do), but just that my friends have their own lives, and plans, and dreams. I can't package them up into mine, any more than they can package me up into theirs.

So I have been converging on this point, where I have to figure out two things: what I want to do, and what I can do. With all these grandiose plans I've made, which are the feasible, workable notions, and which are the pipe dreams?

These were the thoughts that, late last year, and early this year, brought me to re-dedicate myself to my writing. I still have lots of plans, little things I'd like to do, but, when push comes to shove, my writing comes first. Someday, perhaps I'll be able to expand my arena again, but right now, I have to seize my opportunities and focus on a smaller set of goals.

To a certain extent, the old Coffeemonk Design Flaws empire is seeing a sunset. The name "Coffeemonk Design Flaws" was always Bob's thing anyway, and without his participation, it has long felt hollow.

I'm still working out the details in my head, but very likely, coffeemonk.com will become my writing oriented blog, and Savant-Garde Press will finally emerge from it's long stasis to stand on it's own. I'm also planning to launch a personal blog at matt.rasnake.info (eventually), and will continue to maintain bipolar as well.

This, then, is not as much an identity crisis, as it is an identity acknowledgement. This is the happiness to which my life has led me…

2007.04.03 a distinct lack of joy:

so yeah, work has been a might annoying the last week or so. i really enjoy being a web developer, aside from the occasional annoyances, mainly having to do with browser compatibility issues and occasionally poor support of web standards. i enjoy the problem solving, and making pretty, functional things. i've realized that i really don't enjoy doing diagrams, documentation, proposals and estimates. i suppose it won't be quite as bad once i have a clue as to what i'm doing, but it's just terribly annoying to have to do things, and finish them on some kind of deadline, when you don't really understand what it is you're supposed to be delivering.

probably the most annoying part of the job is the way there tend to be dry spells in work, followed by a few weeks where every day is full and the deadline for every project practically overlaps. and then there's the equipment malfunctioning and behaving improperly. gah.

well, anyway, i'm just frustrated after a long, trying couple of weeks. good thing is, we're closed for Good Friday, and i could really use the long weekend.

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- 10:45 pm - PL :: 2 Comments
categories ::  Computers/Tech - Rants - Upset/Dislike - Work

 

2007.04.02 handyman, handyman, does whatever a… uh…:

the coming of the spring means the growing of the grass means the breaking of the backs in physical labor. ugh. each time i have to mow the grass, i think loudly to myself "man, i should've sprung for the self-propelled mower, it'd've been worth the extra $75 bucks or so." i'm not one for regret, but i do occasionally have to kick myself in the ass for things.

so, this season i figured I really needed to do the whole "tune-up" thing with the lawnmower, so i was going to take it to mowermd near where i work, for a nominal (I thought) fee of about $50. drop it off, pick it up, no muss, no fuss. well, i put it off (actually i got so busy at work i never had time to set up a drop-off time) until we just had to mow the grass this weekend.

we found out from sara's brother-in-law that he just takes his blade to fern creek hardware and has it sharpened. so, we made our trip out there, and that and the new spark plug cost less than $10. we got a funnel and an empty milk jug to drain last year's oil, and i pretty much had the entire tune-up done for less than $15 and 45 minutes work. felt pretty good to accomplish that, i have to say.

in linux news, i've installed a mess of software via the package manager, some of which i've been looking for on the mac and pc for a goodly portion of time. life with linux is looking up! oh, and i cleared up the screen resolution thing pretty easily (though required a couple reboots), and then killed the network by switching to static local IP address instead of dynamic. well, that's fixed now too, so we're looking good. still have to get an FTP client working (i'm not sado-masochistic enough to be willing to learn command-line FTP). hell, that's why xerox invented windows.

also, happy birthday to my sis!

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- 11:22 pm - PL ::
categories ::  Birthday - Computers/Tech - Personal Projects - Work

 

2006.12.08 lazy day in old st. lou:

so, i'm up here with my lovely wife, doing her res. interview at WashU. i'm just chillin in the hotel room, shooting at my co-workers with the 2006 Power Treecam—a brilliant idea by yours truly, brilliantly embellished and executed by our boy ben.

i've run over to the St. Louis Bread Co., where I got the skinny on the fact that the national chain Panera Bread (as known to most of us) was actually originally the aforementioned St. Louis Bread Co. I picked up my breakfast there (croissant, cinnamon roll, and coffee) and they gave me a soufflé for free.

I've spent most of the morning upgrading our WordPress installation to 2.0.5, and just installed the wordpressReports plugin, so we can see just how many people aren't coming to visit the site to enjoy the dearth of updates.

and now, i'm going to watch the Special Edition DVD of Star Trek III, which my buddy nate so thoughtfully gave to me on my most recent birthday. thanks again, nate!

2006.08.16 like a steam engine, running low on coal:

well, brian's hopped back in the saddle, while i've been slacking. i suppose that's about right.

my buddy paul finally got himself hitched to his wonderful lady and our former roommate allison. It was a very nice, simple ceremony, followed by a pretty kickin' reception. they had a live jazz band that was just superb, and paul and neil got up and serenaded the new bride in patented old man style. my wife and i managed to get several good shots, which i've put up in the gallery.

our summer of weddings is now over (a brief reprieve), and we've two more friends' weddings left this year (that I can remember), but i think they both fall on the same day, so we'll unfortunately most likely have to miss the one that sara's not a bridesmaid in.

the remaining major news is that i whipped together a site for my friends that i'm particularly proud of, for organizing a monthly movie night. i'd link to it, but it's really by invitation only, and there are currently no safeguards to prevent uninvited users from signing up. (scribbles on todo list) so, suffice to say, it's really cool, and i'll post a link to it in the future when i've got it somewhat protected.

oh, and my 1 year anniversary at work has just come and gone, and i'm still thrilled to be where i am. i only hope that sara gets a residency in town (or within reasonable commuting distance) so i don't have to test the loyalty of my company in a long-distance employment situation. i'm fairly certain we can work something out (the company and i), but i'd certainly prefer not to risk it.

- 05:03 pm - PL ::
categories ::  Computers/Tech - Family - Friends - Happy/Love - Personal Projects - Photography - Wife - Work

 

2005.07.19 not so humble:

wow, we actually got to go see a movie!

seriously, it seems like we've not gotten to go to a movie in an insanely long time (though we did go see Batman Begins on our honeymoon). but, we finally managed to get out of the house to go see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which i loved. i loved the original movie, and i love this version of the story too… they are so completely different, it's hard to even compare the two. unfortunately, i haven't read the book, so i can't really say which is the more "accurate" version.

finally had a little job interview today, which i think went pretty well. it's actually a little surprising, as generally, one of my hallmark traits (self-promotion wise) has always been a heaping helping of humility. strangely, during the last few interviews i've been much more "at ease" and confident about my abilities and about my inter-personal interactions with the interviewer(s). it's a very weird experience for me to not be timid around people i don't know and who could have some influence on my career. at a few points during the interview, i actually felt like i was delivering some kind of post-shakespearian monologue. perhaps i went a little overboard at points, but i think it was ok. i think i might've overdone the hand-talking… but otherwise, it seemed to go well.

on a more local level (bipolar-local, that is), i've been trying to spruce up the gallery scripts a bit, since they suffered some after the move to the new server and directory structure. i've managed to get the galleries themselves working and displaying properly, but there're some issues with the (still relatively new) "view by date" code that i haven't been able to spend enough time to massage out yet. and thus far, brian's joycamproject is still utterly non-functional, which is probably also a result of directory re-organization more than anything. hopefully, i'll get a chance to fix that up here soon, then help brian get the actual joycamproject implemented with the designs he's come up with. once that's accomplished, i intend to kick up development of a ground-up recoding of the gallery scripts… something i've been contemplating for a while now.

should be fun and challenging.

last but not least, i took a few moments yesterday to register our RSS feeds on Feedburner. so if you're subscribed to our feeds through an RSS reader, you'll want to update your subscriptions to the following:

main feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/x13design/bipolar
brian's feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/x13design/bipolar/left
matt's feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/x13design/bipolar/right

now, the fun aspect of this change, is that Feedburner allows you to integrate a couple other sources into your standard feeds. so, brian's feed is integrated with his flickr account, and will intermix any new images he uploads there with his posts here. for me, i don't have a flickr account yet, so i'm integrating my del.icio.us bookmarks feed into my bipolar feed. so… one beautiful side-effect will be regular updates (of the RSS/Atom feeds) even if we don't necessarily post on that regular of a basis.

now, these things aren't integrated into the main bipolar feed (though they could be if "demand" is there), so to take advantage, you'd have to subscribe to our individual feeds.

another good thing about Feedburner is that we're no longer stuck (well we never were before, but i could never be bothered to create an Atom output for MovableType) with just RSS… feedburner will serve up whatever type of feed your feed reader asks for… Atom, RSS 0.9, RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0 probably others… so… subscribe away!

2005.05.12 a dam bursts:

holy cow. i swore (to myself) i'd stop mentioning with every new post how long it's been since the last one, but jeeze louise, i'm making history here! a whole month gone by without a single post in it, and just over two months since my last post! it's a bipolar first folks (and hopefully a last). i'm going to have to fix the archive index script (see way below) to skip April 2005 for me… weird.

anyway. as you might have guessed by my last few posts, and by my (even for me) uncharacteristic silence, i have been bizz-eee… no, not even that, i've been extremely fucking BUSY for too damn long now. let's recap, shall we?

1) finally bought a house.
2) closed on the house and moved out of the old apartment
3) ITS ALL A BLUR
4) slowly began to see light again
5) started writing this post

i think somewhere in there around 3 and 4, Sara and i spent a bunch of money buying stuff for the house, she had a couple of bridal showers, so we got crap-loads of gifts, i've been doing honest-to-god yard-work, washing a crap-load of dishes (no dishwasher), trying to get my stuff organized and put away, trying to finish the wedding website, trying to finalize wedding plans, trying not to go insane.

we're getting a load of brick today… how incredibly surreal and weirdly pedestrian and adult-like is that? i spent 8 hours on sunday outside… my world is currently sitting directly on its head.

the work roller-coaster was barely noticed (by me, anyway… Sara would've been freaking out if she hadn't had to study so much for finals), in that my 1 year contract expires at the end of the month… but my newly minted boss finally managed to push the paperwork through for a 6 month extension, so i'm gainfully employed until… er… christmas time.

all this, and the wedding is only… 4 weeks away. i'm not consumed with fear or anxiety yet, so that's a good thing. and hell, i'm looking forward to being able to get away from all this recent hubbub for a week and just enjoy *life* (and being married) for a moment without having to deal with anyone or anything else.

but i'm glad my sis, a new foreign service initiate, is coming into town this weekend and bringing that cute niece of mine with her. and she'll actually be staying in the states most of the year as she does her FS training, so it's conceivable we could see her more than twice in the next six months. and then, of course, she'll ship off to some foreign land, and we'll be hard-pressed to even get to see her once a year.

and my darling has successfully completed her 2nd year of med school and is even now studying for her first set of boards. i think we'll have at most a week after we get back from the honeymoon before she has to start her first rotation. thankfully she managed to get it set up so she doesn't have to leave town to do a rotation for a while.

and last, but not least, after giving up my precious kitties to Paul and Allison, and having been in the house for a month and getting it mostly whipped into shape, Sara and I are looking for two little kitties of our own. we want babies, and we'd like them to be litter-mates, but we are a bit flexible on that last bit.

and thanks to everybody for their well-wishes and congratulations re: the house. we're hoping to have a house-warming party soon, and i'll make sure to mention it here unless anybody out in the wide world has an opportunity to make it down for a weekend (pre-wedding, i'm hoping)

oh, one more thing… i just launched the wedding website yesterday, so go check it out!

2005.01.05 another one's just begun:

so, Jan 2002 was the last time i did a year end recap post, and i've kicked myself every time i've forgotten. so, here goes…

setting the tone for a large percentage of the posts to follow (and the year to follow, natch.), my first post of 2004 (even worse than this one, at 17 days after the new year) jumped headlong into politics and razzing george w., and also mentioned some stuff about the gallery scripts, both of which practically became an obsession for me.

also, i think this was the first year where i've managed to post only once a majority of the months out of last year.

anyway, some major events happened this year, the first of which was deciding (not that i had to think very hard about it) to ask my girlfriend of 1.5 years to be my wife, then throwing down the bones for a ring.

of course, no sooner had i bought the ring, than my boss at work called me in to tell me the place was shutting down. luckily, i landed a new job before the last one was over, so i had something to come back to upon return from the trip to France Sara & i had been planning.

we left for France on schedule, me with a diamond ring hidden–wrapped in paper, taped to a fob on my keychain–so it wouldn't get lost with or stolen from the luggage, and so she wouldn't find it if she were to rummage through my carry-on. we had a first day in Paris that ranged from great to horrible, then woke up fresh-faced the next day ready (well, except that she didn't know about it yet) for the event that would alter our lives in subtle and profound ways. in the afternoon, i rummaged through my backpack for the ring, dropped to a knee, and asked her to marry me. of course, she said yes.

after this event, life carried on–settling into the new job, more politics, more gallery scripts, helping her cope with school, adjusting to the idea of being married, making wedding plans, making other future-oriented plans, looking for houses, talking about finances/money/retirement savings (sheesh). i'm startin' to feel all growed-up.

then of course, there was the travesty we called an Election…

and now Christmas has come and gone, and the New Year as well. it's time to hunker down and make preparations for tomorrow. time to think about the things we want in life, the things we can have, and how to correlate the two. don't make resolutions, just do what needs to be done, do what you enjoy, and do the best you can for yourself and others. none of us are at the mercy of our surroundings, rather, it's the other way around. grab hold of yourself and make this year a better one than the last. call up a friend, go to a movie, bake yourself a cake, quit smoking, just be happy.

- 05:19 pm - PL ::
categories ::  Bipolar: Year End Recap - Happy/Love - Love Life - Nostalgia - Politics - Society - Travel - Wife - Work

 

2004.09.20 come down on me sweet suffocation:

there's nothing like coming in to work on a monday and remembering that you only have to work a four day week. seriously…that just kicks ass. it helps shake the cobwebs from the brain and put a smile on the face, which is definitely rare on a monday.

speaking on mondays, it looks like "motherfucker" came in early today. he's already shot me the evil eye a couple of times, so i guess he's taking it as some sort of insult that i went over his head. well…tough shit. i can play the office politics game as well as he can. if he wants to be a dick, so can i.

practice went pretty okay on saturday. we started work on a new song, which is nice, since we haven't really written much as a band in the past couple of months. not having a practice space is killing us. hopefully that problem will be righting itself within the next month or so. we're all systems go for friday, though. i hope some people actually show up…

kopilot it moving. we were in the new space yesterday, helping danny strip out all the nasty floor tiling. they should be reopened and ready for business on october 1st. awesome. they should have a new website open by then, as well, complete with a webstore. double awesome.

seth has reported that the data on my old hard drive is pretty much…gone, never to be seen again. this is disheartening, but i guess i'll have to pull myself up by the bootstraps and…

damn it. who am i kidding? i cried myself to sleep, last night.

back to work…

- 02:28 pm - PL :: 2 Comments
categories ::  L&N - Nothing - Work

 

2004.08.31 much ado

seems like the last month has been a major upheaval, lots of crap going on, but it's mostly just busyness, frustration, and happiness.

the band's been practicing, and though i've totally neglected the site since before the last show, we're really not dead. in fact, we've a show coming up this weekend, which i've only just finished making flyers for, that i hope to get up around town tomorrow before practice. our second show with a drummer, and we've been coming up with ideas of how to change things around to make us happier… more on that later.

sara's and my wedding plans are proceeding apace, and we've actually been talking about the possibility of buying a house or condo prior to the festivities (once the lease is up at the current abode). we're getting ready to send out "save the date" cards, and she's been dress shopping. we finally finished "catholic wedding school" so that's thankfully out of the way, and we didn't even have to endure a great deal of that "natural family planning" crap the popesters like to foist on people. yippee.

add to all that fun the fact that sara's finally started back to school, and our schedules have been in major flux trying to adjust back into that whole routine. we're starting to settle in now, so i'm hoping to start getting some work done again.

which leads me to the next exciting thing (for me, anyway). i finally, after years and years of wishing, finally bought myself a swanky new laptop… an AMD Athlon 64 beast of fury and brilliance, that has caused me no end of heartache the past couple weeks mainly due to my insufferable need to wrest complete control over my machines from the great satan (Windows). So i got the machine and proceeded to poke and prod at it, uninstalling as much as possible and deleting a bunch besides. It was becoming a stripped down monster, but then i made some networking change trying to surreptitiously get a 'net hookup at work, and then i couldn't connect to any of my machines on the home network… so, a couple reinstalls later, a much more cautious takeover attempt, and i've finally got it in order again. i'm still installing some of the day-to-days, but it's mostly up and running. thus, this, my first blog post on the new champion. (named the hard drives after the members of Mudhoney, for those who wonder those things)

also, somewhere in there, i got to hang out with my brother who came up to the fair with the FFA, and i managed to get myself in to see the eye doctor, who told me absolutely nothing helpful. in fact, he said that, not only was there nothing that he could do about the problems that i'd come to see him about, but there is another issue that i wasn't even previously aware of, and which, surprise surprise, he also can't do anything about. some retinal specialist, eh?

and the last bit of life complicating news is that i managed to get started working on a little freelance project for some friends (and with an old Corvus coworker–ben), a thing which is currently moving slowly, but positively. i've been wanting to try to take on some freelance stuff, so this should be a good opportunity to see if i can manage to balance the leisurely bits of my life with actual obligations to others.

so, bunch of stuff going on, a lot of it just tedious, time consuming, and schedule wrecking, but thankfully enough of it happy and fun that i've not minded the other bits too much. so, here's to another 'bout of time wrestling.


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