The Post of the Beast

According to wordpress this is my 666 post. So go me and go satan!!!

Today was a frustrating day. For my “real” job I am having to deal with a poorly designed system that makes my job take a lot longer then it should. It is also a system that is impossible to automate in anyway. I basically babysit my computer and click on the occasional button… it is dumb.

On the plus side it has given me a lot of time for reflection. I got thinking about making video games. This is what I want to do. I want to spend my day creating awesome games that are fun and simple to play. I would also like to spend my days creating awesome games that are fun and possibly a little more complicated to play. I think simple is better.

Falling Cats was the first game I ever made. Yes I was using GameSalad and yes I don’t agree with some of the things they have done but I think they are a great company and they allowed me to make a video game. Falling Cats is proof to my self that I can make a video game. I think it has been downloaded maybe 1000 times but it is something that I created with some friends and it was a lot of fun to make.

I learned that in order to make the games I want to make I need to be able to actually code them and not have to monkey around with someone else’s program. Having to force your idea into someone else’s product is hard. So I set off to learn python. I have no learned python the hard way. I am not sure that I feel confident in my ability to create anything with it other then text based adventures but hey… those are still games!!

One of the problems I have run into is that I am (as usual) a jack of all trades. I know how to write code, write story, make graphics, animate shit and put it all together. But I am not an expert in any of these areas. Since I am not rich I am unable to pay people to help me so I abuse my skills with people to get people to do things for free. The downfall of this is when those people’s passion for the project doesn’t match mine. This is how teams fall apart.

I have looked at using some sort of crowd funding solution to get some money to pay people for their skills but I don’t want drones I want passionate people. Still I guess purchasing talent is the only solution when you have crazy ideas.

In the gaming crowd I have found an interesting split in people. They are either interested in making a quick buck by making the next angry birds or they have crazy high ideas like making a game that tells an amazing story while having mind blowing graphics, a soundtrack that blows your mind and other amazing things as well.

The downfall of group one is that everyone is trying to make that game. And I mean everyone. There are so many games that are trying to be the next big thing on iOS that it makes it hard to compete. But you can… or better yet I can. How? No idea.

I am going to try to do two things. First I am going to remake Falling Cats with out Game Salad. Since I have most of the mechanics of how the game should work figured out It will be a good thing for me to use for learning actual game development. Secondly I am going to start working on a second game. I have a few ideas but I need to  develop them a little further before deciding. Probably something simple.

If you haven’t checked out Falling Cats yet, you should. It has problems… but it is fun and can only get better.

 

 

30 Year Old Sidekick

Last Tuesday I spent three hours on stilts. Not only was it super hot but it has been a while since I had spent much time on stilts. I forgot the trick of wearing long socks so that the straps don’t dig into my legs. I regret this. I have a pretty awesome blister on my leg. It isn’t super painful but it also isn’t awesome.

I have been entertaining for 15+ years now. When I was just starting I could do anything. I would spend a couple hours on my stilts and not even feel it the next day. Now three hours on stilts requires about three days to recover. Three years ago I did another job where I was on my stilts for 5+ hours and I was fine the next day. Tired but fine. Now I am not so lucky.

Part of this is that I am out of shape. When I was 18 I did gymnastics and dance four to five days a week. I was able to force my way through things. I had the physical ability to recover fast and work for long hours. Now I walk about 10,ooo steps a day and do yoga a couple times a week, unless I don’t.

I also don’t practice enough anymore. This is more of a cocky thing then any other reason. I know that I need to practice but I have become comfortable with my abilities and I am still able to make people laugh with all of my current skills, so why learn anything new. Starting next week I am setting aside time to practice. Since I still can’t idle on my unicycle I am going to start with that skill. Juggling 5 balls is after that.

The other problem I have with physical side of entertaining is that a lot of it hurts. I have broken my body. I have crappy knees, a crappy elbow, bad shoulders and weak ankles. While none of these affect my performance it means that it takes me longer and longer to recover from each job. I would have a hard time doing multiple shows in one day.

It doesn’t help that I will do anything for a laugh. I continue to abuse my body which, strangely enough, doesn’t make my joints feel better. Since I don’t have any desire to stop I have to figure out a way to make my body better. I need to work on getting back into shape. Probably not the same shape I was in when I did gymnastics and dance but at least have the muscle endurance that I can do a 45 minute juggling show without my shoulders trying to kill me.

Wish my luck. Hopefully this will get me learning new tricks and make me a better entertainer. I will try to post progress.

As We Know It

I have been trying to come up with a good post about video game making for a while. I am by no means a well known developer. I am not even sure I am an indie developer… not yet. But then again maybe I am.

Making a video game is hard. The main reason is deciding what you want to get across with your game. This is made harder by the fact that casual gaming has created a hole in gamings heart. A hole that seems to be filled with casual gaming. I love casual gaming; the quick gameplay and time wasting mechanics, but I miss the stories and difficulty that older generation games had.

Even older games that had a simple story, Super Mario Bros. for exemple, where hard. Personally I have never beaten Super Mario Bros.  without using warps. Part of this is because I am not that good at platformers and part of it is that the game is hard. Sarah has destroyed Super Mario Bros. numerous times and I really enjoy watching her play.

When I set out to make Falling Cats(then called Cat Catch) I poorly drew the graphics and put it together in GameSalad in a couple afternoons. I had a story in mind but couldn’t figure out how to get it into the game in a way that felt natural. Since Falling Cats is a casual game I made the decision to cut that out of the finished game. I like to say that it is because the game didn’t need it but it is more likely that I just couldn’t get it to fit into the game correctly.

Moving forward I am attempting to put together a solid team for the next game. i have a dude that is a great concept artist and is going to try his hand at sprites. I am still going to be the developer(unless I find someone to do it) and Will will be doing the music. Now I just need to get started on the build.

But as I stated earlier… making video games is hard. Managing my time between everything else and game making is a real pain in the ass. Hopefully I get a really bare bones prototype running soon and I will show it here. Meanwhile… have you tried Falling Cats.

Running through Sprinklers

Sarah and I have been getting up in the mornings and walking. We average about 2.5 miles and it is a great time to just talk. We wonder all over our neighborhood and occasionally grab a treat. The other day we were walking home and it was hot. Super hot. Then we saw them: Sprinklers. We ran through them like crazy people. This got me thinking about hobbies.

Hobbies are funny things. Everyone has at least one, even if it is unacknowledged, and they make us happy. Hobbies are also tricky. Balancing your work with your hobbies is like a tightrope.

Few of us are blessed with hobbies that translate easily into work. Or at least a lucrative work. Plus hobbies always cost money; either in supplies, equipment or time, which means in order to advance in your hobby you may have to work more at your real job.

My main hobbies, as I see them, are SCUBA diving and Entertaining. Of my hobbies entertaining is the easiest to make money with. Diving is a little more difficult to monetize. Or at least the more expensive of the two to monetize. Of course monetizing a hobby isn’t the true goal of a hobby. Once you do that it isn’t a hobby anymore.

I have been entertaining more lately and I really like it. What I like best about it is the fact that it isn’t my job. It is just something I do on the weekends and random days to make some extra money. I think that the stress of making my money only from entertaining would make me not as entertaining.

 

Doing Good

Sarah and I have been being sloths. It isn’t entirely our fault, we blame numb3rs and netflix. We started watching numb3rs from season one and it has been a lot of fun but it has stopped us from doing a lot of other things, like yoga. On the plus side it has given me time to think about life.

So much of life is spent approaching hurdles. Graduating from high school, college, finding a job and being happy. What is funny  is that so many these hurdles are put there by ourselves and when you don’t get over one you get stuck. While I do agree that graduating from high school is a great thing to do I think that there is some argument for alternative high school systems(which is a whole other post).

Graduating from college is one of the first obstacles that you encounter as a young person that is put in place by society. As an 18 year old person you feel as if you have to graduate from college in order to be successful.  I know that this is true because I have though much about how my lack of a college degree has held me back from being successful.

The problem with the term “successful” is that it is subjective. One person success is another persons failure. I feel that I have had a very successful life, though in comparison with other people’s lives it may seem less so. But it all depends on how you are measuring success.

If you measure success based on money or prestige, you are missing out. What is more important is doing good. No matter how much money you have or how awesome your job sounds, if you aren’t trying to do good you aren’t actually successful. I want to do good.

The hardest thing is finding a job that allows you to do good, either because of the job or because you have time and energy after your done working to do good. This is hard to work out because doing good doesn’t pay very well. Which, since society puts so much importance on money, makes it hard to view time spent helping people as time well spent.

So what do you do? Stop worrying about how much money you make or how much prestige your job gives you and start thinking about how you can help other people.

 

Falling Cats or How I Learned to Love Feature Creep

I just released v. 1.0 of Falling Cats on the iTunes Market for free. So go download it… I’ll wait…

It isn’t “finished” but then what game ever truly is finished as envisioned by the creator. I worked my ass off making this project and am pretty happy with it. Without Harper forcing me to release it I may never have released it. Falling Cats was a project that I started in 2010 0r 2011… not really sure. I got the basic idea down and then shelved it because I had other things going on in my life.

I got it out again because Will and I wanted to make video games. Here was one that was at like 60% done. We connected with another dude who wanted to do graphics. It was great… but then it happened.

Feature Creep:

Feature creepcreeping featurism or featuritis is the ongoing expansion or addition of new features in a product, such as in computer software.[1] Extra features go beyond the basic function of the product and so can result in over-complication rather than simple design. Viewed over a longer time period, extra or unnecessary features seem to creep into the system, beyond the initial goals.

The problem was that we drifted away from a simple game where you caught cats in a basket to a crazy game that at one point had bosses, bonus stages and what not. The problem is that these things were all hard to implement in Gamesalad. Not impossible just outside the scope of what I could figure out… so development dragged, people lost interest or focus and life got in the way.

About three months ago I made the decision to get rid of boss fights. Which was a positive. I also lightend up the menu system trying to keep as much as possible in one scene. The scene would load at the beginning and after the initial load there was nothing else to load. So it was a lot faster. This was the positive step. Unfortunately I lost sight of gameplay and focused instead on making sure that it had a credits screen and in-app purchases and all that crap. This slowed development down further.

By dragging my focus from making a fun game by trying to add features not necessary to the main gameplay I was making a crappy game with a lot of unfinished features. Some of those features are in the current version of the game but when the next update comes it will be a cleaner version of the game. It will be awesome.

When I re-started building this game I did a lot of reading on game development. I learned that shipping a “finished” product is better then never shipping. The nice thing about development is that you can always fix bugs but you won’t know about them unless people are seeing your game. Plus once you have the game figured out you can add features with future updates. In fact all of the things I wanted to put into the game can still be added.

Lesson learned from this experience: K.I.S.S. It is more important to make your product (game or not) do what it is supposed to do first. Get all that crap figured out and then worry about how cool it looks or what other features you want to add. Also make sure that every feature you add to the product adds actual value to the product, either for your user or for you, and isn’t just cool in your head.

One of the hardest parts of this project was relying on others for parts of the game. Some of the graphics and all of the music were done by other people. It was hard relying on others for things I wanted right away. It was also hard to work on a project for as many hours as I did and find out that someone hadn’t done even a little bit on their part or had worked on something else that wasn’t important to the core of the game. Of course no one was getting paid so I can’t blame them too much.

If I were to do the project again I would start from scratch. Gamesalad was great but the limitations of the program didn’t allow me to do what I wanted. The time I spent figuring out something in Gamesalad could have been used learning python or java or any programing language. This would allow me to move on to other projects immediately afterwards instead of now learning to program.

So what’s next? Updating Falling Cats to get rid of some of the nonsense that is in it. Maybe release a few themes for in-app purchasing… but maybe not. Outside of Falling Cats I have a few other projects that I am excited about and will hopefully be able to get done quickly and without a bunch of feature creep.

 

 

 

 

The Accidental Hipster

I have joked about this a lot but it is unfortunatly true. I am an accidental hipster. I wear the skinny jeans, the threadless shirts, the thick framed glasses and am always trying to grow a moustache or forgetting to shave. The nice thing is it has all been Harper’s fault.

You see, when Harper worked at threadless I ended up with a lot of t-shirts. I think it is because Harper was too cool to wear them… so I got them. I have lucked out and been just a little skinnier then Harper most of the time. He would have a pair of jeans that didn’t fit anymore and poof  I would have new jeans. And now he gets me jeans whenever he is in Japan. Which makes me even more hipster because I don’t even get my jeans in the States. Then there are my glasses, which Harper recieved from someone and never wore or really opened… so I got them.

The shaving is all me though. Because I am lazy.

 

Thanks Harper!!

Focus

Harper and I had an interesting conversation yesterday. It was about ideas and games. We were discussing one idea in particular when he said something along the lines of “Dylan you have a hard time focusing.”

After a good long laugh, because no one was suprised by this declaration we decided what needed to be done. Falling Cats has now been submitted to Apple and will be approved soon. With that off my plate I am free to focus on other things. Like THE NEXT BIG THING.

I won’t be telling you about THE NEXT BIG THING yet. Still need to make sure that it is real. But this does mean that I am going to be focused on that and not on a lot of my other projects. They will be moved to the status of Hobby. That way I can get THE NEXT BIG THING done sooner rather then later.

Wish me luck.

Lucky Awesome Super Book Fun Times

I recently had the pleasure of reading a whole slew of awesome books. I have no complaints about what I read normally I just had an incredible run of luck with the last four books I read.

Ready Player One:

This book was and still is amazing. I would suggest that everyone put down what they are reading, unless it is one of the other three, and start reading it NOW. The book follows the adventures of Wade and his quest to find the three keys hidden in Oasis. I know… sounds awesome. Now imagine that the quest for the keys takes place in a completely digital world. MINDBLOWING!!!!!

On top of me loving the book Sarah also loved it. This is a book that needs an sequel or Mr. Cline to write another amazing book. GET ON IT CLINE!!

The next book that was awesome was one that I read to get Sarah to read Ready Player One.

Sister: A Novel:

This is a mystery. Why it was good is not the mystery, the actual story is a mystery. Rosamund Lipton crafted an amazing story that keeps you guessing the entire time. One of the best parts of the novel is that it takes place in England and as such uses all of the awesome British slang that I love so much.

Also there is a twist in this book that boggles the mind. Not only that but there is a nice sci-fi element in this story that reminds me of reading Robin Cook novels without all of the Robin Cook-ness.

The third book was one I hadn’t planned on reading but stumbled upon and decided to give it a chance.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter:

Who doesn’t love fake history about one of our beloved presidents slaying vampires. This book had more sadness then I thought it would, though most of that has to do with Mr. Lincolns life then the Vampires. Or not…

Gramhame-Smith can write some serious action. I enjoyed all of the fight scenes and wish more action in books was this well written. Also more people need to use axes as a weapon of destroying evil. The number of things that Abe does to Evil with his axe is amazing.

The fourth book was one that was recommended by my father. He even loaned me a hard copy of the book.

Old Man’s War:

This was super awesome epic sci-fi crazy. Given my choice this is the kind of book I love reading. Crazy aliens, awesome future tech, romance; all of the things that make sci-fi sci-fi. Also John Scalzi doesn’t beat around the bush. He just tells it like it is. Explains things to the reader without holding their hand.

The main character grow so much during the book and really starts to become real. I enjoyed this book at least as much as I enjoyed Ender’s Game. It is probably because of the ‘ in the title. This book reminded me that I need to read more science fiction.

So there are the four super awesome books you should read. Now. If you can only read one go with Ready Player One. It is fantastic. All of them are awesome so hopefully you can read them all.

 

Yippee!!! – 3D

As I posted here I have a crush on the Nintendo 3DS. As luck would have it I now have one. I got the blue-ish one and I love it. I have Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario Land 3D. I am enjoying both of them a lot and find the 3D to be more then just a fancy gimmick. What I like is that you can turn it off if it hurts your brain or if you are going to be moving a lot while playing.

So far I have played the most of Mario Kart 7. It is what you would expect of a Mario Kart game. Mario characters in Karts racing around tracks. There are a lot of new tracks as well as some old ones. What is really fun with this Mario Kart is the inclusion of gliders and underwater portions on courses. Nintendo even took the time to update the older courses to include these features. I also enjoy unlocking different Kart parts that let you modify the Kart to fit your style of play.

Where it really shines is the multiplayer. It is online and the few matches I have played have been a lot of fun though I usually get my ass kicked. Hard. Just like when I play Modern Warfare online I am a middle of the pack person. I do enjoy playing though.

Super Mario 3D Land is also fun… but not as much as it could be. I am not an expert platformer. I need all of the lives I can get, but seriously mario there is no reason a mediocre player should have over 100 lives with out using some sort of 100+ lives trick. Which I haven’t.

They have made it easy to get lives which I would fully support if the difficulty of the games required a lot of lives to be used. But this game is sadly not that hard. Plus if you die too many times the game gives you an invincible tanooki suit. You have the choice to not use it but lets be honest, everyone wants to wear a white and gold raccoon suit that makes you impervious to damage. I am sewing myself one as we speak.

Also the addition of the boomarang suit is ok but I haven’t found a place that it is better then a fire flower. The Ice Flower from The New Super Mario Bros. Wii at least gives you platforms to stand on to use to get to other areas. Or in Super Mario Galaxy there was the bee suit… which is a bad exemple… But the mini mushroom or giant mushrooms for the DS version of Mario are awesome.  Boomerang suit is not awesome.

 

 

Talented

I love meeting with people who know what they are talking about. The people who are so focused in their field that they can answer any question you have or point you in the proper direction. I will never be one of those people.

The beauty of not being one of those people is being able to use those people to the fullest. I have a general understand of many things and I understand what people much smarter then me are talking about because of that. And since I am interested in almost anything I always learn something. I am lucky that way.

Having not finished my college education I have yet to focus on learning one specific thing. Because that is what college is truly about: Focus. You pick you degree and you learn everything you can in four years of studying whatever it is that you love… or like… or think will get you paid the most. Even if you get a General Libral Arts Degree you are still asked to focus in one area. To concentrate in one area. Why is that?

Do we truly need everyone to be hyper focused in a specific area to have the world succeed? I don’t think so. I think certain areas of study require a specific focus, like medecine. But if you just want to have a bachelors degree so that when you fill out an application for a job you can put down that yes you completed at least four years of college and have a piece of paper saying you did that, should you have to focus?

I am a learner. I like to learn all sorts of interesting crap. That is why I went to commercial diving school (also to escape living at my parents house) and also why I studied art. Because of all things that you can study in college, and I have tried a lot of them, Art is the one the encourages learning and not memorizing. I am sure it is the same in creative writing but other then that most of the classes I experienced during my 10+ years of trying college have been about memorizing facts, regurgitating facts and then doing it again at a harder level the following semester.  Which is stupid.

I understand that in order to excel at science you need to understand some basic fundemental rules/laws/whatever they are called. But do I need to spend an entire semester learning them again when they were covered in my high school A.P. bio class? Honestly, at this point 10+ years from high school… probably. But when I took college algebra when I was 19… nope.

 

Finishing Shit

I am currently suffering from to many projects and not enough time to finish them. Add to this the normal things that are life and I need to figure out how to get things finished. Part of the problem is that I am not recieving all the support I need from my partners in crime. Some of this is laziness on their end some of it is me not asking for help when I need it. The other part of the problem is that I love all of my projects. ALL OF THEM.

This post is to hopefully put these projects in prespective for me allowing me to choose an order to finish them. So without further ado here are the projects I am working on and their current status.

  1. Falling Cats – This is a pretty big one. I started making this one more then a year ago and it is slowly coming into being. I am at the ever so crucial bug smashing stage. The problem that I am running into is that the game isn’t what I want it to be. I don’t want to take any steps backwards and succumb to feature creep, but… there are things that I want the game to have that will make the game awesome. Not sure which way to go with this one. Those of you that don’t know Falling Cats is a game where cats fall from the sky and you control a blob that catches the cats. The original plan was to have a story mode complete with boss fights and an arcade mode where you just try to catch as many cats as possible. I chopped out the story mode to save time. Last night as I was looking at the game I realized that that was a mistake. I am now trying to decide if I release Falling Cats as it is to get it done or take the extra couple weeks to add in the story mode. As it stands this is probably priority number one, I have invested a lot of my time into this project so I feel I should finish it soon. The problem is that I don’t know which direction to go. Do I polish and publish what I have or do I add story mode and work my ass off for a another month before publishing?
  2. Learning Python – This is more of a pet project. I am interested in learning to program so that I will no longer have to use GameSalad to make the games that I want. I should be able to get a good handle on this if I focus on it for a couple weeks or a month at the most. The problem is that I find learning programing to be BORING. I guess it isn’t that bad I just have a hard time staying focussed when I am learning. I am going to be Learning Python the Hard Way, thanks to Harper buying me a course at UDEMY, I just need to start it. I think the hardest thing with this project is that the value comes later.
  3. Magic – I have been learning/ performing magic for a while now. Sadly I haven’t been practicing as much as I should or learning new tricks. I have a whole slew of new tricks I want to learn but I have been working on other things instead. Magic is just so time consuming to learn, taking so much practice before you get the pay off of blowing someones mind. I have also notices the last couple times I have performed card tricks that my slights are weak due to lack of practice. I need to dedicate about an hour a day to practicing magic in order to get my skills back up to speed and learn some new tricks. 
  4. Fast Milo – My dad wrote/illustrated Fast Milo when Harper and I were kids. It is the story of Milo who likes to go fast. I have read it many times and think it is awesome. I am currently working on digitizing/coloring Fast Milo so we can publish it digitally a little slicker then how it is currently. This project was actually my dads idea and I thought it was a good one. I am doing this entire thing on my iPad which has been an interesting experience. Currently I just have one page done and it took me about 2 hours from start to finish. I am not 100% please as I am not sure if I should add shading or if I should leave it flat. I spend so much time looking at comic books and I am amazed at how colorists are able to add so much depth to images. I think I will go back and shade the first page and then let Harper and my dad decide which one they like better.
  5. Awesome Guys/ Mompheous Bros. – I am currently in the process of editing and lengthening some stories that I have children’s stories that I have written. Not sure where these are going but I have at least one that is ready to be sent out to agents/publishers for rejection letters publishing. Of course that means that I need to do research on children’s book publishers, unless I want to use Graphicly to do the non-traditional approach. If I go that route  I will need to find illustrator(s) or illustrate myself, which could potentially be a pain in the ass. The nice thing about this project is that once I send stuff off to publishers I will have at least a month to work on other projects while I wait to hear back. However if I go the non-traditional route I will need to do all of the publishers job myself.
  6. Joe and Em’s-  Sarah and I started this blog a while ago. Not very well… but we started it. The hope is to make it into a look into our handmade life. The problem with this project has been time. Sarah is the primary person behind this project and she has had a crazy school year. The hope is that this summer we can really get to work on this blog and get into a routine of posting that will allow us to be successful.

I am not going to lie. This process of listing out all of my current projects did nothing to help me prioritize. Damnit. I just need to commit to finishing them all I guess. Probably do some sort of crazy schedule that will allow me to work on each one everyday. Oh and this Fast Milo sprite I made totally has hands… they are just a little too light for the white background.

Why Ocean Exploration is Cooler then Space Exploration

To start I just want to say that I am a fan of space exploration and do think that it is important to explore the universe, etc. I just think that we are missing a huge opportunity when we neglect our planet.  I am super biased towards Ocean exploration because I have spend a lot of time underwater and the underwater world fascinates me and has since I was a young person.

I have written quite a bit about being underwater, the dangers of being underwater and also about killer whales. I haven’t written much about the need for underwater exploration. Exploration is something I have always felt is important to us better understanding our planet. I figured other people understood this but then I look at the big deal that is being made about all of the recent exciting underwater events and realized that I was wrong. People have no idea how important the oceans are or how under explored they are.

The above comic is an interesting look at the depths of the ocean. Take a look at it, marvel in the fact that, as the author says: “Man, we know nothing about the ocean.”

So, why is ocean exploration cooler then space exploration? The biggest reason is that when we explore space, no matter what the “scientific” reason is, we are looking for life. Guess what, the ocean is full of life. So much life that we don’t even have names for all of it. And its not just a million different species of plankton, there are animals that we know exist (I am looking at you giant squid!!) that we know next to nothing about. Apparently they fight sperm whales and are really big.

Sure we have places like sea world that you can go to and see fascinating sea creatures up close. But does that really further peoples knowledge of oceans or does it just further their knowledge of that creature? People in general have a hard time believing that Orcas and other members of the dolphin family are smart enough to be considered people and people that believe this tend to viewed as crazy.

Yet it is common for people to state that they believe that we are not alone in the universe. That somewhere intelligent life exists. People say this and people may roll their eyes but thanks to hollywood and NASA’s constant search for life on other planets we all secretly want that to be true.

If you encounter someone who says that whales or dolphins are intelligent enough to equal humans, typically they become branded as a tree hugging environmentalist. No one seems to be interested in discovering intelligent life on this planet. It is only cool if it is on other planets.

I think that human beings need discovery. We are curious in nature and love to learn new things. The problem is we have been looking skyward too long. People talk of colonizing the moon. Which would be awesome. But with our current population exploding why don’t we populate the ocean floor first. I am pretty sure we would learn some lessons living under pressure that would translate into living in low gravity.

There are talks of a possible manned mission to mars. Really? Three people have been to the deepest part of the ocean. Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh in 1960 and James Cameron in 2012. 52 years since anyone has been down there. On the Space side 12 people have been to the moon.

I don’t think we should stop exploring space, I just think that we should put more money into exploring the oceans. Money spent on ocean exploration and understanding can only help mankind now whereas money spent exploring space will possibly help mankind in hundreds of years.

 

 

2012: A Fitness Odyssey

So apparently I have let my self go… physically. I have hopefully topped out at 170 lbs and I am not necessarily proud of my belly. So I am going to make it disappear.

Here is the plan: Yoga at least 4 times a week. Jog at least 10 minutes 4 times a week(and increase that to 20 minutes next month, etc.) I am also going to do some sort of push-ups or sit-ups every week day.

That was the original way this post started out. I was doing the very American “I have to get in shape for the new year” thing. It didn’t work. I jogged once… it was really hard and I regretted it for days. I also have avoided sit-ups and push-ups like the plague. I have gone to Yoga 4 times a week since January 2nd though.

What is important is not that you are in great shape or look super buff, it is moving. My brother lucks out because he has access to public transportation which allows him to get a good walk in before and after work. I work at home most days (it is the rough life) and when I do go into the Graphicly office I have to drive for an hour and then park and walk about a block to the office. I long for decent public transport that would force me to walk.

Most people that I have met working at Graphicly or at other start-ups tend to be about the same shape. Skinny arms, skinny legs and a belly. This is because most of us spend out time sitting at computers for work and then go home and sit at another computer. This needs to stop. Not the constant computer use but the lack of physical exercise.

One of the developers at Graphicly plays soccer all the time. Every time I talk with him he mentions that he is sore because of soccer. He is certainly more hardcore then I am about exercise but he also lacks a gut so maybe soccer is the way to go.

Over the past 3 months I have lost about 7 lbs, which is pretty good. And that is just doing yoga and avoiding eating all of the crap that is so tasty and yet bad for you. I am looking at you soda!! The great part is that I have gained some muscle, which means I have more energy and my pants fit better. Win, win.

I am no fitness expert and I think I may have an easier time with exercise then others due to my years doing gymnastics and cheerleading but if you feel out of shape, out of energy and just kind of BLAH!! start an exercise program. Nothing to difficult. Just start walking more or find a class the interests you and go for it. Yoga is nice because it is non-competitive (which other fitness classes will claim but in truth you will feel like you are competing with others in class or at least being judged by them) and low impact. Another option for the people who don’t think yoga is right for them is Zumba, because who doesn’t like dancing.

 

All or Nothing

I spend a lot of time on the internet. Probably less then some but more then a lot of people. I also tend to judge a business on their online presence. I really like it when a business is online in all the same spaces I am. It isn’t enough to just have a webpage; I want a twitter feed, maybe an instagram account and possibly some sort of an blog.

If you are going to take online orders, make sure your shit works. This is even more true if you are a restaurant. If you are a restaurant your online ordering system should never time out or if it does it should be hours after I have abandoned my cart… not in the middle of ordering. Keep in mind that sometimes a person is ordering for 10-15 people and if you system isn’t intuitive then it can take a while.

Nothing pisses me off more then getting all the way through an order and clicking view cart and seeing it be empty. Also when this happens and I call your store to make my order and tell you about the problem please never say “oh, that happens” because that will piss me off. Nothing on a website that causes your users experience to degrade should ever “just happen”. If it does your website sucks or you better be fixing it. That is where the twitter feed or blog comes in. Tell me what is happening.

Let me know on your front page that if you are making a large order that sometimes the cart system breaks and it might make sense to call your order in. Or at least be sympathetic.

The actual point of this post (if there is one) is that if you are going to be online, be ONLINE. Work the internet to your advantage. You don’t have to be some fancy tech start-up to use social media to your advantage. I can think of many ways in which a church or real estate company could use these free systems to drive their business and connect with their customers on a deeper level.

As a consumer I am more likely to use your services if I know that you are a human company not some faceless corporation. If I can look at your facebook fanpage and see that you participate in the conversation or see pictures of your workshop via twitter/instagram I am more excited to give you money then if you have a webpage with no functionality that hasn’t been updated since 1995.

Well it hit me

Today was a rough day. Apparently enough time has passed and my brain has finally decided to be sad. Really sad. This is one of those days when working from home sucks. Since I spent most of my day home alone I got to remember all of the fun things I did with my grandpa. I wouldn’t remember them all at once but instead it was much more of a shocking moment that would make me really sad followed by a lot of sad retrospection.

I do regret not seeing my grandfather more before he died. I rarely went to visit him. The last time I saw him was at this big surprise party that we had for him, and before that I can’t really say when I saw him last. I regret this because he was a neat person and I feel like I missed out.

The worst part is that I can’t commit to seeing my other grandparents more. Like I learned my lesson and will do better with the remaining ones. He was the last one. Families are hard like that. You don’t really miss them until they are gone.

What is hard right now is that I cannot begin to describe what I am feeling. I can’t seem to get past the barrier and actually cry. Instead I am just stuck in this permanent state of almost crying. Like I am on the verge of having a huge breakdown and just can’t.

 

The Same

I have noticed that a lot of people have a work life and a home life. They exhibit one set of characteristics at work and then another when they are not at work. Don’t do this. You will be happier in life and at work if you are honest about who you are in both places. This is because no one likes to be lied to.

When I was hiring people at Property Technica I would encounter this a lot. People would answer my questions how they thought I wanted them answer so that they could have the job. I knew this while I was interviewing. So does every single person who interviews people for jobs. How do they know? Because they have probably done the same thing.

There should be nothing in your life that you are so ashamed of that you cannot be honest with people about it. If there is something that you are so ashamed about that you keep it bottled up inside you need to take a look at your life and make adjustments.

Also honesty will beget honesty. If you live your life as honestly as possible then the world will be honest with you. Don’t assume that everyone is as honest of you but don’t automatically think people are full of shit. If someone asks you for an exemple of a time when you didn’t provide good service, tell them about the time you actually provided poor service and then talk about what you learned and what you would do differently in the future. They’ll respond to that better then the stock “Well, its hard to think of a time… but here is the closest exemple I could think of.” answer.

The same works outside of work. I have been married for 7.5 years now and I can say that our greatest strength is that we don’t lie to each other. We are on the same team so we our honest about everything. It can be awkward as you might imagine but I am a better person for the honesty that Sarah drops on me. Because we don’t have secrets we don’t have problems. Secrets = Problems.

This is why transparency is so important. Working at Graphicly this has been really nice. Micah tells it like it is and doesn’t bull shit us. Other jobs I have had really enjoyed jerking all the employees around and watching them dance. I am a good employee but I hate being jerked around. If you are honest with me I will stick around longer then if you jerk me around.

I like to think that I am the majority when it comes to being honest and appreciating honesty, but unfortunately that is not the case. I have worked with numerous people in all industries that cannot take constructive criticism and are afraid to give it. We have all worked with those people(if you haven’t then that person is you); the people who are complimentary about everything. They don’t have the ability to tell you directly that your design/idea/whatever is shit. They will praise you and praise you and then either bad mouth you behind your back or pass you up for promotions.

Try to not do this. Don’t be a smoke blower. Be a truth teller. If someone gives you a design and it is horrible, figure out why and give them criticism that will allow them to grow.

Pure Creation is Hard

As a sometimes writer, sometimes artist, sometimes programmer I have noticed an alarming trend. People are afraid of creation. Not the bible thumping kind of creation but the actually putting your ideas out there to be looked at by other people.  That kind of creation scares the shit out of most of us. I have been there, I understand. It is scary to create something show it to other people and not know what they are going to say, do, feel or what ever.

In Art school you are given a project or theme or a couple of words and expected to create something that fits within that idea. The first time you do it it is really hard. You spend more time worrying about what people are going to say then about creating your best work. That first project is usually really rough and while it fits the bare bones of the project it doesn’t step outside any comfort zones for anyone.

In writing it is the same way. I am not the best writer I know nor am I the worst. I haven’t taken very many classes on writing and have learned most of it by doing. For about 6 months(i think) I wrote a blog post every day. I would sit down and write write write until I was satisfied with the post and then I would type it up and post it. I filled up a moleskin. I was so cool.

Then I stopped writing. Time got in the way. I had other things going on. I couldn’t justify “wasting” time writing.

The same thing has happened with my drawing. I haven’t taken the time to seriously draw in a couple months. I still sketch all the time but I don’t sit down to consciously create things. I think about doing it but it is always easier to play video games or cruise the internet or whatever instead of taking the time to create. Part of this is because I, like everyone, fear failure. I don’t want to put my heart and soul into something and have it not be this amazing thing. That would suck.

I got thinking about all of this because I was thinking about how programers are lucky. They are creating something, just as an artist or author does; they just have a very supportive community. I am super new to the game but GitHub and StackExchange have been super helpful. Plus there are a ton of free resources to learn programming. Part of this is that programers seem to be comfortable sharing there ideas with each other (at least in the Open Source movement) and the other part is that the internet has allowed for worldwide collaboration without struggle.

Writers have writing groups that get together and discuss their current work but it is without collaborration. It is more of a “my character is doing X” “cool my character is doing Y”. (I am totally guessing that is what it is like as I have never been to a writing group). They have a great team but they are all working on very seperate problems. In programming someone can say  ”I was looking at your code and you forgot a semi-colon” When you add that semi-colon suddenly your shit works. I don’t imagine a lot of writers having there clunky manuscript solved by one thing needing to be changed.

Artists suffer even more. While collaboration happens more in visual arts it isn’t as common as it should be. Artists are excited about there method/process/idea/whatever more then anything else and “help” from other artists tends to be in the vain of “I would do it this way”. Not in a “Have you tried this.” Also artists tend to hold their secrets tightly and never let go. I think part of this stems from artists need for creative validation as well as the drive to be different.

What the artistic community needs is a GitHub. Especially as more art moves digital. A place where an artist can say “I was playing around with paint thinner and water colors on different surfaces and this is what happend.” and other artists can take that info and use it to further their own projects while giving credit to other artists. This sort of crazy collaboration would add a whole different speed to artistic development. Instead of thousands of people doing the same experiment with paints or clay or photoshop, they could build their experiment off of others.

If this sort of thing already exists I don’t know about it. Please let me know. Otherwise… lets get started.

 

On Mourning in the Morning

On March 19th 2012 my Grandfather(the only one I have ever known) died. He went peacefully in his sleep not screaming like everyone else in the car. Sorry. I always liked that joke.  He did go peacefully. The interesting thing is that I went and visited him on the 13th of March to say my goodbyes because it was apparent that he was not long for this world. When I saw him he was non-responsive, just twitching a little when I held his hand, talked to him and kissed his forehead before I left. Death is hard.

I am fortunate to have not encountered a lot of death in my lifetime. My Grandmother died when I was young and while I remember my parents picking me up from school and going to Burlington for the funeral I don’t remember much else. I remember walking out of the church and walking around the block with my dad. Not sure if I ever thanked my dad for that… Thanks Dad!! Other then that I haven’t known very many people that have died. Which is a good thing. The problem is that I am learning how to mourn.

I have dealt with a lot of near death medical things. Everything Sarah went through was pretty intense and I did think about what I would do if she were to die (mostly move to chicago to live with Harper and become very very goth). I also have dealt with my dad having open heart surgery, brain surgery and there was one May where we were pretty sure he had had a stroke. So I have worried about death a lot.

My Grandpa was an amazing person. He was a pharmicist for most of the time I knew him. He had a store WB Drug that was the first stop when we would go visit. We would walk into the store, head to the left and grab a candy bar, then head across the store and say hi and give him a hug before heading to his house. I remember when I had grown my hair out and he offered me $100 to cut it off. I took it. I remember cutting my toe at Bonnie Dam and going back to his house where he gave me some drug that made the pain go away and made me sleep. I remember sneaking upstairs on Christmas morning to try and catch Santa. I remember family gatherings at Christmas time.

One year Harper and I rode in the parade of lights on a tandem bike. One of our pants got caught in the chain at one point and I also remember the chain coming off the bike. Another time I went to his birthday party and did a strip tease for him in drag… don’t ask. Another time Sarah and I went down to burlington to visit. When I went to hug him Grandpa pushed my arms aside and said I don’t want to hug you, I want to hug her. He also asked Sarah if something was wrong with her since she was following me around.

What has made this so hard for me is the waiting for him to die. I am old enough now to understand that life is not an infinite resource. That we all have ‘x’ amount of time on the earth before we die. It is simple biology. I said my goodbyes and then experienced a block. I couldn’t mourn for him since he wasn’t dead. I had almost a whole week where I only broke down once. I still haven;t really cried since I learned that he was dead. I am waiting for that shoe to drop.

Mourning is so hard because you don’t know how to do it correctly. Because there is no correct way. The fact that I tear up when I leave my house to go do normal things seems to be my way of handling it. It makes it a little weird when I get places with tears standing in my eyes… like the grocery store to buy some cookies or 7-11 to get a slurpee. I am not used to this controlled release of emotion and it weirds me out. I am used to breaking down and crying like a boss. I am used to calling Harper when something happens and giving him 5 minutes of babbling word crying that he can’t understand. Instead I am totally chill. I feel sad, during the day when I am alone, but I don’t feel emotional.

Here is why. My grandpa wasn’t battling cancer, he didn’t have a stroke, he didn’t die of some weird illness. He died of being old. He lived his life how he wanted and his body and mind agreed that it was time. He was done living. He didn’t want to live anymore and his body agreed. So it shut down. And honestly that is the way it should be. No one should have to fight illness only to die. I hope that everyone I know gets to die of old age.

I love you Grandpa.

 

OMG!!! A Giant Snake Has Gotten a Hold of Me!!

And it is all Harper’s fault!!!

And by a giant snake I mean Python the programming language. Since Will and I started Sprinkler Studio we have been in need of a programmer. Using game salad and the like to create games was great and worked but was to limiting for what we really want to create, The Untitled Sci – Fi 2D Top Down RPG Epic (it does now have a title but that is still a secret).

Finding a programmer who wants to work for free and help us make this game so we can maybe have money later is really hard. This is because people that are any good at programming know that they should charge money for it. Just like good designers know that they should be paid for their work. I did a little looking tried to recruit some people but none of them had the required passion to join the team. I took a look at different programming languages (Java, C++, etc.) and was frustrated by most of the programming books. They would all have “Anyone can learn to code!!” or “Easy to learn” on their covers but were missing the ‘*’ which would state further down on the cover ‘* As long as you understand one of these 3 other programming languages this one should be a breeze’.
Harper suggested Python because it is his favorite and he secretly desires me to be his clone… or something. He told me that I already understood programming I just needed to pick a language and learn it. He emailed me a copy of “Learn Python the Hard Way” which I ignored for a while, then looked at, then got frustrated and ignored some more. I understood, from the title, that it wasn’t meant to be easy but it was using a vocabulary that I didn’t understand and I couldn’t wrap my head around the concepts. I felt like an idiot. I soon got over that.

I realized that I am a visual learner 100%. I have a very hard time learning from books, I always have. I do much better in a “Watch me, now you do it” learning atmosphere. This is why I excelled in Art school. It was a lot of here is the technique, now you do it. It was great. I got A’s for the first time in my life. The other classes I took that were book based were a lot more difficult. So I set off to find a programming book/tutorial that provided that type of learning process. I searched the library and couldn’t find anything that fit the bill. I used the internet to search and found a few things but nothing that seemed comprehensive enough to get me the knowledge I needed to make what I wanted to make.

Luckily I expressed my frustration to Harper and he pointed me towards Invent with Python. On the Invent with Python site you can download(for free) to ebooks specifically about making video games with python. What made these books different is that they are truly written for first time programmers with no previous knowledge. True that are also wittern for 12 year olds but hey I am still 12 at heart. I have been working my way through the first book and enjoying myself because the book follows this template.

  1. Here is some code
  2. Copy this code
  3. Run this code
  4. Here is why it does that
  5. Here are some other ways to accomplish the same task

For one who is a visual learner this is working great. It allows me to look at code writtern by someone else, analyze and understand it and then apply it to what I want to build. Once I finish the first book, which is pretty much bare bones, none graphical games (hangman, tic tac toe, guess the number) then I will move on to the second book which involves making games using pygame. This allows you to have actual graphics that aren’t just a square or circle.

I am pretty excited to learn and will probably go onto Learn Python the Hard Way after those two so that I have a full knowledge of the power of the Python.

Really GameSalad!!!

Recently GameSalad updated their game making application which I have been using to make a game. Typically when they do an update it is focused on adding new features to the program, which as a user is what I want. This update however is a little bit of a slap in the face to the free users(also known as Beta Testers since they are still in Beta). What they have done is taken away the Game Salad splash screen (which is standard for Pro members) and allowed you to use your own. So far so good. The problem comes in with this next part. After my Splash Screen what appears is an ad for another game from the PlayHaven network.

Since I currently work at a startup I understand that they need to make money. And ads can be a way to make money. I don’t begrudge them the money they can make doing this. My problem comes in two parts: the content and the method.

As an apple developer you are responsible for the content in your app. For instance Falling Cats, the game I am working on, is rated 4+. However gamesalad has said nothing about the content of the ads placed in front of my game using their app. As an exemple: When this first came to be and I built a version of my game for testers and launched the game there was an ad for a Zombie shooter, complete with blood and bullet holes. Awesome. If this game was submitted to the app store and some kid sees the zombie/bloddy mess who gets in trouble? Who gets their developer credentials rejected by apple?

The other thing that bothers me is the method in which this ad is implemented. It isn’t a 3 second ad that has the option to touch it to dismiss it. You have to click on the ad to dismiss it. As a gamer who despises ads, this would irritate me to no end. Not only is it forcing my consumer to do an extra step to get into the gameplay but it is giving my game studio a reputation as ad whores.

Of course as the people at GameSalad have said you can remove this “feature” from your game by becoming a pro subscriber for the small yearly fee of $499. This unlocks all these magical features: iAds, the PlayHaven Network, Klip ads, in-app purchases as well as giving you the ability to remove the initial ad from the game. I would love to become a pro member because I think that game salad is a solid group and that they are doing their best, but asking people to pay $499 to be a pro level beta tester is just silly. As numerous people have suggested on the game salad forums, Game Salad needs to do a tiered pricing plan: $99 removes the Playhaven add but doesn’t unlock any of the other features, $499 gets you all of the pro features. They could even break it down further by allowing you to purchase individual componants of the Pro membership for $75-100 a piece allowing people who only want to be able to do in-app purchases to just get those.

As I have spent time reading about peoples concerns on the forums I am noticing that game salad may have reached the point that they are only interested in making money and not listening to their users. They have thousands of faithful users who just want to make games, a lot who have stated that they would pay up to $100 to remove the ad, yet GameSalad is only interested in converting people to the full Pro Membership instead of realizing that convincing 5 people to remove the ad at $100 would be easier then convincing 1 person to spend $500. I would send them $100 right now to remove the ad from my game.

Another thing that I am irritated by this whole thing is that there was no talk about this “feature” prior to release. I updated my GameSalad to the newest version and I am now stuck with this until they update it again, change their pay structure or until I move to a different engine and remake my game. I guess this may be the push I need to learn C#/xCode and make my app that way.

Magical Tablet Magic

I was lucky enough to receive both a kindle fire and an ipad 2 for christmas this year. I also have a nook color that I use for testing apps for work. I have an abundance of tablets at my disposal. I use them all for different things. The nook is used primarily for testing and I find it to be the most klunky of the the tablets. The interface is not set up as nice or seem as well thought out as the kindle fire. The kindle fire was, for the week that I had it before I got the iPad, my comics tablet. I used it primarily for reading older comics that I can’t find in graphic novel or collection form at the library or online (Marvel 2099 I am looking at you).

I use Comic Reader Mobi for this. It reads .cbz and .cbr nicely. It keeps track of where you are in a series allowing you to switch between series easily and go back to what you previously read. The only problem I found, which I am not sure if it is a Fire problem or a Comic Reader Mobi, is that at times the selection of different folders doesn’t work and there have been occasionally crashes that force you to reopen the app. Not a deal breaker but annoying none the less.

Overall the kindle fire has been enjoyable. Surprisingly I haven’t actually read a book on it… I have a regular first generation for that. My one complaint is that the kindle fire is the menu system. Amazon seems super obsessed with the whole book shelf thing. I don’t really need book shelfs on a tablet. I need app icons. It also seems that most of the applications I have downloaded don’t have properly sized icons. I think that amazon neglected to tell developers to make a large sized icon when developing for the kindle fire. Super disappointing as it just looks bad. When I first received my kindle fire I was able to use a free month of amazon prime to watch movies etc. It was nice and quick but it certainly not a deal maker. Overall the amazon fire is a poor man’s ipad.

The iPad 2 is an unfair comparison but unfortunatly for teh Fire and Nook color they have painted themselves as being just that. The iPad is quicker, prettier and overall smoother to operate. Here are a couple of examples. On the kindle fire I needed to take a screenshot. The only way I found to do that is to install the Android SDK and work trickiness. Pain in the Ass. On the iPad 2 it is simple and just like doing it on my iPhone.

Comics on the iPad 2 are very different then on the Fire. There isn’t a better way to load .cbr/.cbz on to the ipad that I have found and I primarily us the fire for those tasks. However new comics are so much easier. Finally there is a way to get comics that is actually easier then downloading .cbz/.cbr. Sure you have to pay for it but as someone who has to drive 30+ minutes to get to a comic books shop I am fine paying for comic downloads as long as I can get them at the same time as they are released in store. It is magic. I use graphicly for all of my comic needs, partially because I work there but mostly because it just works.

One of the apps I use most is Air Video. It is  great app that lets you stream videos from your computer to your iPad 2 to watch anywhere in your house… or with a little extra work you can stream from your computer to your ipad anywhere that it is connected to the internet. Sarah and I use this all the time to watch movies in bed and I use it to watch movies whilst I work.

If you are thinking about buying a tablet don’t be enticed by the lower price point of the kindle fire or nook color, save your money and buy an iPad 2. It works better, runs faster and is much prettier.

Learning

Harper recently sent me a link to this article. I read through it and found it interesting. A lot of people in it talked about what they learned while at MIT or other universities and how their successes came not from being smart but learning how to be smart. Looking at the way successful students applied themselves to course work and figuring out what they were doing to be successful.  Another portion of people where the “I’m X years old and universities were hard when I was 20 and I dropped out and heading back to school because I now understand learning.” This is where I am.

I am 30 (soon to be 31) years old. I don’t have a degree in anything (other then being awesome), and my experience with school has been both bad and good. Activate time warp.

The year is 1996, I have just started my sophmore year at Greeley Central High School. My brother, world famous ginger, was a senior that year and this was the first time since elementary school that we were at the same school. Harper was a super cool dude and as such I was cool by association. Unfortuantly I had to deal with the “oh you are harper’s brother” comment which I found irritating.

I was not a good student. I never did homework but was lucky enough to be a good test taker and to be an absorber of knowledge. I could sit in class and listen and be able to pull facts out of my head to pass tests. This meant that if I was in a class that required homework to pass I failed, I was an active student who always participated in class I just hated homework. This continued all through high school. I barely graduated.

What I learned from high school was how to make friends, how to bull shit teachers and how to look ashamed when my parents would ask why I was failing. I also learned how to juggle, unicycle, make balloon animals and clown during this time, so it wasn’t a complete waste.

We have now traveled to Fall 1999. My freshman year at UNC. I started at UNC and had no clue what I wanted to study, only that I hated math. I had interesting roommates assigned to me: The Neo-Nazi and The Drunk. I say Neo-Nazi because he had swastikas tattooed on his body and he hated everyone. He was basically a dick and I was thankful when he met a girl and moved out of the dorm because I have not always been the straightest of companions and I didn’t really want to get killed by some idiot.

The Drunk on the other hand had had a rough year. His dad had died the previous Spring and as such he had buried his sorrows in alcohol. A lot of Alcohol. He and our sweetmates would get drunk most nights and be loud and obnoxious. This culminated with one of them being blind drunk and peeing next to my head why I slept. It was awesome. The best part is that I cannot blame these problems on my failure at UNC. I blame Tony Hawk Pro Skater and the Sega Dreamcast. A kid down the hall had one and we used to play for days and days. Never going to class, never doing anything but playing THPS and listening to the Blade soundtrack. I quit UNC after a semester and a half

What did I learn at UNC: Video games are awesome. After that I kicked around a little, worked a little, went to a community college a little. Then I fond dive school. I had been SCUBA diving since I was 15 (maybe earlier I don’t really remember) and I love being under water. So one day when I was cruising the internet I found the College of Oceaneering. It was a technical school where you learned Hard Hat surface supplied diving. This is where I learned how to learn.

It is now Xmas 2001(I think), I am in California living with a dude I just met in a two bedroom apartment in Long Beach/Compton. The College of Oceaneering didn’t believe in half measures. You where dropped into the water your first week to experience what it is like to wear the equipment and be underwater. It was amazing. After that first day I was excited.

We spent the next 10 weeks learning about safety with rigging, knot tying, the many, many ways you can die underwater and how to run a decompression chamber. There is nothing like the possibility of death (and a really painful on at that) to make you learn things. I acceled at the COO. I was on the deans list for most of my time there and was a person that other students went to for help. I hated math and yet I learned all about the physics of magnetic fields and how sound waves travel through metal. It was awesome.

It was while I was at the COO that I learned about learning. I learned that learning is a skill that must be practiced. That when I really focused and set aside time for school work, not only was it enjoyable but I was rewarded for my hard work. This meant that when I finally went back to school to get a degree that I was ready to succeed. And when I went back I did succeed. It helped that I knew what I wanted to do. I no longer felt like I was floundering. I still haven’t received my degree, because… you know… life happened. But I know that when I go back I will succeed.

I AM SO AWESOME!!!