From the Ashes…

There must be something about the city of Phoenix that puts me in the mood to evaluate and take action. This is my second time visiting, both times to attend the Gartner CIO Leadership Forum. It’s one of the most informative and energizing things I get to do all year.

While attending the conference last year, I woke up in the middle of the night with my brain already in 6th gear. Many things were going right in my life, but so many other things were at best unsatisfying. One thing the GTD methodology has taught me is that writing things down is a great way to get your brain to relax, so I grabbed a notepad.

I’m not sure if I was being overly literal or overly dramatic in the wee hours, but I titled the page “Dark Phoenix.” I then wrote down thirteen changes that I wanted to make in my life. Some were habits to break (“more disciplined work hours”), others were aspirational (“learn any modern programming language – Max?”), and some were more targeted at things I was fundamentally unhappy about (“lose 2 pounds / month to 185”).

This list was the culmination and expansion of many things I outlined in my Let’s Try That One More Time post, written about two months earlier. Clearly, the ideas were still running around in my brain to the point where my brain said, “I’m tired of thinking about this. Wake up and do something about it.”

A year later, my estimate is that I’m running this list at about 65% efficiency. I got most of my productivity burrs ground down, put a hard stop to perpetual crisis mode at work, and focused on establishing healthy habits to take me into the second half of my life.

The most successful change was the weight loss. I started working on this in earnest last July, walking regularly and changing my diet. The changes were sensical, not radical. The exercise was moderate, but regular. I feel great and have more energy than I have in decades. And last week, I bought new dress shirts that have the words “slim fit” on the tags. I had some “Biggest Loser” emotional moments in the dressing room.

Other areas haven’t seen quite as much progress. I haven’t learned a new programming language yet, but I’m working on VBA for Excel, more for personal satisfaction than for any professional need. My artistic side also was a bit neglected, though that was due in part to moving to a new house and having to get things set up again.

There were some purges – Facebook and Google+ haven’t seen me since December unless it was for work. Most social media interactions are now on Twitter and LinkedIn, but even those are less common than they once were.

More things are now bubbling up, and the “Dark Phoenix” notebook in Evernote keeps getting new bits and pieces and clippings. I’ll be interested to see what changes the city of Phoenix inspires this time around.

Let’s Try That One More Time

2013 was a forgettable year. While there were a few personal high points, for the most part it was either neutral or negative and I’m not all that sad to see it go. I do have some resolutions for the coming year, but they consist more of objectives and goals than planned behavioral changes.

Everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy.

In a sign of the times, many of them (if not most) are aimed squarely at my social media presence and habits. When I looked back at the year, social media had taken the place of “old media” as the source of much of my unhappiness. As Louis C.K. once said, “everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy.” I’ve been part of that problem, primarily because I provide the audience and demand for it.

So… here are some of the things I’m going to work toward:


Publish an album and charge money for it

I’m not sure what will be on it, but I’ve said I was going to do this for years and years. Time to make it happen before CDs go away entirely. It may amount to nothing more than a vanity project, but I’ve heard far worse vanity projects in the past, so I’m not afraid of it any more. I may even do a micro-run of vinyl just because.


Significant reduction in Facebook presence

Facebook has kept raising the temperature of the pot… no change is enough to make me just drop it altogether, but I realized that I’ve been spending a lot of my time being unhappy about things. The advertising, the video auto-play, the snooping, the app spam… I’m tired of it. I’ll still check in and post things that I think friends will find interesting or helpful, but this will no longer be a primary platform for me.


Significant increase in blog presence

I’ve said this many times in the past, and it goes in fits and starts. I’m not holding myself to any specific metric like “post every week,” but many of the things I want to say now violate some rule or anger the social media etiquette security forces. Am I stealing? Do I need to tip my hat? Did I just cross the picket lines of the “curators” union? We used to call putting a link on your page… uh… putting a link on your page. Now it’s big business and everyone’s out for this ephemeral cred because they shared it from someone else first. So to hell with it – I’ll write about it here. A corollary to this is that I want to write good content , not just the ramblings I’ve ended up with in the past. In this regard, I’ll be working on patience… more editing, less immediate posting.


Near-fanatical adherence to my 2013 “No Negative Comments” rule

I’m pretty happy with my performance in this regard during 2013, though I slipped a few times with some irresistible snark or reaction. This year, I’m not even going to start to write a comment and delete it before pressing “submit.”


Less overall online consumption

I spend too much time online that I later think of as being wasted. It’s a bad habit, so I’m going to try and drop that, focusing instead on content that helps me do or create something. I can best sum this up with a line from Wayne’s World:

Turn it off, man! Turn it off! It’s sucking my will to live!

There are some specific article types that I’m going out of my way to avoid in the future, notably anything that has a linkbait headline along the lines of “13 Weird Things Robots Do” or “Her husband died in a fire. You won’t believe what she did next!” I’m tired of the manipulation and the story is never as interesting as you hoped it would be.


Ruthless dropping, uncircling, defriending and more stringent categorization

A big part of my unhappiness in 2013 came from other people being unhappy and doing little more than venting about it. So why am I so eager to read it? It’s like eating junk food… it’s a quick high, but has bad long-term ramifications. My Google+ circles have gotten a bit wooly, so it’s time for some clean up. I don’t plan on these purges and shifts to be entirely online, either.

Also, anyone using played out phrases in their posts or comments ( ‘Murica! or “curated by” ) are fast tracked to the chopping block. It was funny three years ago (or annoying as in the case of “curated by”) but now it just sets me off and… you know… ain’t nobody got time for that.


Make more stuff

I like making things. Mostly music, but other things as well. This year, I want to get myself set up to do more video work, maybe try painting, write some tips & tricks for things I know about, and so on. I did make an attempt at some creative writing this year and while it was more enjoyable to write it than it is to read it, I’m keeping Ira Glass’ “working through the suck” comments in the back of my mind. If you’re curious about that, please see my Walking Long Enough post from back in 2008 (which was an even worse year than 2013).


So. Those are the important things… or at least the important things that I could think of before finishing this first cup of coffee. I may come back and add to this post later if I decide something else is worth posting for all the world to see.

I wish everyone, and I mean everyone, a joyous, safe, peaceful, productive, and prosperous 2014.

Antisocial Media

I just got back from an almost-two-week trip to Europe. Mary and I were on a cruise with our friends Danny & Richard who celebrated their 25th anniversary this year! It was a good trip and we had a great time. The cost and PITA factor of ship-board satellite made it more like the old modem days where you’d get everything set, then communicate in burst mode.  I ended up reading on my Kindle more than anything else. The more opportunities I have to be unplugged, the more luddite I become.

One result upon coming back is that I more or less stopped caring about the various social media sites. I’ll maintain the accounts (I have some plans for the rest of the year), but I just don’t feel any draw; they’re a habit more than anything and have become little more than an excuse to procrastinate. I find less and less of value and more noise that’s distracting me from actually accomplishing things.

Up first: the studio overhaul. And I really really don’t want to do it, but it needs to be done. So off to start lifting heavy things.

The Internet Diet

My Internet connection was down for a few hours today. During the outage, I realized just how much of a surfing rut I’ve gotten into. Check Facebook, check Google+, surf Gearslutz, watch some YouTube, wash, rinse, repeat.

This is eating into the time I would use to do other, more productive, more rewarding things. I realized I’m using the Internet more as a procrastination device than anything. So I’m going to work at spending less time online with the following exceptions:

  • Netflix
  • Actual reference / research
  • Software updates
  • Soundcloud
  • Daily email check
  • This blog

I may still hit the social media sites occasionally, but I’m going to try and keep it limited to promoting the Soundcloud postings.

Hello from Orlando

A quick post to say hello to all of you that may be checking out my site after meeting me in Orlando or following me on Twitter. I post here sporadically, and mostly about music I’ve written or recording equipment. That said, the Gartner Symposium has really energized me again to talk about geekery of the non-musical kind, so check back from time to time.

It’s a bit long in the tooth, but my Hello World post is still largely relevant. I may not be quite as cynical, but then again, I might be a bit more. It depends on how much coffee I’ve had.

In any case, a virtual hello and /wave to you. I hope you’ll hang around and start a dialog if a topic interests you!