Archive for December, 2008

New Year's Focal Points!

I haven’t really made resolutions since I was a teenager. I learned early on that the pressure and stigma attached to them was basically a recipe for failure, and, for most people, declaring a resolution at the stroke of Dick Clarke (or Seacrest now, I guess. Creepier) actually just provides an easy out.

“Oh, yeah, I didn’t quit smoking like I said I would. It was a New Year’s resolution, and nobody sticks to those”

So at that point, why even bother? Why automatically set yourself up for a level of disappointment that’s even higher than the amount you give yourself for your daily failures and flaws?

However, just because you don’t stand on a table at 12:05AM and slur to a crowd of beparty-hatted revelers how ‘This year, I’m gonna stop pirating porn, for serious!’ Doesn’t mean that the New Year can’t bring with it some kind spirit of self-improvement and positive change.

That’s why I do something a little different than resolutions. Rather than having my mouth (or blog) write cheques that my lazy(ficient) ass can’t cash (which it already does too often, ie: every time I announce a new comic that doesn’t end up getting posted) I choose a more general approach, to thinking of things in my life that I can work on, and spend more time focusing on. Instead of “I resolve to lose weight!”, how about, “I am going to focus more on improving my eating and exercise habits.”?

For me, this kind of passive goal setting is less intimidating, and feels less like I’ve failed before I’ve even begun, if that makes any sense. I would love to be the kind of go-getter who sets determined goals and stops at nothing to achieve them, (and if those people have the audacity to make New Year’s resolutions, they should be punched in the face for rubbing in the rest of ours) but let’s face it, I am NOT that kinda guy. At least not yet.

I have just recently thought of the term “New Year’s Focal Points” to describe this kind of non-rigid, low pressure, achievable self-improvement January 1st goal setting idea. I think “Focal Points” is a just buzz-wordy, and douche-baggy enough phrase to catch on, so I’m sticking to it.

And with that, here are some of the things I would like to focus more on in 2009 and beyond:

-Health and fitness
-Doing fun, cultural things with the wife
-Family and Friends
-My webcomics misplaced and Imaginary Enemies
-My video webcast idea
-My music blog
-Blogging in general
-Helping my wife build her business
-Making music
-Pirating less porn

There are probably others, but those come to mind right now. I’m curious to know how many of you make resolutions, how often you follow through, or what kinds of things you hope to focus on in the new year. Don’t be shy, leave a comment!

I hope you all have a happy and healthy 2009, and achieve whatever you either resolve to do, or focus on in the next 12 months.

-Now let’s get drunk and blow on a wizzy retractable paper snake coily thingy! Wooo!


53 to 32: Lazifficiency, and the Big Picture.

With the help of something a good friend of mine once said, I have come up with a formula.

[Laziness] + [Cleverness] = [Efficiency]

While I suppose there are some people out there who are efficient for other reasons, for me, and probably a lot of people, laziness is the true mother of that invention, and that kind of efficiency (which I have now dubbed Lazifficiency, because I think made-up compound words are awesome) has helped me quite a bit in the past.

Back when I worked for Chain Video Rental Store, I had every element of that job down to it’s simplest, quickest, and most effortless, from prepping movies for the rental shelves to counting out my till at the end of the shift, I had a system for everything that could rarely be improved upon. When I became the assistant manager (youngest ever, at that time, which is one of my many inconsequential lifetime achievements) of that store, if staff had a closing shift, they knew that I could get them out of the place within 5 to 10 minutes after locking the last customer out, when any other shift supervisor would usually take a half hour to an hour.

In other jobs, I would devise checklists, organize workstations, and invent little systems in my head that could achieve everything I needed to do in the least amount of time possible.

My motivation? The down time, baby. If you get everything done quickly, you can spend more time not having to work.

And that’s great, if you’re always going to work for someone else, but it can kind of cripple you when you’re trying to do something on your own.

With all these personal projects I want to do; webcomics, blogs, music, writing, etc, the time I have to spend on them comes out of that precious ‘down time’, so my brain is reluctant to do anything that I don’t HAVE to do, if it means impeding on that time. Why do I work so hard at working smart, to give myself all this extra relaxing time, if I’m then going to use it to do more work? Often, this causes my brain to become a petulant little shit when I want to get it motivated to, for example, try filming a webcast on the weekend, or work on a novel outline, because I’m cutting into precious ‘do nothing’ time. Even if these projects are things I love to do, honestly, I still love to do nothing even more.

But here’s something that occurred to me this morning: I’m not looking at the bigger picture, because if I did, I would realize that my lazy-assed brain was actually going against its tendencies.

You see, rather than applying lazifficiency on a small scale, to individual tasks, or just my job, or just housework, or just shopping for underpants, I need to look at my LIFE as the task to optimize.

I work a job that takes up about 44 hours a week, a job that I will likely have to do (or one just like it) until I am in my sixties or beyond. How is that Lazifficient? There is a fucking OCEAN of downtime that I am throwing away on this poorly organized task called existing. I need to optimize my time on the earth, and a ‘job’ in general, even when made extremely efficient, is still time spent in a place doing things you would not be doing if you had complete control over your time. Before today, I had never zoomed out of my life and thought of it quite like that.

Could be a breakthrough. Which would be nice.

However, as an elite group of military cartoon people used to say, knowing is half the battle. What I need to do now, is figure out how to blend this new revelation with my lazifficiency skills, and come up with a plan to optimize my life.

-I need to start making some lists…


53 to 32: Staying Regular With Brain Dumps

I’ve mentioned it a lot recently, and it’s only because it has been the most predominant thing on my mind for the past two weeks; this “video game concept” thing. I mention it again today, because it’s a good example of how easily distracted I can become when I come up with the Newest Great Idea.
Earlier this month, I did this crazy week-long road trip, 20 hours of driving, and 6 customer visits, in five days. I do so much driving for my job, and all that time alone with my thoughts is most often where the ideas that fill the bottleneck originate.

So I’m driving along a mountain pass in B.C., when I have this vision. I remember reading something Stephen King said about his idea for the novella The Mist. He said that he was at the grocery store, when he suddenly had this image of a pterodactyl crashing through the window and flying down the aisle. The story he wrote just built upon that.

That’s kind of what I experienced while behind the wheel, this vision of a scene from a video game, and by the time I finished that 3 hour leg of my journey, I had most of the game ideas figured out. The rest of that week was spent mentally refining those ideas.

The whole time this is going on, there’s a part of my brain, that ounce of common sense mixed with inner-critic, telling me, “You realize that you don’t have any experience, resources, or contacts in the game development community, right? This is the biggest waste of time, considering you DO have the resources and tools at your disposal to do any of the other projects you want to work on. Why aren’t you putting more effort into your webcast idea, or writing scripts for your comics, you dumb shit?”

And that voice is right. However, I always get irrationally obsessive about the Newest Great Idea, and it almost invariably affects everything else I want to do.

Cut to this past Saturday. I feel like crap; frustrated, grumpy, I want to work on something creative, but nothing’s happening. Mentally constipated. I was trying to find some kind of project planning software, where I could start putting all the pieces together for my game idea, on the off chance I can flesh it out to become a real pitch that I can take to a developer. Nothing that I found was quite what I wanted, and I was letting it get to me.
The wife needed to get some supplies from Office Depot, and I needed to get out of the house, so off we went. On the drive there, I told her about my frustrations, and she suggested, “Why not put all of the ideas down the old-fashioned way, with a pen and paper?”

She’s thinks she’s so fuckin smart. And that’s because she is.

I looked around the Orifice Depot, and found a 5 subject notebook, and some of those elementary school workbooks, the kind where only the bottom half of the pages are lined, and spent the rest of the day mind-mapping my ideas into one of the workbooks.
By Sunday morning, I found that the game was not pushing nearly as hard at the front of my cortex anymore, and I was actually able to work on comics without the Newest Great Idea interfering. It was magical, the most focused I’ve been in a long time. All thanks to a 99 cent workbook, and a wife with a Great Idea of her own.

-I don’t know if this brain-dumping technique is the final piece to the puzzle of enabling me to do more with myself, but I do know I’m going to go buy some more of those workbooks today.


Stuff I Do
  • [SIC] I’m working on recording an album. Follow the progress here.
  • Downloadable Contempt My newest blog, focusing on commentary on music, movies, TV shows.
  • Imaginary Enemies Another webcomic, done in crayon. Still figuring it out.
  • misplaced: the webcomic My photographic webcomic, about action figures. Read by over 4 people worldwide!