a blog is way cheaper than a therapist

John Varvatos glasses
People I care about are going through really rough periods lately. Completely unrelated, just a coincidence, blame unlucky stars or what have you. However, a couple of them have finally turned a corner and are going to start seeing things get better soon.

Sorry to be so vague, it's out of respect for their privacy... you know I am an open book, I'll tell you anything you want to know, and then probably sprinkle in TMI for good measure. (Have I mentioned that in the past couple of weeks, I've seen my neighbors having sex right in front of their window five different times?)

The point is, I can mostly get back to being my usual selfish self, and not have to worry about others as much. This is good, because it is Halloween. Like most goths, Halloween was my favorite time of year when I was younger and "wearing colors" meant "wearing gray instead of black". As I've gotten older and more cranky and agoraphobic, it has become my least favorite holiday, because everybody I know wants to have a Halloween party; and I hate people.

I've been sick for like a week and a half now, on-and-off, with a persistent headache, and it isn't helping my crankiness. Neither is my perfectionism and stress about DJing in a month.

Did I mention that I hate people? It's nothing personal, friends: I even hate myself. I'm an equal-opportunity hater. Heck, it's not just people; I also hate puppies. And babies. And teenagers (they aren't real people until they are 20). And cars. Honestly, liquor and my Playstation might be some of the only things I like right now, and liquor is on thin ice. (There's a pun in there somewhere...)

I noticed I've been dressing a little more goth again, which I'd blamed on (1) coming out of DJing retirement and (2) a mid-life crisis; but maybe I'm just going through a really dark phase. Ha ha, my parents would love it to hear me use "goth" and "phase" in a sentence like that. Seriously, sometimes you just get in a bad mood and need to unload and bitch and say horrible things at the world. Don't mind me; a blog is way cheaper than a therapist.

Sep. 30th, 2014

John Varvatos glasses
I've been fighting the cold that just won't die. Not bad enough to knock me out; but for almost a week I've had a cough and fatigue.

What free time I have, I've spent on DJing and reading. I'm really psyched to get back into DJing but I'm very glad it's not a regular part of my life anymore. It requires a level of commitment that keeps me from doing a lot of other enjoyable things. I've been kind of blowing off magic and video games. I guess we only have just so much time for hobbies in our lives, and have to make choices!

At least I have some free time. I'm forty and childless, so I guess I'm going to stay that way. I don't know how my friends with kids find the time to do anything. I admire them.

Right. Forty. "I'm forty." Foooorrrrrrtyyyyyy. I can buy special vitamins for people my age and older. I'm not going to bitch about getting old, it's better than the alternative, and I've had enough luck and good decision making to give myself a pretty comfortable and happy middle age. And I married a younger woman. ;)
John Varvatos glasses
I want to talk about something boring and geeky: passwords, bookmarks, and clouds. And music, which might not be geeky, but it will be.

I know that most of my normal friends have one computer, maybe a phone, and this isn't interesting to them. Sorry. But I'm not alone in having a dizzying array of devices: a personal laptop, a low-end PC attached to my TV for streaming shows, and a smart phone (Android), not abnormal. Throw in a work computer I'm in front of all day, though, and an iPad issued to me by work...

It is not unreasonable to need passwords for various banking, email, social, work, shopping, etc., sites, and have most of them be different; there's enough hacking in the world that you are kind of crazy not to have different password everywhere. You can't possibly remember them all, and some security gurus will tell you you shouldn't even use passwords simple enough that a human CAN remember them for most things. So you need a password manager: I use KeePass. But I want it on more than one PC, so now I'm synching the encrypted password database via Google Cloud (probably the weak point in my armor?) which requires a plug-in. And installing a port of KeePass on my phone (next up my iPad). And another plugin to make it integrate with my web browser. Normal people aren't going to take this effort. It is very difficult for normal people to be safe, I think.

It is also not unreasonable to want to listen to my music on various devices. Several large companies (Apple, Amazon, Google) want to make a lot of money with the promise of making this easier for you, if only you completely buy into their ecosystem and (if possible) only buy music from their stores. My solution thus far has been to manage music and playlists in iTunes on my personal laptop, mainly because the iPad has locked me into using iTunes (haven't found an alternative that works). But that doesn't play well with my Android phone, which is my main music source in the car; for that I use Easy Phone Tunes which is cheap (free with limited functionality) and miraculously actually seems to work to copy music based on iTunes playlists to an Android device. Still, normal people... are just going to listen to Pandora or Spotify because normal people are not going to put this much work into listening to some goddamn music.

I'm old enough to remember that years ago, dealing with keeping my bookmarks in synch on my home vs work PC was a pain in the butt. Chrome worked that out with cloud synch of bookmarks; ports of Chrome for Android and iPad mean I have them everywhere. Unless a browser can promise me synch of bookmarks and passwords across all popular platforms (Windows, iOS, Android, at minimum) it's a non-starter as far as I'm concerned.

Right now Apple and Microsoft seem to want to strongarm me into using their platforms only, and sorry, that can't happen for reasons I won't bore you with in this post. Google is doing a better job meeting my needs, but they are still imagining a world where people have good connectivity all the time; I can barely get a phone signal in an urban area sometimes, much less wifi, so their desire to keep my music and documents entirely in the cloud instead of synched isn't working for me.

The point of my rambling, I guess, is to recommend KeePass and Easy Phone Tunes; and to solicit thoughts from people who might have done better.

a weekend full of people. and tattoos.

John Varvatos glasses
This weekend I am going to attend the Big Pour beer festival; then a friend's birthday party; then spend the night in a tent at a friend's farm; then watch football with a large group of people; then attend the "Farm To Food Truck" event.

Every one of these events sounds delightful on its own, but taken as a whole weekend, it's an introvert's nightmare.

I know I haven't posted much. I've been very busy. Missed two or three of my monthly magic meetings. I can't even say it's like I'm getting much done; but my house is cleaner, I've put together a nine hour playlist of music for my DJing gig (yikes!), and I buzz cut my hair... thinking about trying clip-on earrings before committing to a piercing, which is about the most pathetic half-assed midlife crisis ever.

Speaking of which, there is a tattoo I've wanted for years, which is the character art for Lenneth from Valkyrie Profile, but it is way too elaborate to make a good tattoo. Recently it occurs to me, though, that the stylized logo might be feasible... but I'm not sure I want it as much. The tattoo would be a celebration of the gorgeous art as much as my love for the game.

I thought about some playing card tattoos, but that seems a little cliche, doesn't it?


extended adolescence

DJ Badtz
Going back to DJing, and all the reasons I loved it (and all the reasons I hated it) are flooding back.Collapse )

I've also been on a bit of a housecleaning and organizing kick lately. Ugh! Life is to short.Collapse )

Speaking of which, I'm turning forty soon, and I've developed a desire to buzz cut my hair, get something pierced, and maybe get another tattoo. Midlife crisis? I was going to have a big party, but screw that. I'm going somewhere else for my birthday, where I don't have to clean up the mess.

One night only, maybe

John Varvatos glasses
It's official. I'm returning to DJing. One night only, maybe, but...

fliersCollapse )

Picked up some used gear super cheap on Craigslist, which will integrate with my iPad, so all that practicing during my recent vacation will pay off.



DJ Badtz
I am on vacation this week in the Outer Banks... Just about the most cliche vacation possible, a week at a beach town, but it is pleasant and relaxing. Brought the dogs, brought some cards and magic texts... But the most interesting bit is that I brought my iPad (how I'm typing this up) loaded with, among other thing, Algoriddim's djay for iPad app. It's amazing what technology can do now, and I forgot how much I enjoyed DJing when there was no stress involved.

I eat so much better on vacation (not as much junk food around) but replace too much water with beer (and whiskey). I definitely get more sun and more sleep. I don't think I've taken so many days off work in a row for a LONG time, and it is psychologically weird. I miss things from home-- my brother, my Playstation-- but vacations should make you appreciate life more, and maybe missing things is part of that.


coffee & mindfulness

John Varvatos glasses
I have suffered serious depression and anxiety, so appreciating and caring for my mental health is important to me. Getting in the habit of constant gratitude has been one of the most important training exercises for my mind, and after some time trying to get in the habit, it is paying off.

Every single day I try to appreciate that I live in a palace of a house compared to most of the world. I try to savor every bite of food. Any moment where I can stop, breathe fresh air, and look at a blue sky, I'm thankful for the magic of the world; on the flip side, I try to find the beauty in clouds and rain. When I crack open a beer and lie back in leisure, I try not to just let it be a relief; I try to be mindful, present, grateful, and enjoy every wonderful moment of my brief life. I try to appreciate the unique and wonderful qualities of every human being in my life... and most of the animals, too!

This isn't the same as sticking my head in the sand. Of course there are things that make me angry or unhappy. If I can and will do something about them, then, I can and will. If not, I try to make a conscious effort not to dwell. This does not come naturally. It is not what evolution has made us. But it might be the key to happy living in the first world.

Tangentially related: A lot of this philosophy is rooted in Buddhism, but, I'm not a great Buddhist. I take joy in a lot more material stuff than I need. (I'm also lazy and self-centered.) I've been thinking about coffee, and how it is kind of an addiction, and addiction probably isn't that great. However, the amount of joy that coffee gives me is just unbelievable. And I think it's a good metaphor. Do you remember how Twin Peaks went on and on about coffee? I think it can be a good metaphor for fleeting pleasure, or of tiny daily joys.

the life lessons of vacations

John Varvatos glasses
Just enjoyed a three-day weekend at a lake house with friends. Lovely spending time with loved ones, always; and I don't think that life gets better than sitting in a hot tub staring at the stars. Renting an off-season ski cabin is a nice compromise between the poor man's staycation, and fun but prohibitively expensive travel.

A great thing about vacation is the perspective it gives you on everyday life. I know I'm living right because in some ways, I look forward to getting home. Vacations also makes me ask: How am I eating? How am I spending my time? How often do I do the things that I think I'm going to do?; for if I drink and nap instead of reading the book of magic I brought, what lessons are in that?

good times & bad times

John Varvatos glasses
I just had an amazing weekend. Some rowdy fun, some relaxation, and some productivity (including some home organization projects I've been putting off for months). I got up, I jogged, and now I only have a three-day workweek before going on a short holiday for Independence Day weekend.

As you probably know, I've been trying to apply Zen Buddhist philosophy to my life, and I'm not good at it... but to the best of my ability, it has helped me be a lot happier. Floating in the pool this weekend, I tried not to let my mind drift to much, and just appreciate how perfect life was at that moment. I've gone through shitty times, and there will be shitty times again in my future, and some day I will die. But if you are having a moment of perfect happiness, you should be in that moment of perfect happiness while you can.

Some folks might talk about "jinxing" yourself, but on the contrary, I want to be grateful for everything that is good in my life. I know some of you are going through tough times. I hope you can find what is good in life and focus on it-- even the simplest pleasures-- and that you are able to see the end of your troubles soon, and appreciate life even more for having endured hardship.


John Varvatos glasses
brian j. parker

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