Friday, December 6, 2013

Technology and the Poor

Methods By Which A Poor Person May Acquire an iPad
  1. It was a gift from a more affluent friend or relative who ditched it as soon as the iPad 2 came out.
  2. Money saved from working a third job.
  3. Purchased prior to being laid off from a decent-paying job.
  4. Haggled with Best Buy employee over display model.
  5. Found in trash the day after the release of the iPad 2.
  6. Won it from Taco Bell.
  7. "If you can fix it, you can have it."
  8. Saved up for it.
  9. Won it in a church raffle.
  10. Provided by employer.
  11. Provided by school district.
  12. Borrowed it from a friend.
  13. Went halfsies with a friend.
  14. Other methods that didn't involve snatching it from your soft, middle-class hands, despite what your incessant whining seems to indicate.

Note: This is a reaction to the random hatred of poor people that shows up on Facebook and in the comments section of assorted websites. I am in no way trying to tell people what they ought to do.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Are you busy?

Not long ago, I read something about how English-speakers are conditioned to avoid saying "No" directly, but to use body language, tone of voice, and "I'd love to, but..." as a way to politely turn down an invitation. For example:

A: "Would you like to go see Pacific Rim tomorrow afternoon?"
B: "Tomorrow afternoon doesn't work for me. Have fun, though! That movie looks awesome!"

Person B conveys disappointment that tomorrow afternoon and removes herself from the equation without having to say "No." The answer isn't, "No, I don't want to," but, "No, I'd love to, but I can't."

Like most things, this social dance has evolved. How often does this happen to you?

A: "You doing anything tonight?"
B: "...No?"
A: "Awesome! We should go see Pacific Rim!"

I've done this to people; people have done this to me. It's not a conscious thing. On some level, we are aware that leading with an activity and time will give the other person a chance to come up with an excuse to say no, so we want to circumvent that by leading with the time. If a person agrees to the time, then they can't say "no" to the proposed activity, right?

Obviously, this kind of setup sucks if a current lack of plans is intentional and Person A is not understanding. Some people are cool about it, but some people feel slighted, as if Person B is saying, "Sorry, but sitting on the couch alone sounds more fun than hanging out with you."

This is the sort of thing I think about while I'm falling asleep. I can't wait for Pacific Rim to hit DVD.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Some good stuff

You Don't Have to Read That Text Tonight from Storming the Ivory Tower. I didn't realize how incredibly refreshing it would be to read something like this now that I'm six years out of college. Working with engineers all day means the closest I get to these kinds of conversations is, "Derp derp the curtains are just fucking blue, amirite?"

Hollywood Needs More Women on NPR. "What we're in effect doing is training children to see that women and girls are less important than men and boys. We're training them to perceive that women take up only 17 percent of the space in the world."

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Taking Things Too Seriously

I have a half-dozen unfinished drafts that I keep agonizing over, struggling to find perfect words and metaphors, and basically not writing them.

So I'm deliberately writing a blog post to show myself that the world doesn't end when your words aren't perfect.

Hi! I've been playing Orcs Must Die 2 with my wife lately, and that game is awesome. You play as a person who... kills orcs. Thousands of them.

Also, I have a new album coming out soon.

Also also, I have started work on a short story.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Caffeine Cycle

About twice a year, I attempt to quit caffeine forever. This is not one of those times.

I had significantly reduced my caffeine intake -- maybe a black or green tea in the morning and a Sodastream when I got home from work. More than none, but not two cups of coffee, either.

Then, at some point I had to get up earlier than normal. Or maybe I got engrossed in something in the evening and didn't go to bed on time.

Either way, it starts with making a hot chocolate with a shot of coffee. Just one shot! Just... a little something to take the edge off.

Headaches follow shortly after.

Today, I'll say, just today I will have a half cup of coffee. Not much. Just to numb this headache, then I'm done.

The next day, maybe the headache comes later, so the coffee comes later.

Maybe I make it until the evening and drink too much Sodastream.

However it goes, it's the 8pm caffeine injection that cuts me loose from reason, and I find myself staring at the wall at 1am, wondering why it's so hard to fall asleep.

Unwilling to mess up my schedule, I still set my alarm to go off early. Then I'm tired in the morning, so I start my day with coffee. I'm tired when I get home, so I take a nap and then drink some pop. If it's Friday, maybe I'll get Starbucks and stay up super late! Excellent idea, sir!

This time around, I think I'll try to scale back before the next phase, which could be titled, Zombie Matt Sleepwalks Through Work, Naps All Afternoon, and Is Rude to Everyone.

After this cup...

Monday, June 10, 2013

So, here we are again

I technically started blogging on Diaryland before moving to LiveJournal, but that was before I'd heard the term "blogging", so I tend to think of Blogger as the place where I started walking the Path of the Blogger.

And now, I have returned!

It's a bit different from the last time I was here, though I couldn't tell you how because I don't remember the old version. It just looks... like pretty much everything else Google does, minimalism for its own sake.

Anyway, I was on self-hosted WordPress for a long time. I like the level of control I had over everything -- I could customize the hell out of things. Edit the phps and what have you. Very nice. There were really only two reasons I decided to switch back:
  1. I barely scratched the surface of the near-endless options at my fingertips
  2. (more importantly) I was tired of the daily automated emails telling me that my files had been compromised, so please scan them and remove the threat.
If I'm on Blogger, then stuff like that is largely Google's problem -- I just need to make sure my password isn't "password1" and I'm good.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

American Laws

I created a MailChimp account so I can have a mailing list for my musical project.

Some gun control legislation just failed. It would have required background checks on gun show sales and internet sales, and apparently that's a threat to freedom.

To comply with anti-spam laws, everything sent out through my electronic mailing list needs to have my snail mail address on it.

Once more:

To protect consumers from unwanted email, I need to distribute personal information that I'm not really comfortable releasing into the internet badlands. But, it's unthinkable that we implement any form of gun control to protect citizens from guns.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Satellite Reboot

I finally came up with a "band" name for my music project. There's a new site and everything! It's pretty bare-bones right now, and the main domain actually redirects here at the moment (apparently magic settings don't propagate instantly), but it's a thing that exists. Huzzah!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Remix: The Evolution of Ezekiel Wallace

Update: Since you can't host audio on blogger, this post now lacks comparisons. Booooooo.

This is what is currently on my Bandcamp page:

And this is what happens when I watch some videos about proper mixing and mastering in FL Studio:

I didn't re-record anything, just removed all of the crap I attached to each track and gave each instrument its own EQ (most of them just got simple low pass filters, a couple were more intricate), then mastered the whole thing. I could probably get it even better if I let it sit for a few weeks and went back to it.

The worst part was hearing each guitar track in isolation -- my playing is sloppy, but I didn't notice three years ago because the mix is so muddy. If this wasn't ancient history, I'd be inclined to scrap everything and start over, but the point of this was just to practice mixing and mastering. I'll be remastering the entire album in the coming weeks. When it's done, I'm replacing the files on my Bandcamp page. The idea is that I want to make these skills second-nature so I can focus on new material (I've started a few things, but I keep letting myself get distracted by trying to EQ things before they are done, which is like editing your sentences while you're writing. Bad Stan!)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


The road to my own personal hell is made of dirt and loose gravel, so I'm going to fix that. It's time to declare some intentions!

I intend to upload more music-in-progress. I recently met some wonderful musician-folk and thought it might be a good idea to have an easily-navigable repository for stuff I'm working on so I can solicit feedback (not that one needs to be a musician to tell me when I totally nail sweet riffs!). To that end, I've created a Soundcloud account and attached the widget to my sidebar. Check it out! I started messing around with a blues riff that I stole from a YouTube video.

I intend to update this blog with more random stuff! I originally joined Tumblr so I'd have a place to be random, spew forth ill-conceived thoughts, and hash out stuff I wasn't ready to post on my "grown up" blog. I ended up reblogging a lot of animated gifs instead. Not sure where I got the idea that I had to be serious and adult on here, though. That's like saying I'm required to wear dress slacks and a polo shirt around my own home. Screw that, it's pajama time.

I intend to write another novel. Well, co-write. I don't know if this is under an NDA, so I'll just say that the worldbuilding is going great and I can't wait to start telling stories in it.

I intend to finish that video game I started with my co-worker. We need to hash out some more technical stuff first, though.

I intend to read more books. Especially ones by Brandon Sanderson.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Finding Time

Time is a funny thing.

I've spent the better part of the last two years whining about not having enough time to do everything I want to do. Novels have collected digital dust on my hard drive, sketchbooks buried in desktop clutter, unread novels stacked in a tower to heaven... "I'm too busy!" I said. Between the day job, my semi-regular D&D group, and voice lessons, there was just no time.

Then, all of the programmers were conscripted to work Saturdays for February and March.

Since then, I've done some things:

  • Learned the basics of mixing and mastering music and started applying it to some old recordings

  • Started working on a video game with a coworker. I've done some coding, rough plotting, and mediocre sketches

  • Read 1.5 novels and most of the Hyrule Historia

  • Recorded a couple of (exceedingly) rough musical ideas

  • Spent several hours brainstorming a novel with Sarah

  • Started Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Double Dragon Neon

  • Started doing regular writing exercises

  • Started exercising semi-regularly (started C25k today!)

(I think you get the idea)

So what's going on? If I didn't have time to do anything before, how am I doing even more stuff now? Sure, everything I've started is moving pretty slow, but I don't consider anything stalled at this point. What's going on with that?

I recently learned about a concept called structured procrastination. I have accidentally given myself so many things to do -- things that are important to me -- that on a given night, there is one thing that I really want to do that is kind of intimidating, and roughly seven thousand "lesser" things available to take my attention. I procrastinate on one project for a bit and make progress on several others.

When I'm trying to focus my energy on a single project, it gets scary and I stall by watching Power Rangers on Netflix. But, multiple projects just bounce me around like a pinball, leaving me to watch Power Rangers on Netflix at my leisure. And! I'm currently reading Getting Things Done, so in a few weeks I expect to have a better system for managing all of this stuff, which means I'll be able to make even more progress -- plus, I'll be back to regular work weeks.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Hyrule Historia

I have to admit that I've fallen behind on my Zelda -- I haven't played the newest, Skyward Sword, and I never did pick up Spirit Tracks. I also missed Minish Cap. My completion record also isn't great -- Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages are both sitting somewhere in the 70-90% complete range (though it's been so long that I'll need to start over for sure), and I never finished Four Swords Adventures because I was so bent on only ever playing it with three other people that I never considered the possibility of playing alone.

Still, when Sarah found this at Barnes & Noble tonight, it felt like destiny:

Not long after Ocarina of Time came out, I started scouring the internet for LoZ lore, particularly attempts to arrange the games in a cohesive timeline. I read everything I could find, and when I played Wind Waker, and later Twilight Princess, half the fun was trying to place them in the proper place in time. I loved trying to explain the vast history of the land of Hyrule to the unwashed masses who mistakenly referred to Link as "Zelda"; I imagine it was like Doc Brown's enthusiastic ravings on the subject of time travel.

Anyway, this book has a section that walks you through the three timelines of the series, and it's amazing. I want to study it as a worldbuilding guide. The way they tied the eras together was simply astounding, whether it something overt like, "Soldiers wear green in honor of the legendary Hero of Time", or something more subtle like the design of Link's shield, everything worked together to reinforce the idea that these events were all taking place in the same world.

I'm looking forward to re-reading it... and re-playing all my Zelda games.

Friday, February 22, 2013

A New Side Project

I've begun a little project with a coworker. Here's a taste:

Whoa, who is that guy!?