Category: Life Page 3 of 12

Another dream

In early 2013 I was apparently trolling (in the “deep sea fishing” sense) the old USENET archives on Google, because I did participate in some of the earliest Internet communities, pre-World Wide Web, especially during college. Today I was looking through my draft WordPress posts and found this one from then.

From a post by me to alt.dreams on 11/7/1994 called “Another plane crash dream.”:

“Did you perhaps consider that maybe you got into the car accidents because you were thinking about car accidents beforehand? ‘Hope I don’t get in a car accident, hope I don’t get in a car accident–whoops, I got in a car accident.’ See what I mean?”

That’s 19-year-old Jason logic for you, though there is probably a grain of truth to it. I don’t know if the original poster ever answered and can’t be bothered to look it up now (because I should be working).

Mostly I just wanted to post something to Gohlkus Maximus today because I haven’t posted anything in a long time. I had planned on doing some writing and then a month later lost a co-worker, detailed in my most recent post.

Aside from the wonderful honeymoon feeling Dawn and I still enjoyed from our 2013 wedding, 2014 was a pretty lousy year. A lot of losses for both of us in a lot of ways, and hard times for some of my close family members, made it really hard. We ended the year with an ultimately renewing experience — Dawn had microfracture surgery on her knee, which was fascinating to learn about and, more importantly, wildly successful for her.

2015 is starting out better, at least for me and Dawn specifically — we are doing the Whole Life Challenge, which is all kinds of interesting. It is a way to kick-start ourselves into restoring good habits we’ve had in the past anyway. Getting knocked out of a healthy routine isn’t all that difficult, especially with the big disturbances of 2014. So we’re working on doing better this year.

If anyone were to ask me now what the secret of life is, it’s kind of two-fold: be honest with yourself, and go easy on yourself. I think everything else kind of follows from that. I don’t know what 19-year-old Jason would have said, but it sure would have been easier if someone had told him that who he would have listened to. He’d probably have listened to 39-year-old Jason, especially given how voraciously he consumed science fiction.

This morning I had an interesting dream which included David Byrne performing onstage with a monkey. I would pay money to see that happen. I won’t spend any more time thinking about it, though.

Remembering Michael Hawk

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Getting reacquainted

Hello, dear Reader. Let’s get acquainted, you and I.

The reality is more likely that you already know me. (Maybe you’re married to me.) Or maybe you have no idea who I am. Maybe you’re reading this in the year 2465 (which would mean someone survived the present and the near future, which is awesome).

The original rationale for creating this site was to keep in touch with folks I knew (friends, family) who were far away. I think it may have served that purpose to some extent during the pre-Facebook years.

But, again, the reality was that I wrote very sporadically over a long period of time. While I enjoyed writing in the blog when I got around to it, I’m not sure that it ended up keeping people up to date in any meaningful way.

It did keep me writing, slowly and sporadically, for years. At the end of 2010, I had written an average of three to four blog entries every month. In the ensuing 39 months, I published 13 entries — three a year. (That is not to mention the five or so posts I started and never finished, some of which included many, many words and sentences.)

Ultimately, however infrequent my updates were, they still happened. Therefore this site is a more or less continuous history of me in the 21st century, having launched in February 2001 (with a number of mysterious pre-site-launch-dated posts).

The happiest outcome of that fact is that my wife, Dawn, before she was my wife, got to read stories about me that made her want to get to know me better. I will always be glad I started this site for no less than that reason alone.

I am happily married, which is a wonderful and amazing thing. I am still, however, a (self-)frustrated artist who still has an undisciplined and wild urge to create. So, I might be coming back here in the days to come. Watch this space.

Revealed: Who wrote the book of love?

If you didn’t see this on February 25th, you really missed out:

Hilarious, no? An iPhone, a brilliant girlfriend with a great sense of humor, and a whole lot of serendipity are the needed ingredients.

Also, if you haven’t heard, I am moving to San Francisco in June! Dawn and I found a great apartment together in her existing building and we are incredibly excited about it.

Big ideas

This list of vague but big ideas that a particular venture capitalist would like to fund is almost four years old. Though a certain number of the problems have been solved in the interim to some extent, a great many of them are still pending.

I guess the common thread is to figure out what people want and then figure out a way to give it to them, easier and cheaper than someone else can…. or find some way to make some intermediate step easier.

I’m at a point where I want to start using my brains to innovate something new, rather than solve some variation of the same five trivial problems over and over again, which is basically what I’ve been doing for the last nine years.

* * *

Oh, also, happy new year — this is my first blog entry in 2012, as January already nears an end! 2011 was my best year in a long, long time, filled with positive changes, and 2012 is going to be even better. A little over a week ago I celebrated six months with Dawn and I’m looking forward to many, many more. Sometime this year, maybe sooner rather than later, I’ll be living in San Francisco. Woo hoo!

On taking risks

Here is one thing I almost forgot (oh, how quickly we forget!): To improve your life, you have to take risks.

The most important change in my life to date — meeting and falling in love with Dawn — didn’t just happen. The timing was fortuitous, sure, but it happened through an intricate series of intentional acts on my part and hers.

Generally speaking, when we did those things, it involved taking risks. For me, those risks started probably when I moved to Minnesota in 1999, setting off a crazy chain reaction that resulted in three rough years out in the cold, followed by seven very difficult years in the Bay Area and two increasingly wonderful ones. (Happily, the wonderful ones were 2010 and 2011.) Another risk was going into therapy and working hard to discover what I really feared and hated about life and about myself. Another was to put up a profile on OKCupid.com that was truly honest and revealing. I was finally able to do that in a way that was actually attractive, because I finally liked myself and felt worthy of receiving love. There was still an inherent risk of rejection: if someone didn’t like my honest, detailed, silly profile, they wouldn’t like me either. (Of course, the reverse is also true: If someone liked my profile, they’d also probably like me. I was pretty sure of that, anyway.)

Similarly, in contacting me, Dawn risked rejection, or the possibility of disappointment at meeting yet another inauthentic dude on OKCupid. In return for each of us taking those risks (and many others), we have begun to build an epic love that is made to last. (I am thankful every day for it because I am well aware that not everyone gets to have this.)

Taking risks requires you to accept the possibility of losing something you already have. Ideally, that thing you lose is something you don’t want anyway (the parasite crashing on your couch, the soul-sucking job, the girl who doesn’t really love you but you keep answering her calls anyway because you’re lonely, the feeling of worthlessness, etc.). But even that is hard, because the fear of the unknown frequently trumps the potential gain of making a change.

One thing that makes it hard to take risks is giving a fuck. Stopping giving a fuck — about the things that don’t matter — probably has its disadvantages, but it’s the only real path to making meaningful change in your life.

It’s been a struggle for me for years to not give a fuck. During and after high school, I allowed my teen-aged perception of what society thinks is important to shape my choices, instead of just doing what I wanted to do. That put me in a very different place than where I might have been.

That’s not to say that I would trade any of it. Two short years ago, I was at my worst. At this time of year in 2009 I couldn’t see anything but what was right in front of me and a whole hell of a lot of pain and fear. But now, going into 2012, I have a wonderful woman at my side (I’m pretty sure she’s the person I’ve always wanted to be with but was too afraid to look for), and a world that has opened up again with limitless potential.

Stuff that is sort of but not entirely related:

Quashing the self-improvement urge
Letting go of sentimental items

I occupy Oakland every day

Upon reflection, I find it wonderful that a movement of people is growing around the concept that the rich don’t pay their fair share (they don’t) and that corporations have too much power (they do). The Occupy Wall Street movement in some ways is exactly what I think is necessary.

From my perspective, though, here’s the sad thing about today’s “general strike” in Oakland: I have over 150 hours of vacation time, over 100 hours of sick time, and a floating holiday available to me. And I agree with the reasons Occupy Oakland is doing it. However, I don’t feel comfortable taking a day off in what is invariably the busiest month of my job.

This is my dilemma with the Occupy movement right now: The vast majority of the 99%, like me, are living paycheck to paycheck. I don’t feel comfortable taking the day off — much less spending weeks protesting in Frank Ogawa Plaza. And there are many people in far worse situations than I who are going to be displaced today here in Oakland.

It’s not as if I’m sitting on the sidelines. The reason I’m going to work today is that I want to help ensure the California Environmental Scorecard is produced on time, containing as few errors as humanly possible. The Scorecard helps keep California legislators accountable to the public for their votes on environmental bills.

I’m not a fan of politics, especially as it’s practiced in this country right now. One day is not going to jeopardize my job, nor is it likely to significantly delay the Scorecard. But considering everything I have to do for basically the right reasons this month, I can’t afford to take a day off to occupy my own city.

Jason’s “Brainwash” era is no more

Today marks the joyful end of my run of seven years of involvement in the Brainwash Movie Festival.

I’m proud of the work I’ve done to improve, enhance, and run the festival for all of these years.

I started helping Dave out in 2004 with one very simple goal: to add a couple of pieces to my print design portfolio (a flier and a program). Somehow that grew into maintaining and redesigning the website, as another portfolio piece, and a way to help out a friend. Then, a couple judges moved on, so I started helping judge the movies. And every year I did more to promote and run the thing. At that point, a couple years ago, I reasoned that I was so involved that I might as well get some kind of minimal material benefit (a tax break, and it didn’t amount to much, monetarily) from participating in the festival, which led to my having become a partner in the business.

I have to admit that during that act I was ambivalent and had a fair amount of trepidation. I knew that Dave wanted to ultimately develop a fictitious, episodic tv series (now webisode series) about the film festival, and make money by doing so. I wasn’t convinced that I could really help pull it off, nor did I particularly want to. I did help, though, and spent many grueling, frequently middle-of-the-night hours in 2010 working on the series.

It certainly wasn’t all bad. We had meetings, wrote story ideas, figured out which shots we wanted, and spent hours putting some stuff on video. (We also had nights that lasted until dawn, and grueling physical labor, and arguments, and tedium.) What ultimately came out of 2010’s effort was a mostly incomprehensible 23-minute curiosity (of which only 4 or 5 minutes ended up being our own footage — the rest consisted of a couple of the best movies from 2010’s festival). The few that watched it reportedly said that it accurately captured the feel of the drive-in festival. However, apparently none of them understood the underlying plotline, which (of course) was that aliens on a distant planet who survived by consuming stimulating intellectual content intercepted from other planets were literally being bored to death due to a lack of such content — and that Hollywood was aware of this and was keeping the quality of their movies deliberately low in order to (I guess) commit genocide. Therefore, one intrepid alien sent his hench… alien… to earth to harvest independent film content so that their race could survive.

Silly? Yes. Clever? I’d say so. Doable? Absolutely not, 100% no way. Not with the team we have (or, rather, had). But we actually created something, which was something. And now, I move on. No hard feelings — it’s just time for a new chapter in my life. In the meantime, check out Brainwash when it comes around again!

Hello WordCamp visitors

You may notice that I seldom post on this blog. Recently acquired fans have raved about the content, however, so perhaps I will be inspired to post more. Usually what happens at WordCamp is that I post a couple of live blogs and then let the site slowly wither throughout the year, until I start writing a really long comment on SFGate or something, after which I realize “this belongs on the blog!” and post it here.

Strangely or not, I do similar things to plants; plus points for consistency, I suppose.

Apparently more than 20,000 people make a living with WordPress, according to the (very general) presentation I’m in right now. Including this site, I have four WordPress sites in production that I built (and sometimes designed): the CLCV Education Fund, the Brainwash Drive-in Bike-in Walk-in Movie Festival (in Oakland September 3, 9, and 10!), the San Francisco Improv Festival (didn’t design but coded the theme — their opening night is next Thursday!), and the one you’re on right now.

Got any questions about design, or creating custom themes, or installing WordPress? Let me know.

Just now

Ten minutes ago, I woke up from a doze slipped into while reading and taking off my shoes. Both legs stretched out in front of me, I awoke with my right foot entirely asleep, as both feet rested on the seat of a folding chair. When I gingerly started lowering my feet to finish removing my shoes — I had gotten as far as untying the right one — I imagined with a mixture of horror and detached fascination (as I have numerous times in the past) that if I had put all my weight on my foot while it was in that state, I could have easily (if unintentionally) snapped my ankle in half.

I’m fine — actually, pretty great at the moment. Not much to share here, but thought I’d stop by after not having done so in more than three months. With only four blog entries in more than seven months this calendar year, it seems this site is headed for a slow extinction (the whimper kind, not the bang kind, apparently). But, we’ll see.

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