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Category: Thoughts (page 2 of 61)

A belated theme for 2015 – Reset

Every year for something like 10 years (with the exception of 2014), I’ve picked a theme to describe my goals for the coming year. It has been a way to approach what I wanted to improve with broad-ish concepts and goals, rather than a set of limited, narrowly focused resolutions. I’ve written about it extensively. Feel free to go back and read some of the old posts for greater clarification on the idea. It’s all there.

With the revamp of the site, I’ve been thinking about what a good theme would be for 2015. Though I’ve missed my usual December announcement by 4 months at this point, it’s my life and I’ll make whatever choices I like. If I think it’s time to declare a theme for 2015 in April of 2015, I will. And you’ll just be fine with that.

A few days ago, a friend of mine wrote something on his Facebook that really clicked with me.

I firmly believe that some of the best writing and creative ideas I’ve ever had have come to me in the late hours of the night, when I’m the closest that I can actually get to being relaxed. Having said that, it’s equally amazing how much simpler the editorial process is in the light of day. Build up at night, rearrange during the day.

He’s totally right. Those wee hours of the night before bed, but after all the day’s chores are done, have always been my most focused, productive hours. The buzz of the day is gone and I am finally tired enough to focus, but not yet so sleepy I can’t think. The world is quiet, even here in New York City, and I can usually get something out in the little bit of time when my brain can actually produce.

In the last few years I haven’t been using those hours the way I used to, mostly, I think, because I got out of the habit of using them. Life changed. Schedules changed. Those nighttime hours became unavailable or filled with other activity. Then when I did have them, I squandered them. I have no regrets, but in retrospect I wonder why when I had a lot of hours to use, I didn’t use them. Of course, it’s very likely I needed to get to the point where it bothered me to see that I could have been using them more productively, instead of barreling forward, mindless of time’s passing, letting them slip away.

I realize that I miss using that time for my personal projects because those hours were the only way I got anything done that kept me feeling sane. And sane is important. Sane makes all the other stress and bullshit of life more easily digestible. For the moments I am pissed off about work, at least I can feel satisfied that I am making things for myself when I can. For all the time I am laden with personal and familial obligations, getting just that little bit of something done for myself is critical. And, even if nothing ever comes of all of this extra I do (and feel I should be doing), keeping me feeling balanced is a very important, very valuable, very real outcome.

I’ve been struggling a lot recently to find a mental/emotional place where I can feel some sort of magical equilibrium, where all the things are more or less balanced and I don’t feel like I am going to explode. The more off-balance I feel, the more I get angry, the more I get resentful, the more I shut off from those around me, and that takes its toll on the rest of my life and relationships. I don’t like harboring those feelings. They make everything a lot worse. I don’t enjoy anything. I don’t sleep. My fuse becomes dangerously short at all times. They make me god damned unpleasant to be around. Yet, those feelings come out in full force when I am out of whack and the only way I’ve ever found to address them is to try and reassert some semblance of order in my life.

That said, 2015 will be…

The Year of Reset.

What’s best is that I’ve already begun. Fantastic.

I intend to get back into the habit of making my personal creative goals a priority. I want to get back to creating things for myself regularly. It doesn’t matter what I make. What matters is that the work I do is for me. I can cut all the extra short films and friends’ projects in the world, but those aren’t mine. I can do all the creative work at my job, but that really isn’t mine. My ideas, my projects, my execution. Simple. Bringing back The Black Laser as both a forum for my work and a work in itself (double dipping, yeah) is a big first step. It’s also a bit of what Sarah would call a commitment device. I feel guilty when the activity here dies down. Avoiding that guilt is often plentiful motivation for me. I won’t always post the things I do, but when I want to post, I’ve got a place that is all my own.

I am not going to make any concrete creative goals for this year, though. In years past, I’ve stated an intended quota of production. 2015 is not for quotas. 2015 is for habit rebuilding. We can discuss quotas for 2016.

I’ve been collecting ideas and scribbles and half-finished thoughts for ages, and I want to see what I can turn them into. There are seeds for a wealth of projects and larger works buried here over the six and a half years of The Black Laser, I just have to nurture them. That means sticking to it. That means sitting down even when I am tired or don’t want to. That means doing the god damned work and not letting anything get in the way, even if my output is minimal. There will be nights when I can’t and many more nights where I feel like I can’t. The former cannot be changed, but the latter can. No excuses. No bullshit.

IMG_20150408_001042

Join me and this sleepy little butthead for many more nights of cranking out words and thoughts, and, hopefully, we’ll make something beautiful. Or awesome. Or beautifully awesome.

Welcome to The Black Laser 3.0!

I am proud to announce the launch of the newest version of The Black Laser. If you’re not familiar with the site’s previous design, this is a significant overhaul from the previous, now-very-dated design.

No more fixed-width design!

Now scalable to a multitude of devices and resolutions!

No more white text on a black field!

New logo!

Still quite a lot of pink!

Expect some noodling to take place over the next few weeks as I settle into the new theme and identify things I’ve forgotten or missed. Such is the nature of these sorts of things.

For those of you interested, this is the first time I’ve used a child them in WordPress to customize. Previously, you had to manually edit a theme to make changes to it. That seems like a very direct, sensible way to alter something, and it is. However, if an update is released for the theme you’re using, all your edits are overwritten. That sucks. To avoid that business, you have to carefully update the updated theme to match and that is a royal pain in the butt with lots of opportunities for mistakes to creep in.

With a child theme (new since the last time I redesigned the site back in 2011), you create a dependent theme to which you make changes that references the original (parent) theme. That way you can update the base theme without losing your changes.

You don’t care at all about that, but I think it’s pretty neat and this is my website so deal.

If you want to read about my plans for the future here, just scroll down. Or click here. Whatever’s easiest for you. You’re probably a grown up.

I have some more stuff in store that I did not write about below so you will just have to wait and see!

#TeamMikko all the way.

Awesome.

Sy Perlis, 91 and tougher than you are.

Click the link for the video. I couldn't turn off autoplay and that's a no-no.

Click the link for the video. I couldn’t turn off autoplay and that’s a no-no.

Holy crap this dude is tough. 91? WWII vet? Working out five days a week? Bench pressing what looks to be more than his bodyweight when people twenty years younger are off lamenting the loss of their youthful strength??

HuffPo copypasta:

Sy Perlis, a 91-year-old weightlifter, bench-pressed 187.2 pounds last week to break the world record in the 90-and-over age division, the Arizona Republic reported.

While the idea of a nonagenarian lifting more than what many grown men weigh is enough to amaze, consider this: The Surprise, Ariz., man hoisted 52.2 pounds more than the previous mark set in the World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters.

“I would say that’s pretty phenomenal,” five-time world powerlifting champion Rickey Dale Crain told The Huffington Post.

Watch above as Perlis wows the crowd at the National Push-Pull Bench Press and Dead Lift Championships June 8 in Phoenix by slowly lowering the barbell to his chest and pushing the weight all the way up.

Perlis, a World War II veteran, owes his Herculean strength to five workouts a week after he skipped competition in 2012 to have a pacemaker inserted, the Republic wrote.

The World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters says on its website that drug-testing takes place at every meet.

Perlis has certainly earned our respect, as well as his place alongside names of other amazing senior citizens who excel at feats of endurance. Take Fauja Singh, who recently retired as the so-called “world’s oldest marathoner.” He was 101.

Bad ass. He beat the record by 52.2 pounds!

It just goes to show that no matter what happens to you, you should never give up trying to make yourself better. You only have one body; make it at strong as you can.

Also, note to whomever made this video, get yourself a pop-filter. Holy shit, your plosives.

Happy birthday to me!

Today I am 31 years old. To celebrate, let’s review something that happened on my 12th birthday: OJ Simpson fleeing the LAPD in his white Ford Bronco after killing his wife.*

*Guys, spoiler alert, he did it.

A few simple ways to improve the New York Subway experience

mta

Today while clicking around the internet, I found a site called 100 Improvements to the New York City Subway. I read through it (and you should too) and I agree with some of his ideas (solar panels on outdoor stations, train positions, and notifications on platforms, among others). Of course, some of his ideas are stupid or impractical or both (Subway USB power, I’m looking at you), but what are you going to do, right?

It got me thinking of how I would improve the subway experience. And I think I have some pretty good ideas.

  1. Arrest the panflute guy. – Honestly, does it got more annoying than the fucking panflute guy? He’s so fucking earnest. When they arrest him, they should smash his panflute and break his fingers so he cannot make another one.
  2. Publicly shame any dude who sits with his legs spread wide open on a subway car. – We get it, asshole. You have huge balls and have to keep your legs spread wide open so your balls have a seat of their own. But guess what? Your balls aren’t that big. Close your legs. If someone is caught doing this, the MTA should post embarrassing photos of them all over the train so they get their egos deflated. In the off chance your balls ARE that huge go to a god damned doctor already.
  3. Record the “meaningful” conversations of people on the L train. – And then send the tapes to them when they are A) sober or B) over 30. Not as publicly embarrassing as the balls-guys, but potentially more life-crushing.
  4. Ban paint buckets. – No one ever went into a crowded subway station and thought, You know what would be super pleasant right now? Some shit head playing drums on a bunch of buckets REALLY LOUDLY. Stop it.
  5. Install anti-dance devices. – Your show sucks, kid.
  6. Take away Ralphie’s newpapers. – Any longtime L rider will recognize Ralphie, the son of a bitch who’s “just trying to sell newspapers to get back on his feet”. Well, he’s been trying to get back on his feet the exact same way for at least 10 years and he hasn’t seemed to have made any real progress. We see through your elaborate ruse, Ralphie. No one is convinced. Give it a rest, you miserable junkie fuck.
  7. Kick out the stress test Scientologists. – Yeah, I am stressed out and you trying to foist your hokey pseudo-religion/cult on me isn’t helping. Ditto for all the other religious panhandlers in the subway tunnels.
  8. Pay the saxophone alien guy a million dollars. – Sorry. I love that guy. What a brilliant asshole.

There are a few ideas. What do you think could help improve the subway experience?

Mice like it. Tomatoes laugh.

Unbuyable

The best t-shirt for a competitive athlete ever. Amazing.