Sunday, 9 April 2017

Device Deliveries, Disappointment and Decompression

The word of the week is moribund.

Apr 3 – Lockitron!

It's here, at last!

For those of you somewhat new to the blog, the Lockitron is the first Kickstarter ever backed... WAY back in November 2012, which is four and a half years ago! Here's the updated video, showing their newest product, the Bolt, which replaces the older Kickstarter version that I originally paid for:

I picked up the small but heavy box after work today and opened it as soon as I got home:

It finally arrived, after SO LONG!

I eagerly spread of the contents and got ready to install the lock... and it was then that I realized there was a problem: the KEYWAY on my apartment door lock was altogether different from the one Lockitron had included. So I can't use it.

At least, not yet. After going through the Lockitron Forums, I found a few threads that covered this issue: apparently Lockitron Bolts are only being shipped out with the most 'common' keyway, and the 'Key Match' cylinders for locks like mine will be sent later once they are finalized and made available.

So, it's not all bad news: things are still In Progress, per the Lockitron community forums. I also found out that while there is a shortage of the Bridge units( connecting the lock to the 'net )these are just backordered but still scheduled to get shipped once supplies are replenished.

Guess I'll have to wait another few months, but hopefully not so long that I don't hit the five year mark this November...

Apr 4 – Just Another Tech Guy

That's me.

Tonight I finally realized that I just don't know enough to get an IT job, and that if I want to move in that direction, I will have to dedicate more time than I want in order to get certified in various areas to make myself competitive.

There's a big difference between being the smartest tech guy in an office and applying for jobs located in an office full of tech guys. Up until now, I thought it was just a matter of time before I moved on to a better job as a technical support guy with the government, but I realize that's not going to happen unless I get more training to add various certificates to my name.

Sure, I can fix most day-to-day problems in my office without having to call HelpDesk, and it's nice to be called on by my co-workers for such, but I’m not getting paid any more. I can put together a home computer like nobody's business, understand the ins and outs of the vast majority of hardware issues, and even take a stab at software troubles, but I'm not actually trained in any of that: it's all hard-won experience on my part.

Which doesn't sell well on a resume, or so I'm learning after the last year of applying for tech support positions without success.

So, I'm switching my focus to applying for other types of positions where certificate qualifications aren't the keys to doors that aren't opening to me. I'm still going to revisit things like getting ITIL, CompTIA+ and MS Office certified, but those are going to take place later this year: I must finish my novels first, or I'll never get them done at this stage of their progress.

Too much to do, too little time and energy to budget...

Apr 5 – Hey There, Stranger

A friend posted this video this week, and I think it's an excellent commentary on getting in touch with yourself again as a creative person:

Which is really what I was doing during my Land Mark forum at the end of March two weeks ago.

I was extremely nervous, even fearful, for the 2 months leading up to the forum, so much so that I was suffering from stomach problems that made me unable to eat a regular meal without pain: I was that nervous about What Would Happen to ME.

Would all the things I'd worked so HARD at in my life be swept away, be proved invalid or shallow? Would I learn about such core-persona-altering things that I'd emerge a 'new me' against my will? Would their concepts force me to rebuild my life all over again, as I found the truths I took for granted to be assumptive lies?

Would I still be me, and keep all the things I loved about my life, the loves IN my life, that are the foundation of who I am? Or would the 'me' I loved die, and be replaced with an Other?

Well, the entire weekend experience can be summed up as follows:

Day One - interesting, the concepts gave me much to think about during the entire day, overall I was satisfied that I've learned a few things.
Day Two - much of what's covered irrelevant to my life( I've a great family, job, relationship, goals in mind, etc )so the many 'mending fences' sessions today weren't at all relevant to my life, though they were revelations to many there.
Day Three - leading up to the Big Reveal, I was quite nervous... then I was vastly disappointed to learn what their 'core' teaching was. Rest of day = irrelevant.

Honestly, I wanted to just up and leave halfway through the 3rd day, but I stuck with things out of respect for the forum leader,  volunteers and the other forum members. I saw that the forum WAS making a difference in many other people's lives who were attending. Big, life-changing differences.

For me, it didn't: all I got were a few thinking-tools and months of stomach cramps.

Why? Because I've already done much of my own 'heavy lifting' in my life already to deal with numerous major crisis I've faced, and those all have brought my family closer. I've made myself into someone that others, and myself, Ken respect and admire, through my own effort and sheer willpower. I've read widely, including solid selections of many philosophies, so that I can ask myself hard questions and continue to build myself in positive ways every day.

In the end, I must thank Land Mark for showing me that I *am* a good person, that WHO and WHAT I am are something to be proud of, and to be grateful for having the life I do.

I just wish I could have found that out without the months of proceeding physical pain from nervous anticipation, and paying big $$ for a course I already knew much of the contents of anyway. I'll leave you with this short talk by Alan Watts, which nicely sums up all the above things:

Apr 6 – Throaty

Work's going well, but it's busy. Real busy.

I've been talking non-stop on the phones for almost 2 weeks straight now, and it caught up to me this morning: I lost my voice for a few hours. That's rare, and an indication that I need to step back.

Not to mention find a better position where I don't need to chat non-stop to people for 7 hours a day because we're low on staff, and because that's the job.

Thankfully, I work in a place where if I need to, I can step away. My coworkers are able to take up the slack and my supervisor has my back 100%: we're a solid team and we know how hard we are all working of late.

It's a funny thing though: so many people have moved on, except me, and I'm the one keeping things together around the office for our team. I've got the experience, skills and patience( not to mention a good sense of humor about it all: vital! )to act as the rock against which all our problems break and fade away.

But when I lose my voice, it's a big indicator that we're rather stretched.

Fortunately, I regained it after a few hours and a few mugs of hot honey lemon tea( a sure balm for sore throats! )and was able to pick up things again. Yet I know this is part of the continuous government cycle of Hire Staff, then Keep Them just long enough for them to find a better position elsewhere, and then Start Again with new folks. Retention is never something that's discussed, oddly: everyone wants to keep moving around. It plays merry hell with staff levels... and I can't imagine what it's like for smaller or less team-oriented offices than ours.

My ship will come in, I just have to keep calling... even if I lose my voice occasionally.

Apr 7 – Hark! A Munchkin!

Well, I backed Munchkin Shakespeare this week.

You think I'd have learned my lesson after waiting so long for my Lockitron, but no: I backed about a dozen things on Kickstarter over the last five years, including my Pebble Time, and almost all of them have delivered although many have taken longer than expected which is all part what Kickstarter's about: Cool Stuff, but Delivery Not Guaranteed.

One reason to back a Kickstarter: value for money!

However, anything to do with Munchkin is a different ball of wax, as it's backed by Steve Jackson Games, who have been around since 1980, putting out games like Car Wars, Ogre, GURPS and of course, Munchkin. They really know what they're doing.

So I felt that my money would be pretty safe in their hands, then of course it didn't hurt that the Kickstarter was a massive success from the beginning... I guess there's quite a few people out there who love Shakespeare, puns and Munchkin as much as I do!

Delivery will take place towards the end of 2017, and I can't wait until I get the chance to read some of the puns that SJG has crafted with the Bard in mind...

Also: today was Bus Success Day! I managed to get everywhere that I needed to go, do what I needed and move on again in a total of 3 hours, with perfect timing to catch the next bus each time! I was pleased with myself, as I managed to meet a friend for lunch, then get some grocery shopping done in a home again well before 3 PM. The good timing meant I could get quite a few other things done at home on my day off, for which I was grateful.

Apr 8 – *Sniff*

Despite my precautions while riding the bus yesterday( gloves, not touching my face )I managed to pick up a bug of some kind and it bloomed into full force today.

My girlfriend and I still went to Sidney in the morning, for the second in a series of seminars about the publishing world being given by my friend( and publisher )Ben Coles. It was again a fascinating look into the business side of the industry, and I was pleased to learn that my own efforts to learn about how things work have made me at least passingly conversant with many of the concepts that he presented today. I was left with the feeling that, overall, what I'm expecting in terms of sending out my own book are realistic and that's comforting: I'm not wasting my time or otherwise fooling myself about what needs to be done to get my books out into the world.

I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening nursing my cold and watching the remainder of One Punch Man to the end. It's a fascinating series that I looked into on Netflix and really speaks to the writer in me with its focus on what happens to a superhero when they're the most powerful being in the universe... and they don't know where to go from there.

The final episode was somewhat disappointing( SPOILERS BELOW!! )but I think I expected it, as it's almost impossible to wrap up a series of ultimate power with an ending that either satisfies completely or doesn't feel contrived or clich├ęd:

Apr 9 – How To Be Happier

In keeping with this week's theme of learning about yourself, I ran across this gem, narrated by the beloved Robin Williams. Miss that guy. He embodied the concept of bringing light and happiness into other people's lives, despite one's own burdens.

Sit back and let his words move you, as they did me today:

If you need more motivation towards happiness, and aren't sure of what may be holding you back, then look no further than Be Happier: 10 Things to Stop Doing Right Now. It's one of the better lists I've seen, with solid no-nonsense advice in simple terms of how to discover and eliminate bad habits holding back your Happy.

I may have dodged a bit of a cold bullet, in getting sick over the weekend, as I have full access to all I need to get better at home rather than at work. Fresh air, rest and temperature control are all things I can't easily get at work, along with extra water and the ability to doze off at need now and then. My nose is already less troubled from the extra attention, and I hope that the next few days will see the bug beat a hasty retreat!