Movember Update: I Have Unlocked “Rocked A Vest” Achievement

It’s official: vests rock!

I now look upon a collared shirt with no vest or no tie as somewhat lacking.  It’s like it lacks structure and form.

A collared shirt alone is a void. Like space without stars. Or an empty ice cream bucket.

Much like a face without a beard.

Or maybe just my face without a beard. Although now I’ve had chance to grow a moustache. With only half of the month completed, I can know call myself “moustachio’d”.

That is, if anyone can. (It largely depends on the word-status of “moustachio’d”..)

It’s been an interesting month to challenge myself. Growing a moustache. Regularly blogging about it. Learning acoustic guitar. Wearing a vest every Tuesday. And yesterday: hemming pants. Continue reading

November traditions: NaNoWriMovember!

I’m not sure why this year has marked so many changes to me. Perhaps it is the reeling and rocking reaction to the changes that have come external to me, the changes I initiate as course corrections in response to the asteroids and stellar tailwinds.

Or maybe it is just the outpouring after a dam has burst, its pent-up contents free to stream out and release the potential energy..

In any case, I’m trying two traditions this year, for November, which are new to me: Movember and NaNoWriMo. Or rather, I’m trying to. Continue reading

RIP, my beard circa 2003-2011: may you return soon

I, like most, have my fears, misgivings and sensitivities. Like most, I seek to overcome them when I can, challenge myself to face my insecurities and my beliefs and my stable yet unhelpful patterns.

I’ve just challenged another one: I shaved.

I have almost always conceived of myself as a bearded man. I have worn a beard for the better part of the last 20 years. On two or three occasions, I have shorn the beard entirely, just to rattle myself, or to stifle my dependence on that self-image, or something.

Actually, the reasons for my follicular violence are never that clear. In this current case, I can only point to a few motivating factors, such as my frustration over an inability to get a hair cut, something I’ve needed for months and yet have either conveniently found excuses against or have simply forgotten about. I detected this pattern of avoidance, but it’s a strong one and resists direct attempts to change with rationality.

Have I talked about my theory of patterns and mental behaviour before? Continue reading

6 Updates About My Life You May Already Know

I suck at self-promotion.

I know this, but sometimes it still takes it being pointed out for me to remember to do anything about it.

And, given the number of things that seem to be popping up that I forget to mention, if I don’t start mentioning them, I never will.

First, about my current status: I’m no longer a full-time PhD student. No, I didn’t finish (yet!) and I haven’t quit, but I’ve dropped down to part-time status to take a job as the Program Director at CHSR-FM, Fredericton’s campus and community radio station. I’ve been a volunteer there for a large number of years, and an opportunity (and necessity!) arose last year that saw me more heavily involved than I ever had been before, which in turn led to me making the very heavy decision to leap.

I don’t leap easily, and I never like starting something big before I’ve finished the previous big thing, but it felt like a good fit, and I can’t say I regret it, at least not yet.

It started officially at the beginning of December, 2010 (see how far behind I am?), meaning I’m coming near to the end of the my three-month trial period. I’ve put in a lot of 60-70 hour workweeks so far, but I think things are pulling through. I need a day off here and there, and my PhD work has paused for the moment, but the job is generally satisfying, and I feel like I’ve found a good niche for my odd blend of personality and talents.

It has meant that it has been difficult to continue to produce The WEIRD Show, but I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon. I just have to figure out a way to balance better, and start earlier in the week, so that I’m not up until 3-4 am in the wee hours of Saturday morning trying to get it ready for my 9 am timeslot.

The second bit of news to share is that the interview that Mainframe did with me for the Geek Out With Mainframe podcast has finally been released. Actually, it’s now not even the current episode of the podcast, meaning it’s really old news, but the discussion was really fun and interesting, at least to us… Fortunately, Mainframe has the wisdom to take my long discussions and break them up into two parts: part 1 and part 2.

There’s been a suggestion that Mainframe, Nuchtchas, myself and a few others do some sort of roundtable discussion podcast, in which we solve all the world’s problems (or something like that…). I think it’d be a fun idea, if we can arrange it, but as soon as these things start to sound like work they become a bit harder to do. But, fingers are crossed…

The third bit of news is that my small bit role in K’s Wiener Blut has come up. K wrote this book as her NaNoWriMo challenge last fall, and said she had me in mind for the character from the very start. When it came time to produce the novel as a podcast, how could I say no? Unfortunately, since I’m so busy, I haven’t heard the book yet, but I’m planning to catch up rapidly. I imagine/hope/dream that I’m spectacular, but K’s managed to assemble a pretty stellar cast in whose company I am but a pale and twinkling, distant and unremarkable brown dwarf.

A fourth bit about me is that I was recently interviewed by a student working with The Aquinian, St. Thomas University’s student newspaper. I don’t do many interviews — mostly because I’m not really someone I consider important enough to interview — but it was an interesting chance to reflect on how long I’ve been doing stuff with CHSR, and how much a part of my life it has always been. That interview should be published in the upcoming week’s paper, and I’ll try to add a link to it when it comes out.

What are we up to, five? Well, today I had the opportunity to interview Brent and Matt from The Junction as part of CHSR’s growing “Sessions @ CHSR” series of band performances. I don’t get interviewed often, and I conduct interviews even less, but mostly because I get really nervous and self-conscious about them. However, this is the second session I’ve hosted directly, and there’s something about the combination of a really great performance and really talented musicians and singers that really puts me in the mood to talk to them for hours. The Session is scheduled to air on Thursday, Feb 24 at 4:00pm on CHSR-FM, and then should go up on our website that evening or the next night. We recorded a Session on Saturday with Eyeswide, who were sharing the stage with The Junction (and SheRoars) at The Cellar on Saturday night, and that will be airing this coming Thursday, Feb 17.

And maybe a minor sixth to round out this post: I was interviewed as part of an upcoming Lunchbox episode with STU Journalism about the rise and acceptance of geek culture. It was only a brief Q&A session, but it will be interesting to see what they find usable from it. It’s a longer discussion, and anyone who knows my penchant for long discussions in which I muse about a thousand things (like the 2-part, 2-hour interview with Mainframe, or the 4-hour one I did with anim5 on IDDFOS a long time ago) knows that I barely get started in 20 minutes of Q&A.. 😉

There’s probably more I should chat about, but I’m already feeling self-conscious and over-sharing, and I played too much Fallout 3 so my time before sleep is dwindling fast..

(Oh, and have I mentioned that the Sea of Stars audiodrama was a 2010 Parsec Awards finalist? And that I had the bit part of “Narrator” in that great production? No? Well.. now I have.. Consider this a bonus prize, for sticking through to the end..)

How Do You Structure Your Life?

A mannequin's mechanical parts exposed. Seen at La Musée Des Automates, La Rochelle, France.

Man's Mechanics Exposed

How does life become complicated? Why does it happen? How do we fix it?

These questions occur to me once and a while. I’m not always lucid enough to remember just how complex life is — or perhaps I’m blithely unaware of it.

In either case, I think I prefer those times when it does occur to me, because it also highlights my own problematic patterns. And when a problematic pattern is highlighted, you can address it. Its visibility is its weakness, as you can change or slay that which you see.

In this case, there are a couple of patterns that come to mind. First, I have a great desire to learn things. Not quite everything, but certainly a substantial list of things. I’m constantly frustrated by my lack of knowledge of history, or the limits to my scientific understanding. Lumped in with this is the desire to explore those great works of fiction and philosophy that inform our society. Not knowing those means a break in the universe, a separation between the foundations of how the world is and the understanding of how it came to be.

Continue reading