Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

5/8/2020

Today, More Than Ever…

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Fun,Personal Care,The Day Job,The Network Geek at Home,Truth and Consequences — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

In these troubled times, we’re all talking about the same thing in the same way.

I know the isolation is getting rough for all of us and it’s definitely giving me more days where I feel like my brain has more in common with moldy cottage cheese than the evolutionary advantage I’m told it is. In fact, I’ve been trying to write this post for days. Normally, I queue up these weekly posts with plenty of time to spare, but, lately, I’ve been writing them closer and closer to my self-imposed morning deadline. Honestly, I know in part it’s because I’ve been just as busy as I normally am, if not busier, but also because my creative thinking is just weak and stagnate. That’s been made no better by the posts on LinkedIn telling me that “…[if] you don’t come out this quarantine with: -A new skill -Your side hustle started -More knowledge you never lacked time, you lacked discipline.” For one thing, that’s bullshit. If you have time to do any of those things, you’re unemployed and worried about finding work and healthcare, which is not conducive to actually accomplishing any of those things, or you’re stealing time and resources from your employer. Either that, or you’re about to be laid off because you’re normally so unproductive that you have all this spare time and just needed to be able to more sufficiently hide that from your supervisor by not being seen. And, even if you aren’t doing that, but for various reasons are legitimately employed and legitimately not stealing time from your employer, you may still be massively depressed because of all the chaos and fear and stress at all levels of society. Saying that we should all just get our collective shit together and magic up some of that toxic hustle that the magical thinking, next-wave, would-be Napoleon Hill’s have been trying to sell us for the past decade, is about like telling a person with clinical depression they should just try to be happier. That’s not how it works. If that’s all it took, we wouldn’t have a multi-billion dollar antidepressant medication industry. Granted, those faux inspirational messages all seem to come from marketing companies who, traditionally, make more money when they can sell people things to fix problems we don’t have until the marketing companies convince us that we need to fix them, but it seems like it’s been really bad the last couple of years. Really, it’s just the latest “get rich quick” scheme meant to fleece the unwary and desperate. Of course, the truth there is that the only way to get rich quickly, is to sell someone else the “sure-fire method” of getting rich with little to no work. (Spoiler alert; those are all scams!)
And, for me, the added stress and strangeness of working from home has made everything seem flat and repetitive. Surely, you’ve noticed that all the commercials lately sound the same, right? According to the Boing Boing article titled “Every COVID-19 Commercial Is Exactly The Same”, part of my challenge may be something called “semantic satiation”, which is “…a psychological phenomenon in which repetition causes a word or phrase to temporarily lose meaning for the listener, who then perceives the speech as repeated meaningless sounds.” And, that’s officially the excuse I’m using for why it feels like nothing anyone is saying any more matters. And, that’s true for news stories about the ailing economy, too. So, basically, what I’m saying here is that I feel massively overwhelmed by this entire situation, as do, I imagine, the two other people who probably still read this blog, as well as everyone else in the country. We can’t keep track of what day it is, or what we should be doing, which are both signs of stress and depression, by the way. And, I seriously think that just maintaining my “day job” is impressive enough.
The thing is, the world is changing. Of course, the world is always changing, but, right now, we are all very, very aware of the fact that it’s changing and that the changes are pretty much all out of our control. Honestly, that’s how it is pretty much all the time, but, right now, we just can’t avoid that particular truth. And, you know what? That’s a really scary thing to wake up to and it’s okay to be scared or whatever you may be feeling by all this. It’s okay. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed and like it’s super hard to do anything that really matters. It’s okay to just want to have a hobby that’s fun and not going to result in some monetary gain. It is okay.
For me, that’s been photography in the past. They way I like to do photography takes a lot of time, though, so I haven’t done as much as I’d like. If you feel like you’d like to get creative and learn a little photography, for fun, but haven’t known where to start, I have good news. Now you can get some free, thanks to the Photography Life YouTube channel, which has all kinds of video tutorials meant for beginners. (I do have to admit, I found them thanks to PetaPixel.)
If that’s too much, then go ahead and try a game. In the past I’ve talked about Universal Paperclips, which is still a good choice, as it mostly runs in the background after a certain point. But, there’s also a new game that looks fun, based on this article on Engadget, Who knew I’d get obsessed with a spreadsheet game?.
And, if you just need to have some soothing music in the background while you try to work, try Robert Fripp’s Music for Quiet Moments series. Each is about 50 minutes of gentle, peaceful music. For something a little more unnverving, try the AI-generated music based on famous artist’s original work. It’s a little odd, but certainly interesting.

Finally, I’d like to share something with you that I personally find helpful and uplifting; Pema Chödrön on SuperSoul Sunday via the Oprah Winfrey Network YouTube channel. She’s a fantastic Buddhist teacher and her talks and books are incredibly valuable teaching for me in “these uncertain times”.

So, like I promised, things are getting weird. Next week, I’ll be in the office a bit. My co-worker and I are coming in every other day, to try and help keep the potential for exposure to COVID-19 to a minimum for us. I pray that it goes well.
Check in next week to see!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

2/17/2017

Unleash your Creativity Scientifically

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Fun,On Creativity — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I am NOT feeling creative this week.

And, I mean, not at all. Not even a little bit. So, what’s to do? Well, for one thing, I’m going to go ahead into work and be not creative there. I might as well collect a paycheck for not feeling creative and force myself to solve problems for profit. Honestly, when I read about breaking writer’s block, one of the most cited solutions is to just sit down and write anyway. I know for me, having a set routine helps me a lot. But, I’m a big believer in science, so what can science do for me when I don’t feel creative?

As it turns out, quite a lot, and Scientific American magazine happens to be running a special issue on just that subject. So, what I’m going to do is go into work and do things and leave these links here for you.
Six Articles on Creativity from Scientific American:
1. Your Fertile Brain At Work
2. The Science of Genius
3. Triumph of the City; Engines of Genius
4. Answers In Your Dreams
5. Living in an Imaginary World
6. Let Your Creativity Soar:

Hopefully, one of those will appeal to you and help you have a more creative weekend. Read them quick before they disappear behind a paywall!
And, we’ll see you next week!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

2/14/2014

Creative Lists

Filed under: Art,Fun,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:35 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

This is not a new idea.

But, then, I remember hearing when I was in high school that there are no new ideas under the Sun, only new ways to implement them.  And, remember, every story you tell, is uniquely your own.  So, the age-old question about creative ideas, right?  Where do they come from?  The answer I got was that they come in a plain, brown wrapper from Schenectady.  (That was from Frank Herbert, author of Dune, via a phone…
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1/24/2014

No Excuses!

Filed under: Art,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Red Herrings,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

There are no excuses for not writing.

Even though I make excuses all the time.
The biggest excuse, or “writerly lie”, that I tell myself is that I don’t have enough time.  But, honestly, that’s bullshit.  Because, as it turns out, I always have enough time to drop whatever I’m doing to serve someone else.  I don’t make time for myself and make my writing, or photography, priorities.  My creative pursuits are the first thing to drop by the wayside when I…
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1/3/2014

Creative Resolutions

Filed under: Art,Fun,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:17 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

No, I don’t mean New Year’s Resolutions that are “creative”.

Rather, I’m talking about making some New Year’s Resolutions regarding creative output.
I’ll be honest, this year hasn’t been my most productive, creatively.  But, to be fair, I did get married and merge my life with another person’s and that did take a lot of time and no small amount of effort, for both of us.  I think marriage is a pretty good excuse for not being as productively creative as one…
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5/31/2013

Writerly Advice

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:16 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

There is no shortage of advice for writers.

And, honestly, the advice you like least is probably the best for you.  Why do I say that?  Because the advice that rankles you the most is probably digging at the precise issue that you have as a writer and are trying to ignore.  Or, is that just my Freudian slip showing?
I hate to admit it, but I fall into the classic traps of wanna-be fiction writer all the time.  My biggest failing? …
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5/24/2013

Rainy Coffee Shop

Filed under: Art,Fun,music,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:14 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

Remember two weeks ago?  When I was talking about ambient coffee shop sounds?

Well, now someone has come out with an improvement, at least in my mind; rain.
So, really, this one is even simpler than the last one.  There’s just two buttons; one to turn on the “cafe sounds” and one to turn on the “rain”.  That’s it.  Though, I assume if you want some music, you can just go ahead and play your regular MP3 player of choice as well…
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5/10/2013

Coffee Shop Sounds

Filed under: Art,Fun,Fun Work,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:13 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

A relatively recent study says that the background noise of a coffee shop can boost your creativity.

I tend to subscribe to the attitude of one of my favorite authors, John Scalzi, espoused in his book You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop To A Coffee Shop.  And, actually, the title of that book is pretty much how he feels.  I have to agree.  When someone takes their laptop to a coffee shop to “write”, let’s face it, their…
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7/29/2011

Chicken or Egg?

Filed under: Art,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:46 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Personally, I find both to be delicious!

But, that has nothing at all to do with this post.
I’ve been thinking about a lot of stuff this week.  Mostly, though, I’ve been thinking about creativity and photography.  So, instead of just bringing you one link today, I’m bringing you two.
First, a little about creativity.  Some time ago now, Paul Zii wrote 29 Ways to Stay Creative on his Tumblr.  It’s worth reading.  I can’t promise you that it will fix your creative slump, but, really, the novelty of trying anything from that list is likely to stir something for you, even if it’s not today.  Besides, what can it hurt?
I’ve been thinking about creativity, primarily my own, for a little bit now.  My photography, I feel, has been getting stale.  For a while, going out shooting with other photographers seemed to help me, but, now, I find myself more stymied by them than inspired.  I shoot what they’re into, not because I’m all that interested, but because I’m with them.  Not that it’s a bad thing, by any means.  They’re mostly a good group of photographers and pretty decent people, too, so hanging out with them has been fun.  But, due to some interpersonal “stuff”, I found myself asking if that was really what I wanted to be doing with my photography.  Did I really want someone else to drive what I shot and why?  As it turns out, not so much.  So, change and its relationship to creativity has been on my mind a lot lately.  And, of course, I thought back to Paul’s list.  Some of those things, I did or have done, before.  Some are entirely new ideas.  All of them stimulated my thinking and creativity.
If you’re in a slump, try them.  They may help!

Second, a very creative idea for cameras.  Pinhole Egg Cameras.  Yeah, that’s right, it’s an article about making pinhole cameras from eggs, developing the photos from them and displaying them.
I have never done film photography, really, just digital, so these absolutely fascinated me.  In fact, seeing these made me give serious thought to taking an old-fashioned film photography course.  I have a film camera and I know it works because I’ve lent it to several people at the office when they were taking photography courses.
Well, maybe one day, when I have more time….

Until then, though, you might as well enjoy the links!  It is, after all, Friday!

12/3/2008

How to Concentrate

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:13 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Lately, I’ve been very concerned with my own discipline and how that relates to creative output.

It seems to me that I have increasingly lost the ability to focus on creative tasks for long periods of time, which, of course, is somewhat detrimental to actually producing a finished product. In short, my skills of concentration have gotten soft. It may be due, in part, to the nature of my work, which often draws me in several directions at once. Or, it may simply be a part of my nature that I used to have under better control. Regardless, concentration is, I think, the key.

So, with that in mind, I invite you to read “How To Concentrate“, originally published in 1930, but still relevant today.  Certainly, it is for me, especially this week, or month, or, hell, this year.  Now, all I need to do is clear a little space on my calendar…


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Life lived for tomorrow will always be just a day away from being realized."
   --Leo Buscaglia


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