Simple Packing

I’m sitting here right now about to get ready to leave on a trip, with a post I’m supposed to write, and two ideas written on a piece of paper in front of me that have been knocking around for a while.

I’m going to have to get up earlier than usual in the morning to get ready and leave for the trip, and at the time it is currently I don’t think I have the time to properly research and give my other topics their due space. So I’m going to write about packing because it’s on my mind.

I’ve never really needed to pack much. It would take me a little bit of the night before a two week trip to pack for said trip when I was younger and needed less things. It would still probably take me very little time, mainly a set or two of clothes and my EDC (everyday carry) bag to go on almost any trip today.

Unfortunately, I have recently taken to both packing in the morning and needing to take more things to “keep up” with work. I inevitably rarely use said things, but I take them and am paranoid about leaving many of them (these are mainly notebooks and computer accessories). These two things lead me to being needlessly worried on my trips.

So I started two procedures that I hope to finally fully flesh out this trip. Having a Travel Checklist (which my parents do) and having most of my things in pre-prepared bags. For instance I use my EDC bag every day and taking it along is no real problem. I also use a travel toiletries bag in my bathroom to keep things organized and it is very simple to just zip it up and take it with me.

Having pre-defined bags like that (or say, my computer case that has slots that I use for only certain accessories) has helped me quite a bit in getting ready in the past, but the human brain is a forgetful thing. And my brain in particular worries quite a bit about the things that I forget. This is where the checklist comes in. I have so many other checklists in my life I don’t know why it never occurred to me to make a packing one (maybe because in the morning when I was getting ready it was too much {and I did make one when I was moving, but that’s a bit different}).

Adding a packing checklist to my simple taking bags that I have specifically integrated into my life so I can both use them everyday and take them on trips is the perfect way to round out the system. And it allows for me to add things to the list that aren’t already in my bags and might not need to be taken (like say, camping equipment) and it makes the whole system much more flexible.

So that’s what I’ll be doing for this trip; if it works, this post might be the end of it, if it doesn’t, I will be making an update. I’ll see how it goes.

Why am I so Bad at Publishing Articles Consistently?

Now I really have a good reason for it this time: in 3 weeks, I moved, produced 2 new (and 2 revised) books for, and attended, a (mini) Comic Con. So I’m late, I get it, and I really shouldn’t be, but it seems that of the things I’m late for, doing my articles on Friday are the one I’m most consistently late at (not counting videos, and editorial cartoons).

I have wondered why this was the case in the past. And I really don’t know. I’m (for the most part) on time with most of my reviews and especially my comics. It’s just something about the “medium” form writing that makes me late.

It might be a lack of inspiration, or ideas, rather. What in the world do people read on the internet these days? And it has that Blogging problem of most people’s lives not actually being interesting enough to maintain a Blog. It’s also the fact that I started them as a comedy thing, and longer-form comedy is not how my brain works.

That’s why I’ve mainly switched away from comedy. Doing articles on things I’m interested in, or things that are happening right now, is just easier.

They are also posted on a traditionally weekend day, Saturday, (or now Friday). And while almost all of the rest of my life has completely forgotten about any artificial day/week structure, maybe it’s still there in that sense for this article writing. And while for anything else I can wait until the night it’s scheduled for to do it. For Blogging, that really doesn’t work. So waiting until the last minute on a Thursday night/Friday morning might be a terrible scheduling idea.

It’s all still excuses. I really just need to do it, which I have been making a new routine to do more easily. I know that it is something I can do since I usually can catch up. It just needs to be done in a more organized fashion. So I’ve been reading about time management, and I’ll get back to this topic in a few months and see if it’s worth another post about my progress.

Google Non-Functionality

I think I’m an average user of the software services provided by Google. Perhaps I use a bit more than some people, since I upload Youtube videos, but I don’t have an Android phone, so I think that balances it out a little bit. I don’t really want a Gmail address, because I already have an email address (several), but I do have ads on my website and have used Google to run ads for someone else. And, of course, I’m now forced to have a G+ account that I never use, for statistics-jacking purposes. And, I’ve got to say, for being a tech giant, the set of Google systems I’ve used have been surprisingly lackluster.

Now, I’ve used Android devices, and it’s a fine OS, so not everything they create is clunky, but I’ve used a few clunky systems by them, let me tell you. The first is their most prominent: the back end of Youtube. It’s just a mess, unless one is commenting. Then it works well, until the days when that doesn’t work sometimes (for various reasons, like needing a Google+ account). And that was when they were trying to say that the entire library of Google services could be accessed from one account. Not only is that a bad idea that can only lead to compromises (both kinds) in the future, but it shoves a lot of programs and dashboards in the faces of people who don’t want them, (or a damn Google+ account). But it’s also a lie. Yes, in theory I can access all of my Google services through one login, but there is exactly zero integration for this. From Youtube I can get to G+ and AdSense, but there is no way to get back to my Youtube account. I guess I could frantically mash on the back button until I outrun the page reloading and hope my form didn’t expire.

Still, I can understand them not being able to properly link the back ends of their various sites. But since no one I know of was asking for such a thing to be done, it does beg the question as to why it was done in the first place. And why couldn’t Google just wait until they were able to fully integrate their services to launch such a program?

Google tends to do these things now. Quite a while ago they introduced the annotations system on Youtube (was it owned by Google then? I don’t remember), and never updated it to work on mobile devices, which are the main market for Youtube videos now. Since then, they’ve tried to replace it with “cards” which barely function as more than annotations, work completely differently on every possible platform, and replace the Youtube-styled watermarks, making the Youtube watermarking system useless. They did a great job there, if you ask me. They now work like every Google system: vaguely or not at all. I have no idea if I change one setting in one place, how far reaching that change will be, or if it will even do anything.

They’ve made their living and stake in the consumer experience, which is very good. Viewing Youtube always works, even if it isn’t the most pleasant experience. Their search algorithms are great, their ads always show up and work, their email is nice and stores a lot. From what I can tell, Android is responsive, and almost everything loads fast. But they just don’t put that amount of effort into their creator experience. And I’ve taken to not using most of their offerings. The back end of AdSense just confuses me: lots of buttons that don’t go anywhere and two tabs with words that mean the same thing that inexplicably hold different options make it not worth much time. I don’t know how my Youtube Account(s) attach to G+ and since I don’t use G+ I don’t bother learning. Youtube comments are so broken I can’t keep track of the last time they worked, and the differences between the messaging systems just serve to create barriers between people, not facilitate communication. And AdWords is specifically engineered to make stopping your ads a terrible task.

As you can guess I’m not exactly part of the Google fan club, but I don’t hate them. I just wish I could get a more cohesive and well-thought-out experience from them. I’d expect the kinds of broken and untested systems from a startup company, but not from the giant will billions of dollars. I wouldn’t trust their car if they integrated it to any of their other systems as poorly as they do now.

Really, Google has never made that good of a product, as in one that functions and looks nice. It just makes the best search engine and owns the best online video site, and until there is a competitor, they’ll get to make all the mistakes they want.

Migraines are a Problem

Working title: “Migraines are terrible for everything ever”

Yesterday (as of me writing this) I had a migraine, which is all I feel like talking about right now, because it’s all I can feel in my head. I can’t really concentrate on any other article I was going to write. So I’d just like to say that migraines are the worst thing ever, ever.

And they aren’t just headaches. When I get a migraine, I lose vision sometimes, I throw up a lot (and I don’t throw up like an average person, my whole body heaves), I get really cold, I can’t stand light, and my perception of the world is just generally clouded. Sometimes the funk can last for weeks, preventing me from doing any type of work or play because one false move and I’ll go back to feeling like there’s an axe in my head.

I might be exaggerating saying migraines are the worst thing ever. I’m sure there are more terrible things, but don’t underestimate migraines. The main “attack” only lasts less than 6 hours for me most times, but can last up to a week, and the after-effects for much longer. I can’t even begin to comprehend the pain of having a longer headache, let alone what goes with it. It’s one of the most frustrating things, because there is so little you can do to stop it, most medications are hit or miss, and many people are undiagnosed. And it’s made all the more frustrating because the more you get frustrated at it, the worse it gets or the easier to becomes to trigger. And almost anything can become a trigger.

What I’m trying to say is, a migraine isn’t just a “bad headache”. It can be, but very often it is something much more than that, and when someone is having a migraine that they know is a migraine, it is very important to work to help, or accommodate them as much as possible.

I was in a migraine-induced funk for all of February and November in 2014, which lost me two months of work which I still haven’t recovered. Fortunately, I was ahead. I lose about a month of work a year, and more time with friends, (because that involves activity and not being at a desk) to migraines, and for some people it is much worse.

Don’t underestimate their power in some peoples’ lives. They can influence a lot of decisions, and when having a migraine, they can feel like the worst thing that could ever possibly happen to you. I get fear responses when I know I’m close to one. My body gets ready to try and fight it because it knows it can’t run away, of course you can “fight” a headache.

Seriously, they’re terrible! That is my announcement, and all I can think of right now.

On Being Disappointed With Your Work

It’s December again (time waits for no man), and that means I should be looking back on the year (or, like most people, drinking to forget it on the next first). I’ve got to say that I’ve been happy with what the year has offered me. It’s been quite a lot, though most of my major projects have turned out to be failures.

Now, even though I’d call it a good year, I’m still disappointed with a lot of things I did or didn’t do. I have a very long list of things to improve, and things to do. Like all of those types of lists, it gets longer faster than it gets shorter. That’s why I can’t use these little organizer notebooks. They don’t have an ever-expanding list page. Anyway, there are things I’m disappointed with (like my inability to not go on tangents), and that’s fine.

No one is ever going to be completely satisfied with what they do. There are many healthy ways to look at something that didn’t quite work as you wanted it to and see a way to improve the next time. Because you don’t want to be the “There is an imperfection in my art because only God can create perfection” guy, for more reasons than just blasphemy. It would also discourage improvement. If you only have flaws because perfection is unachievable (or because you chose to not be as good as God), then you should really be doing something amazing in like, science or something

Anyway (damn tangents), the point is it’s okay to be disappointed with your work. There is very rarely a thing I don’t have a problem with, and it’s never my own. For instance I have a book I made that will be on Amazon shortly (two in fact- it’s not a plug because they aren’t available yet) and they are amazing. It’d be hard to be happier with them, but I still see plenty of flaws in both the cover and interior designs (which I did on my own). I know better could be done, and I will strive to do better the next time. But it’s important to let things be done.

While I can look back on things and say they could have been better if I’d spent more time on this, or if I’d been able to see that mistake, I’m not saying those things are bad, or take away from something. I like to let things live once they’ve been created (not continuously changing e.g. George Lucas) and that’s just me. When something is done, it’s done for me. And if I could have done something more to make it better at the time I might not even have known how. Each project allows me to learn more things and do the next one better.  Whether that means higher quality or faster turn-around times, I can always do better.

It’s fine to be disappointed with something, as long as that doesn’t make you stop. As long as it’s less about hating what you’ve done, and more about loving the next thing you do.