Canadian Chicken Karaage

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Ugh, what a week. It started off with me finding out that I am officially too old to stay in hotels less than $100 a night. The rock hard mattress and odd stains I can take, but screaming drunks at 3:00am are just past my threshold. It ended off with a mad dash to get the condo clean for some buyers to look at it. Suffice to say, there hasn’t been much time for projects this week. There’s not even enough time to make dinner, as you can see. Last night, we got some frozen chicken nuggets, bulldog sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, rice and vegetables, and put together something I like to call Canadian Chicken Karaage! It’s actually not bad, and in many ways, it is like this post: a set of random elements to nourish you after a busy week.

I bought an Acer Liquid Z5 Android phone to help me out with Costco. It was cheap, came without a contract, but came with Costco’s generous return policy if things don’t work out. I might make a review post after I spend some time hacking around with it.

March 15th is the deadline for the Call for Proposal on CascadiaJS talks. One week for me to fail at giving programming talk proposals. It’s a longshot, but I need to at least try. The conference is in Semiahmoo, not far from the Birch Bay cabin my family likes to stay at. My lodging would be basically paid for!

I just bought the audio book of Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well by Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone. It’s changing the way I think about conflict, but’s also giving me a spidey sense for all the stupid things I say on a daily basis, but it only kicks in about 6 seconds after I’ve said a stupid thing. I wish I could turn it off now!

So we have new books, new challenges, and new devices to start off the week. I feel like I’m just making do with what I have, but what I have is pretty good right now.

 

February 2015 Review

We’re starting off March with another monthly review. Look at that! 29.25 hours of project time for the month of February. A new record! 24.5 of those hours went to the freelancing project from last month. The project in question is a cordova plugin to aid in the development of an app called Reaction The Game. It’s a camera app that displays scenes for you and your friends to act out. It’s shaping to be a kind of “Who’s Line Is it Anyway?” for mobile devices. I’m sure that once my cosplayer friends get a hold of this, convention shoots are about to get really interesting!

As much as I enjoy my freelancing work, it does mean that my other projects have taken a back seat. Even so, I still have to track how far I’ve gotten for each one of them. Accountability is the name of the game here, people!

Write at least one post for RainGeek
This one, sadly, did not get any time. Convention Season is coming, so there may be more to write about this month

Write 4 posts for james-strocel.com at 30 minutes each
All told, I spent 2.5 hours on my blog last month. Not too shabby, but still room for improvement.

Spend 4 hours on the Seating Plan App
I got 30 minutes into this at the Fraser Valley Ruby Brigade. I really should make this my one project to work on there.

Spend 4 hours on my Novel
I got 15 minutes and 256 at the children’s literature conference I attended with my wife last weekend. This month I’m going to put a reminder on my phone to make sure I at least look at the draft at least once a day.

Review twitch.tv setup
I got my Yeti microphone working just before month end. Now, I just need to do a few test broadcasts.

Outline a programming presentation.
This is another goal that slipped underneath my radar. I think the problem with this one is that it’s so vague. I really should just stick to a specific topic. The Call for Proposal deadline at Cascadia JS is on March 15th, so that’s as good a deadline as any. If I send one in and it doesn’t get accepted, at least I’ll get over that mental hump of sending in the proposal. The Firebase database platform would be a great fit for this conference, I’ll center my presentation around that. Ridiculously high speaker fees, here I come!

March Monthly Goals

  • Finish camera plugin
  • Write 4 posts for james-strocel.com at 30 minutes each
  • 2 hour novel writing session on Friday March 7
  • Spend 3 fvrb sessions working on Seating Plan App
  • Outline firebase presentation by March 15
  • Record a blog post using the Yeti Microphone
  • Write at least one post for RainGeek

An Open Letter To Nerd Rage

Dear Nerd Rage,

It’s a wild ride this past half-century, hasn’t it? Ever since those letter-writing campaigns to keep Star Trek on the air in the 1960’s, you’ve been making some pretty interesting things happen in pop culture. So many conventions were started in your searing fires. Shows like Firefly, Babylon 5 and Mystery Science Theatre 3000 have sailed many seas beyond cancellation thanks your buffeting winds. So many authors can point to you as their inspiration. My favourite Science Fiction novel, Joe Haldeman’s “The Forever War”, was conceived as an excellent piece of Nerd Rage agains the jingoistic platitudes of Robert Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers”.

Even so, Nerd Rage, the world has changed. No longer are there only three channels. Even 50 channels are too small for the video universe of today that includes Youtube, Netflix, and Crunchyroll. I’ve gone from recording gray market fan-subs at East Vancouver comic shops to a world where I never have to not watch Japanese animation again. Everyone gets a show now. Philip K. Dick’s “Man in the High Castle” has a show now. A sprawling multiverse of books, films, and video games now shunts directly into the palm of my hand.

The point is, now that you have won, where do you find yourself now? Why are we finding you spouting from anonymous twitter accounts at people who dare to create? Do you style yourself as some kind of gatekeeper, trying to keep pop culture pure? Some say your high priests are drunk on your power, that they will use any manner of doxxing, griefing, or trolling to silence any and all dissent.

This trend is worrying to those of us who love technology, video games, special effects, and everything else under the umbrella of Nerd culture. We want more people to share our joy with, not less! We certainly don’t want to be confused with the people who force people from their houses with death threats. We begin to wonder whether the time for Nerd Rage is past, but I say the best is yet to come. The screams of entitled fanboys can be annoying at best, and frightening at worst, but it’s nothing but a paper tiger. Nerd Rage is at its most powerful when it is a force for good. When it inspires art, works of charity, and personal values, you end up with more than Nerd Culture, you have a Nerd society. You give your dreams form. Life becomes something you control rather than something that’s imposed upon you. Next time you find yourself sitting through the worst adaptation ever, really think about how you could do better and actually write a better movie! Don’t just throw that controller, learn to program or at the very least record your tantrum for youtube so everyone can enjoy it! In this hyper-connected world, we all have the tools now to make it better, so let’s use them already!

Building the Perfect Mastermind Group

So far, things are going great for tracking my personal projects (or Personally Awesome Projects, as I like to call them). My system for collecting data is solid, and It seems like I’m going to beat my total hours from last month. I’m also getting great feedback on this process. Even so, I still feel like I’m the only one trying to get organized like this. I want to connect with other people who are taking a data based approach to managing their time. I’m pretty sure if I asked the Internet how to do that, the answer would be form a Mastermind Group.

If you read Mastermind group and thought of the Legion of Doom meeting in the swamp with Lex Luthor, that’s awesome! But I’m actually thinking of a Mastermind Group as a small team of individuals with a common goal that meets regularly to share strategies and support towards that goal.

I think I’ve actually belonged to a few of those over the years. The best one of these was the Fraser Valley Ruby Brigade, which led me to my current job. I still go there, but I wouldn’t want it to become quite so…goal oriented. It’s a great place to relax with my programmer friends, and I want it to stay that way.

Toastmasters was another great mastermind group. It was very goal oriented, but at the same time let its members move at their own pace. I may still return to this one in the summer.

If I were to form a Mastermind group based on what I’m doing with Personally Awesome Projects, it would probably have to follow the pizza rule – meaning it would not have more people than you could feed with a large pizza. We could either meet face-to-face or get together on a skype call once a month. There would be an understanding that we could check up on one another through our favorite messaging service, and that we could also call on each other for advice when things seem tough.

Then again, I wonder if this is yet another project that I’m putting on future James’ plate, and that guy’s got way too much work already. A Mastermind group is a great idea, but you’ll only get results if you put a lot of work into it. But what do you think? Does this sound like a group that you would want to join? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Surviving the Seattle Freeze

On Facebook, I had the honour of taking part in a discussion about how introverts and extroverts relate to each other.The thread was facilitated by one of my internet marketing friends, Lauren Hall-Stigerts, so naturally it was about 20 comments long by the time I got to it. There were the usual topics of small talk, meeting new people, and how many people you are comfortable being in the same room.

I was surprised to learn about was something called the “Seattle Freeze”, referring to the difficulty of making new friends in the Northwest. Basically, it renders people cold and unfriendly to strangers. Interacting outside your normal social circle becomes highly stressful and you simply opt out of doing it. Contacts aren’t followed up, plans aren’t made,

Now, when most people talk about depression, you hear a lot about seasonal affect disorder and its prevalence in the Northern hemisphere. The interesting thing about the Seattle Freeze is that it applies to the general population. While it’s not a life-changing condition, it leads me to wonder how far-reaching the effects are.

Is this the Seattle Freeze the reason Vancouver is “No-Fun City”? Is Silicon Valley’s secret to success the days of sunshine in the Bay Area? How much money is everyone leaving on the table by not picking up the phone in November to March?

Gauging the mood of an entire latitude is as complicated as it gets. There are tons of other factors controlling are lives, and a general mood just might be one of them. Even so, talking to strangers is one of the drivers of the economy. If Canada, Britain, Japan, or anywhere else that gets cold and windy in the winters wants to be competitive, it might be high time we adapted around the Seattle Freeze. We already developed Christmas and New Years for fending off the winter blues, why can’t we work on some other social convention to keep us all connected? One that doesn’t involve as much plane travel and shopping mall stampedes?