So, apparently Posterous is going away.

That’s what the banner says, at least. I guess I have to do something. I was thinking I’d move to WordPress, but then a friend suggested I could use Tumblr.

Kind of thinking I should host my own thing, because I don’t want to get stuck with yet another service that’s going to go away.

Tonight we watched the Oscars with my friend Lawrence, who won a Technical Achievement award. Some other friends hosted, and the kids played with Legos, and, apparently, watched a lot of Minecraft videos, while we all watched the Oscars. We saw him on screen for a moment, gathered with all the other Technical Achievement award winners. Since we don’t have cable, or even modern rabbit ears, we haven’t watched the Oscars in a few years.

New cable

I wanted to try hooking my guitar to my Mac, so I looked up cables. I thought I’d need some kind of fancy cable that would translate electric guitar into bits, but no: it turns out you just need a 6.25mm cable plug one end with a 3.5mm plug on the other. I plug it into the microphone jack.

Once I had my guitar plugged in, I fired up Garageband, and I could play through my computer, which was pretty neat. I’ve been working on some music with two parts, so I tried dueting myself. The first attempt sounded pretty terrible, but then I realized that I could re-record each part against the other, improving each one as I went along. Eventually, it sounded . . . slightly less terrible. At any rate, it’s an interesting proof of concept. I have some friends who know a lot more about this sort of thing than I do, so I’ll have to pick their brains a bit.

Home with kids

The kids have today off from school, and I’m off from work, so it’s not much of a holiday for me. Sara’s at work today. Yesterday, she gave me a break, and I tried to get ahead on my Beeminders.

Today, in the morning, as we do on non-school days, I let the kids watch TV and play Minecraft for a few hours. After a few hours, I decided the kids had had enough screen time. A few hours of Minecraft is fine, but if they play for too long, they get really grumpy, so I tend to cut them off after three or four hours.

It turned out it was a little too cold and miserable for going to the park. Not only was the weather not great, but they kept on bothering each other, and then whining to me, so I didn’t get a chance to relax or read while they played. I did get the chance to read an article about Islay distillery Bruichladdich, nevertheless. Most of the text is behind a paywall — sorry. My father had recommended it, but it wasn’t easy to find on my Kindle, because it’s from a previous issue. I hadn’t realized that Kindle magazines get removed from one’s archives after they’re seven issues old. Ostensibly, this is to save space, but I have hundreds of books on my Kindle, and there’s still plenty of space.

After about 45 minutes, we went home. I intended to try to get them to do a little homework, but JH couldn’t find his, so I had him work on his book report, which is always the same: five sentences on a non-fiction book.

We don’t have a lot of food in the house, so I think maybe we’ll take the bus down to Whole Foods for some mac and cheese for them, and maybe a salad for me.

Creative blocks

One of the issues that I have thought about for a long time is the conflict between learning and creativity. In some ways, there shouldn’t be a conflict at all. That is, if one sets out to create, one usually learns the things necessary to do creative work. No, the problem is getting into the habit of creativity. Even when I have gotten into creative mode, I find that it’s a struggle to stay in it.

I suppose this is sort of like a version of writer’s block. The difference for me from a writer who has writer’s block is that writing comes ridiculously easy to me. I can just spew out a few hundred words without really thinking about it. Of course, there need to be controls for quality, and I will usually go back and edit my crappy writing multiple times. Nevertheless, I have no shame about putting a first draft out there for everyone to see.

So I guess I have a kind of creator’s block, or maybe a block against doing anything hard. I notice this when I’m practicing guitar. I have no problem practicing songs I already know, but I have a block against learning new songs. This block keeps me from making progress.

Or, say I’m studying a technical topic. I have no problem with reading text, but when it comes time to do problems, I’m reluctant. Should I be reluctant to actually tackle the problems? I think not! What’s the worst that could happen? I could get it wrong, or I could struggle for a while and not make progress. Some of my happiest memories, interestingly, are from when I was struggling with a technical problem, gave up for the day, went to bed, and in the morning, I knew the answer! Why do I fight this pleasurable experience.

Oddly, at work, I don’t seem to have a block like this, even though I program (i.e. create software) for a living. Maybe it’s because at work, I have mastery of tools. Even so, when I’m asked to build something in an unfamiliar programming language, I can suppress my fearand laziness and do it. I think it might have something to do with the fact that my career, salary, and reputation are on the line. At home, for personal projects, the stakes feel much lower, even if they really aren’t. Shouldn’t I give my own personal development the same respect that I give my job?

Does everyone have this sort of block? I look at the highly creative people in the blogpact, and I feel a kind of envy, because I see people who don’t seem to feel blocked in this way. Did you ever feel the block I’m describing? If so, how did you get over it?

Back from Tahoe

Placeholder post to tell all about our Tahoe trip. It turns out, when you go skiing, and you don’t have family to lend you all the clothes and gear you need for skiing, it’s expensive. The Tahoe trip was as expensive as going to Alaska.

Headed to Tahoe

We’re getting ready for a trip to Tahoe — more fun in the snow this weekend. I’m not an experienced downhill skiier. I’ve actually only gone once, but I’m going to take lessons this weekend. Apparently I have to get some equipment or special clothing or something.

Aw, Dang

I broke the blogpact. I went eight days without blogging. I didn’t mean to do it, but it just happened.

So, here I am again, frantically typing out a shit post so I can abide by at least the letter, if not the spirit, of the pact. Ah, yes.

So, what’s on my mind lately? Well, I had a cold. It was at its worst on Thursday and Friday, but I’m still in the sick zone. No kisses for any of you. I’m sorry.

Still barely keeping abreast of my Beeminder goals. It turns out these goals take a lot of time. I’m not sure I feel more creative or more accomplished for the mere fact of keeping up with them. Makes me wonder if I need better goals, or maybe I just need more time. Example: I’ve been practicing guitar every day for over a month. I would have thought that I’d be awesome by now, but I’m maybe just a teeny bit better. Then again, give it a year or two: maybe I’ll see some real progress. I think I’d like to take a break from my goals, but the only way to do that would probably be to build up a little buffer.

I also wonder if I’m neglecting other things I need to do, like buying chains for the tires on our minivan.

Nevertheless, I think I’ll keep riding these goals out, just to see what happens. I’ve never done a sustained, self-driven goal committment like this before, and I’m curious to see the outcome.