Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with my current job. They actually just gave me a pretty chunky raise that I’m thrilled about. The sad fact of the matter though is that the company isn’t currently allowing remote work from the state of Kansas, which as you all know if you’ve been keeping up for a while, is where I’ll be moving to in a little over a month. I’ve discussed the matter with HR, and they seem to be discussing whether or not any kind of exception can be made, but they aren’t sure if a decision will come before I’m already gone. So at this point, unless I hear otherwise, I’m pretty much under the impression that I’ll be jobless by the time we move.
I’ve been searching for new remote opportunities since receiving that news, but it’s hard to find anything remote that isn’t a call center, something I’m vastly not qualified for like software engineering, or just an outright scam listing entirely. I would love to find something in social media or community management, but I’ve got no experience doing either of those things outside of my personal social media reach, which according to MediaKits reaches less than 700 followers across all platforms. That’s pretty small potatoes in the internet world, all things considered. My last week of school here in Indy was last week, and part of a final assignment was to start an online portfolio of our work. So I did just that! I created an account on Behance and included items to showcase that I created for school projects in Photoshop and Illustrator as well as two photo series from my Photography class. I also marked the option that I was “available for hire” should anyone really surprise me and find themselves interested in those offerings. I’m definitely a novice but I’m more than happy to take on any graphic design needs! I’ve also got a little bit of web development experience (hi, I made this website you’re reading right now!), layout experience with InDesign, and video editing in Premiere Pro that I would be happy to work on with anyone!
Mostly, I’m hoping to find a job where I can use some of these new skill sets a little bit more. The closer that we get to the move to Kansas and my need to find anything that will pay me may wind up taking precedence, but I’ve been creating things on my own and went to school for a while to learn how to do these things that I enjoy and would really love to be able to do them for a living, too. If you happen to have any leads or know someone in an industry who might take a chance on a total newbie, please let me know!
Work has been somewhat stressful, school has picked up, and I discovered an addictive life-sim game called Disney Dreamlight Valley that has consumed basically any of my free time that isn’t spent working or schooling. And I guess just somehow, some way, the entire month slipped away from me without much to say about it.
I will say that my photography class has been great. Learning how to actually use my camera in manual mode rather than just shooting everything in automatic has been incredible. We’ve taken on several assignments so far including blurred motion, short depth of field, high contrast, and all kinds of other technical projects that have occasionally made me go, “Wow, I can’t believe I did that!” Without a doubt though, the series that I was most proud of and that I impressed myself the most with, was this most recent assignment where we had to do a little bit of low-key, high contrast, black-and-white portraiture. I chose to photograph my father for the assignment. For posterity mostly, but also because he just so happened to be nearby and available, so why not utilize him as a subject model? As of this writing, the assignment is still ungraded, but I already know these will be photos that we hang onto of him, whether the academic world likes them or not.
Photography isn’t exactly something that I was looking into doing professionally. I wouldn’t necessarily mind it as a career choice, but taking this course wasn’t really my decision. I had taken Photography in high school and, with the exception of the awesome field trip to shoot in Brown County, I hated developing prints in the dark room and trying to find interesting things to capture. I like taking photos, but I’ve always pretty much been an amateur. I take selfies and photos of friends and maybe a landscape or two. I’ve never been great at the “art” of anything and that definitely includes photography. Plus, I really didn’t want to have to shell out the money for an expensive DSLR camera. But since it turns out that Photography is one of the requirements in the Visual Communications program that I’m enrolled in at the college, I didn’t have much choice. Surprisingly, the subject has been way better and more interesting this time around. No more dark rooms with smelly chemicals with digital photography, for starters. And I guess just generally taking it more seriously this time around and learning what different settings do has been an eye-opener.
It kinda makes me glad that I bought my camera after all. Assuming I don’t break the thing somehow, it should last for years and definitely provide for a new hobby. I don’t know whether I’ll ever pursue any professional photography gigs or not because, quite frankly, I’m still learning and I don’t know how good I am at the whole thing, objectively speaking. I’ll need to put together some sort of portfolio or something. We’ve scratched the surface a little bit in this class, but later this semester, I’m also taking a course learning how to work in Photoshop, so I’m excited to learn how to not only take the picture but also do more interesting things with them later on in the editing process.
That’s where my head’s been lately. Now unless you want to learn how to maximize your island’s profits growing canola in Dreamlight Valley, get on outta here! But remember — just in case I disappear from this blog for another month or so — Twitter is probably the best place to keep up with what’s going on with me. I’m the most active there so be sure to give me a follow.
Well hello. It’s been a little while, and let me tell you, that’s because this month has been rough.
That isn’t to say that it hasn’t had its fun moments. In fact, I think a lot of the “rough” moments that I’ve had so far this moment have been a direct result of going out and doing something fun. You see, over the last couple of years, I’ve adjusted to a schedule of working and playing from home, which has meant that I don’t get in a whole lot of movement. As a huge homebody, I tend to prefer it that way also. I love being at home. It’s where all my stuff is, it’s where my cats are. It’s where I can be ugly in peace and don’t have the anxiety of there being someone potentially watching my every step. Despite this, it also means I’m drastically out of shape when it comes time to actually go out and do stuff. And that has caught up with me twice this month.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I went to GenCon this year! I was accompanied by my nephew and we had a great time traversing the convention floor as well as seeing all the art and cosplay. We bought some beautiful metal dice from Metallic Dice Games, which makes me very excited. Unlike most people in attendance at GenCon, I’m not very into tabletop or board gaming as much as I am into video games, but I’d very much like that to change eventually. I want to learn how to play Dungeons & Dragons one day if I ever find a group of friends willing and interested in doing the same! Attending GenCon was a little bit of dipping our toes into those waters and while we found that we were a little out of our element in the board game/tabletop gaming world, we still had a blast and were very glad that we went. It was my very first convention and I’m eager to do more! We’re hoping that something like a Comic-Con might be more in our wheelhouse. But seriously, if anyone wants to teach me D&D one day, let me know!
But as I mentioned before, post-GenCon was not fun. Not only were my legs sore for a few days from all the walking, I also felt a little sick for up to a week after the fact. GenCon had COVID-19 restrictions in place (masks and proof of vaccination were both requirements for entry), so I felt relatively comfortable in the environment, especially since we didn’t interact too closely with anyone else who wasn’t also masked up. By the Friday after though, I felt so bad that I wound up taking a COVID test just to make sure that I didn’t have it, especially since I had read on Twitter that there were quite a few people at GenCon who did contract the virus. Thankfully, my COVID test turned up negative and I started feeling better by the following weekend. I’m guessing I just encountered the regular ol’ “con crud,” which I’m told is cold and flu symptoms that people commonly develop after conventions anyway, even before COVID times.
Fast forward a couple of weeks, and now school has started back up! Yes, I’ve re-enrolled in my local community college, as I mentioned I was going to try to do in yet another previous post of mine. This semester though, I’m taking a Photography class, which is very cool and has me very excited. I even bought a brand new Canon EOS 2000D (Rebel T7) DSLR camera for the class. You might think it’s a little bit of a hefty investment for an eight-week community college course, but I’ve been eyeing a really nice camera for a while now anyway, and this baby should last me a few good years. I’m excited to learn more about how to shoot in modes that aren’t just automatic, which is pretty much all I know how to do at this point. I’ll be learning more about Photoshop and raster graphics this semester too, so I’m hoping to get some pro skills in photo editing as well as taking the photos themselves. We already went on our first outdoor adventure around campus taking photos on Thursday, and that’s when my next “old person” incident happened.
While getting down on my knees to get this shot of a bee on a flower, I found myself in one of the most awkward positions of my life — I was totally and completely unable to get back up on my feet. It’s like my knees and leg muscles had entirely seized up and didn’t want to work like they should. I wound up crawling over to a nearby bench to try and use it as leverage to pull myself back up onto my feet and, in the process, wound up falling back on my butt instead. A very kind fellow student who was walking by at that exact moment asked if I was okay and if I needed help. I declined out of embarrassment, but at the same time, I was sort of in a panic wondering if I was going to need a damn ambulance. After a few moments on the ground, I finally rallied myself back up enough to get up onto the bench where I could sit and collect myself some more. Finally afterward, I was able to get back on my feet and go about continuing the photo shoot, but not without my legs feeling completely wonky as I tried to walk. They felt like they could go out on me at any given moment.
Today as I write this, I’m still recovering from my legs feeling weird. I can walk on them fairly confidently now, but it still hurts to get up and down from a sitting position. My short time as a photographer has clearly taught me that getting down on my knees to get the shot is not going to be something we can do going forward. I’m starting to feel old and out of shape. I need to start walking more in what little spare time I actually have between work and school. That would probably help a great deal, especially since I’m really not that old. Certainly not old enough to start feeling this crippled. But hey, the most important thing is: I got the shot!
I’m hoping for a change as we move into September. More fun, more learning, and preferably a lot less pain. Be on the lookout for more photos and graphics from me too as this semester evolves!
This past week, everyone in the gaming world has been obsessed with a new title that just dropped on Tuesday called Stray. Once you read the following synoposis of Stray, you might easily be able to ascertain precisely why it has my attention:
Lost, alone and separated from family, a stray cat must untangle an ancient mystery to escape a long-forgotten city.
Stray is a third-person cat adventure game set amidst the detailed, neon-lit alleys of a decaying cybercity and the murky environments of its seedy underbelly. Roam surroundings high and low, defend against unforeseen threats and solve the mysteries of this unwelcoming place inhabited by curious droids and dangerous creatures.
See the world through the eyes of a cat and interact with the environment in playful ways. Be stealthy, nimble, silly, and sometimes as annoying as possible with the strange inhabitants of this mysterious world.
Along the way, the cat befriends a small flying drone, known only as B-12. With the help of this newfound companion, the duo must find a way out.
Stray is developed by BlueTwelve Studio, a small team from the south of France mostly made up of cats and a handful of humans.
– Stray official website
As if I didn’t already have an affinity for story-driven narratives and dystopian cityscapes, but now you’re telling me that a CAT is the main protagonist?! How many times can I sign up? It’s like they basically developed this game FOR me.
But I’m apparently not alone! Stray has been out for less than a week as of the writing of this post and has already amassed more than 60,000 concurrent players on Steam. That’s not even taking into account the number of players that may also have purchased and played the game on PlayStation consoles, where it’s also available. People all over the world are relishing the opportunity to get their inner cat out, and I just happen to be one of them!
I haven’t been able to get my hands on the game just yet, but I’ve watched plenty of footage of other people playing it on Twitch this week and it looks beyond beautiful. The main player cat actually reminds me of my own Rufus, which is strange because Rufus is black and gray, whereas the in-game cat is orange like my Cinnamon. But the cat in Stray is smaller and leaner and has the same big eyes as he explores the world, whereas Cinnamon is a bit of a chunk. Watching the cat run around in the game makes me envision a little bit of what life may have been like had we not rescued Rufus before he and his brother were chucked out on the street. Which is a little bit hard to watch, but also makes me want to strive to complete the game and get the kitty back to his family all that much more!
What strikes me the most about the game are some of the tinier details that they put into it. The in-game cat rolls around on the ground as if paralyzed when first equipped with a harness that houses the B-12 drone like a real cat would. It takes catnaps on the warm bellies of some of the city’s friendly inhabitants. It walks across keyboards and pianos. It scratches up walls, doors, furniture, and window blinds. There’s even a dedicated button with which to make him meow! You can, without a doubt, tell that the team that made this game owned cats themselves and studied them, and used them as inspiration.
Once I acquire the game, I’ll likely be streaming my playthrough on Twitch as well. You can probably count on that happening within the next couple of weeks. If you’re interested in watching when I do, be sure you’re following me on both Twitch and Twitter so you know when I’m about to start broadcasting.
Getting a better look at the vastness and, frankly, unbelievably spectacular space beyond our home planet to me feels simultaneously scary and peaceful. It’s an alarming reminder of how tiny and remarkably insignificant we are in the grand scheme of the universe. But it’s also a reminder that life is a beautiful and rare wonder. One that we have yet to find out there elsewhere, but that I hope one day we will.
I don’t have much to share as far as my personal life goes with this update. I just needed to share this astounding beauty and tuck it away in the archives for posterity.
So I’ve stumbled into this bad habit of looking up other blogs and websites when I’m in need of inspiration. This morning’s ultimate find was UsesThis.com, a blog that interviews people to primarily sus out what hardware and software they use to make them successful at what they do. I also saw where Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress (the software that runs this blog!), created a post of his favorite apps instead of sharing what was in his backpack again back in 2020. These two things got me thinking about doing a post of my own. I spend nearly my entire life online between working remotely, going to school online, and streaming and gaming in my free time. Needless to say, I’ve got a lot of tools to share!
Without further adieu, here’s everything that I use in a given day:
Social Media:Twitter and Instagram are probably the two platforms that I spend the most time on, though I try to live-stream directly on Twitch whenever I have the time to do so. Twitch streams can also sometimes lead to recycling content for TikTok and other platforms.
Chat & Communication: My family has widely adopted Discord for almost all chatting, web sharing, video conferencing, and screen-sharing, though I also still utilize Messenger and plain ol’ phone calls and texting for some friends and family. Very rarely I’ll also need to use Zoom for virtual meetings.
Design: I love the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of products that includes Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, etc., but I’m also no professional when it comes to design, so I’ve been known to throw together quick graphics and documents in Canva, especially since Adobe is SO expensive.
Web Presence: I use WordPress pretty much exclusively for all my web development needs, but my main “hub” is generated through the quick-and-easy one-page maker Carrd.
Music & Podcasts:Spotify is pretty much our one-stop shop. We have a family account. I’ve been known to throw on some tunes from YouTube in a pinch though.
Productivity: If I don’t need to use Microsoft for some reason, I tend to prefer Google’s ecosystem of products: Drive, Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc. If you need to write it down by hand, make sure you grab yourself a Rocketbook. I own two of them along with a rainbow assortment of FriXion writing utensils to go with it!
Note-Taking: In addition to the aforementioned Rocketbook, there are also digital note apps. I’ve made major use of both Evernote and OneNote for all kinds of facets of my life.
On-the-Go: My mobile device is a Google Pixel 4 XL, which is no longer one of the current Pixel phones. I’m thinking of upgrading to the Pixel 6 Pro soon, but I’ve heard rumblings that the Pixel 7 is coming soon, so I may need to wait. I’ve been without earbuds for a little while, but I’ve got my eye on a sharp set of RayCons that I just may purchase soon…
For Work: At work, we use Microsoft Office 365. You know the deal: Word for documents, Excel for spreadsheets, Outlook for email, Teams for chat and communication, etc. We also use some Cisco and Adobe products, but pretty much everything else is contained in Office.
For School: I highly suggest installing Grammarly on your web browser and everywhere else it’s possible. It will make your writing better almost overnight. As for solving complicated math, which I’m completely horrible at, there’s thankfully a mobile app called Photomath. Take a photo of those math equations and it will not only tell you the answer, but it will also tell you how to get the answer, which is the most important part! I’ve also got to give Khan Academy and their video tutorials a glowing recommendation!
And since Matt Mullenweg’s post also included his favorite purchases from Amazon, I’ll share that mine from this first half of 2022 has been my new Keurig K-Duo Coffee Maker. It makes single-serve cups of coffee from K-cups and an entire carafe if I’m really needing to fuel up. The only other two favorite items I’ve acquired from Amazon so far this year are my NZXT Lift & Function keyboard and mouse to match my PC. I love the experience both peripherals provide while I’m working at my computer!
There you have it! Let me know what you use in the comment section. Especially if you think it’s superior to what I’m using here.