Joseph Hallenbeck


May 11, 2017

Pen Obsessed

Filed under: Journal — Joseph @ 7:33 pm

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Pen Haul

Lately, I have been thinking a little too much about my writing implements. You see, I have always been slightly picky about my writing tools and a little to amused by nice paper and inks. The stationary aisle in any store is my treat. As such, I have collected far too much odd-and-end pens and pencils over the years. An assortment of half-filled notebooks before I moved on with anticipation to a fresh clean notebook. So for several years now, I have resisted the temptation towards new notebooks and now, as I open my paper drawer and see only a handful of fresh graph and memo pads, it is time to venture out in search of fresh supply.

Concerning Pens

Fountain Pens

From top to bottom: Lamy 2000 Makrolon EF, Lamy Al-Star Italic 1.1mm, Lamy Al-Star EF

My writing implements, I am most particular. Namely, I like a pen or pencil to have some heft or volume to them so I can feel them in hand. My daily writing pen needs a fine nib. Scratchy is alright, but really my vowels tend to mush into the same loopy shape, so extra fine is a must. On a pencil, I judge them by how frequently the lead breaks and how consistent the line.

In college, I switched from roller-ball pens to fountain pens. My first, was a Lamy Al-Star that I unfortunately lost at Jewel Cave. Since then, I’ve followed up with two more Al-Star pens, each with their extra fine nibs. The lines on the Lamys seem equal in fineness to my old roller-balls, run smoothly, and create a consistent line.

Two unfortunate side steps in pen purchasing. First, I got a very nice Parker Sonnet when I graduated. The Parker, despite costing five times as much, was vastly inferior to my cheaper Lamy pens. The pen looks beautiful, but the nib struggled to provide consistent flow. Eventually, I gave up on it. It remains a desk-drawer bound pen. The later mistake was to purchase a Noddler Ahab. I thought the tinkering would be fun. Yet, again. The nib either flowed too much or too little. In to the desk drawer it went and I back to my Lamys.

Recently, I stepped up to a Lamy 2000 Makolon EF. At it’s price point, it probably will never leave my desk while the Al-Stars remain my field pen. I feared that, like my experience with the Parker, that the additional cost would be wasted. Yet, the extra price on the 2000 was quite worth it. The EF is finer than the Al-Star EF, yet just as smooth. The built in pump vastly less messy. The uniform, line-less body beautiful. The heft, and volume of the pen comparable to the Al-Star.

Inks

From left to right: Noodler’s Black, Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Black, Waterman Black

Ink wise, I would shy away from the Waterman inks. They seem to bleed and are rather lustless. Yet, for years I switched between Waterman and Pelikan based on the price at hand. Pelikan, was vastly the preferred ink. I could always tell a piece that had been inked by one or the later as it always seemed darker and more refined on the page. That said, I am venturing into other inks. Noodler black seems to be highly recommended, although I have not tried it.

Concerning Pencils

Pencils

From top to bottom: Uni Kuru Toga Roulette Gunmetal Black, Uni Kuru Toga Starter, Pentel Clic eraser, Palomino Blackwing 602, Tombow Mono

Concerning mechanical pencils, I always write in nothing wider than 0.5mm. I once carried a GraphGear 500 by Pentel. The pencil feels very solid, but the tip of the lead is often crushed. By chance, Research Square gave me a very nice mechanical pencil when I started. A Uni Kuru Toga, starter. The Kuru Toga writes very consistently, and I rarely break my lead with it. The only downside is that for the longest time I could only find the flimsy plastic version in stores. It lacked the heft that I wanted in a writing utensil. Fortunately, I found a metal version for sale on Jet Pens, and am now very pleased.

A last note on mechanical pencils. I have given up on using their erasers which must be changed out too frequently and whose replacements are hard to find. Rather, I carry Pentel click eraser which is just is just a handling tube containing a four-inch long extendable eraser.

Wooden drawing pencils are another matter. In my art courses, I favored Tombow’s wood drawing pencils. They feel better than what could be found at Hobby Lobby. Yet, they do not match up with the Palomino Blackwing 602. Once I purchased those, I was completely sold on ever wanting another drawing pencil. Honestly, I still have a lot of Tombows around, and do use them on the rare occasion that I’m not inking a drawing. At this juncture, if I want to draw with a pencil, I reach for the 602s.

Concerning Brushes

Brushes

From top to bottom: Winsor and Newton Series 7 Size 0, Winsor and Newton Series 7 Size 1

Last, there are brushes. In these, I use for inking drawings, ink washes, and watercolors. Oil painting always seemed like too much of a production and the aesthetic of oils unappealing. A great deal of texts recommended the Winsor & Newton Series 7 as an excellent brush. Yet, a lot of reviews online are mixed suggesting that the quality for Series 7 can be rather variable. That, and they’re nearly impossible to find in a local store. I stumbled upon them in Seattleā€™s university district when I was unemployed and shouldn’t have been spending such money. Yet, I walked out with a number of the brushes. The quality, in comparison to your run-of-the-mill Hobby Lobby brush does show. Whether they are better than other Kolinksy Sable brushes out there, I wouldn’t know.

Concerning Everything Else

Then there are those instruments that fill my drawing drawers: erasers of various sizes and types, Copic markers, colored pencils, charcoal, vine charcoal, acrylic paints and brushes, highlighters, permanent markers, watercolor paints, brush pens, and dip pens. Only the last item do I have any kind of opinion on and that being that I have longed used whatever nib holders were available and favored the extremely finest speed ball nibs. Yet, I have long suspected that better nibs and holders could be found if I put a mind to it.

The Breakdown

Solid Writing/Drawing Implement Recommendations

You simply cannot go wrong with the following tools.

Writing/Drawing Implement Suggestions

These items I like, yet am not completely certain on.

I have heard nice things about the Japanese Pilot fountain pen series. Namely, that they are even finer than the Lamy EF nibs. Yet, their prices have kept me at bay.

Implements Under Exploration

These items, I have yet to really explore or have any kind of solid favorite, or even a vague notion of likes and dislikes, but would like to get a more solid foundation with:

  • Dip pens (inks, holder and nibs)
  • Brush pens
  • Watercolor paints
  • Colored pencils
  • Charcoal

May 5, 2017

2016 Annual Review

Filed under: Journal — Joseph @ 6:32 pm

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My annual retrospective is running a bit late this year. Probably because there has been so many big life-changing developments in the last year. This has inspired a great deal of introspection and anxiety. I describe 2016 as a very necessary year. Not an enjoyable year, but a year where I was mostly reactionary to a long sequence of unavoidable events that started with the totaling of Ford Explorer in late 2015 and leading up to the eventual first-home purchase.

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January 12, 2017

2016 Cultural Review

Filed under: Journal — Joseph @ 1:01 pm

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A quick run down of all the films, shows, books and games watched, read and played over the last year.

Film & Shows

This was the year of film. Starting in the FEMA trailer in Clifton, the big screen TV that came with the new house. We had every excuse to watch movies. We are running low on Hitchcock and Price films at this point. There are so many of them (over 30 in total!) that I can’t give time for each. Instead, I’ll just break each down to a letter grade.

Not mentioned, but started Steven Universe, FMA: Brotherhood, The Guild, Amanchu, Dark Mirror and Flip Flappers.

Q1

  • Moment A
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens B+
  • A Boy & His Dog A
  • Dogma B
  • Limmey B
  • The Revenant D
  • The Life of Pi B+
  • Theatre of Blood C
  • The Wrong Man C
  • Erased (Anime Series) C

Q2

  • The Hills Have Eyes D
  • Alice Through the Looking Glass C
  • Iron Man D
  • Big Fish C
  • Kiznaiver (Anime Series) D
  • Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress (Anime Series) A-

Q3

  • One Punch Man (Anime Series) B
  • Suicide Squad D
  • The Haunting C
  • The Edge of Tomorrow B-
  • The Enemy of the State B
  • The Conversation A
  • Night of the Hunter D
  • Crimson Peak A-
  • Central Intelligence D
  • Now You See Me 2 D

Q4

  • The Babadook B+
  • From Beyond the Grave C
  • The Asylum C
  • Stir of Echoes C
  • Scott Pilgrim vs The World C+
  • John Wick C+
  • I Am Big Bird B-
  • 13 Assassins B-
  • A Space Oddyssey A-
  • War Dogs C+
  • Rear Window B
  • Shadow & Fog A-
  • Chinatown A

Books

Not mentioned, but started Queen Emerladas, Galaxy Express 999, Peopleware, Ryuko, The English Calendar, and half a dozen Science Fiction & Fantasy Magazine volumes.

The Martian

Saw the film, decided to read the book. The book is very detailed, and very slow. I think it worked better as a film, as the book was very much written for people who would want to geek out over the science in it.

Table Titans

Read the backlog of Scott Kurt’z other comic. Glad that I waited for something of an archive to build up. The comic can be slow reading as a daily but the backlog helps hook me in.

Get A Grip

Another business narrative for those who like to imagine that they’re executives in the book and not just another drone trapped in whatever political mechanations middle management has in store for them. Okay, I’m being overly cynical but I would like to see more business books written from the perspective of running teams for the middle manager or line man and how to handle the demands that stem from both above and below. It seems like a cheap cop-out to write your book about C-level executives who appear to be free to steer their business willy-nilly.

Showa

An amazing historical record of pre-war Japan and an important read in light of our current political times. It is fascinating to watch how a progressive forward thinking government can be erroded and transformed into the fascist war machine just a few decades later.

Democracy Incorporated

I really like Steve Wolin’s idea of managed democracy. There are some good ideas in this book. However, I struggled to get over Steve’s apologetics for the Democractic party. It would reason that the Democrats are as much a part of managed democracy as the Republicans and share just as much of the blame for our failures. Elevating them up as the true will of the demos seems wishful thinking.

The Life Changing Tidying Up

People kept talking up this book, and I’ve been struggling this last year to really minimize my life. This would have been better as a pamphlet. There were a handful of useful tips, but they were all lost in the flood of prose.

Solanin

This is the fourth or fifth time through Solanin. At this point, I’ve read it at quiet a few different points in my life. As an unemployed post-collegiate student. As a young man starting hist first relationship. And now as a young man having been in a steady relationship for five years. It’s a rare book that continues to speak to you each time.

Stand Still Stay Quiet

Well written, absolutely beautiful modern take on a lot of Scandinavian lore. A zombie story, with monsterous trolls, ghosts of the dead, and a ravaged Europe. A lot of fun, although I’m begining to get the feeling that the characters have plot armor. The early story really built up the trolls as being nearly undefeatable. Scourging entire military operations. Laying waste to cities. Yet, our rag-tag team takes them out like to much butter.

Alive Grove

Jacques should stick with coffee shop banter. I just can’t take his style or characters seriously. Love QC though.

The Go Programming Language

One of my long standing complaints with language books is that so many of them are written for the absolute novice. The first section goes through different variable types. Basic boolean logic. Maybe by the later half of the book can we get into the meat of how to use the language to get things done. The Go Programming Language is excellently written not for that novice. Rather, it’s written for the experianced programmer trying to get started and productive with Go fast. In this respect The Go Programming Language succeeds amazingly.

Otherworld Barbara

A really good brain teasing science fiction text. Another volume that I simply had to read in a single night.

Games

Not mentioned, but started Pillars of Eternity, Borderlands II, Too the Moon, and some time on Graal Online and Eve Online.

Firewatch

Wow. It has been a long time since a game hooked me to the point where I stayed up until dawn just to see how it ended. The story, characters, atmosphere. The 80s era camping gear of my childhood drawing in that sense of western camping nostolgia. I’ve lived up at Black Rock. The game captures the feeling and remoteness of Wyoming.

Undertale

There were so many people on Facebook and Twitter that kept recommending this game to me. It took me three tries to actually get into the game. Each time I stopped right around where the skeletons appeared. The game play in Undertale is really simplistic, too simplistic. But after a slow start, it gains some momentum. It’s enough to get me to the end of the game, but not good enough that I would bother playing through it over again to get all of the endings.

Torchlight II

Torchlight II starts out very slowly, but becomes extremely fun in the late game once the characters have access to their full arsenol of spells. Unfortunately, this also seems to be the point in which game breaking bugs start to appear. We had enitre unplayable nights because of players not being able to join games or the AI simply bugging out and refusing to interact with us. For a game that’s been out for years, I would have hoped these issues would have been fixed by now.


July 20, 2016

Social Media Fast 2

Filed under: Journal — Joseph @ 12:29 am

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A year ago, I did a fast from Social Media. From July 2015 until the end of September I went without Facebook, Reddit, Slashdot, Twitter, and Hacker News.

I never really did much of a post mortem for the project.

There is a lot of very interesting writing going on these days about the topic of social media and information overload. We see bottomless bowls of information designed to operate like skinner boxes while providing little real value. The age of distraction. Which has a direct effect on our ability to concentrate. And a nagging feeling that the internet has gone from a wonderful, magical, freeing community, to another platform for solidifying traditional power and mainstream culture. Maybe this is why I find myself hanging out on freenode late at night these days argueing with other aging weirdos.

Others who have tried to cut themselves off from the internet reported finding a sudden abundance of free time. Yet, as they went along they simply found other ways to procrastinate. Eventually returning to their previous level of productivity. Maybe the new distraction was more meaningful. Or maybe it wasn’t. But it does reveal that a great deal of your productive hours are really a measurement of your own willpower.

I found a similar effect. The first month was filled with an abundance of free time. My day job became that much more productive. My evenings had much more time for reading. Then two things began to slowly fade in (1) I began to cheat on the fast. Slowly Reddit slipped in. A quick peak at Facebook. (2) I began to find that my productivity gains slowly faded, filled instead with just idle distraction. If I wasn’t distracted by Reddit, then I was at least distracted by a sudden urge to organize my pens or muddle through my day planner.

Here is the thing that I found most interesting. Facebook really wasn’t that bad of a culprate. It was easy to cut Facebook out. It was easy to start reading Facebook again. Facebook was, ultimately, still rather useful with regards to keeping up on the lives of friends and family. My major gripe with Facebook a year ago was the sheer amount of promoted content. The feed was full top to bottom with clickbait articles and random nonsenses being shared endlessly. It made me miss the endless parades of baby pictures. Yet, it seems someone at Facebook realized that this was bad for business and started to turn the ship around. There is still random promoted content on the feed. But I am happy to say that I am starting to see more and more content contributed by friends. Which leads me to being willing to keep Facebook around for yet another year.

News aggregators though? Sheer evil. Might as well be a slot machine for internet addicts. Every refresh of Reddit brings up new articles, memes, and comments. Hacker News and Slashdot are at least a little more professionally orientated but they too form a kind of bottomless bowl. Once you take a hit of Reddit, an hour or two is gone instantly.

Post fast, I realized that Reddit just had to go. Hacker News and Slashdot were managable. I’ve weened myself down to only reading Reddit on the phone when I truly, truly have nothing better to do. The common demoninator on Reddit today is the absolute bottom of the barrel. The shilling is through the roof. There isn’t a post that doesn’t have some viral web marketer squatting on it trying to hawk their wares. The last thread I read was some stupid joke about balding dominated by comments sounding eerily like ad copy, promoting this or that product to bring back your hair.

Which brings me to the amazingness that is the RSS feeder. RSS turns the relationship of the news aggregator upside down. Rather than the news aggregator pushing news to me. The mob, or more likely an army of marketers, deciding what news ought to be read. I can instead pull the news to me. I get to decide the writers who I will read. The topics to be read.

This breaks the addictive quality of the new aggregator, but also allows me to stop wasting time reading low-quality comments and low-quality posts. I can focus my attention on particular publishesr, such as NPR, BBC, or local newspapers like the Jackson Hole News & Guide and the Silver City Daily Press. I can pull in international feeds like L’actualite and Le Monde. I can also focus my attention on a particular author like Will Wheaton, Stephen Fry or Brad Warner. I can create huge collections of slowly updated blogs that post long form essays once or twice a year or faster blogs that publish once or twice a day. I can pull in writers on esoteric topics that interest me like Rust development, Zen, Asian History, Anime, or Roleplaying. I can even add Slashdot and Hacker News — get the article prepackaged without the temptation to waste time wallowing about in the comments.

Essentially, I very quickly found myself thinking more and more about the types of things that I read online, the topics that interested me, and seeking out a diverse selection of the best writers in those topics. I stopped browsing whatever popped up in front of me. It became a much more intentional relationship with the media.

Round #2 of the Social Media Fast

My thoughts are, to do this again. Make it an annual thing. No social media for three months! August. September. October. Which will be great. I’ll miss all of the election nonsense. Read the articles on my RSS feed. Make my own call on the whole business.

The sites that are verboten:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Slashdot
  • Hacker News
  • Youtube

And any other site that has characteristics that resemble any of these sites.
StackOverflow gets a pass. I can’t do my job without StackOverflow.

But let’s take this one step further this year. Google has gone evil. So let’s cut out google.com as well and switch to Duck Duck Go or Qwant for my search engine. I’m still giving the various other google products a pass: e-mail, docs, drive. Those I, unfortunately need for work. But I can intentionally choose to try using a different search engine for three months.


February 17, 2016

2015 In Review

Filed under: Journal — Joseph @ 9:12 am

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February 4, 2016

Time for the annual retrospective. We can look back on last year’s and reflect on the last year and my resolutions for this new year. This last year was truly a year of unexpected surprises from switching employers to totaling my precious Ford Explorer after eleven years of use, to a wild last minute wintery move from Jackson, WY to a small trailer in Greenlee County Arizona.

Professional Development

The new year brought with it a new employer, Research Square, where I joined a dedicated team of professionals working on both the website and internal tooling of a medium-sized, fast growing company out of the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. The best part was that it was still telecommuting, so my old office was my new office: home.

The new team brought with it the opportunity to really dig into becoming intimate with a lot of the best-practices that I had, until now, only really read about: domain driven design, agile, code reviews, unit and integration testing. It also brought with it a new set of tools to learn: Silex Framework, Zend Framework, Doctrine ORM, Elastic Search and the variety of services provided by AWS. In total, I scored probably another two dozen buzzwords to add to my resume.

Throughout the year, I read a solid stack of business texts and DDD texts such as Domain Driven Design, Impelementing Domain Driven Design, Remote, The Lean Start Up, Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Drive and Good to Great. At home, I attended a variety of tech related meet ups hosted by Spark, my co-working office and in North Carolina, I made it to my first conference, the All Things Open conference in October.

Unrelated to my day-time employer, I finally gave up on hosting my own e-mail server and shut it down. My e-mail provider is now G-mail. I also went through the process of forming Joseph Hallenbeck, LLC in my home state of South Dakota, formally establishing a separate business account for the odd gigs that I accept and began a very slow discussion of the idea of on-the-side consulting.

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February 16, 2016

2016 Reading List

Filed under: Journal — Joseph @ 9:16 am

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To match up with the list of books and films read or watched in 2015 is a list of books that I hope to get to this year. There are a lot of re-reads in here. I am finding that as I get older I am much more inclined to step back and re-read a good book then I am to always be searching for the next great thing. I’ve also grown a lot more choosy on what it is I do start up reading. There just isn’t enough time in a year to rush though a paperback a week like I did way back in High School. I also suspect the list will evolve substantially as the year goes on based upon my seasonal whimsy and discovery of new authors.

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February 15, 2016

2015 Reading & Media Review

Filed under: Journal — Joseph @ 9:16 am

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2015 Reading, Film, & Games Mini Review

So folks seem to be doing this: jotting down a list of the books, graphic novels, and films read or watched in 2015 with a short review of each.

A few surprises hit me in looking through the list. First, I read a lot of non-fiction. Much more then typical in any given year. Second, I read very few novels: only three. While I read a great deal of graphic novels. What is not shown here is the vast number of short stories that I’ve been reading. I remember a teen being bored with short stories. How were we supposed to really connect with a character over twenty or thirty pages? These days it seems like even the novella is just too long. Who has time to read through twenty thousand words of prose? Hopefully next year will see a return of the novel to my reading.

The other thing I find interesting. I also seem to be paring down my need for novelty in my reading. I am going back and rereading good books that I had read as a teenager. In fact, the three novels I did read? I have already read each of them at least three times already.

So let’s kick this off.

  • Re-read

Fiction Read

Total: 3

*The Hobbit** by J.R.R. Tolkien

After watching the film, I immediately felt the need to revisit the novel. Now The Hobbit was one of my favorites as a child and one that I read several times more then I ever read The Lord of the Rings.

*On The Road** by Jack Kerouac

My third pass through Kerouac’s masterpiece. This is one of those novels where each read leaves me thinking differently. My first read had me completely caught up in the sense of wanderlust. My latest read really seemed to put me into thinking about just how disgusting Moriarty is as a human being and yet just how easy it must have been to want to get caught up in his self destruction.

*Dune** by Frank Herbert

A revisit to Dune, an annual read of my teenage years. Upon revisiting this novel, I’m amazed at just how much my political ideology was shaped by Herbert.
Particularly the message that when you ask others to do for you which you could do for yourself, you are inviting them in to have power over you.

Non-Fiction Read

Total: 10

Remote by Jason Friend and David Heinemeier Hansson

A text that Research Square gave me upon joining. This is a rather light read, one that you could probably finish in a single reading. I don’t think it really said anything that isn’t rather obvious to anyone who has teleworked before.

The Lean Start Up by Eric Ries

Another text that Research Square asked me to read before starting. This is a rather great read, particularly in the sense of how big of an impact the thinking from this text has hit the tech sector over the last decade.

Beyond the Wall by Edward Abbey

A collection of Abbey’s essays. Some good. Some bad. It’s rather a mixed bag as I am one of those rare breeds who prefers Abbey’s novels over his non-fiction.

Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

Really got me thinking about what is teamwork? How we approaching working in groups is a notion that has started to slowly interest me the last few years.

Domain Driven Design by Eric Evans

A huge solid read. This gave me so much insight into how many larger applications are structured.

Implementing Domain Driven Design by Vaughn Vernon

A more hands-on look then Domain Driven Design. Although, I felt like it was starting to get padded out by the end.

Drive by Daniel H. Pink

An examination in the obvious. I’m seriously amazed that it took this long for business’s to realize that people are motivated by things other then just gathering up pretty pieces of cotton paper.

*The Philosophy of History** by Hegel

It’s Hegal in all of his racist glory.

The Three Pillars of Zen by Philip Kapleau Roshi

If you were to go into a used book store and look at the new age section you will find a copy of this book. Buy it. I always thought it would be a bunch of rubbish but it’s actually a very solid read and perhaps the best introduction to Zen that I have found at this point.

Good to Great by Jim Collins

A not particularly interesting examination at the steps taken by businesses to move from being middling to great businesses. Yawn.

Manga Read & Graphic Novels

Total: 10 (If Counting Volumes)

*A Drifting Life** by Yoshihiro Tatsumi

Third pass through this wonderful autobiography by Yoshihiro Tatsumi. I randomly read a handful of his shorter comics as well during the same time. I am always impressed by his struggles and the wonderful depiction of post-war Japan.

Galaxy Express 999 Vol. 1-2 by Leiji Matsumoto (French Translation)

One of my most exciting feats this year was to read the first two volumes of Galaxy Express 999 in French. I have waited over a decade for Viz to get around to translating this work into English. It’s been out in French for years! Well, I figured French is easier than Japanese, so I bought the whole series from Amazon France and learned French! These comics are just as wonderful as the Anime.

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin Vol. 7-9 by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko

Continuing to keep up on The Origin as volumes are released. This year, I finally caught up with with the publisher’s release cycle and had to start waiting.

A Bride’s Story Vol. 5 by Kaoru Mori

This is an odd one. I find the story to be extremely dry and slow. The character’s plod along through very routine life events. Yet it’s drawn so beautifully that I just have to pick up each new volume.

Star Power by Michael Terracciano and Garth Graham

It’s been years since Dominic Deegan ended. I tried to start reading Star Power when it first started but found the release too slow to grab my interest.
I gave it a year for the archive to fill up and then plowed through it with great enjoyment.

Johnny Wander by Yuko Ota and Ananth Panagariya

I have a folder where I stick comics to read. Johnny Wander was randomly selected from that folder. The comic is great, although lately published at a rather random or slow pacing so I have already lost track of it.

Insufficient Direction by Moyoco Anno

Dumped into the donation bin. It took two tried to read through Anno’s book. The inside humor probably works for anyone who is really, really into classic anime, but it just doesn’t work for me.

Films

Total: 14 (*6 in Theaters)

*The Hobbit**

Since I prefer The Hobbit novel to The Lord of the Rings, I found that I just could not get into this film. The Hobbit novel is a light hearted children’s adventure. The film, is a serious action-adventure flick. Pass.

*The Imitation Game**

A solid biopic on Alan Turing that did a rather good job of portraying the man in all of his facets.

The Zero Theorem

Terry Gilliam can do no wrong in my book. The Zero Theorem was just a solid watch and a great summarization of the ideas presented in his other works with all the same quirkiness that I would expect.

The Cabin in the Woods

This was on my list of films that I watched, but for the life of me I don’t recall actually having watched it this year. Ah well, a solid film. I think satire of the typical horror film really didn’t get in the way of the film being good in it’s own right.

*Mr. Holmes**

Saw this showing in the local theater and just had to take Jess. A rather touching mystery worth a watch as Ian McKellan does a great job at portraying an aging Mr. Holmes.

*Mad Max**

The blockbuster of the season. Easily the best film that I saw this year.
Completely lived up to the hype.

They Live!

Starting off our movie classics for the year was They Live which I just had to watch after listening to a piece by Zizek where he used the film as a starting point to launch into a discussion on Western politics.

*Star Wars: The Force Awakens**

Saw it twice before it moved on from the theater. The first time, I just couldn’t get over my critical nostalgia. By the second watching I could just sit back and enjoy it for what it was worth. The last act had some massive plot issues, but the characters were interesting and I feel Kylo Ren is going to end up being just as interesting of a villain Vader.

*James Bond: Spectre**

The first Daniel Craig Bond film that I caught. Made me want to go back and watch the rest of his Bond films, or even further back to watch them all.
Nothing really new here. Bond is Bond is Bond.

Fall of the House of Usher

On Halloween we got into a bit of a Vincent Price kick. House of Usher was definitely an interesting watch. Particularly if you put on your feminism goggles. It’s amazing how much society has changed.

House of Wax

Part two of our Vincent Price kick. I don’t really find Price frightening. I find him kind of lovable.

Les Yeux Sans Visage

Now this was a good creepy film. Beautifully shot. It was interesting that the week after watching this film it was announced that someone had succeeded at performing the horrifying procedure depicted in this film — transplanting a human face.

*The Martian**

The good reviews reached my ears regarding The Martian so we ventured out to the theater and bought our popcorn. A really solid science fiction film that will probably end up being this decade’s greatest contribution to the “hard” category of science fiction.

Blood Sport

I got to love my grandfather’s love of bad films. I am amazed at just how many martial arts films came out in the eighties. No wonder kids of that decade grew up to watch Anime.

Anime / Animation

Total: 11 (Counting Seasons)

Mush-shi Season Season 2

Mush-shi is just as beautiful in the second season as the first. The only sad thing is that it should come to an end. Each atmospheric episode was a wander and highlight of my week.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Season 1

Could never quite get into nor drop this series. The fact that Yes is their soundtrack just made everything awesome.

Death Parade and Death Billards

Caught this series while on a trip to Ohio. Death Billards was a great stand alone and most of Death Parade was easily on par. The only thing that ruined Death Parade was a misplaced need by it’s creators to escape from just being an episodic examination of people’s lives and to try to give it a running plot.
Had it just gone the way of Mush-shi, it would have easily been a perfect ten.

Gatchaman Crowds Season 1

Bobduh over at Wrong Every Time seems to love Gatchaman Crowds so I gave it a whirl. While I sympathized with it’s message, I thought it was completely lost in the show’s over-the-top camp. After the first season, I dropped it.

Kids on the Slope

If you want to get people to listen to Jazz, show them this show. This is perhaps Watanabe’s second greatest series (after Cowboy Bebop). The characters just feel so very real.

Hanamonogatari

Bakamonogatari was a visual splendor that I devoured. Since then each subsequent series seems to end up less and less enticing and yet I feel as though I will probably end up watching them all.

Parasyte

A good show, not a great show, but a very solid good show.

Adventure Time Season 1

This show is just plain non-serious fun. Rapidly became my go-to show to watch while exercising or just needing some low-commitment time to burn.

Rick & Morty Seasons 1-2

I saw a few clips from Rick & Morty when season 1 came out and thought it funny buy never looked it up. Man, I haven’t binge watched a show this hard since college. The nihilistic ennui. Woo.

South Park Season 19

South Park was hitting all of the right spot’s this year. Particularly living in Jackson, WY where the whole gentrification and yuppie take over is in full swing. This could have been a documentary about my life.


February 9, 2016

A Brief Note on Moving

Filed under: Journal — Joseph @ 2:36 pm

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Mount Clifton

There have been some requests for more information about my recent move. We found out that Jess had an offer for a new position in the Forest Service in Arizona near the end of the year. So we packed up our trailers and hit the road making our way south on 191 to our new home in York valley — roughly the middle of Greenlee County, one of the least populated counties in Arizona.

New Home for Two Months

Unfortunately, we had no housing immediately lined up. So we ended up living in a FEMA trailer behind the Forest Service. It’s a nice little place with two bedrooms, a kitchen and bathroom. All of our stuff went into storage, and for the last month I’ve tried my best to work remotely off a tethered cell phone. Surprisingly it works. Stands ups on google hang outs consume roughly 0.1MB of data a day, and my work route averages around 0.5MB per day. So taking off from computing on the weekends gives us roughly 23-1/3 work days per month or 11-2/3GB of data usage. Strategy use of the local library and Starbucks means I can pretty much do all of my work on a 12GB ($80/mo) Verizon plan.

Spectacular views from Three Way in York valley

After some time exploring the countryside, we found a nice house for rent. $600/mo for 900 square feet on roughly six acres of land. The wash it sits on gives us an easy walk to Jess’s work if we go up it, and a nice put in for fishing an canoeing on the Gila if we go down. We just need to put in a new floor and tidy it up a bit on the inside. Moving in the first week of March.

The New House

Oh, and the best part of all? It has a saguaro cactus in the front yard:

Saguaro!


July 1, 2015

A Social Media Fast

Filed under: Journal — Joseph @ 6:58 pm

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I’m taking a quarter off from Social Media — namely Facebook, Reddit, Slashdot, Twitter, Hacker News. I would unplug entirely from the Internet, but considering the Internet is my job, I don’t think my employer would be too hot on the idea on
me attending sprint planning via post.

My reason for this is simple: my information channels are becoming rather siloed. Facebook curates my news feed such that it is just an RSS feed of
same two people over and over again. I don’t know why Facebook has decided that I want to hear every one of their posts and it isn’t that I don’t enjoy them, or share in your cultural opinions but I have a rather diverse and eclectic collection of Facebook friends and yet I do not hear a diverse collection of views. The hive mind of Reddit and Hacker News also curates it’s own content to follow a very narrow line of acceptable opinions.

I find myself concerned with how much of the pot of ideas that surround me are my own — come upon by reason and experience and how much is just the echo chamber of my silo. A self-selected confirmation bias just regurgitating and re-enforcing the same normality time and again.

So my idea is to spend the next three months avoiding any form of social media or curated feeds. Get away from the content pushers and get back to being a content puller. Go back to hunting down my own news, essays, and articles through relaxing dives into Google. Find some high quality bloggers to follow who aren’t just trying to push some product or spin up a lazy article on the controversy de jouer for some easy ad views. Get through my backlog of technology articles in my pocket waiting for me to peruse.

For those where this is the only way they know how to get a hold of me: I will still be available via Facebook messenger thanks to Pidgin and via GooglePlus since there really isn’t anything on GooglePlus anyways.

See you all in October.


February 7, 2015

2014 In Review

Filed under: Journal — Joseph @ 1:35 pm

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It is that time of year again, time for my retrospective. A look back on last year’s goals and a reflection on what I would like out of this year. It may be a month late for New Year’s resolutions, but I do get to them eventually.

One thing that I started up last year was a much more rigorous interpretation of David Allen’s Getting Things Done. I used a similar process towards breaking down and getting to tasks in the past, but this last year was one where I focused much more on continuously revising my goals, recording what I got done, and asking myself what I needed to do next. Some time, I will get a series of essays put together to discuss my process.

Professional Achievements

2014 closed out with my last day at 44 Interactive, and I hope a permanent move away from the marketing side of web development and into the more fulfilling realm of application development as a Software Engineer with my new employer, Research Square out of Durham, NC. I am still remote, having moved from Ashton, ID up to Jackson, WY — a town much more my style and now working out of Spark, a nice co-working spot that has encouraged me to once more shed my outer humbug.

While working at 44 Interactive, I developed a bespoke shopping cart that saw itself launched on Dakota Golf and Warriors Never Giveup. This project implemented the entire workflow that user’s expect of a shopping cart: adding products, customizing product details, checkout, payment collection and processing through Authorize.Net or PayPal, and shipping.

A few fun features I developed was a reworking of the underlying models of our CMS to use the Eloquent ORM, integration with Composer and Bower for pulling in libraries, building out a re-occurring events module for calculating things like “occurs on every last Thursday of the month” or “repeat every Monday.” One showcase item is the HTML5 Canvas powered course tour on Dakota Golf whose administrative tools allow for drawing arbitrary polygons and detecting when a mouse enters a polygon.

In the brochure realm, I launched McDoctors, SDN Communications, Dakotastour, Wings of Thunder, Howeinc, and All-About-U Adoptions.

With my change of employers, I am hanging up my System Admin hat, which was a fun one to wear for a time. No more debugging package conflicts, no more reading PCI reports, or writing new rules for mod_sec. I do delight in the fact that I consolidated servers costs by 50% during my tenure and brought up time to 99.9%.

Continuous Development

I am committed to continuous professional development in my field. I do this via reading and writing blogs, reading technical manuals, as well as investigating topics in computer science that might only be orthogonal to my day-to-day life.

In the last year, I read Miracle Man Month and Code Complete. After a short affair in learning LateX last spring, I turned to devour every article and online book I could find on the Rust language and began following the language mailing list as well as subscribing to frameworks like Piston. I wanted to really make some open source contributions, but never quite found a niche where I could step in and help out.

After some consideration, I released the DropFramework and my TimeKeeper application onto Github. The first, I do not take seriously as anything more than a learning project and the latter is a really helpful tool that I use every day.

Oh, and those projects I promised last year? I started on a lot of them, then lost interest. Instead, I started Rusty Centipede — a Centipede clone using Rust.

Rainbow over Island Park, Viewed from Bishop Mt.

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