Spinning Wheels

This is mostly a note-keeping post for my own purposes. I’m making it public to keep me honest and in case anyone is curious what’s happening in my life currently. I’ve been thinking more about where I want to be in 5 years, and what I need to do to get there, and it’s a little daunting and amorphous with regard to what steps to take.

High Priority

  • Get a handle on depression and motivation: This has been a recurring theme in my life for years: spurts of energy and productivity, followed by falling into ruts and depressive funks that put my momentum back to zero. I’m tired of it, I don’t have time for it, and so this is a big priority for me to start fixing SOON.
  • Start writing again: I’ve fallen off the writing wagon, and haven’t written anything but self-indulgent blog posts in a while. I want to get back to writing, both critical non-fiction and fiction.
  • Start reading again: This goes hand in hand with writing — reading drives writing, both in terms of research and in terms of sparking critical thought and ideas. I used to keep at least a paperback and a few pulp scifi magazines like Asimov’s and Analog in my bag at all times. Now, I have half a dozen books I’ve started reading and then haven’t touched in months. This bothers me.
  • Get back to photography: More than just taking more photographs, one of the reasons I “fell off the wagon” with my photography in the past few years is that I no longer felt like I was progressing (possibly even regressing), and wasn’t doing anything with the work I had. So when I say “get back to photography,” I mean photographing more, but also doing more post-processing work and actually putting some prints up for sale (whether individually, as a book, or a calendar, I don’t know and don’t really care — maybe all three).
  • Get healthy: I’ve always been more of a sedate person, preferring sitting in a hammock and reading over playing sports. (Don’t get me wrong, I like swimming and hiking and skiing and other activities, but all of those I listed tend to be more reflective and self-paced.) I’ve been lucky in that my metabolism and eating habits have largely kept abreast of this sedate lifestyle, but as I’ve gotten older (and taken a desk job), this balance has started to slip, and I’m feeling markedly less healthy than in the past. So, getting into an exercise routine that I can enjoy is becoming essential. (Still not going to get into sports, though.)
  • Passive Income: I’ve always been a gadget freak. I don’t want to even begin counting how much money I’ve spent on electronics, but suffice it to say, if I’d taken even half that much and invested it in dividend bearing stocks (let alone getting in early on some stock’s meteoric rise, like Apple), I’d be able to buy a steady trickle of toys now on the interest. Instead, I’m down to a 6 year old laptop and my camera. The reality is that I can’t afford a gadget habit right now. So instead I want to look into ways to generate passive/surplus income in my spare time. Maybe this will be writing, maybe photography, maybe both. Maybe programming will finally “click” and I’ll make a few apps I can sell in the Mac/iOS App Stores. SOMETHING. It doesn’t have to pay the bills, but it’d be nice to get to the point where I have some “fun” money I don’t feel guilty about spending.
  • Grad School: I got into University of Denver’s Digital Media program last year, but deferred due to costs and life factors. I can’t make it this year, either. Instead I’m applying to Georgia Tech’s program. Solid school, great program (several of the researchers I cited in my online communities thesis are still professors there), and literally a quarter of the cost of DU. The question I’m mulling right now is to shoot high and aim for the Ph.D program, or gun for the M.S. and get out and using my degree sooner.

Low(er) Priority

  • Update my web site design: I set myself a goal of not screwing with my site design for at least a year. I’ve done this. I want to update the site soon, and then don’t touch it again for at least a year. Things on my list: make the interface a bit more dynamic (not reinventing the wheel, just make use of jQuery and other UI tricks that exist now); make better utilization of microdata, RDFa, and HTML5 to make it more semantic; leverage the newer features in WordPress — the only features I can think of that I’ve been currently making use of that are newer than 1.6 (Maybe 2.0) are dynamic menus and widgets, neither of which I’m making great use of.
  • Launch Wanderlu.st: If Critical Games is my game industry + academic blog, and Critical Self is my personal blog, I want Wanderlu.st to be my portfolio and outlet for my creative output. I’ve been pondering for a while how to do this, but every time I feel like I’m getting ahead of myself and need to get my output GOING before I worry too much about the site. Hence, this being a lower priority than getting back on the productivity wagon.
  • User Groups, Dammit: At least right now, I live in Portland Fucking Oregon. We have amazing resources for finding like minded people to discuss geeky/technical things, like ePDX. I’ve made it to some events, and they’ve not been bad, if perhaps a little cliquish (but that, ultimately, comes down to how willing you are to engage and insert yourself, rather than have others come and draw you in). I don’t go to any regularly, though, due to introversion, some mild social anxiety, and scheduling conflicts. This is something I’d like to correct, but I don’t really see my schedule opening up enough to really “DO” this until fall.
  • Programming: I’ve got a sheaf of application ideas, and an entire shelf of programming books, but I’ve yet to make what I read/practice stick. At some point I suppose I should just drop it and accept that it’s not my forte/focus and move on, focus on design and development and just commission programmers when I need ’em, but after this many classes and books and attempts, it’s become a matter of pride: I’m going to grok programming enough to put out at least one original application if it kills me.

I may expand this list later, but it seems like it covers the core things on my mind right now. Comments, suggestions, and advice are welcome.