Posts Tagged 'Personal'

On this Self-Imposed 140 Word Silliness

I had a conversation with Mary the other week which I used as the inspiration to begin blogging again. The topic which we discussed was mostly my lack of blogging lately and my attempts to justify it. She was quick to point out, however, that my tweets had not decreased in size. I countered that they were easy and quick to pound out at only 140 characters a piece to which she suggested that I simply make my blog posts that long.

I couldn’t justify such short blog posts; what’s the point? Then they might as well be Tweets. So what if I made them 140 words? It seemed to be a great idea; I’d write succinct posts and the word limit would be beneficial to my momentum.

As it turns out, that was a silly idea. For one, the limitation led me to feel like i hadn’t hashed out my thoughts thoroughly enough. (That was 143 words…I still feel unfinished) I do ramble, and, though it has no place in professional writing, this is my blog. I feel that rambling is my way of casually communicating my thoughts in a (hopefully) entertaining fashion. So I won’t win any writing awards and I probably wouldn’t even get an A were this graded. It’s mine. My self-imposed limit was an exercise in restraint. I have none.

Second, even with such a short requirement given to myself, I haven’t been writing every day. I can’t promise that to myself or to anyone. It’s fun and I enjoy my ranting and raving, but I don’t always have the time make the time. Other things take precedence. Sleep is one of those. Studies have shown that sleep makes one less tired. That, in turn, means I am able to be less cranky at work. Who’d’ve thought?! Crazy…

So I may to another 140 word blog post. I may not. I hated ending things mid sentence. I also didn’t like the brevity. Tweets are fun because staying within 140 characters can be an interesting challenge, but it’s always doable. This 140 word garbage was just that. Shit.

A Positive Rage

What is a web log for if not to occasionally complain and rant about things that get under your skin? While such pedantry has no place on a professional blog, I believe this subject breaches protocol in an apropos fashion becoming of my online persona.

I recently saw the Hold Steady in concert with my good friend Christi. I know I’ve probably mentioned it before, but it was likely the single most exhilarating concert I’ve ever experienced. The energy and love emanating from the band on stage was unsurpassed by anyone I’ve ever seen perform. It certainly didn’t hurt that they were my favourite band to begin with.

To prepare myself, before the show, I listened to nothing but their music for two weeks prior. As I learned from seeing Ben Folds live, I sometimes will not know a song they perform. Though well versed in the catalogue of Ben, he played some unfamiliar ones that, while still enjoyable to witness, were not as fully experienced as the ones I knew by heart.

So, in those preceding weeks, I did some research. Despite it’s often bad rap, wikipedia is a great compendium of information regarding bands and their releases. Through it, I discovered that the Australian version of Boys and Girls in America had four bonus tracks and the European version of Stay Positive had three. As I already owned the American release of Boys and Girls in America, I set about locating my missing tracks via various means. Said tracks were fairly easily located.

The Stay Positive bonuses, however, were slightly more elusive. The copies I was able to find were poorly ripped and had many glitches reminiscent of mp3s from the late nineties. As I did not own Stay Positive legitimately, I promptly ordered the UK version used from amazon.com. Though cheaper than new, it was still a good eight or nine dollars more than the American version. I was quite happy with my purchase, seeing it both as a worthwhile investment in a good band and a guarantee of the unadulterated tracks. For a while, I was content.

Fast forward to last night. Or rather, a few days ago. Last night is really the climax of the story. I was browsing the hold steady dot com and found their twitter link. As they do not post prolifically, I though following them would not bloat my twitter feed and so I did just that. Some promos were tweeted about their upcoming DVD/cd. These I largely ignored as I try to make a point a) not to buy live albums and b) not to waste time watching videos online.

On a side note, the reason I do not generally buy live albums is this: archive dot org is a great source of live recordings. It also highlights what sucks about live recordings: shoddy recording by a fan will not get one the full effect of the live performance. Also, if you weren’t at the concert in question, at least for me, you don’t get the feeling of reliving the experience, so this point is kind of in the same vein as my first. Still, the site is a great way to get a feel for an artist you may have not heard yet or even heard of and offers a legal way to sample their music.

Likewise, the hold steady live compendium is a great source for all things live by Craig Finn and company. The quality is what you’d expect, but if that’s what you’re looking for, it won’t disappoint.

My general distaste for recorded live music aside, I did not ignore a tweet regarding a stream of one of their new tracks off the album. The track was so excellent that I utilized a certain firefox plugin to allow me to encode the stream as an mp3 to take with me until the album arrived. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that that song alone convinced me to order A Positive Rage.

Amazon shipped the two disc set very promptly and I ripped it then stuck the disc in my car stereo and have been listening to it since. It’s great! I can’t speak for the DVD just yet but will update when I can give an opinion.

Last night, as I mentioned earlier, was the moment of truth. I put the cd in and ran the program to get my free bonus tracks. As these programs usually are, all it contained was a link. This link required my e-mail address. Soon, I was e-mailed a link to download the songs. Excitement!

The one track was the one I loved, 40Bucks, now owned legitimately (something I hope someday to say of all my music). The second, a new track called Spectres was one which I’d never heard. The remaining three, however, were the very tracks I bought the UK Stay Positive for: Ask For Addedall, Cheyenne Sunrise and Two Handed Handshake !!!

A Positive Rage boiled through my veins!

Truly, the previous statement was only aimed to be hyperbole. Also, I wasn’t particularly angry, per se. It just kind of sucked. I suppose had I waited and done my research, I’d’ve known what the bonus tracks were. That, however would’ve required buying Positive Rage before Stay Positive, which isn’t something that would have happened. Regardless, for a live album, A Positive Rage is quite well recorded; ’tis a far cry from those found at the compendium. Plus, the pleasure of the new song and the the legal version of my favourite song was well worth the money.

The moral is this: patience is a virtue and will pay off in the end. Also, don’t steal music. Thank you.

On Daily Storage

picture-12

“I could not be a guy,” Brianna told me one day when going to Delta to do homework. Insert an imaginary snarky/sarcastic response by me here if you will. However, before such an interjection could be formulated in my brain, she continued: “I have to carry so much [expletive deleted] with me.”

I Tumbled her quote and my response My actual response was far too nerdy to mention here, though in short it was, “sport coats, my dear.”
Truly, this was used as one of my arguments for wearing suits and sport coats as often as is feasible; they afford me extra space: at least three more pockets than simply pants alone.

Consider, if you will for a moment, the contents of my pockets on any given day:

  • wallet
  • iPhone
  • Zippo
  • keys
  • chapstick
  • flash drive

For the sake of tedium, I’ll give you the breakdown: my iPhone, wallet, one or two flash drives, and sometimes checkbook will go in the suit or sport coat pockets. I keep my keys, chapstick and money clip, then, in my front pants pockets. This will leave me with my back pants pockets empty (I cannot stand to sit on anything, especially a wallet, though I will occasionally make an exception for receipts and other such small scraps of paper that can be forgotten) and often an underinhabited jacket pocket or two. (if this doesn’t make me look anal-retentive, I don’t know what will; maybe that I only like to have one item in each pocket?)

This setup works well for almost all daily situations. This past weekend (and similar occasions), however yielded the exception to that rule.

Let me paint you another picture:

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(haha, sorry. couldn't resist)

My father and I attended (and often attend as a sort of tradition of ours) an annual Men’s Conference through, for lack of a better description, a church community group. At such an event as this, I carry my Bible for reference, my water bottle for hydration and my note book for (uhh..) note taking.

The problem inherent in this situation is the natural human inclination to introduce yourself to strangers. This may not be an inclination I hold as a rule, but it is bound to happen at such an event. Anyway, though it would normally be a simple undertaking, my full hands become an issue. The situation could be claimed awkward as I stare blankly at the person’s outstretched hand a second before my brain clicks and I begin the ridiculous shift of all my belongings to one hand, often now precariously balanced (this same situation occurs in wedding buffet lines when one has a drink and salad bowl in hand and attempts to pick up silverware and the main course – doom is inevitable).

If the other person is not impatient and thinking of me as an idiot by this point, I know not why, for I certainly feel like I’ve ruined the entire introduction experience in thirteen awkward seconds of fumbling.

Situations such as this make me long for the days of yore when, in school, I could be excused wearing a book bag everywhere. This brilliant device handled such situations with ease and grace. Mine in particular had–aside from its spacious pockets to hold more than any Boy Scout would ever dream of–not one, but TWO mesh pockets: one for my water bottle and the other for a coffee! Despite its strength, in the post-collegiate world, a book bag has no place as an acceptable accessory for a suit. It just looks ridiculous. Do a quick Google search for images of a suit with a book bag. No hits? Exactly.

Sure you can carry a briefcase for professionalism, but that doesn’t solve the coffee/water problem at all. And please do not even MENTION those danged rolly backpack/suitcase things. Those have no place
ANYWHERE. EVER. There; it’s been said.

So where does that leave us? Admitting a truth of which we were fully aware but afraid to admit: girls got it right. When it comes to efficiency, the purse wins. There is no male equivalent. The wide variety of sizes, styles and prices ensure that every situation is covered. Furthermore, they have the option to leave BOTH hands free when carried over the shoulder.

Ever tried to smuggle a soda into the movies with cargo pants or a sport coat?

No can do. (Besides, cargo pants are long since being cool; and even when they were cool, the biggest faux pas was keeping ANYTHING in those pockets. Who can’t help but to vilipend such a useless article of clothing…)

With a purse?

No problemo!

So, cheers to the inventor of the purse. I must say, I envy women a bit for these. I guess until a suitable (hahaha, pun!) equivalent appears in men’s style, I’m stuck either not carrying everything I need at any given time or doing the awkward juggling thing when the situation arises.

Then again, I suppose I could just find a girlfriend…

2blogwars

Read about this and more on many, many other topics on the blogs of my competitors!

Griffis

Schanz

My Web Home

A long time coming, this post should be seen as my way of “celebrating” nicolauswitchger.com. True, not a major overhaul of my wordpress. I could install it natively now, the ease of use is great as is. So, props to the WordPress.com team for making those of us who don’t know CSS comfortable!

In its various iterations, my website has taken MANY turns. This is where I currently am. I realized recently that, in order to have a good, searchable, user-friendly, speedy website, I will probably have to learn XHTML and CSS at the very least. Seeing as how designers are often expected to do web stuff as well, I believe it would be beneficial to my budding career. However, the web, as of late, is something I’ve only looked at, not coded for.

The first (and really last) time I hand coded was back in late Middle School/early High School. I don’t even know if the Web was 1.0 back then. All I had was MS FrontPage (1997?) and Notepad and I preferred Notepad. I took great pride in being able to do by hand what most people needed a WYSIWYG editor to accomplish. And mine looked just as good; bear in mind, this was in the days when websites were TERRIBLE by today’s standards.

I learned coding on my own, by “borrowing” code from websites utilizing the effects I wanted to achieve and modifying said code to suit my desires. I have a feeling this is the way I should try to learn CSS, though there are so many great tutorials out there.

nickorpLater on, when my father was taking Dale Carnegie and web design courses (two separate entities, not Dale + Internet), he’d bring home books on using MS FrontPage. After the “Beatles Imagemap” and the attempt at my “corporate” (nickorp logo featured to the left…yeah)  website, I utilized this for such brilliant sites as “A Tour Of My Room!” Armed with an old Sony Mavica (which saved images to a 3.5″ floppy disk) and FrontPage, this was created. Not brilliant, or even mildly groundberaking, but it kept me entertained and probably helped me to become the troubleshooting whiz I am today (working with Microsoft Software will do that to one). Post 2005, I gave web design a rest for a good ten years or so. Ok, so it was only three, but in WWW years, that is probably about ten, no?

It wasn’t until I graduated from College that the benefits of such knowledge could be an asset. Unfortunately, I was already ten years behind the standard. This, however, escaped my knowledge, and I went ahead with it anyway.

My first attempt at creating a portfolio website was a huge joke.

antislip_stats

I attempted it shortly after taking Dynamic Digital Design at SVSU which was basically a Flash class. Our final project for this class was to create a flash-based website for a start-up company in Saginaw. The goal of the website was strictly informational and meant to get the customer to contact the firm personally so they could give them the pitch in person (or at least over the phone) but they wanted to be “timely” and have a web presence, too. After research into what other anti-slip companies were doing with their sites, I came up with this. I was (and still am) pretty happy with it.

Taking from this experience the idea that flash was the web of the future (hell, Homestar Runner had been doing it successfully for years), I set about making my first personal website in years in Adobe Flash CS3.

Let’s just say, the phrase EPIC FAIL comes to mind almost every time I recall this monstrosity. I don’t know where I got the idea for the layout, but wow. W0W. It wasn’t pretty. And it was SLOW. Flash, man. It can be done well, but I learned from the spiteful rantings of one Gizmodo blog that Flash sites are unsearchable and that is a pain in the ass. SEO or something like that. That, and the fact that even with high-speed internet, a 20MB home page takes quite a while to load.

(Here is a “link” to the home page and portfolio page. I could not find a free web host that allowed 20MB uploads, so I was stuck using MediaFire again. Warning again, they’re unnecessarily large.)

The site was live for a while on the SVSU web server until I delved a bit deeper. Actually, I found the web portfolio (I am reluctant to link to a competitor, to be honest) of a high school classmate who graduated from MSU the same semester the same semester as I and with the same degree to boot. It was simple and nowhere near as flashy (pun intended) as mine. The beauty of its simplicity irked me. So, to stay fresh and competitive, I picked up Dreamweaver again and made this. To be honest, I still don’t hate this. Though I borrowed heavily from my classmate’s idea (with the simple 4 links and horizontal layout), it’s kind of visually appealing to me still. It’s not nearly as informative as it should be, but I suppose it probably would’ve gotten the job done.

I still wasn’t satisfied though. So I set about teaching myself Dreamweaver.

picture-11

CSS Attempt

It wasn’t great, as you can see. I set it up to work ideally on a 1024×768 monitor with complete disregard for (or rather lack of knowledge of) CSS. I used div tags not knowing what they actually did. I essentially tried to set it up as I would have a flash site, but in Dreamweaver.

After cross-platform testing revealed it only looked good on Firefox and SVSU took away my web privileges, I scrapped the idea.

I don’t know where I got the idea for WordPress, likely one of the numerous design blogs in my RSS feed, but here I am. As of now, it does what I need it to do and I am quite happy with the limited amount of flexibility I am given. Maybe some day I will actually learn to hand code again. Perhaps once I do not spend my non-working hours catching up on blogs and being frustrated with myself that I have not made sufficient to look for a real job. Still trying though.

In short: I’ve tried to have a web presence for quite a while. I did a lot of “research” trying to find on- or off-line copies of lots of my old web work, but only found the above. It should be said that since I couldn’t find a lot of it, it was not mentioned. This was intentional, since I could never remember everything I did and in what chronological order. So here, you have my best attempt to collect it. For my posterity and yours.

On Wendy, an Update

So the flat warranted a trip to Discount tire where I learned two things. Three really:

  1. driving on a flat can (and did) make a tire “unrepairable”
  2. when you buy a used tire (only $50!) they will fix your other rim leak for free
  3. if you schedule an appointment, you can be in and out in under an hour

Suffice to say, I was a happy camper. I was able to go to Frankenmuth and enjoy the debauchery which is Snowfest. And I use debauchery loosely. I really just mean to say it was fun.

However, all this exuberance was immediately juxtaposed by more car troubles. Now the brake pedal goes to the floor and barely slows the car. This made for unsafe driving to say the least. A few contacts were consulted and after checking the brake fluid level, I found that it was indeed low. So today, I shall trek to the mechanic to check for a possibly leaking brake line. Let’s hope that that’s all it is and that it isn’t expensive. Seriously.

Networking Socially

Spurred by several recent events, I now need to reel in yet another bad habit of mine: social networks. Used correctly, they are a great source of job opportunities, community event notifications and a perfect way to keep in touch with friends you otherwise wouldn’t. But, when you think you’ve got it under control and can say whatever you think -BAM!- Suddenly you are screwed. It varies in what way, but it can inevitably happen.

Take my old xanga, for example. On the side column, you can see I followed a grand total of 14 people. From that, I assumed these were the only 14 people who read my blog (probably justifiably so) and thus tailored the content to fit that. Likewise, when I got a LiveJournal I did the same. And my FaceBook, tailored to the friends I knew had it, those college peers I wanted to friend.

(as an aside, I made it a rule not to add anyone I didn’t know to my Facebook, a rule to which I still adhere today)

Fast forward to my graduated self. I tended to ignore in college the SVSU Newspaper articles telling the dangers of your MySpace/Facebook profile and the damning material therein. Potential employers could find that photo of you with the beer bong and decide you are not the candidate they are looking for. I wasn’t intimidated by these threats for several reasons:

  • I didn’t really party that hard
  • No one really took a lot of pictures of me
  • If they found any, nothing would be damning enough to deter their pursuit of me

This all changed when Facebook opened to the general public. Now, not only were my professors joining, but my little sisters and other members of my family. Now it was like leaving your diary open to the page detailing the steamy drunken sex you had last week and leaving the door to your room open. C’mon!

True to my word, though, I didn’t take a lot down. Like I said, I’m generally low-key. However, some questionable material was untagged and my photo albums were pared down to the most recent and least ambiguous of the bunch. Still a few slip through the cracks, but generally I am clean.

At least I thought so. Crumbs, the job I currently work as a barista, brings out my immaturity as much as my friends can. This becomes dangerous on slow nights when I decide it will be funny to make all my status updates quotes from the tasteless rapper Eminem. Several updates later, I laugh at the irony. Of course I do not enjoy his music; no one really does. That’s what makes it funny. At least to me. I wasn’t even deterred when my little sister commented on it (she said simply “eminem ew” – I laughed hardest at this). Then a former co-worker commented on one. Thankfully, it was one that wasn’t quite so tasteless (“hotter than a set of twin babies in a Mercedes Benz with the windows up when the temp goes up to the mid eighties”), but it nonetheless caught my attention and drained the colour from my face and the blood from my balls.

This was a man I respected very much and only spoke with as much on every occasion. I was very professional in all my dealings with him in the past. Now, I had betrayed to him my true self and felt very ashamed and foolish. Things that were funny in college with your friends are not necessarily with those you consider peers professionally. None of this is anything I want my extended family to see me as! From that moment, I vowed to clean up my Facebook etiquette. It might be difficult, but, as an article in the Saginaw News reminded me today, we must remember that the internet is vast. The people that can view your information is growing rapidly. Everyone is aware of the various means of “self-promotion” and we really do need to keep every aspect of our internet personae squeaky clean; as though any site you belong to can be paired with your résumé and sent to employers.

Another instance where I may have gotten myself into trouble recently would be twitter. I only began using in November when Brianna made me download it onto the old iPhone. My Tweets, like most Facebook users’, started with the word “is”. Thankfully, it took me less than 10 Tweets to realize this wasn’t necessary. Even though it may be elitist, David Pogue recently set the record straight.

That is neither here nor there, however. My point is here: I began using Twitter much like I saw all social networks; as inherently social. You’re posting to the internet, so there’s no need to make it private. If you want it private, use a physical journal or some other archaic communication tool (e-mail?). There is no sense in only sharing your thoughts with your friends. Well, I felt this way until about thirty minutes ago. I found out my boss began following me on Twitter.

Along with slow nights at Crumbs posting random Eminim, I bitch about my job. I’ve had it five years, I work with people I see as lazy and incompetent and I am pessimistic about almost every aspect of it by now. Problem is, I don’t always have someone I can bitch to; sometimes the people that are annoying me are working with me. I don’t want to waste my or my friends’ text messages bitching, so I bitch to Twitter. If they want to ignore me, they have that right, but at least I got it off my chest.

I usually make it a point not to mix my social life with my work life since that can not only become dangerous, I often want to see friends I didn’t spend the last 7 hours working with. I can be a total ass with my friends and maintain a professional appearance at work.

When my boss got on Twitter however, all that went to shit. Now, I have to constantly rethink before I Tweet. I can’t say nearly as much as I normally would. I don’t want my boss to know who I dislike at work (though I’ve probably told him to his face, I feel violated this way). I don’t want him to know what I did last night with my friends. If I did, I would tell him at work, not online.

Which, I guess, was the entire point of the Choi article. Since you never know who is looking at any given time, (my parents could get a Facebook any minute; my dad already has a MySpace – part of the reason I don’t anymore) you should always pretend like the last person you’d want to look at your blog is.

So enjoy, dad. This article is for you. And the rest of y’all. You [don’t] know who you are.

I Won’t Bore You With The Details

Hit the link if you want to join me in making fun of myself 8 (yes, eight) years ago. My sixteen year old self spent too much time on AOL Instant Messenger and reading and filling out e-mail “self-survey” forwards. This one I found when I decided to plug in an old hard drive in the name of research. You can learn a bit about yourself by “seeing where you came from” even if it is in the form of brief, often sarcastic answers to inane questions made up by a (likely) bored sixteen year old.

Enjoy (or don’t).




Hello; my name is Nicolaus E. Witchger. I am a graphic designer from Saginaw, MI best known for wearing bow ties and drinking single-malt scotch, dark beer, and espresso.

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