tomfromhr.com a blog on tech, politics, life and zombies

12Nov/120

Pawnee, Ontario

Watching Parks and Rec has gotten me a bit interested in the goings-on around my own home town. Is the Parks and Recreation department of my suburban town as exciting and awesome as that of Pawnee, Indiana? Is there an up and coming Leslie Knope running for City Council in my town?

The thing about this is that, I don't really feel like the place I live now is my town. I never have, really. When I was growing up I couldn't wait to get out and see the world. I saw no redeeming value in this city. I wanted to get out to the big city or, barring that, the small town I went to university in.

I've been living back in my birth town the last few years, expecting to move any day now and, well, failing at that. As the move becomes more real, as I spent this evening poring over listings sent by my realtor while the oven slowly cooked my dinner, I started to think about the fact that I'll likely leave this town again and take up a brand new one. And even that town, I suspect, won't be my final resting place, so to speak.

I've kept myself untethered, I think in part, because I was scared of putting down roots. Roots are hard to dig up and I want to be mobile. For whoever my future wife may be, I want to be able to be there for her. I want to be able to say "Let's go, hun" when she gets a new job, or a new opportunity, or when the mood takes us and we decide to move to Iceland. 

I also still don't feel like I've really found that place that speaks to me. I loved Guelph and every now and then I'm tempted to say "fuck it all" and move there, despite how difficult (read: impossible) it would make my commute and how much it would limit my job opportunities. 

Of course, buying a house is certainly one way of putting down roots and that scares me, too. I feel like I haven't found that place where I belong.

I've found people I belong with, though. People I want to make sure are in my life for years to come. I think that's part of it too. For so many of my friends mobility is the name of the game. I am so connected with them, in so many ways, that where we are is unimportant. 

This is a little rambley, and I can't say I have a solid conclusion to share on this. I don't know why I've never really put down roots or felt like I belonged somewhere. I don't know if it's a reticence for fear of moving, or just a lack of need, or what. I kind of doubt I even will wherever I end up next, be that still in my home town (though houses here are still smaller and expensive) or somewhere else.

But, those are some thoughts for you on a Sunday night. If you have those roots, that connection to a city, a street corner, an arena, a bar, a house…I'm a little jealous of you, cause I don't have that.

Maybe that's my choice, though.

2Nov/121

What I’m Absorbing: November 2nd

Each week I'll post the things that are in my ears and in front of my eyes. This can include articles, websites, blogs, YouTube Channels, TV shows, podcasts, books, games, programs, utilities or anything I can think of! Where possible I'll try to put links to check things out. The idea here to share, critically look at what I'm doing, and to motivate myself a bit to not just play WoW all the time.

Watching: Don't Trust the B**** in Apartment 23 and The Mindy Project - I'm throwing both of these here because I suspect both will be added to my regular viewing schedule. I've felt a bit of a TV drought this season; besides old standbys like Parks and Rec, Castle, HIMYM and New Girl, I hadn't had much to watch. On GFM's recommendation I checked out Apartment 23 and rather enjoyed it. Both leads are charming, and James Van Der Beek playing a caricature of himself is perfect and awesome. The Mindy Project was...okay. I love Mindy Kaling, both as a comedienne and on a crush level, and truthfully her alone makes it watchable. The rest of it is...I don't know. I expected better. It doesn't have the subtle humour the Office has (or had, anyway). It feels a bit more...madcap. Like any number of single-camera comedies that get trotted out and shot down each year. It's just a very standard comedy show. Mind you, it's got Mindy Kaling in it, which knocks it up a bit and makes it worth watching. But I don't love it.

Reading: I was at a bit of a loss book wise on what to do next, so I went back to a series a friend had recommended to me, the Thursday Next series, written by Jasper Fforde, specifically The Well of Lost Plots. The series centers around Thursday Next, who lives in a kind of parallel, slightly more advanced universe to ours and discovers that she has the ability to enter books and that there is an entire sub-universe where fictional characters interact and are as real as you or I, and a whole governing body and police force to ensure no one changes the plots of books. It's a little complex, but fun. If you get past that the whole book is essentially a slightly standard police murder mystery, but the backdrop is fun. I feel like I'm missing out a bit on some references because I'm not that familiar with Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and other classic works, though, which is making me want to try and read some of these. So that's good, I'd say!

Re-consuming: Often I'll end up having a show or book kind of on the sidelines, for when I want something easy and fun, or something in the background. For me lately that's been Futurama. Thanks to the series being on Netflix I've been rewatching it from episode one. It's funny how much the voices and some of the in-universe bits change over time, but it's still a great series. I found myself laughing hard at jokes I've heard many times before, just because. I've been loving it, and it's definitely worth a rewatch if you haven't lately. And if you've never actually watched it...you're in for a real treat, I believe.

What are you absorbing this week?

19Oct/120

What I’m Absorbing: October 19th

Each week I'll post the things that are in my ears and in front of my eyes. This can include articles, websites, blogs, YouTube Channels, TV shows, podcasts, books, games, programs, utilities or anything I can think of! Where possible I'll try to put links to check things out. The idea here to share, critically look at what I'm doing, and to motivate myself a bit to not just play WoW all the time.

Watching: Homeland - I've been watching Season 1 of this a fair bit and really enjoying it. Damian Lewis is a great actor who, in my mind, doesn't get nearly enough work. The spy aspects, the politics, the family dynamics, coupled with the weaving of Islam into it, are fascinating to me. Not to mention Morena Baccarin…I'm sorry, what was I saying? Oh yes. Homeland. Great series so far, and I'm hoping to finish season 1 this weekend.

Reading: I finished Up and Down by Terry Fallis last week. This is a Canadian author who had written two great books, The Best Laid Plans and its sequel The High Road, both comedic stories about Canadian politics. I love both of them, but didn't love Up and Down. This book centres around the inner workings of a Canadian PR agency, trying to help NASA increase their public profile. While neat, it just didn't grab me in the same way. Could be because I don't work at a PR agency, but that seems a very narrow audience to write for, though I know the author worked at (and I believe founded) one. It was an easy read, though, much simpler than my last one, which was a nice change.

Playing: I've been having tons of fun in WoW these days, playing the new expansion, Mists of Pandaria. It introduces us to a new, Asian-inspired continent and a new race of Pandaren (I'll let you guess what they're inspired by) as well as a new martial-arts themed class called the monk. It's been the most fun I've had in years, to be honest. Tons of guild mates are back for it and I think we've all just been really happy with it. There's lots to do for me; professions to work on, alts to level, my monk to level especially plus the usual WoW stuff. I'm letting myself have a bit of fun with it, and since it's early in the expansion I'm just letting myself play, while trying to balance things.

What are you absorbing this week?

6Jun/120

BEDJ Day 5: TV Tuesday

Today on BEDJ we're talking about TV.

Ho-boy. I only get 4 days to talk about TV this month? Clearly not enough time.

I love TV. I love it as a medium, and do not understand why people hold up films as the great masterpieces. A series can be a masterpiece too. Where else do you get to know a character that well? Where else does a writer or an actor have the time to craft a character, often spending years doing so? Not to mention an overall story arc!

I think I'll start, funnily enough, at the beginning of my TV watching. The first show I remember watching regularly was Star Trek: The Next Generation. I started this whole geek thing at a young age. I was embarrassed by it at first; a closet Trekkie, if you will, though over time I became more open about it to people at my school (which resulted in much teasing, but I didn't care, cause Picard wouldn't care). TNG was the first show to really spark my imagination. I wrote my own stories, played out my own parts. Star Trek introduced me to the idea of science fiction; of a world more magical than our own, where anything was possible, where a little boy could go out and explore the stars. The whole universe that was built there fascinated me. I loved to see not just the Enterprise, but other Starfleet vessels, Captains and worlds. I wanted to know more about all these races, their cultures, their languages. This even turned me onto reading, the first novel I read being a Star Trek one, focusing on the Romulans (who remain one of my favourite races).

The only thing that bugged me about TNG was that I always felt like it wasn't serialized enough. Course, I didn't know how to say that at the time, but the fact that one episode rarely referenced another, that plots rarely carried over and that there were few large arcs, bothered me intensely.

However, TNG opened me to a new, final frontier. Not just Star Trek, but other, wonderful science fiction series came up after this. I'm still waiting for the next great one, truthfully. Nothing quite thrills me, to this day, than a military based space opera, like Trek, Babylon 5, Stargate, BSG (to a point). All these have, sadly, come to an end.

Next week; Babylon 5, the best science fiction show you've probably never heard of.

1May/121

Content Consumption, Dream Jobs and Sleeping In

I've noticed lately I don't spend as much time consuming things as I once did.

I don't like that word, consume. It implies something very simple, like just eating. Here I mean that I don't read as many blogs, check twitter, watch YouTube or listen to podcasts as much as I used to. I read a bit of the paper, and try to keep up on blogs, but not nearly to the extent I once did. Even TV has largely taken a back seat; whereas I used to have shows for almost every night, now I only really watch a few, and rarely live as they air. What I mean is consuming things that enrich me. Watching good TV, reading good blogs, connecting with people on Twitter and YouTube. I've been doing a lot less of that lately, and I've decided I want to change that.

I've realized that I spend a decent amount of time reading WoW news and blogs. There is a Beta out, so there is a lot going on, but I worried a bit about it becoming my only interest. I do enjoy it, and I do play a fair bit, but the actual playtime is not something I'm really worried about. A lot of that is playing with friends, connecting with people and just hanging out. What worried me were the moments where I'd read all the news and just couldn't think what else to do on the internet. That was a scary moment, I don't mind telling you.

So I've been trying to make sure that almost every moment is used in some semi-productive way. Some of that is just saying that, instead of sitting around playing Solitaire, I'm watching an episode of a TV show, or listening to a podcast. I try to be sure if I'm walking for almost any distance I've got a podcast on. I've got a list of podcasts I'm listening to. I may see about setting up a "what I'm watching/reading/listening to" sidebar somewhere, in case folks are interested. I do also try to have more meditative moments, while walking sometimes, but when I'm jostling and speed walking for my train in the evenings, that's probably a good time to catch up on podcasts, and not so much to try and find inner peace. Maybe.

In short, I've been trying to get back in touch with my own interests. Most of these aren't anything new; tech, sci-fi, fantasy, politics and lately comedy. I find myself drawn to podcasts and interviews with comic actors, or actors who have some interest or experience in that sort of thing. Listened to some great interviews lately with Jon Hamm and Neil Patrick Harris.

The idea of this is getting to the point where I'm producing more of my own things, honing my own craft. Not just for the sake of it, but because I like writing, I like sharing what I've learned and what I've found, whatever that may be. I also am trying to find my own passion, my own niche. My failed interview got me thinking about what I really want to do, and I feel like through all this I can find a way to contribute that gets me excited to get up in the morning.

And, preferably, allows me to get up later in the morning. C'mon, what's the point of a dream job if you can't sleep in?