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

1Nov/121

Wine and Love: 14

5641043482 6f577b210d mToday I'm doing Wine and Love again, hosted by Suki! Here we talk about the things making us reach for the wine glass (or alcoholic beverage of choice) and the things we love this week! It's hard to keep track, I know, but do try to keep up!

Wine

  • No word on the iPad, so I think it is likely gone. It's still possible it may turn up in the lost and found, but at this point I have my doubts. On the plus side it does appear someone just wiped it straight away, which in the grand scheme of things is the best I could hope for, in terms of data integrity. I don't quite understand the mentality that could take something like that, even carelessly left behind, and not feel a pang of pity. I almost wish I could talk to the guy/girl who picked it up and made the conscious decision not to turn it in. Maybe they sold it to feed their starving family, I'm not sure. So that sucks but, really, if I'm gonna have something bad happen, losing a non-essential item is hardly the worst. I am realizing how much I use it, though, and I did order a new one (though a cheaper model than before).
  • Work stress continues unabated. It's partly just the time of year, partly that they keep expanding my job duties, partly that we have some major projects, but overall it means I'm often leaving work exhausted and unhappy. I've been leaning into WoW a bit heavily lately but, truthfully, I'm glad the outlet is there.
  • I love my parents, but I get some judgment from them on leaning into WoW, at staying locked up in my room, at my more introverted nature. When I try to open up to them lately I've gotten interrupted with "solutions" and, truthfully, I feel like it may be time for us to part ways. More on this in the section below.

Love

  • Tying in with what I said before, I am having such a blast in WoW these days it's not even funny. I'm learning to tank on my monk (who's level 86), I'm taking my time going through the Mists questing and it's just been so much fun kind of losing myself a bit and forgetting my cares. And smashing mobs with kegs of beer, obvs.
  • After I finish this post I'm emailing my realtor. Period. No more excuses. No more "I'll wait until"s. It's time to start. I keep putting it off but, I also have to realize that it's not like tomorrow I'm gonna find my place and move. This will be a long process of finding the right place, for the right price, and it's time to get started. My finances aren't 100% totally perfect, but will they ever be? I'm tired of waiting. Course, I'm emailing my realtor to say "can you refer me to someone else?" because I'm pretty sure he doesn't work in the area I now want, but hey, still! Progress. A start. My goal would be to host a birthday party in my new house, but I'd rather find the right place than the quick and easy place.
  • Therapy has been going well. There haven't been too many huge and amazing break-throughs, but I'm making quiet, small changes that seem to be helping. I'm catching myself before I'm spiraling into bad thoughts. I'm stopping myself before I read too much into things. One of the big things has been reminding myself that, often times, when someone criticizes me or speaks harshly to me, it's more reflective of them than me. I'm trying to stop myself from taking such things personally, and instead just shrugging and saying "ah well, buddy is taking out his/her bad day/insecurity on me. Next."
  • As much as I may have some issues with my parents, they have been pretty good about letting me be and recognizing I'm stressed and need some time. My mom has been really good about helping me out, which I'm grateful for, and my Dad's been pretty good too, they just don't quite get it. They grew up in big families; privacy and introversion are entirely foreign concepts to them, as are the ideas of just wanting to talk things out and not really solving problems.
  • My friends continue to be awesome people, and I love them all for it. Positive, supportive and awesome. The only problem is that so few of them live nearby. MOVE TO CANADA YOU PEOPLE.

What are you loving this week? And what's making you whine?

26Oct/123

Surprising Things About Tom

Following the trend from Lauren, GFM and Emma, I thought I'd try and post a few things about me that might surprise you. I find I've LOVED reading these; partly cause they've been done by 3 of my favourite ladies so far (with more to come, possibly) and partly because sometimes I think those little minute things can really make a person. Particularly what they decide to tell you.

So, a few things that might surprise you about me (and that I may not have mentioned before):

  •  Around February in my second year of uni I started running daily. By July of that year I had dropped almost 50 pounds and was running over 9k a day.
  • love to sing and dance. I am, by most definitions, terrible at both, but if there is a cheesy pop song on that I know and no one is around I will likely belt it out while dancing around the room.
  • For a while in university I considered myself a Buddhist. At this point I'd probably go with agnostic, but distinctly not atheist. I believe there is more to a person than what we can observe with our eyes and what science tells us.
  • I had planned to become a university professor up until 4th year of university, when I realized it wasn't something that excited me.
  • The person I see in the mirror is likely starkly different from the person you see when you look at me. I've only recently started to realize how different that view really is.
  • I love airports, and could spend hours there watching the comings and goings.
  • In drama class at high school I was told I was a really good actor by a few people, and got high marks. I regret to this day not pursuing acting further and being involved with it in university.
  • I have mentally worked out a fanfic continuation of Star Trek, based on the last series' timeline (not the movie) that would see a story arc spread over 20 years and 4 different TV series. Very little of this exists outside my head, but the characters and lore behind are well fleshed out, and if you see me zoning off I may be writing/playing a scene in my head.
  • Similarly, I used to participate in weekly Star Trek chat-based RP sessions with 10-20 people at a time. I rose to the rank of Fleet Captain in the group I ran with, and ran my own ship.
  • I am incredibly uncomfortable, to the point of fear and revulsion, with the idea of my nails being filed.
  • Instead of going into HR I almost started working for the Canadian government. While I slightly regret not jumping on that opportunity (the job, 4 years ago, paid above what I'm making now) I do ultimately think I made the right decision, as without it I wouldn't know so many people I know now.
  • Despite being Canadian, I've never gone snow-boarding or skiing and don't have much interest in either.
  • I also find hockey really boring and dislike the taste of Tim Horton's coffee.
  • I often bemoan, quietly, to myself, the fact that I will never visit Minas Tirith, Rivendell, Balmora, Babylon 5, Ankh-Morpork, Halfhill, Orgrimmar and many others.

There are more things, I'm sure, but that's all I can think of for now, and my lunch break is nearly over. What are some surprising things about you? Why not write your own post?

 

25Oct/121

Wine and Love: 13

5641043482 6f577b210d mTwo weeks in a row! Blogging win! Today I'm doing Wine and Love again, hosted by Suki! Here we talk about the things making us reach for the wine glass (or alcoholic beverage of choice) and the things we love this week! It's hard to keep track, I know, but do try to keep up!

Wine

  • I left my iPad on the train sometime on Monday. I've been worried sick about someone getting into my data, harassing friends or doing God knows what with it. So far I believe we're safe; it looks like whoever got it either turned it into the lost and found or has wiped it. Using the iCloud stuff I can tell it hasn't been online (at least without being wiped) at least since Monday night, which means either it's been turned off since then (which is the lost and found's standard procedure) or wiped. I've set it to wipe the next time it comes online for data integrity. All signs seem to be pointing to it being in the lost and found, but since all that stuff has to be processed I won't know for a few days.
  • Honestly that's been the big one, and some of the fallout and worries from that. Besides that, work's been busy, but I could practically leave that on here permanently!
  • I haven't been sleeping well lately. Part of it is just bad habits, part of it is the myriad things I'd rather be doing than sleeping, part of it is iPad and work things on my mind a lot. I've been trying to get to bed earlier, but it's not easy when there's so much I want to do.

Love

  • Mists of Pandaria continues to delight and entertain, which is great. I said this last week, but I cannot overemphasize how glad I am to have this awesome outlet and the wonderful people that come along with it. We ran dungeons last night and, even though they didn't go super well, I had a blast. If you've ever thought you might enjoy WoW, do give it a try, and let me know so I can bring you into my awesome group of people there.
  • My friends have been amazing. GFM especially has been a big help and is great at keeping me grounded and keeping things in perspective. Thanks, GFM.
  • I bought a ticket to VidCon! Still figuring out the flight and everything, but it'll be awesome to meet and hang out with people I've blogged around with and whatnot for so long.
  • I'm generally eating healthier and feeling better these days. I've had one person ask if I lost weight; I haven't checked in a while, so I'm not sure, but that was nice. I feel like I see a little bit in my face, but that could be imagination.
  • Therapy has been going well. I feel like I'm making real progress, which largely means breaking down a lot of the things I had thought I knew about myself. It's fascinating, and a tad bit scary, but good.
  • I've moved some money around and cleared up some financial stuff, which is a huge weight off my shoulders. I'm getting close to being ready to tackle the move. Not quite there, but close.

What are you loving this week? And what's making you whine?

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?

18Oct/124

Wine and Love: 12

5641043482 6f577b210d mBack at it after a break! Today I'm doing Wine and Love again, hosted by Suki! Here we talk about the things making us reach for the wine glass (or alcoholic beverage of choice) and the things we love this week! It's hard to keep track, I know, but do try to keep up!

Wine

  • Friends are having problems, and I'm trying to help, but I find I say the wrong thing all too often. I almost want to try and find a book on it, but I think each person is different. I just wish I could help more, that I knew what to say and do.
  • I'm failing a bit at adulting these days. It feels like the money is just slipping through my fingers, and I have no idea where it goes. I've been using Mint to track and keeping an eye on my bank account but it just all seems to slip away, and with that a lot of my goals get a little further off. I'm doing my best, but it just doesn't seem to be good enough.
  • Work gets busier and busier, with more and more things being heaped on my plate. I know largely there isn't much choice, but it still is making for some stressful days.

Love

  • Mists of Pandaria continues to delight and entertain, which is great.
  • I've discovered an easy, healthy dish that I can cook and vary a bit in order to keep it new and interesting!
  • I've been chatting to folks on GChat more often, which has been nice, getting to know some blog folks a bit better.
  • I had a lovely second Thanksgiving with Matt and Lauren at their new house. It's looking amazing. Their family is so welcoming, and I got to do a nice mini road trip with some friends. Overall, a fantastic weekend. More of that, please.

What are you loving this week? And what's making you whine?

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?

20Jun/110

Rioting, Apple and The Fourth Wall

I'm going to start off by saying I don't get sports. I've tried watching hockey, football, baseball and mostly get bored. I can somewhat enjoy a game if I'm right there, but that's really about it. I don't understand the investment in the teams or the passion people feel for them. Particularly because...well, what are they doing? They're playing a game. These games require athletic skill, yes, but that's not the attraction. If it were, Olympic Weightlifting would be the ultimate spectator sport, or gymnastics, or ballet. All these require intense physical prowess and years of training.

A friend linked me a video and said that, essentially, sports are about The Fourth Wall, about the suspension of disbelief. For those who didn't take Drama classes, this is a concept that means you generally look at something understanding that it's not really happening, but you invest in it anyway. Like when you watch a play, you understand that Romeo and Juliet aren't really falling in love on the stage in front of you, but your suspension of disbelief allows you to feel like they are anyway. You pretend there is a Fourth Wall at the front of the stage, in front of you, and the actors pretend you're not there either. If Romeo turns and waves to his Mom in the audience mid-play, he's breaking the Fourth Wall.

Watching and investing emotionally in sports requires you to believe that what they're doing out there, on the ice or on the field, is important. It's not. It may make you feel proud of your city, but whether one team or another follows the rules properly and wins the game is not important. But you choose to believe it is, along with many, many other people. I'm not begrudging anyone that, or saying that's not awesome. I invest in TV shows in the same way, so I get that part of it.

Where you lose me, completely, is when you hurt someone, set fire to something, or destroy someone's livelihood over it.

I'm not disparaging Vancouver here, nor am I going to say such a thing would never happen anywhere else. It does. Often. It has happened in Toronto and will likely happen again. I'll admit I felt like throwing something at the TV when my favourite show got cancelled, or my favourite character got killed off. But I didn't.

I've had a surprisingly parallel discussion going on this morning on a World of Warcraft forum. Someone asked a question about a good laptop to run WoW on and a reply suggested a Mac laptop. This reply was met with vitriol, anger and hatred. The reply hadn't said "get a Mac cause they're better, faster, or cheaper than a Windows PC." All it said was "I have this, it's working great, and this new iMac looks pretty good." Left and right people started getting angrier, throwing around stats, facts, figures. I found the anti-Mac people boiling my blood and started prepping my scathing and factually accurate replies.

Then I stopped and thought..."wha?" Why am I so vehemently defending a product I use? Do I enjoy it, and think it's worth the money? Yes. But the feelings that came up went way, way beyond that. And it's not like this hasn't happened before.

I think these sorts of things are related. Many of us grow up in a culture that isn't well-defined. I didn't have any real strong traditions or values growing up. Morals, yes, but mostly it was "think for yourself, be kind to people and be polite." I think we are searching for meaning now, for belonging. And we find that in any group we can throw our weight behind, a group whose values we share, or a group who will have us. We often define ourselves by this group, even if that entire identity is a marketing construct. When someone points out flaws in this identity, we brand them a heretic and seek to stop them from spewing their blasphemy. Hell, sometimes we define ourselves as NOT a member of a certain group.

And we do things we would never do otherwise, like riot.

I try, however, to break my own fourth wall every now and then. Apple products have their faults, and they don't make me any cooler than anyone else. So I try to be honest about why I buy them. There probably is some cool factor in it, yes. But design is also important to me in my products. The top of the line specs are not, and the service is. I've had, historically, great luck and great experiences with Apple and Apple products. I won't delude myself into thinking their devices are all top of the line or the specs are equal to a similarly priced Windows machine.

I support the NDP because they represent my values. Maybe their economic plan isn't the most sustainable, and maybe some of their people aren't the most qualified. But I'll honestly tell you I don't care. I support them because they represent my values. I'm not going to argue for their economic plan, because I'm not an economist and can't argue the merits of an economic plan.

It feels good to belong to groups, and I can get the whole idea of being part of a team, of supporting it along with your friends. But when you get violent, it reminds me that, really, I don't get sports.