January 31, 2006
January 29, 2006
I officially finished the charts for the show this year! I still have some technical scores to write (about 140 pages), but the big part is done. I spent a very nice 6 hours in the shop building the big prop. Pictures after the show.
January 27, 2006
January 24, 2006
How to do what you love. (and not feel guilty about it)
By the time they reach an age to think about what they’d like to do, most kids have been thoroughly misled about the idea of loving one’s work. School has trained them to regard work as an unpleasant duty. Having a job is said to be even more onerous than schoolwork. And yet all the adults claim to like what they do. You can’t blame kids for thinking “I am not like these people; I am not suited to this world”….
How much are you supposed to like what you do? Unless you know that, you don’t know when to stop searching. And if, like most people, you underestimate it, you’ll tend to stop searching too early. You’ll end up doing something chosen for you by your parents, or the desire to make money, or prestige– or sheer inertia…
The test of whether people love what they do is whether they’d do it even if they weren’t paid for it– even if they had to work at another job to make a living…
The advice of parents will tend to err on the side of money. It seems safe to say there are more undergrads who want to be novelists and whose parents want them to be doctors than who want to be doctors and whose parents want them to be novelists…
With such powerful forces leading us astray, it’s not surprising we find it so hard to discover what we like to work on. Most people are doomed in childhood by accepting the axiom that work = pain. Those who escape this are nearly all lured onto the rocks by prestige or money. How many even discover something they love to work on? A few hundred thousand, perhaps, out of billions…
Most people would say give me a million dollars and I’ll figure out what to do. But it’s harder than it looks. Constraints give your life shape. Remove them and most people have no idea what to do: look at what happens to those who win lotteries or inherit money. Much as everyone thinks they want financial security, the happiest people are not those who have it, but those who like what they do. So a plan that promises freedom at the expense of knowing what to do with it may not be as good as it seems.
read the whole thing.
This article really speaks to me. I consider myself one of the very few, very fortunate people to have found work that is enjoyable and fulfilling. I have been twice blessed in that I was able to find it right out of college and didn’t have to spend years toiling in the mines to discover I didn’t like toiling in the mines. I take a certain peaceful pride (sounds weird, but there it is) in the fact that I’ve never had a real job and instead have invented my way through the thicket of “work”. I’m constantly amazed by the stories that friends with “real jobs” tell me about what they do. Office politics, fighting rush hour traffic, dealing with their boss. And insurance co-pay? What’s that?
I talked to a friend not too long ago about doing what you love and her response was that it would be nice, but the security of her current position was too good, and that giving up that security represented too much of a risk. She doesn’t hate her job, but I get the feeling that it’s not very fulfilling for her. I was sad to hear this, but she was aware of the choice and comfortable with the tradeoff. She valued security more than “freedom”- however that’s defined.
There’s a quote on my computer monitor that I cut out years ago and stuck up as a sort of gauntlet thrown at my own feet. It reads: “Out of every hundred people who aspire to a successful career in music and audio, maybe one will make it”. At first I read it as a challenge to become that elusive one. However, in the past few years I have started to wonder just how long you have to do something successfully before you can start thinking of yourself as a success. One year? Two? Ten? Forty? Most of the time I feel like I have achieved that success, but sometimes I wonder where the finish line is.
Part of the burden that comes with doing what I love is the fear that it will somehow be taken away. I know that this is unreasonable in light of the circumstances of how I got into this, and my firm belief that it wasn’t accidental, but the fear is still there. Many of my friends know that I’m extremely competitive and hard working when it comes to my job, and this stems largely from a couple of deep rooted beliefs:
First, at some level I don’t really believe that I’m good enough to do what I do. This feeling of “I’m fooling everybody” is very common among self-employed people. I have two friends who are both into computers and we’ve had long conversations about this. One of them started a business a few years ago that has grown by leaps and bounds. He’s very proud of what he’s accomplished, but we talk a lot about how he feels like he’s just making it up and some day a customer is going to realize that he’s a fraud. We all feel this way, especially those of us who are out there representing ourselves as a business of one. I want to do Good Work (it’s always capitalized in my mind), and Good Work means Excellence. It also means doing everything to such a level that nobody will ever find out that I’m not actually very good at what I do. Believe me, I know how that sounds, but there it is.
The second thing that drives me is the fear that, at some point, I’ll have to quit doing what I love and get a job just to pay the bills. Some soul killing work that I have to drag myself to every day because the mortgage has to be paid, or the car needs new brakes, or we have to put food on the table. What would I be like if I had to do something I hated? Is this the responsible path? Will I not become a “real” adult until I realize that “work is hard”, or “you can’t always do what you want”? Am I a spoiled whiner because I actually look forward to my work every day? I believe that we can all make a living doing what we love but there are so many counter examples out there that I sometimes wonder if I’ve won the work lottery and that makes me scared.
So this is what drives me to perfection in my work; the fear that I’m not very good at what I do, and that it’ll be taken away from me. I told Erin not too long ago that I feel like I’m in a race. At some point in the distant future retirement funds will kick in and we’ll no longer have to work. I hope to keep working, and never plan to retire, but I feel like the finish line is when we no longer need the next paycheck. When the house is paid off and the big bills are finished, and when investments bring in enough to see us through the future. Then I’ll be able to say I made a successful career. That I fooled everybody. My definition of success used to be “do exclusively what you love for one year and get paid for it”. Unfortunately, I’ve gotten so used to doing what I love that I’ve come to define success as “doing what I love my whole life”. And if I ever have to do something else? Doesn’t that mean that ultimately I wasn’t successful? That’s a ridiculously high standard, but I can’t get my heart to not believe it.
We talk about this a lot around here, and it always comes back to the fact that I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing right now if God had not worked in the strange and convoluted way He did. There’s the other side of my personality that tells me there’s a bigger purpose to all of this and that the God who gave me what I have today is still in control. He can be trusted. I don’t like using words like “lucky” or “FORTUN-ate” when I think about how I got into what I do. I know absolutely that this was the direction that I was supposed to take, and I’m constantly grateful for it. It’s just my human nature that decides to freak out and think the ride is going to end. If my current work is “taken from me”, it’s only to make room for something else. It’s just hard to convince myself of this. I think that’s what my faith is for.
In the mean time, articles like the one above are like cairns on a vague and snow-covered trail. They tell me that other people have come this way and that this thinly travelled trail leads to a place worth going. Keep moving, you’re doing fine…
I used the King Arthur cookbook that Erin gave me for Christmas to make cranberry-orange scones this morning. Yum.
Drinking my green tea and feeling very British.
January 23, 2006
Disney agrees to pay Steve Jobs $7,000,000,000 in the largest single voting block of Disney shares if he’ll agree to bring Pixar in to salvage their floundering business and inject some creativity.
What’s that? The headline should read “Disney Buys Pixar“? I think my interpretation is a little closer to the truth.
January 21, 2006
How about a 50,000 gallon home aquarium? The guy does 10,000 gallon water changes every week! I couldn’t even afford the water changes.
Don’t hate me because I’m so accurate.
I scored a Patrick deal today. I went by Woodcraft today to get some dye for the bookcase and they were having their annual 75% off sale on a bunch of stuff. It was all on a table outside. I checked and there wasn’t anything special there… broken stuff, opened things, some stuff I didn’t need.
Then I looked behind the table. Yup, sitting there at the back all by its lonesome was an Incra Jig Ultra 24″ dovetail jig for the router table. This thing is a precision (accurate to .0002″) jig that looks intimidating as all get-out and allows you to make joinery from the simple and beautiful:
to the simply astounding:
Originally $269, Woodcraft sold it to me for $67.25. They said “as is” and the box looked sealed, so I figured what the heck. Erin practically BEGGED me to get it, bless her. I was initially a little worried about my purchase when I brought it home and I discovered that they had opened it after all. The manual was missing (quickly remedied via an online PDF file), and the kit was missing the master template library (which I can get online for $24). Also, there were quite a few bags of screws and washers. Like, quite a few. I have assembled the thing and have a bunch left over so either Incra included too many or somebody at Woodcraft tossed some extra into the box when they resealed it. I figure someone at Woodcraft must have tried to assemble the jig as a demo and gotten it wrong, then instead of sending it back to Incra, they let it sit around until they finally decided to get rid of it. At this point they resealed it and sold it to the first sucker who’d buy it (that’s me). The guy was adamant that sales on the 75% off table were final. I was a bit miffed that I have to spend the $25 for the template library, but all things considered (and the much more expensive Leigh jig was considered for this year), I’m very happy.
I have to note that I don’t think Woodcraft did anything dishonest or nefarious. I think at some point somebody put the thing together wrong, disassembled it, and put it back in the box for later. Then a few months later somebody else came along and decided to sell the thing. The Woodcraft in Austin can be a little disorganized, but they’re honest folks who try to be helpful.
Anyway. I spent a few hours tonight putting the thing together. About halfway through I discovered that it wouldn’t go together right because one of the interior components was fargled and installed incorrectly (at Woodcraft)! After a couple hours of “getting-to-know-you” time I had the thing figured out. I took it apart and fixed the messed up component. There were also too many shims installed in the tensioning mechanism and this was throwing off the alignment, and they didn’t put the “Right Angle Jig” (official name) together correctly. Duh. I didn’t have the instructions for this jig, or for one other part of the kit- I think they’re separate directions since it’s a bundle of several Incra products. I finally managed to get the thing apart and back together and it works! Well, I haven’t cut anything on it, or mounted it to my router table, but it appears to be completely functional.
Anyway, long story short is that I need to go buy about $3 in bolts, get a plastic micro adjust cover for $8 from Incra, and buy the $24 template book online. For less than a Benjamin I got a jig that’s worth almost $300! I can’t wait to use this thing.
Ordinarily I shy away from opened stuff, but this looked fresh and unopened and the price was way too good. Unfortunately it had the pieces missing but luckily I can fix it with no problem.
Erin’s jewelry box cometh soon.
January 19, 2006
Erin’s aunt and uncle Denise and Dana lost their beloved pet Welsh Corgie yesterday. Honey was 14 1/2 years old. She had been having health problems the past few years and everyone knew her time was limited, but it’s still very sad to see her go. Denise and Dana have told us many funny stories about Honey. My favorite is when she somehow got into a bag of her favorite treats while D&D were away. Honey ate her way all the way to the bottom of the bag, then instead of working her way out, she just fell into a food-soaked nap. When mom and dad got home all they could see were Honey’s back legs poking out of the bag.
I got to meet Honey last April when we drove up to Cincinnati. She was a very kind and loving doggie. We’ll all miss her.
Guy Kawasaki on giving great speeches. I often get to talk to 100+ people at a time in my job, and I looove giving these impromptu speeches. It’s nice when someone (other than my wife) will actually listen to what I have to say. Guy gives some good advice to speakers.
January 18, 2006
This is fantastic. Ever get a song stuck in your head but can’t figure out what it is? Go to the Song Tapper and use the spacebar on your computer to tap the rhythm (yes, you can sing along as you tap but the site just uses the space bar input). They site then does some processing and comes up with a few suggestions for your tune. I tried it with the Mario Theme (hey! it was the first thing that popped into my head…) and it worked great. Just the thing if you can’t remember a song.
Jim Carrey gets on the no coffee bandwagon. link.
“I have one coffee a day now rather than seven. The world is living in a coffee-induced hyper mode that is insane.”
January 17, 2006
Congrats to Mike and Laura Indergard on the birth of their daughter Juliet Elizabeth Indergard. What a fantastic name. “Juliet Inderdard”. She’s gonna be famous.
Think you’ve got game? Try this audio quiz from the time of the 8 bit game. It plays short audio clips from various games and you have to guess which game it came from (multiple choice). I scored 16 out of 18, but I missed the first two when I shouldn’t have (what was I thinking?), and got a couple of lucky guesses from paying attention to the clues. How’d you do?
January 16, 2006
When I tried to access Lileks’ Quirks last night I got a registration page. I dashed off a quick note to his website about it and danged if I didn’t get a nice email from the Man hisself today. I feel all special.