in recent years

   

   

i’m old now. it rules.

A Brief List of Things I Do Not Understand Because I am Old

1. Snapchat – I don’t even know how to start understanding Snapchat. I’ve now downloaded it THREE SEPARATE TIMES, signed up/logged in, and then immediately deleted it becauseā€¦ What? What is this? Why? I want to figure it out though because from what I understand things happen to Snapchat when you go places? And I’m going to Disneyland soon and I know that’s a thing. I don’t have a lot of hope for myself though.*

2. Two-thirds of Vine – I like the animal videos (@SadieTriPawd & @BigCatDerek) and I do sometimes manage enough cultural osmosis to get Vine references in Buzzfeed posts, but man. What is happening in that app?

3. Instagram comments – This is not always an age thing, but I spend a lot of time looking at Instagram comments and going, “What? What? Why would you say that? To anyone?” but really I just treat Instagram comments like I do all other comment sections: avoid, avoid, avoid.

I don’t mention not getting these things because I think I’m above them, I mention it because it’s an illustration of an overly intense Facebook post I made like a week ago.

image

I am thirty years old and a large portion of the content being produced in the world at this very moment is not being made for me. And that’s okay! Well, it sucks a little, but it’s also just part of how the system works. Despite having more disposable income than I’ve ever had before in my entire life, I am no longer the media machine’s target market and there’s a good chance you aren’t either! We don’t decide what is or is not a hit, we just try to keep up.

Sure, it means we’ll feel old and out of touch sometimes, but it also means that we’re free. No one with any kind of power cares what we think or like or are interested in! There’s no cultural cache in being cool anymore because I’m too old for it to count for anything. I spent a lot of years learning not to care what people thought of me, now they actually don’t. I’m going to enjoy it.

*: Add me on Snapchat? ashrocketship – of course!

good shit: techy stuff i love

So I’m kind of anal retentive, you know? (Yes, yes you do.) And you’ve got to know by now that I have a deeply, deeply obsessive personality, yeah? (Of course you do.) and that I like techy things and gadget-y stuff? Okay, well, that all culminates pretty intensely on my computer and phone and, since I use lots of little things that make my life easier and am also driven to tweak how things look like a crazed monster, I thought I’d like, you know, share some of those things and tweaks.

So my desktop pretty much always looks something like this:

And right now it looks just like this except without all the writing and arrows showing you what’s what:


[click to embiggen]
So let’s start with Adium which I have been using as my chat client since I got my first Mac as a college graduation gift in July of 2007. It integrates pretty much every chat client* you could possibly want to use into a single interface so you don’t have to have a million things open and it does it while being extremely customizable.

I use Decay 2.0 which is an included theme and layout and just tweak it obsessively until I like the way it looks, including changing the font to Helvetica Neue to match the message style I use. I use the Minimal set of service icons, White Chat Bubbles status icons, and Flat Bubbles 2.0 for my dock icons. I don’t keep a menu bar icon active because i don’t like doubling up in my dock and menu bar. Redundancy is ugly! I’m c r a z e d about this.

My message style is Pretty Simple used pretty much as is. I set my background to gray and made it nicely transparent. There is also a nice matchy Pretty Simple contact layout and, though I like the font, the layout doesn’t work for me because I keep my list pretty narrow and it cannot display statuses below their contacts. I prefer Decay 2.0 solely for this reason and just changed the font to match my messages. I told you, I’m super intense.

My favorite tool by far is TinyAlarm which I’ve been using for approximately 1,000 years. It’s a little menu bar timer that lets you set alarms super quick. It’s tiny and effortless and I use it pretty much daily. I mostly set timers to remind myself to do things — usually to go upstairs and cook dinner or check a load of laundry, stuff like that — because I am unbelievably terrible at knowing what time it is and remembering that I have to do things. I also used to do it to set productivity windows but I’ve recently moved on to the next item on the list for that.

While writing this I realized I hadn’t updated the app in forever and when I did, it was new and ugly and also shareware that costs $7 after thirty days. I hate the new menu and was irritated with the whole thing in about a minute, so I downgraded via my Time Machine backup and am much happier again. Since it was free for such a long time and is no longer the same app, I’ve uploaded the old version so you can have it too.

My next favorite thing is Eggscellent which is a productivity app based on the Pomodoro Technique. I use thirty minute chunks and five minute short breaks and I love how easy the app makes it. Plus I can throw a bunch of things on my list and have them waiting when I’m finally ready to get to them. I’m still figuring out the right settings for everything and I wish the visual timer were more customizable — I’d like it to be significantly smaller and preferably square and definitely sleeker (Is that nest and egg situation really necessary?) or I’d like the internal/external distractions to be clickable in the drop down from the menu bar so that I could close out the visual timer entirely — but even with my complaints, I’ve already used it every single day since I installed it.

When I discovered If This Then That through Flickr last week I had one of those rare moments where my eyes went really wide and my mouth dropped open and I went, “Oh my god, how did I not know about this already?!”

Basically, IFTTT lets you create recipes for actions on the internet. I use mine to automatically upload Instagrams to my Tumblr and Flickr and also to automatically share new posts I make on all the various social media accounts I have. I am really, really bad at self-promotion and terrible at remembering to crosspost, so those recipes are incredibly useful to me.

I also have to throw out a recommendation for freethephotos which is a migration tool to get all of your Instagram pictures into your Flickr account. I tried Flickstagram with almost no success (It lagged like crazy and stalled halfway through and also added a bunch of unnecessary tags to my pictures.) and so I tried freethephotos instead and it was super simple, fast, and didn’t lag or over-tag. And since I set up an IFTTT recipe to do it automatically after I Instagram something, I don’t have to worry about using it again.

My phone is also, obviously, important to me too, but I am much less likely to use really useful things on it since I do most of my being productive stuff while at my desk. Most of my phone apps are for photography, including my most recent download InstaPlace. Because I live in the middle of nowhere, this is not yet all that useful to me, but I have a feeling that when my gf and I take a road trip later this year, it will be. It’s a fun one to play with anyway.

My last two recommendations are Hippo Remote Lite and Sleep Cycle. I’ve been using Sleep Cycle for a long time — on and off since I got my first iPhone in 2009 — and for the last 99 consecutive nights. I don’t know that the data it accumulates has any real value — most of the nights I wake up feeling the worst, the app tells me I’ve had a 90% or higher night of sleep — but the gentle alarm is great. Hippo Remote Lite, on the other hand, is very new to me and has already been super, super useful. The last three Monday nights we’ve had storms that interfered with our satellite and interrupted our recordings of Teen Wolf and we’ve had to resort to watching on the MTV website. My computer is pretty big, but we have an Apple TV and would much rather use AirPlay to watch it on our tv, so we do, but using the mouse from a distance is kind of weird and almost impossible depending on where we sit with it. Hippo Remote Lite solves that by letting me use my phone as a mouse right in front of the tv. Magical.

Now go forth and anal retentively organize, tweak, and time. You deserve it.

*: I know that it doesn’t integrate Skype (Although there is a plugin that will make Skype work with it) which is the chat client du jour but I won’t use Skype as a chat client because Microsoft has made it effortless to wiretap you with it. I only use Skype for vidchat when absolutely necessary.

google reader is dead, long live feedly

So, remember how in the way old days, people used to bookmark blogs and then just kind of visit them one by one every day to see new updates? Remember how that was normal? And then RSS went real wide and easy and popular and RSS readers became ubiquitous and life was really grand and quite enjoyable. And then Google made a reader and we all pretty much universally adopted it because it was pretty great. Including me! Even though I am pretty technologically obstinate when it comes to internet stuff.*

Anyway, you probably know that Google is killing Reader and you also probably know that’s a massive suckfest because you’re already all settled in with it. You’ve got tags and feeds and all of it tidy and organized and set up the way you like it. But come July 1st, it’s all going to disappear because, and I believe this pretty genuinely, Google kind of hates us. And even though you’re probably not as bad a procrastinator as I am — oh god do I procrastinate — there’s a good chance you still don’t know what to use after Reader bites it. If you are even a little like me — and I’m so, so sorry if you are, but at least you’re not alone — you’ve probably signed up for like nine different replacement RSS readers and found yourself overwhelmed by it all and then given up and probably gone to bed with a book. No? Just me? Okay, well, I’m still going to tell you about Feedly.

When I started my quest for a new RSS reader, I started with BlogLovin because a lot of great blogs I follow and love use it. But, I hated it. I hated the layout, I hated the functionality — you’re not going to give me an oldest first option, seriously? — and I just think it’s clunky. Sorry, BlogLovin, you just aren’t for me.

Then I read about a million posts about it with people recommending nine million different readers and then I just gave up again. But then I read this post and I signed up for Feedly and The Old Reader. I tried them both out and liked them fairly evenly with TOR pulling ahead just because I found its interface a lot more appealing than Feedly’s (Plus that lovely icon/logo), but then I download the Feedly App for IOS and Feedly launched so far into the lead my head spun.

Being able to read my RSS feeds on my phone has totally changed how much I keep up with them. I used to let my GReader languish until I had more than a 1000 unread items bathed in the daunt and dread of catching up on so much. Reading blogs I love should never, ever feel like a chore and it doesn’t anymore! Because, like Twitter and Tumblr (though the app is genuinely terrible) and Facebook and Instagram, I can do it all wherever I am, whenever I have a free moment to bury my face in my phone. I can read my feeds while I poop! We are living in the future and I love it.

Switching readers also made me go hard on my feeds and get rid of the ones I wasn’t really engaging with anymore. I cleaned up dead feeds and sorted them into categories to help me keep track of what I follow and just generally made me sit down and focus and be really fussy for twenty minutes and now I am much happier and get to read things I really care about in a timely manner.

So, now you go do it too. Go sign up with Feedly and import your GReader subscriptions and settings with one click and clean house and have a happy RSS reading future. Because you’re a good person and you deserve it. Besides, look how cute the little goodbye they made for GReader is!

*: This is actually patently untrue. I am an early-adopter by nature. My Twitter is more than six years old, my Tumblr will be five in November, and I make sure to namesquat every single new social media that launches just in case. I was slow to GReader, but loyal.

christmas 2010 in the can

Christmas is over! And I am bummed.

I am not 100% bummed. I mean, I love Christmas. I’m an atheist that loves Santa and all things Christmas (except Jesus, obviously) and spent most of my adolescence wishing I was Jewish, so I am a big fan of the winter holidays. But Christmas was basically a bust this year.

I ate some food and got some presents and had some good times, but I never felt the wintery-Christmas-sparkle and then BAM it was over. Lame. And it happens EVERY YEAR and yet every year I am surprised. Two thumbs, not so good with learning, etc etc.

Anyway, whatever, here’s some disjointed bullshit:

I am nothing if not really good at doing the same shit everyone else is doing!

But it’s SPACE, you guys. I would take a space flight even if they GUARANTEED that I would die on reentry. I mean, SPACE, guys. SPACE. Sending my name up is a pretty okay facsimile of space-travel-importance. It’s at least as good as going all the way through astronaut training and then not making the final launch team. BASICALLY. Self-aggrandizement is my 2k11 resolution numero uno.

 

A bunch of people are using their new Facebook ~photostream~ to express friendly/jovial sentiments. Or that thing where they break their face into pieces. I am not into either of those things.

 

Dyed my hair right before Thanksgiving and heard, “You look like a mermaid” three different times. I felt distinctly cartoonish and it took me three days to figure out that I was reminding myself of Sailor Neptune. Yeeeeeeeah! I think I have seen one half of one Sailor Moon episode in my entire life, but whatever, whatever, I DO WHAT I WANT.

 

Favorite new picture of my favorite person on the earth. She is getting peed on by a tree.

 

I have a couple of funny/interesting/whatever things to say that I have scribbled down in a notebook, but I am not feeling the focus to turn them into full-fledged words. Mostly all I am interested in right now is laying in bed and sleeping and not having to do anything except stay in blankets. I am like Scrooge McDuck if instead of swan-diving into a vault of coins, it was just a great big pile of dogs and blankets and he never surfaced for air.


(I would like to point out that this atrocious font is called “Thug” and 1. That’s racist 2. That’s stupid, and 3. I had to mouse-draw the plus and equal signs because they were just dots in the font. Like, wtf, thugs can’t math? Thugs need not plus and equal signs? RACIST, FONT, RACIST.)

 

I will, however, briefly talk about how “This Time of the Year” by Brooke Benton and “Little Saint Nick” by the Beach Boys are great Christmas songs that INFURIATE me because “Christmas always comes this time of the year” and “Christmas comes this time of year” are the two most idiotic lyrics to ever occur in holiday music. NO SHIT IT ALWAYS HAPPENS AT THIS TIME OF THE YEAR THAT IS WHEN CHRISTMAS HAPPENS. Christmas has been happening for like MANY YEARS NOW and for most of those it has been happening on December 25th. I THINK WE GOT THAT SHIT ON LOCK, SONGWRITERS. Sort it out.

Anyway:

Merry Belated Whatever-The-Fuck! Merry Past-Tense Ballsmas!


on anxiety and dining room tables

Lately I have been experiencing an increased amount of anxiety.

I’m not talking like, clinical, medical, diagnosed anxiety which is somehow at a level higher than normal. I am talking about the actual feeling of anxiety that all people experience at one point or another. Granted, I’ve had panic attacks for most of my life and I should probably be diagnosed and medicated, but since I have not and am not, I am more comfortable talking about it as an emotional reaction. Even if my emotions are reacting to nothing.

So, again, for the past week I’ve been experiencing some heightened anxiety levels. I haven’t had a panic attack thus far, but my sleep patterns are more screwed up than they normally are (I keep a weird schedule during the summer, usually staying up until 3-5am and then sleeping ’til noon-ish). I have been napping during the day or evening or sleeping for two or three hours at a reasonable time (10 0r 11pm) and then getting up and staying up for many hours, then sleeping in midday. I either sleep fitfully or like the dead, no in between, and I can’t figure out how to eat in a way that doesn’t make me miserable. I’ve been crying (at stupid things! LIKE SAD CATS) and having some problems regulating my breathing and just generally not feeling well at all.

Something is clearly up.

The other day, I was lying in bed watching some… Homes of the Rich and Tasteless style show and they were showing this HUGE house in Malibu overlooking PCH and it was enormous and so… empty. And I started legitimately panicking at the thought of trying to fill up that space with my life. And how I don’t have very many friends and how a house that big would be so wasteful. And while talking to my girlfriend about it, I realized that there’s an emotional connection between being unable to physically fill a home and emotionally fill a home and blah blah blah it all makes sense, but still. I had to fend off a panic attack over some house on TV that I have no desire nor ability to ever live in. That’s the epitome of crazy, right there.

Tonight I was working my way through my Google Reader load and I had about three dozen tabs open beside it (I read through the whole set of posts, then clear through the tabs one by one, usually compiling blog/tumblr posts and emails for my girlfriend/dad/sister.) and I just started panicking intensely about all of these THINGS in front of me and I started shaking and I had to go splash my face with water and sit on the toilet to calm down.

I’ve talked about it briefly before, but I have a truly awful, unstable memory. I cannot retain more than three ideas at a time (not joking. at all.) and I have to take lots and lots of notes just to be able to function through bullshit daily tasks like internetting and blogging, let alone primary needs and work (my novel) and school. My memory plays an enormous role in my issues with anxiety. I am constantly freaking out about forgetting even simple, unimportant things and being unable to remember what I wanted to do, sometimes from one moment to the next, is… It’s embarrassing. And miserable. And depressing. And frustrating and exhausting and STRESSFUL.

I forget whether I’ve accomplished tasks. I forget what tasks I am supposed to do. My mom or dad or sister or girlfriend can ask me to do something for them, something as simple as grabbing a glass of water or checking something on the internet, and I will, in just a matter of moments (usually the ones I am using to complete a task before I can turn to theirs) forget ENTIRELY that they asked me to do something for them.

I cannot remember shit.

Compounding my memory issues and exascerbating my anxiety is multi-tasking. I am CONSTANTLY multi-tasking. I cannot remember the last time I only had one tab open in Firefox and even when it’s down to two or three, I am rapidly moving from site to site, tab to tab, trying to stay up to the minute on all of the ~social media~ feeds I follow. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, GReader, Flickr, boards, blogs. My email is always set to pop immediately upon receipt of a message. Texts are frequent, instant, constant. Phone calls, follows, mentions.

I love the internet and I love the availability and speed at which it brings even the most inane information straight to my eyeballs, but it’s making me insane. It’s making me anxious.

Since I made this bed for myself, I am trying to find more survivable ways to lie in it.

STEPS FOR MY INTERNET SURVIVAL:

1. Chill out. The information isn’t going to go away.
2. You are not at a place in your internet presence where you have deadlines. Appreciate that.
3. TAKE NOTES. You keep papers and pens around you at all times, use them. TextEdit and Word are always open, USE THEM.
4. Stop forsaking your book (YOUR REAL JOB) for the internet.
5. It is always okay to step away for awhile.

My anxiety is manageable. I learned a trick from my dad when I was just a kid that still works: NINTENDO. NES used to do magical things for him when his anxiety was unchecked and Wii does the same unbelievably simple job. MarioKart requires zero brain cells. And if I just keep remembering to CALM THE FUCK DOWN, I’ll probably make it out of my twenties alive.

ANYWAY. Now that I talked all serious-like about my anxiety, I can talk about what I really want to and that is:

The idea of buying real furniture, like the kind that doesn’t require significant assembly, but does require delivery by people in large trucks, freaks me the FUCK OUT.

The idea that, at some point in the relatively near future, people are going to expect me to go into a store and pick out some SERIOUS FURNITURE that I am going to have to live with for… years that is going to cost me a whole bunch of money and require a place in which to put it? That’s fucked up! Dining rooms?! How is that a thing? How do adults do this shit? I am only TWENTY-FIVE. Ikea and milk crates and paying for concert tickets instead of putting money into a savings account. THOSE ARE THINGS I UNDERSTAND. Adulthood and mortgages and OH GOD I AM GOING TO HAVE TO FIND A JOB.

This is some serious bullshit.

Not ready, world. YOU HEAR THAT. I AM NOT READY.