What Went Wrong?

I’m about to go to bed and it’s not looking good for Clinton. Maybe it’s too early for a postmortem, and I hope this post looks silly in the morning, but even if Clinton does pull this out some how, it’ll still be too close against a candidate like Trump. The block of voters that will cost Clinton this election will be white working class voters. In the coming days there will be a lot of liberals calling these voters racists, sexists, misogynists, etc. While I agree that Trump probably has the racist and sexist vote locked up, I don’t think that’s what driving these voters to Trump. If anything, a majority of these people are holding their noses to vote for vile individual.
 
So what went wrong? As much as Clinton supporters and surrogates talked up her experience, I think her particular experience is the problem for Clinton. I’m not talking about Benghazi or emails, that’s not going to swing reliable blue rust belt states on its own. The problem is Clinton’s experience with trade. We already had a preview of this in the primaries when Sanders won Michigan in a big upset over Clinton. While Clinton eventually tepidly came out against the TPP, many saw it as convenient campaign move and not a sincere change of heart. The working class, especially in the rust belt, feel that these huge international trade deals hollow out American jobs largely for the elite and corporate interests. It certainly doesn’t help that Clinton’s ties to Wall Street have been open and cozy.
For a lot of people, this seemed like an easy choice. Vote against the guy who says sexist and racist things. But for people in these hollowed out rust belt communities it ends up being a zero-sum game. By in large I don’t think these are people who are voting for Trump because they hate Hispanics or women, but on their way to their polling places they’re driving by the closed down factory that used to supply most of the jobs in their now impoverished town, and this is where the vaunted experience of Clinton comes back to bite her. Yes she had a voice in her husbands administration for 8 years. Yes she was a senator for 8 years. Yes she was Secretary of State for 4 years. But it’s in those 20 years that these people saw the future of their communities wither and die.  Obviously the problems in the region are much deeper, more complex, and go back even farther, but at the end of the day these voters see Clinton at least involved in the problem and even if they don’t believe Trump is the solution, they’re not going to vote what they consider as a known quantity as part of the problem.
So are there any bright spots to take away from this? I think the brightest spot is that is more of a repudiation of Clinton rather than an endorsement of Trump. We could see a rough four years for Trump, especially in 2018 in the midterms. One thing I want to say to those on the left who are disgusted by what happened tonight is to take the high road in the days to come. While Trump’s election will certainly make a lot of vile people feel more free to say vile things, don’t treat everyone who voted for Trump as one of these people in a blanket fashion. A lot of people had to make a very tough choice and if you think they made the wrong choice, if you demonize and vilify these people you’ll drive the Democratic party out of rust belt for a generation.

Too worried about doing everything to do anything

I don’t know what it is, maybe the new baby has been more stressful that she seems, but depression and anxiety seem to teaming up pretty good on me the past couple of months. I’ve either had trouble motivating myself to do anything at all, or when I can motivate myself to do anything, I quickly get overwhelmed with thoughts of “too much to do” or “I’m not doing enough” that basically paralyze me into doing nothing.

So I’m taking a moment to step back and try to prioritize some things. First of all, I need to remind myself that everything I want to do is basically a hobby. While somethings like the writing have the potential to grow into more, I do currently have a good job and career that I can live with for the most part, so none of my side stuff is vital to put food on the table for my family. First I’ve broken down stuff down into three major categories: electronics and programming, writing, and pure hobby(mostly table top games).

For electronics and programming, I’ve got a couple of big projects I’d like to do. One being a home automation and security system based that would involve a lot of work with micro controllers and the other being a replacement for Plex/Emby. This was an easy decision to back burner. After spending all day at work writing code, coming home to write different code is just a recipe for burnout. On one hand, writing some of my own stuff to put on display might give me more career options, but on the other it’s just not worth it. Programming for fun probably won’t be something I do for a while and maybe not for as long as I’m doing a heavily computer related job. Maybe if I find myself in a management role several years down the line, I might feel the need to scratch that technical itch, but it’s not necessary now.

Writing is basically what I’m committing to for the most part, but I’m changing how I do it. Right now I’ve got random writings covering 4 different story lines across 3 different “universes”. None of it’s very coherent and none of it is anywhere close to be able to be published. A lot for starts and world building, but not enough to really feel accomplished. My first attempt to tackling this was to try to write self contained short stories in the worlds I’ve built just to have something to show for it, but I’d always end up going off on tangents and would wonder off the mark of a short story. So what I’m going to do is write the components of the bigger story, and basically release chapters(probably on this blog) and I write them. Even it nobody reads them, I think it’ll give me a bit of encouragement to have something out in the open and as opposed to the short stories, I won’t have to try to end them. Maybe I’ll eventually tell a whole story and one day be able to edit all the chapters into an actual novel. I’ve got one story line in one world that should lend itself to this kind of story telling very well, so I’m going to live only there for while. Only once I feel I’ve made some good progress and have some stuff on public display will I give myself permission to go back to the other stuff.

Finally, the just for fun hobby stuff. This is my ME time. When I’m not working or writing, I’m either going to spend time with my family or just something just for me. The family time is no issue. I’ve never really had a problem making time for my family, but I do have trouble trying to take time just for me without feeling like I’m wasting time. My favorite of broad hobby categories is table top gaming. This includes board games, RPGs and war games. The war gaming side includes miniature building and painting, but even when I do give myself permission to hobby around with miniature, I think I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. I’ve got Kings of War, Warmachine and Warhammer 40k stuff in the need to build column(luckily my X-Wing, Armada and Attack Wing stuff is ready to play), so I’m going to have to pick one at a tim(probably start with 40k, since it’ll be the easiest to actually find and opponent to play) and set aside an evening a week to work on models and then also have an evening a week or a weekend day where I don’t feel bad about going off to play games.

So there’s my plan. I’ve got a narrow writing goal and will try to write 2 or 3 evening a week and try to get something in the public record. I’ll have 1 or 2 days a week for gaming hobby either playing or modeling or both. Pretty much the rest of the time not at work will be my default mode of spending time with family or completely unwinding with a good TV show or a book. I know writing it all down like that it doesn’t sound like much, but that’s kind of the point. Get it all out of paper as it were so I can put my mind at ease a bit more.

Switched to WordPress

Switched my unread and rarely updated blog over to WordPress. Google seems to have forgotten about Blogger and I expect it to find itself on the receiving end of a Google GTFO message in the next year or so to join the ranks of Google Reader and others. I’m not a fan of switching to PHP software, but there don’t seem to be many good open source blogging platforms.  The only other “big” option seems to Ghost, and I’ll take PHP over nodejs nonsense any day. 

Uh, so a year and a half

Well it looks like I’ve not posted an update here since the end of 2014. Last post was about big changes of the year ending then and I suppose things are going largely the same. A new addition to the family, a baby girl Emma, but otherwise things are going smoothly and samely. Though now that things are stable, I guess there are a few things I’d like to change up in two general areas: get healthy and get creative. 

Let’s start with getting healthy. Of course the two pillars of health are diet and exercise. On the exercise front, I’m never going be at the gym in 26 minutes, but I am trying to at least get a little more active mostly by trying to walk more. Diet is my main problem. I either eat terribly or I try out some strict diet regimen that I’ll realistically never stick too. So I’m just working in a gradual process to move what I eat in general to something more healthy and bring the rest of my family along too. While I don’t drink a lot I’ll probably start preferring red wine over beer(since light beer is never okay) and even that in moderation. I’m not looking to get a “beach body”, but I’d like to drop few pounds and feel a bit better. 
The creative side is mostly about the setting aside of time for myself and doing things that are either directly creative or get me thinking creatively. So that means setting aside time to read, watch movies and good TV, but also stuff around table top war gaming. Between building and painting models, reading back stories, and fighting “imaginary” battle, the hobby actually gets me in a very creative mood. Once I do get my brain in a creative mode, I just need to write more. Whether it’s novels, short stories, world building, or even blogging more, I’m going to write more. 
So I’ve got myself in a place where I’m stable and content, but now I’m going to try to push things forward a bit more to see if I can add feeling accomplished to that list. 

Big Changes to Close Out 2014

As usual when I start a new blog, I made a couple posts and promptly forgot about, but I’ll keep trying. There’s been some pretty big changes for me in the past few months. The biggest change that sort of holds all the other changes is that I’ve moved from the suburbs of Dayton, Ohio to Murfreesboro, Tennessee not far from Nashville.

It started out as dipping my toes in the Nashville job market by being really picky and only applying for one job in the Nashville area. I found a job listed on Indeed for a Linux Systems Engineer position that looked like it offered everything I was looking for in a job and I applied by firing off the generic resume attached to my Indeed account.

I didn’t really expect a whole lot from it. The real plan was to start an intensive job search in early 2015. But a couple calls with the recruiter turned into phone interviews, and then a face to face, and before I knew it, I was hired on at Franklin American Mortgage Company. After a decade working within the DoD, the last two years being in HPC, it’s been a big change of pace, but I’m liking being back out in the real world. With the DoD always being a few years behind the rest of IT world, I’ve been working to get caught back up to 2014. So far so good.

Of course changing jobs was the easy part. Much more difficult was moving the wife and kids down here and then disposing of the old house without going totally broke in the process. We actually moved pretty quickly on buying a house and had one a little over a month from starting my new job. It’s a lot bigger a nicer than our old house, and checks off a lot of boxes on my wife’s “dream house” checklist, so that smoothed over her concerns about moving. Getting rid of the old house was the bigger issue, but we actually got pretty lucky and was only on the market for about two months before selling, which isn’t bad for the Dayton area.

All in all, its been a pretty crazy end to 2014 that’s just starting to calm down. If anything, I think I’m in a great position to start out 2015.

Not Getting Too Comfortable

While I like my job and don’t have any reason to leave it anytime soon, there is a bit of a problem. I’m just a bit too comfortable where I’m at. I get to play with a lot of neat things(despite the issues faced, vSMP is really a cool bit of technology), but they’re in a rather narrow subset(HPC and supporting technology in my case). Of course it’s not a problem unique to me, lots of people comfortable in their little narrow subsets of technology they use at work. I’ve not touched a Windows server in years and barely know PowerShell. I’m just now hearing about docker. I’ve even been missing out on things like Chef and Puppet because I don’t use them at work(and now I’m kicking myself because maybe they could have).

Luckily this realization comes not long after I’ve returned to having a real desktop computer. So I’m putting that spare CPU and RAM capacity(though I could really use about twice as much RAM) to good use with VMs(and even docker in some cases) to get myself acquainted with the latest shiny things in computing. Luckily I’m a student with Dreamspark Premium access, so I’ve even got Windows Server 2012 up and running. I’ll be done “learning” Java for school within the next few weeks and once that’s done it’ll probably be PowerShell. Already messing with docker and getting acquainted with it. In addition to Windows 2012, I’ve also got CentOS 7 and Solaris 11 up and running(okay, not actually running right now, but all I have to do is issue the start command). So I’ve got a lot of catching up to do over the next few months and just have to make sure I don’t let myself get so rusty on everything non-Linux next time.

Making Games

I keep saying I’d like to try to make video games, but since you have to walk before you can run, I always get bored and stop when trying to make some sort of simple games as a stepping stone to the games I actually want to make. I think I’ve found a way to motivate me to make the simple game I usually don’t care about and make a pretty cool gift for my daughter.

My plan is to make a Mario-like 2D platformer that features her as the star. I’m using Godot as the engine and that seems to be working out pretty well. It seems powerful and scriptable enough to let me do what I need to do while at the same time still doing enough of the heavy lifting so I can spend most of my time on the art, sound, and level design. I haven’t quite decided what direction I’m going with those yet. While it will be a fully 2D game(instead of 3D characters moving across the screen in a 2D fashion like some of the newer Mario games), I don’t know if I want to go with or retro 8/16-bit retro look that’s popular on even new platformers these days, or just go with a nice, yet simple modern style. At least I’ve got a couple of weeks before the art work becomes a more pressing issue while I get to know the engine a little better.

I’ll be posting updates and perhaps even milestone builds of the game here for anyone that wants to follow along.

Kuiper-1

I’ve recently been writing again. I tried jumping in with a couple novel length projects I’ve been working on for years, but I seem to be a bit rusty for that. So I’ve been writing small snippets here and there as exercises and yesterday I wrote a short story. The exercise I game myself self was to create a new character and write about and ordinary day. The setting is on a colony/space station in the Kuiper belt, but it’s just and ordinary, so there’s no big heroic deeds or anything like that. While the story itself may be small in scope, I think I like the character I’ve created and might be writing more about him. But anyway, it’s also the first piece of my fictional writing that I’m going to make available publicly. So here it is. The Google Drive formatting isn’t great, so I’ll try to put it up as an epub or something later.

EDIT: Here is a more readable PDF.