Categories
Uncategorized

AMV: I got fired so I watched anime, fell asleep, and woke in a new world

You can watch the video here. This was one of two submissions to Anime Boston 2022 in the other category. It was accepted as a finalist and won Best of Show. I will discuss the video here in text, but if you do not like reading you can watch a retrospective here. Credits to long time friend of the show Patrick Skehill (of Quixotic United) for his technical advice and beta testing and Chuck for holding the camera for one shot.

Ultimately, this video is the logical progression from my last live-action-AMV mix up: April 15, 2019. If you make one video with live action shots and then you cut in anime, the inverse would be to take anime and cut in live action shots.

The first thing I needed to do for this project was get a camera. I thought I would get something cheap, and while that may have worked, I figured it was good opportunity to get something decent as there may be future live action projects. This turned out to be a good call as I ended up needing some of the advanced camera features to get the green screening just right. I went with a Canon EOS M50 with a EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens. Once I got that there was a lot of work involved getting the green screen to work. I initially only had some photography lights. These were wholly insufficient. I had to get three new LED lamps. Once I got the lights, along with fiddling with the camera settings (iso:640, shutter speed: 80, and aperture 3.2) things started to look good. This took me about a month. What I found especially helpful was this video. There are a bunch of minor issues you will not notice on a close viewing, like me having the green screen light spill onto me or the LED lights reflecting in my glasses, but overall it is good enough for government work. Once I had that all sorted I could go into full production.

I pretty early on wanted to start the video with me being fired and then drowning my sorrows by watching anime. As an aside, I was not actually fired in real life as some people have asked. I had actually hoped for a much longer intro referencing the previous video, but I only had so much time I could dedicate to just live action so I had to trim it down to the bones. I was allowed a maximum of five minutes or 300 seconds. Since 75% has to be anime that leaves only 75 seconds worth of live action. Initially I thought I would get transported into just one anime (tentatively Bubblegum Crisis), but in doing some initial poking around I figured this would be very difficult. It can be easy to find a few scenes that work in any anime, but I was going to have an uphill battle to find four minutes worth of scenes that worked in one anime. Especially in a short OVA series like Bubblegum Crisis. It is also a rather niche series at the moment. I suppose it is my MO to use old anime, but I did want to have a wide selection of anime so that there was something for everyone to enjoy. Likely though that is still just going to be people who like anime from before the 2000s. This ultimately is why I went with the current framework of jumping from anime to anime.

Production wise I would split my work up over days. I knew I had plenty of time (since I started in April 2021) so I never killed myself working like I did with April 15th. Ultimately this project was much less demanding man-hour wise. One day I would spend an hour or two finding anime clips and building up my live action shot list. Then the next day I would record and bring the clips into my editor (Adobe Premiere) to arrange them and then into After Effects to key the green screen out. This took a couple months on and off, but progress was pretty steady. There were a couple action shots that were hard to get the angle right on and some shots I had difficulty keeping myself in frame, but for the most part it was pretty smooth sailing. I would say overall the shooting took a few months to complete, but again I was never working on it every waking day like I did with April 15th.

Interestingly I did most of the video before I had the music picked out. I would just put completed shots in a rough order. It was only when I brought the music in that I could hit the beats by trimming or lengthening certain scenes. For the music I wanted something retro-like. Something like it sounded from the 80s. I first thought I wanted an exactly four minute song: one minute of live action (or so) and four minutes of anime set to music. It was a late revelation that I could cut the song early. I am not particularly musically inclined, but Gloria by The Midnight fits the bill nicely.

A quick note on the title, I had wanted: “I got fired so I watched anime, fell asleep, and woke up in a new world”, but Anime Boston has a 70 character limit on titles, so I had to go with the current title which is not perfect, but comes in at 68 characters.

Overall, I am very happy on how things turned out. This project lacks the emotional connection April 15 does, and it is not the most logically consistent, but it is fun and unique. I do hope it inspires others to create live action and anime mixups. That said, I think this is the end of the live-action-AMVs for me. I am not sure what more can be done. I do have other AMV ideas though.

Categories
Uncategorized

Five Years At NetNumber

As tradition dictates, with another year passed I again return to the blog to summarize the time. In a break with tradition I am just going report what comes to mind and not break it down into different categories like I have done before.

I am pretty happy with last year. It is nice to be out and about again, after almost two years of isolation. ConnectiCon 2021 in September was my first convention back and I forgot somewhat how much I missed the steady flow of conventions throughout the year. I brought a new panel to that convention: Does Star Trek Porn Make Good Star Trek, and it was well received. I am hoping to run the same panel this year at ConnectiCon and hopefully other conventions. As far as other panels go, I have a few ideas percolating that I hope get accepted.

I completed a very ambitious live action AMV this year. There will be a larger blog post about it soon, in addition to a video retrospective, but suffice to say I am quite chuffed with how it turned out. I do think it however marks the end of my foray into live action AMVs, as I do not see how to go from here, but it was a fun journey none the less. Luckily, I have plenty other live-action-less ideas to pursue.

My gun collecting has slowed a little compared to last year. I suspect I am becoming more discerning about what I get. There is a still price point I will buy anything (sub $200), but at the high end I seem to be buying less. It has not helped that the market seems to have risen quite a bit in the past few years as well. Regardless, I still acquired a number of cool new pieces last year ( C96, Dreyse 1907) with more on the way this year. I am also hoping to get into some more active shooting sports (like clay or skeet). Something more active than target shooting.

On the topic of guns, I have a number of projects I am hoping to get to this year. My C96 requires repair, so I need to find someone who can do that, having failed to fix it myself. I also need to do some more research on my Vetterli, since something is not right with the cartridges I loaded for it. Finally, I am hoping to get through a couple of the firearms history books that have been sitting around here for too long. Most notably Jonathan Ferguson’s book on British bullpups and Neil Aspinshaw’s book on the Martini-Henry.

On a final note, I have been doing a lot of paid online surveys via Prolific. It is generally very small money, but it is oddly satisfying and I can make an extra hundred a month doing them. A strange development to be sure.

Ultimately, not a whole lot went on last year, but it was still a pretty good year none the less.

Categories
Uncategorized

AMV: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

This was one of three submissions to ConnectiCon XVIII (2021) and one of two submissions to Anime Boston 2020, both in the action category. Sadly neither submission made it to the finals. You can watch it here.

You can thank the podcasters on Blank Check who, during their discussion of this film, speculated on how cool it would be to set this film to Toxic by Britney Spears. I agreed and thus you have the AMV you see before you.

I really like how this AMV came out, but it did underperform in the sense that it never became a finalist. Still I love the combination of the two and I had a great deal of fun making it.

Director’s Commentary:

0:14-0:16: I love the cut during the high note to show just how big this Ohmu is. I hope to use that trick more going forward.

1:25 – 1:37: I never really knew what to put here, so I went with the flashbacks from the movie.

1:37 – 1:50: I never really liked this part underneath the forest. It seems long and not a lot happens. The strongest parts of the AMV come after this section.

2:53: I love the tank firing lining up with the music.

3:11-3:12: I needed an extra beep of the Ohmu feet advancing so I had to loop this clip which you can notice if you are paying a lot of attention.

Categories
Uncategorized

AMV: Sherlock Hound

This was one of three submissions to ConnectiCon XVIII (2021) and was a finalist in the FMV contest in the comedy category. You can watch it here.

Originally I wanted to take the comedy song “Wassup Holmes” and set it to Sherlock Hound, but after watching the anime I figured it was not going to work. I love the song, but I just could not find the clips in the anime to make it work. I therefore started to look for funny songs about detectives as I still wanted to make something. Luckily I found the Sherlock Holmes musical which fits nicely into the anime in an ironic fashion.

Overall, I am happy with how it turned out. It is not my favorite AMV, but it is humorous in parts and it was fun to make.

Director’s Commentary:

00:00 – 00:06: I like this intro, it helps set the stage for the tone of the whole AMV. I recall struggling a while to find what would work here.

00:25: I love the exploding flask scene. Just one of many with a great reaction from Watson.

00:42: I froze the face on this attacking guy because the lips flaps are distracting. It is noticeable if you look closely. I still think it was worth doing.

1:17 – 1:20: I never could get the timing on this right. You want Sherlock to hit the ground on the final beat, which I do achieve, but the preceding bumps our out of sync with the beat so it is a bit disjointed.

1:39: I love the cut to this person’s concerned face, but this clip could use a little more motion. Now a days I would add a subtle zoom in on the face.

2:06: The high note here timing up with the last of the trap spikes is probably the best section in this AMV.

Categories
Uncategorized

Four Years at NetNumber

As tradition dictates, as a year passes I must reflect.

What Did I Learn This Year?

  1. Old cartridges are tricky to load. I continued my love affair with archaic cartridges by loading and shooting 11mm Chassepot. This is a good example of an early mass produced cartridge and while I still have some ways to go with my loading practice, I am generally satisfied with how it turned out.
  2. Reading is fun. I made substantial progress on my book backlog this year. With the need to commute greatly reduced I have been able to carve out a good amount of time each day to work on reading all the books I said I would. Included in this is all the manga I never had time to read before.
  3. Cooking. I have never been a particularly accomplished cook, but I have been broadening both my palate and skills by means of a meal delivery service. It is certainly convenient to select meals and have meals delivered, but you do pay a premium for that convenience.
  4. Computer building. I built a new computer this year, which was logistically difficult given the GPU shortage, but fun. Things did not work for my first go of it, but careful disassembly and reassembly resolved whatever gremlin was lurking. After that it was pretty much smooth sailing. I will be keeping my eye on VR headsets so I can see what the deal with those are.

What Am I Looking To Explore This Year?

  1. I bought a fancy camera I hope to film with this year. I am looking to fiddle with some live action stuff, but I do not have any set plans yet.
  2. More panels. I took the extended lockdown to create some more panels. I am looking to present them this year.
  3. Conventions. I am looking forward to get back to the convention game after a whole year of no conventions.

What did I Fail at This Year?

  1. Lawnwork. I just cannot be bothered.
Categories
Uncategorized

Loading 11mm Chassepot

Introduction

As a continuation of my series on reloading archaic cartridges I am going to discuss loading 11mm Chassepot ammo today. The Chassepot is a French breech-loading needle fire bolt action rifle from the 1860s. Although not as much of a revolution as the earlier Dreyse rifle it evolved from, it still represents an interesting bridge between muzzeloading rifles and bolt actions. It loads via the breech and fires a unique paper cartridge using a long thin “needle” to pierce the paper and hit a percussion cap igniting the main power charge. it fires a rather typical for the time 11mm bullet.

Obviously, given the age of this rifle and the unique ammo it uses, no commercial loadings are available. We must (literally) roll our own. As always you do this at your own risk. I am not an expert.

What You Need

  1. A bullet mold. I went with Accurate 46-365C, which is a reproduction of the original bullet.
  2. Black Powder FFg
  3. A 7/16 inch diameter dowel
  4. A 1/4 inch diameter dowel
  5. Basic white glue
  6. Cardboard (about 1/4 inch thick)
  7. CCI Four-Wing Musket Caps, although I suspect any caps will do.
  8. Some thick packing paper, like this.
  9. Basic white printer paper (optional based on how you want to load)
  10. Toothpicks for spreading glue

Pre-Loading Steps

  1. Get your bullets either by buying a similar bullet or casting your own. Wikipedia says the original loading used a 386 grain bullet with an 11mm diameter.
    1. I used Lee Alox Bullet Lube to lube these as there is no lube groove.
  2. Measure the length of your Chassepot chamber using the 1/4inch dowel.
    1. Close the bolt and put the dowel in until you feel it touching the exit point of the needle on the bolt. Mark the dowel at the muzzle end
    2. Open the bolt, put in the bullet you are using as far as it will go (you may need to use the dowel to push it in deep).
    3. Put your dowel back in and mark where it stops.
    4. You should now have two marks on your dowel that represent the overall length of the cartridge you are trying to make. Using the accurate bullet I got an overall length of 3.094 inches.
    5. Using a bullet you will be loading with mark on the dowel the maximum length of the cartridge, minus the length of your bullet (my bullet measured at almost exactly 1″). This represents the length of the powder charge. I got 2.059 inches.

The Loading Process

The loading process will take some time and it does require a bit of finesse. I based my process on these two posts and this video.

  1. Make a powder tube
    1. Measure and cut out a 48mm by 80mm rectangle on your packing paper. This is based on the original cartridge diagram here.
    2. Use your 7/16 inch dowel to roll the paper into a tube. You want the tube to be 80mm tall. Ultimately we want a 12mm diameter tube. The 7/16 inch dowel + the width of my paper got me 12mm, but you may have to add duct tape to your dowel to increase the diameter of the resulting tube.
    3. Right before the two sides of the paper touch, glue the inner edge and complete the roll.
  2. Create an end cap for the tube. The original design uses a paper star, but I deviated here as its very had to get the star in place correctly.
    1. Punch out some cardboard discs for the end cap. Ideally this will match the diameter of the tube (12mm), but I only had a 7/16 punch so I used that.
    2. Apply glue to the the wings of the percussion cap. You can either gently dip the cap into your glue or use a toothpick
    3. Glue the cap, wings down, onto the cardboard.
  3. Apply a thin layer of glue to the inner bottom of the powder tube.
  4. Put the tube over the end cap, gluing the end cap (with its percussion cap) to the bottom of the tube.
  5. Using your measuring dowel, mark on the tube the maximum length it can be. This will be the total overall cartridge length minus the length of the bullet you are using.
  6. Fill the tube with black powder up to your mark.
    1. The original loading was 86.4 grains. I have seen as low as 66 grains. I ended up with 75 grains FFg.
    2. Compact the powder as best you can. If you have a drop tube you can use that. I crushed the powder with a dowel. You may wish to drill a 1/2 inch diameter hole in a block of wood to hold your tube straight while you crush the powder. You do not want the tube to break.
    3. If you powder is compact, but you still have space remaining add a filler like cream of wheat or poly fill to take up the extra space.
  7. Add another cardboard disc to top off the powder tube.
  8. The original design calls for the remaining powder tube to be twisted close and the excess trimmed. I had difficulty twisting the paper I used so I cut most of the remainder off leaving just enough to glue closed the top.
  9. Cut out a bullet wrap using the plain printer paper.
    1. I took the measurements from the original diagram
  10. Put the bullet at one end up wrap (the shorter side facing up) and wrap the bullet in paper. You should get a cone of sorts. Glue the ends together
  11. Combine the bullet with paper cone and the powder tube.
    1. The original diagram has these two parts tied together with the tie happening just under the cardboard disc you topped the tube off with. I had difficulty with this part as my string was either too big or too weak. I continue to investigate other options, but for now I just glued the edges of the cone to the tube

Alternatively, you can skip steps 8 through 11 and just cram a bullet in on top, folding the the top of the tube down to hold the bullet in place. This is the most expedient method, but you must be sure the bullet does not separate from the powder charge. Space between black powder and the bullet can be dangerous.

You now should have a cartridge that is the exact overall size you measured on your dowel. I recommend building a couple test cartridges without black powder (I used corn grits instead). If you get the length wrong the needle will not hit the cap. If you get the tube size wrong then the cartridge will not insert all the way.

Final Product

If you attempt to match the original design with the paper cone (steps 8-11) you should get something like this:

If you go with the expedient solution, you get something like this:

Shooting Results

I had mixed results. If I could get the round inserted and the bolt closed I got 100% ignition. Accuracy seems fair for a 150 year old rifle with a group of several inches at 50 yards. Occasionally not all the paper would clear the chamber and I would be left with some burnt crumbs, but usually nothing major.

That said, about 50% of my rounds fail to chamber. I usually end up with the bolt stuck with about a quarter of an inch to go. I suspect my cartridges are right on the edge of the correct size and as the chamber fouls I run out of space.

As a final note, if you are going to shoot your Chassepot I recommend replacing the bolt’s obturator and needle. If your rifle still has its obturator it has most likely hardened over the years and will be ineffective. Your needle may still work, but I would not risk having it break as I have heard they are prone to do. You can find replacement obturators and needles via Naah Tool Works.

Next Steps

I need to figure out why so many of my cartridges end up just a bit too long or too wide. To that end I need to figure out how to get more consistent paper tubes. I also want to experiment with some slightly smaller dowels and thinner paper to see if that helps.

You can follow the discussion at NorthEastShooters.

Categories
Uncategorized

Three Years at NetNumber

As tradition dictates, as a year passes I must reflect.

What Did I Learn This Year?

  1. Reloading archaic cartridges. In the previous year I had reloaded some fairly modern cartridge to prove out the process (30-40 Krag, 45-70 Government, 7.35 Carcano). This year I loaded .577/450 Martini–Henry and 7.5mm 1882 Ordnance. The 7.5 is pretty straightforward, but the Martini-Henry was a step above that and I am very happy I was able to make a number of rounds that worked flawlessly.
  2. WordPress. I am happy to move on from the old “GhandiBlog” to the sleek and modern wordpress platform. It is a little more pricey, but I have so much more control and way better tools.

What Am I Looking To Explore This Year?

  1. I am looking to continue to grow my panel catalog. For the last two years I have run a panel at ConnectiCon (and this year for the first time at Arisia) on firearm history and federal law. I am looking to create and run more panels this year. Although, given the lack of conventions this year, that may prove to be difficult.
  2. A new computer/VR. My old rig has been limping along for a few years now and I think it is time to take the plunge and upgrade it. I also would like to take the opportunity to get into VR, if only to play Half Life: Alyx.
  3. Books. I have a healthy audiobook/podcast habit, but I am looking to start working down some of the physical books collecting dust on my bookshelves.
  4. Oddball AMV ideas. I certainly cannot win any awards doing something conventional so I have to go for the weird angle.

What did I Fail at This Year?

  1. The downstairs bathroom is still unfinished. I did tear out the carpet though.

Conclusion

Not a whole late has changed from last year. I am not sure if that is concerning or not. Part of me thinks that is fine as I am certainly enjoying the day to day, but the other part of me thinks that is concerning as I should be trying new things.

Categories
Uncategorized

AMV: Mobile Suit Jox

This was one of my submissions to Anime Boston 2020. It was not a finalist. Watch it here.

Robot Jox is a 1990s movie about robot “Jox” who pilot giant mechs to resolve territorial disputes. It makes a natural pairing with Mobile Suit Gundam as the conflict between Amuro and Char nicely parallels the conflict of the main characters in Robot Jox. This was an interesting project for me as it was the first time I did a trailer AMV. 90% of this project was straightforward as I just had to match up the trailer footage with scenes from Gundam. That said, there were some tough bits. In particular I had difficulty matching up the lip flaps for a few scenes where characters talk in the trailer.

Overall, I am pretty happy with how it turned out.

Director’s Commentary:

00:00 : I really like how the trailer intro turned out as I got to fill it with a bunch of Gundam specific jokes. I went with a red R style instead of the classic green just to be different. The actual movie is rated PG.

00:19 – 00:21 : A rather famous scene from Mobile Suit Gundam which is a bit of an injoke for fans.

00:29 – 00:30 : I spent a lot of time trying to get this to sync with the trailer audio. I think it is the weakest part of the AMV, but it does work.

00:48 : This particular scene shows up many times in Gundam so I was lucky to find a good spot in the trailer where the audio syncs up so I could use it.

1:04 – 1:05 : In the trailer, the noise is from a giant chainsaw. It was hard to find something that works given Gundam’s futuristic setting. I think this is fine, but I would have liked something better.

1:05 : Shout out to Mr. Skehill, long time fan of the show, for correctly identifying the episode this laugh occurs in so I could use it here.

1:13 – 1:15 : This scene actually ends about half a second too earlier for me. I could have stretched it out, but it would have messed up the audio sync. Luckily I was able to copy that half second from the beginning of the clip and it all worked out.

1:16 – 1:17 : I never liked this scene transition, it always seemed too abrupt.

Categories
Uncategorized

One Year at NetNumber

It has been one year of full employment at NetNumber, which means the
revival of the year
retrospectives!

What Did I Learn This Year?

1. Being more efficient programming in Java. Now that my job requires me to
care more about efficiency in the Java language I have picked up a couple new
tricks in this area. Chief amongst them is thread
locals
which are a bit verbose to use, but helpful. I also am getting
better at working with threads which still bend my mind on occasion.

2. I have an expensive gun fetish. It seems I realized this year I I could
buy guns and just like that I went on a bit of a buying spree with an eye
towards many more acquisitions. I think this newfound love is driven by two
factors. One, I have a thing for old rifles which (since they are not making
them anymore) means the stock is always being reduced and the price always
going up. Better to get them now before they get more expensive. Two, the legal
situation may make it so some pieces may be harder to find (e.g. AR-15s) which
again means I should get them while I have a chance. And of course with all
these nice pieces I need a place to use them which lead to me joining a local
shooting club. It is nice, but I wish the range went out farther than ~100
yards. I would like to try some long range shooting at some point. Furthermore,
it would be a shame to have my rights further restricted, so I have joined all
manner of gun advocacy groups (GOA, NRA, GOAL) to protect what I have now. It
remains to be seen how long this expensive affair will go on, but I am enjoying
it so far.

3. I can win AMV awards! This was a
pleasant surprise, especially for such a high profile convention, but I am a
bit baffled about the disconnect between the AMVs I like and the ones that
actually win awards. My tastes may be too eclectic for mainstream appeal. I am
not sure if AMV hipsters exist, but I am happy to pioneer a new subculture.
That said, I plan to keep experimenting and hopefully find a happy medium.
Expect more progress in this area this year.

4. I can work on cars. I have joined a Lemon’s team and we have been working
feverishly for almost a year to get our car ready to race. We should be ready
for our first race in August, but I will not feel comfortable about it until
our car is actually running. That said, I have learned quite a bit about cars
and with that knowledge I feel a lot more confident about conducting repairs.
Luckily for me aside from needing some maintenance and basic repairs my daily
drivers keeps on trucking. I do hate how dirty cars become though. I go through
a lot of gloves when I work.

What Am I Looking To Explore This Year?

1. Ammo reloading. This is mostly as a way to save money as some of the
pieces I shoot can be pretty expensive ($1.70 a round for 30-40 Krag for
example), but I also like the idea of being able to reload what I shoot from a
self sufficiency perspective. This also has some interesting offshoots like
forming your own bullets or brass. For now I have acquired a book and I will be
looking for some local classes so I have a good sense of what I am doing before
investing in some equipment.

2. Some oddball AMV ideas. I have some ideas which are a bit out there as
far as my next AMVs go. I am not sure how that will help me win any more
awards, but they should be different from the usual fare if nothing else.

3. Home improvements. I am looking to tear the carpet up from my lower floor
bathroom in order to make it a little less awful. I also need to do some work
on the shower in there too as the lining is cracked and peeling. The yard also
reminds a bit of a sore spot. I half want to make it very nice and half do not
care. We shall see how it goes this year.

4. Cooking. I have grown a bit tired of my usual recipes. I need to branch
out and find some new flavors. I hoping to solicit some simple recipes from
people I know.

5. Video game development. I keep thinking about video games I would like to
make myself, but I keep not doing anything about it. I hope this is the year I
carve out some time to do some experimenting. I am thinking using unity would
be a good start as it seems pretty feature rich and free.

What did I Fail at This Year?

1. Saving money. Despite my grand plans I am not saving as
much money as I thought. Between unexpected house costs, my gun hobby, and our
race car my savings rate has slowed. This is kind of concerning because I do
want to retire by 40 still, but I also want to invest in my hobbies. It seems
that the hobbies are winning for now, but I am disappointing a bit by my lack
of will to save. I shall think on this.

2. Civil War Reenacting. I keep wanting to do this, but I keep delaying
looking into it. I think this might be the year since it pairs nicely with my
gun habit and new found willingness to spend money on my hobbies.

3. Blog writing. Nuff said.

In summary, I had a really good year. I will work to make this year even
better.

Categories
Uncategorized

Three Years at Oracle

Today is the third year of my full time employment by Oracle. And with that
I say hello to Oracle’s one and only longevity perk: five more days of paid
time off a year. Jokes on them though because I rarely take it. Long time
readers of the blog will remember last year’s post on the subject and even longer
readers will remember my first
post about this

Let us review the year.

What Did I Learn This Year?

1. I am addicted to process. I hope to write more about this, but the short
of it is I find myself getting mired in why something happened and how we can
prevent it. Which is helpful in a small way, but in conflict with the guiding
principle of all workers
: getting things done.

2. My patience is growing shorter along with my temper. It may just be a
function of the quantity of work we have left on the project I contribute to,
but I find myself with a shorter and shorter amount of patience each day. The
end result is terser conversations, less guiding hands, and more links to the
development guide.

3. I have a better, if still incomplete, sense of how large scale
applications are built. Before I understood only pieces of the whole. Now, with
another year of experience, I have a much broader and holistic view of the app.
The benefit here is knowing where to put code, not just what to put.

4. The money is in management, but the passion is in engineering. This is
the second year I have split my engineering time with management time.
Management is a lot harder. In some ways, this is frustrating as I much prefer
to be programming compared to making slide decks or charts. On the other hand,
helping keep three sites supplied with relevant work and pushing a project
forward is an interesting challenge. I am not ready to hang up my still shiny
programming spurs just yet, but I understand now why managers make more money
than the people they manage.

What Am I Looking To Explore This Year?

1. Different conventions. Last year we went to DragonCon for this first time
and it was awesome. I want to broaden our horizons and check out some other,
perhaps further away conventions.

2. My investments. I made steady progress this year increasing my
investments. I continue to work with Betterment and I have happily broken the five
figure mark. It is that sixth figure that will be my next challenge. It is hard
to say how much this is helping my ultimate plan, but it certainly
is the right path.

3. Small film projects. Last year I
made my first AMV
which was quite fun, but simplistic. I want to try and
make a few more things this year, AMV or otherwise.

4. Improve my technical skills. Like every year, and like every programmer,
I must continue to improve my technical skills. This year, I am less interested
in the technology and more interested in the design or architecture. To be
sure, I must continue to learn the tools I have at my disposal, but using tools
without purpose is inefficient. I must concentrate on learning how to build
large scale apps so that I can be judicious about the code I write (or need to
write at this point).

Things I Failed at This Year

1. Buying a house. For a second year I remain houseless. This is causing me
increasing consternation, but I remain committed to this campaign. It just may
be I will not find the house that meets my exacting specifications so I must
learn to compromise on some parts or be without home for a very long time.

2. Car maintenance. My car runs fine, and I do change the oil when I should,
but I cannot dodge the feeling that I should be doing more. Everything is still
working, but I feel like I am missing something and it will all fall apart on
me. For sure, the brakes will need to be replaced soon, but how soon is the
part that is vexing me.

3. Writing more for the blog. There are a number of topics I want to
pontificate on, I just need to settle down and get writing.