Unscramble an Egg

signal to noise: A ratio of internal understandingIt’s a common saying that you can’t unscramble, although it is technically not so true anymore, The saying still metaphorically has a decent amount of weight. It is also where I find myself all too often, scrambled. I spent the first three decades of my life learning to live with the scrambled way my brain functions. And squeeze out productive moments as they arrive. Overthinking, overanalyzing, and internally critiquing anything and everything until the job was done. In fact, I secretly took great pride in the fact that I was able to get by while indulging in my little quirks. I ignored my mental health, I thought it was something other people had to worry about. You know those people, the crazy people. I couldn’t be one of them. I wasn’t crazy, look at all the things I can do, at once. Mental illness is like that. You don’t know you have an issue, because the thing that does the thinking about if you have an issue, is the issue.

I was able to get to school and get through school through sheer force of will and very little studying, all because I was able to distract the busy mind while the learning mind got the job done. I segmented myself into neat little compartments that were all able to work more or less in line. I was able to write papers at the last minute, provided that I had everything in my life arranged in the proper paper writing order. I had internal feelings, not words, for what these compartments did, and how best to interact with them. If I really named them, I would have had to define them. I would have known something was wrong.

I started losing time, I would notice hours had passed without anything getting done, just ruminating, and then everything would happen in an instant. I would have to be everywhere at once just to pass the finish line on time

Shattered silence, a broken glass on the floor.Until one day, the plates I spun, crashed. And I haven’t been the same since. I’m not focusing on the chain of events that led to all those plates spinning out of control, or the mistakes that I personally made along the way. I don’t even wish that I was still spinning, and ignorant of what I was doing to myself. I only wish I had looked for help with my mental health sooner.

I look back at the frantic energy of those years all the wasted momentum going back and forth never finishing anything all the way. Only moving it just forward enough to count. I lament all that wasted energy. I don’t dwell on it, there are new challenges to conquer and new things to do. I’m sharing so that we can break the stigma surrounding mental illness and get mental health funded the way it needs to be. I might not be getting vast amounts done right now. But I feel a sense of calm in my life I have never had before, and I owe it all to fantastic therapy, the love of people around me, and proper medication.

My biggest fear about going into therapy, and then later about trying medication was a loss of creativity, I was afraid I would lose myself. It simply isn’t the case. If anything I have completed more art and enjoyed more of my life since embracing the issues I have, naming my inner demons out loud and getting help fighting them.

I’m still fighting, still working through and to undo all the twists and spins to make progress. There is no winning, just progress.

Is it calm all the time? No, why would it be? Life isn’t built that way, it is one scrambled mess all on its own. But life is able to do what it does, and I can do what I do to get by without getting caught up in the helter-skelter. Just letting you know if you feel scrambled, there are people out there who can help all you have to do is ask.

Shiny Objects

Ever have trouble focusing on tasks. One right after another. I have a million ideas but i only seem to be able to come back to ideas that I’ve written down. So carrying a to do list booklet with me has helped…

But if we are being honest a habit is very hard to break and procrastinating by associating (selectively forgetting to do things) is easier and more addictive than writing good things down.

I started daily sketching habit at the start of the year and so far only one sketch has been late. So that is 175 days of habit built up. But you know if I were to miss tomorrow morning the next day becomes easier the miss… and then you find yourself two years down the road saying “Hey remember when I used to do that sketching thing?”


Distracted thinking


Not sure when this happened but there is an equation. When I’m doing A, I have to do B in order to stay on task. Not sure what I mean? Well here are two examples.

When i’m working on a  really complex programming or higher level problem i need to keep my hands busy to think. I make things. I twist wire; I build small models; I doodle. I have built wire trees, twisted small computer bugs out of Ethernet cords, and carved canoes out of balsa. I usually try to keep some sort of raw materials around my desk because who knows when I will need it.

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Office bonsai. Natural vs fabricated

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When I’m trying to write I need to have music on in the background or the background sounds and conversations take over what I’m trying to write about and the staccato beat of the typing seems all out of sorts. I don’t type in tune to the music or anything. I can’t even touch type, which for a former tech support / computer guy, and current web developer is sort of sad. But functional. Depending on the writing the music differs too. Research or professional paper? any music, creative writing and it needs to be something without words, or the words end up in the writing.

The final piece in the puzzle was Sketchnoting. when I am listening to a talk having the ability to sketch out what is happening instead of randomly doodling helps me listen. By making notes instead of marks and nonsense it helps me focus on what is happening around me.


I can’t be the only one here. Anyone else need to distract themselves to be productive?

Tiny shifts

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Snoopy knows what's up. #streetart #funky

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It is amazing how one big shift in your life ripples into areas you wouldn’t think. I just switched careers. From a tech support role to a design / development role. Honestly something I have been attempting to make happen for a while. I couldn’t be happier with a new set of challenges and problems to face down, but i didn’t think shifting where I walk to after i drive to Temple would change thing like my morning routine, or getting to bed earlier.

But for the first time in 11 + years I’m not on call, I didn’t have any idea how much energy and time I spent focused on support issues, even if there weren’t any after hours. I can now come home, and I’m home… Its a really novel concept.

So in the two weeks I’ve been at the new gig i built a LEGO set I’ve been pushing off I’ve been writing and drawing constantly and I’ve gotten more than 5 hours of sleep on 12 of the 14 days since. And I even opened up the blogging tools and started planning things out. Do I know if this new energy will last? Nope. Do I plan to ride out the wave, hell yes. Here’s to new challenges and new opportunities!

2014 Year in Review

Green-Recycle-Logo-Wallpaper-HDEveryone has their own form of year in review, whether spurned onwards by some sappy TV rewind, a fun Youtube mashup of memes we spent time on this year or a million other little things. It is normal to take stock and move forward.

IMAG0688Resolutions be damned, I again did the three word exercise but that would be getting ahead of myself. Last year I had Action Create and Finish. Summed up did I make the effort to keep moving, and work for what I wanted, did I work on creating and starting new things, and finally did I bring things on home? Did I complete the tasks that I started. No pass or fail grades here its a personal rundown of things I did well and things that still need work. Like balancing a spinning plate on a pole there are always adjustments to be made.

Overall this year was a success, I worked on keeping things fun with the family, the kids grew and became more awesome. But personally I actually did what i set out to do. My overarching goal for the year was getting healthier.

Over the course of the last year I lost and maintained almost 40 pounds off my original weight of 265 lbs. I’m hovering around 225 right now, and still shooting to go lower, healthy would be 180 – 200. I got off my ass and went to the gym, followed a workout program and was stronger and more fit that I have been in almost 15 years.

I made beautiful things and shared them. Some of them got traction others did not. And the best feeling of all I actually got paid to make beautiful things for friends both new and old. That is where I want to be in life.

I became a Cub Master with my son’s Cub Scout pack, still working my way through what that means, and how to make that work for the boys involved I want to make sure that the boys get what they need from scouting and leave all of the politics aside. Scouting should be fun!

Overall the family is happy and healthy and that is what matters! Lets do this thing 2015!

Candles and Their ends

2012-06-18_14-43-32_716My mom used the tell me that I was burning the candle at both ends. Saying that by staying up late and working on too many things I was loosing focus and making the effort in each area less effective. At least that’s what I realize she was saying years after the fact. It’s also a proven fact that your parents are usually right it’s just going to take a while to figure it out.

I still stay up till all hours of the night, still wake up crazy early, about 4 – 5 hours a night is my sweet spot for being deliriously productive.  SO for me it wasn’t the sleep that turned out to be the candle it was the focus. I was trying to do too much without any focus.

IMAG1857It’s funny how motivation needs to be focused. Previously creating content was the easy part and health was the rough patch. Now the tables have turned and I’m focused on being a better me while the content has taken a back seat. It isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a thing.

Hopefully as time moves forward the healthy living will be more of a way things are and less of a conscious choice and struggle. Until then. I take what I can get in terms of motivation and content. Health comes first!


Tempest Fugit, Memento Mori


I love, and hate schedules. On the one hand setting aside time in the morning during / after coffee to write. Not write well, but just to get ideas on paper and thoughts out the door has been helping. But at the same time. Looking into the vanishing point of the future seeing things ordered and scheduled to an nth degree give me a bit of anxiety. That bundle of nerves tangled deep within my chest that tightens like a noose when i order more of my day.

I’d rather not count my food, yet I’m on weight watchers, points and all that. I’d rather not have to list every interaction in work yet I have to justify time with tickets in work. I’d rather not have to have a scheduled time to have coffee, yet here I sit laptop on a glass table and a mug of awesomeness next to me.  I would much rather float on the ebb and flow of a day. Yet I also have a fitbit which counts my every step during the day (currently averaging over 14,000!) The more I focus on the quantified self to more anxious I get. So I push those feelings deep down inside and convince myself that the schedule and the rigid timelines bring about good things. Like a disturbing memory you block away to remove the feeling in the pit of your stomach.


I would like to just float by, But I know that when I do that. Things get missed and time is frittered away. I hate wasting time. Hell just by refusing to sleep like a normal person i gain hours each day. I sleep about 4 or 5 hours a night, so I gain 3 over every person laying in bed for 8. By the end of the week I’ve lived an extra 21 hours. Every 8 days I live an extra day!

So do schedules and structure work for you? Or do you do your best work unfettered?

Small Goals

2013-03-06_16-39-19_187 I Started the year off flipping my usual script. Instead of making vague promises i made declarative statements. Instead of saying I was going to lose weight I focused on doing it the right way. My three words for 2014 are Action, Create and Finish. I started with my food, and signed up for weight watchers online.

During the course of any project there is that one second right before you get to getting that I find myself holding back. This doesn’t happen in work, its only during things i have a personal attachment to. I needed to push past that hesitation, and the results have been amazing.

Just past the halfway part of the year this is what was. 1380394_10101884069456583_78265536_n

I’m still 6’2″ ish, however Previously I weighed in at 265 pounds, a 40 – 42 inch waist and i felt sluggish all the time. My normal push was towards working out hard and then getting my diet under control was a non started i got hungry too quickly. So I focused on my food alone for 2 solid months and got good habits in place before I continued on. Then i hit the gym, easily. Low impact but concentrated effort. I increased steady weight training, and solid cardio with as few gimmicks and fads as possible.

This is what is!

Still the same height, however I’m 232 pounds, 36 inch waist… I haven’t worn 36 inch pants in over 10 years, actually since i was 19. And i’m still going. I want to get down to 200 roughly for my frame and my height. The chart says I should be 185, not sure if that would work for everything else but my next major goal is 220. For some reason I stored away fun t shirts and pants that i thought would never fit me again. Each month I tried on some of the old clothes and more and more of them have been fitting. Each time I get back into a new / old shirt i have a minor jump of joy. Its going to be a good summer.


Might not be an adonis yet… but I’m not a beach ball any longer either. Focus on getting healthy! I hadn’t worn this shirt without issue since 2004… I love this shirt.


My Three Words: 2014

After reading CC Chapman’s Amazing Things Will Happen I tried to do and follow the Three words last year. Rather than normal resolutions you list everything you want to do for the year, and try to distill them into three basic concepts that you can use to drive yourself for the year. Last year was the first year I tried it, and one of the first times I can actually say I followed through for the most part with a resolution, of sorts.

And rather than doing the same thing this year I decided to make so positive changes in the process, something that took me over a month to do last time. 3 Days isn’t so bad. So I give you my Three words… Sketchnote Style!

For me, spending the extra time to draw out the concepts helps fix them in my mind, and work my resolve into a frothy lather. Sketching always clears my head.

Here you go.


Action, Create, and Finish. Simple concepts that honestly represent a laundry list of things and tasks i need to do for the year. But rather than a resolution, the list is now a roadmap.




Action: make the first move, nothing happens without a catalyst. Basically get up off my duff and get… to getting. This stands in for giving myself the kick in the pants to move, and stop resting on past accomplishments and stories. Its time to make more of them.


Create: Nothing give me warm happy fuzzies on a professional level, and on a personal level other than making things, and moments happen. It means more art, sketching more, and making time for the important things like family night, and date nights.



Finish: Bring things to fruition, make the extra effort to wrap things up and finish as in finishing touches as well. As the elf from ARthur Christmas says… “There is always time for a bow” Spending the extra time to make things better, and shining them up for others to see. Not just rushing things out the door, ut a focus on quality. Quality meals, quality work, and quality time.

What says you to the sketchy ideas? Big things coming the year from Puzzle Piece Productions, The CaffiNation, Geek Cruft and Design is Brutal. To use a hockey metaphor I’m going to roll 4 lines!

So what are you three words?

Why is everything gone?

Not that people check here very often, but i decided to clean house and pull the directory containing the travelersmug from my server. Yeah I thought i had moved the site to a different server. And in my rush to fix things on another site i decided to clear a little room. Nice and easy right? nope i washed out some 8 years of images, luckily all the posts and everything all that comic gold and literary nonsense survived the deleteaclypse but sadly the accumulated images did not survive. A lesson learned in measure twice cut once. There is no undelete in UNIX people… NO Undelete.



But just like that everything is back after referring to backups. Last backup was a couple of months ago. But i would rather have to find and replace a couple months of work rather than everything since 2006, for this version of the site!