Already half way into June, I guess this is better than not doing it at all, probably.
To be honest, I’ve taken a break this month from political stuff. Not entirely, and not on purpose. My body must have just sensed I needed a break. I have a backlog of stuff I need to take care of now, and a mountain of guilt to work through. There were lots of fits and starts, but I could not get it together to work on things.
There is actually a lot on my mind with the state of things currently, but I think that warrants a separate post because it would really just consume this, and I want to focus on that. There is just so much fucked up stuff going on at the moment in the country. Separating children from their families?!? Cages?!? These are human beings you absolute monsters.
We’ve recorded and released a second podcast now. I’ve really enjoyed recording these, and this is like my only outlet to talk about game development. I hope to record another one this weekend. The goal is monthly.
Tim and I continue to stream on Twitch and archive on YouTube. If you can, catch it live, or on the Twitch VOD. The bitrate on Twitch is so much better than YouTube. YouTube crunches stuff down so badly.
We have been streaming Sonic Mania recently and those have been some really fun episodes. We even had a sitcom style mix-up in the last recording session. What a pair!
I also was lucky enough to attend my first fighting game major this year, Combo Breaker. Firstly, thanks to my friend Taylor for the heads up and for being a travel partner, wouldn’t have done it without his instance. I’ve been watching fighting game streams and tournaments for years, but never anything live. It was cool to see fighting game legends in person. I was just there as a spectator because I’m garbage at fighting games, but even just watching everything was intense. Like sports, it’s different when you are there in person. It felt like a sporting event as well. There are crowds cheering, energy in the room with close match-ups, and even armchair theorists pontificating on what the player should be doing. I hope to go to it, or something like it (EVO!) again. There was even a proposal after SSF2T grand finals!
In the moments of downtime, we met up with a guy who hosts a podcast, No Cartridge, which I hadn’t heard before, but Taylor DM’d him on Twitter when he found out he was going to be there. Super cool guy, and after I heard it, really good podcast as well.
Since we were close-ish, we went to the best arcade, Galloping Ghost. I try to go there a couple times a year, just because it’s so cool. A staggering collection of arcade games, all on free play just $20 for a whole day. Can’t recommend enough if you are ever near Brookfield, IL.
My friends got married! They are fantastic and I love them, and they are perfect.
Running and fitness
I am continuing my journey to kill myself break my previous records.
I started taking Wednesday mornings to run a half before work and managed to do that for three weeks in a row. I’m not going to lie and say it’s easy. It’s a bear. I usually have to get up at 4:30 am and get out the door by 5 to get back, showered, and fed before work. Doing regular half-marathons is not something I’ve ever something I imagines being able to do, so it’s really cool and gratifying to see the time I’ve poured into this having a demonstrable effect.
Outside of the health benefits physically, long distance runs like that do wonders to calm my anxiety. I’ve probably talked about this somewhere in this blog before but running is meditative for me. All I need to focus on in the moment is moving forward. If I’m not listening to podcasts or audiobooks, I can throw on music and just let my mind drift. It helps process whatever I’m dealing with at that time. I know myself, and I know if I’m just sitting around, I will not allow myself the time to work through things; the stresses and responsibilities of whatever I need to do will take precedence. Running is a good forcing function.
I feel like half my blog posts are just, “Everyone, I like running, it’s good.”
But may I pose the following:
I like running, it’s good.
May 2018 Total: 82.2 Miles
May 2017 Total: 54.0
Difference May 2017 to May 2018: +28.2 Miles
Difference 2017 to 2018 to Date: +204.9 Miles
So, last May, I graduated from college. I ended up graduating with the same degree I started with, B.S. Computer Engineering (not engineering technology, engineering). I took a bit of a circuitous route to get there, but I ended up getting there, a little worse for wear.
Here is a small map showing how I got to graduation.
Fall 2006: Started at Purdue University, West Lafayette in exploratory studies because I didn’t get accepted into engineering.
Summer 2007: Due to struggles with Calc 1 I had to take it in the summer. Took Com 114 and English 106 with it as well. Got all A’s. Everything was set.
Fall 2007: Tried to transfer to school of Electrical and Computer Engineering and was accepted. Things are looking up!
Spring 2008: Things are still looking up!
Fall 2008: Acquire mononucleosis. Be really sick for a while. Start slipping into depression. Fail most classes.
Spring 2009: Continue being depressed, don’t attend class, become overwhelmed, and fail all classes. Get kicked out of school. Things are not looking up.
Fall 2009: Sit out semester, because I have to due to school rules before reapplying.
Enroll in community college, but don’t go.
Spring 2010: Reapply to school. Get back in! Time to right the ship! Fuck it up! Have to sit out a year before applying to any other Purdue campus.
Fall 2010: Transfer to Trine University and switch majors to Informatics.
Spring 2011: Realize you are miserable and hate this major and feel like you gave up on your dream. Re-examine everything. Go to seminars and read books to try to get your life in order. Apply to Purdue Calumet for computer engineering.
Fall 2011: Get accepted to Purdue Calumet. Buckle. The. Fuck. Down. Get semester honors.
Spring 2012-Spring 2014: Spend almost all your waking hours studying and doing homework. Graduate!
I know this is going to sound overly dramatic, but it is one of the hardest, if not the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I couldn’t be happier that I did it as well.
It was a major test of patients and perseverance, but I would do it again, in a heartbeat.
Here is a little synopsis about how I had to change to become successful in school and beyond.
Write down everything: every assignment, every meeting, every class, everything. If you spend anytime around me you will undoubtedly hear me utter the words, “My brain is stupid.” I believe I heard it while reading Getting Things Done, but I may be mistaken. What it means is your brain is terrible at remembering things when it needs to, so don’t rely on it. Write it down. Put it somewhere reliable that you will check. A phone is fine as long as you check it regularly.
Stick to the calendar. I mean it, if the block of time says study, do it, no questions asked. Don’t modify the calendar. This might seem a tad rigid, but that is the point. We are human and will likely make the wrong call in the moment and will end up fucking it all up. Just stick to the schedule.
Study with no distractions. There was a place at the top floor of the union with individual study carrels and an enforced silence policy. It was completely isolating. It was almost never used by anyone and had sea foam green bookshelves that hadn’t been touched since Nixon was in office. I didn’t enjoy being there, but I spent countless early mornings there because it allowed me to focus on specifically what was in front of me. It allowed me to be productive and not worry about anything else.
I ended up picking up a part-time job starting in the summer before my senior year. I was a process control engineer for a company. What little free time I had left was now devoted to that. It couldn’t have been a better decision though. It gave me so much valuable experience. It allowed me to talk confidently about situations in interviews without having to resort to “well, I had a group project in school.” It wasn’t what I wanted to do long term, but don’t let that scare you off. Every employer I talked to since then has taken great interest in stuff I learned during my tenure at that job; not to mention the recommendations I picked up along with it. The concise nugget of wisdom I learned from all this is, don’t hold out for your dream job; gain experience and work towards that dream job. That job may never come without that initial push, and you might stumble into something you never knew you would like.
I had to include this, as it was such a huge part of college for me. This section really deserves its own post, which it might get at a later date. It didn’t occur until I started at Trine University. I started an improv comedy group with my friends called Ad Liberation. I was some of the most fun I had in my entire life and taught me skills I couldn’t pick up in engineering school. It was the ultimate release for what was a very analytical, math and code filled week. It allowed me to engage the other half of my brain, which was oft neglected. I had never done improv before this, nor anything even remotely related to theater. I came into contact with improv through an ex-girlfriend and through her I met some of the closest friends I’ve had, Tim and Mike. (Tim is the same one from the world famous Tim and Matt Play). They had been doing improv for a while at this point. Both did improv in college and as semi-newly minted grads were looking to continue the comedy magic. I expressed interest and we started practicing out of Tim’s garage. Shortly after my best friend, Katie, joined the mix and this was the real start of Ad Liberation. I learned to think on my feet, and to never be nervous talking to anyone. I can public speak with little to no preparation if need be. It remains some of my most cherished memories (luckily, past Matt archived 95% of the shows). We faced an audience that had never heard of us and we did a style of improv, long form, that isn’t the biggest audience pleaser. Still, we ended up doing it, and some of it was damn good. I, sadly, had to leave my final semester as senior design was devouring all my time. I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss it. I miss it like crazy, and I hope to continue it in some fashion soon. My life would have been amazingly uneventful without this, and I thank all the members past and present.
Another conscious decision I had to make was that for about two and half years, while I finished my degree, I was, for all intents and purposes, on a media blackout. I did the math, literally. I added up all the hours and cut out all the time I had for sleeping, school, work, and other obligations. There was no time. My one salvo, to make sure I didn’t come out the other side like Robin Williams in Jumanji, was podcasts. It took me roughly forty minutes to drive to school or work (they were conveniently very close to each other), which left me plenty of time for a bevy of podcasts. Movies, comics, books, TV shows, and video games were all off the table. I’m not going to sit here and tell you it didn’t suck. It sucked badly, but I did get used to it. I just knew I wasn’t going to be the guy to discuss the new hotness with. The video game one hit me the hardest, but I was able to live vicariously through some other people thanks to the aforementioned podcasts. It does free an amazing amount of time up not consuming so much. It’s been over six months since graduating and I’m still not caught up on everything I missed (I’m looking at you DC universe), but for most of it, I don’t need it. It’s non-essential, and I probably will never go back to the way it was before then. I’m not saying this in a “Oh, TV, I don’t own a TV sort of way” I just have other activities I’ve found a little more satisfying on a personal level.
My final paragraph addresses a mindset I’d like to challenge. The idea that if someone is inclined toward one thing or another it’s super easy, or if you are on the losing side, then it’s not attainable at all. Of course I am merely speaking from personal experience. I did not start college in engineering because I was “the math guy” in high school. I loved computers. I was really good at IT (and even that was because I spend hundreds if not thousands of hours with computers growing up). I was bad at math. I barely made it through pre-calculus in high school. I started in Calc 1 in college and I failed miserably. It was overwhelming. Can I calculate a Fourier transform now? Heck yes. You know the difference, six years. Six years, hundred of homework problems, more problems that weren’t homework, and many nerve-wracking, headache-inducing nights. This is not a brag, or humble brag. This is to say this isn’t some natural talent bestowed upon me by a benevolent creator. This was work, and everyone can do it. It’s just a matter of how much you want it. I couldn’t see myself without that degree. I envisioned graduation day in my mind just about every day. If you want something, go for it, and if it’s hard, go for it harder. There is a quote I heard from Scrubs of all things, “nothing in this world worth having comes easy” and while I’m not naïve enough to think that applies to absolutely everything I think the sentiment holds for a whole heck of a lot.
I’m incredibly proud of what I did, but I didn’t do it alone. I want to thank everyone who helped me along the way, providing monetary and/or emotional support. While I would have liked to learn some lessons earlier I wouldn’t change the whole narrative, and would absolutely endure it all over again. I learned an incredible amount. It was even fun sometimes.
I had to post this here because it is the culmination of all my efforts. I will post a full post-mortem on the project sometime, but for now:
I took some pictures that I never uploaded anywhere. It is like a small window in my life. A microcosm of myself (ch’yeah right).
Games Galore! (Munchkin [which I won] and Risk 2210 A.D)
This season’s Pocky. SALTY! Despite how gross that sounds, it was actually pretty good. I love the salts with the sweets. Pineapple pizza, anyone?
I found my bike twin outside Einstein Bagels in West Lafayette. Same exact frame and drop handlebars and red wrap! We are basically best friends.
Boars head in Sargent Preston’s, downtown Lafayette.
Big ol’ Corona at Harry’s Chocolate Shop, West Lafayette. That was the start of a very interesting night.
In an effort to minimize I got rid of all my Xbox/Xbox 360 Game cases and filed the inserts and manuals into binders. So much less space. Yes, that is the same kangaroo from Pulp Fiction that Bruce Willis has his watch on.
Engineering is pretty great and math.
New desk situation! Mounted my monitor and put my laptop on a shelf. Look at all my real estate!
These are Mary’s Party Sox. They are sox, but used for partying.
Will is so rad that he drinks his yogurt from a tube.
I can’t imagine anything but massive amounts of rape happening on that bed located in that bathroom in Lilly Hall.
Remember that rad guy, Will? This was proof he was a scientist. Is this his lab? Who knows the real answer?