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Long Summer, Time to Blog

So…

It’s been a long time since I blogged. I spent this whole summer working full time with an hour commute and I put blogging on the back-burner.

What I didn’t do though was completely waste my own time (I got close though).

I maintained Xylo-A-Day. In fact Xylo-A-Day is going so well that I’m getting about 40 views a day. When I first started the channel I was lucky to get 100 views a month and now I’m making that in about 3 days time.

I have a feeling that the channel is going to get significantly larger before the end of this year, and hopefully I can make it to 100 subscribers as well.

I did plenty of stuff and hopefully the next couple of weeks I can make posting a regular occasion again. There are a couple of topics that I could probably write about to kick this off.

I played plenty and plenty of Settlers of Catan, I even got the SeaFarers expansion and I would highly recommend it. A post to come about Catan strategy (like I even know how strategy works).

Image result for seafarers catansource: Catan.com

I was able to kick my coffee addiction, which is a pretty great in itself. Coffee posts are always a nice treat.

Image result for folgerssource: Target.com

Plenty of manga was read and by that I mean most of the Naruto series. It’s possible I could write a blog post about manga itself and also possible I just write an entire one about Naruto.

There are also a couple of projects that I have completed and that are going to be completed soon that I can blog about here, which I can guarantee are going to be at least a solid moderately interesting.

There isn’t much I want to say right now except that I’m ready to be back in action. Stay tuned for the weekly content to start churning out again.

 

 

My Plans for This Year

This blog doesn’t bring in nearly any traffic.

And as I’ve said before I’m never going to try to actively grow it, I have no intention of making blogging my full time job (or part time for that matter). So with that I don’t really have any plans for this blog specifically aside from getting a post out every week.

As far as Xylo-A-Day, my goals are very real and very simple.

  1. Get 100 subscribers and change my YouTube URL to XyloADay
  2. Get 10000 views (I know this is also YouTube partnership number, I have no intention of partnering if I have to monetize my videos, this is truly just a view count goal)
  3. Have 2 or 3 theme weeks (like the Zelda theme week)
  4. Have a video that is of a distinctly higher quality at least every month

I’m planning on getting some more prints done this year and if there is enough hype for some of them I might consider selling some. I don’t expect that to happen but if it does I wouldn’t object.

As far as APRDuneBuggy goes, I’m going to try to stream more often (or at least once a week) but once school starts back up I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ll need to put this on the back-burner.

By the end of this year I can probably get to 85 WPM average typing speed but I’m hoping that I can get to 90 WPM. Shoutout to TypeRacer.

Who knows what this year will bring? I can guarantee that it will bring good content.

New Look, Same Content

During this joyous Christmas season I have decided to switch servers for this blog. To preface: the blog used to be run on a private server, not affiliated with WordPress at all. I didn’t have a ton of costs, but I also didn’t have backups or HTTPS.

This used to not be a problem, when I first started this blog I didn’t actually expect to take much pride in my work (and I still don’t take too much pride in it). Things have changed though, I looked through the posts I wrote and I have thousands of words written and a wee bit of pride attached to it, and all it would take is a single person feeling a little malicious to wipe away what I have.

So here we are now, I have backups and access to some pretty sweet site layouts and HTTPS. But even with everything looking different (Here is an archive for comparison) I can guarantee the content won’t change suddenly, although I can guarantee it probably will over the next year, which brings me into my next point.


“I miss the old _______.”

This is the funniest phrase in the history of phrases in my opinion. With any organization, group, community, content, you can almost guarantee that this phrase will be said.

Some people believe that nostalgia is a big factor in this. I think otherwise. YouTube content creators have this problem in their communities. Challenge: Go the comment section of a big YouTuber who has been around for years and see if you can’t find someone who says, “I miss the old [Name of YouTuber].” Still you can go back to their old content, and it is still as fresh and funny as the first time that you see it, so really nostalgia isn’t the biggest factor.

Content creators who are actively trying to grow their content aren’t going to stand still on what they have, any great content creator is going to have to change or become more official so they can break out of their niche and capture a larger crowd. And this is why the phrase is said for content creators like YouTubers.

I don’t think this blog or Xylo-a-day is ever going to skyrocket because I’m not trying to grow them, my whole purpose with this blog is to document things I think are cool, if people read it then that’s just a bonus. Xylo-a-day’s purpose is to make sure that I’m playing on a consistent basis, if people stop by and think that the content is cool I’m not going to stop them, but at the end of the day I’m just trying to get my practice in.

And because of the reasons above I don’t think that my content is going to change much, it will definitely undergo change as I become better at blogging and better at playing, but not because I’m trying to make my content appeal to a larger crowd.


Organizations suffer this same exact problem of having people grumble about missing the old days, for similar reasons too.

Let’s say I wanted to start disc golfing with my friends. So a couple of my friends and I start going to play disc golf. We have tons of fun and start a group chat to schedule more meetups. Everyone is loose and relaxed we are all just there to have fun.

Then we start picking up other people who hear about the fun we are having. Our group is growing and we now have tens of people coming. It’s still fun to play but it is getting more hectic trying to schedule everyone on the same day. So a few people step up and say that they are willing to play multiple times a week and we can have multiple sessions a week, so that everyone doesn’t rely on a single day.

This is a big deal because now that we have more sessions a week, our availability is larger and even more people want to come. So now we have grown much much larger and some of the sessions are becoming mixes of beginner players and competitive players. The beginners want to learn without being intimidated and the competitive players want to play competitively.

“Why don’t we host learning sessions.” One suggests.
“Why don’t we host a tournament.” One suggests.
“We could even have prize money, and T-shirts!” Another chimes in.

So with a couple of peoples input our unofficial group has a couple of social organizers in charge of hosting the weekly sessions, a learning session organizer, a tournament organizer, a volunteer graphic artist for the shirts, and an unofficial treasurer.

We are growing large and the next stepping stone comes when we start collecting money from the tournament entrance fee, and the shirt orders. We make a little bit of profit.

“We should use that money on advertising!”
“We should use that money for club-owned equipment!”
“We should donate it to charity!”
“We should use that money for travel expenses so we can go to nicer parks farther away!”

And before you know it, we have our first major conflict that needs a full-baked response. Whether we resolve it or not isn’t important, because soon after somebody suggests that we create an official organization to help resolve future disputes, like a non-profit or a school club.

So we do, we draft up a constitution and by-laws, appoint official officers (probably the same people as before), open up a bank account, and are now having official officer meetings following Robert’s Rules of Order to decide the direction of the organization.

We are now a fully fledged fully organized entity. People sign forms to come play with us. We reimburse for gas money when we go on long trips. People can rent out some equipment from the club after signing a few forms. We host legit tournaments with prize money and charity donations that the surrounding community can see. Whenever somebody comes to play it isn’t “hanging out with pals” it’s “going to disc club”.

And that’s when you’ll hear it.

“I miss the old days. You know? Like when it was just a couple of us going to play disc golf and hanging out…”

Now I’m not saying that every organization goes through that, some organizations are immediately formed with paperwork and a constitution and are backed by another entity. But still, it is a very reasonable scenario that has most assuredly happen on some level.

Burning Man, a festival promoting free expression of art went through something similar, originally it was just a group of people going out into the desert making art and burning a wooden man. Nowadays, you have to buy a ticket and fill out a couple of forms to go. It is a legit organization with principles and a constitution, which holds legit responsibility for the actions of the festival-goers.

DEF CON, a yearly hacker convention held in Las Vegas, has also undergone this same problem. What originally started as a party to celebrate hacker culture has turned into a legit organization with volunteers and speakers. It is now a convention that hosts thousands of people who are interested in the realm of cyber security and hacker culture. In DEF CON you can easily find people who say “I miss the old DEF CON, it was a lot less uptight.” Las Vegas is cool with having a couple hundred hackers roaming the strip, but it gets a little less relaxed when you have a few thousand.


I didn’t mean for this to sound like a rant, I just wanted to share an observation. With any sort of growth, content is bound to change, rules and exceptions are bound to change, people are bound to change.

I’m a boring guy, I don’t plan on actively growing this blog or my YouTube channel, so you can expect more or less the same thing.

I Haven’t Posted in Two Weeks and That’s Kind of Lame

Sorry guys and gals. If you want to hear my excuse I got sick and it threw off all my productivity. It is safe to say that I am now firing on all cylinders and rocking out on the upward spiral once more. It is almost 3am, I can definitely guarantee there will be a new post in an hour from now.

Super Quick Update

I was tempted to put this on top of my post but that would just be bad form. I released the 100th video on Xyloaday and am about halfway through the Wrenchman BioShock playthrough on APRDuneBuggy.

That’s all. Life is pretty awesome.

 

Bearly a Post

You know how two weeks ago I said that I was really stressed and there was a lot on my plate and after about two weeks it will be alright? Well, turns out that is exactly what happened. I have been self-actualizing my butt off the past few days. I might even be able to produce some extra content this week (like livestreaming gameplay) which is exciting since I usually don’t have a ton of free time.

Last week was Zelda theme week, and it was a lot of fun to play all of my favorite childhood Zelda songs. It was really stressful to produce, but quite rewarding having people come check out the videos. If you want to check them out here is a link (no pun intended) to a playlist of the entire theme week. I hope to do more theme weeks and more themed content in the future. If I can muster up 7 spooky songs, I’ll play them leading up to Halloween.

That is just a meta sidenote though. Here is the real content.

One (summer?) afternoon my brother and I were hanging out and we wanted to go see a movie. There wasn’t anything we wanted to see in the normal movie theater, so we checked out the dollar theater. Now I don’t actually remember what that theater was called, but the reason we called it the dollar theater is because they showed month or so old movies for about a dollar (maybe two).

We arrived and there wasn’t anything there that really grabbed our attention. A whole bunch of (what we thought were) mediocre movies. We were there though. We parked. We weren’t going back. We were dedicated to this movie-going cause.

So we pick Paddington, it was the least worst looking movie out of the bunch. We didn’t know what to expect, we never read any Paddington growing up, neither of us looked up any plot or read any reviews, and the trailer made it just seem like a cheesy bear comedy.

I now define my life as pre-Paddington and post-Paddington.

It is a cheesy bear comedy. But really it is a lighthearted, family-friendly movie where a polite and tragically displaced bear gets adopted by a slightly dysfunctional family. And through the magic that is children’s movies, every family problem is resolved by putting a wild animal into the household.

Aside from the stock plot that I described above this movie has a lot going for it. It has subtle humor, it has over the top humor, it has fun family moments, and unbearable puns to boot. On top of the family being dysfunctional there is also an arc where a taxidermist tries to hunt the bear throughout the town of London (and fails miserably every time), giving the movie some good action.

What takes this movie from great to transcendent though is the underlying arc throughout the entire movie.

Paddington is a bear. In London. Who can talk. And wears people clothes.

Throughout the entire movie they forget about this fact. If I saw a bear walking around in people clothes I would be utterly shocked. The movie doesn’t do that though, it knows that if it had to constantly explain itself then there wouldn’t be any time for actual plot. Instead what we get from the movie are scenes where they make fun of the fact that everyone so nonchalantly accepts this bear.

Although that shock and awe factor doesn’t exist, there still is an underlying theme of Paddington trying to fit into human society. The whole concept of “I want to be a real boy” exists in so many movies and this one isn’t an exception. Throughout the whole movie they do a great job at making him wear people clothes, making him more understanding of human society, and making his character more human.

Let’s review. What do we have so far:

  1. A movie that is genuinely fun and entertaining.
  2. A movie that has moral lessons in it.
  3. A movie that doesn’t take itself seriously in just the right places.
  4. A movie where the main character is learning to fit in.

And so the movie is wrapping up. Hooray, the taxidermist’s plans are foiled, the family is functional and happy, and Paddington feels like he is an actual human-equivalent member of society.

And then the final scene comes to a close and Paddington is reflecting on the adventure. The whole movie is supporting the idea that Paddington might as well be human.

Mrs Brown says that in London everyone is different, and that means anyone can fit in. I think she must be right – because although I don’t look like anyone else, I really do feel at home.

And there it is, the most heartwarming thing you have ever heard (but in this case I guess it’s read). He is a bear and yet he could still fit in, anyone can feel at home, anyone can belong to society. Paddington’s adventure can finally be replaced with a small boy and you would see no difference from here on out. And that’s the end of Padd-

Except it isn’t. There is one more line in the movie.

I’ll never be like other people, but that’s alright, because I’m a bear. A bear called Paddington.

The entire movie they don’t point it out, they try to make him more human, they end it with him being the equivalent of a functional human member of society. And finally as everything wraps up they slap you with one last zinger.

HE IS A BEAR

They have an entire movie to point out the absurdity of this bear getting along with society, and throughout it they decide to hold back that punch, instead dropping little crumbs of reality here and there. And then the end comes and they make, not just anyone, but the main character say how utterly absurd the entire plot of this movie is.

This is the reason why Paddington is one of my most favorite movies of all time.

 

Meta Blog Update

Some cool changes are going to come to this blog soon and I’m hoping they’ll make the place look a little more put together.

I created and put a Typeracer profile for this blog in the sidebar. Feel free to challenge me if you want, or just laugh at my typing speed. I am putting it there to hopefully show my increase in typing speed over time and just generally plug that website. Typeracer is awesome.

Second thing, I am planning on putting tags on the site which means this place will be easier to navigate, especially if I keep adding a diversity of content. This means that if you just want to look and stay updated on xylo-a-day stuff, you can filter for that and see only those posts.

I’m thinking about starting another endeavor, but I don’t want to spoil what it is because there is a possibility it might just not happen. Posting will continue as usual until then (and even after that).

And finally, I’m going to try my best not to make this a lifestyle blog.

Sound of Silence and Higher Quality Xylophoning

Today I released Sound of Silence on my YouTube channel Xylo-A-Day, there should be a link to the channel in the sidebar if you want to give the channel a look.

When I started that channel I figured it would be tough to do a song everyday. It was. There is an entire period where I was out of town and then sick and didn’t make a video. But even before that, it was tough to play a song everyday. When I tried to stockpile songs, the songs I would choose would be too tough to sight read (which is how I end up producing most of those videos). Sometimes the recording would be too loud, sometimes it would be too soft, the xylophone wouldn’t be sitting on the stand right, the resonators would make a crackling sound because they aren’t sitting right, or any number of other inconveniences.

Finally though, most of those problems are solved. I found a book with simpler, but still catchy melodies that I could sight read and stockpile. I was able to keep the resonators still so they wouldn’t crackle. I figured out the perfect (close-enough) microphone level, and I can keep it there between sessions. Everything is starting to look up for the channel.

So what’s next?

First, I changed the layout of the channel, so it now looks more professional. I added some nice looking channel art (or at least nice for the time being). I made a twitter account which has a link in the sidebar of this blog and the channel on the YouTube channel. I am going to start adding more professional and longer pieces like Sound of Silence. I also intend on starting to do theme weeks where I play from a certain soundtrack for a whole week.

I don’t really have any other plans for the time being, it is just exciting that I have gotten this far. I can’t wait to see what that channel turns into this coming year.

 

 

Xylophone and the Next Great Endeavor

It’s storytime boys and girls so buckle up.

When I was in high school, I was in fact a band nerd. More than that, I was a percussionist, so I played everything that wasn’t a wind instrument. And even more detailed, I mainly practiced mallet instruments. If you remember the little toy multi-color xylophone you played with as a child, then imagine that but 10x bigger, that is what I played in band.

I was in band for 6 years and during that time I had the opportunity to get pretty decent at vibraphone, marimba, and xylophone. Then when I graduated from high school and I went to college I had the opportunity to be in college band. I decided against it though because I really wanted to focus on my degree rather than still be the band kid I had been for the past few years of my life.

This decision has filled me with just a little bit of regret ever since.

Mallet instruments aren’t cheap. Because of that the only realistic way I could have kept practicing and playing would be by playing in the college band. And since I hadn’t been in college band I haven’t been able to play… until recently a very strange thing happened.

A month or so ago I was at work and I was talking to one of my co-workers about high school band. If you want to know what the easiest most fluid subject you can talk about to any band kid, it is band. Turns out my co-worker was a band kid, and he played euphonium, he then asked what I played. I explained to him that I was a percussionist and I mainly played the mallet instruments, and how I really wish I was still playing but those instruments cost a lot of money so I don’t play anymore.

This is where it gets interesting. Once I explained what I used to play he told me how his dad was a band director and percussionist. Then he went on to say that he thinks there might actually be one in his garage that he is trying to get rid of and if so, I could have it.

Turns out, that is exactly what happened. A couple of weeks ago he handed me the frame and keys and resonators to a xylophone and explained that there wasn’t a stand for it. That’s fine, I can easily build it.

And with that I built the frame.

And when the frame was built I put it into my closet (which is surprisingly spacious).

And now I have a xylophone I can readily practice on and hopefully master, which brings me to my next big endeavor.

For at least the rest of Summer starting next week I am going to try to upload a video a day of xylophone. All the videos are probably going to be short melodies that I’m getting from a book of melodies, and hopefully by the end of Summer I will be much better than I am now. The link to that YouTube channel is here.

It’s a strange thing, because I know if I was watching a movie and this happened to the protagonist I would be in utter disbelief and probably call the movie unrealistic. But here I am now, the newest owner of a xylophone.

Change of Posting

I said very early on in this blog that I would post every Wednesday and I believe I do a decent job of that. But alas, due to my own change of schedule I am unsure I can post every Wednesday. That said, do not fear, I will ensure that I post at least one post a week. And when I get a more rigid schedule then I can promise a day again.