Rethinking, recalculating

I’ve been experiencing a bit of a rough patch lately, and I think I finally narrowed down the reasons why.

Humans are drawn to all things negative. It’s our nature. It’s how we’ve evolved. “Look out, Ug! Dangerous things afoot! Must survive! Be alert for danger! Ug!” If something bad is happening to someone else, or something negative happens in our society, we’re drawn to it like moths to a flame. We bathe in it, and half the time we don’t even know we’re in that bath. It’s crazy.

What’s even crazier is how easy it is to fall into that trap. Why do you think news platforms are so profitable? They’ve captured our human nature in a bottle and they sell it right back to us; hook, line, and sinker.

We also can’t forget about our good friends social media and social networking! They’ve laid a foundation of easy-to-fall-in traps that can consume our existence, and we have to aggressively go out of our way to curate our feeds so that we don’t hate everything, including ourselves.

As much potential as I see with social media and social networking, once those companies start pulling in billions and/or go public, that’s typically when the worst of our nature takes over. “Must make money, no matter the cost!” Social media, as it stands right now, is the new black plague, and we must be better.

So yeah. I… just can’t. Not anymore. I want to make so many things (music, video games, art, animation), and it’s so difficult to feel creative when the world is on fire, both literally and figuratively. I fell right back into it, becoming increasingly angry and frustrated over things I can’t control, listening to people I have nothing to do with tell me, “Everything sucks! You’re fucked! We’re all fucked!”

I realize social media and their platforms are not all doom and gloom. Cute animal photos? Hell yes. Sharing your art with the world? Let’s fucking go. Keeping in touch with friends while lifting each other up? Sign me right up.

I do mute and block those who whine and complain all the time, but either I don’t do that enough, or there’s some sort of algorithm that still pushed negative crap through anyway.

I think for now I’m going to treat social media as a “write only” sort of thing. If I have something to say, I’mma say it and put it out there. Will I read responses? Maybe. I just can’t get lost in it anymore. Gimme the good stuff.

Inspiration!

What really brought this to my attention is that show, “Ted Lasso.” Weird, right? A show. But that’s how art works. When it hits, it hits HARD.

I had heard about the show when it launched, and people were raving about how good it was. I brushed it off. I mean, time is so finite, right?

Yesterday I had a bit of a rough day. I mean, “rough” for me is a probably a picnic for others, but I digress; I wasn’t feeling great. I also probably ate some food I shouldn’t have, which is almost certain to have contributed to my mood. I attempted to write some stuff, but I was fighting an interface for a plugin that wasn’t cooperating, and I threw my hands up and said, “Fuck this, I’m out.”

So, I grabbed some chips, salsa, and sat in front of the TV, longing for a bit of an escape. I flipped through some things, nothing was grabbing me. I was suddenly drawn to the Ted Lasso series, and decided to give it a whirl. I needed something different. Based on what I’ve heard, this might be the medicine that my troubled presence needed.

Boy was I right.

Just calling the show, “wholesome” isn’t enough. I’m several episodes in, and it’s gut-punched me in the way I needed.

For example, there’s a specific scene that flew right by that affected me so much I had to pause and reflect.

The Keely Jones character (whom I didn’t like at first) pulled Ted aside and had this exchange (similar; not verbatim):

Keely, “Ted, I would avoid Twitter if I were you, you’re trending.”
Ted, “Okay.”
Keely, “Avoid hashtags like wanker, piss off…” (she mentioned a few others I can’t recall)
Ted, “Alright, I’ll just have to take your word for it.”

And he smiled and continued on.

Why did that hit me so hard? He just didn’t care. AT ALL. He didn’t hop on Twitter and drown himself in misery, like most would. He ignored the press’s comments and everyone’s cynicism. People hating on him are out of his control, and he knows it, and he went to focusing on winning over his team and things he could influence directly.

It’s such a simple concept, but so very against our nature. And look, I know it’s just a fictional show, but I think when people can realize this very fundamental part of living, they start to REALLY live. This lesson can’t be learned enough.

At the end of the day, I feel that the following are good guidelines. At least for me.

  • Read more books. Good ones. Ones that inspire and educate.
  • Focus on you and loved ones who support you. That part is key.
  • Focus on things you can control.
  • Don’t ignore the world around you, but don’t let the world control you. You can influence (by inspiring others or by creating things that others feel inspiration from), but you can’t control everything.
  • Breathe and allow things to pass.
  • Get some exercise and eat things that have vitamins and nutrients.
  • Things can take time to come together, probably more time that you realize, and that’s okay.
  • Consume art and expression that truly speaks to you.

There’s probably a few more tidbits I could add to that list, but you get the idea.

I’ve got more things I need to reflect on, but for the first time in a long while, I feel far more hopeful.

Thanks for reading my “Ted-type.” Get it? Instead of “Ted Talk?” Oh, there’s a Ted Lasso joke in there somewhere, but I’ve probably massaged those cringe muscles enough as it is.

You’re welcome.

This is fine.

Credit: Gunshow Comic (kinda makes me miss drawing comics)

I don’t even know what to say. The (finally/hopefully receding) coronavirus pandemic, Russia attacking Ukraine, the ever-widening political divide, I just ran out of crunchy peanut butter – everything seems like it’s on fire and all we can do is watch it burn.

You guys don’t need to hear my overly detailed opinion on these things. Why? Because it doesn’t matter. Every asshat feels the way they feel, and I’m just another asshat with their asshatty opinion. Instead I want to focus on things I can (sort of) control and talk about. However, I will say this regarding my opening statement:

  • Get your goddamned coronavirus vaccines. “oH buT tHe RiSks aNd i HeaRd oN FaCeBoOk tHat mY coUsiN goT An iNflamed uRethra anD BilL GaEtz iS trYinG tO” SHUT UP. Grow up. Get your shots, coward. Any extremely unlikely side effects from this thing are mild in comparison to getting the full-fledged virus. You’ll be FINE. I’ve had all three shots and I still haven’t installed Windows 11. Suck it.
  • Russia’s leadership is garbage. I’m fully convinced 99% of politicians and world leaders are some form of garbage. War over some resources and flexing is stupid.
  • Yes, crunchy peanut butter is superior to that smooth shit. It has TEXTURE. Deal with it.

So Controversial!

Okay, with that out of the way, I want to touch briefly on some awesome stuff happening in my stupid little world!

“… and stuff” – a Psychostick B-Sides Album!

That’s RIGHT! After months of planning and deliberating, we’re finally putting this b-sides thing out! There’s eighty minutes of craziness on this thing.

Some personal accomplishments here is track 5, which is a Madonna medley. Yes, THAT Madonna. I’m sure you’re asking, “Why did Psychostick do this?” I recall the idea being tossed around like, I dunno, eight years ago or so. Then Josh mashed a Madonna-themed medley together, and after we performed it live during a tour, we decided to record it. We got everything but vocals… until now. Can’t wait for you to hear it.

Also, the very last track plays on the old joke from Sandwich: “We Ran Out of CD Space Again.” Because we did. This time I’m performing the instrumental part on piano, which was a huge accomplishment for me. As of right now, it’s technically the only song I know how to play from start to finish, which is fine (for now). Being able to sing and play it together was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to learn, but it was more than worth it. Can’t recommend learning the ol’ piano enough.

Plus, if you learn piano, you become a “Pianist,” which almost sound like, “penis,” and wieners are funny.

PluhQuest – WHEN?!

So with the Psychostick thing still eating up a large amount of energy, I haven’t been able to personally put in a ton of time with PluhQuest, BUT Josh (yes, The J) has been squeezing more efforts to get things in order. Most of the art assets are done (which has been the biggest bottleneck), and we had to ditch RPGMaker because that engine is GARBAGE for producing a real game.

RPGMaker CAN work, but you have to literally hack up the engine to do so. We switched over to GameMaker Studio, and things are lookin’ real good. Plus GameMaker Studio is compatible with PC, Mac, Linux, Nintendo Switch, Playstation, Xbox, etc. RPGMaker is NOT.

How ’bout that, eh? Wouldn’t it be nice to play PluhQuest on a console? I’m going to answer for you: “Yes. Rawrb, you’re so wise. Here’s my bank account info. Just take it all.”

Aww, thanks.

As soon as I have more information to share, I will. Since we just wrapped up this b-sides thing with Psychostick, we’re gonna reassess things and see if we can share some screenshots and more info.

Thanks for your unwavering patience.

Web Development – The Never-Ending Educational Firehose of Brainfood

A couple years ago I joined Screenwave as a part-time web developer. The biggest reason I did this was to further my education and knowledge on webdev.

Here’s some fun stuff I’ve learned:

  • Docker – Holy shit Docker. Don’t want to mess with resource-humping virtual machines? Not wanting to deal with buying hardware and setting up a dedicated server? Docker’s got you covered. Get IN there.
  • Linux – Yeah, so… I did get a small Dell Optiplex and installed Ubuntu on there (deal with it, first bullet point). Without the GUI. Wanted to force myself to learn the command line. It works, by the way. I have a ton to learn still, but it’s amazing once you get the feel for it. (running Docker on Linux is also amazing, but you already knew that)
  • JavaScript – Now I’ve always “known” JavaScript. By “known” I mean, “takes someone else’s code and hack it around until I get it to do what I want.” Now I can actually WRITE my own code and it’s not complete garbage*! Still a dumptruckload of things I need to learn, but man – night and frickin’ day.
  • PHP – This was always my primary language, and I was always “okay” at it. Now, I’d grade my abilities as, “Quite competent; borderline advanced.” Oh yes, I even use Composer (cue snobby PHP veteran eyeroll). Tons to learn here still, but yes.
  • WordPress – This was uh, something else. Learning how to write custom plugins, really proprietary ones too, was/is extremely challenging. Whoo!
  • DevOps Overall – I mean, getting things up and running with some sort of thing to drive them is part of this process. Being a full-stack developer kind of includes decent devops knowledge.
  • More – There’s so much more that I’m missing here, but I gotta move on.

Things I’m jumping into eventually:

  • Web3 – I have a very mild understanding of what Web3 is, and I like the idea/philosophy of it, so I want to figure out how to make it work for my needs/etc.
  • React/Vue – These JavaScript frameworks are all over the place, and even though React has that Facebook taint, it’s a widely used framework. Eventually I get to this.
  • Non-relational Databases (DynamoDB, MongoDB) – Big data requires big solutions. This stuff will be needed if future visions are to come to fruition.
  • Sharpening programming skills overall – Not just the web stuff, but GameMaker, C++, etc etc, all of which I’ve started on. Great stuff.

Zip-zop-zoopity-bop!

I should update this more than once a year, but I don’t think that’s super necessary as long as you fine folks get to experience the things that we are making, including the game, web stuff, and Psychostick. Right?

Right.

Thanks for readin’.

* subjective AF

Oh Hai 2021.

Happy 2021 everyone! Mostly. I’ve got a bunch of crap to say, and if you’re reading this, sit back and enjoy a cup ‘o joe, because it might be a long one. This is partially due to some very recent events (as of this post), and if there’s any way I can lend some sort of “wisdom” and “reason” to those who need it, I’m happy to serve.

Pololloltics

For starters, I’ve never really been a politically charged person. Like everyone else, I have opinions. I see the world from a perspective, my brain processes things, then the output is my “opinion.” That’s about it really. Nothing special there.

I typically like to err on the side of “course correction based on objective reality,” however there’s been a massive change in our society’s climate to “ignore reality, make up whatever shit that makes you feel better, and condemn those who challenge your fake world,” mindset. Whew. I could probably phrase that in a more favorable and digestible slew of words, but I think you get the idea.

Here’s the thing: Reality is reality. It exists despite you not wanting to accept it. Fight it all you want, reality will always win. If you manage to escape it for a while longer, it doesn’t matter; it’ll always catch up. In my experience and limited hard-learned wisdom over the years, learning to work with it rather than against it almost always yields favorable results.

For example, when the Covid-19 pandemic started in March of 2020, we had two choices:

  1. Do nothing and watch Psychostick slowly die, or
  2. Adapt to the situation and make the most of it

There was a tough reality (pandemic) that we had to course correct for, which turned out to be our ridiculously successful livestreams. We couldn’t change reality, but we could change how we approached the problem.

Anyway, you get what I’m saying. You’re smart.

The point I’m making here is that social media and misinformation is encouraging you to fight reality and spread nonsense to others, led by one orange-colored derp-in-chief.

Before you take offense to that because you might be a conservative-minded person, I want to you take a deep breath and read this calmly:

There is a massive difference between being conservative and being a MAGA goon. HUGE difference. The conservatives who took the orange-pill side with the MAGA folks because there’s an “R” next to the name of the (as of this writing) current president, and that’s it. “Well, he’s a REPLERBLICUN, I gotta side with him!”

I have family members who took the orange pill, some of whom I would consider very smart and capable, but social media and tidal waves of misinformation radicalized them. I’m sure we all know and love some people whom this happened to. I am happy and relieved that more and more Republicans are separating themselves from whatever the hell MAGA goons are.

Thing is, I’m all for a balanced everything, because that’s LITERALLY what reality is trying to do at all times: achieve balance. Conservative and liberal creates balance. Lean too far in one direction, what happens?

I know that sounds very centrist, or moderate, or whatever. I’m more interested in seeing the balance take place because it’s compatible with how reality operates. Opinions are just concepts, but reality is not. That is an indisputable fact (unless you think this is a giant simulation or something, hah).

So, since I have you here and you’re come this far, I have some tidbits of unsolicited advice for you to consider:

  • Ditch Facebook. I mean, SERIOUSLY ditch it. Blocking and muting will only get you so far, and Facebook has been extremely irresponsible for fueling the political divide so they can fucking sell more ads. I’m all for profits, but not at the cost of feeding into the collapse of society. Watch “The Social Dilemma” for more on this, though some of the dramatizations are cheesy.
  • Limit your time with all social media. Twitter has its shortcomings too, as does Instagram, but if you can control how you spend your time on any social platform, you’ll be much happier in the long run. I can attest to this.
  • Find a project to pour your energy into! Music, art, building stuff, fixing stuff, learning a skill – it doesn’t matter. Make yourself useful. Roll up your sleeves and get lost in something. We’re restless, intelligent, creative creatures. We need a project to pour ourselves into, otherwise we’re just looking for problems in the world we can’t control, therefore creating more useless drama. DO SOMETHING FOR YOU. You deserve it.

Yesterday’s attack on the US Capitol (right now it’s Jan 7th, 2021) reminded me of the state of mental health in our country, which (shocker) isn’t good and hasn’t been good for a long time. I don’t have all the answers, but I have one suggestion that could really help…

Make America Not Afraid to Lose at Things Again

We have a very poisonous mindset in our country: Losing is bad and if you lose, you’re scum. Humpty-Trumpty has fueled this mindset since he was thrown into the spotlight, not only as president, but as a reality show star, etc. He won’t acknowledge his past failures (casinos, steaks, etc), just as he hasn’t accepted his loss of the election. Before the election took place, he even said that he wouldn’t accept the results if he lost, as if losing was impossible.

Lo and behold, he lost, didn’t accept it, and encouraged everyone to not accept it as well. Then all this nonsense happened, and here we are.

Here’s the thing: Losing happens. Most of you who have a brain know this, and it’s sad that I have to point it out, but you know… *broadly gestures at everything*

Let’s address losing. Let’s address failure. Is it bad? Is it actually bad? No, it’s not. Matter of fact, it’s good. Losing can be a very good thing because it creates humility. It humbles us. Grounds us. Forces us to learn. Forces us to adapt. It teaches us.

You can ask any (sane) successful person, no matter what field they’re in, how they got to where they are. I can guarantee you that they fell on their face multiple times before they struck it big. Very rarely does someone just succeed right off the bat, and if they do, they’ll often fail several times before they find their groove.

Guys, it’s simple: It’s okay to lose. Try not to, of course, but if you do, FUCKING LEARN FROM IT AND BECOME BETTER. I wish I could scream this is Dumpty’s face, but he’s been so lost in his delusional world for so many years that I (nor anyone) could get through to this guy. Don’t become him, because even though you might think he’s a successful person, he’s not.

Be better. Learn from mistakes. Learn from failure. Be good to each other, and for fuck’s sake, don’t be a pretentious entitled bully that thinks they can bend reality to their will. You’re smarter than that by a long shot. We should all learn and grow from the past four years that was a tsunami of mistakes and bad decisions.

*gasp*

What am I up to?

Okay, with that out of my system, here’s what I’ve been working on:

  • Psychostick, obviously. We’ll be back for Season 3 on February 18th.
  • PluhQuest! We’ve got some ambitious goals for this year, so hopefully we’ll have something to showcase very soon.
  • Programming – I’ve spent the majority of 2020 and some of 2019 sharpening my programming skills. PHP, JavaScript, and as of a last week, C++. What’s all that for? A little bit of PluhQuest and a little bit of other projects that I hopefully can get to sooner than later. 😛

Overall I’ve just been trying to learn and grow at the things I’m really passionate about. It’s tough but hey, do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. Right?

Kinda.

Anyway, thanks for reading. I have no idea when I’ll post next, mostly because I’m neck-deep in the previously mentioned projects, and that’s where I want to devote most of my energy.

Be good to each other out there. Times are tough, weird, and might feel hopeless sometimes, but you got this. If my dopey, chonky ass can get through it, you almost certainly can. 🙂

Is “Non-video” even a thing anymore?

I was tinkering around with the idea of drawing up a comic or a blog for Psychostick since it’s been a really long time. When the pandemic thing started it would seem that everything changed. Down became up, dogs living with cats, mass hysteria, etc.

I try to pay attention to what works and what doesn’t work, and it would seem that most “relevant” content is in some sort of video format, whether it’s a simple YouTube video or whatever.

I think, “Does anyone even write blogs anymore? Are there web comic artists able to make a decent living, or is everything moved to vlogs or animation?” I feel like I need to research this more, but I will admit that I do find myself gravitating towards video reviews and not so much written reviews. I might consider pulling back from visual stuff and focus more on music production until it makes sense to visit this subject again.

Here’s something to chew on: Is the written word and/or web comic defunct because of the younger generation(s) sharing TikTok vids, OR are there so many people active on the internet that it really doesn’t matter and there’s always an audience for whatever you create? I personally am leaning towards that. I’m starting to think that if you use the dreaded social media to SHARE your creativity, that’s a sort of “spark” that lights the flame. I just have a bit of a disposition towards social media, which makes it difficult to feel inspired to create something like a comic or blog.

I also don’t have a ton of creative bandwidth at the moment either. Arrgh. It’s times like these that I feel like I need to spend a tremendous amount of energy just purging stuff I know I’ll never get around to, which is really tough because I want to do all the things.

Anyway, off I go. I’ll try to type up some more thoughts for those who are interested in engaging, but I promise nothing. Heh!

Learn, learn! LAWRN!

Streaming video games isn’t for me.

*gigantic, massive sigh of relief*

This was a tough realization for me to uh… realize. I couldn’t really believe that the prospect of “playing video games and potentially making money from playing said video games” would ever remotely seem unappealing, because on paper that sounds amazing.

The reality of streaming video games reared its ugly head when I started to witness the overall vibe and expression of full-time streamers. I’m definitely not going to name any names or discredit anyone for their hard work and dedication to being a full-time streamer, but I am starting to notice a mental health struggle amongst them.

For me, streaming is going to be more focused on something that is more relevant to my interests and less about the status quo, if there even is such a thing. I mean, these streamers who become bazillionaires typically playing/mastering one-ish game(s) have to wonder if there’s more to their existence than that. Right? Am I crazy?

Then again, I suppose it’s not much different than working a job you once loved that ended up becoming a grind.

I have a fear of being in situations like that, and the last thing I want to do is paint myself in a corner doing one thing, even if the place I’m painting is a palace. So, I’m taking a step back from personal streaming to figure out what I want to do. I have a good idea, but it needs refining. Don’t worry; Psychostick is still figuring out their thing with live performances on Twitch. It’ll be separate. Mostly.

It is liberating to take a step back and go, “You know, as much as I thought streaming video games would be for me, it really isn’t, and I’m not going to force it.” Initially it made sense in my head. I’m a performer. I love video games. Twitch is performing and playing video games at the same time. It SHOULD work for me, but it just isn’t jiving.

I suspect it’s because video games are a recreational thing for me, and trying to make that my living just takes away the pure enjoyment I get from getting lost in a game. I love that feeling; being immersed in another world with super powers or the like. Trying to perform and play the game at the same time just takes me out of the game, and that right there, from my perspective, defeats the purpose of playing video games.

So hats off to you streamers out there who can keep it fun and fresh for yourselves while making a living doing so. I wish you the best of luck and I hope that you always have fun and never experience burnout.

That being said, I have a bit more of a plan for streaming that won’t involve games (mostly). I’m fairly certain most of it will end up being related to music, but as I mentioned above, I need to do a bit more planning before I dive too far into it. I’m not even sure if I’ll keep that under the Psychostick name, but either way, I’m really excited to try this out and I hope it feeds my creative interests rather than burn me out. Time will tell.

Oh hey there! *insert 1996 under construction .gif here*

I’m movin’ the old Rawrb.com back from Tumblr. You can always browse the archive if you want. I’m trying to kind of gravitate away from social media controlled craziness to focus on creating things and juggling my many weird projects. This kind of gives me an “old man” mentality here I guess.

Whatevs.

I’ve been spending a bit more time focusing on organizing my life. It’s extremely easy to get swept up in projects, especially when you’ve got a “I must do all the things or I’m the worst guy ever” disposition. So, I decided to take a step back and just prioritize and focus.

First off, this blog. It’s good to journal things out and give your brain a little breathing room to process everything. I find that power naps work well for me (20-30 minute intense napping sessions), as well as talkin’ things out with loved ones. Sounds weird as well as oversimplified, but sometimes you just gotta vent that stuff. Take the time, it’s worth it.

There are many things I want to talk about, but I’ve spent a little too much time puttin’ this page back together. Yeah, I stole some Bootstrap code and mangled it into this, but right now it’s more about getting it out. I plan on doing a whole bunch of design stuff and programmy things to this site eventually. That means it might not ever happen, and I’m okay with that.

I’m not even using a CMS right now. This is me typing onto a static HTML document. Hah.

So before I wrap this up, let me kind of barf out an update for those that are interested:

  • I’ve gone on several crazy JavaScript dives and really, REALLY understand the language now. Never thought I could say that with confidence. Yikes!
  • I’m currently in the middle of an insane PHP dive. I’ve only used it for simpler stuff, but now the OOP crap that I’ve learned from JavaScript is giving me a tremendous boost.
  • Yes, I’m going to be talking more about programming. It’s a ton of fun and very rewarding. Shut up.
  • I recently took on a part-time developer gig, which is helping me sharpen my skills and actually pays me money. So strange.
  • Started learning piano. Seriously. It’s coming along nicely, too. Every aspect of my fleshy existence that is musical is growing like crazy. What’s that? Want me to play an F#7 chord with an augment? I got you, baby. *wink wink*
  • I know comics are laughably slow. I’ve got a thing I’m working on that’ll make up for it. Sssh.
  • Doing a TON more musical composition for Psychostick and other projects. Stay tuned.
  • Content creation for Psychostick is a huge team effort that will continue onward no matter what. Non-Psychostick content creation is currently paused until I get things more sorted out.
  • Project and time management has become a HUGE focus of mine. I can’t recommend Wrike (Project Management Thundertool) and Notion (Destroyer of Evernote) enough. Check ’em out.
  • Bought a house for the first time. WEIRD.
  • Got finances sorted out by hiring a competent accountant for personal and biz. The shitty result of that is I owe a silly amount of taxes due to incompetence. Please buy stuff (if you’re into the things I work on, of course. No guilt trips!).
  • Actually eating better and liftin’, brah.

Video updates might be a thing in the future too. I know reading is hard, but c’mon guys. You can (maybe) do it.

*groan* I can’t believe I just said that.