June 22, 2014

Avast Ye Scurvy Dog!

So you want to be a pirate, eh? Interesting. Personally, I'd rather be part of the Justice League of America.
The origins of this discussion come from a widely distributed quote from the very famous Steve Jobs:

"Why join the navy if you can be a pirate?"

People like to march out that quote at every opportunity; mass mailing it to every friend, follower, and potential investor within reach. As it turns out, I am not a pirate. Not even close. The first indication came after I read that quote for the first time and thought to myself, Do pirates get health benefits? What about retirement contribution matching, paid vacation, and training subsidies?

Seriously, if I were a pirate there would be none of that (not initially at least), and I like all of that. I really, really do. Pirating looks like a lot of fun but I'm not so sure the behind-the-scenes view is nearly as glamorous. 

To paraphrase Steve Furtik, "Don't compare your behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlight reel", or to quote another good one from W.H. Auden, “There's always another story. There's more than meets the eye.”

For every success there is a string of failures, sleepless nights, lost weekends, damaged relationships, and self sacrifices that are significantly less publicized. Are the rewards greater? Sure, but so are the risks, and some people (such as myself) just aren't cut out for it. 

I'm clearly taking the Jobs quote in the context of entrepreneurship, in the way it references joining the navy. I'm viewing this as analogous to working for a large, stuck up, follow-the-herd type company with lots of rules, regulations, and processes guiding their rules and regulations.

I prefer to let my real life be more like the navy and my imaginary life, the one filled with words, be more like a pirate. Certainly there is a literary parallel in here somewhere as well as you can tap any academic on the shoulder and ask for, and receive, a long list of books that follow the rules. 

Does this fact make these books boring or undesirable? To some, for sure, but not for everyone. What about all the books that are out there that don't follow the rules; the ones that break them at the turn of every page? Some may find them more interesting. Some may not be able to find the order among the chaos. 

Just as we can't have an economy with nothing but pirates we can't have libraries filled with books that break all the rules. At the same time, if every novel followed the same set of writing rules, and every character within them exhibited the same set of behaviours we'd have a lot less interesting libraries, don't you think? 

What's the first thing any successful writer will tell you about writing? Ignore all the rules. The really good writers will tell you to ignore them intelligently. What's important to realize is that whether you break them or not it's okay either way.

The world needs rules just as much as it needs rule breakers (intelligent or otherwise). It's what keeps us moving forward and yet somewhat organized at the same time. 

"In the world there must surely be of all sorts" - Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (Sheldon translation, 1620)

~ Andrew

June 15, 2014

Spam, Spam, Spam, Eggs, Bacon, and Spam

I don't get a lot of traffic on this blog, but I get enough that I'm not embarrassed by the numbers on a month-to-month basis. Regardless of my readership numbers I've always struggled with the best mechanism for managing comments. I have tried a few things ranging from "wide open free for all" to "must sign in with an account" before finally settling on Blogger's built-in "word verification". It held up fairly well until one fateful day in May when I published a post about my encounter with Chuck Wendig.

Since the Wendig post my blog comments have been inundated with spam from all directions. Maybe inundated is too strong a word, but it's definitely a noticeable increase. The good news is the comments don't make it through to the website, so at least Blogger's algorithm recognizes that they don't belong, but the thing is I don't get a lot of comments (see previous mention of traffic) so I have email notifications set up to send them to me when they come in, which unfortunately includes the spam comments as well.

Don't get the idea that I think this is really that big of a deal, it's not, but I do find it interesting for a couple of reasons and it poses a couple of questions, the first of which is "What was it about the Chuck Wendig post that brought on the spam bots?" I've posted many things that were more widely read and/or controversial and it hasn't received this much attention. Maybe it was just a timing issue and would have happened regardless of what I posted? Who knows.

All I can say is that it's all a little disappointing. Not that my spam to actual comments ratio is terrible but rather that the spam itself is terrible. Quite frankly, if I'm going to get spam I'd at least prefer if it was interesting. Here's a sampling:
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  • Your mode of describing the whole thing in this piece of writing is genuinely good, all be capable of without difficulty be aware of it, Thanks a lot.

  • Hello Dear, are you actually visiting this web page on a regular basis, if so then you will definitely take fastidious experience.

  • Fine way of explaining, and nice post to obtain facts about my presentation subject matter, which i am going to deliver in institution of higher education.
Of course, each one comes with its own "click this" or "check out my website" link. 

On top of it all there isn't even a single mention of how I can increase the size of my penis. Seriously, it's like they're not even trying anymore.

Check out my website!

~ Andrew

June 13, 2014

My Daughter Stanley

If you're thinking, "Hey, it seems like Andrew hasn't posted in a while", you wouldn't be wrong. I haven't. There are reasons for this (some of them good) and I'll be addressing that in my regular post on Sunday (is it still a regular post if I haven't done one in over a month?)

Tonight though, something special could happen. So, please allow me a few minutes of your time to get all nostalgic and sappy.

Since 2003 a day like today has only come around once. If you count 2002 this day has only happened three times in the last 12 years. That may seem common, a leap year happens that often after all, but in my world it's actually quite special.

You see, on this day in 2002 my wife was 37 weeks pregnant and we were lying in bed watching the Stanley Cup finals. Well, I was watching. I'm pretty sure Jodi was reading a book. At any rate, I don't have an adult memory of me missing the Stanley Cup presentation at the end of the final game. I watch the winning team's captain accept The Cup from that weasel shit-for-brains Gary Bettman and then raise it over his head and then plant a big ole kiss on the greatest trophy in all of sports.

On this particular night the Detroit Red Wings won The Cup and captain Steve Yzerman got to drink from Lord Stanley's mug once again. As soon as he lifted the silver chalice above his head I turned to my wife, patted her on the belly (pausing briefly to see if my soon-to-be daughter would finally give me a kick - she didn't) and said, "Okay, you can give birth now."

It would have been funny had she just gone into labour right then, but alas she did not and we went to sleep. She did wake me up at 05:00 though with a gentle, "Andrew, we're going to have a baby." To which my reply was, "I know." (Hey, it was 5am, cut me some slack). She clarified that her water just broke and, while she was not in labour,  that she would be giving birth today one way or another.

Later that day our first child was born. Happy and healthy, with only a couple bruises and a slightly cone shaped head and since June 14, 2002 I have had my very own Stanley Cup. Only once since then has there been a Cup deciding game on June 13th. Back in 2011 it could have happened but they polished it for nothing on that particular evening. Last year there was a game seven scheduled for June 13th - which would have guaranteed the celebrations on the right day but the darn thing was handed out after game six.

Tonight, however, the heavily favoured LA Kings face a disorganized New York Rangers and hold a three games to one lead in the series. The Stanley Cup will be in the building and even though I don't have television I'll be huddled around my wife's cell phone watching on her TV app. If I feel up to it I'll just pay the three bucks and Air Play it to my TV from my iPhone through the CBC Hockey app. Either way, I'll be watching.

Regardless of the outcome, one thing is certain: I'll be waking up tomorrow and giving my little Stanley Cup a great big birthday kiss.

The First Stanley Cup - 1893
My First Stanley Cup - 2002
It took until after midnight (which is way past my bedtime by the way) and one and a half overtimes but the Kings pulled it off and gave me a cool daddy memory in the process. I'm the only one in the world for which this odd little piece of trivia matters and I'm glad I got to relive experience. So thanks to all those players who were able to make that happen for me.

~ Andrew

I did not get up at 05:00 to commemorate the utterance "We're going to have a baby."

I did spring the $3 so I could stream the game from my phone to my Apple TV. The picture was HD quality but the connection was a bit flaky. Also, my phone kept putting itself to sleep every five minutes and the app wouldn't play when it did that so I had to tap my screen every couple minutes to keep things going.