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Tag Archives: Seth W


Computers and Bikes

Just a quick personal note. I (again) had some computer issues, but they have cleared up for now. Special thanks to Advanced Communications for fixing my keyboard, and no thanks to Best Buy/Geek Squad for breaking it.

Another thank you goes to Seth W for showing me how to properly hitch my bike. I had to leave it hitched for a few days—longer than usual, and when I when to go pick it up, someone had tried to jack it. I hitch to a parking sign with a security cable, and someone had pulled it up and over the side. But I thread the cable through the front tire, so it’s basically unrideable until that’s taken off. The winner thought that taking the front wheel off would actually do something, but it doesn’t remove the cable. The front wheel’s quick release was on the ground and some parts of it were missing. That’s all I’ll have to replace. More of an annoyance than anything. Life goes on!

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Links of Possible Relevance, Part 5

It occurred to me recently that I still haven’t gotten sick since will before the past winter. See here for my “hacks,” though recently my vitamin intake has been sporadic. This isn’t really a Link of Possible Relevance proper, but more just unmitigated bragging.

Hobby Lobby blah blah. It was an okay decision but arguments from religious liberty are lacking, sometimes even more so than stupidheaded gender-based ones. I like Ron Paul’s response, since private property and contract law are just nicknames for things we do dozens of times everyday without a bureaucrat sniffing at our shoulder. Like when I high five a friend of mine. The point is: you cannot force people to high five you.

I helped Seth design these interactive stickers. Any and all subgenres are welcome!

“Epic” is overused but given the context I think 17 minutes of metal versions of video game music qualifies.

Death metal band to perform in airtight, soundproof container until they run out of oxygen. Okay.

William Lane Craig on the problem with apologetics. He uses the term “theological rationalism” to describe the idea that people can be argued into belief, and he doesn’t claim it. I agree with him. Apologetics is good for removing bad facts and replacing them with correct ones, but having a correct set of facts has nothing to do with religious belief. Though people can be a type of conduit, “activating” true beliefs are very much out of our hands.

The pope said the mafia are excommunicated. Is he including governments with that term, too? I don’t see a difference between them save for scale.

Some good thoughts over at Wintery Knight about explaining Old Testament wars. Material reasoning aside, I still prefer to simply argue that God can do whatever He damn well pleases. Feel free to reason with Him on this point. I do not recommend it but I’ll definitely be watching from the sidelines.

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Words Mean Things

If Seth activated comments on his blog, I might write something like this on a recent post of his. Instead:

I think it’s helpful to recognize and factor in for scale. Some software dev firms are too small to really have a “human touch” to be of value (I personally don’t think any company would be too small for that, but I don’t determine their business direction, so…). Some apps that people would use are too niche to really warrant the demand for the human side of things. We might just want to use the app and get on with our lives.

The state of the user plays a lot into it, too. To wit: I have a compass and leveler app on my Android. To me, it has usefulness but I don’t see myself investing a lot of capital into the app nor its makers. However, if I were a construction contractor and the devs specialized in, say, apps for carpentry, then their human side would definitely be of interest to me, since they are essentially helping me make a living. The demand for investment is there: I use their apps more than once daily, I have feelers out, are they touching back? Any company that wants to stay in business should be.

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Bands: Improve Your Live Show

“9. Say your bands name clearly on stage after the first song and after your last song. Like, actually say it, not just “heywe’resoandsothanksforcomingout…” but in a way that people may remember it. Say it clear. Not too fast. I hear so many bands do that, “we’reblahblahblahthanksofromingout” while the drummer is still tuning his snare.”

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Aqua Teen Hunger Force banner ads

A Blog Design Update of Some Interest

It still works kinda like this.

It still works kinda like this.

I got rid of the annoying Google ad in the sidebar, for no other reason that I just didn’t like the aesthetics of it. I was actually starting to make some money off of it but it would be another few decades until I would see some return from it.

In its stead I replaced it with donation links. I know no one will donate but it feels right to have them there because Bitcoin and Gittip are interesting little bits of services.

Aaaand I wanted a good excuse to use jQuery’s Colorbox functionality.

Image stolen from e-strategyblog.com.

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Stop Trying to be Famous

stop-trying-to-be-famous-night-coffee

I’d make fun of the outdated cell phone but mine is much older.

While having nighttime coffee with a traveling friend earlier this week, in the midst of our conversation we thought of the futility of fame. We all want to become famous for different reasons or for different things, but that goal is mostly out of our hands. Mass fame is the result of chance circumstances—i.e., the whims of the market—all of which are out of our control’s reach.

There’s a number of bands I’ve listened to, and still do, that ended up with woefully stunted careers though their music hit all the right buttons. In every sense they did everything “correct” but ended up nowhere, leaving behind a truncated discography that only a handful will hear of and enjoy. In the anarchy of music preferences there’s no telling who the winners will be and who won’t.

Despite what was propagandized by punk rock for decades, the music industry is hardly centralized, even in the major label heydays. Those evil corporate suits had no control over what sold and what didn’t. For every two or three artists that had a hit single and went on to recoup the cost of production, there were 40 or 50 that the label lost money on. If they had so much decision-making power, why did they constantly lose money?

Our best bet is find a niche and drill into it. You can copycat everyone and maybe see some returns on it from a generally wide audience. But it’s easier, relatively speaking, to be one of the “go to” producers of art for a subculture of people, while being ignored or scoffed at by the rest of the world.

These kinds of success stories are littered everywhere, especially in the world of art, and we are all familiar with some of them. But we can’t claim omniscience of all the great artists all of the time, and that’s the point. The artists that tend to make the greatest impact are the ones that only some of us notice.

Photo by robertbanh.

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Broken Robots and Memoirs

A perfect match.

»Seth W recently released a little zine of sketches of broken robots, called Broken Robots. You can get it for free if he has any more of them. It makes a nice addition to the decor for any of my fellow cubicle jockeys’ working quarters (see photo, where it is nicely coupled with a full color program for a Czech Republic gallery opening). There were only a dozen so Broken Robot #1’s made so you’ll have to break out the ol’ hair shirt as penance if you missed the boat, even though is was not your fault. You have been dodging guilt for too long in your life and I’ve been appointed to show you the way. Grab your bags.

»I’m beta-reading one Jamie Kranig’s memoirs. I regard beta-reading like existing inside the author’s brain as a malignant larvae, waiting to hatch and burst out of their skull with fangs made of red pens and cursing in perfectly formed English sentences. It’s an awesome and masochistic process to let someone read your first draft of anything, because there’s always things to be purged and other things to become more infected with different ideas. Call an ambulance because this boil’s gonna get lanced.

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Book Review: Florida to Maine by Bike and Train

"This...is...Tampa!"

Florida to Maine by Bike and Train is Seth W’s third e-book and end result of a traveling stint he recently completed. After the cover, which has Seth channeling Leonidas on his bike, the pages are filled with photos, stories about the places he visited, and some good advice if there’s been something you’ve always wanted to do but could (or would) never find the opportunity.

In an interview about a month ago the tour was named “14 Cities in 14 Days”, yet as plans seemed to have changed he visited two less cities than mentioned. It’s kind of a interesting indicator of the spontaneous nature of the project, and I can’t be sure if this was because of an unforeseen snag. Seth would be the first to admit a mistake.

Like what Tobias Buckell did with writing short science fiction stories in Nascence, Florida to Maine is about attempting the unknown and documenting the results. These results are never perfect, but as I’ve said before on here — and as others have said before, undoubtedly — if you’re not screwing up you’re not doing it right. For every one awesome story idea you should have a dozen unworkable ones, and it appears the same would hold true for something like a traveling adventure.

You can buy Florida to Maine right now for however much you’d like to spend. He’s also selling other e-books for the same price, to clear the shelves for expanded editions.

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Interview: The Bike Nerd

Seth performs the Tree Lean-to Over River (+150xp)

Last year, Seth W (AKA, The Bike Nerd) got rid of most of his stuff and decided to travel outside his New York City comfort zone and into the wilderness of the rest of America — mostly by bicycle! He’s written e-books about cycling and travel and is getting ready for his “14 Cities in 14 Days” tour.

I’ve known Seth for quite some time: my old band played with his one-man-show at many a venue, I’ve written for his music blogs, and he stayed at my house a little bit last autumn. We even biked forty-four miles round trip to eat some Thai food. When Seth is around, things like that happen.

Read on as we discuss his upcoming tour, lifestyle changes, and robot drawings.

Tell me about your new “project”, the “14 Cities in 14 Days” tour.
Since I came back to the east coast, PA / NJ / NY area, I was getting restless. I needed to keep moving. I had also just went back for a proper visit to the dentist after about five years. Needless to say, I need a lot of work done. I thought up this east coast tour so I could stay close to “home” for proper dentist visits, and this challenge seemed unique enough for another book project. I didn’t want to follow up my previous ebook, ‘Seven Months’ with something called ‘Ten Months’ and just have it be, “yup, I’m still doing this!” That seemed boring, so I thought I’d do this.

Speaking of those two books, “How To Buy Your First Bike” and “Seven Months” — how will the e-book about the tour be different?
Well, I have the experience now of being on the road over ten months, so I know what sort of photos and stories I’m looking for, to include in the ebook. A pretty photo and caption aren’t going to cut it for this next one. I want to dig for stories in the different cities I’ll be visiting and trying to discover things for myself and be able to pass that along to readers.

You travel very light, so I know you don’t carry any books. Do you read any e-books? What kind of things are you into?
I generally don’t carry books, as they take up space and weigh a bit. The last book I carried was ‘Enchantment’ by Guy Kawasaki because I got it in the mail. Otherwise, I download books onto my Mac, using Kindle for Mac. I mostly read business and marketing books. ‘The Mesh’ by Lisa Gansky was really good. ‘Poke the Box’ by Seth Godin was great, as was ‘Do the Work’ by Steven Pressfield. Both of those are real “kick in the pants” sort of books that I like. I need them to remind me to keep doing stuff. Keep making stuff. As Seth Godin puts it, “keep shipping.”

As for ebooks by other bloggers, I buy practically anything by Ev Bogue and Ashley Ambirge (fact check that name, I’m typing this on my iPhone) [You got it! – Jay] of The Middle Finger Project. They’re both “tell it like it is” and down to earth.

I also find a lot to read from Tumblr. I follow some solid people on there. It’s like a finely curated RSS reader, linking to stories I actually care about. I follow a handful of photographers who generally write compelling articles about the state of their industry.

Can you describe some ways in which your new lifestyle has affected your
blogging/writing?

To be honest, I didn’t really like writing all that much. I had grown tired of writing about bands and tours, so this “bike thing” is exactly what I needed. I also knew that I didn’t want to just review bikes or talk about bike lanes. I’ve been taking chances with a lot of my writing in the past few months. I’ve openly written about my divorce, my fears, my doubts… I think I’m a lot more comfortable these days just letting go and hitting publish. Generally if I’m about to publish something and I get a tinge of fear, as in, “this could really rub someone the wrong way,” then I know I’m onto something. I got away from that over the years. With Buzzgrinder.com for many years I’d be sarcastic and poke fun of bands. I was pretty confident in what I did. Somewhere along the way I lost my confidence in that. To write with “an attitude” I guess. I try everyday to get back to that.

We’ve worked together in the music industry for a while now. In your experience with writing and publishing, do you see publishing transforming the same way the music industry has?
I see everything as standing still. Labels are still putting out CDs and hoping people buy them. Magazines are still cutting down trees, putting ink on paper and hoping people buy them. Sure, some labels are offering digital, and some magazines are finally making a push on the web, or even the iPad, but I think it’s all too little, too late. I’ve worked for a magazine before, as their web producer, and in speaking to other friends who’ve worked for magazines as web people — it’s always the same story; they’re a magazine FIRST. They’re cutting down trees, using ink, putting bundles of plastic onto trucks and delivering them to newsstands. The web is usually thought of as some cute little after thought. Web folk are expected to perform miracles with no staff, work long hours, adhere to a 24/7 news cycle and somehow not burn out. Oh, all that for $25k a year, too.

What’s with the robot fetish?
I grew up on Transformers, Vol-Tron and Robotech. I love that stuff. I can’t draw them all cool, magna, japanese style, so I just draw boxy little, broken down robots. Some people tell me they look cool, so I keep drawing them. I try to take my own advice on that – if you want to draw, draw. I’m not going to get any better at drawing robots if I don’t draw robots. It’s such a simple concept, but I’m still trying to learn that.

You give a lot of lifestyle advice on your blog. One’s one big piece of advice that you can give to anyone, regardless of their life goals or situation?
Be present. Whatever you’re doing, do it to 100% of your ability. If you’re a cashier working in a crappy retail store and getting paid crap and drowning in debt, just smile. You never know if the next person in line is hiring for their store down the street, and what better resume than a great attitude and acting like you care at least a little bit? The next person you meet at the coffee shop, a show, or in the office — they might be able to get you your next job. Or another gig. You might even fall in love with them and marry them. I’ve found that when you aware of your surroundings, 100% in the moment, when someone bumps into you and you’re able to strike up a conversation, it goes so much more smoothly. That’s hard to do when you’re constantly checking your Facebook wall or texting 14 different people while you’re at a party with your friends.

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