Shaking the Toner

Good morning you happy hopefully rested people.  Last night was another toss and turn fest… because it seems as though our ceiling fan has broken, or at least is on its last leg.  As a result I slept on top of the covers all last night, some of it relatively unsuccessfully.  Here is hoping that I got enough sleep to prevent me from absolutely shutting down over the course of the day.  Tonight is guild night so hopefully I have the steam to lead us on a wild adventure.

Guest Contributors

Some time ago a good friend of mine started posting the occasional article on my blog under the name of Ariad.  However we did a pretty lousy job of messaging that the posts were coming from him and not me.  As a result I feel there was some confusion as he and I do not always see eye to eye.  We were talking yesterday and he is the Spock to my Captain Kirk.  As a result I have created the banners above to denote when a guest contributor is making a post.

Additionally another friend had shown interest in making the occasional post.  When I told him the Spock explanation above… he said that he was more like Khan.  In the same way his opinions will also not 100% align with what I am saying, but I feel a breadth of different opinions is a good thing.  I’ve known Sevok since the early days of Everquest 1 and have managed to keep up with him off and on through the various games I have played.  I look forward to seeing the posts they come up with, I know Sev is currently working on a spin on my “A Tank Is” post from the other day about his favorite role… the pet class.

The Grand Experiment

It has been 103 days since I started what I dubbed the “Grand Experiment” and began posting something every single morning regardless if I want to or not.  I have no real idea if the results have been a net positive, but I have been true to my cause and even when I was in a hotel room on vacation… I continued blogging each morning.  Yesterday a friend of mine Talyn of the Pumping Irony blog asked me a little bit about my morning routine.

Essentially he stated something I have heard from myself many times before.  That ultimately he felt like he just did not have that much time to post a blog post and as a result there are lapses between postings.  This pretty much explains all of the lags in my posting pattern since I started the blog back in April of 2009.  I would get into a pattern where I felt like I just did not have time to post, or that it came down to a choice between playing a game or posting.  Every time the blog lost out to me just logging in and playing something instead.

The Routine

When I started down this path I figured I had a bit of time each morning as I drank my coffee and attempted to wake up.  Previously I had been gaming a little bit to wake up, so I decided I would give that up and devote it to blogging.  Since Talyn was curious about the timeframe it took me every morning I thought I would go through my average morning, in case anyone else out there was curious as well.  My alarm goes off a 5:30 am and I get up and out of bed, making my way to the kitchen to fill the Keurig and turn it on.  I stumble back down the hall and jump in the shower.

While I am in the shower I try to begin thinking about what I am going to post that morning and continue doing so as I get dressed.  At roughly 6:00 am I go back to the kitchen… this time less of a stumble… to make a cup of coffee for myself and one for my wife as well.  After delivering the cup of coffee to the bedside table I am usually upstairs and sitting at my keyboard by 6:10-6:15.  Now begins the hard part.  Some mornings I know exactly what I am going to write about… others I don’t have a clue in the world. 

Shaking the Toner

If it is a writers block morning I try and flip through my RSS feed to see if anything arrived since I last read it that might start some thoughts percolating in my head.  The opening paragraph is ultimately the same in most of my blog posts… this is less for you guys and more for me.  This is my equivalent to the wind up before a pitch.  Starting words coming out onto the page often times unjams the printer in my brain and causes the topics to come spilling out.  Additionally the closing bit… is my way of turning off the faucet and allowing myself to transition from thinking about the blog to thinking about the work day ahead of me.

After lots of writing hackery and many trips to google image search and or launching a given game to collect screenshots… by about 6:30-6:45 I am wrapping up my post.  I give it a once over, add any links I feel I might need, add categories to the post… and finally hit publish.  I religiously use Microsoft Live Writer for my posts as it allows me to see visually how my post will look before I ever place it on the site.  Additionally it does a lot of niceties like managing the image uploads, has in client cropping and resizing and lets me do my alignment trickery.

Finally once the post has been made I advertise it on both Twitter and Google+.  Sure there are plugins that do this, and I could configure one and just make it happen automagically.  However I like to tailor my post each morning towards the content platform I am advertising it on.  This takes another 10-15 minutes depending on how many names I need to reference in the posts. I go downstairs, tell my wife that I love her and am heading out the door.  At this point it is between 7:00 and 7:15…  so after I jaunt over to QuikTrip for breakfast I get into the office between 7:30 and 7:45.  From the moment I wake up to the moment I leave the house is roughly an hour and a half.

Constraints Help

Talyn’s initial comment was “Holy crap you’re fast!”, but in truth… it is the time constraint that helps me be speedy in the morning.  When I do my weekend posts, they can take an hour and a half to two hours of just writing time.  The difference is.. on the weekends I have all the time in the world, so I do not feel rushed to get in and get things done.  However on the weekday mornings I know I have a finite amount of time that I can devote to each step.  While I have an extremely flexible report time, I personally refuse to abuse this too much.  I still end up as one of the first people into the office.  Ultimately our core hours that we MUST be there are 9-3, and as salaried employees we can carve out our 40 on either side of that fixed point.  I tend to work 7:30 to 4:30 most days, so I can blur that line a little bit and still be fine but I try never to absolutely violate it.

My Wife is Amazing

StarWarsHaul

Yesterday while I was at work, my wife was out with some friends hitting a bunch of “junk stores” for lack of a better term.  This was one of her last days of freedom before the start of the new school year and got roped into this adventure by another teacher friend.  I was ramping up for a meeting and a got a text saying “are there any Lego sets you are looking for?”.  My addiction to Lego has not really surfaced much on the blog yet, but I have always loved them.  Of late I have been picking up sets whenever I found them cheapish.  Apparently at one of the places they stopped they had a large number of sets that were marked down, and then had 20% discount applied on top of that.

An example… the Lego TIE Fighter is roughly $45 in the store, and they had it priced for $35… and then after the 20% discount the final price ended up a steal at $28.  After many texts back and forth with pictures of different sets, I expected her to maybe come home with a TIE Fighter and something else…  but instead she came home with this massive haul of sets.  She spent roughly $100 and got all of the sets pictured above… 3 sets for my niece and nephew that are from the “easy to build” line… and a second Lord of the Rings Gandalf Arrives set for a friend. 

It is not that my wife bought me Legos… it is that she saw them and immediately thought that I would want them.  Granted this is a two way streets… I cannot count the number of times I have picked up some random item for her classroom that I happened to stumble upon while shopping without her.  I just thought it was amazingly awesome that while out with friends, doing something completely out of the ordinary that she thought about me.  I guess this is why we have been a successful pair for over 15 years.  While I did not marry a gamer, I married an awesome nerd that “understands” my geek nature.

Wrapping Up

I need to get this wrapped up so I can get on the road.  I hope this satiated any curiosities about my process that folks might have had.  Additionally look for the first of the new round of guest posts to be happening in the next few days.  These will be in addition to my morning posts.  I don’t want to get out of the habit of writing each morning.  For those in House Stalwart, be thinking about what you want to accomplish tonight.  I am completely game for splitting into dungeon groups if we have a viable comp, running hunt rifts… or just doing random rifts and such to work on the guild quest.  I hope you all have a great day today, and that you accomplish whatever you need to.

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