Happy New Year! Plans for 2018…

I haven’t blogged in months! I think that might be the longest I’ve gone without blogging in 10 years. 2017 was a quiet year for this blog; I only managed to write 11 posts, including this one. How terrible! The world needs more of my blather!

I would do a “year in review” sort of thing, but I really didn’t do much worth mentioning. Definitely not much creatively. I’ve stayed busy with other sorts of work, and have not been on my computer nearly as much as usual.

Anyway, here are some hopes and dreams for 2018:

  • Compose some more music. I’ve got lots of melodies and ideas to flesh out, and it’d be nice to finish my third full-length album.
  • Program some synth instruments. I started doing some sound programming in Java earlier this year. So far all I’ve got is a program that plays a sine wave with varying levels of vibrato. I’m really just playing around, not really going for anything serious, but I think it’d be neat to see if I can create some interesting sounds and use them in a piece.
  • Program a video game. This has been a pipe dream for a long time now, but I still want to do it. I still want to create that little mystery adventure game. I’ve still gotta figure out a way to make it visually appealing without needing artistic skills.
  • Program a 3D engine? Just for fun, and to better understand how they work, I’d really like to try programming my own very basic 3D engine. Nothing advanced; I would just like to play around with the basics of rendering and break stuff on purpose for fun!
  • Finish writing at least one more novel. I started writing a handful of novels this year. I’d like to actually finish one and publish it.
  • Write a non-fiction book? If I can think of an interesting subject, might be fun to try writing a non-fiction book.
  • Play video games, watch movies, and read more books! Because this will help me build character….
  • Pay off debts. If I can be financially disciplined enough, it’d be nice to pay off some debt. But I still need to buy a PSVR, so, you know… priorities.

That’s all I can think of for now. I’ll probably try to blog a bit more often too. It helps me think.

Happy New Year to all! Hope everyone has a great 2018!

Goals for 2012

2012 should be an exciting year. I should finish with Animation Mentor in March, and should be able to dedicate the rest of the year to searching for a job. It’s pretty exciting to think that I have no idea where I might end up, though I suppose there’s always the possibility that I get nowhere. (He who expects nothing shall never be disappointed.) I don’t know what the job market is like or how tough the competition will be.

I should also be going to California sometime in 2012 to attend Animation Mentor’s graduation ceremony, whenever that is. That should definitely be an exciting trip since I haven’t taken a real trip since I went with my family to Disney World in 2001, when I was a freshman in high school. (I wouldn’t say that weddings and funerals in our neighboring state count as real “trips”.) I’ve also never been that far to the west before. (I used to live in Alaska, but I was only two or three years old at the time and remember none of it, so I don’t think that counts.)

OK, so here are my goals for 2012, written in second person:

1. Finish writing The Boy in the Sword (novelette) and submit it
2. Finish editing Dreamgiver (novelette) and submit it
3. Finish playing all the video games you started
4. Finish writing fantasy novel, plan and start writing next novel (The Melody Box maybe?)
5. Edit fantasy novel, get feedback from first-readers, and submit to agents
6. Work on designing video game(s)
7. Read 10 fiction books and 10 non-fiction books
8. Finish Animation Mentor and attend graduation in California!
9. Finish cartoon pitch and pitch it to studios… in California!
10. Get an animation job… in California! (or anywhere)
11. Listen to 100 classical music albums
12. Watch 200 movies that you’ve never seen before
13. Release an update to your Melody Generator for Android

I doubt I’ll listen to that much music or watch that many movies or even read that many books, but oh well. They’re on the list.

My 2011 in review

For the most part, this was The Year of Animation Mentor. Between going to work and doing Animation Mentor work, I had very little time for much else. But I did take a leave of absence in the spring to prevent myself from going completely crazy, and used that time to finish creating my Melody Generator for Android, which is the best melody generator in the world.

Every December I write out my goals for the year ahead. I’m still not very good at keeping things realistic, and I tend to change my mind about my desires. Anyway, let’s look back on my 2011 goals and see how badly I did. A lot of the goals I knew were unrealistic anyway.

1. Do good work for Animation Mentor – and graduate!

Well, I didn’t graduate since I took the leave of absence, but I’m prepared for my final semester when the new year begins. I should finish in March 2012, leaving the rest of the year for a much more interesting job search than my previous boring Computer Science degree allowed.

2. Learn to model an environment in Blender

Yeah, I kinda lost interest in Blender. I’m still interested in it, really, I’m just interested in other things more. I’ll keep my books on it, though. I might use it yet.

3. Learn to model and animate a character in Blender

Same as above.

4. Continue trying to sell screenplay The Melody Box

I did for a little while. I think I will try turning the story into a novel in 2012.

5. Write a “listening guide” companion to my album

Never did that. Might in 2012, but probably won’t. I’m not sure there’s any interest, and I’m too interested in other stuff.

6. Finish writing a novel – and finish planning another

Still haven’t achieved this one. But I’m continuing to work on it.

7. Finish writing 15 short stories

Yeah right.

8. Listen to the complete works of Mozart

Too busy doing other stuff.

9. Listen to 100 other pieces of classical music

I wish.

10. Read 25 fiction books, 25 non-fiction books, and 300 short stories

Ha! I’ve gotten so little reading done this year, it’s terrible. Only 2 or 3 books I think. But I did buy a bunch of books when Borders went out of business. I should have more time in 2012 as I finish up with Animation Mentor.

11. Practice drawing for 100 hours

I got a few hours of practice in, but nowhere near 100. That’ll never happen.

12. Play video games for 100 hours (I can dream, yes?)

Dream dream dream…

13. Watch lots of movies and TV shows… to study story structure (“Save the Cat” style)

Define “lots”…

14. Spend as little money as possible… save it for a 2012 vacation!

Animation Mentor took most of my money (which I’m happy to pay; getting professional advice and critiques from such top-notch working animators from the big studios is worth it). Fortunately I just recently paid tuition for the last Animation Mentor semester, so until my California trip, or until I move out (what?), my savings should only go up.

2011 was also the year of family deaths, unfortunately. We lost two grandparents and the family dog. That was not so fun. Seems a lot of people I know also lost relatives.

Goals for 2011

It’s not too early to plan out some goals for the new year, is it? Here are my goals for 2011:

1. Do good work for Animation Mentor – and graduate!
2. Learn to model an environment in Blender
3. Learn to model and animate a character in Blender
4. Continue trying to sell screenplay The Melody Box
5. Write a “listening guide” companion to my album
6. Finish writing a novel – and finish planning another
7. Finish writing 15 short stories
8. Listen to the complete works of Mozart
9. Listen to 100 other pieces of classical music
10. Read 25 fiction books, 25 non-fiction books, and 300 short stories
11. Practice drawing for 100 hours
12. Play video games for 100 hours (I can dream, yes?)
13. Watch lots of movies and TV shows… to study story structure (“Save the Cat” style)
14. Spend as little money as possible… save it for a 2012 vacation!

I also created a special page for it, which you should see on the side menu. I’m hoping to keep that page updated with my progress. It should be updated at least once a month…

As I say on the page, these goals are purposefully beyond my reach (though not completely impossible). The goal is not so much to actually reach these goals, but to get somewhere while aiming for them, if that makes sense.

The only goal I must reach is the first: Do good work for Animation Mentor. The other goals are nice, but I will sacrifice working on them for the sake of Animation Mentor if I must (and I probably will).

I’ve also recently become interested in Blender. My free student version of Maya will expire at some point (actually, it might’ve already, so I’ll have to try to renew it for the next Animation Mentor term), and Blender looks like a nice alternative. After all, it’s free! And it can be used for commercial projects for free. Not that I’m planning any commercial projects any time soon, but it’s nice to have that option.

November goals

October flew by so fast, it feels like it was never really here… not that that’s bad, because the sooner we get to the point of me becoming a professional animator, the better!

At the beginning of the year, I posted “Goals for 2010” … I want to do something similar, and have “Goals for the month.”

I’ve been focusing on Animation Mentor work, which is good, and it’s going well, but I think it could be going better. As always.

First, a review…

Review of 2010 Goals

1) Get a full-time job – not going to happen, but I enrolled in Animation Mentor, which sort of counts, as it is a road toward getting a full-time job. At least, that’s the hope.

2) Keep Hannifin World updated daily for the entire year. – I already failed this one, but I think it will keep going as a “seasonal” thing. Maybe every spring and fall or something…

3) Finish writing a novel – Not going to happen, but I do have a novel planned out that I need to continue working on. I don’t have time to do something like NaNoWriMo this year, and won’t next year with Animation Mentor, but I still have that desire to write fiction in me. “Work on novel” might become a goal.

4) Continue practicing sketching – I’m sort of doing this every now and then, but I’m not being very disciplined about it. This should continue to be a goal, though it’s more of a “background” goal.

5) Finish writing a screenplay – Done! Woohoo! But I haven’t been trying to market it or anything; it’s just collecting dust. I need to either write another screenplay and try marketing both of them, or going ahead and trying to market this one. Actually, this needs some good editing first, so that could be a goal, “edit screenplay.”

6) Get started on animating a short film – Again, not going to happen, but enrolling in Animation Mentor sort of counts, methinks.

7) Finish albumDone! Woohoo!

8) Listen to all of Mozart’s work – not going to happen… too busy.

9) Make some sort of progress on a machine creativity program – eh, I made a little progress, but nothing serious. And I’m too busy to pursue this right now, though it’s definitely an interest. Maybe next year.

10) Become a millionaire! – Done! Oops, I gave it all away… maybe next time.

So, in review, it looks like I’ve either given up on some goals (due to being busy, not changing interests) or they’ve become part of my Animation Mentor studies. My main interests, in semi-order of priority, are: Animation Mentor, cartoon, novel, music composition, screenwriting, programming. My monthly goals should not include all those things, that would be spreading myself too thin, methinks.

Goals for November 2010 (in 2nd person!)

1) Do good work for Animation Mentor – this is the priority. It’s work you’re interested in and has the greatest chance of leading to a job. It’s also expensive! Ignore the other goals if you have to. This should be the main focus.

2) Write basic plot outlines for all episodes of your cartoon – you will still have to go through and write the complete scripts before storyboarding, but you should have an idea of the overall arcs and the main scenes for each episode (the current plan is for 13 episodes, and we already have the “theme” for each one).

3) Complete character designs for cartoon – draw them from different angles, color them in, scan them. Make sure you can get comfortable drawing them, as best you can with your stinky drawing skills.

4) Continue novel plotting – there are 45 chapters. You’ve outlined 7 of them. Keep going.

OK, there we go. As I often say, it’s kinda lame to list goals because that itself doesn’t get anything done, nor does it make me any more disciplined with my free time, but I think it’s still good to write them down just to make sure they’re at the forefront of consciousness instead of some vague ideas being saved for “someday.”


I’ve been thinking about writing this for a while… my thoughts are admittedly unorganized…

I’ve noticed that most humans, including myself, tend to never really live in the present; we’re always thinking about some event coming up or what we need to do tomorrow. We’re filled with plans. Everything we do is for some goal we’re trying to achieve. I think even at the millisecond level, our brains are focused on what to expect sensing milliseconds in the future. It’s extremely hard, perhaps impossible, to truly live in the present.

So my question is… is that good or bad?

Sometimes it seems good. If you had no plans, you’d just by lying there like a dog, staring at the world. Or maybe a couch potato. One might say it’s morally wrong to have no goals.

But then… what’s the point of goals? Or what’s the ultimate goal of goals? Sometimes it seems like some people don’t really know.

I think there are only two things that people want for their own sake: pleasure and the avoidance of pain. Everything else done is for the sake of one of those.

Or at least should be. But I think some people instead seek the idea of pleasure. They seek something they think will give them pleasure. But then they spend so much time on this idea that some certain thing will bring them pleasure that they make themselves suffer for it. It’s like this video

Some examples might be a wedding or a party or a vacation that people stress about and plan every detail of to the point of making themselves miserable because everything has to be perfect for it. What I think is especially dangerous is when people start daydreaming what the wedding or party of vacation will be like. They imagine scenes in their heads: “I’ll be smiling over there, and these people will be laughing over here, and we’ll all be happy” or “he’ll be driving and listening to good music and I’ll be half asleep reading my book, and we’ll be happy” … stop it! You have no idea what the future is going to be like! You really can’t plan happiness like that, and you’re most likely just setting yourself up for disappointment. (Not that such events can’t be fun; I just think it’s stupid when people obsess over their planned future happiness so much that they make themselves suffer in the present.)

Weddings and parties and vacations, though, are all things that could be planned and accomplished within a year. I think the process becomes even more dangerous and stupid when people start daydreaming huge life goals to the point where they’re subconsciously expecting them to come true. I will be rich. I will be famous. It seems to be obvious to way too many people.

Or there’s the parent or teacher having expectations for their children or students. They want them to be “successful” but they don’t really describe what exactly that means. Just as much $$$$ and power as possible? What should be the child’s ultimate goal? I guess what comes to my mind is to have a job you’re happy with and to make enough $$$$ to support yourself (and family if you choose to have one (and it is a choice… I hate when people who hardly have enough money to support themselves start raising a family and then kind of romanticize it as if they had no control over when babies would come along… “oh, we’re struggling with our five children, working so many jobs to make ends meet!” … that was a choice)).

But some parents I’ve met (and thankfully I don’t have these kinds of parents) seem to define success as something that can never really be achieved. You must just become as rich as possible, as successful as possible. You must get your foot in the door of some company and keep rising through the ranks until you own the company, and then own all the competition, and then eventually own the world I guess. Or you must become famous, and then more famous, and then more famous. And some parents believe their children are amazing geniuses and they firmly believe, or expect their children to be successful. Unfortunately, every day there are way too many children born for each one to become rich or famous. Only so many people can be rich and famous at a time. These parents’ definition of success depends on their comparing their children to other people, which has always been a stupid way to define success. (Part of me thinks some parents only want their children to succeed so they can brag about them to other parents. “My little Bobby is doing so well, he’s the vice-president of Boring Old Company X, and making a lot of money!” “Oh really? My little Billy still works at the grocery store, but he’s happy gosh darn it!”) And if their children don’t “succeed” then that means they are normal mediocrities…

It’s like your job and wealth determine whether or not you are mediocre. Rich = good, successful, better. Not rich = bad, normal, mediocre. That’s stupid. There are plenty of rich idiots and many brilliant non-rich folk. Shouldn’t the end goal be just to be happy?  (But some people say: “Being a poor struggling artist is not romantic!  It’s stupid!”  It’s not stupid to be poor, it’s stupid to be miserable.)

And then what if you are happy? What if you’re supporting yourself and you’re happy? Does that mean no more goals? You’re done? You’ve reached your life’s ambition? Is that bad? Is that morally wrong? Shouldn’t you always be dreaming some impossible dream?

This video comes to mind… You can have whatever goals you want! You don’t have to constantly want more. You don’t have to always be improving yourself to something you can’t even imagine. “I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m getting there!” How do you know?

Just make enough money to support yourself and try to find a job you’re happy with. Whether or not you want to give yourself any goals after that is up to you. You don’t have to be rich or famous or anything. So there.

(Disclosure: I do not yet make enough money to support myself yet, so I guess I’m a failure. But at least I don’t have a job I hate!)