Dec 02

Emptyeye.com- Week 7

This past week saw the end of November, which gave me an opportunity to compare how my stats looked for October vs. November. There seems to be some growth in terms of downloads, but November vs. December will be a more apt comparison–remember that I didn’t get the site up and running until mid-October. It also occurs to me that to continue the growth, I’m going to have to do at least one of two things:

  1. Provide new material. Not just new blog postings, but new songs, as well as other things of more substance that I haven’t decided on yet.
  2. Get the site out to a wider audience. This might actually be the easier of the two things in a superficial sense–I can put the site in my signature on various message board, mention it in places I comment on, etc. etc. etc.
  3. Either way, though, I want as big an audience as possible as April draws nearer.

    Speaking, indirectly, of music, it’s roughly five months until I’ll have to hunker down and re-record stuff for The Six Day Exile, and suffice to say I’m a bit behind schedule. The Tool-esque song is on hold because of a unique problem–namely, lack of plugs for everything I need. So instead I started working on an acoustic song which I apparently wrote back in 2004, probably soon after I got my acoustic guitar and was in that new-toy phase. Looking it over again, I like it enough that it should all work out.

    What else…I picked up my new glasses this week, and tried out the DDR machine at the Brass Mill Center while I was there. I’ve been sick the past week, so I didn’t get to play as much as I would’ve liked, but my limited playtime was enough to earn the machine the Emptyeye Seal of Approval–everything is in fine shape, especially for a five-year-old game whose gameplay involves effectively stomping on the controller with your feet. Plus, all the songs are unlocked–this should be a foregone conclusion at this point, but the state of DDR in Connecticut is such that yes, this is actually a pleasant surprise. I’m wondering if this was the “good” machine that used to be at Smiles that mysteriously disappeared. Either way, though, I like it.

    Finally, we’re a month away from MAGFest, along with which will come my first true vacation since…I don’t even know. I want to say September, though in reality it may have been as far back as April. I’ve taken individual days and half days off since then, to be sure, but this was usually due to doctor’s appointments and the like. It’s kind of amusing, in that I’ll be carrying over eight or so paid days off from this year–and use them up basically immediately in 2008. This year, they have a challenges thing going on with a bunch of old NES games. I’ve started going down the list and seeing what looks doable to me–I spend a lot of my MAGFest time playing games anyway; may as well try to make some money on it–and am highly amused at the inclusion of Battletoads on the list. I personally would’ve gone for Level 9 or 11 as an Expert challenge, but what do I know about the game…

    I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that my girlfriend will be coming with me to this MAGFest. It’ll be our first sort of vacation “alone together”, if that makes any sense. That should be fun too.

    Until next time…

    -EE

Dec 01

Dear Mrs. NotYourOriginalLastName

This was something that I got to wondering about going over my MySpace page and looking over my friends list. I’ve talked elsewhere about the fact that it seems like everyone I knew in high school in college is moving out/getting married/etc. and I’m…well, not, at the moment. That’s fine, as I honestly think the path I picked for myself, while making me a “loser” in American society in the short term, will work out far better for me in the long term, and those close to me seem to agree. That’s not really my point. My point is that, as mentioned, a lot of my friends are getting married. And as a result of this, a lot of my female friends have changed their last name to that of their husband’s. Okay. But from looking at their display names, it seems many of them are downright enthusiastic about this specific aspect of marriage.

Huh?

Now, maybe it’s because I was born with, and last I knew, still had *Checks…yep, still do*, the male genitalia and the balance of hormones that come with it, and so I can never know why this is. I do understand that there is this pressure on females in general to run off as it were and get married–my girlfriend once told me that this desire was drilled into her from the age of approximately 4–perhaps deriving from a history where traditionally, the only way for a female to be able to survive once she became an adult was essentially to get married and have her husband care for her, so to speak. And indeed, from a functional perspective I understand to a degree why someone’s last name has to go upon marriage–otherwise, your child’s full name will be something like “Firstname DadLastName-MomLastName”, their child’s name would be “FirstName LastNameOne-LastNameTwo-LastNameThree-LastNameFour”, and after that…well, it’s a huge mess.

But to me–and again, my views on this may be influenced by the fact that I’m male and so don’t really have to deal with losing my last name upon marriage–your name is really a part of your identity. Is part of the legacy of the pressure to marry a pressure to give up part of your identity…and worse, to present this as though it’s a good thing?

Any female readers (Or male, for that matter) out there, please comment on this, as I’m clearly missing something.

-EE

Nov 27

Random Thoughts on a Tuesday

Yeah.

  • It’s amusing how real life can sometimes serve as an inspiration for creative endeavors. Long story short, a case of mistaken identity on MySpace (Hi Meg, if you’re reading this!) caused me to think about the alternative–what if I had actually found the person I thought I was looking for? Basically, it would have meant that I’ve been mis-remembering pretty much my entire high school career. If I didn’t already have music stuff going on, I’d try and turn this into a story of some kind. Yeah, the whole “You’re not who you thought you were” plot has probably been done to death by now, but there’s a reason for that, I think.
  • I still have to get in touch with the SDA administration regarding my Astyanax run. Indeed, at some point I might add a “speedruns” section to the sidebar here and go into a bit more detail about certain details behind why I picked the games I did, as opposed to just play-by-play.
  • Speaking of the sidebar, further testing revealed that my sidebar problem seems to be confined to IE6 (Thanks to my cousin for figuring that out). This has me convinced that IE is the problem, not the code. Those of you that still insist on using IE will thus want to upgrade to IE7. Of course, I recommend dropping IE altogether and switching to Firefox
  • Check out the band that a couple of my friends from college are in, Running with Karma. If you have a minute, make sure to create an account at BoDog Battle and vote for them to make it on to the next round. The winner gets a million dollar recording contract, which is obviously a pretty big deal. You can vote once every 24 hours, so if you have a minute each day, keep voting for them and hopefully they can make it one step closer to the big money.
  • I finished laying down a basic drum track for another song. Without giving away too much, suffice to say that, despite my cousin’s assertions to the contrary, it’ll prove that I actually quite enjoy the band Tool (The average Tool fan that I’ve come across on the Internet is another story…

Nov 25

Emptyeye.com- Week 6

This week at emptyeye.com, I actually wrote something that wasn’t about music or a weekly update. Incredible, no? Other than that, not a whole lot happened site-wise. I do eventually want to make the site more well-known, but not until I somehow fix the issue I have with IE (Long story short: The sidebar displays weird ONLY in the homepage). If any of you website gurus out there can help me short of telling me to get a new theme, it’d be greatly appreciated. Check out the link there and let me know if you can help.

Looking through my comment filter, I note that there seem to be blogs/directories/whatever that seem to exist only to collect excerpts from other, seemingly totally random blogs. Bizarre. Oh well. Anyone know anything about these?

In more personal news, I got another AAA in my home DDR exploits earlier in the week. That makes 7 on Heavy/Expert/whatever else that difficulty has been called through the years. That’s pretty cool. I never did end up writing that post about marriage like I had wanted to..maybe next week.

Until then…

-EE

Nov 20

Book Review: The Secret

(NOTE: I provide the Amazon links in this post so you have a starting point to learn more about the linked books, not because I necessarily recommend that you read them. Indeed, I highly recommend staying far, far away from The Magic of Dialogue.)

Those of you who know me will no doubt wonder why I decided to read Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret. It really comes down to “know your enemy”–I had heard about the supposed thesis of the book–essentially, taking the convention of “Positive thinking is a powerful tool in your arsenal” (Which isn’t that heretical an idea in and of itself–professional athletes, among others, have stated the benefits of visualizing themselves making the big, game-winning shot/pass/kick.etc) and distorting it into “Positive thinking is the ONLY tool you’ll ever need”–and bought it, having to see this for myself and intending to write a sarcastic, Bad Religion-style song about it.

Then I actually read it.

The short version of my verdict: There is something to be said for changing the way you think about life. Changing the way you think to specifically match what Byrne describes in the book will only lead to misery and nothing getting done.

Essentially, the book ranges from thought-provoking (So long as you think about the change-your-perception concept in a general sense, and don’t try to apply the exact method of “Sit back, relax, and let the good times flow in”) to downright offensive (Hitting this point when it says that the reason people are fat is that they “think ‘fat’ thoughts”. Yes, really.), to at times sounding like the scam some decry it as (At one point, the book claims “[…]it has been scientifically proven that an affirmative thought is hundreds of times more powerful than a negative thought[…]” and expects you to just believe it, without actually providing the scientific proof, or even a reference to any sort of study about said proof, in question).

Really, the book, to me, represents an excellent example of The Placebo Effect. Its thesis is really something along the lines of, as I said, “sit back, think positive thoughts, and let the good flow into your life”. But there’s really more to it than that, that isn’t stated, and which I think it dangerous to omit. No, I don’t have a problem with changing one’s perception of life, setting goals, etc. But that’s only one step–you still have to actually do the work associated with achieving whatever new goal it is that you set for yourself in order to make it happen. The book doesn’t mention this at all–indeed, one could argue that the book goes out of its way not to say this, saying effectively “Just do it. Don’t worry about how you’re going to do it, just trust that it will all work out for you in the end.” This line of thought is really very similar to the concept of faith in religion, which I don’t place a lot of, well, faith in. But back to The Placebo Effect–I can see the concept of changing your perception also changing your outlook life, not because anything has actually happened, but merely because you think it has, because you’ve changed your outlook on life. This is a positive thing, I suppose, but it’s not something you can learn only by reading this book.

My personal thoughts on the philosophy of the book aside, from a writing perspective, it suffers the same problem of a book I once had to read for college called The Magic of Dialogue. That is, there is about 20 pages of material, certainly written well enough, but rephrased in slightly different ways using slightly different examples to create a 200-or-so page book. I hated the technique in The Magic of Dialogue; I don’t hate it quite so much here, perhaps because the material itself is slightly stronger (And I’m not reading it under duress).

All in all, the book wasn’t entirely a waste of my reading time, but it did, I think, provide me enough material for that song I mentioned earlier. Given that, I can’t recommend the book as the life-changing tome of wisdom it claims to be–indeed, following it to the letter would, I think, be counter-productive.

-EE

Nov 18

Emptyeye.com- Week 5

This week saw the release of another new song, “On a Cloudy Monday“. It also saw the site go down for a day thanks to some Lunarpages nonsense with the server the site is located on. So that was…interesting, to say the least. I haven’t really gotten much feedback on the song (Remember, leave comments or e-mail me!), but what is there seemed to be positive, so that’s definitely good. I’ve also started the drums for another track that promises to be longer and more technical than anything presently available on the site. Stay tuned for that.

In general site news, I’ve already used more bandwidth this month than I did for all of October, if my stats are any indication. This is definitely a good thing, as I have more than enough to go around (As I stated last time). Make sure to tell all your friends about the music and occasional book reviews here!

In personal news, I had an eye exam yesterday. I guess I have, not a loss of vision per se, but a loss of contrast due to the chemotherapy I underwent three years ago. Eye exams in general are difficult for me, as I have a mind that can instantly pick up and remember seemingly useless and random strings–like, say, rows of eye charts. In other words, if I have good vision in one eye, I could theoretically “cheat” at the exam and recite that row, or at least what I can see of the row–back when it comes time to test the other eye–not necessarily because I can actually see it; I’ve just remembered the sequence. This trait can be a plus, too: I have the ability to use random streams of letters and numbers for passwords without having to write them down anywhere (As a conversation I had with my cousin when I gave up my GameFAQs in frustration with the administration and where the site was headed illustrates:
Me: “Here’s the password: (password that was 12 characters, with letters of both cases, numbers, AND SYMBOLS)”
Him: “Oh, right, I’m totally gonna remember that.”
Me: “I did…”)

I also discovered that the Brass Mill Center has a Dance Dance Revolution machine! It’s an unlocked DDR Extreme that’s a dollar to play; unfortunately, my eye exam left me in no condition to actually play–dilated pupils tend to take away your close-up vision. Still, as that’s less than half the distance from my usual arrowsmashing arcade hang out, I’m going to eventually take advantage of it.

On the DDR home version front, I got another AAA, this one on DDR Extreme 2. You can click the thumbnail below to see the full-size picture. I also had one song that should have been a AAA, but the pad simply chose not to register a step, so I ended with 0 Greats and a Boo. Doh!

Saturday Night Love AAA

And that’s that. Over the next week, look for another book review, possibly some writing that’s indirectly about marriage, and whatever else I dream up in the meantime. Until then…

-EE

Nov 15

Well, THAT Was Interesting…

I attempted to upgrade WordPress, which you may know as “What emptyeye.com essentially runs on”, to the current-as-of-this-writing version, 2.3.1. What did I learn from this process?

  1. ALWAYS back up relevant files before attempting upgrades. Luckily, I did this a few days before the upgrade; otherwise, the results could have been even more catastrophic than they were (Which amounted to losing a few posts and their comments [Two of the posts are back, the “100000 miles get!” post wasn’t important enough to me, honestly, to go through the trouble. The comments are sadly gone.] and the “On a Cloudy Monday” page [Which I restored in a slightly different form].)
  2. For those of you that stumbled onto this entry with search terms like “WordPress 2.3.1 lost categories” or some such, here’s the important part: Make sure you turn off your plug-ins before you upgrade. This oversight was what led to a world of pain, including database errors and the loss of my categories (The “Posts by Type” section of the sidebar). I ended up having to restore a backup of the database (Which contains pretty much all the site content, hence why I lost some posts from the last few days), then turn off plugins, then finally upgrade. Things seem to be working now, except for a bizarre IE glitch which I’m going to try and fix. In the meantime, Get Firefox, which solves the problem without my having to actually succeed at fixing the broken code (Whether the fault is that of myself or Microsoft is a mystery that will probably never be solved).In addition to that, a couple days ago, Lunarpages had to make an emergency data move that involved the server the site was hosted on. This was their issue, not mine, but it resulted in a period where comments wouldn’t go through (And the site was down entirely for a span). This seems to be taken care of now.

Nov 15

New Song- “On A Cloudy Monday”

So I recorded another new song, as you can tell by the title of this post. The song is called “On a Cloudy Monday“, and it’s not exactly the happiest thing I ever wrote. Indeed, were I some hoity-toity critic type, I would say something like “In stark contrast to the silliness of my previous effort, ‘Arrowsmash’, ‘On a Cloudy Monday’ is an unrelentingly depressing trip into my thoughts on growing old and what happens as our bodies begin to break down from old age”. But as I’m not a hoity-toity critic type…oh, wait. Darn.

Anyway, you can read about the song here, where there’s also a link to download it. Feel free to leave comments/feedback/what direction you think I should head with the song–it’s not exactly in a final state yet–right here; “Leave Comments” links are at the bottom of each entry, by the way.

Nov 15

Emptyeye.com- Week 4

Okay, so last week saw the release of the “Slap It Down” mix of “Arrowsmash”. I decided that my free releases are going to be titled “Slap It Down” mixes, in reference to the fact that I’m really just trying to get the idea out there for consumption and feedback. Reaction to the song itself thus far seems to be positive overall, which I’m happy about. The most negative comment was to the effect of “Your screaming is far better than your death metal growling”, which I sort of already knew. If you’ve downloaded the song, feel free to comment somewhere on the site, even if you didn’t necessarily like it! The release of the song also brought a predictable traffic spike, at least short-term. This is a Good Thing, and will continue to be so until my site traffic increases by about ten thousand fold.

This week brought more recording of some instrumental tracks. While I have the house to myself for a bit, I should really be recording more vocals, but instead I’m taking a break from playing StarCraft with some dudes from The Shizz to write this post. My cousin (Whose site you can get to from the sidebar…hint: It’s not The Shizz, the ACS, or SDA) would probably agree that I clearly have my priorities in order. Speaking of StarCraft, in the campaign I managed to get past my Zerg trouble spot, and the next mission was actually not all that difficult either. It’s amazing what havoc two dozen Mutalisks can bring down upon pretty much anything in single-player mode (In multi-player, of course, you won’t have the luxury of sitting back and amassing tons of units, at least not without being constantly attacked yourself).

I also played some Dance Dance Revolution MAX2 for the Playstation 2 earlier today. Prior to today, I had 2 Heavy AAAs (Getting through a song with nothing but Perfect steps, plus hitting all the freezes). I picked up another three in an hour and a half of playing today! They were all pretty easy songs, to say nothing of the timing window of any DDR home version (The short story: Compared to the arcade, the window in which you can step and get a Perfect is about as big as my house), but it was still gratifying.

And that’s about it. Until next week…

-EE

Nov 06

On the Failure of Diets

Okay, first some qualifiers: As I type this, I am eating leftover buffalo chicken pizza. Such decidedly unhealthy foods are the rule rather than the exception in my food choices, leading some to believe that I am blessed with an ultra-fast metabolism (If there are a small amount of goodies left at work, say a single donut or piece of cake or what-have-you, I’m generally the one that gets tasked to polish it off).

However, while I admit that this was true at one point, it’s really no longer the case. Instead, for over two years now, I’ve tried to do at least some type of exercise four to five days a week. Between the upper body work and the Dance Dance Revolution (Or, more accurately, In the Groove), exercise probably takes up a good 4 to 5 hours of my weekly routine, not to mention little things such as walking up stairs to my workplace rather than taking the elevator. So in short, yes, I am skinny, but I like to think I work pretty damn hard to keep myself that way.

Which brings me to my point. Look around you and you’ll find any number of people trying any number of “diets”, ranging from cutting carbs to thinking thin thoughts. Maybe you’ve even tried some yourself. Chances are, you’ve failed at some point, either in losing weight or keeping it off.

Basically, most diets involve two parts. The first part is losing some excess weight. I actually did this myself, going from 155 pounds down to about 140 between February and August, and holding steady there as of today (An interesting benefit of this was that, while I was a fairly good DDR/ITG player even at 155, I became that much better stamina-wise as I dropped the weight). Before you say “You weren’t fat to begin with!”, consider that my driver’s license generously lists me as 5’4″ tall, and I’m probably a quarter-inch shorter than that in reality. True, I wasn’t “fat” per se, but I did have a bit of a belly on me which I’ve mostly lost (If you believe in that sort of thing, the Body Mass Index scale puts 155lb at 5’4″ as being “overweight”). So believe it or not, I do have some experience here. Anyway, some people fail at this stage. They try to lose too much weight too quickly; to accomplish this, they may attempt to make drastic (And unsustainable) dietary and lifestyle changes, and then they wonder why their changes didn’t yield immediate, unrealistic results, and they give up. It should be noted that my weight loss took place slowly, about a pound a week over five months.

The second part, and the really hard part, is keeping the weight off. See, in my mind, a “diet” can’t be a temporary thing. Some people actually lose their excess weight–and then they immediately revert back to the habits that made them overweight in the first place, stopping their exercise and eating far more calories than they burn. And then they wonder why the didn’t keep the weight off. As I just said, this is the hard part. You have to continue your weight-loss routine, without any real tangible results to show for it–the number doesn’t get smaller, it just doesn’t get bigger either. Worse, continuing the routine tends to be met with awkward conversation and looks–for better or worse, at least in the U.S, exercise and working out is generally seen as something you only do if you’re trying to lose weight, not if you’re trying to maintain weight or generally stay healthy. It’s a very strange manner of thinking, similar to people wondering why those with wealth don’t make more frivolous purchases, because after all, “They can afford it”–never mind the fact that avoiding frivolous purchases was probably a part of how they came to acquire wealth in the first place! Likewise, I’m at a healthy weight (And indeed, my less physical came out great except for the fact that my “good cholesterol” was actually too low) because I exercise and generally try and eat small portions (Though that buffalo chicken pizza proabbly gave me enough calories to last the rest of the week!).