When people run in circles it’s a very, very…

I consider it a failing to reach the point of exhaustion. To be stretched to my limits to the extent that I can accomplish no more than I am currently accomplishing means that I am too limited, too weak, and simply not good enough. If I were better, I could accomplish more in the same amount of time, in less time even. I should be able to manage everything.

There are a variety of reasons why I cannot accomplish everything, though. And at this point, I have reached my limit. I think about work just about all the time. It’s on my mind as I’m falling asleep, and I wake from my dreams with lists of what I need to do the next day. When I wake up in the morning, my first thought is of what needs to be done at 8 a.m., then at 8:10 a.m., and every five to ten minutes thereafter. Lists and schedules and reprioritizations, plates spinning with colored balls bouncing between them. I’ve got to keep it all going all the time.

I half work through lunch everyday, keeping myself accessible to student workers and assisting when necessary. I have random people stopping by my office all day long to talk, needing to know what’s going on or what they ought to be doing. That’s fine because it’s part of my job, but I’ve got a lot of parts that have added up to something greater than the whole. Or, at least, greater than what the whole seems like it ought to be.

Maybe it’s temporary, this overload. Of course, I’ve been thinking that for a while now, that once this project ends (whatever the project may be) everything will lighten up. There’s always another project, though. Right now, I’m banking on June or July. Who knows, maybe things will go back to “normal.”

For now, though, I’m kind of going out of my mind. Forty hours isn’t enough, when it comes right down to it, but the projects I’d like to give up are ones other people can’t do that well, and the projects other people could do are the ones I’d rather keep. Bit of a stickey wicket, huh?

I’ll keep on keeping on, and maybe I’ll feel better next week. I said that last week and really thought it–my schedule was totally clear this week. Now I’ll be lucky to get 2/3 of everything done that needs to be done.

Going for a walk. Maybe I’ll be able to actually write about something I want to write about when I get home.

Post-walk Update:: There’s a line from SLC Punk that comes to mind when I think about the work I do, especially compared to some others.

“I don’t know who started it and I don’t give a fuck. The one thing I do know is that we did it harder, we did it faster, and we definitely did it with more love, baby. You can’t take that away from us.”

– Stevo, SLC Punk

I don’t know that “love” is there. Right now, there’s mostly just bitterness and frustration. But there’s a certain amount of pride as well, and for now, that will have to suffice.

I work harder, I work faster, and I do it with more… whatever. That’s got to be worth something.

On the way home this afternoon I decided that the best thing I can do right now is make more lists while I’m at work. Really flesh out my todo, set reasonable deadlines, record more in our work management system, and take more notes. I need to start letting my computer do more of the scheduling thinking for me so my brain can do more of the analyzing and creative thinking. Maybe I’ll work on that… Thursday or Friday, because for the next few mornings I have some training lined up.

Whatever happens, I’ve got to change something. Either I’ve got to get better, or something’s got to give. I can control the former, so I’ll work on that. In a couple of months, maybe things will be lighter and it won’t be such an issue.

Thinking about thinking about doing something

I wouldn’t call what I’ve been in a “slump.” I’ve had ideas, and they’d be good things to write down; old projects have new life and new projects come to mind on a regular basis. What I don’t have is time, energy, or desire. I’m busy a lot of the time, and when I’m not busy, I’m tired. Even when I could potentially work after resting, I just don’t feel like pushing myself so hard that I burn out.

This is why I wanted to drop out. I just don’t have the energy to write much during the semester. I don’t understand why those two nights of classes wipe me out like they do, but between my job (which requires a great deal of extroversion when I’m an introvert, and subsequently drains me emotionally and mentally) and three 12-15 hour days in each five day work week (two of class, one of D&D which, being social activity, still requires extroversion as well as mental work since I run the game), I’m just gone by the weekend. So I don’t write, and I don’t bother to record videos, and I haven’t done a podcast in I-don’t-know-how-long.

I did have a cool realization last week, though. For the last year I’ve had an ongoing worry that I’m nothing but a how-to writer. The most popular stuff on this site is all related to how to get something to work on Linux or how to make a Mac application work right. Most of the articles and particularly the stories I put time into draw little traffic. That is, until a few weeks ago when I invested half a day (after four weeks of cogitating about it) into writing that piece about Christianity and poverty. It’s moved up to #7 on the site in a short period of time, which is pretty cool. Put some work into writing something I find interesting and other people might be interested in it too.

It’s ridiculous, I know–this should be common sense–but I’ve had nagging doubts for a while if it was all worth it. Or, to put it another way, “Is the premise of this site even feasible?” When my number one article in the last two years is how to install a game on Linux, banged out in about ten minutes,  compared to other stuff I spent hours on… well, it makes me wonder. It doesn’t help that I haven’t liked most of what I’ve written in the last month or so, including this blog entry.

But they say that the only way to get back into writing after a dry spell is to start doing it. Ignore the crap and get the words out. If I keep at it, hopefully pure, quality work will start to flow again. Unless, of course, the dam of exhaustion is insurmountable. Then I guess I’m just screwed for the rest of this semester.


Not much homework done today, and every time I looked at a blank page to write I felt unaccountably weary. Too many memories floating around
about 14 hours ago from TweetDeck

Matthew Stublefield

This is about all the greater Internet is getting out of me these days: Twitter messages. I haven’t blogged since I got home from vacation and I’m not sure I’m going to blog anytime soon now that work and class has re-entered my life.

I’ve got a test Friday and a paper to write this weekend (due Monday) in addition to work and trying to not burn out. My method for staying sane includes a decent amount of gaming during what one might term “free time,” and it is… that’s sort of the point, I guess. Part of me points with frustration at this time and says, “Look! Look how much writing you could be doing! You played WoW for what, 8 hours over the weekend? 9?! Why didn’t you spend that time writing?”

I could have also been storyboarding, recording podcasts, doing book reviews, etc. etc… but that would all be work. As I have lamented before, it’s work I enjoy, but it’s tiring nonetheless, and when I’m already tired I’m afraid piling more work on will only break me.

Therefore, I’ve been “microblogging,” something I’d never given conscious thought until Steve replied to a comment I sent him on Twitter. He’d been tweeting a lot in a short period of time (admittedly, his overall tweetage is higher than mine–where I average about 8 tweets a day, Steve’s at about 20) and I suggested that some of them might make good blog posts. He replied back that one blog post a week was about all he had time for, and looking at my own schedule, I can sympathize. I haven’t even managed one in the last week.

I’ve considered turning the feature on in Twitter Tools to have it make a daily digest of my tweets, but that seems a little overboard. If you want those updates, you can either sign up for Twitter and follow me or grab it via RSS. My updates are also on the right side of my homepage, if you prefer to check them there.

Someday I’ll have the time and energy to write again, but getting myself to accept that and just be is difficult. I keep wishing I could live comfortably; just play games without the feeling of guilt for whatever else I could be doing. On the plus side, when I get some balance back to my life and start writing again I’ve got over 50 notes with ideas and starters in Evernote, and that’s just going to keep growing. The larger my note pile becomes, the more uses I find for those tidbits. Rather than turning each into a blog entry, as I would have in the past, they’ll now become pieces of stories, off-handed comments or observations, and other spice for larger works. I’m excited to note this development in my thought/planning process and look forward to seeing how it works out.

One last, unrelated thing. I slept on my stomach last night for the first time since my bicycle accident. I’ve got another x-ray in a week and a day, hopefully my last, and I’m now able to walk/stand pretty much all day (compared to 15-30 minutes just a month ago). All-in-all, I seem to be on the mend 🙂

Being the Best at What I Do


Another round of storms last night, but I was home for these and we actually knew they were coming. We’d been hearing about this line of storms for almost two days now, so the hatches were firmly battoned and everything was in order. We were ready for the storm, but I certainly wasn’t ready for sleep.

After being so thoughtful about tornados and whatnot for so long, I couldn’t sleep last night, so I had only dozed for about two hours before the sirens started going off. April grabbed the kittens, I slammed on a pair of pants and snatched my MacBook, and we retreated to the basement to discover that our storm news source, Twitter, was hours behind and updates weren’t coming through. Thankfully, it turns out that KSPR news had a life feed of their storm coverage on their website, so we watched that and chatted with friends on Facebook to make sure everyone was all right.

When we came back upstairs around 12:30 a.m., I found myself not tired at all. Rather than restlessly go to bed and keep April awake, I elected to play some World of Warcraft with the hopes that its monotony would dull my brain and send me snoozing. Alas, it was not to be, though I did gain a level and some kickin’ gear. It was a good time, but when I shut my computer down at 2 a.m. this morning, I was still quite awake.

So, after a total of about 4 hours of sleep, I’m bathed, shaved, and ready to go to work. I’m working a half day so I can pick my mom up from the airport at 1 p.m. today, pick April up (she has a work trip) around 4:30 p.m., start making dinner around 7:00 p.m., which my mom will have to take over because I have a final at 8 p.m., then rush back to the house to finish grilling steaks and baking potatoes as April’s eldest brother, Adam, arrives from Kansas City around 8-8:30 p.m.

Thinking of this afternoon/evening makes me feel very worn.

Incisions in my life

I got my wisdom teeth out last Thursday, and though it wasn’t as horrific as some people made it out to be, it has put a bit of a crimp in my scheduled activities. I had expected to be all better by end-of-the-day Friday and return to writing on Saturday, but suffice it to say that did not happen.

This is just a short note by way of apology for suckiness and being such a wuss. I was going to have an essay about hospitality up today, but it didn’t happen. Instead, my weekend has been filled with downing pain pills, drinking almost all my meals, and napping with April and the kittens because I’m not capable of much else.

I did get our taxes done on Saturday morning, which was something of an accomplishment, and by using H&R Block’s TaxCut we got a couple extra hundred dollars more than we would have using TurboTax. Definitely recommend TaxCut.

I also recommend Campbell’s tomato soup, but am steering away from Slim Fast. I managed to drink two of them before being unable to take any more. I’d like to try Slim Fast mixed with coffee or milk, but haven’t worked up the courage yet.

How do you write, or function even, when you’re in pain and all kinds of lethargic? I suppose someone with more drive than me would have pushed through and done something, anything, but I did not. I read, and I’ve got some extra notes and outlines, and I’m all ready to be productive again, but it just isn’t going to happen this week. Subsequently, I also didn’t go back and revise the articles going live this week, so they’re a bit rough. Oh well.

It’d be nice to be full again, instead of always hungry. To eat chicken fried steak, or something with more flavour than mashed potatoes. We’re going to try and go out for sushi on Valentine’s Day, which would suffice, and hopefully I’ll even be able to eat it.

My mind’s all fuzzy. I know I had stuff I wanted to write and share, but I’ve got no motivation right now. Gonna go do something brainless, like nap some more or something. Adieu.

Not dead yet

Update 11:52 a.m.:: Today’s project – Writing documentation for a portal that goes live on Monday, to which I only got access yesterday.

I figure I’ve gone through about half a dozen projects in the last three weeks, and every one of them has had a timeline of “Now.” For whatever reason, everything is high priority and extremely time sensitive, so I’ve been putting in some extra hours at work and really pushing myself to get everything done on time while maintaining high quality.

Thus far, I’m pretty happy with how everything is turning out. I have managed to get everything done, and the projects I’ve completed have come off swimmingly. Moreoever, I’m not as exhausted as I expected myself to be. I’m making it through.

But another 2-3 weeks of this and I’m going to start burning out. There have also been some personal projects that have fallen by the wayside, in addition to my annual review. Part of our annual development plan (ADP) is that we need to submit the highlights of our year, noting the things we want to get credit for in our evaluation. This ensures that our manager(s) don’t forget or overlook something, give us a low score, and tell us later they wish they’d known we had done X, Y, and/or Z. Unfortunately, due to the volume of work I do in conjunction with my verbosity, my review of what I’ve done in a year is rather lengthy and will probably take 6-8 hours to compile and compose. I just haven’t had time for that.

Hopefully on Monday I can get to it, because my ADP will probably come in late December and it would be best if I could get my side of the paperwork filed sooner rather than later. But I’ve been trying to work on this for two weeks now… who knows what next week will hold.

Tomorrow we are traveling to St. Louis to spend Thanksgiving with April’s mom’s side of the family, which should be enjoyable. I’m also excited that we’ll be coming back on Friday, giving me about two and a half days to chill and relax; my weekends have been crucial to maintaining my sanity throughout this period. I do have some homework to do, though: our Buddhism class requires either an essay or a creative project for the final, so I have elected to write a fictional epic poem. I like the idea I have for the poem and hope to write the first canto (I’m not sure what a properly Buddhist term for this would be) tonight.

Until then, I’ve got a ton of work to do. See you on the other side of the moon.

Paving the road to hell

After succumbing to procrastination last night and deciding to play World of Warcraft rather than write, I thought, “Hey, I can write tomorrow night and still be publishing a story on Friday (thereby meeting my update schedule).” I had no idea what today would be like.

Meetings all morning until noon, grabbed some Chinese food to work through lunch, and had a ton of stuff to get done before leaving promptly at 5 p.m. Nine hours without a break other than to walk quickly to the student union so I could grab something to eat.

I don’t know if my brain will handle writing. It’s barely managing this blog entry.

Regardless, I slightly edited one of my favourite poems and posted that for your consumption. If I’m not getting a story up, at least I can do that much.

April and I are looking at houses with our Realtor tomorrow morning. I intend to spend a good portion of the afternoon writing the next story (Arias finally meets “the adventuring party!”) so I can set things up for next week. I’ll be doing a lot of writing on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, so I should be able to meet my goals and get a bit ahead.

But not tonight. Tonight, I need something brainless, like reading fantasy fiction or playing a game. And something to drink. And eat. And… my brain just quit on me.

Support Open Formats

Much like the current campaigns for presidential nominees in the United States, I’m somewhat tired of hearing about this subject. It is old and tired, and an uphill battle that feels as if it will never end. Formats like Microsoft’s Open Office XML (OOXML) are simply bad, cludgy, poorly designed… and in the case of OOXML, Microsoft’s own products, namely their Office 2007 suite, don’t or can’t implement the spec correctly.

What’s frustrating is that Microsoft has the money and the power granted through monopoly to make all of that irrelevant. NoOOXML.org has eight top-notch reasons why OOXML should be struck down, but the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) board approved the format anyways.

The bottom line is that governments should not encode, encrypt, archive, present, or distribute public documents in a proprietary format. Microsoft holds all the strings on their formats, and at any point they could pull the plug and say that no program(s) but their own can open their formats. It would be illegal for anything other than a Microsoft program to open a Microsoft document. And then, should Microsoft go bankrupt and stop producing their software… and if their software then becomes so out-of-date it can no longer run on modern computers…

No empire lasts forever, folks, so by using Microsoft’s formats, we’re handing our documents to a company that will fade away and take our archives and records with them.

The solution is to use open standards, such as the Open Document Format (ODF), which was approved by ISO in 2006 and is full-implementable, open source, and actually works as its spec claims it should. The ISO’s decision on OOXML is being appealed by a number of countries around the world who are unwilling to be bought off and would rather we have a proper, standardized format. If we cannot rely on a supposedly independent, unbiased body to produce standards, intercommunication between regions will become impossible. Without standards, we will eventually degenerate into Babel.

I urge you to sign both the petition above on NoOOXML’s site as well as the Hague Declaration’s petition. A part of me recognizes what most of us already know: that online petitions are pretty much worthless. But I still feel that it is important to put my name out there and to have something I can point at to say, “That’s what I support.” When I write to my congress-people, I can point at these documents and say, “This is what I want you to do.”

Educate yourselves about the issue, and speak accordingly.