My soul is redlining these days but I’ve discovered a few breaths and a few minutes to write. Thank you as always for reading and affording me an opportunity to be better understood.
Work has been a bummer for me lately. Trying to help out, I took a position last August that has essentially taken away my ability to contribute. I thought supporting others would be a way to expand the impact of my passion; I was wrong. It turns out passion is rare and fragile. Through all the re-organization, cost-cutting and inequity, I lost my motivation and purpose at UCF.
One morning my passion fought back. This was not what UCF had been to me. I met many of my friends here. I lost almost 100 pounds with a smoothie diet at this walk-able campus. UCF gave me room to grow, demonstrate my value and find my confidence. UCF stood for opportunity.
For weeks I’ve been exploring campus and visiting colleagues, filming everything. I woke up for sunrises on the top of empty garages. I stalked cats, squirrels, raccoons and sandhill cranes. I interviewed peers and clients. I pulled weather cam footage and swam in fountains. In all, I shot and compressed 700+ clips to a single production, a surreal memoir of my UCF experience.
Nothing in recent memory has made me happier or has been as fulfilling or rewarding. Seeing old friends, comrades, wildlife, and the hidden beauty around campus has been overwhelming. I sincerely hope everyone reading this can feel as strongly about their purpose and passions as I have felt producing this video. Please enjoy. 🐾
Last Thursday (our typical game night), instead of fireworks and flags, we took advantage of the release of Super Mario Maker 2 to host a little game jam! Ever since the original Mario Maker on Wii U I’ve had fantasies of having little game jams where we all create level designs with some constraints. For our initial attempt at a jam, we gave three randomly-assigned traits (game type, level type, style) to each participant and broke for an hour to create levels.
Once the timer sounded, we uploaded and validated our creations and took turns trying them out. Below are each of the levels and their codes:
Hey friends! I tend to write really structured updates and the temptation to do that this time is totally there! Instead I’m just going to write about what’s on my mind and fill in the details where I can.
Work Work Work
Work blows. I’ve been a Scrum Master since last August and it’s on par with the terrible internship I had with Orange County back in the day. Lots of theoretical responsibility and a bunch of people too disillusioned and/or busy to really care about Scrum, Agile, technical quality, or me. Most days I have literally nothing to do. I’ve filled the vacuum by taking on large, team-wide server and database migration projects, team satisfaction surveys, trying to keep on top of strategy and momentum, but it all just screeches to a halt the second I have to rely on anyone outside of my office. It’s depressing as hell and leaves me feeling like a useless member of the team (and questioning my own value). Even worse, gaslighting in the form of “we’re all doing a great job” and “Scrum is so important to our success” makes me feel like I don’t even know what reality I’m in half the time.
It’s finally done! I’ve successfully turned my decade-long adventures discovering and exploring Florida’s freshwater springs into a photo book for friends, family and memories.
As far back as I can remember, my family took the occasional trips into the Ocala National Forest to visit the springs. Sometimes just for the day (we were always there at 7:45am sharp to be the first ones in), sometimes for a weekend of pop-up camping. They were little microcosms of vacation, parks nestled in an expanse of forest without cell phones or news. Only swimming, snorkeling, biking, hiking, a Game Boy, and the occasional game of Clue or Skip-Bo. Alexander Springs, Salt Springs, Silver Glen Springs, and rarely Juniper Springs: the springs of Florida. Right?
Not quite. Fast forward to early college when, as I started to think about what I wanted to do with my life, I discovered that (actually) there are over 100 springs in Florida, all over the state. Residing in all forms: national parks, state parks, county parks, private parks and clubs, backyards, government research facilities, even undeveloped public land. A quick trip around the net opened my eyes to the possibilities of exploration and discovery and I was instantly bought in. Coupled with a background in high-school photography and the purchase of a used Nikon D50 (thanks Chris!), I set out to see and capture every spring I could.
This blog just isn’t fuzzy enough, so here’s a sketch by pipesburrow of me enjoying a cup of coffee, probably planning my week ahead and staying positive and cozy. 🐾
Hello everyone! It’s March and I’m still alive, and that’s good. I had such a productive January that last month looked like it might be barren and unproductive by comparison. Not so! I managed to make some good progress despite the lighter outlook.
- Exercise at the gym: I went to the student gym several times in February and even sometimes at work! Also got to play some ping-pong with Rob and Erik too.
- Front door plants: Erik made us a really nice bench for the front door and we wanted to spruce it up, so we bought a couple of nice pots and plants for the front door area.
- Trailer hitch: Got a hitch for my CR-V and tested it out by taking the bikes up to UCF. Works as expected, if not a little noisy; had to fish a bolt out of the sub-frame the installers “forgot” about.
- Eye exam and new glasses: After taking a little tumble at work that scuffed up my glasses (and forehead), I popped over to LensCrafters for an eye exam and updated lenses and frames I’ve been putting off for far too long (since I lost my last pair in a lake in New Hampshire). Not a huge change in prescription and no eye problems, woo!
- Aeron chair: After putting it off for a decade of working at a sit-down job (and coming home to sit the majority of nights), I finally took the time to try out some Steelcase and Herman Miller chairs. Thanks to a super helpful staff member, I specced out an Aeron chair and put some savings toward it. Thanks to Erik for buying an IKEA chair off of me to help fund it. No idea when I’ll get it but I’m excited!
I like writing small updates around the turn of the month, but this time I want to deep dive into what goals I tracked for January to give a sense of how varied and granular it can be and still be super helpful (to me).
I track my goals in Trello with a very simple board layout: columns for To Do, Upcoming, Doing, and Done (cleared out once a month at our goals dinner). I keep the mobile app on my home screen, keep visible bookmarks to the board on every browser, and remind myself to check the board in my habit tracker daily.
I completed over 30 goal cards on the board this past month (which is crazy) and I’d like to share all of them to show how even the smallest goals can add up to a real feeling of self confidence and success.
My love of gaming started early and still burns bright, even if my relationship with it is a little weird right now (feeling pushed out of the AAA scene via boredom). Last year, I kept a quick ranking of every game I touched by enjoyment and thought I’d write a little about my favorites.
Donut County: The game design is a bit simplistic but it’s an ear-to-ear grin inducer from start to finish with wonderful characters, snappy, aware writing, playful graphics, and a soul that exudes joy. And raccoons.
Deltarune: Who would have thought we were going to get a fully functional and super enjoyable first act to a sequel to Undertale out of the blue? Great music, interesting new characters and nostalgic hooks made for a really fulfilling experience and gave way to the excruciating wait for the final product someday, hopefully.
Forza Horizon 4: I’m actually kind of bummed that this didn’t make my top five, but the changes to the world economy and introduction of extremely silly personalization options really took me out of the perfect formula the team crafted for the previous iteration. That aside, the game is still one of the best racing games ever made and a wonderful co-op experience that shouldn’t be missed.