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Archive for April, 2008

I started this blog about six weeks ago with the intent of making a go at being a professional blogger. That is to say, I wanted to pick a single topic to write about, to delivery quality material reliably, and to eventually attract enough readers to make money from this project.

As time has gone on, I’ve found the writing increasingly difficult. More and more, I’ve been drifting from general to the specific, noodling over little personal interests instead of broader topics that can apply to my audience. The gulf between the subjects I’ve been covering and the subject of “happiness in the 21st century” has gotten larger and larger. The things I find myself wanting to write about are not the things I said I was going to write about.

I’m rambling, a little.

The next two weeks are big for me, finishing off the semester’s projects and taking finals. So I’m taking a hiatus. In two weeks I’ll come back and let you know if I’m going to continue Step Lightly.

Thanks for understanding.

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If you can read this without the translation, you really need to get a life (I almost managed it). Honestly, if you can understand the translation I would worry a little.

Here is a video of an adorably lazy little machine.

A little proof that my choice of “fine arts” isn’t so bad, in the form of (math^pie/graph). (By the way, that site is pretty reliably awesome, including this Billy Joel themed graph.)

In case you were ever wondering how to deal with a bully in a metropolitan subway, we have the answer, straight from… Russia? I’ve seen that video a bunch of times, and I’m still not sure what impresses me more: his reaction time or the laid back way the other riders enjoy the show.

If not for this video, no one would believe this guy’s story. Which is funny, because it’s basically him just being a lucky idiot.

And finally, the definitive guide I’ve always needed for seat-surrendering courtesy on a New York subway.

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For those who don’t know, The Tao of Steve is an excellent movie. Go watch. In short, it revolves around this guy who has developed a three step system for getting women to sleep with him. It’s surprisingly simple and, by all estimation, very effective.

  • Be desireless. Essentially, don’t lust after the woman you want, just hang out with her.
  • Be excellent. Whatever you do well, do it in front of her.
  • Be gone. “We pursue that which retreats from us.”

I’ve yet to meet someone, male or female, who wont admit that it is probably a sound plan. Ironically, in the movie (spoiler alert: skip the paragraph if you don’t want a really vague suggestion of the rest of the movie), the protagonist decides that he doesn’t want to live by the Tao anymore. Earlier in the movie, though, he tries to convince a fellow character that the Tao isn’t about getting laid (that is a side effect), but rather about being a good person. I think he was right.

I think the Tao of Steve is a fundamentally sound way to live your life, and not just a way to attract women (though it probably does that too). Lets look at the steps:

  • Be desireless. Buddhists and Catholics agree, being overly desirous is bad for you. This prohibition not only keeps you from lusting, but combats our society’s tendency to objectify others. If you are treating everyone like a friend, you aren’t treating them like a (insert your preferred derogatory term here). I’m reminded of the core advice from a great book, The Holy Man, which predates the dime-a-dozen tiny self-help books fad. “Treat everyone you meet as if they were a holy man.” (On a distantly related note, this is an interesting story about groping.)
  • Be excellent. Take your skills, your job, whatever you do, and excel at it. This is basically just telling you to work at self improvement. Hard to argue with that.
  • Be gone. For a long time I thought this was the weak point of this argument. It’s basically playing hard to get, isn’t it? Nope! This is a prohibition on resting on your laurels. You shouldn’t sit around doing nothing, basking in the glory of your previously acquired excellence. Nor should you stop looking for new experiences. (If this restlessness results in retreating from some people, thats okay).

Maybe it is a bit of a loose argument, but I love the simplicity of the Tao. If nothing else, it’s not a bad way to relate to members of the opposite sex, so long as you don’t abuse it. After all, if you can take all the potential self-destructive energy that relationships can stir up, and redirect it into being a better, more successful person (while having more romantic success), that has to be a good thing.

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Where I Am

I have about three weeks (er, two and a half?) until the end of another school year. I’ll be a junior, technically, but still have three years to go as a consequence of switching majors. In that regard, I’m going for a Bachelor of Fine Arts, with a photo concentration, and probably an Art History minor. I have classes, housing, financial aid, etc. Scholastically, I am pretty well set, and feeling more confident about my choices then ever.

This summer is a different story. No job, yet. I’m not terrible concerned about what the job is, which hopefully will make finding one easier. I’m still not exactly sure how people come back from school with jobs already in hand. I must be missing something.

Lots of artistic ideas, but no darkroom in which to execute them. Not sure what to do about that, but I keep trying.

In other ways, I’m also on unsure footing. Maybe more on that some other day, though.

A little bit of positive news though, to bring this to an optimistic close. I am receiving some sort of award from a scholarship show (that I didn’t enter) in the art department. What this award is or why I was chosen, I have no idea. Oh well! Recognition is recognition.

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This post originally ran on my old blog, the Sensdep Experience. I’m reproducing it here because a cold has shut down the writing portion of my brain, and I’ve eaten through my back log. Hopefully I will have something new for you tomorrow, but until then enjoy this classic!

So, since June 27th (The post originally ran Augusut 15th of the same year) I’ve been signed up with a company called SurveySpot to take on-line surveys for a cash reward. The idea is simple but I thought I might talk a little about my experience in case anyone wants to consider doing it themselves.

As I said, the premise is simple. The company contacts you with survey opportunities from various market research groups, and you can accept or decline each survey. Also, most surveys will have a few introductory questions to ensure you fall into the demographic they want to poll, and you may be told politely “no thank you” after doing those. However, if you are accepted, most surveys take between fifteen minutes and an hour and pay between $2 and $5.

These surveys work great for people who have a little bit of free time and want to make some extra cash. It wont come quickly, as there are long processing times between the research group and SurveySpot as well as between SurveySpot and you, but it’ll get there eventually. There are some surveys with no reward (though SurveySpot offers instead an entry into a quarterly $25,000 raffle), but you are under no obligation to do them.

The downsides are pretty straightforward. A lot of the surveys are boring, unless slight changes to product packaging really catches your interest. Some weren’t so bad though, so don’t expect every time to be drudgery. There is also the ever present chance of internet failure. Should something time out just before you finish, tough luck. I think it only happened once to me, though.

Being turned down for surveys can be frustrating. I’ve probably spent an hour getting rejected by six surveys to be accepted by one. However, I also had one day where I was accepted by all five, so it comes and goes.

The big things to watch out for are as follows:

A) Any company that asks for a sign up fee is a scam, flat out. Don’t bother. SurveySpot is free.
B) Any company that uses points instead of real cash is probably a scam. I was signed up for one of these before (Harris Poll Online) and after a ton of surveys could just manage a $5 gift card. If a company uses points, do the math. How long is each survey, how many points per survey, and what can points buy you. You might find it works out to an agreeable amount per hour, or, as I did, you might not.

That said, it’s not bad, for working from home on your own hours. It’s never a career, and not even really a second job, but not bad to pad the wallet a little. As I said, I signed up on June 27th, and the last survey I took was June 30th, about a month later. In that time I took 19 surveys at $3 a piece, for a total of $57 dollars. If I could keep it up, that’s $684 a year.

Unfortunately, I’m writing this because I couldn’t keep it up. It’s mind numbing work. It will never go on a resume, and I decided I’d rather do some other form of low paying work (like an online store) which will hopefully pay dividends later on. Still, I can’t complain too much about the experience, and I’ll have a check for $57 no later then four to six weeks after September 10th.

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A brief message to anyone who has just seen a big setback in their life:

I found out yesterday that my most recent shirt design on Threadless had the voting period cut short because it was doing that poorly. It’s something called the 1.5 rule. This comes as a particularly big surprise because the shirt had apparently been well received in the critique stage.

First of all, c’est la vie. It happens, and I can’t do anything about it now. I can’t control people that I don’t even see or speak too. So I move on.

Second, I’m shifting my focus. (In a big way, by moving to my first couple gallery-scale photo projects this summer, but thats for another day.) In a more immediately relevant way, I’m going to talk to someone who contacted me about an alternative business opportunity for a design I had. If one company doesn’t like my shirt, maybe another will.

Mostly, though, I’m focusing on school, which will be over in a few weeks, but not before a fair amount of blood, sweat, and tears.

(On the up side, I received an e-mail today that I won a contest here in the art department which I did not enter. Hard to argue with that. Granted, I think once they figure it out, they wont give me the prize, but hey, one can dream.)

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This beautiful Friday, I bring you a list of things I passionately want/don’t want.

First, I might want this ring if I get into a long term relationship. However, I currently don’t want it, since it would presumably just shock me whenever it feels like.

I definitely want a case of Bawls’s G33k B33r (thats geek beer, for the unl33t), even though I would probably never sleep again.

I want to shake the hand of this Maasai Warrior for making all western marathon runners look foolish. Just so we’re clear, its this quote:

The [London] marathon is easy. There are no lions.

Word.

This new book looks significantly more awesome then a book of career advice has any right to. Question is, will I find it under self-help, or graphic novels? Scroll down and watch the trailer. (On a related note, all books should have trailers.)

I don’t want this flashlight, but I do want the reviewer’s writing style. Let me pull out the passage I’m referring to.

You can do a lot of damage with a simple flashlight. One solid swing, connected with the occipital lobe, is enough to detach retinas, and I can tell you from first hand experience there’s just nothing funnier than watching a burglar blindly stumbling around your house, his tongue protruding, his eyes wildly googling in their sockets. “Hey honey! Kids! Check it out! Its Cookie Monster!” you can cry out. With peals of delight, encourage your loved one to toss Oreos at the would-be home invader, making moist, mocking “Nom nom nom” noises with your mouths all the while. What might have been a horrific tragedy becomes a midnight comedy!

Last, but not least (unless you count that I want it the least out of anything here), is this guy. There… there are no words. Just watch the video, and join me in wishing there had been someone there you could have done a better job of insulting him. I mean, wow.

Yeah.

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