Aug 112014
 

One of the plugins I use for my blog is NewStatPress, which shows a wide range of information about recent hits, recent referrers, recent searches, etc. The last one is what worries me the most sometimes. The easiest way to find this website (aside from typing in the web address) is to search for “Shawn Bakken”. (It’s up toward the top of the list if you Google “Joe Bastianich douchebag”, too.) Some of the other search terms, though… yikes. Take this one, for example (and I wish I was making this up):

“boy with a boner in spandex porn”

And that search led someone here.

The page viewed as a result was the first page of the “Journal” category and I was at a loss as to what Google might have found there. I mean, it’s been a long time since I’ve joked about Shawn porn and I don’t look that great in spandex, so what’s the deal? I scrolled down the first page, wondering how it could have made such a tragic mistake, then found these entries:

What are you most proud of?
Marie Porter doesn’t make Canadian porn
Is that a franchise in your pants?

I’m proud of earning my Eagle award in Boy Scouts. Marie Porter doesn’t make porn and she has a website called Queen of Spandex. I got some junk mail about franchising “NHance” that I joked about being “boner medicine”. Add them all together and you’ve got a serious creeper who’s now stalking you online.

What’s worse, this also means that if someone searches for “Shawn Bakken with a boner in spandex porn”… please, God, don’t let any potential employers try to see what they can find out about me on the Internet like that.

Aug 082014
 

Procrastination has been a problem of mine for years. Eons. Since forever. I was born on time, but everything has been downhill since then.

It’s affected a lot of things of my life over time, but the most noticeable (at least for those of you who know me primarily through my blog) has been writing new blog entries. Sometimes I’m really good about writing them consistently. Sometimes I’ll sit back and think about what to write and plan and edit and everything looks great in my head, but nothing ever gets typed. Totally lame, I know.

Just recently, someone pointed out an article on Facebook called “Why Procrastinators Procrastinate”. Yep, that was me in a nutshell. Even the pictures the author drew made sense. (Yay for pictures!) That article in turn had a link—a Part 2—to “How to Beat Procrastination”. I’m not sure how effectively I’ll be able to apply that to my life, but at least it got me to this point: I planned to write something this afternoon about those two articles and here it is. (If you’ve got some time to spare, click on the links below. You might find them insightful. Plus you might like the pictures of the Instant Gratification Monkey, too.)

Why Procrastinators Procrastinate

How to Beat Procrastination

Aug 032014
 

Many, many moons ago (back in 2007), I helped a friend of mine named Jeremy Gustafson make a movie called “Harry Putter and the Sorcerer’s Phone”. It was kinda like the first Harry Potter movie, but way better. Unless you look at the ratings on the Putter IMDb page. Then you’ll see that out of 60 people, a lot of them have really bad taste in movies. 3.5 out of 10? Hah! (The entire movie is posted there if you want to judge for yourselves. I guess that’s an option when it’s less than 14 minutes long.)

My first day on set was at the “broom store” and I was expecting to be part of the crew: use the slate, hold the boom mic, stuff like that. I ended up doing a lot more because the guy who was cast as the broom store clerk never showed. Well, Jeremy had a robe for me to wear, gave me a couple minutes to look at the script and find my motivation for delivering my only line, then the camera started rolling. And it kept rolling. And rolling. And rolling. And rolling.

One of the fun things about Jeremy directing movies is that he waits a very long time before saying “Cut.” That leads to a lot of bloopers, random behind-the-scenes footage, a bunch of improvised lines… enough material that he ended up making an outtakes reel that was over an hour long. That’s right, over four times longer than the film itself. As you would imagine, that isn’t posted on the movie’s IMDb page.

However, he recently started putting together a recut version of the outtakes reel (which includes several minutes of footage from the broom store) and posted Part 1 on his Vimeo page a couple days ago. My understanding is that Vimeo has limits on the amount of data you can upload within a given time, so only the first part is currently available. I’m looking forward to Part 2 as well, but if you want to check out my wide array of salesmanship skillz (or lack thereof), what’s posted is what you want to watch. Jeremy and I both hope you enjoy!
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ADDENDUM: Part 2 is live! Jeremy posted both parts on his blog and included commentary about putting them together, so for some additional insight on the movie and its creation, you can click on the link and read it there.

Jul 232014
 

Last week, the Rainbow Foods located two miles away from home became a Cub Foods, which means the Rainbow Pharmacy became the Cub Pharmacy. That in itself isn’t a big deal: the pharmacists are the same, the phone number is the same and the medications they give me are the same. The biggest change I noticed were the new prescription labels on the bottles.

They’re larger, they have a few extra warnings and they also include a little more information on them. For example, the old bottles didn’t show the name of the company that makes divalproex (the generic version of depakote, one of my medications for epilepsy). The name of that company? Dr. Reddy’s Lab.

I’m told it’s a fairly mainstream producer of prescription drugs, but when I read “Dr. Reddy’s Lab”, I think of some guy in his basement mixing ingredients together to make a variety of medications while sitting next to a bathtub filled with chemicals he uses for making meth.

Jul 202014
 

I was initially thinking about a title involving “fulfilling the urge of creativity” or something along those lines, but I got home from summer camp a couple days ago and they have a lot of bugs there. They bite. Bites itch. Can’t imagine why I’m not completely out of that mindset yet, right? But I wanted to write a blog entry for two reasons.

1) I haven’t written anything in a really long time. Like, a shamefully long time. Posts have been really infrequent for a couple months now and that just ain’t cool. I might be writing for an audience of one, but it still ain’t cool. There’s not much point in having a blog if I never use it.

2) I have mixed feelings about 750words.com.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the website. It gives me extra motivation to sit down and write for 15 minutes or so, pound out a bunch of words every day and I’ve currently got a streak of about 180 days in a row. (It offers little badges for various achievements and I get a pterodactyl badge at 250.)

However! By writing 750 words every day on that website, it scratches the itch that arises every so often, an urge to write, to create something where once there was nothing. To fill the void of existence! To justify my presence in the universe! To practice hyperbole on the grandest scale!

Sometimes I use it as a brain dump; sometimes I write a bunch of random crap. Whatever the case, when I’m done, I’m satisfied. I’ve fulfilled my urge to create something. (When I look at it that way, maybe the title of this post should be “Scratching the itch of creation”, although that only brings to mind “Creation” and “procreation”, neither of which I engage in on a daily basis for 15 minutes or so.)

This isn’t an apology, per se, just an explanation of why I haven’t been using the blog as often as I have in the past and probably should in the future. I like reading what I have to write, maybe you do as well, so why not give us both a more-often-than-monthly treat? In the meantime, though, I’m off to find some ointment that’ll help soothe some of those other itches I picked up during summer camp.

Jun 182014
 

The time is currently 8:16pm. Trust me, this will be relevant at the end of this entry.

I guess the title might be a little misleading because vlogging probably wouldn’t be a consistent effort. If anything, I’d probably do it less frequently than writing here on my regular blog. Which could mean “almost never” for the time being. I could do it once in a while for practice’s sake, but I wouldn’t do it with any consistency until October. Why October? Because that’s the next time I’ll be taking an extended vacation.

Looking back at other ventures (like my trip to Norway four years ago), my writing blog entries only lasted for the first few days out of the trip because, well, it was taking too long. I can be long-winded when I’m speaking in person, but when I’m writing a story, it can take several pages to cover just one day. A lot of stuff would have to happen to make an entry worthy of that length, but it can (and would) happen. Writing several pages per day when I’m supposed to be enjoying going outside and experiencing what a completely different culture has to offer… it’s not worth the time and effort, so I inevitably fell off the proverbial wagon.

I’m trying to avoid that this time around. My mother got a new laptop, I bought a new webcam (that’s another story that can wait until later) and I’m hoping to put them both to good use. My initial plan was to write “e-postcards”: send people emails with a short video and possibly a digital photo attached. Cheaper than a postcard, I can say more than what I could write in a tiny space… I found some compression software that reduces the resolution of a video and thus reduces the size so a 30-second video might be 3MB instead of some huge amount of space that’s too large to attach to an email. BRILLIANT! (If you don’t think so, well, I’m not gonna send you an e-postcard! Pptbptpbptptpbtp!!!)

That was my initial plan: use the webcam to send people messages. Then after spending hours upon hours of surfing through YouTube, it occurred to me that perhaps I could talk about the trip on video instead. It wouldn’t be as detailed and I wouldn’t be able to constantly edit and reedit the whole time I was recording, but that might be a good thing in the long run. If I try to give a general outline of the day’s happenings in five or ten minutes, that’s a lot less time than it’d take to write a blog entry every day or two. (Time check: 8:33pm.)

I could come home and do a better job providing details, make the videos look more interesting and entertaining… stuff that requires more time and effort, which I would have upon getting back to the States.

So at this point, I’m looking at it as a time-saver more than anything. Record a short video at the end of the day and post them when I have internet access, which should be pretty frequently: we’re taking a scheduled 12-day tour for the latter part of the trip that’s supposed to be using primarily four- and five-star hotels. Good stuff. There might not be an available connection on the night when our room will actually be floating on a river, but aside from that, I might be able to upload videos pretty consistently while we’re there.

I’m pretty sure I haven’t mentioned where the trip is heading yet, but I might as well say where we’re going now instead of trying to hide the details for some future blog entry: Mom and I will be traveling to Thailand.

Writing this last paragraph, I’m already going back and forth about some details and word choices, which is pretty much the issue I always have to deal with when I’m writing blog entries and something I could avoid by recording myself with a webcam and posting that online instead. It might not look amazing—it might all be just one camera angle with no cuts or anything like that while I’m there—but hopefully, the amazing details spoken aloud will cover up that deficiency. If not, well, I’m really doing this mostly for myself anyway, so ptpbptptppbtptpbpt!!!

That’s my current plan: save myself a lot of time and effort by just recording videos talking about each day’s goings-on and that should suffice instead of trying to write a couple pages worth of material on any given day. I might do a little bit of editing, cutting and pasting and what not, but for the most part, I might be able to just go straight through for a couple minutes. If I’m lucky. And if I’m not lucky, it’ll still probably take less time than it takes to write and edit a blog entry.

Note that this has included very few details of things that have happened in the past. Not much in the way of stories, mostly just talking about plans for the future. I may have neglected to mention that the trip will last from October 23rd to November 13th, so I’ve got plenty of time between now and then to change said plans or to practice recording and editing video if that’s what I decide to do.

As a side note, it just struck me as funny that when you’re on TV or in movies, they always tell you not to look directly into the camera and you will get in trouble if it screws up a shot. (I was once an extra in a movie and the director got mad at me. The problem? The people he wanted me to look at were directly between me and the camera, so I was also staring straight into the lens. Oops…) Conversely, vlogging entails looking at the camera and directly at your audience. It’s contrary to everything I’ve ever been told doing work with video before, so it just feels a little odd.

But I digress. The point I’ve been making over many, many paragraphs is that if I record videos, I might delete one and record another if the first one sucks, but it shouldn’t take too long if I try to make them short. Blog entries? It’s currently 9:03, which means I’ve spent 47 minutes writing many, many paragraphs and not actually making a decision about anything. The question still remains: To vlog or not to vlog?

(Final time check after writing, editing, rewriting and reediting: 9:17. Sheesh…)