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Friday, September 6th, 2013 09:59 pm
Another post on the WEDDING and BACHELOR PARTY coming up, but this has been sitting here for quite some time and I feel SO OUT OF TOUCH with people, especially since I barely have MENTIONED the wedding...

So I'm kinda puttering about here today, and I've been kinda left alone with my thoughts, and I've been thinking that I should write up a bit to try to find some direction in my life.

Don't get me wrong, "Willy Wonka" is a pretty sweet title to have (no pun intended). But While I should be living "in the now", I've been thinking to the future (I keep thinking about Legacy and what I will leave behind) and so I want to see what really interests me and who inspires me.

I also was wondering why no-one had responded to this post only to discover that I had never posted it!

So, without further ado, here's my list of people who inspire me :)

Alton Brown (Category: Food)
When it comes to food geekery, this man is the ultimate nerd. The host of Good Eats has 10 seasons under his belt, and now is the colour commentary on Iron Chef America. He has a world of scientific knowledge under his belt and he is my go-to when looking into trying new foods. If I want to try a new recipe, I'll look up "Good eats _____" and see if he has anything on the subject. I love learning and I find that watching Good Eats not only fuels my belly with hunger, but it also leaves me wanting more for my brain to gnaw on. Using the scientific method to understand what's going on really makes me understand the world a little bit more.

Gordon Ramsay (Category: Food)
Christine and I have recently been mainlining MasterChef Season 4, and we've come to realize that it's almost not about the food that these home chefs are making, but a lot about the people themselves and the harships that they've gone through. Ramsey has done so many shows that he's like the Simon Cowell of food shows, but I've found that he's gotten softer with time. n MasterChef, he's the middleman since there's a seriously hard-edged judge on that show. (Don't let that smile fool you!) Nonetheless, Ramsey has come so far since his TV start with Kitchen Nightmares in England (if that is his first TV show).

Buddy "Cake Boss" Valastro (Category: Food/Management)
At one point, I was fascinated with watching Ace of Cakes, but once Cake Boss came on the air, I found that it was a much better learning experience for me. Before I started with COBS, Buddy was showing me a lot of the ins-and-outs of running a popular cake shop as well as the tricks that he was dreaming up to make his specialty cakes (like using poppy seeds to simulate tar on a rooftop). I looked to his show and saw how stressed - and yet, how pleased - he was with his business. He inherited the bakery from his father, and right now he has managed to expand the business to include a warehouse where people can order cakes online. This was documented in the TV show, and when I found out about it, I was so proud of him. To build a business and work hard, that was something I could take away from his show and his business. (When we were in New York, I wanted to visit, but they only had a located in Hoboken at the time. Now he has a cafe in Times Square, so maybe that will be something to look at for a future visit.)

Tim Schafer (Category: Programming/Games)
One of the creators of Monkey Island, an adventure game that everyone has at least heard of (if they haven't played it), Schafer has gone on to create his own independent game studio Double Fine, which has created numerous classic titles such as Psychonauts, Brutal Legend, and most recently is working on Broken Age, an adventure game that was Kickstarted and they managed to raise 7.5x the amount they were aiming for - a whopping $3 Million dollars. Some of his games have been great successes, some have been unfortunately not as popular as expected, but he has a following. He's obviously doing something right. ;) I have a game idea, and I want to develop it and bring it to the world. I see friends around me programming ([livejournal.com profile] ravenworks and [livejournal.com profile] davidn, I'm looking at you) and it inspires me to learn programming just so that I can get the game out of my head. Someday! Here's an Inspiration-Driven Development tweet that, while I look back at it now, doesn't explain a lot, but I do like seeing the instant-response result from the internet nowadays. It does make you feel that you can get critiques instantly as well as inspiration from practically anywhere. :)

Guillermo Del Toro (category: Movies)
I'm finally starting to find enjoyment in movies again recently. Back in my Bell days, the last thing I would want to do after encoding movies was to sit at home and watch more movies. However, I've come to realize with the incredible popularity of Pacific Rim that I've really liked Guillermo Del Toro's recent films, particularly ones with fantastical creatures in them -- Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth, and now Pacific Rim. I also liked the Troublemaker Studios films as of late (Sin City, Grindhouse, even the Spy Kids films). It's nice to see some films that are deviations from the norm and willing to try new things. Apparently Del Toro has a notebook that is a pseudo-bible for the movie he's currently working on, and now a lot of his pages are being collected into a book, something I would love to pore over. :D

I'm curious. These are only the few that have jumped to mind since I started thinking about these things. I must have more people who I see as inspiring to me. Feel free to ask about any category and I'll look into my memorybanks to see if I have someone who I look up to!
Saturday, September 7th, 2013 03:54 am (UTC)
Alton Brown really is fantastic, and Good Eats is actually one of the very few tolerable programmes on American television... which makes it really frustrating that he's currently wasted on food-themed templated bitch-em-ups like The Next Iron Chef and The Next Hundred Shows Exactly Like The Next Iron Chef. I heard he was getting a new series of his own programme - did that happen?

I haven't really watched either the US or UK Masterchef (not since Loyd Grossman was on it) but Gordon Ramsay is odd... he's impatient and blunt in the UK Kitchen Nightmares/Hell's Kitchen, but in America they get him to play it up to such a ludicrous degree that he comes across as an escaped psychopath.

And it's fantastic that Tim Schafer is inspiring people to look at games in a new way now, to fuel the independent market that's allowing small developers to bring ideas to life again :) I am... extremely flattered that you consider me part of your drive!

Now that your video job is over - what was your day-to-day job, anyway? You mentioned "encoding" a lot, but I never knew the actual process.
Monday, September 9th, 2013 02:53 am (UTC)
Well, Alton's now got his Alton Browncast (http://www.nerdist.com/podcast/the-browncast/) podcast (horrible name, and he knows it), and he's doing a new show called Cutthroat Kitchen (http://www.foodnetwork.com/cutthroat-kitchen/index.html), a concept that intruiges me but I have yet to watch.

When Ramsay was on Kitchen Nightmares and Hell's Kitchen in the States, yeah, he's even moreso than before, but I think he's managed to scale it back a bit. Now there's three judges on MasterChef and he's the middle-of-the-road person.

When it comes to making games, watching you come to the completion of CT2 and then almost immediately bringing out smaller iPhone games like Running Free and Boxplode, I was impressed with the speed at which you could bring a game from concept to product. I know it's not, but you made it feel so easy, and that's inspiring to me. :)

Ah yes! When I worked at Bell (they're a Satellite-TV Provider up here) I worked in a few stations, but Encoding was taking the Pay-Per-View movies that were sent to us on Beta and then encoding them into a digital server. As it stood, Pay-Per-View wasn't even handing broadcasting standards (i.e. video/audio levels), it was managing a server farm. They had a massive amount of servers playing movies and there were files (the aforementioned encoded files) being passed around from server to server. The job was very sedentary - my tasks involved ensuring that the playlists were loaded and that every channel was broadcasting correctly on an hourly basis - so it involved sitting and watching movies and file-transfer progress bars. Other tasks I had included Live Events (which was more active, but required routing feeds from other sources to appropriate channels), and ... actually, that was pretty much it for my entire list of duties that I did there. When I was leaving they were just introducing IPTV, an internet-based PPV solution, so the number of movies increased exponentially, but thankfully a number of the movies were also delivered already encoded - we just had to package them before they went live (and that included fidgeting around with metadata). And then there was the forming union tha was happening just before I left (and then they went on strike about a month following my departure) but I don't need to get into that. XD
Saturday, September 7th, 2013 06:02 am (UTC)
That is a pretty inspiring list of really cool folks, I'd say :) I'm personally not too familiar Gordon Ramsey as I've not watched too much of his shows, but everyone else is a good pick for sure!
Monday, September 9th, 2013 02:59 am (UTC)
Thanks :) I've been watching a lot of TV recently, and while I kinda don't want to watch TOO much TV and get back into the ugly habit of "vegging out" nightly, I do find a lot of TV shows rather engaging when the human emotion is involved, and when it comes to people pushing their limits and seeing what they can do, I'm mesmerized XD
Saturday, September 7th, 2013 01:30 pm (UTC)
I'd like to know who inspires you to simply live well, with integrity, honesty, confidence and enthusiasm. Every one of the people you mention are subject-based. What about personal character?
Monday, September 9th, 2013 03:24 am (UTC)
Well, one I have to say is that Christine is definitely seeing more of my character than even I can realize, and she's an excellent sounding board. She knows my strengths and weaknesses even better than I do, sometimes. Obviously friends such as yourself also see things in myself that I can't even realize (especially when I get shortsighted).

I was thinking about this and I recall how one of my old teachers, Mrs. Felker, helped me realize my potential as I was fidgeting and restless in my grade 2 and 3 classes. After that 3rd Grade, I was placed into the Gifted program. Today, I might have been put on some drug to keep me calm.

I really don't know what I would say about my confidence and enthusiasm. It waxes and wanes quite a bit, and I find I just really have to analyze things - something overanalyzing it - before I make any decision. Mind you, sometimes my decisions can be poor even with serious deliberation.

I think I was steered in the right direction when I was young to stay out of trouble. I had a few scares when I was younger that really had some repercussions (even if it was just a grounding) but they definitely kept me on the straight and narrow. My Dad was quite good at scaring me into wising up. XD
Wednesday, September 11th, 2013 02:19 pm (UTC)
That's all cool. As a follow-up, is there anyone whose character you would like to build into yourself (i.e. Gordon Ramsey's confidence perhaps) or someone who lives a certain way that you would like to emulate?
Monday, September 9th, 2013 04:19 pm (UTC)
Well, one I have to say is that Christine is definitely seeing more of my character than even I can realize, and she's an excellent sounding board. She knows my strengths and weaknesses even better than I do, sometimes. Obviously friends such as yourself also see things in myself that I can't even realize (especially when I get shortsighted).

I was thinking about this and I recall how one of my old teachers, Mrs. Felker, helped me realize my potential as I was fidgeting and restless in my grade 2 and 3 classes. After that 3rd Grade, I was placed into the Gifted program. Today, I might have been put on some drug to keep me calm.

I really don't know what I would say about my confidence and enthusiasm. It waxes and wanes quite a bit, and I find I just really have to analyze things - something overanalyzing it - before I make any decision. Mind you, sometimes my decisions can be poor even with serious deliberation.

I think I was steered in the right direction when I was young to stay out of trouble. I had a few scares when I was younger that really had some repercussions (even if it was just a grounding) but they definitely kept me on the straight and narrow. My Dad was quite good at scaring me into wising up. XD
Sunday, September 8th, 2013 03:39 pm (UTC)
I'm so torn when I see you discussing this... because on the one hand, it's wonderful to want to make something of your life..... but I also think it's HIGHLY underrated just to ENJOY one's life, peacefully! You've got a wonderful career, and a wonderful family life..... it seems a shame to be looking for something that will take away from your time with each! (Isn't your main complaint when you start one of these projects, that you don't have enough time to relax?)

You know I've always been obsessed with starting projects, so I kinda know what you're feeling, but that also puts me in a good position to potentially warn against it........ there are two reasons that people start projects, and it's good not to get them mixed up. Far far too often, I catch myself looking for something to work on just because I feel restless, and I feel like working on a project will make me feel accomplished and make that restlessness go away. The trouble is, that's trying to fill up a bottomless pit; you'll just keep on burning time and energy on things, and not in a usefully focused way, and in doing so you'll just be renewing that restlessness, and convincing yourself it's valid. When I catch myself wanting to work on a project for that kind of reason, I try and stop and remind myself that I shouldn't need to be working on anything to enjoy myself and feel validated in my life..... usually, that feeling is actually just stress left over from other things, and my brain is trying to find something new to fixate on, rather than letting itself stop and take stock and figure out what my situation is. I find it's usually worth resisting that urge to "just work work work!" until I've managed to re-center and re-appreciate how nice and calm things actually are!

The OTHER motivation to pursue a project is inspiration, and that's a good reason... it's certainly fun to have something to look forward to plugging away on when you feel like it. But even then, it's crucial not to let stress/boredom pressure you into making the mistake of trying to make it bigger just because you can imagine it being bigger. Bigger isn't always better! That kind of meaningless ambition is the kind of thinking that makes people turn a successful small business into a miserable big business that's nowhere near as good as the small one was.... it's driven my current workplace into churning out dozens of terrible games instead of a handful of respectable ones, it's what makes a good restaurant turn into a lacklustre chain, and it doesn't offer any reward except money, at the cost of stress and your ability to enjoy the thing you let get too big. (I mean, sure everyone loves money, but you have to look at your quality of life, and decide if more money would make a big enough change to the way you live to make it worth causing you so much stress, and sacrificing your enjoyment of your project..... especially when you consider that most people don't live any more comfortably once they have money; they just start buying more expensive things, and wind up in the same relative proportion of debt, and just get used to their new level of expensiveness and keep feeling like it's not enough, only now they have even more riding on their shoulders...) I think this puzzle game you have is a great idea, and it should be a really fun project, but when I hear you talking about considering kickstarter, I think you're getting wildly, wildly ahead of yourself, and missing the point of what's supposed to be a fun way to learn programming! Don't turn your fun project into more work, just because a little voice in your head keeps going "work work work work work!" It's important to know when to shut that little voice up, and enjoy where you are instead. :)