Wooden Bench

My Regular Mind, December 24, 2015 at 08h35

finished bench

I’ve spent an ample amount of time in the workshop lately, practicing woodworking in order to build myself a new desk. This bench is the first piece of furniture that I’ve ever built, aside from a poker table several years ago, and as the last coat of varnish dries, I find myself quite pleased with the results. It’s not without its imperfections, but I’ve learned enough in the process that I’ll be able to build my desk with a lot more confidence. And hopefully fewer mistakes.

01 - material

I used two kinds of wood: .75” plywood with an oak veneer and .75” solid pine. The photo above shows most of the various pieces cut down to size. I used mortise and tenon joinery for the front and back pieces, while the unpictured bottom piece used tongue and groove joinery. I cut the pieces so that the grain would show vertically.
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Personal change: a self-reflection

My Regular Mind, October 9, 2015 at 08h01

People often say it’s not polite to discuss politics. In ye olde days, I don’t think this was the case; people discussed politics all the time. Maybe there was less to talk about back then, maybe there were fewer ‘polite’ distractions like sports and celebrities. Or maybe it’s because back then people realized the direct impact that politics had on their lives, and maybe now we’ve forgotten.

It can take time to research what values a politician has, and it can take even more time to research whether or not they’ve honestly stood up for those values. It’s not always easy. It could take hours, days, weeks. And to figure out the values that you have yourself, well, it can take a lot longer than that… and it usually takes a lifetime to find out if you’re honestly living up to those values.

I’ve voted in every federal and provincial election since I turned 18, including that very same year. That first time, and even the next few elections following it, I voted for a party that today I could never again see myself supporting. Back then, I was adamant in my conviction that they were the best party to represent me. Nobody could dissuade me. I was as passionate and stubborn as ever you’ve known me to be.

It took me a long time to figure out my own values, the things that I believed in most without any outside influence. I took long walks alone in the woods, filled pages and pages of journals I never intended to share with anyone. Weeks, months, years of questioning what I’d been told and what I believed. And today, do I have it all figured out? I’m not sure. All I know is that, figuratively speaking, I’m a completely different person than I was when I was 18.

I think politics should be discussed more and I think it can be done politely. It can be frustrating at times because there are people who passionately and stubbornly prefer opinion to fact, and worse still, people on both sides of the spectrum who see opinion as fact. I’m sure I do it too, although I genuinely try my best not to. But it’s in these frustrating moments when people with equal passion disagree that we’ve come to label “impolite,” and so we avoid the subject of politics entirely. To be polite. To not offend someone; a friend, colleague, a family member.

But maybe it’s because we don’t discuss politics enough that we’ve learned to reject new information. Maybe it’s because we’re afraid of the consequences, that it may lead to hours, or days, or weeks figuring out who we really are all over again. Maybe we’re worried that if this new information does change us then we’ll have a whole new section of friends, colleagues, or family that might disagree with us. It can be a terrible feeling, like we’re an outcast, like we have no identity, like we’re lost.

Change is not always easy… I know it wasn’t for me, that’s for sure. Looking back, the first step alone seems impossible to me now: be open-minded. It doesn’t sound hard, not until you consider that the biggest part is realizing what that actually means. Back when I was 18, I thought I was open-minded, and I would’ve argued that until I was blue in the face. I listened to opposing points of view all the time, no problem! And then I kicked those points of view out right away because what I already believed was what I believed, and that was that. There was no single defining moment when I realized this behaviour. Gradually, I allowed new information in and let it stay. This led me to the next step of change, which was gorging myself on more and more information, taking in as much as I could as often as I could. Was it time consuming? Absolutely. Did I want to do it? Not really, because learning how wrong I was didn’t necessarily make me feel good about myself. Was it worthwhile? With all sincerity, I couldn’t imagine myself any other way.

I have no University background. I’m no scholar. No degrees, diplomas, hardly any post-secondary experience at all. Who I am today is strictly a result of redirecting my passion and stubbornness toward self-discovery. I took in new information and considered it, then sought out information that contradicted it and considered that too. I tried to find a balance of opinion and then figured out my own position on the scale. I did my best to learn to separate opinion from fact, which is still ongoing, just like how I’m still learning to be open-minded.

At times, I still get frustrated when people disagree with me, but I’m better at recognizing why. Sometimes it’s because I realize I’ll have to spend more time digging through information. Other times it’s because I think the person disagreeing with me is arguing opinion against fact. When this happens, it helps to ground myself when I remember that I did that too. I suspect we all did, I suspect that in some ways we all still do. You cannot convince anyone of anything as long as their mind is closed, no matter how many facts you present. Therein lies the frustration, and if you’re not careful, this frustration can quickly lead to impoliteness. It doesn’t mean the frustrated person is wrong, and it doesn’t mean the calm person is wrong. It is merely a conflict of opinion… and in my opinion, this is often because one of those opinions is being mistaken as fact. Again, this happens on both sides of the spectrum, and it can only ever be changed through honest individual self-reflection.

I’m becoming annoyed by the expression, “we are entitled to our own opinion.” Not on its own, mind you, because of course we are; but rather because it seems that lately it’s being misused as the final argument when disagreeing about facts. I feel like it’s something that people say when they want to end these kinds of disagreements politely, and in many cases I don’t think it’s productive. I worry that using this expression may unintentionally concede the acceptance that opinions can be used as a substitute for facts. Are there gray areas to this? Of course there are, but perhaps next time you’re about to say it, consider instead just shrugging and moving along.

To be polite requires mutual respect, and there can be no civilized discourse without it. This doesn’t mean that any disagreement is inherently impolite. It means that in order for society to function, we need to encourage the discussion of ideas even when it may be frustrating. We need to encourage people to seek out facts and discover for themselves where their opinions lay within those facts. We need a society where we aren’t worried about the consequences of changing what we believe in. And above all else, we need to realize that history has always been created by individuals. We are all just one person with our own values. Let those values guide you to determine what you stand for politically. Figure out who you are and be yourself.


Hackery

My Regular Mind, October 2, 2015 at 07h21

For the past few months, this site’s been the target of repeated attempts to be hacked. I’ve been taking regular measures to try and thwart these attempts, but they seem to be getting more frequent and orchestrated. It seems like the attempts are coming from all over the world, although it may in fact just be one lone gunman masquerading as a rogue pack of stormtroopers.

I’m trying to understand why anyone would want to invade my site. As someone who was fascinated with hacking when I was younger, I know the excitement that comes with the challenge of accessing something you’re not allowed to access. As someone who appreciates the work that white hat networks like Anonymous do, I can identify with the ideal of discovering truth in concealed information or exposing the corruption of certain systems. I can usually wrap my head around most viewpoints even when I don’t necessarily agree with them, but this… I’m not sure I do. What thrill is there in causing me this grief? I’m not some heinous villain plotting against the poor, I’m not some monolithic Corporate juggernaut Hell-bent on global domination. I’m not Shell, or the CIA, Wal-Mart, Halliburton, or Cyril Sneer; I’m just me.

So if you’re reading this and by some chance you’re trying to breach my site, please… just move along? I promise you, there are more justified causes that could you use your attention.

Thank you.


Comicle #12: Dirty Lies

Comicles, June 1, 2015 at 08h49

A mildly ironic thing happened while I was showing this Comicle to someone. He stared at it with a tiny grin, not wanting to offend me, nervously laughing. “Ha ha,” he said. “It was this big. Very funny.”

“Do you get it?” I prodded, fairly certain that he didn’t.

“Oh, yeah, I get it. It’s funny.” A pause. Then he asked, “What does scatalogical mean?”

I told him that it had to do with poo.

“Oh, okay.” He kept staring at it, grinning.

Scatalogical sounds like pathological,” I explained.

“Yeah, I know.”

A pause.

“A pathological liar is someone who lies all the time,” I said.

A pause. “Yeah, I know.”

“A scatalogical liar would be someone who lies about poo,” I said.

And then a final pause, and a genuine non-nervous laugh, indicating the strong possibility that he did, in fact, get the joke. Maybe now more than ever.

If you got it, great. If you didn’t… congratulations, your sense of humour isn’t as immature as mine tends to be!


Something special

My Regular Mind, May 12, 2015 at 06h25
tags used: ,

If you’re reading this, it means that robots have not yet enslaved humanity. Take comfort in that, but remember that it could happen at any moment. One minute you’re just baking cookies, the next minute you’re shining robot shoes and picking up their dry cleaning. Enjoy your freedom while it lasts, puny humans!

Most recently, I’ve been using my freedom to get my first graphic novel off the ground. To my surprise and overwhelming excitement, it worked out! I’m planning on writing a more elaborate conclusion, but to summarize, it was incredible and it was stressful. I went through intense waves of joy followed by doubt, followed by joy and then doubt again, often in the same hour. Now I can shift that stress from fundraising to production, which is a much more inspirational form of stress. I’ve been going over every beat of the story carefully this past week, and I’m more confident than ever that this book is going to be something special.

Focusing on this campaign caused me to neglect other things, though. I didn’t end up posting anything here in over a month, and I had plenty worth posting about. I let you down, Internet, and I’m sorry. Please, let me make it up to you with some comicles I doodled. I was told that they were funny. This was not my intention. They are supposed to be serious and poignant commentaries on society, and what you might think is a punchline is actually a depiction of the twists that life brings us, designed not for laughter, but for reflection. But go ahead, laugh if you want to.

All the best, puny humans!

Kickstarter comicle #1

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How 5 Minutes and 10 Dollars Can Change Everything

My Regular Mind, April 1, 2015 at 09h09

TFM-page 5 panel 8I used to make comics as a kid. Lots of comics. All the time. If I wasn’t eating or sleeping, that’s what I was doing.

Now that I’m older (or at least taller), I wrote a comic called The Forever Maps and found an amazing artist named Todor Hristov to work with. We pitched it to some publishers, and we even got an offer. Unfortunately, most publishers won’t pay the creative team up front to do the work, and the ones that do won’t often take chances on up-and-coming creators. Long story short, we decided to do it ourselves; but the truth is, we’re not really doing it ourselves, because you can help us!

We are running a campaign for The Forever Maps, and we are hoping that people are intrigued enough to make a pledge towards it. We are not asking for donations; we are asking you to order our graphic novel in advance. The story is about a man, torn between family and immortality, struggling to choose between living forever and having a life worth living. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever read and the artwork is incredible.

If you’ve never used Kickstarter before, it takes five minutes and a credit card to pledge. It’s super easy. Their site is secure and your personal information is never shared with anyone. We have various levels of pledge amounts, and each level will get you different rewards. For only $10 you get a complete digital version of the comic.

When it’s done, we will have a product that will help us when approaching publishers with new projects. Once you see what we can do, so will they, and honestly, that will change everything for us!

I used to make comics as a kid, and today, I still want to. So please, if you can spare 5 minutes and 10 dollars, consider spending it on us.

Thank you!

 

How to use Kickstarter in five easy steps!

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