My Friend Josh

On the morning of Sunday, August 12, 2012, my old friend from college, Josh Rittenberg, took his own life.

The last time I hung out with Josh was right before Melissa and I moved up to the San Francisco Bay Area a year ago. He and I hung out for quite awhile, got to play cards, talk, and genuinely just got to hear about each other’s lives. We went on a walk to a 7-11 about a mile or two away and he told me about a graduate school program he was applying for and how he hoped he might get back together with his girlfriend whom he had recently broken up with. He seemed hopeful though a bit down, but he was ready to get his life on track – at least it seemed that way to me.

My wife got a job up in Los Altos, CA for the 2011-2012 school year so at the end of the summer of 2011 we very quickly had to move. The day before we moved I saw Josh again for one last goodbye. I didn’t know it would be the last time I’d get to see him, at least in this lifetime. He showed me his brand new motorcycle and told me how excited he was to get to ride along with his younger brother Roy. We talked about him eventually coming up to visit and how much fun it would be to hang out again.

The next day Melissa and I moved and I’m ashamed to say I never even called Josh again. Life filled up, time passed, and I just never got around to it. I may have messaged him here or there on Facebook but I really didn’t give it much thought. The last time of real contact with Josh was the hug I gave him right before he popped his helmet on and rode off on his motorcycle. The hug was extra long and tight, the kind you give a brother you haven’t seen in a long time. He seemed almost mournful at that moment, like he might never get to see me again.

Josh had issues, like any of us, but I had no idea that they would lead to something like this. I barely spoke with him at all in the last year and it breaks my heart that this happened.

Please keep his family and girlfriend in your thoughts and prayers. As devastating as this is for me, I know it must be a hundred times more so for them.

Rest in peace, my friend.

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS IN CRISIS, CALL
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.272.8255
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Over A Year

It’s been over a year since I’ve updated this blog, which is really making me look bad to the whole 2 people who ever read this thing. Sorry, guys.

There are several reasons why I haven’t posted in awhile and some of them are legitimate (some, on the other hand, consist of my desire to goof off and procrastinate). The blog has always been a creative outlet or at least an attempt to be one. There’s just one big catch – it didn’t FEEL like one to me very often.

I really do desperately want to be this amazingly talented person who just oozes awesome ideas but most of the time I think my ideas stink. Or I’m far too picky. Or I’m afraid of being scrutinized. So one of my response is often to simply avoid. Hence my avoiding updating the blog.

Shifting Internet Sands

The changes to how I generally use the internet hasn’t helped make me want to update this blog either. It really is quite a lot of work to update this thing regularly (at least for me) and if one of the main motivations is to simply share photos, thoughts, designs, and tidbits I find strewn across the web then I now use Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Dribbble, and Instagram for all those things.

My phone and iPad have usurped my computer as the dominant way I experience the web when I’m not working. Work is still very much rooted on traditional computers but even that has shifted slightly. I take pictures just as much with my phone as I do with my DSLR with the added benefit of immediately being able to share them with all my friends. Sure, the pictures aren’t as nice and I don’t get to edit them in post in the same way to make them pixel perfect but at least I get to share right away. Share-ability seems to have trumped quality lately.

If I find some great video on Youtube, I used to share it on here but now that’s on Facebook and Twitter. Interesting article about web design? Twitter. Fun times with friends and family? Usually Facebook. Random thought or amusing observations (amusing to me at least)? Twitter and Facebook. Want to share a design I’ve been working on? Dribbble.

I’m also not pleased with how this blog looks or functions. It’s not up to par with the quality of work I can produce and it bothers me. I’d like to have a single column responsive design that gives me the option for larger photos and smaller columns for text but I’ve been far too pre-occupied or lazy to do anything about it.

I Miss the Curated

Even though my internet usage has shifted it seems that something has fallen through the cracks and that’s what I’m doing right now – writing. I never get to elaborate on anything anymore. Here’s a picture with a short caption! …And that’s the end of it. I don’t get to go into details about what was going on at the time. No chance to delve into my thoughts or excitement. I can’t recount in detail how the situation affected me. And I miss it.

Maybe I’m just a blow hard with too many words in his head but I want a curated experience, dang it. I still want to be able to explain myself once in awhile. Or show how thoroughly ill-informed I really am to the entire world.

Too Many Options

So what do I do now? Do I restart this blog as something entirely different? Do I pick up, dust off, and carry on as if I was here all along? Is there even an audience for my ramblings?

I’ve considered a lot of options for Taglines. It could evolve into a web comic. Or be more of a journal. Do I just share what I’m already sharing elsewhere but with a bit more explanation? I’ve considered doing journal entries in comic form (drawn on my iPad and then cleaned up on my computer and posted here). Heck, I’ve even considered doing reviews for the random things I use (mobile apps, computer programs, gadgets, video games, and so on). What do you think, wayward reader? If you’ve made it this far in the post then I think it only fair that you get a say on future posts. Tell me what you’d like to see here and I’ll up my game. Let’s do this thing.

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Halloween with Friends

Not much to explain on this group of pictures. There was a Halloween party. Some people wore costumes, others did not. Some pumpkins were carved. Fun was had by all.

Enjoy the pictures!

The look of the night
No dress but still a princess
The costume was the hat... oh wait...
A nice table spread
Casual Russian Boat Enthusiast
Continuing the tradition of mass pumpkin genocide
Cowboys like to hurt pumpkins
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Shifting from the Peripheral to the Center of Geekdom

Since becoming an adult (or at least voting age), I’ve become increasingly interested in things that I wish I had the opportunity to be involved in as a kid. Growing up, I loved science fiction films, video games, comic books, and so on but had no money to partake in these things to the degree that most of my school friends could. I’m not saying I was completely deprived but I definitely had limited options.

Half stories, big worlds

My only true unadulterated experience to comics as a kid were a handful of comics from the random corner store (I probably owned a total of about 12 comics throughout my entire childhood). Much more than actual comics, I got to partake in the world through a handful of comic-based 90’s cartoons like X-Men, Spiderman, and Iron Man. I LOVED those cartoons.  I wanted so much to be a part of the world I knew existed in the pages of comics, but we just didn’t have the money. I never got to finish a comic story arch. I never saw the beginning or ending of a series.

As far as video games went, I inherited an old NES and a handful of games from a deceased relative (not really the optimum way to obtain a video game system, I think).  I loved video games every bit as much as those comic-based Saturday morning cartoons.  But I was always a bit jealous of being so far behind the curve of most of my friends. When I got my NES, most of my school friends had had SNES and Sega Genesis for years and many were getting Playstations. In fact, that often worked out of my advantage since many friends thought of the NES as “that cool old system” and would trade me their Sega Genesis for my NES for the odd weekend.

My exposure to Sci-Fi films, like video games, was usually out-dated and generally involved films that had been out for years or two star or less movies broadcast on television on the weekends. I didn’t care, I loved them anyway. I loved the stories and ideas so much that the bad acting and cheesy effects didn’t matter at all. The Last Starfighter was wish fulfillment, Star Trek was a refuge, Star Wars a fantastic adventure.  It was a chance to think of something so much bigger than myself and be a part of a world that I could only see a glimpse of.

Come on an adventure with me

I think that’s what I loved most as a child about all these things – comics, video games, films – there were worlds both on the paper and on the screen that I could be a part of as well as a whole world of other people just like me that really existed on this planet that I could commiserate with while sitting there watching Saturday morning cartoons. The idea of being a part of a community, even if it was based around something possibly completely ridiculous, has always appealed to me. The concept of Trekkers is not surprising to me, even if I’ve never found myself dressed as a Klingon. The existence of rabid Star Wars fans is no shock. They all just love being a part of a world that instantly gives them connection to others and to something beyond the mundane of everyday life.

Too cool for school

It wasn’t until late high school or early college that I even learned about Comic Conventions or the idea of cosplay (where people will dress up at these conventions as their favorite geek world characters from films, games, etc.). I thought it was silly. At first, I probably scoffed. But inside I thought that was probably one of the coolest things I’d ever heard of. It wasn’t cool to be a nerd or geek when I grew up the way it seems to be now and I desperately wanted to fit in for most of my childhood so dressing up as a video game character definitely wasn’t on the agenda. It’s funny how things can flip around though. At this point in my life now, I simply don’t care to fit in. Fitting in is so boring. I haven’t had the chance to attend a Comic Convention yet but if I did I wouldn’t be opposed to dressing up. I just realistically wouldn’t dress up because I’m lazy, not because of fear of being “uncool”.

Life is too short

Much of my childhood was spent being jealous of what others had or what I didn’t but looking back I had a lot. I might not have had the latest gadgets or coolest toys, but I did get to see into these giant worlds of imagination. I was forced to fill in the details myself, to make the most of what I had and run with it. Didn’t get to see the ending? Oh well, make up your own. Can’t get that new game? Too bad. Go draw what you think the story might be. Some of my all time best friends were met because we struck up a conversation about video games we didn’t have or films we had never seen (but really wanted to).

Life is far too short to be concerned with what everyone else has or is doing. My love of art and drawing grew out of the need, the compelling, to be a part of these fanciful worlds that I only peripherally got to experience and for that I am eternally grateful. Go and partake, and if you can’t partake then make it yourself. There are never too many good stories in this world.

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World Cup, Face Paint, and the Biggest TV Ever

I’m not the biggest sports fan – at least as far as watching sports on television goes. Generally, I can care absolutely less about which teams is doing well this season or who even won the Super Bowl. In fact, I used to go to Magic Mountain ever Super Sunday because there were so few people there (Goliath four times in a row FTW!) – though the only reason I publicly out that little gem is because other people have caught on to that fact and it’s now just as busy as ever. Continue reading World Cup, Face Paint, and the Biggest TV Ever

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