Month: September 2014


Every morning I open a new document in MarkdownPad. This is where I will collect all of my thoughts for the week.

This is where all of my Dispatches from the Trenches take shape. This is where the bits of text, video and pictures get saved. This is where my thoughts begin to take shape.

As the week goes on, I pick pieces that speak to me. I rearrange. I replace. I edit. I try to find the why. Why am I taking the time and attention to share it with you, my lovely readers?

I try to find stories that moved me in some way. I try to find something that hasn’t been linked to a thousand times. I shy away from anything too popular. I don’t want to find something new to you.

If it’s trending, you likely won’t find it among my archives. There are of course, exceptions where the nostalgia is strong.

I dislike the trend of twitter-via-blog that has manifested itself in link blogging. And yes, I realize it predates Twitter. I know it’s so much easier to write a snappy sentence and post a link. It’s warming to bask in the glow of favorites, retweets and replies.

I miss longer-form pieces. I miss the minds behind the writing. Anyone can share a link with a snarky comment. I want to read the words behind your thoughts. I want to read your why.


This is now a challenge. I challenge you to write more words! Let me hear your beautiful voices through your sexy text. Shine your MarkDaggers and stab at your text editors!

Dispatch from the Trenches #10

Today has been a long day. It’s been the last long day of a very long week. This week’s dispatch is about getting away from it all and being outside in the sunlight and fresh air. Thank you for reading this and for reading me. I am thankful for every one of you to read my work. When you share or comment on my work it fills me with pride and gratitude. Thank you all.

The Strange & Curious Tale of the Last True Hermit

One of the best stories I’ve read this year is The Strange & Curious Tale of the Last True Hermit. A man who decided he no longer wanted anything to do with society so he turned to the hills. Living off his wits and stolen goods, he remained undetected for decades. It’s an interesting tale from the man himself.

When, said Perkins-Vance, was the last time he’d had contact with another person?
Sometime in the 1990s, answered Knight, he passed a hiker while walking in the woods.
“What did you say?” asked Perkins-Vance.
“I said, ‘Hi,’ ” Knight replied. Other than that single syllable, he insisted, he had not spoken with or touched another human being, until this night, for twenty-seven years.

He explained about the lack of eye contact. “I’m not used to seeing people’s faces,” he said. “There’s too much information there. Aren’t you aware of it? Too much, too fast.”

Patrick Rhone recently shared this wonderful film. It’s a beautiful look at taking the long way and doing something because you can. Because you want to. And not taking the easy road. It’s wonderfully narrated and the music is perfect. I really enjoyed this bit of escape and I hope you will too.

“The Questions We Ask” – Bruce Kirkby in a Kalum Ko film

In the spring of 2013, Canadian adventurer Bruce Kirkby crossed the Georgia Straight from Vancouver to Victoria on an inflatable standup paddleboard. In this award-winning short film, he contemplates the true meaning of adventure.

To Yosemite, With Love

Living, climbing, and working in Yosemite Valley, California with Mountain Hardwear athlete Cheyne Lempe.
For most of us — it’s a distant dream. Live full time (legally) in Yosemite Valley, California. Climb some of the best granite in the world as part of your job. Live in a small tent cabin in the famous Camp 4. For Cheyne Lempe — it’s just another day in the life.

I only spent a day in Yosemite and I fell in love with it. I can’t imagine living there full-time. It’s a spectacular part of the world. I never thought about Search and Rescue teams living in the park full-time. But it makes sense. Who better to know the area and be available than people who live there full-time climbing the peaks and hiking the trails.


Who is Phil Fish? This is Phil Fish.

This 19 minute video talks about Phil Fish, who those in the indie gaming world hate because he is talented with strong opinions. But people don’t hate Phil Fish as much as they hate the concept of Phil Fish.

You’re asking yourself, Who is Phil Fish?

He created Fez. A much-loved and well-received video game. He was also heavily featured in Indie Game: The Movie where he and others talk about their long, hard road to creating a game.

Phil Fish is hated the same way Nickelback is hated. Because they’re not being famous the right way. Or because they’re famous and shouldn’t be. Either way, people hate them more for the concept of them, rather than the real person or band.

I write about this today because of another event in the news. Microsoft bought Mojang, the creator of Minecraft. As this news was announced, the founder Marcus Persson, better know as Notch posted to his blog he was leaving the company.

He posted this to his blog.

I don’t want to be a symbol, responsible for something huge that I don’t understand, that I don’t want to work on, that keeps coming back to me. I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.

Just as Phil Fish was attacked endlessly, eventually driving him to cancel a sequel to Fez and close all of his social network accounts. Notch is retreating from public life for similar reasons.

As soon as this deal is finalized, I will leave Mojang and go back to doing Ludum Dares and small web experiments. If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately.

The creator of Flappy Bird, Dong Nguyen removed his outrageously popular game because of the death threats and abuse being hurled at him. He was accused of ripping off other games and artwork. He refused to give interviews or even talk about his game to the media. He then did the unthinkable.

— Dong Nguyen (@dongatory) February 8, 2014

Pulling Flappy Bird, a punishingly hard yet highly addictive game from the App Store spawned a legion of clones and imitators. He is back now with another game, Swing Copters. It appears to be just as hard and addicting as the last.

In all three cases, we have creators working hard, putting things out into the world hoping they’ll be liked. Video games, especially one-man shops or small teams can pour months or years into a game. Only to have it fail or worse, be ignored entirely.

But the cost of fame may be even higher. The cost of being thrust into the public spotlight. To be threatened by hundreds or thousands of anonymous people from all across the internet. How would you handle it if you were sent death threats and negativity every place imaginable?

With internet lynch mobs springing up, why would anyone want to be a public figure? No one controls the mob and to become a target is a miserable and terrifying thing.

I haven’t written about GamerGate and the hateful attacks on Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian because I honestly don’t know enough to do it justice. If you want to hear a good discussion on what’s happening, listen to Isometric 18: Rainbows and Sunshine. They provide a good overview of it. In short, it’s women being attacked on the internet for being women on the internet.

I did not intend to write about only men experiencing problems on the internet. They are stories I already knew. I attempted to find the facts of how GamerGate got started and all I can tell is an ex-boyfriend of Zoe published information about her that may or may have not been true. I don’t know. And her game Depression Quest was released on the day of Robin William’s suicide. Something Zoe wrestled with.

After a long uphill battle since getting Greenlit in January, Depression Quest was planned to, and approved for, launch on Steam today. Literally minutes after we got the notification, beloved actor Robin Williams was found dead from a suspected suicide after a long struggle with depression. We were all ready to hit the big red button the minute that the news broke.

So now I’m left with the question – do we launch, or not? I turned to twitter and my most trusted friends for advice because I can see going a few different ways. It’s not an easy decision.

She did decide to publish it. And that drew ire as well. I’ve watched a couple of Anita Sarkeesian’s videos on Youtube, and didn’t know who she was at the time. Her offenses appear to be pointing out the poor treatment of women in the gaming industry and their depiction in games.

In short, it’s a terrifying look at internet lynch mobs.

Photo credit: włodi on Flickr

Dispatch from the Trenches #9

Michael Salisbury’s Images of Apocalyptic Fog Over Chicago


Though the Polar Vortex reared its ugly head across Chicago this past winter, it brought with it something incredibly beautiful if not apocalyptic–lots of fog. Fog can always make for great images, and that’s what photographer Michael Salisbury was able to do. According to a Chicago Tribune article, the fog that was over Chicago back in June of this year was a direct result of the Polar Vortex. Lake Michigan was frozen over for much of the vortex and as a result the water temperature was much cooler than normal. When you combine this with warm air above, it creates lots of fog.

It reminds me of some foggy days we have in Richmond, VA years ago.

Vanishing Point

DuckTales Theme Song With Real Ducks

This is adorable.

I’m Good – Curious Rat

I’m trying to be less reachable. I enjoy checking Twitter throughout the day, but on my schedule. I love that I have numerous ways to communicate with people all over the world, but only when I want to. When I come home, I like to leave my phone on my desk and spend time with my wife and son. Let the notifications chime. Let the calls buzz. I can’t hear them and I love it that way.

I know I’m in the minority when it comes to tech. I want just enough to get my work done without it getting in my way.

I love this perspective and agree with it. Tech is a tool. It should work for me. As I step away from it, I don’t want it to follow me. I want to dip in and interact on my terms.

In my life, it should not be always-on. If that’s what you want, great. Do it! It’s not for me. So I’ve taken steps to turn it off or ignore it.

Hello, and welcome to “Yes, I Remember and I Don’t Need to Relive It” day

Cut to Carl, bleary-eyed, on the 6th (top) floor of the Department of Labor.

Walking to the café there, I glanced out the window to see the Washington Monument in the distance. With a plane flying across the horizon line. The sun was hidden by clouds but desperately trying to come out.

I noticed of the half-dozen flags flying atop nearby building. They were all at half mast. And I was confused.

I knew the president made an address last night. I didn’t hear of anything new on Twitter this morning. No attacks. I couldn’t think of this as a holiday. Or a special observance for anyone famous.

Metro was a ghost town this morning.

I got my breakfast and caffeine and returned to my desk. Logging in and looking over my calendar, I saw 9/11. And thought. Oh. Really? Is this what all that’s about?

If you were affected personally by the events of that terrible day, I feel for you. And I am sorry. I am sorry you lost someone. I am sorry you have to relive it every moment when they’re not around.

When it happened, I was in college. I was awaken by a roommate pounding on my door and yelling to turn on CNN. I did just as the second plane crashed into the tower.

I spent the rest of the day in shock. Missing class to attend events on campus and try to deal with my feelings.

My dad’s office is right next to Dulles airport. I was afraid for him. If a plane went down short of the airport, it could very easily crash on/near his building.

Thankfully, it did not. My mother and brother were in Virginia Beach, far away from it. I was in Richmond, VA.

Today doesn’t hold a special place in my heart personally. I knew and know people who lost friends, family members and others either in the Pentagon or in New York. It’s a terrible thing.

I have no room to tell you how to feel or how to act. How to remember or commemorate this day. But for me, it’s a Thursday. I don’t say this to take anything away from those who lost people, responded, or fight in the military. You are strong and brave people. Braver and stronger than I.

I love you and I thank you.