Tag: Video

Wins And Losses

It’s been an interesting week. One filled with highs and lows, ups and downs, good and bad. I’m going to steal the slogan from Lance Armstrong’s new group, WEDU and their podcast The Forward – “Always forward, never straight”. Life would be boring if it always went in a straight line. This week definitely had a few turns.

Fitness took a (mental) turn this week for sure in a couple of categories. I felt like I was making some progress and then my trainer introduced some new movements. I’m now so sore I can barely walk. That’s good in the sense that I’m clearly pushing hard. But it’s a bit discouraging because I thought I was past the crippling DOMS stage of working out. Clearly my improving strength isn’t as well-balanced as I thought.

And then there’s the issue of weight. I’ve been avoiding the scale because I know how I feel and what I look like. My diet’s been… well, not good and I know it. At the beginning of the week the trainer asked if I was finally going to be serious and track my intake. Ok, ok, ok, stop yelling at me. I was diligent and tracked everything all week. I bravely stepped on the scale this morning. And now I’m super confused.

Per the app, I’m way under on the number of calories I should be consuming. But per the scale, I’ve gained 2+ pounds. My muscle mass increased, but so did body fat and visceral fat percentages. Something’s not adding up. I know that my calorie intake has to be much higher than I’m tracking. Realistically the app doesn’t account for all the sauces, etc… because the physics doesn’t lie. You can’t be significantly under in calories and gain weight. Regardless, it was enough of a motivational spark to keep me tracking my intake and to start getting my diet in order. I don’t know what that diet will be yet, but I can’t go back to keto. I just can’t.

On the positive side of the ledger, a couple of good things happened. One of them was an unexpected surprise. I have a little YouTube channel that I post to from time to time. Almost no subscribers, and my silly little videos only get a handful of views. That’s ok because I enjoy making them and it’s mostly a learning experience at this point. But as I’ve mentioned before, there’s still a nagging feeling in the back of your head – why am I doing this if nobody watches? Well, out of the blue one of the older videos hit 10,000 views in just a few days. Very strange. That’s miniscule traffic in YouTube terms, massive for me. I’ll admit it’s nice to feel like someone is watching/reading what you create. It’s enough of a spark to motivate you to keep on being creative.

So that’s it. A real mixed bag of events for the week. The weather continues to be crap. I can’t get my sprinklers to work. Diet continues to be off the rails. But some exciting personal stuff happened and then I got a little creator spark/validation.

The path we take wobbles all around and certainly isn’t straight. But all that matters is that the path keeps moving forward.

P.S. In a fit of desperation, I’ve thrown away all food in the pantry and fridge. I’m now staring at empty shelves and unsure of what I should do now. Perhaps I was a bit hasty…

Do This One Amazing Trick

Ever notice how many YouTube videos, blogs, and ads use some form of this clickbait title? “Use this one trick to gain 10,000 followers in a day!” “The IRS doesn’t want you to know about this one trick”. I fell for one of them yesterday while surfing YouTube. I don’t remember the title, but it was something like “Follow this one rule to improve your channel”. I don’t have much of an attention span, so one rule is right up my alley. Convinced I’ll soon be scooping up all that sweet YouTube cash, I clicked on the thumbnail.

It actually ended up being a reasonable video, and the author made a good point that I think translates well to making videos, writing a blog, or life in general. He asked a simple question. “Are you an entertainer or an educator?” You have to pick an approach for your content and stick to it. Whether you’re writing a blog, an article, or creating a video, people will consume your content for one reason. They either want to be entertained, or they want to learn something. They’ll keep coming back to your content if they continue to see that same type of (quality) content. What generally doesn’t work is to post a bunch of how-to stuff, then suddenly post content that tries to be funny.

It almost doesn’t seem to matter what your niche is. How to repair things with duct tape. Heckling pro golfers. The history of manhole covers. It makes no difference what the content is as long as you’re consistent. If I am a fan of duct tape, the last thing I want to see on your amazing duct tape channel is a travel vlog of your trip to Disneyland with the kids. I have a friend who has a YouTube channel dedicated to cowboy action shooting. It’s a bit of an obscure sport and you wouldn’t think there’d be a be demand for that sort of thing. He has 20 thousand subscribers and posts nothing but 30 second clips of shooting matches. It’s all about finding your lane and then staying in it.

And therein lies my problem. It dawned on me that whether it’s writing, YouTube, or life in general… I’m a bit of a lost soul who can’t decide what niche I want to be in. That’s neither good nor bad. It just is. This blog drifts back and forth between trying to be funny, some random political/opinion stuff, and general reporting on the minutia of my daily life. As a reader it’s probably hard to know what you’re going to get (I’m honestly surprised people continue to subscribe). The same goes for YouTube. My pitiful little channel can’t figure out what it wants to be. I had visions of a broader category but keep resorting to the creative path of least resistance (and effort).

The end result for both blogging and YouTube is something that I’m clearly not terribly passionate about. As an example, for some reason still baffles me, 90+ percent of the subscribers to this blog are fitness related. I find this amusing and slightly embarrassing. I am not a fitness person. I am not fit. I’m not making much progress on my fitness journey at the moment. Because of that, I’m not very motivated to write anything about fitness. But anytime I even mention the word fitness… the views go way up, and I gain another handful of subscribers. So, I realize that I could probably focus 100% on fitness and diet topics and rapidly acquire readers. But is that really me?

Similar with videos. I like motorcycles and it was easy to crank out a few videos about some trips I took. But I didn’t have any desire to be only a motorcycle travel vlogger. The motorcycle only occupies a small portion of my life. But as it turns out, those motorcycle trips are what people watch. Do I stick with what gets views, or try to figure out what will motivate me to make lots of content rather than just an occasional video when I go on motorcycle ride?

It’s sort of an interesting life question. Everyone knows the old adage about working – “pursue your passion and you’ll never work a day in your life”. I’m not sure that’s realistic advice. As a young man my passions were surfing and being angry at the world. I’m not sure how successful I would have been focusing solely on that. But who knows? Maybe I would have gone on to launch a surf clothing company that featured anti-establishment slogans that made me a gazillionaire.

The reality for most of us is that through luck and circumstance we stumble into something and end up doing it for long enough that you actually get good at it. Is it a “passion”? Maybe, maybe not. But it pays the bills and gives you an identity and a focus. Maybe these creative outlets should be the same? I stumbled on a couple of things that attracted a few folks willing to read/watch my nonsense. Perhaps I should just embrace it and focus on what works. Really dive in and enjoy the niche I accidently found. I never thought I’d be a software engineer or an RN either, but I got pretty good at both.

But the other adage about creativity is that you should create for you first. Who cares if anyone else likes it? If your creativity comes from passion and happiness, people will recognize it. There are followers for every sort of niche. If you put out good content, those followers will find you. At the end of the day, what’s the point of being creative if it’s not your passion?

Interesting questions. I’m not sure what I’d tell a young person going out into the world today. I’m not sure what to tell myself. That’s some deep stuff to ponder on a Tuesday morning. I think I’ll go get my workout done and think about it…

What’s Your Taste?

Music. Food. Blogs. YouTube. What’s the one thing these all have in common? They all satisfy a particular taste at a moment in time.

Take music. I have a very eclectic music playlist. Everything from reggae, blues, old school punk, OG rap, to hard core metal. What I find interesting is that on any given day I have a “taste” for a particular genre of music. I rarely just randomly listen to my playlist. When I have a taste for punk, that’s all I want to hear. If some other genre pops in, it just doesn’t sound right. Often the current taste lasts for several days and then I burn out and a new taste kicks in. It’s the same with reading or watching YouTube. I’ll get on a political kick and simply can’t get enough analysis of some weird arcane political topic. Day after day. And then suddenly, I can’t stand it anymore and move on to reading motorcycle tire reviews or the history of the Crusades or something.

The brain is an amazing thing. I find it fascinating that your brain can crave a particular input. Why do I get that dopamine hit listening to Rage Against the Machine one day, but the next it might sound like screeching static to me? Why do I have a taste for reading nothing but autobiographies for a month, and then suddenly the only thing I can stand to read are escapist spy thrillers? Does everyone’s brain work that way, or is it just me?

The real killer is when you lose your taste. That feeling of flipping through the radio, channel after channel, and nothing sounds good. Music, talk radio, sports, nothing is working. When you cycle endlessly through twitter, blogs, news sites and nothing seems even remotely interesting. What causes that? Is the brain on overload? Are you tired and don’t realize it? Dehydrated and the receptors aren’t firing? The brain is a complicated creature.

I have very little point to any of this. I started thinking about it this morning as I scrolled through YouTube. YouTube’s algorithm drives me nuts. You’d think at this point they’d be more sophisticated. I get that If I search or click on a thumbnail about a particular thing, I’m expressing interest and they want to serve me more videos about that topic. Fine. Except that they flood you with that topic.

Search for how to repair a lawnmower, and for two weeks your feed will be flooded with nothing but videos about lawnmowers, lawn care, gardening, lawnmower reviews, lawnmower racing, secrets to the perfect lawn, the best oil for lawnmowers, women in bikinis mowing the lawn (ok, I might have clicked on that one), redneck lawnmowers, careers in lawnmowing, etc… Do they not understand that taste is fleeting? How come they can’t figure out that if I haven’t clicked on a lawn mowing thumbnail in two days, I’m probably no longer interested in that topic?

Maybe rather than the random babble I push out from time to time, instead I’ll start posting nothing but my current daily “tastes”.

Wanna See Some Art?

I am a frustrated creator, to use the social media/YouTube lexicon. I go through waves of intense desire to create either photographs or videos. Those waves usually dissipate quickly, mostly because I don’t know what to do the images and videos. That sounds odd, so let me explain.

Making a video is a non-trivial task. You need to put thought into what you’re doing, constantly making sure you’re getting sufficient footage, film from multiple angles, etc… When done, you have many hours of editing, finding music, learning software tools, and rendering time. I’m a beginner, so my results are a bit amateurish, but I’m learning and they’re getting better. Those video’s obviously get posted to YouTube.

Photographs come from a Fuji X100F camera or my phone. The phone images are edited on the phone using VSCO or Snapseed and posted to Instagram. Photos from the “real” camera are edited with Adobe Lightroom… and sit on my hard drive for the most part. I have an old WordPress “photo” site with a few images, but I haven’t updated it in years.

So, what’s the issue? With videos it boils down to – is it worth the time and effort? To actually make any money on YouTube, even just a few hundred dollars a month, is nearly a full-time job. You have to be very consistent with uploads every week and put real effort into making interesting content. You need to identify a niche and focus on it. You need to promote your content. I like making videos, but I’m not sure I’m interested enough to go to that level. Therefore, I’m making occasional random videos for friends and family. Which is fine, but it’s a lot of effort. Do I want to continue?

Photographs are a similar, but slightly different issue. This will sound silly, but what do I do with my pictures? I suppose I can just keep posting them to Instagram for the approximately twenty friends and family who follow. I thought about creating a second, photography-specific Instagram account for the camera images but that would mean actively trying to attract followers. I’m not a professional, an influencer, or at a point in my life where my ego needs the boost, so that doesn’t really fit my personality. I suppose I could make prints from time to time to hang up around the house. I honestly just don’t know what I want to do with the images. The end result is that I rarely take pictures lately.

A day ago, I decided to try and create a gallery/slideshow that would display on the Smart TV in the living room. At least people coming to the house could get a glimpse into my pictures, right? Forty minutes later of trying to create accounts, logging in, and struggling with settings, I still couldn’t get the damn thing to sync with my images. That was the end of my attention span for that project.

Next, I turned to GoPro. They’ve updated their mobile app, called Quik. I’ve played with it a little bit and it seems interesting. Their premise is that the app will solve what they call the “black hole” of photos and videos that just sit on your phone. They have a tool called the Mural that you use to place daily content from your phone, and it helps you organize and create interesting slideshows and videos. I think it would work but will require a change in workflow along with how and where I save images. Again, do I really want to put the effort in to make this happen?

I realize that these are amazing first-world problems to have. I’m enough of a student of the mediums to know that the answer is that you’re creating for yourself. Unless your goal is to make a living with art, it makes no difference if anyone sees what you’ve created. You’re doing it for you. That holds true for photography, writing, or YouTube. I know this.

But as the old saying goes, if a tree falls in the forest – does it make a sound? Well, we’ll never know if someone isn’t there to listen. I’m not ready to abandon all creativity yet. I don’t know what the answer is for photography. If anyone has ideas on what to do with images, I’d love to hear it. YouTube is a bit trickier. I think the answer is to find a style that fits what I do. I need to find a way to document the things that I do that isn’t so labor intensive. If it’s easy enough, I’ll do it. I’ll push my stuff out there so friends and family can keep up with my activities and adventures. And if random strangers also want to see it, so be it.

We live in an amazing time. No more photo books with polaroid prints. No more grainy VHS tapes of family vacations. An unlimited number of ways to share images and art… it’s overwhelming.

Sigh. The life of a creator is hard.

Who Doesn’t Like The Theater?

  • I hate to break it to you, but none of this is real. The politics, the spending, the daily media-driven outrage, none of it is reality in the way you and I think of the real world. Everything you see is manufactured theater. All of it. The speeches on the house and senate floor, press conferences, social media interactions, news show appearances – they’re all deliberate, manufactured, and designed to spark outrage with the base. The same with the “media”. Pick whatever news source you like, they all intentionally craft a narrative that creates anger and frustration amongst their target audience. Why? Money. 2020 election spending was more than $14 billion dollars. Think about that. You don’t spend that kind of money without expecting a return on the other end. The deep state, unfathomably large bureaucracies, super PACS, the military industrial complex, unions, big tech, law firms, education, they are the new oligarchs of our times. They make the decisions. And they want more. More spending. More dump trucks of cash printed out of thin air. It’s been 23 years since the federal government actually passed an annual budget. The last deficit balanced budget was in 1969. Government is in the business of seizing, printing, and redistributing wealth. Period. So please, take a deep breath and realize all the outrage being shouted at you is manufactured to drive and control the narrative. And the narrative is designed to keep the spending going in the direction the collective power brokers want. Yes, that’s a bit pessimistic. But it’s the truth. And the sooner you realize it’s all theater the better you’ll sleep at night. Do your best to carve out what you can for you and your family. And then go enjoy life. Because devoting large amounts of brain time to something you can’t win isn’t healthy.
  • On a less dystopian note, this short video is pretty funny. Although you’ll only really get it if you already watch the over the top dramatic videos produced by outdoor gear manufactures. And the best part is it’s made by a gear manufacturer channeling some Mystery Science Theater.
  • Ok, back to the outrage. The blame for most of this rests on our shoulders. I saw this link about Representative Maxine Waters giving a million dollars in campaign cash to her daughter. My only thought was how do these people keep getting elected year after year? McConnell, Nadler, Graham, McCain, Pelosi, Schumer, all of them on both sides of the aisle. People in LA can’t possibly be thinking, wow she’s done an amazing job for me. I can’t get over how well my district is being represented. Yet they’ve been sending her back to Washington for 30 years. Why? The sad reality is that the few people that actually vote, tend to vote against someone, not for someone. They see a campaign ad saying candidate X grinds up puppies in a blender and drinks them as smoothies in the morning, recognizes a name with the appropriate R or D in front of it and that’s it. It’s all very depressing if you think about it. But those in power will never actually implement meaningful voting reform or term limits for themselves. Some sort of public referendum seems to be the only way to circumnavigate the power circles.
  • A friend of mine sent me a link to the 2021 World Senior Games and asked if I’d be interested in the trail run. He’s going already to participate in the Cowboy Action Shooting (gasp, outrage alert – guns!). I’m slightly suspicious of “World Games” that don’t have any sort of qualifying requirements. But since I don’t have any hope of actually qualifying for anything, the idea intrigues me. For about 30 seconds. There’s just something that compels me to think about signing up for a race or event to prove to myself that I’m capable of doing it. I’ve signed up for a handful of marathons, half marathons, road and trail, and mountain bike races over the years. Some I’ve done, some I’ve abandoned. My favorite was the 100 miles of Nowhere race. It was an annual event to raise money for cancer research. I rode 100 continuous miles around my block. Alone. That’s a long time to ride in a small circle. It was silly but it felt good to prove to myself I could do it. For that same reason I enter the lottery to ride the Leadville 100 mountain bike race almost every year. Which I wouldn’t have a hope in hell of actually finishing. I’ve contemplated a 100 mile trail run race every year as well. Probably have an equally low chance of finishing that as well. So why do I think about it? I have no interest in becoming a runner or competing. There’s just something compelling about completing something not many people can do. I suppose it’s vanity, wanting some bragging rights. So when I saw an article talking about the Grand Canyon rim to rim to rim run, my brain briefly went, hmm….
  • February 5th is international Clash day. The Clash were at one time referred to as “the only band that matters”. As Joe Strummer described the band, “We’re anti-fascist, we’re anti-violence, we’re anti-racist, and we’re pro-creative. We’re against ignorance.” How can you go wrong with that? So you know what that means….

Song of the day: The Clash – London Calling (Official Video)

Staying Focused

Cool things, random thoughts, advice, and independent thinking from someone who’s been around the sun a few times.

  • The receipt for my WordPress renewal showed up in my inbox this morning and reminded me that I haven’t bothered writing anything since April. There’s a number of reasons for it, but mostly I have the attention span of a hamster. The number of hobbies I have divided by the available hours in the day plus day-to-day life activities is a mathematical problem that would take some theoretical Einstein/Stephen Hawking level shit to solve.
  • I’ve experimented with a bullet journal in the past. I’m not one for carrying around a book, so I opted for an electronic version. Maybe it’s time to revisit it to try and keep myself somewhat focused.
  • Speaking of minimalism, I’m trying a new wallet. I liked the previous one, but it had no option for cash and I didn’t care for how it slid around in my pocket. I just got this one and so far so good.
  • Staying on the EDC theme, I stumbled on the KeySmart. I really like it… except I literally have only two keys on my keychain. Probably not worth it.
  • Very intrigued by the new Mavic Mini. That would mean committing to actually making videos, which should be easy since I built a PC specifically for video editing. The problem is that I need to get over my aversion to speaking to a camera and videoing myself. As they say, I have a face for radio.
  • I finally got around to getting my TSA Precheck. Renewed the passport. Now it’s time to watch 1,200 hours of YouTube videos on where to travel. I anticipate actually booking a trip sometime in 2021.
  • November was rough in the exercise department. I got sick, recovered, and then got my first ever case of food poisoning… resulting in a nightmare 14 hour airline travel day. Recovered, then crashed on the motorcycle and messed up my foot. Grrrr.
  • Generally I do better with goals. When I have something to plan and focus on I’m more likely to train and stay committed. I’ve been toying with a crazy (for me) running goal, but can’t decide if I want to commit to the required training time. Or if I could even do it. I’ll have to decide in January. Stay tuned.
  • Mrs Troutdog got me the PowerBeats Pro. I’ve never worn earbuds before. It’s been nice to get back into to music.
  • A podcast worth listening to: Joe Rogan with Tulsi Gabbard and Jocko Willink.

Song of the day: Fight! Smash! Win! Street Sweeper Social Club

Notions Of Cool V.017

A random list of things and shower thoughts that an old Gen X dude finds cool or worth pondering.

  • Spring appears to be here (in the West anyway). Blue skies and no signs of further snow in the forecast. As much as I like winter, I’m done. Been thinking more of the bike than the skis.
  • Speaking of skis, my new ones are scary fast. Super stable at speed with no chatter. Several times yesterday I caught myself at ludicrous speed and thought… crashing would be bad right now. They are forcing me to be more aggressive, which is a good thing I suppose.
  • We had to hire a crew to remove our snow disaster at the house. These folks worked their asses off for days. The vast majority of the population in this country has lost that all-day farmer strength we used to have. We’re doomed when the zombie apocalypse hits.
  • Speaking of zombies, a great book to read is “World War Z” by Max Brooks son of Mel Brooks. It’s what the movie was loosely based on. And by loosely I mean they share the same name, that’s about it. One of the neat concepts in the book is that post-apocalypse, society flips. The blue collar folks become the sought after leaders because they know how to actually fix and build things. The white collar workers are useless without electricity and become the new ditch diggers.
  • I’m fascinated by the Instagram algorithm. How is it that an account with 1 post has several hundred followers, but others with many hundreds of posts have only a few?
  • My shoulder is still messed up several years later. I can’t do pull ups or back squats due to pain. I need to fix this somehow.
  • Hard to gage who will be the democratic front runner. Kamala would be their better choice, but Bernie has the dollars. Beto, Booker, and Warren will be busts. Yang and Schultz could be interesting. Biden is corrupt as hell and I’m not convinced he’ll run.
  • An interesting interview by CNBC with GOPRO founder Nick Woodman. I still think the main problem is the learning barrier to editing and creating a watchable video. People buy the camera, use it a few times then it sits. I may or may not be referring to myself.

Song of the day: Rebelution “Feeling Alright”