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Productive Time Wasting

April 25th, 2012

Regardless of your schedule we all have free time at some point and I tend to seem to always have a great deal of it. Even when the Studio is busy, I still may have a couple of hours of down time and as a stimulation junky, I like to keep busy. When I first started piercing I had this vision that I was at last going to have that time to write that novel I'd always dreamed of or maybe take some college courses but neither of them came to past. That is unless you count this site as that book, God knows there is enough content here for a novel. As the studio grew though I increasingly added new time wasters. At first it was reading then a TV followed by video game systems and then at last the internet. In a way it was and still is a charmed life because it allows me time to explore topics and activities that I would have normally not had the time for. 


I've been trying to kind of rotate the blogs by writing a piercing blog, then the Spotify Playlist blog and then my personal blog. Not really sure but this week, I just haven't felt that the subject of the piercing blog has fermented enough to be typed out. I need to stir the pot a bit more and in the mean time, I'd figure I would share a few of my favorite productive distractions. This blog has always been the fun blog anyway. A way to express my interests and events in my life that are important and one of themes of my life over the last 10 or so years was to try to find more productive ways to spend my free time. Plus I want to share some great things that I've stumbled upon or have been lead to. 


Now some of these time wasters may seem less edifying then others on the surface and some may seem, well down right dull and I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I watch about 2 to 4 hours of Netflix a night or play Playstation. I've always felt that it was important to entertain oneself and even a movie could inspire one to do something creative or to research a subject. Also depending on the game even a silly first person shooter can cause you to develop strategy, problem solving skills and heighten sense of your surroundings.  At least that's what I tell myself when I spend hours playing Call of Duty Black Ops. Also you could say that playing the Call of Duty games could also give you a little more insight into the History of Modern Warfare too. Even the Lego games are often puzzle driven that require more thinking than button pushing. One thing I'm completely unsure of is the amount of hours or should I say days that I've spent playing CIV 4 and the only reason I can give as an excuse, is that the game is ever changing with different challenges depending on the chosen Civilizations. You learn quickly that the job of a dictator isn't really as much fun as you thought it would be and a majority of your time is spent dealing economics, civil planning, scientific research and defense. Oh and the fun part planning invasion and conquering other civilizations.


Enough Rambling, here's some of my suggestion, stuff I like and what I would consider stimulating and productive ways to kill time. In a way it's just my way of promoting things that I dig. Most of these revolve around the time I spend at the studio and in the car.


I'm not sure how I came across TWIT. My best guess was when I was all wound up about the release of the Palm Pre and came across the Leo Lapotre "Screw you Mike Arrington" clip - but that discovery opened up a completely new word for me. The world of podcasts. Sure I had heard of them and may have downloaded a few but the thing that stands out about TWIT is the professional level of the programing. Also the content options. Currently 32 shows ranging in everything from Tech to Science to Ham Radio to photography to Home Theater to comedy. The idea is to focus on content that is not address on a deeper level in major media but presented in a professional and entertaining way. The base of the show is usually a host or hosts with 2 to 3 guest in a talk show format. The one that I never miss is This Week In Tech. Granted I'm a gadget whore but the show and regular guest don't only present great deal of insight into subjects that effect a majority of us out there like Facebook, Google, etc... but they are also entertaining enough to not make it seem like it's a dry version of Inside Baseball. Tough I tend to only listen to the podcast, they offer streaming of live shows and recorded shows on the site and through a few set top boxes.  You should also check out Science News Weekly and if you own an Android or other phone their shows that focus on those devices. For example, All About Android has lead me to some of my favorite apps.


This is yet another podcast and one that I'm pretty new to and even calling them a podcast is a bit understated because they range in 2 to 3 hours long putting them closer to books than shows. What makes them interesting is that Dan takes subject matter that is usually just a foot note in History class and expands on them in a way that has context to the time period. The latest one (Blitz) Logical Insanity which explored the morality of the drooping the Atomic Bomb on Japan. His presentation was vastly different from most I've experienced in the past because he delved deeply into what had become morally acceptable by the later part of the Second World War. Including bring up the regular fire bombings of Japan that came before the dropping of the Bomb and how many felt using the Atomic Bomb would not only quicken the end of the war but also put an end to the fire bombings that had become a daily occurrence by 1945. Also he attempts to put history into a modern context.


  • Personal Website or Blog:

Every time I see a post on Facebook complaining about a change to their service, I try to bring up the fact that if you want more control start your own website. In the pre-MySpace days of the internet, there were countless personal websites on the internet. Many with vast views and interesting prospective that are lost on the Micro Blog of Facebook and Twitter which sadly came about by an advancement in technology that allowed the posting of content to the web easier. Now don't get me wrong Social Media sites are services that I uses and enjoy but I think people have a misunderstanding of what they are. They are a service that is provided free of cost to promote advertising in which you have no real control over your content and how it is used and distributed. These sites are slowly becoming more and more walled up gardens that are portals to what is outside of their communities. Now this brings up a number of ethical questions when two or three companies in which their main income source is advertising begin to control where and what the internet experience is for a majority of the public. I could go on and on of these dangers but I think the worst side effect is the reduction of the creativity and quieting of individual voices that the person websites of the past promised and often delivered. One of the strongest draws of the internet in it's infancy was the idea of making the exchange of information and idea outside of a controlled funnel. The idea behind web 2.0 was to take the code out of the experience and make adding content to a site as easy as filling out a form. The dream that anyone with internet access and a voice that wished to share could build a site and add content.


Instead Web 2.0 lead to even higher walled gardens and deeper funnels. If you don't believe me think about your home page or the first page you open. I'm guilty here because it's usually Facebook or Twitter. Both are great places to share and exchange small amounts of information about your life, your interests and the general world. However, the amount and length of the content is extremely limited. This is where the personal site or blog can come into play and the best part of it is that it isn't complicated or really that time consuming, especially when I think back to the day of having to create code for each and every page. There are a number of sites that are not only free but have built in software called Content Management Systems that involve no coding at all. If you can post to Facebook you can create your own site that you control the content and how it is presented.


Maybe I'm a little optimistic and feel that everyone has something of worth to share. I'm sure there are a number of people out there that would question the worth of my blogs but I think they are of worth. Sure I ramble and sure often my spelling and grammar is terrible but at the heart there is usually a subject or opinion that can not be expressed in 140 character and deserves more. Whenever I've brought up to someone that they should start their own site they always seem to be at a loss what the subject should be. To that I have to say there is very few people in this world that couldn't express through their own experiences something that might help someone else get through a tough part of their life or see a topic completely differently. You see that is what I see as the true promise of the internet and without personal sites, we get jaded commercial sites that already dominate the net. So start a site. Currently beside this site I have mainly one other which has been an incredible experience and one that I would suggest to anyone with an idea in their head. There is also a couple of others but one is private and the other pushes my service for building websites.


Nothing and I mean nothing surpasses the reading of a book as productive time killing. This is especially true if it exposes you to an experience outside of your own. I tend to be drawn to dark fiction and non-fiction about people who's art has effected me. This one fills in both. Now I must state from the start this is a very dark book and it is in fact the story of the lead singer of the Punk Band T.S.O.L. Some may know a little bit about his history but what he has produced in this book is a first hand account of selfish depravity and indulgence and then coming to terms with effect of his actions. As someone who has met Jack a number of times and has always found him to be a wonderful person, it was often painful to read and sometimes relate to the experiences that he went through in his life. Blame it on Punk Rock but their was a sense at a time in my life that morality and empathy did not rule my actions and that might be why I relate to the character he portrays in the book. Now understand I never took it to the extremes that he did but there were times when I really questioned if it was more my lack of opportunity then conscience that kept me from going that far. Not only does it document the level of depravity one can justify and commit but how changes in one's morality evolves not from teaching and outside sources but from within. Sure often the ego needs to be striped bare to have this effect but it always comes from within.


Here's another submission from the new and growing internet based media. This one is on Revision 3 and is hosted by Brian Brushwood. I discovered Brian through TWIT where he is a guest on a somewhat regular bases. Scam School is a combination of magic and scams, though some would say that they are one in the same. The thing that makes it interesting is that it is presented in the form of a way to introduce you to new people. Often set in a bar, Brian presents a scam, magic trick or puzzle as a way to introduce you to someone new or to get a free drink. The thing that draws me to it is trying to figure out how he is doing it and when you have given up, he shows you the secret behind it. The reason I included the show on the list is because some really get you thinking and are great brain teasers. Others are, well, flat out pranks but it's all very entertaining. He also just came out with a book and you can find the show on the net and some set top boxes.


OK, I admit it and I have before, I'm a gadget addict. The only reason why I don't have closets full of them is because I can't afford them. That doesn't mean that I still don't need a daily supply of rumors, stories and reviews on them though. In fact the Verge pretty much covers all the geeky subjects, including science, technology, gaming and just about every device being produced or rumored to be produced. Started by Joshua Topolsky and Marty Moe of Engadget fame they offer not only print media but also podcasts and shows. I've found that I tend to skim my Twitter feed and only click on links from this site.


OK, first off I should admit that I have a thing for Felicia Day which many may know from the Guild and Eureka. I don't know if it's the red hair or the geeky enthusiasm that draws me in but there is just something about her and the talented people that she surrounds herself with that has obtained my attention. Plus let's face it the Guild is a watermark of what internet based shows should be judged by. It's funny, original and smart but doesn't make you feel like an outsider because you don't play WOW. Ms Day and her fellow Guild members have launched a Youtube channel called Geek and Sundry. The highlights include the Guild(unless you have Netflix which has the whole current season), The Flog which is FD's video blog where she lists suggested links, twitter feeds, etc.. and then usually tries to do something she wouldn't normally do, like Black Smithing. It's done in kind of the style of her blogs on the Guild. Tabletop which is interesting people playing board games, yes board games, 


I've always been a huge fan of DIY. I mean I'm a punker, it's like the basic of our whole little club. Well, this site takes the whole DIY thing to a different level because there are things on here that really make you question what the motivation behind it is. That said there is plenty of useful projects that are submitted to the site. From recipes to bookselves to spy phones to pizza cones, if you have a need there is more than likely a detailed solution on here and a few you didn't even know you had a need for. Whatever the project the site offers user submitted detailed step by step instructions on how to complete your project. In most cases they involve customizing house hold items to new uses but be warned you may spend hours here and forget what project you were needing in the first place.

So there they are, some of my favorite ways to productively waste time. If you really think about each is a way to explore new areas of life and experience new things. So stop obsessively watching your Facebook or twitter feed and go out and find something new.

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