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Sometimes you just gotta post about work.

Broken, Unworkable Things.

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Crind is Broken.

Some systems are simply unworkable.

This is a fact. There are things in this world that, for whatever reason, have become unworkable. They are broken.

These broken, unworkable things are not made to spite you or to annoy or damage you personally. They’re simply unworkable, broken things. And eventually, they will fail. Darwin. He was smart. However, the sad, painful realization that you are embroiled in an unworkable system is probably the more interesting thing to consider, really; what do you do after you’ve realized:

  • This system, thing, project, hardware, lifestyle choice is unworkable.
  • It’s not about me.

At that point you have three pretty clear choices.

  1. You can walk away.
    This is a pretty good choice, really. Most of the time. Let broken things that aren’t about you stay broken. Darwin will take care of them. It’s scary though– the broken thing is familiar. You’re walking away into the unknown.
  2. You can try to fix it.
    Great idea. But what about the second bullet point up there? It’s not about you. Unless you have considerable agency over he broken thing, this is a bad choice. Without the agency to fix it, trying to work the unworkable thing is going to frustrate you. And that’s not much better than living with the unworkable thing in the first place, is it? Because now, not only is it unworkable, but you’re fighting it every step of the way.
  3. You can love the unworkable thing for what it is.
    If you can’t walk away, and you don’t have the agency to fix the thing, this is all you’re left with. The unworkable thing is broken and you’re not going to either be ok with that or take one of the other two choices. End of story.

The thing is, not all broken things long to be fixed. Some are completely happy to be broken. And, maybe they even know that they could be better. And that’s sad, really. But that’s the nature of broken unworkable things. Love them. They are what show us the beauty of our complete, workable things. They are what inspire us to be better. The broken, unworkable things show us the way not to proceed, and point us in the direction of wholeness, completeness, and fulfillment.

Thank you, broken unworkable things. Thank you.

Machine Generated List of Names for New Doctors

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Here is a machine-generated list of names for people who may or may not be doctors.

  • Elvia Leatherman
  • Katrina Balderson
  • Jonell Girling
  • Harvey Biggerstaff
  • Elder Pattison
  • Orwald Boldrey
  • Kinsley Beacham
  • Kensleigh Hattaway
  • Christa Fox
  • Etta Penington

Writing scripts for 'Sketchnote: the Video'

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It was my great privilege this summer to work on the scripts for the video edition of Mike Rohde’s Sketchnote Handbook.

Mike and I had worked together a little during my Web414 days, and I knew him from BarCamp and other Milwaukee projects. He’s a great guy. When he and I connected in the spring of 2012 he mentioned he wanted some help getting the scripts together for his upcoming book and video package; I knew I wanted to get involved.

And then, actually, less than 2 minutes after meeting with Mike and the video’s director and cinematographer Brian Artka, I was in a pretty wicked car crash. I was able to walk away, but was dazed and not right for months. I’m still not right. I still freak out every time someone comes up too close behind me. Seriously: Don’t text and drive you guys. Not cool.

But, the point is, eventually, through my concussion and all that, we did manage to put together a bunch of great scripts for Mike and Brian to work from.

I used the fantastic Scrivener for drafting these pieces because, Scrivener forces me to think in terms of the larger product and keep the deliverable in mind. When you’re plumbing a source as vast and ripe as Mike’s first drafts, you need to actively keep the end in mind. Trust me.
After I’d made outlines and drafts in Scrivener, I shipped drafts and outlines over to Mike and Brian in RTF format. Eventually, Mike got himself a copy of Scrivener and we started sharing that over the project’s BaseCamp account. Even accounting for Scrivener’s strange package formats and cross platform idiosyncrasies, I’ll admit it was not a pretty workflow. But the outline and note-card view of the final scripts is pretty cool.

Screen Shot 2012-12-02 at 8.56.12 PM

Mike would send me early and red-line drafts of The Sketchnote Handbook, and I would cram them into the outline we’d developed for the video series. One of my goals was to break the video material up in a way that added value to the book. I really wanted these two editions to be complimentary, not derivative of each other.

Having seen the two editions at about 98% complete, I can tell you that the two products are very different. They are each a different perspective on Sketchnoting. They both have that friendly vibe that comes from working with Mike. They’re two totally different things, and that’s good. Get both. Trust me.

Because of the way we developed the each edition, they drove each other throughout the development process. Sometimes the video was in command, other times the book was front and center. Sometimes we just kind of wiggled and waggled until all the pieces fell into a super cool package of awesome.

Dare I say I think Mike and Brian got it right though. The whole thing is a great package.

Here’s a shot from Mike’s [flickr] set that highlights my cameo appearance in the video series.

Mike B-Roll

Mike worked really, really hard on this project, and it shows. It’s a gorgeous book and a compelling video series. I got to help him along the way. And it’s a super huge privilege that I enjoyed.

I am so grateful to get to work with Mike and Brian. – Even in the small way that I did.

An Epic first day for us both.

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Today was the first day. And I suspect there shall be a second.

As my delightful seven-year-old took on her first day as a mighty Lincoln Panda, I spent my first day as a writer at Epic Systems Corporation. I make pretty words about some of teh softwares. I use Microsoft Office. And Outlook. Oh, yes I use Outlook. Like a champ, I do.

And if the first day is any indicator of what the future holds, I’ll tell you this, my dearest, dearest darling, It’s going to be great. There are a million reasons why this is a great fit for me. A million.

Thank you to each and every one of you who has helped or will help my family during this difficult transition. We are blessed to be surrounded by some of the most thoughtful, caring, and generous people on Earth. You know who you are.

And if you have any leads on pet friendly housing rentals in Watertown, Wisconsin, please pass them to me.

I promise, there are stories to be told here. I’m just not quite ready to tell them. But it’s exciting times, friends. Exciting times.

An update from the world of "funemployment"

I don't feel like I've lost my voice since my previous employer and I parted ways, although my post counts at would indicate otherwise.

And that's ok.

See, the thing is: I've never been so busy. I've had projects and assignments and work to do. I've been hustling and meeting and going out and about. I'm cat sitting and sit catting and video-making and interviewing.

The truth is, it's non-stop working here. Non-stop. Like, never stopping. The Working. Just keeping the working going. Continuously. It's making it harder than it needs to be. Something needs to change.

Re-learning what work means.

I mentioned this to some friends at a meet-up I was at lately: Remember how I used to talk smack about how I was "done working for the day" at 9 a.m.? Maybe you remember me making jokes that implied I was a slacker, or suggested that I didn't work all that hard. You guys realize that was all an illusion, right? You guys realize that I was then (and am now) the kind of guy who works pretty much all the time, right? Because that's the honest truth. I might stop and have a pronounced coffee break at different points throughout the day, but I am almost certainly stopping as part of a general strategy of productivity.

And maybe I started to believe that I wasn't a hard worker. Maybe I didn't realize that when I was thinking about and making notes and observations relevant to work all the time, inside and outside of working hours, I was, in all actuality, working.

Because I have always done that. Time is hard to segregate out like that. Time is a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff and all that. Some of it is working. Some of it is not working. Some if it is both. Some of it is neither.

Where do you draw the line?

Out side of the realm of the artificial boundaries of a nine-to-five, I am suddenly faced with a work-day that does not end and does not have boundaries between "Gabe time" and "Paid time." I don't know how you free-lancers do it. I feel guilty every time I sit down to play a game. I feel self-indulgant every time I fire up a text editor to write my own things. I feel silly for spending any un-productive time fiddling with software or bits or tweaking out an operating system preference.

Fathers Day Gifts.

That being said, it was good to face a real weekend here. My child's annual dance recital weekend is capped with the observance of "Father's Day," so I was able to spend some time on the couch with the child and my lady and enjoy some quality time in Hyrule. It was good, and fulfilling. And pleasant. And nice. And now it's time to get back to work.

Monday is always and forever Monday, right? It's back on another non-stop workday right? It's frustrating and stressful. I'm up for it, though. And my family's certainly worth it. But I have learned something from this current situation: I do not give myself enough credit for being a hard worker.

Maybe this post is a little self-serving. I hope you can learn from my troubles, internet. I am re-learning how to work. It's like learning how to walk, I guess. I keep falling down. But I get up again. Never going to keep me down. The only other choice is to just lay there.

And I see now, more than ever, what a dangerous approach that would be.

Laid off

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As of 3:30 p.m. on May 23, 2012, I became a fully independent content creator and personal historian. Go me.

I'm Free.

Gone indie, but not forgotten.

I’m working really hard to keep a positive framework on this. I would have preferred to transition into this new job over a longer timeframe. But the universe had other plans.

I think the weirdest part is not being able to wipe down and clean out my hard drives and computers. It just makes me feel unsettled. I would have preferred to put away each of my machines like one says good bye to a friend. Now they are out of my control without so much as a farewell ssh tunnel. I would have liked, at least, to have had the opportunity to remove my own user accounts. TNO, baby. TNO.

Also weird: When Gaia finishes school this year: I will have no connection or reason to go to Oconomowoc. For anything. Ever. Unless I want to. I have been working in Oconomowoc in one way or another since 1994. First at Olympia Resort, then at the Oconomowoc Focus newspaper, and then at the hospital.

Actually, the hardest part (that I’m going to talk about publicly) is accepting all the love and support that all of you have shown me. It really is amazing how many of you cared to let me know you were thinking of me and my family. Thank you. All of you. It means a lot. More than that.

So… what about ‘The Future?’

Well, my $100 startup, Pretty Good Content is suddenly going to get a lot more of my attention. And I’ll be doing lots more things in the coming weeks to demonstrate that to as many people as I can. I’m planning on giving free monthly content talks. Watch this space for details– and tungle me if you’re interested in booking one for your venue.

Even if you don’t have a venue, tungle me anyway. I suddenly have a lot more time on my hands to get together and make stuff. I honestly believe that there is a ton of great work being done out there. And I honestly believe most people could use some help telling their stories. I want to help most people tell their stories. This smells of opportunity.

Seriously. Lets get all excited and make stuff together. You’d be surprised how much a little of my time can make your business better– and how much fun we can have together. You have stories to tell. Let me help you tell them.

So there’s that.

I started my day today wondering how I was going to find the time to keep cranking on developing Pretty Good Content into a full-time business. I end the day with a much clearer picture of how that is going to happen.

I want to steal a bit from another writer who really inspires me, and this borders on silly fanboyism, so I’m a little embarrassed. For whatever reason, I started today by re-reading Merlin Man’s essay “Cranking”. At the end of that essay, Mann writes that walking away from his book contract was not him quitting on his book, but rather, it was “doubling down” on producing a kind of work in which he can be proud.

I’m doubling down, my friends. I’m doubling down.

Thanks, Ms. d'Arc!


I’m really not sure how you can grow up not knowing about Joan of Arc. Maybe you’re not Catholic, or something. That’s ok.

Here. Let me help you.

Joan of Arc was born in Oconomowoc, Waukesha County, Wisconsin. Her father, an oral surgeon, was born in Chicago, Illinois and her mother was from Oconomowoc; they met at Marquette University in Milwaukee. Arc spent her early childhood growing up in West Allis, a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is one of five children, with a sister and three brothers.

When Joan was six, her father took a job with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs at a VA Hospital in Los Angeles, California and her family followed in tow. Soon after arriving in California, Mrs. d’Arc Joan’s waist-long hair to her signature pixie cut hairstyle, due to Joan’s becoming an active swimmer now that she lived in a warmer climate. Joan loved watching Star Trek with her family when it first aired on television and is a life-long fan to this day.

Five Notes about Wisconsin's Conceal Cary Law:

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Wisconsin becomes the 49th state to allow its citizens to carry a hidden weapon with them while they walk around in public tomorrow. I offer the following five items for consideration on the eve of tomorrow's shoot-em up:

  1. Is your concealed weapon a secret? What, are you chicken?
  2. Do you really have to be asked not to bring it to church?
  3. Suggestion: Before engaging in a shoot out, please make sure you're both packing. It's just more fair that way.
  4. If you think you are defenseless without your weapon, you're probably right.
  5. Your right to bear arms does not extend into my house. Please leave your weapons with a responsible person while visiting. Like one of those neighbor kids who throw baseballs at each other. I bet they're the responsible type. Or, put your gun with the baby. It'll be safe there, since babies don't know how to shoot.

Do what the butterfly says and nobody gets hurt

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I think that enforced half-hour meal periods for people with desk jobs is stupid. The last that I think most sane people would want to spend a half-hour unpaid every day is in the lunchroom at work.


And so I made this comic.

Self Portraits

I'm working on taking better portraits these days. We have a lot of nice gear at work and I have no idea how to use it.

Self Portrait

Part of the challenge, however, is that we need lighting solutions that work for both video and still photography. I understand that it's easy to spend a lot of money and get stuff that works, but I need lighting options that are both cheap and portable. I wish I'd have brought out my soft boxes for this one, but they're kind of a pain. Maybe next time.

Self Portrait

The other part of the challenge, is that stylistically we're supposed to be shooting for a "selective focus" element on these photos, so while I typically like to shoot wide open and light the natural light pour in, I've needed to think outside my comfort zone on these. They're not great. But they're getting better, I think. Oh, here's the shot of one of the Doctors I was shooting when I made these. Keep Going!

Anyway, point is, I'm starting to think about Photocamp 2011. The other take-away message from these self portraits is that I need to get my glasses adjusted.