Small Realities

Inside the mind of Lance Schonberg

Archive for the category “Commentary”

Master of My Domains

So yesterday, for the first time ever, I bought a domain name.  But not just one.  I bought two domain names.  And I attached them to something.  No, I’m not going to tell you what, yet.  It’s a secret.

But it’s cool.

I’ve been thinking a lot about labels and boxes and branding lately.  There’s an often repeated mantra/meme running around that we are each our own brand.  I’m not saying I disagree because there is a certain amount of truth in the statement, but you can’t just leave it there.  Whatever your thoughts on the subject, you do need to choose how to represent yourself, and your public persona is just as important in the online world as in the real one.  The real world is far more important in most ways, because that’s where your family is, where most of us have a job, and where we live and breathe.  (What, you think there’s virtual air?)  But the online world reaches beyond the real world in some ways, letting you make contact with people and businesses and organizations you’d never encounter otherwise.

I’ve taken a big break from online life recently to focus on real life and get my head screwed on straight.  I feel a lot better now, my stress level a lot lower, and I’m slipping back into the world of zeroes and ones.

How does that relate?  Whatever amount of truth you put into being your own brand, it’s far more important that you recognize you are your own person, and a person is far more than a brand.  There is far more to you than the one or pieces of yourself than you’re likely to focus on as your online brand.

If I try to pick a few words to describe what I am, they come easy and it’s hard to stop at two or three.  Husband, father, writer, son, friend, student, teacher, karateka, reader, athlete, philosopher, musician, artist… I’m all of those things and a lot more.    Some are more true than others at any given moment, but each is a part of how I think of myself.  Husband and father are the two big ones, and hard to even consider as separate parts of my personality because they overlay everything else.  I’m less of an athlete these days than a few years back when I was in marathon shape, but karate helps a lot, and if I can get my left calf to start functioning as designed, I might work my way into deserving the label a little more.  Musician is a new thing and an old one.

You are who you want to be, but sometimes you have work to recognize just what it is you want.  I want to be a better me, and maybe shape my parts of the world to leave them just a little bit better than I found them.  I have lots of plans, and maybe I’ll follow through on all of them, some of them, or none of them.  Plans and dreams and hopes and fears.  Those change and grow, too.

So what’s my own personal brand then?  I am.  It’s not separable, though I’ve tried a variety of themes and ideas in the past.  I am my own brand and my brand is me.  I’m not one thing, but a gathering of many and changing all the time.  We all are.  It’s kind of the way humans work.

And what domain names did I buy?  Ah, that would be telling.

Fine, okay.  There really isn’t anything there yet, but you can try typing renaissanceninja.com into your address bar (or click on the link) and see where it leads.  Alternately, lanceschonberg.com will get you to the same spot.  Bookmark it and check back in a few days.  I’m still fitting together the jigsaw puzzle.  There will be much fun and creativity.

Being Comfortable in Your Own Skull

Isn’t always easy.  Life has a way of cluttering up your mind, throwing things at you that you aren’t quite ready for, and setting obstacles in your path you can’t see until you’ve already tripped over them.

A few months back, I wrote about how I haven’t been operating at peak efficiency for a long time.  Over the last couple of years, I’ve had to deal with a lot of real life things, some of them big and some of them small, at least to an external observer, but all of them somehow cumulative.  There’s nothing to be gained at this point by going into details, but my stress level just kept going up and up and I didn’t understand why for a long time.

I found myself obsessing over small things, little tasks that absolutely must be done right now and that would help me ignore the world for hours or days.  I’d obsess over whether or not new friends on Twitter were human or not or who to follow from mentions or shout outs that included me.  I’d spend hours crafting a brilliant blog entry and then not be able to post it.  I’d plot out the schedule for what I wanted to accomplish with my writing for the next five years and then delete it and start over.  Sometimes I’d feel so uncommunicative that I’d drop off the face of everything for a week or two.  Through it all, I’d smile and nod to the people around me, focus on what I needed to do at work or home, and keep on walking.

By summer last year, I felt like I was on edge all the time and things were piling up or building up or backing up in my head.  By fall, I was keeping so much bottled up I was probably half way to a heart attack or an aneurism.  Well, maybe not, but I knew something had to give, and soon, and up to that point I’d hidden things pretty well from pretty much everyone.

I figured out that for some reason I’d been holding onto all the problems and negatives of the past few years without regard to any of the good times.  And there have been plenty of good times, but they’d been swallowed by all the things I couldn’t control

So in early December, I made the completely sane and rational decision to turn off the world.  Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, anything remotely resembling news or current information, all gone.  All on hold.  I needed time to blow the cobwebs out of my brain and get rid of all the stresses in my life.  Re-focus on what I’ve always said is the most important thing: my family.

If I’m home and awake, I belong to my family.  Period.  Those of you with children will laugh because you know that’s not even remotely as easy as it sounds.  Laundry, dishes, chores, work.  Everything gets in the way even when you try hard not to let it.  That’s no reason to stop trying or trying to make life fun for all of them.

That’s been my focus for the past few months: family, fun, stress reduction and avoidance.

I feel better now, more human, though it’s taken a while, and I’m slowly switching things back on.  Brief forays into Twitter & FB.  Cleaning out my personal e-mail.  Now reclaiming the blog.  A little writing and a little polishing.  I’m back, but at a slower, more measured pace because the single most important thing in my life is my family and I’m not interested in losing sight of that for even a moment.

On the agenda for tonight: guitar practice with one child, karate class with another, and trying to tear the third away from an apparently highly addictive video game.

That’s today.  Tomorrow, I’ll start on the hard stuff. Slowly.

November’s Over

So technically it’s December 1st now, but I’m calling this my last blog entry for November since it was November 30th when I got up.

It’s been a weird month, but I’m not sure I have any other kind lately.  As far as the blog goes, with a little adjusting here and there, I’ve managed 30 blog posts for the month, most of them here and a few on my other blog, Walking a Martial Road, and have written more than 9,600 words to do it.  Brings a little faith back into my writing maybe, when everything else seems like a struggle lately.

Happy NaNoWriMo if you participated and well done whether or not you made it.  Look forward to Christmas, or the seasonal holiday of your choice, and a new year beyond.

Where’s that Bucket List?

First, I fully admit that the timing of this post looks like I’m cheating on the November Blog Plan, but I’m working nights right now, so my day typically runs from 2 pm to 630 or 7 am.  This is still the 24th for me. 

At any rate, I’ve been thinking a lot about my life lately—maybe rethinking is a better word in some ways—and in light of various events in the past year or two, I’m forced to admit that yes, I am mortal.  Which sucks, I suppose, but that’s how it is, even for me.  I suppose I’ve always known, but knowing it and really understanding it are two different things.

Closing in on my 41st birthday, I’ve made myself realize that there are a lot of things I’ve never done or seen that I still want to.  And so, a Bucket List.  Or a life list, or a dream list or whatever you want to call it.  I fully expect to add to it over time, but as of today there are 112 things on it.

Some of them are travel goals.  Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, Québec, for example.  Yes, I swear that’s a real place.  It’s even on Wikipedia.  I want to see the Pyramids (Egyptian and Azetc), the Great Wall, and a whole lot of historical (some of them even personal, or at least ancestral) spots inEurope.  I want to go toJapan and the Galapagos and Vulcan andAbbey Road, and a fair number of other places, too.

There are adventures I need to have.  Some of them are little, like riding a mechanical bull or going hang gliding or walking on a glacier.  Some of them are a little (or a lot) bigger, like fire walking or forging a sword, sailing in a knarr or going into space, learning to surf or singing in public.

I want to complete an Ironman triathlon, learn to say hello in at least fifty languages, swim with sharks, run with the bulls, eat fugu fish, get my black belt in karate, ride in a WWII plane, see a total solar eclipse, get more tattoos, participate in a flash mob, live in another country for a year, jump out of an airplane, dress in costume for a convention, do a polar bear swim, and stand on the Arctic Circle.

And dammit, I want to dance at all of my grandchildren’s weddings.  My great grandchildren’s, too, if I can manage it.

I’m not quite 41 and while I’d like to live forever, I can’t assume I will.  However long I’m around, I want it to be a great life and I’ll take as many of the people around me along for the ride as I can.

And that’s the most important item on the list.

Four Things I’ve Learned in the Past 24 Hours

And four quick opinions about them.

Every day is a new one and every day brings something new, often many somethings.  My news consumption is very eclectic, coming from an ever-shifting collection of sources.  The internet is wonderful that way and can point you in directions you never thought of on your own.  But it’s not often my hummingbird-style news gathering gives me a day where more than one or two things stand out.

The Speed of Light may not be absolute.

A group of scientists at CERN may have discovered neutrinos moving faster than the speed of light.  It’s far too soon to get excited about it because there’s a lot of checking and experiment duplication that needs to go on, but haven’t you always hoped c might not be an absolute barrier, that maybe, just maybe, we’ll get to visit other solar systems someday without taking centuries or millennia to get there?  If it bears out, this is truly world- and physics-changing news.  If it doesn’t, we’re no worse off than we were before, right?

REM is breaking up.

After 31 years and 15 albums, the members of REM have decided that it’s time to retire as a band.  This made me a bit melancholy as I listened to a lot of their music when I was in my 20s.  I’m forty now, and there are still a couple of REM songs on my I-pod, granted they’re from the 80s.  But it’s an unusual thing for anyone to be happy doing the same thing for three decades, even if that’s being a rock star.  Maybe some of them will do solo work and maybe not, but they’ve all got their own lives to live.  I put Eponymous in the CD player for a while the day I heard.

Clifford Olson has died of cancer.

It’s incredibly rare that I’m glad to hear of someone’s death, but Clifford Olson is absolutely the exception.  Possibly the most reviled man in modern Canadian history, the world is a better place without him and I absolutely mean that.  I don’t easily hate anyone, but doing anything to deliberately harm a child puts you on my hate list, and Olson, who raped and murdered 11 kids (that he confessed to) was right at the top of that list.  I can only imagine the stress every parent in the country must have been going through at the time.  My parents hid that from us pretty well, even though Olson was caught less than an hour’s drive from where we were living at the time.  Maybe the families of his victims can rest easier and finally grieve properly.

In Canada, it will soon be better to be a child molester than a pothead.

In related news, if the Conservative Omnibus crime bill passes (and we’ve got a majority government, so way wouldn’t it?), enterprising young potheads will get longer minimum sentences than child molesters.  It’s true.  Growing 201-500 pot plants (what’s considered a medium-sized grow up) in a rental unit will be worth a mandatory minimum jail time of 18 months.  The same legislation sets minimum sentencing to one year for sexually assaulting a child, luring a child via the Internet or involving a child in bestiality.  The maximum sentence for growing weed goes up to 14 years, coincidentally equal to the maximum set for using a weapon during the rape of a child, and actually four years higher than for sexually assaulting a child with no weapons involved.  And these are the douchebags we’re letting run the country?

Every day the world changes

And every day I learn a little more about that world.  Some good, and some not so good.  The balance for this 24-hour period unsettles me.

Douchebag Defined

Going through my photos from FanExpo, and I’d forgotten all about this guy.

Douchebag, definition: Going to a Science Fiction convention, filled with thousands of geeks all there to indulge in their fascination in a variety of geeky subjects, and carrying a sign around with you that reads “Anime Sux”.

Yes, I actually saw this at FanExpo.  I snapped a couple of pics on my I-pod, but they’re all a little too fuzzy to post–you can barely read the words in one of them.  Zoom doesn’t work as well as I’d like sometimes and I wasn’t leaving my place near the front of the Shatner line to get a better shot.  At any rate, this particular person with the large green sign seemed to feel a very strong need to share with all of the people in attendance just what he thinks of anime.

Now, I’m not a huge anime fan but I’ve certainly found some of it I enjoy.  I’ve found plenty I don’t, too.  So what.  Other people do enjoy it.  Does that mean it’s good?  No, but it doesn’t mean it’s bad, either.  All it really means is that I don’t care for it.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion.  Free will is very important.  But if you get your entertainment out of shouting an opinion at other people who don’t share it, I’m pretty sure you can find something better to do with your time.

Stay home.  Be a douchebag on your own time.  Politicians take note.

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