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So many times, it happens too fast...you trade your passion for glory. Don't lose your grip on the dreams of the past, you must fight just to keep them alive.

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BoMToons's News

Posted by BoMToons - 2 days ago


I usually try to wait for a couple convergent factors before making a news post:

  1. There's enough interesting stuff that's happened in my life
  2. I've read "enough" books


One of these years, when my life gets ultra boring, maybe I won't post for a loooong time. On average, though, those 2 things seem to form the perfect storm every 2-3 months. AND HERE WE GO!


Me and my boys participated in a "no rules Pinewood Derby." Basically it was all about fun and not getting caught up in the weird parent-driven competition that can dominate these events. We originally planned to do our design as a 3-D printed model, but ran out of time. So, last minute, I grabbed some "Sculpey" from the craft store and we home-baked a ceramic DRAGON that we super-glued to the top of the car! It was SOOOO freaking heavy! We ended up winning "Scariest" which made my kids happy, but next year they want us to beat the dad that attached a remote-controlled fan to his car...


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I've been doodling in church every Sunday and posting the process videos on my YouTube channel (and the art here on NG!) - It's been a good way for me to stay in touch with my artsy side since I have a job that's mostly coding. When I doodle I tend to make blobby weird monsters. I'm claiming that my tendency to do that is a result of the collective unconscious predicting all the pandemic "viruses" that were/are about to strike the world (a-la the book @TomFulp recommended to me about the predictive dreamscape that anticipated the holocaust "The Third Reich of Dreams"). Either that or I have cancer.


YOUTUBE CHANNEL: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCz4uWHGpl7H59aAtr9ItUnA/videos




The Newgrounds Podcast interviewed me and @Luis! It was fun to catch up with Luis and reminisce about the projects we've done together. We teased a new-ish project and I opened the Super Chibi Knight Discord server during the interview, so give it a listen for some olskool nostalgia!



Super Chibi Knight Discord Server (Open to ALL!): https://discord.gg/bTrj7bm


I was the art director for a new app called "Immersive Bible" that is finally doing its soft-launch. It was fun to work, again, on something more artsy. I even got to dust off my InDesign skillz to make a style guide for them.


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I finally committed to being a California resident by getting my CA driver's license... just in time for CORONAVIRUS! I work in the Bay Area (San Mateo) where the outbreak was pretty severe. Luckily, my job allows me to work from home, so it's mostly business-as-usual, but without the long commute! I really enjoy the extra time with my kids while it's still light outside. Also catching up on tons of binge-watching. Star Trek Discovery is pretty good!


I got some "air pods" for my commute and for exercise, as well as a FitBit watch... really gonna start exercising sooooon... I prob should have made those gadgets "rewards" for hitting my goals tho...


One of my neighbors saw one of my posts about 3D printing and offered me the 3D printer they had in their garage that is "just missing a power cable." Turns out it's a $500 printer with a waaaay bigger print volume than my current one. I'll let you know how that turns out... but if it works... SCORE!


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Speaking of 3D printing, we printed THE MASTER SWORD from Zelda... it's a crazy-big print, and I don't have the energy to fully sand, prime, fill, sand, fill, sand, and paint it... plus it seems to break every other day as the kids slam it into stuff... so it's staying gray. Next time I might design it to hold a wood or metal rod/dowel down the center to prevent the constant breaking.


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Here's a quote from C.S. Lewis that resonated with me:

"The dullest of us knows how memory can transfigure; how often some momentary glimpse of beauty in boyhood is ‘a whisper, which memory will warehouse as a shout’… It is indeed an illusion to believe that the blue hills on the horizon would still look blue if you went to them. But the fact that they are blue five miles away, and the fact that they are green when you are on them, are equally good facts. Traherne’s “orient and immortal wheat” or Wordsworth’s landscape “apparelled in celestial light”: may not have been so radiant in the past when it was present as in the remembered past. That is the beginning of glorification. One day they will be more radiant still."


BOOKS I'VE READ/HEARD RECENTLY:


If there's a picture, I recommend it (though I wish I could post more pics here...)


Good Profit - A book by a super rich dude (Charles Koch of the Koch Bros.) who says it was his ethics that got him rich and not the multi-million dollar company his dad left him.


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Becoming Dr. Seuss - Biography of Theodore Geisel aka: Dr. Seuss. Really interesting look into someone who was super OCD/controlling about his vision for his work, but a total workhorse. Reveals some of his dark spots that made him more real (spoiler: he cheats on his wife leading to her committing suicide 😞) - What stood out to me is how much the connections he made in college (at his ivy league school) paved the way for his success.


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No Man Knows My History - The quintessential "non-faithful" biography about Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism/The LDS faith. Most of the big stuff I had read about before, but this book, more than any other, helped paint a picture of JS where I could start to understand his personality enough to comprehend how he was able to mentally jive the dual life of misleading a large group of people while simultaneously inspiring those same people to a higher/holier cause.


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An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins - Written almost from a Mormon "apologist" point of view, but ultimately, in my opinion, thoroughly undermining the foundations of the LDS faith, this is a book written by a progressive "faithful" member of the church. This book put into words what I have always had difficulty describing about what bothers me, linguistically and culturally, about the Book of Mormon's writing style.


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Awareness - Recommended by @TomFulp, I enjoyed this quite a bit in audio form because it was the actual recorded lectures of the Indian guru author. The take-aways reminded me a lot of "The Road Less Traveled" and "A Liberated Mind" that I've written about in previous posts. Basically, getting meta/mindful about our thoughts unlocks extra levels of self-love, self-respect, self-understanding, self-empathy, and self-control.


Little Women - A classic I've been meaning to read for a while. I ended up liking it a lot more than I expected, though I truly felt like Jo's hasty marriage at the end did not fit her personality. Then I read this article about the book and felt very perceptive: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/09/little-women-louisa-may-alcott/565754/


Beloved - I read this as an effort to learn a bit about Toni Morrison's writing, mostly for Jeopardy. But I ended up stunned by the style and poetic quality of her narrative structure and writing. This is full of amazing language.


Animal Farm - Re-read this to discuss with a friend. Remains great satire and warning about human nature.


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True Believer - This is one of my new favorite books. The author offers insights into the mindset of those who start and join mass movements as well as the lifecycle of mass movements in-general. I must have highlighted nearly every other line. This strikes close to home for me because I've been pretty caught up in a mass movement (Mormonism) for most of my life. Only recently am I gaining some perspective on why I have felt comfortable being in the mass movement mindset, and aware of the detriments and benefits.


Cosmos - Carl Sagan is the man. He makes cosmology, physics, chemistry, SCIENCE super interesting.


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La Lingua Geniale - This is the longest I've ever taken to read a short book. It's a book about the beauties of the Greek language, but written in Italian! I know, I am a major language dork for deciding to read this. It was a great brush up on my Italian (I'm proud I was able to get through it an understand it) - and was a really beautiful look into why Greek is such a unique and formative language. One small tidbit: Ancient Greek has an extra plural form that most other languages don't: the "dual" - So where we can talk about more than 1 thing using one set of grammatical rules - Greek has a special way to talk about pairings that are exactly 2 things, intimately connected in purpose. You can imagine what this means for romance! ;-)


It Didn't Start With You - This is a psychology book about how our family history affect us. It briefly refers to some of the cool epigenetic science that's emerging, but then stretches that science into a pretty un-related, but still psychologically helpful, branch. I do believe in family cultures being passed down through the generations. I'd recommend this book despite the weird attempt to justify good psychology with tangentially-related science.


I'm taking a break from my investigation into LDS Church history. I found I was building up some resentment and bitterness. It's been a very balancing journey, and I'm happy with where I'm at right now. I want to turn my focus to broader topics and I feel like there's not much "new" I can read on the subject that will sway me one way or the other. There is a lot I really like about the church, but I don't think I can ever really go back to being a "literal" believer. And there are some toxic components that arise both from the culture (how the people interact within the church) and the doctrine that I wish were different. Trying not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, while still exercising my right to not swallow every... single... tidbit hook line and sinker. I used to criticize/judge people in the church that took an a-la-carte approach, but that's kinda where I'm at now.


I'm not totally atheist, there's a lot I can't explain with what science currently offers (consciousness being one of those things) - but I'm much more open-minded about what the "Big Good" looks like in the world and less prone to think I've got things all figured out.


It felt good to get back into the NG scene a bit recently with joining Discord, reconnecting with @Luis and @PsychoGoldfish, @Mike via the Ruffle Discord server, and doing the NG Podcast... makes me want to dust off the game-making tools since I'm quarantined at home and have no commute...


I also recently saw the new Mr. Rogers movie "A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood" and it brought back all kinds of nostalgia. The movie is based on this Esquire article: https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/tv/a27134/can-you-say-hero-esq1198/


Can I remind you what a good feeling it is to "know you're alive?"


Once again, thanks for making it this far. I value your readership and comments... yes, leave me a comment! Let me know what's new with you!


8

Posted by BoMToons - January 10th, 2020


My mood has improved a bit since last post. I've been trying heavy doses of vitamin D as recommended by @CyberDevil (and some podcasts I've listened to) to fight my trend toward Seasonal Affective Disorder. I think it's been helpful (even if psychosomatic). I'm happy that the days are getting longer again.


I big help/distraction has been 3D printing! @Mindchamber and I have been diving into it with varied results. Here's some stuff I've printed:


First calibration print... DOGGO!



Early Thor hammer progress:


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Thor Hammer glued, primed, painted, and detailed!


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A lighted luck cat!



A guitar pick for my daughter (with her initials embossed)! Notice the bevel on the edges... (I designed this one in Blender)


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A case for a Raspberry Pi to monitor my 3D prints via webcam!



Of course, my long-term goal is to print stuff of my own design which has re-awakened some ANCIENT experience with 3D modeling from my college days... I'm a little rusty, but was surprised how quickly it all came back.


A chandelier for our dining room! This is going to be a significant project, but hopefully it'll turn out nicely. I'm enjoying using Blender for the modeling.


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A Mandalorian helmet! (probably won't actually print this since it's become ultra cliche... but it was fun to experiment with)



Here's a technical drawing I did to wrap my mind around the shape of the Mandalorian's helmet (those detail-oriented will notice this early attempt is not "movie-accurate":



One of my sons panicked last minute about not having gotten gifts for anyone for Christmas, so he and I chose and printed some 3D models which ended up being received pretty well. Another Christmas saved! ;-P


Here's a timelapse video of setting up the printer in the garage:



The Mandalorian and Baby Yoda took our house by storm, so here's some art from the art portal I made:




Process video:



I also finally, completely, finished the looooong castle-bed project by adding a climbing wall to the end of the castle bed:



I got sicker than I've been, maybe ever, over Christmas break. I think I got a legit migraine which was pure torture for 4 days straight. I now have to recant all the judge-y thoughts I've had whenever I've heard other people complain about migraines... I hope I never get another one. It did serve to make me grateful for my regular health though... appreciating normalcy.


While I was in bed for all that time I read the book "The Road Less Traveled" which my mom always had on the shelf when I was growing up and was on my mother-in-law's shelf too (where I was convalescing).


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The book's philosophy really fit well with my personal life philosophy. A lot of what's been resonating with me recently is the value of "willingness to prune" old/false/unhelpful beliefs and being OK with ambiguity rather than avoiding/fleeing discomfort. Discomfort (often) = growth (of course this all traces back to the book AntiFragile). I tend to rush resolution of uncomfortable situations which has sometimes not worked out to great effect. I'm trying to be more willing to "sit" in discomfort and ambiguous thought patterns.


Systems and ideologies that discourage questioning and regular idea pruning lead to "bubbles" of temporary stability which ultimately collapse in more-significantly-damaging falls at a later date. It's not just delaying a set amount of pain, but actually leads to a HARDER fall after the period of artificial stability.


So that's probably a good segue into what I've been reading:


  • A Liberated Mind: A self-help/psychology book about a kind of therapy called A.C.T. (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) - I'm digging it a lot so far, it has many parallels with "The Road Less Traveled" but with a more research-based slant. More and more I'm becoming a fan of not trying to avoid discomfort or what I perceive as "negative" thoughts, but rather to examine them and understand them for what they have to teach me - after all, my mind is presenting them to me for SOME reason.


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  • The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements - This is a "classic" about the shared aspects of all mass movements and what goes into making a "fanatic." As I am re-evaluating my relationship with my faith, this has some interesting insights to offer about why I, and others, tend toward a certain point of view and belief system.


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Books I've recently finished:


  • Le Ton Beau De Marot - YES! I finally finished this one. SO good for anyone interested in poetry, linguistics, and the nature of reality.


  • Infinite Powers - Very good book about the history and conceptual underpinnings of calculus. Nothing overly technical, but a fascinating look into a system that explains so much about the beauty surrounding us.


  • He Restoreth My Soul - A good book for sexual addiction recovery. Has a heavy religious underpinning, but provides a lot of practical, on-the-nose advice as well.


  • Harriet Tubman: The Road To Freedom - *YAWN* 🥱


  • The Demon Haunted World - Big recommendation! This fit well with my "self-pruning" philosophy and also expanded upon it in clear, logical, ways.


  • The Ghost of Eternal Polygamy - Long story, but the author of this book, Carol Lynn Pearson is a bit of a star in the Mormon/LDS community. She is an LGBTQ ally (having married a gay man and walked a painful path in the church as a result + written a book about her journey) and also a talented poet/writer/song-writer. She wrote the LDS children's song "I'll Walk With You" (one of my all-time favorites). This book is about the leftover stigma of polygamy in the Mormon church (which officially stopped the practice around the year 1890) but which still hangs on to some weird remnants of the practice in its culture (and doctrine). It was a fascinating perspective! My in-laws actually have a history with Carol Lynn - My mother-in-law and her brother were friends with Carol Lynn in college at BYU. My MIL's brother raised a family in the church, then came out as homosexual and was ostracized by my MIL. He ended up living, for a time, with Carol Lynn (who was, even at that early time an LGBTQ ally). Carol Lynn lives in Walnut Grove CA (about 30 mins from my house), so I've entertained the thought of contacting her to meet up for lunch sometime... wouldn't that be FASCINATING?! On the, now famous, MIL-convalescent-bookshelf, was an original signed-by-Carol-Lynn, copy of her first publication (a book of her religious poetry) from the early 70s. It felt like touching an important piece of general and family history to thumb through it.


  • A Christmas Carol - This is a yearly tradition and I love it every time. Dickens was, *gasp*, an incredibly good writer!


  • Foundation Series (Asimov): Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation - These were really fun to read. It really is the seedbed for so much modern sci-fi writing. Reading it now, rather than in the 50s when it was originally published, makes his ideas seem derivative... until you remind yourself that he was the INVENTOR!


  • In Sacred Loneliness - This is a detailed historical account of all of Mormon/LDS church founder, Joseph Smith's, wives. Growing up, I was led to believe that JS only had one wife, and that polygamy was instituted after he died by Brigham Young (his successor). The LDS church made lots of materials, including full length movies, about the sacred relationship he and Emma (his first wife) had while white-washing the full story. It wasn't until I was around 30 years old that I found out that JS had (at least) 35 well-documented wives, ranging in age from 14 to 58 (many of whom married him secretly while still married to existing husbands, and also without Joseph's 1st wife's knowledge). Each chapter in this book is a biography of one of his wives from birth, to early church history and joining the new LDS/Mormon movement, to courting and marriage to JS, to becoming one of JS's widows (when he was killed), to their life after JS in the splintered church. Because of the Internet/Information age, and the ease of access of historical documents, the LDS church has had to come clean about its early history, so now it has articles about Joseph Smith's polygamy on its official website. This was, honestly, a tough read, not just because of the disappointing nature of the content, but because THERE WERE SO MANY wives! This is like 600 pages of biographies... Sharply highlighted is the fact that these were real women, with real lives, families, relationships, faith, beliefs, trusts, hopes, dreams, etc. When it's 30 + people I tend to gloss them over as an ambiguous group, but this book won't let you do that, it painfully walks you through each one as a REAL human being. It's a tough pill to swallow, especially because so much of it was secret and withheld from his wife (though he claimed God told him to marry all of the other women). I'm not perfect, but JS has often been presented to me as someone to revere and admire, someone of impeccable morality, and this book paints a more complex picture which, honestly, shakes a lot of my preconceived notions.


Upcoming queue of reading:

  • Bad Blood - Bestseller non-fiction about some pretty shady stuff that happened in silicon valley around the tech industry.


  • Cosmos - Another Carl Sagan classic. Beginning to love this guy.


  • An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins - Non-fiction - Largely about reclaiming Mormon early history from the distortions its undergone through the years and painting a more-historically and contextually sensitive interpretation of early church history.


  • No Man Knows My History - The title is an eerie quote from Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism/The LDS Church. This book is the earliest, and original, historical exploration of LDS history from a non-sympathetic point of view (written by the niece of the prophet at-the-time). Some of its evidence has come under scrutiny and doubt over the years, and current scholars don't like the antagonistic tone, but it is still one of the "must reads" for those exploring LDS church history.


So, yeah, if you can't tell, I'm going through a bit of a "skeptical" phase. Which might not turn out to be only a phase. It's hard because my wife and in-laws are still very much "true blue" believers in the LDS church and this kind of research and thinking causes significant tension, but I feel like I need to be intellectually honest with myself. I'm not actively trying to tear down other peoples' faith, I'm trying to be honest about things that I have placed on a "shelf" for a long time. I have hope that this "discomfort" can lead me, and others, to a place of growth, understanding, change, and improvement.


I say it every time, but please leave me a comment, I really enjoy hearing from you!


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Posted by BoMToons - December 6th, 2019


Feeling pretty down overall, but at least there's Jeopardy:



Overly-pensive.


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Posted by BoMToons - November 5th, 2019


Here's my quarterly update! (Inside joke about a single video I made as a teacher claiming I would make "quarterly videos," but only made 1 during the 2 years I taught...)


First off, some fun Newgrounds-related news: A fan of Abobo's Big Adventure cosplayed as Abobo at a recent comic book/video game convention!


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Now for some eye-candy... I made a "Werewolf" shirt for Halloween! Here's the short time-lapse process video:



You can get a WOLFY t-shirt here: https://www.amazon.com/Full-Halloween-Scary-Werewolf-T-Shirt/dp/B07XXS89ZX/


My "Millennial" co-worker had never heard of a Pineapple upside down cake!?!?! (He thought I was making the concept up) So, on his last day at work, I brought him a home-made one:



My work installed a counter for the number of yearbooks we've sold (which corresponds to the number of trees we've planted too!) Slow-mo video ahead:



A co-worker brought me a collector's item... BUZZ COLA from The Simpson's Movie promotion in 2007! I'm a little nervous every day that it will explode all over my desk! (Also, I got some prescription sunglasses like all the cool kids, it's especially cool to wear them at night... and inside the office...)


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If the soda does explode, it will get 5 MONITORS sticky! (this is nerdy to the extreme, but I luv it). Also... JEOPARDY HAT!


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Another co-worker invented a "framework" of UI elements we use for all our product design called "Stomata" (look it up, it's tree-related). Naturally, we have a million puns on this word including "What's Stomata wit you?!!" Me and the co-worker who got the pineapple upside down cake played a prank on the Stomata inventor by making a bunch of "Stomata Soup" (custom made can labels) that we left on his desk late one night for him to discover in the morning.


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My first audio submission! I attempted to make a podcast at my friend's insistence... (plz don't listen):


Have you ever wondered how best to rinse the hair from your razor in the shower? Wonder no longer!


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I've been discussing with my buddy who's building his own automated machining robot the possibility of designing a simulator for electronics and pneumatics (so he can more-rapidly prototype his robot). It would be kinda fun to work on, though I'm sure there's stuff out there that does it already.


I've been studying Greek with the DuoLingo app. It's actually working! πορτοκάλι πορτοκάλι πορτοκάλι


I'm on Step 9 of my 12 step program which is "Restitution and Reconciliation." I've had some really poignant and cathartic experiences reaching out in-person to heal old relationships where I have done damage. Some relationships really can't be healed fully (impossible or inappropriate to make restitution), but I'm trying to put my heart in the right place, be honest wherever I can, and put out the vibe that I'm sorry for the hurt I've done. I really like the idea of "living amends" in which an improved life helps demonstrate to others the depth of change you've experienced. I'm far from perfect, but I keep trying.


Oh, I also reached my 9-month sobriety benchmark!


One thing that's great about 12 Step programs is that you find people whose path, though different in many ways, is the same in the broad strokes. I was at a speaking/outreach gig talking about addiction recovery and had this song go through my head repeatedly as I thought about how powerful it is to hear your story told in another person's voice (lyrics):



I've been listening to a few good Podcasts:


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1) Mormon Stories: This is a "Post-Mormon" or "Unorthodox Mormon" podcast that tells stories of modern people that have struggled with the Mormon/LDS faith. There's a really good episode about the band "Imagine Dragons," another that tells the history of Scientology from an ex-Scientologist that moved pretty high up in the organization, and one from a friend of mine that is an incredible artist and human, Spencer Nugent.


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2) The Virtual Couch (Tony Overbay): I have some family members whose therapist is Tony Overbay and they raved about him so much I started listening to his podcast. He practices a kind of therapy called "EFT" which I absolutely love (though it's extremely hard to practice). The gist is about seeking to truly empathize with people we communicate with, limiting judgement and fixing statements, and seeking to understand completely before seeking to be understood. I didn't realize what I tendency I have to "fix" and "judge" when people come to me with problems/concerns. Practicing EFT (when I'm successful at it) has been life-changing.


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3) Jennifer Finlayson Fife: She's a Mormon sex therapist, specializing in women's sexuality and all the baggage and odd norms that go along with being a woman in the ultra-conservative and religious Mormon culture. I really dig her philosophy about relationships and owning your own sexuality rather than expecting your partner to be "in charge" of it for you.


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4) Office Ladies: This is just good, clean, fun. Angela and Pam from "The Office" have their own podcast where they re-watch The Office and provide commentary, insights, etc. It's a great way to relive a classic of television history!


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5) Brene Brown: According to me, Brene Brown might just be a modern-day prophetess. I believe her messages about shame-busting, vulnerability, and empathy are custom tailored for what the world (and especially I) need right now. Her ideas have been life changing and I have a bunch of her books on my queue to read. Most specifically "The Power of Vulnerability." I remember, when I was teaching high school, a student asked me what I thought the purpose of life was, and I expressed that it was about connecting with other humans in vulnerable ways... Brene's message resonates hugely with that idea. The link above is from the new-agey "Goop" podcast by Gwyneth Paltrow.


Which brings me to the book review section of this post... you knew it was coming, but this time I led with the personal stuff so as not to bore you!


COMPLETED:



1) Educated: A Memoir - Incredible true story about a girl that grew up in an abusive fundamentalist Mormon home and how she ended up overcoming her "home schooling" to get a phD from Cambridge university. Lots of weird resonances in there from my own experience with Mormonism.


2) The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up - Great, different, book. I didn't expect to like it as much as I did. The author (Marie Kondo) is a legitimate KOOK (talks a lot about how clothes feel... like how socks get stressed when they're balled up. Or how having loud labels on bins and boxes can throw off your mojo, even if they're behind closed doors), but also has a timely message about reducing "stuff" in our life and keeping the things that truly "spark joy." I did not expect to come out of this book motivated to clean... but I did!


3) The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August - Also a really different book. It's kinda like: What if you took Groundhog Day's repetitive life cycle to an extreme... what would it really do to a person and what kinds of ambitions and relationships would they form with the world? What if they discovered they were a part of a class of OTHER people also experiencing the same life-loops?


4) Fear and Trembling - I finally finished this one. It's a philosophical book. I had to take it slow to let the density of the text sink in and ruminate. It takes as its premise the story of Abraham Sacrificing Isaac and why that might have been totally insane or totally sane. One interesting point it brings up is how a practice of breaking stride with traditional interpretations of "ethics" can actually be beneficial for a society because it can lead to things that question fundamentally immoral tenets of the society (I thought of the Civil Rights movement as an example of this concept). However, this practice can also lead to "suicide bombers" so... there's that. I really do highly recommend this one.


IN PROGRESS:



1) Le Ton Beau De Marot - Yep, still reading this one. It got lost for a while, but I really want to complete it because I'm enjoying it so much.


2) He Restoreth My Soul - A religious take on overcoming pornography/sex addiction. It has some really good parts in it, much more comprehensive and practical than I expected.


3) Infinite Powers - As good as I expected it to be. About 50% through it and loving the synthesis of the history of mathematics and how the various mathematical history vignettes paint a picture of how each player built and wove the ideas of others into new ideas, each pushing toward greater discovery of some of the fundamental truths underlying our existence (and how to represent them in a way that our limited minds can "grok").


4) The Goldfinch - I'm afraid this one might be a long slog. I chose it because it was on the best-seller list (JEOPARDY points) - but it hasn't captured my interest deeply yet.


UPCOMING:



1) Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom - Reading this as part of a book club. I guess there's a movie coming out soon?


2) The Demon Haunted World - Carl Sagan - Recommended in a podcast I recently listened to. Looking forward to some skeptical goodness


3) Cosmos - Carl Sagan - Added just to round out my Carl Sagan exposure


4) The Kite Runner - Another JEOPARDY best seller knowledge ploy


When I undertook to write this post I thought I didn't have much to say... but as I reviewed the last 3 months, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there's quite a bit that I can point to that I did. Good for me! ;-P


As always, if you made it this far, please leave me a comment... even if just to say "HI!"


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Posted by BoMToons - August 22nd, 2019


Before anything else, if you've ever been a fan of my art, please consider grabbing a really affordable t-shirt from my new Amazon Merch business. 8 designs so far (and more coming on the regular) priced between $14 and $18. A bunch of color options. All sizes available, and all fits available (Men, Women, and Children). If they're not your style, please consider recommending them to someone you know whose style they match up with. If you do buy, please leave a review - your support can help me get the ball rolling doing something I really love:


http://www.pestoforce.com


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And now for the main event...


Hopefully this post isn't too over-share-y for your tastes in terms of both length and content, but there's a lot to write about and I need to get caught up before the list gets even longer.


One thing I've always valued is "vulnerability" in communication because it leads to real, honest, human connection (which provides me deep sentiments of fulfillment). More and more I'm trying to merge the principle of vulnerability into my "online persona," in-essence making less of a gap between what I "present" as myself to the public and what I am privately.


TOPIC 1: 12-STEPS


Over the last year I've been lead to take a dive into a "rigorously honest" look at myself. I had gotten into a lot of bad habits and even what some would term "addictions" that were adversely affecting my life. Most of all, I had gotten into a habit of keeping a lot of secrets and living with a level of dishonesty that had slowly driven a wedge between how I envisioned my "ideal self" and what my actions actually were. As a consequence of decades living like this, I damaged a lot of relationships that I value deeply.


It's been a pretty grueling process to start down this road. My weaknesses have been on heavy display.


Luckily, I was introduced to an Alcoholics-Anonymous-style 12-step program that has been a really positive influence. I've found the practicality of the program extremely effective in helping me break out of damaging patterns of thought and in processing past trauma.


I went to a therapist regularly for a few months, but ultimately felt that she was telling me the same things in every session. As I began reading more psychology-related literature I found that I could learn and implement a lot of strategies that she was giving me (and many others that she didn't know about) through my own self-directed efforts. As I attended 12-step meetings, I felt that the "group" helped fill my need for sympathetic human connection. Also, the authenticity of hearing from and sharing with people experiencing similar struggles to myself felt very healing.


Another unique thing about 12-step programs is the last step, which is about serving others in need and sharing what you've learned. This step has been really helpful for me.


Overall, the 12 steps are a "program of action" and go way beyond just the "talking" of therapy. Although I know verbalizing chaotic/misunderstood/traumatic/un-escape-able thoughts and emotions is an important part of healing, I feel that it is just one piece of a wholistic approach to trauma recovery. No shade thrown on those who find value in therapy, but it ended up balancing out to a net "not worth it" for me when compared with the many low-cost or free alternatives.


Working the 12 steps has helped me reach a point where, for the first time since around middle school (20 + years), I am living with NO secrets. This is an incredibly liberating feeling.


Which brings me to the first group of books I've read recently in this vein:


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The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous: This is like the "Bible" of AA and lays out the history of Bill W. and Dr. Bob (AA's founders), the program they developed to help addicts recover, and contains a ton of first-person stories told by addicts that found recovery by working the steps. I feel that its content is inspired and have had many tearful moments recognizing my own story in its pages. There's also a 1989 made-for-tv movie I enjoyed with James Woods and James Garner about the history of AA! My Name is Bill W. (Available on Amazon Prime)


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How Al Anon Works: This is a companion book for the AA "Big Book," written for loved-ones and friends affected by people struggling with the disease of addiction. I also found a lot of hope, understanding, and healing in its pages because so much of my family, I now realize, has suffered from the effects of addiction, abuse, and other trauma - usually without ever really addressing it or dealing with it - which has caused them, unfortunately, to pass it on.


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The Body Keeps The Score: This is a psychology book about healing from trauma. It has been immensely informative about the science of what happens to body, brain, and mind as a result of trauma. It also lays out a lot of really effective ways to approach healing from trauma from drugs, to psychotherapy, to martial arts, mindfulness/meditation, rapid eye movement (EMDR therapy which is TOTALLY CRAZY but works), Internal Family Systems therapy (IFR, which uses a unique "society of the mind" approach), yoga, and more.


It has a lot of insights into how the brain stores memories and how trauma affects brain and body function. If you want to be blown away check out this study that's mentioned in the book: Adverse Childhood Experiences Study Warning though, there are a LOT of really rough stories about trauma in this book, but this book is SO GOOD, a trillion thumbs up and recommendations.


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Finally, I binge-listened to a 12-step podcast by some guys who run a meeting down in So. Cal. When I heard they were paying for web hosting and that the person who made their website wasn't updating it anymore, I decided, since I'm now a web-developer by trade, to show my thanks for their content by making them a website with a backend that they can add episodes to whenever they want: https://thenextsteppodcast.com/ [ I'm also hosting it for free :-) ]


TOPIC 2: OTHER READING


I still get an abnormal amount of time during my commute to listen to audiobooks. Add that to my penchant for reading in-general and you end up with the following since my last update:


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Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert Heinlein

A human born on Mars goes to Earth and helps earthlings reach a higher level of existence by his unique understanding of both races. I was really into this book (recommended by a co-worker) at first when the main character was a humble, open-to-learning yet stunningly-insightful influence that astounded everyone he interacted with. Then, he "leveled up" and started having his own agenda (which was obviously the author's opinion on politics, religion, and social moors of the time veiled as this "enlightened" Martian-human). Still, there was some good food for thought in there. I especially liked learning more about the Martian word "grok" which has worked its way into our IRL pop-culture (especially computer-science circles), and I really like the mantra of the martian-human's "religion" - "Thou art God."


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The Man Who Knew the Way to the Moon:

This is an "Audible original" recommended by a co-worker about an unsung engineer "hero" of the Apollo 11 moon landing mission. Basically, he advocated for the very unpopular, at the time, approach to landing on the moon using "Lunar Orbit Rendezvous" in place of physically landing an entire ship on the moon. The most interesting part to me was that the protagonist is not clearly a "hero." He has a lot of hubris and pride and sought, in my opinion, an undue amount of recognition (especially compared with the 3 astronauts who landed on the moon that refused to have their names put on the commemorative mission arm patch). But you can see how alluring having your name go down in history associated with "promoting the plan that got us to the moon for the first time" would be.


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Where the Crawdads Sing:

This is a fictional work about a "swamp girl" who is traumatized in various ways at a young age and ends up having to raise herself in a North Carolina marsh. It is a pretty poignant and touching look into trauma survivorship, self-reliance, and especially loneliness. It reminded me a lot of "Fried Green Tomatoes" in that it mixes a personal narrative with a murder-mystery in a pretty compelling way that jumps around between different time-frames. I enjoyed it quite a bit and related to the arc of the character and her experiences in a lot of ways. I guess Reese Witherspoon put this on her "must read" list or something and made it skyrocket in popularity.


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Killing Kennedy:

This was recommended by a family member. It's a biography of John F. Kennedy "written" by Bill O'Reilly. It's pretty sensational in the writing style, but I've been wanting to brush up on my history since it's currently one of my weaker "Jeopardy!" categories. I put "written" in quotes up there because the book has another man's name credited as co-author with Bill O'Reilly and, to me, it's obvious THAT guy wrote the book. How do I know? Because I listened to the audio book, as read by Bill O'Reilly and, hilariously, there are quite a few instances where he mispronounces or CAN'T pronounce words from the book.


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The Myth of Romantic Love: Michael Novak

This is a small collection of marriage, family, and political essays by a Catholic intellectual and political writer. What's most interesting about this book is how I found it. Basically, I read a religious essay "Why the Church is as True as the Gospel" which quoted one of Novak's essays. I searched and searched trying to find the source of the quotation because I really liked it and wanted to read it in-context. Eventually I was lead to an article in a magazine from 1976. The full text was nowhere to be found online. Finally I found this out-of-print book that has the full essay from a private seller on Amazon. I ordered it and it was SO WORTH IT! Tons of good hipster stuff that no one else has easy access to... GOLD MINE!


TOPIC 3: ONGOING READING


Le Ton Beau De Marot (Hofstaedter) - I've put this on the back burner, but want to get back into it. It's pretty big and full of poetry, so it takes some savoring to really appreciate.


Fear and Trembling (Kirkegaard) - I'm about 1/4 of the way through this and it is so DENSE with philosophical depth that I have to take it in small chunks. I've had a few pretty emotional moments reading it.


Infinite Powers (Strogatz) - This was recommended by a good friend and I've only read the intro so far, but it is REALLY exciting! I've often advocated for the inclusion of a "Conceptual Calculus" class in high schools (like we have "Conceptual Physics") - And this book is IT! It takes the beauties and wonders of Calculus and makes it easily accessible and digestible for the layman. I am SO STOKED to keep going in it.


TOPIC 4: UPCOMING READING


The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up

Educated: A Memoir


TOPIC 5 is available via hyperlink since NG only lets me post 10 pics per post... CLICK HERE


TOPIC 6: WRITING



I have some thoughts ruminating about "Compassionate Boundaries" that ties into the stuff I've been studying in psychology, learning about myself and others through my personal experiences in recovery, and some religious reading I've been doing.


I want to write my pondering out in essay format. This post is already ridiculously long, so I guess I'll save that for later (also, I need to flesh out my ideas more). This idea originally grew out of wanting to write about "Loneliness in the Book of Mormon."


BONUS: I listened to a podcast recently that injected a few fresh ideas about the nature of reality into my mind... I've been thinking about it a lot: THE CASE AGAINST REALITY


I sincerely (no wax at all) hope all is well with you and would love to see a comment if you've made it this far!


P.S. I'm learning this simple Tom Petty song on guitar:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5BJXwNeKsQ


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7

Posted by BoMToons - August 22nd, 2019


TOPIC 5: RECENT EVENTS


My in-laws had a GIANT family reunion for their 50th wedding anniversary. 10 kids got together from all over the US with all of THEIR kids... it was over 50 people! The funniest part was a heated argument about how to make the enchilada sauce... peoples' feelings were actually seriously hurt!


My best memory from the reunion was grabbing a few of my brothers in-law and taking them to a 12-step meeting with me. It was super bonding for us and helped break down a lot of "unspoken/hidden" barriers in our relationships.


I got Solar Panels on my house and a Tesla power wall (delivered from where I used to live all the way to CA). Super nerdy investment, but I'm totally geeking out.


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My work took us to a SF Giants baseball game (some random tweaker photobombed us, can you tell who he is?)!


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I finally finished the "Castle Bed" for my 2 boys (after nearly a year)!


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I made home-made raviolis and they were... SO GOOD!


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I picked up a freelance side gig designing an app (UI and Branding) called "Immersive Bible!"


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Posted by BoMToons - May 3rd, 2019


Edit: Go vote for my art in the art portal!!!!


I just finished the book: A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson


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It touches on just about every major branch of science and the history of scientific discovery in surprising, but never boring or alienating, depth. The narrative is built around how we came to be who we are from the Big Bang through the expansion of the universe, the formation of our solar system and planet, our planet's history (including the history of science itself), early (and current) microorganisms, through the branches of evolution, to today. And it does all this with a great dash of British dry humo(u)r (though the author was born in Des Moines Iowa...).


Topics covered:

  • Astrophysics
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Evolution
  • Anthropology
  • Geophysics
  • Geology
  • Science History
  • And probably more (and many of the sub-branches within each of those)


What I really enjoyed is that it made it easy to see and understand the interconnectedness of all these scientific disciplines. I can see anyone, old or young, reading this book and coming away with a better understanding of, well, everything. It's very approachable.


I've heard there's an illustrated version. It'd be neat to have that sitting around the house for anyone to pick up, turn to a section randomly, and learn in bite-sized chunks.


It was published in 2003 and updated in 2005, so there are some more recent scientific advancements that are missing, but overall, would highly recommend if you're a fan of science!


Next up is a classic called "Fear and Trembling" which is a sharp shift from all the science stuff I've been reading lately. It was written in 1843, in Danish, by resident of Denmark Søren Kierkegaard (under a story-relevant pseudonym "Johannes De Silentio"). It's a short philosophical study of the Biblical story of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac. The little I've peeked at in advance seems pretty compelling.


After that is the Robert Heinlein book I mentioned in my last post "Stranger in a Strange Land" (which is also a Biblical reference I just realized) about a human born on Mars that comes to Earth.


I'm still chipping away at the computer science book "Design Patterns" but it's slow going because it's so dense and SO NOT entertaining... Full of useful information though.


Oh, and also "Le Ton Beau De Marot!" (Taking that one slowly just to savor it). As I've mentioned before, it's vying for position as my favorite book ever.


I need some more suggestions for books to listen to while I'm driving, so please leave me a comment.


Here's some art I made in exchange for your comment! (I call it "Beetle Cancer")


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Bonus for continuing to scroll, now you have to comment.


"Flame Crab"


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Posted by BoMToons - April 19th, 2019


Answer: Psychedelic drugs apparently.


Thanks to a suggestion from @TomFulp for the book "How to Change Your Mind" by Michael Pollan, I got to go on a "trip" into the history of LSD, Magic Mushrooms, and even a little hallucinogenic toad venom.


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The full title is: "How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence"


The book got off to a rough start for me because of how the author approached retelling the history of hallucinogenics. He jumped around a lot and I got a little lost because of the non-chronological approach. However, the ending more than made up for the beginning and I ended up thinking a lot about consciousness, my identity, my ego, reality, and therapeutic "drugs."


The thrust of the book is that hallucinogenic drugs got a bad reputation when they were first discovered and have been mislabeled as overly dangerous, addictive (they're not at all), and unfortunately tied to "counter culture," anti-authority, and mysticism.


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But, in reality, these "medicines" have incredible potential for helping people, both the sick and the "well." Some of the therapeutic benefits include:

  • Helping the terminally ill come to grips with, and be ok with passing on (hospice care)
  • Curing addiction better than any other clinically-tested drug
  • Curing depression and many other disorders
  • Helping people overcome serious trauma


The most-fascinating section of the book (the end) discussed the science behind what occurs in the brain when on this specific brand of drug. Interestingly, the drugs do not necessarily INCREASE blood flow and activity in all parts of the brain, rather they REDUCE blood flow and activity to the very important "Default Mode Network" which, among many other things, is where we get our sense of identity, self, or ego. Thus these drugs tend to "dissolve" a person's ego, infuse them with a sense of wonder, and make "all things new" and fascinating.


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This part of the brain is also associated with our sense of remembering the past and planning for the future, so when it's inhibited, a person tends to only perceive the "now." What really got me thinking is the fact that certain other activities, like breathing exercises and especially meditation have the same effect on the DMN. This really makes me want to learn more about meditation since I don't think I'm going to be trying hallucinogenics any time soon (though I'm much more open to the idea now...)


Another quirky part of the book I liked was a discussion around Magic Mushrooms aka: Psilocybin in which the idea was tossed out that there's really no good evolutionarily-apparent reason for mushrooms to include hallucinogenic properties in their "fruiting members" (the parts that stick out above the ground and make spores). So, some people think that the hallucinogenic properties of these mushrooms are actually an attempt by these organisms to COMMUNICATE with humanity, expand our consciousness, and help us understand our place in the larger ecosystem of the planet.


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This is a neat idea to me because I think it's very unlikely that communication between species (or with alien lifeforms) would be in a format we're used to. So, the idea of wise, visionary mushrooms "drugging" us with chemicals that affect our brains in very specific ways that lead to lifetime attitude changes that ultimately benefit them (and us) is kinda fascinating!


The book also highlights the inability of the current US drug bureaucracy to handle these particular kinds of drugs because they don't conform to the established methods of "double blind" testing (because there's no effective placebo: both users and observers can tell in a few seconds if the person got the "real" drug or not). There are other aspects to the incompatibility of these drugs with the modern medicine world too, mostly around how, for "best results," these drugs should be taken in the presence of a guide who can "hold the space" in reality for the person taking them to keep them safe, but also to help them prepare before and interpret and unpack the experience once it's over. You can't really see that kind of practice catching on in modern, cold, clinical doctors' offices.


You have to respect the author for putting his own health on the line in this book. He actually took each of the drugs he talks about, despite being 60+ years old (and having a heart condition!). His descriptions are pretty fun to read... especially his "diamond-encrusted urine" dump.


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I have other thoughts about the evolution of drugs in general. They often start out as recreational until valid medical use cases are discovered/developed. Unfortunately this period of purely-recreational use can brand something with great potential as "dangerous" or frivolous making legit usage tough to roll out because of how slowly public opinion changes. This happened a long time ago with nitrous oxide, and recently with marijuana/cannabis, and it looks like we're turning a corner with hallucinogenics now too.


So yeah, I recommend this book pretty highly. It changed my mind about a lot of things and gave me a lot to reflect on.


I'm currently reading "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson which helps you get a, surprisingly deep, look into "nearly everything" having to do with SCIENCE.


Next on my list is a co-worker's sci-fi suggestion: "Stranger in a Strange Land" by Robert Heinlein.


Drop me a message, I'd love to hear from you!


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Posted by BoMToons - April 2nd, 2019


Time to put down what's been shakin' with me for the last couple weeks (months???).


First off, Macaulay Culkin (the star of the classic Christmas movie "Home Alone") has a podcast (iTunes link). In a recent episode, he had the Angry Video Game Nerd (YouTube channel) on as a guest. They talked about video game cross-overs and had a neat little discussion about Abobo's Big Adventure!!! I'm particularly happy because they mentioned the game-play as a big positive from the game so that tickled me as the programmer :-)


Give the podcast a listen here (skip to ~17 minutes in): Direct Podcast Stream


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On a side note, the Angry Video Game Nerd played through Abobo's Big Adventure and had a pretty epic experience a while back, here's the 1st of 2 vids in case you're interested (I think he tears up a bit at the ending...):




In other news, my BFF (kittadyne.com) runs a freelance machine shop business and has a sweet CNC mill (a robotic arm that cuts things out of solid aluminum, CNC = "Computer Numerical Control"). He recently moved to some property in central CA and set up his CNC in a SHIPPING CONTAINER in his yard. It's actually a really cool setup! I like it cuz you'd never expect, amid all the orange orchards, to find a high-tech business for making billet-cut aerospace parts!


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He was working in his shop the other day and went to lift some machine parts out of his machine (not realizing they totaled about 200 lbs.) and threw his back out in a really bad way. He basically can't stand up without crutches. He had just received a rush order for 29 custom cut and assembled parts for airplane interiors and, as you can imagine, was pretty panicked about filling that order while injured. I decided to drive down for a week and help him and it was a crazy cool adventure (with plenty of hard work and long nights mixed in).


Here I am in my WORK apron in front of his CNC machine (dat hair tho riiight???):


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He made it really easy for me to make the parts by embedding instructions for me inside of the program he had written (stuff like: the program would stop and a message would appear: "blow off metal shavings"). Here I am running parts with some pretty knappy hair!



It was a really fun learning experience. Here's the process more in-depth:


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And the final assembly:


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In the end, he paid me in ORANGES!!! (Totally worth it.)


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It's not often you get the chance to work, hands-on, with real industry professionals on a massive project. They (the oranges, not the industry professionals) smell great!


I've still been reading/listening to a lot during my commute, mostly podcasts lately. Still really enjoying Le Ton Beau De Marot in physical form... might be my most favorite book of ALL TIME! I'm taking my time and savoring it.


I'm also studying the New Testament in Greek (while learning Greek via the "Greek Interlinear" format). Let me know if you want to know more about that... Superman makes an appearance...


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Leave me a message, I'm always open to talk!


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Posted by BoMToons - March 2nd, 2019


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As you might have noticed from my past blog entries, I have a new job as a software engineer at a company in San Mateo. Getting the job was a crazy story, but now I've been here for about 7 months and I wanted to share some of my growth experiences in a somewhat more-technical post.


First off, if you're at all into becoming a better programmer (or even if you're interested in starting to code), I recommend the book "Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-oriented Software." It has very practical examples of how to organize and structure classes of code for flexibility and maintainability. It's not overly-technical and covers pretty much every essential design-principle for application structure. It helps you recognize patterns in component interaction and then to design methods of interaction that make your life easier in the long-term.


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If you know my background, I am a "self-taught" programmer - meaning I'm actually more of an artist that began dabbling with code and "machete'd" my way through learning how to make websites and video games over the course of a decade without taking any formal classes. So, a lot of my computer science fundamentals are prrrrrrreeeeetttttyyyyy rough... which is why I need to read books like this pseudo-textbook in my spare time to try to backfill some of those missing foundational concepts.


Which brings me to the main topic of this post: The Angular 2+ Javascript framework!


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This is what we use at my work and into which I've been doing some, increasingly-deep, dives over the last 7 months. I'll preface this post by saying that I am BY NO MEANS an expert with Angular, so if you know Angular and can correct/clarify anything I say, I welcome your input! Because of my background and lack of CS know-how, this explanation will be free of a lot of technical jargon, which might just make it easier for you to understand than if a CS-major had written it!


As an introduction I'll talk about the history of Angular: It's made by Google. It started out as Angular 1.x also called "Angular.js" which was a JavaScript framework similar to React.js or Vue.js. Angular 2+ (now on version 7) Is a re-imagining of Angular.js from the ground-up with a MUCH more-robust class-based architecture focusing on object-oriented design. Most, if not all, of Google's most recent applications are made with it (as well as a lot of other big-time websites).


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Now for some more technical stuff about what, exactly, Angular is: It's a "framework" that takes a bunch of files and "flattens" them out into a set of .js (and other) files that are included in an html page in order to simulate a typical "page.html --> page.html" (or page.php --> page.php, or whatever you might be used to) experience, but without EVER actually changing pages! (it even does internal "routing" so the url in the address bar appears to change and allows users to return to specific states based on the URL).


I know, that sounds crazy, but it's somewhat analogous to back in the day when there would be "All-Flash" web pages which were really just one page with a Flash file doing all sorts of inner magic to show new content. This is the latest trend with websites where the goal is to simulate more of an "app-like" experience steering away from the synchronous page loads of the "old web."


So, Angular basically hijacks or obfuscates all of a page's content inside of its own set of rules which include built-in methods for loading data asynchronously. This "middle layer" called "Angular" gives developers really simple ways to access powerful features of JavaScript in intuitive ways. Things that would take hundreds or thousands of lines of code are simplified into simple "built-in" methods. Angular is a great "middle man" for modern web development.


I'll give you some examples of what impresses me about developing with Angular:


1. Components:

When I've coded in PHP, I generally abstract things such that I have a "global" file of functions which I can include in any .php page and then use as a kind of "library" of tools such as "showHeader," "showFooter," or "drawImage" (for example). While that is a choice I made when coding in php, Angular kinda formalizes this approach in a really cool way called "components."


Basically, Angular simulates typical html tag structure like


<p></p>

--


but allows you to DEFINE your own tags! (it also includes ALL existing html tags, so no worries friend!) Using my example above of "showHeader()" being called from an included .php file, I just use a


<header></header> 

--


"component" which is an encapsulation of a bunch of code to draw my header. And, rather than having to write out "require('global.php');" to gain access to my toolbox, after you define a component, it's available from ANYWHERE. Your components can be as broad or specific as you want, so it can make ongoing development SUPER streamlined if you approach your component design wisely.


2. Promises:

Promises are a feature of all the latest versions of JavaScript, but I was introduced to them via the Angular framework, so I'll discuss them here. Basically, they're a simple way to do asynchronous operations that guarantee the ordered timing of the returns from those operations. So you can do something like:


getSearchResults("newgrounds").then(() => {
	showSearchResults();
}).catch((e) => {
	displayErrorMessage(e);
);

--


Which can hit an external asynchronous getSearchResults.php script or "endpoint" (as I've learned to call them) which "resolves" the promise when the script's results are returned and only then continues on to the next step inside the ".then()".


The cool thing about Promises, besides how simple they are syntactically, is that they can be "chained" so you can have multiple asynchronous "steps" in a process, each resolving "in-order" and executing related-code at each juncture.


3. TypeScript

The scripting language of Angular is not actually "JavaScript" it's something called "TypeScript" which compiles into JavaScript when you flatten your app down for publishing. TypeScript conforms to a "standard" of scripting (kind of like how schools have state and national "standards" that individual states or schools choose to "adopt") called ECMAScript and is updated along with the latest ECMAScript releases.


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Fun fact, ActionScript was also a language conforming to ECMA (European Computer Manufacturer's Association) standards which is why it's so similar syntactically to JavaScript. I guess lots of languages follow ECMA as a "standard" for what features a language has and how the syntax is written to perform certain functions.


It took me a bit to understand this, but basically a bunch of CS people get together every year and argue about what makes the most sense for a language's syntax, they make decisions and write up standards, then all these languages (including "JavaScript") choose to "adopt" those standards. Something similar happens with web browsers with W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) standards that Chrome, Edge, Safari, Opera, and Firefox choose to "adopt" or comply with.


TypeScript ups the game of typical JavaScript mostly in that it is "strictly typed" meaning you have to explicitly declare the scope and type of variables and functions or else the compiler complains at you or refuses to even try compiling your code. In the end, this makes 2 things possible (that I've seen) - developers are forced to write code that is more-easily understood by other developers, and the associated IDE (code editor) is better able to warn you when you're potentially writing bad or dangerous code.


4. WebPack

WebPack is the thing I'm talking about when I say "flatten" your Angular project. It basically takes a bunch of inter-related .js (and other) files and compiles them into a smaller set of files you upload to your web-server. It optimizes everything you had written to be human-readable and maintainable in Angular and makes it web-browser-readable/efficient.


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5. Event and Property Binding

I mentioned the power of "components" in item #1, but let's delve into them a little deeper. Imagine a situation where you have something like this with a nifty color picker "component" you built:


<color picker></color picker>

--


Now, you want to make this component as flexible as possible, so you want to allow it to "receive" a list of available colors. Well, in Angular that's called "Property Binding" and you do it like this:


<color picker [colors]="Array('#FF0000','#00FF00','#0000FF')">
</color picker>

--


It's a bit like passing a set of "parameters" into a function. Notice the bracket or "boat" syntax for input properties.


However, let's say we want to capture the color the user selects from the color picker component... just use "Event Binding!" (Notice the "banana" parenthesis syntax for events).


<color picker
  (onColorSelection)="changeColor($event)"
  [colors]="Array('#FF0000','#00FF00','#0000FF')">
</color picker>

--


This essentially "listens" for an event called "onColorSelection" within the component and "emits" it to the parent component to run a parent function called "changeColor" and passes a "chosen color" value in the $event parameter.


As you can imagine, this architecture allows you to wield a lot of power when designing components in ways that let them be re-used in TONS of different circumstances.


Another cool thing to note is that Angular also employs "two-way binding" which both INPUTS and EMITS changes at the same time! (notice the "banana boat" syntax). The double curly brace syntax is notation for LIVE variables in the html... so:


<input [(ngModel)]="username">
<p>Hello {{username}}!</p>

--


Will show an input box (yes, Angular makes it so you can add property and event binding to ANY html tag) that, when changed, both reads from the input element's changed state AND sets a variable called "username" in the parent component which instantly updates the webpage's text to write "Hello [whatever has been typed into the box]"


6. Live Changes (Change Detection)

Which brings us to the coolest thing about Angular - behind the scenes Angular is running what's called "Change Detection" which super-efficiently monitors your application for "changes" to any variable or component state. When these changes occur (either from live input or from asynchronous calls) the webpage is IMMEDIATELY updated to reflect the changes WITHOUT A REFRESH.


In the past (and probably, technically, still) this was known as AJAX or "Asynchronous Javascript and XML" and used to be a HUGE PAIN to pull off. But with Angular, all that immediate checking for changes is BUILT IN making your life as a developer WAAAAYYYYY easier!


I know, you're saying "But I can do all of that with jQuery" - well, yeah, but until you see how flippin' easy and intuitive it is to do with Angular, you ain't seen nothin' jack.


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It has been a TRIP to learn Angular over the last 7 months, and there's still a LOT more for me to learn, but I have to say that I'm super impressed with it and would recommend it highly to anyone with a website that needs to present itself as "up to date" with modern web standards ( *ahem* Newgrounds! @TomFulp ;-P ).


In fact, I've even fantasized how easy @PsychoGoldfish's pet "Newgrounds Chat" project would have been with Angular as the platform.


For further reading check these links:

https://angular.io/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angular_(web_framework)


Please leave me a comment if you made it this far (yes, really)! My next technical post will be about the other main piece of my current job which is called Fabric.js! ... (but I might do some non-technical posts before then).


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