On Color and Depression

Something positively incredible happens when you rewire your brain and turn the corner out of a serious depression. Aside from feeling better (which is fantastic on its own) you will start to see in vivid color again. I’m not sure what the neurological or biochemical reason is for this but this phenomena is very real and I’ve experienced it.

I was so depressed that my dad decided to bring me to a place called Canyon Ranch. It’s pretty much the ultimate health spa with a “life enhancement” wing where you go when you’re, um, not well. People who drink too much, are on drugs, or are depressed like I was.

Upon arriving at Canyon Ranch everything was muted brown, gray, and seemingly dead. My depression had literally robbed me of my ability to see in true color! It made me somewhat color blind.

After a week or two of regular exercise, the most healthy food, great sleep, and amazing people I started to notice something. Specifically there were two paintings in the lobby that literally stopped me in my tracks. I had to ask someone if they had just been put up because a: I hadn’t even noticed them for a whole week and b: the colors were so vibrant they appeared to be back-lit like a high resolution HD monitor.

I’m totally over this stuff now and every single day is filled with the most vivid and radiant color imaginable. I’m lucky to have had the support of my dad and most of the members of my family. I hope your support network is as good as mine was.

2010 – Year In Review

“Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder…” – Henry David Thoreau

Last year I wrote a “year in review” style post about the year in my life. I figured I’d keep that going again this year. It’s fun to look back and ahead to the new year.

Dorothy and I have been fortunate enough to have another fantastic year. We’re healthier and happier than ever.

The Start of 2010
We started 2010 living in a chalet in whistler complete with hot tub and BBQ courtesy of VANOC. The first few months of 2010 we’re spent going back and forth between Whistler and Vancouver. We had two AMAZING roommates in Duncan and James. As you can imagine living in a chalet at Whistler was quite a treat and having two great roommates was just bonus! It was a fascinating time up in Whistler. The place was being turned upside down in preparation for the olympics and people we’re partying like crazy.

I can now check off “live in whistler” from my bucket list…

During this time I got to see the Olympic torch go by a few times. I streamed it live on my phone and friends from various places around the world watched from my phone. In fact 2010 was the first time I ever did any live streaming from my phone.

In order to get ready for our big trip I started to pear down on our possessions. Anything we didn’t want to keep was either sold, given away, or tossed out. We’d already been living a minimalist lifestyle but this process still took longer than we’d anticipated. It really is remarkable how much “stuff” works it’s way into our lives. Our goal was to get rid of everything we possibly could. From furniture to to clothes. We we’re left with a few items which we put in storage. Things like our vintage bicycles and photo albums. Things that you can’t really replace.

The Vancouver 2010 Olympics
Before we knew it a little event called the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games took place! Dorothy worked to help put the olympics together so we had “backstage” access to many of the events. We had an official VANOC vehicle with no driving or parking restrictions. Since we we’re at Whistler for part of the games we could actually walk to some of the events. We ran into Buzz Aldrin at men’s super G. I was more excited to see him than to see the skiing… My family also came out to Vancouver to see some of the events so it was really fun.

It was a crazy fun time. We we’re working, partying, enjoying the Olympics, spending time with family, and getting ready to leave town.

The end of the olympics we’re really special for Dorothy and I. It was the most incredible day I’ve ever spent in Vancouver. People we’re lined up at bars all over the city to watch Canada play the United States in Men’s Gold Medal Hockey. After we watched Canada win at a pub I went out into the streets and saw the city literally erupt with joy. Someone was smart enough to record the audio of the city as Canada won. You can watch it (or rather listen to it) below.

There was a massive party in the streets and total strangers we’re hugging and high fiving everywhere. It was amazing and i’ll never forget it. This epic street party lasted all day long, right up until the closing ceremonies.

Being at the closing ceremonies was an incredible experience as well. It was the end of a chapter in our lives. Dorothy had been working day and night for YEARS to help put the olympics together and it all came to a close on that night. It was an emotional and exhilarating time for everyone.

Here are my Vancouver 2010 Olympics photos.

It’s hard to believe that was just the start of 2010 for us.

#RTWnow
After the Olympics wrapped up we went on a Round The World trip. #RTWsoon went into #RTWnow mode! (RTWnow is the Twitter hashtag for people who are on Round The World trips and want to share content and experiences with each other.)

On April 1st 2010 we flew to Toronto, dropped off dog with Dorothy’s family and then we flew to Paris. We’ve had an amazing trip that will literally have taken us all the way around the world when we finish.

Abbreviated list of cities we’ve visited in the 2010 calendar year:

    Whistler, Canada
    Vancouver, Canada
    Toronto, Canada
    Paris, France
    Lisbon, Portugal
    Casce, Portugal
    Sintra, Portugal
    Madrid, Spain
    Barcelona, Spain
    Majorca, Spain
    Marseille, France
    Interlaken, Switzerland
    Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
    Gryon, Switzerland
    Venice, Italy
    Rome, Italy
    Vatican City
    Athens, Greece
    Santorini, Greece
    Ios, Greece
    Mykonos, Greece
    Athens, Greece
    Dubai, United Arab Emirates
    Manila, Philippines
    Cataclan, Philippines
    Boracay, Philippines
    Sydney, NSW, Australia
    Melbourne, VIC, Australia
    Geelong, VIC, Australia
    Adelaide, SA, Australia
    Port Augusta, SA, Australia
    Cooper Pedy, SA, Australia
    Uluru/Ayers Rock, NT, Australia
    Alice Springs, NT, Australia
    Tenant Creek, NT, Australia
    Katherine, NT, Australia
    Darwin, NT, Australia
    Kununura, WA, Australia
    Broome, WA, Australia
    80 Mile Beach, WA, Australia
    Port Hedland, WA, Australia
    Krratha, WA, Australia
    Exmouth, WA, Australia
    Cape Range, WA, Australia
    Coral Bay, WA, Australia
    Carnarvon, WA, Australia
    Monkey Mia, WA, Australia
    Denhim, WA, Australia
    Shark Bay, WA, Australia
    Point Quobba, WA, Australia
    Kalbarri, WA, Australia
    Hutt River Province (A ‘sovereign’ area within Australia. We met “Prince” Leonard himself)
    Geraldton, WA, Australia
    Jurien Bay, WA, Australia
    Perth, WA, Australia
    Fremantle, WA, Australia
    Rockingham, WA, Australia
    Bunbury, WA, Australia
    Busselton, WA, Australia
    Margaret River, WA, Australia
    Augusta, WA, Australia
    Cape Leeuwin, WA, Australia
    Albany, WA, Australia
    Esperance, WA, Australia

The Now
As I write this we’re at our “secret” spot for Christmas. A friend of ours who has been traveling around Australia for the last 18 years “reckons” it’s his favorite spot in all of Australia. Only the locals even know it exists because it’s way off the beaten track. So we’re very happy to have been invited here. We wouldn’t want to spoil the fun and tell people about this place. It’s quite nice with no tourists here and the fishing is fantastic! Living the beach lifestyle and living off the sea is like a dream.

We still have the entire East Coast of Australia to see including the Great Barrier Reef! We will fly back to Los Angeles on May 1st 2011. About a week later we’ll fly to Vancouver, then Toronto, and finally we’ll be in the 1000 Islands area for part of summer 2011.

This trip has changed my life forever.

I’ve never been more inspired and happy in my life.

My Photography In 2010
Just a quick note on my photography.

I’ve been into digital photography since about 1999 when I bought my first digital camera. I’ve probably taken almost a million photographs by now. Photography is such an important part of my life. In 2010 I really focused on my photography school. I’ve found that helping other people learn photography is really fun.

In 2010 I sold all my Nikon gear (lenses and all) and switched entirely over to Canon. So far I’m happy with Canon but Nikon is still far superior in terms of the ergonomics of the camera itself.

I’m starting to really hate flickr and I’m still looking for a better alternative. I have yet to find a better photo sharing and hosting service. I’ll probably try photoshelter this year.

Speaking of photos… Here are some random photos from this year. I would upload higher resolution versions but we have slow internet here at the moment.

Here are some photos from this year:

Things I Hope To Do In 2011
I stopped doing “new years resolutions” a few years ago. I find new years resolutions to be like “the secret” style thinking where you just think positive thoughts and hopefully something good will happen to you. I believe in taking concrete action towards very specific goals and just making things happen instead of letting things happen to you.

As ridiculous as it sounds, I plan to embark on another epic trip.

I hope to continue traveling whilst working (online) for the foreseeable future. The digital nomad lifestyle is full of adventure and excitement. I’m not keen to stop that anytime soon. Maybe we’ll drive from Alaska to South America in customized Mercedes Sprinter Van? Who knows… As of now there is no plan for fall 2011.

I hope to spend a big chunk of the Canadian summer with my father in the 1000 islands.

I will probably publish the ebooks I’m writing now. Maybe I’ll sell a copy or two. Who knows, I’m just doing it because I enjoy writing anyway. I might just give them away.

I think I’ll stop doing any consulting work for the time being. It’s just not that interesting anymore.

I will dramatically improve my photography school in 2011. I will update the course content, improve the student forum, change the price structure (raise prices), and make it scale a little better. A Chinese outfit is looking to license the course and it’s content so that could work out nicely. We’ll see…

Wrap It Up Already!
I hope you all had a great year and wish you the best in 2011!

Dorothy and I miss you guys.

Here’s to 2011!! Happy New Year everyone!!

2009 – Year In Review

It was a great year for Dorothy and I:

delightful dinner was had here
Dinner at the Wickaninnish Inn

Loungin at Whistler
Loungin at Whistler

Dorothy and I atop "The Chief" Mountain
Dorothy and I atop “The Chief” Mountain

Dorothy and I Smoochin
Dorothy and I Smoochin

On a personal level I stopped worrying about pissing people off and avoided seeking perfection. I focused on making stuff that was just barely good enough and then iterating on that. Here are some side projects I started this year in that vein: a vancouver webcam, a weekly mixtape, and a wiki about augmented reality. They all sucked at first and continue to suck a little less over time. The point is they exist. Last year I probably never would have started them for any number of reasons.

In 2009 jettisoned lots of baggage both physically and emotionally. Physically decluttering your environment and your mind by letting stuff go feels great. More importantly I started to believe in myself again. I’m trusting my instincts and making investments accordingly.

Dorothy, Pepper, and I live in Vancouver and have designed our lifestyle such that we’re relatively untethered. Currently we’re not attached to jobs, leases, mortgages, kids, or even our location. Dorothy is working hard on the 2010 Winter Olympics and my work online is going better all the time.

Dorothy at the Olympic Oval
Dorothy at the Olympic Oval

The only thing stopping us from doing being completely mobile is the dog. Luckily Dorothy’s parents are happy to take her off our hands when we travel!

A Dog's Life
A Dog’s Life

I don’t do new years resolutions anymore. I used to set expectations that we’re just flat out unrealistic. I’ve never been a big partier and this morning’s reflective blog post is my own little way of bringing in the new year.

“New Year madness is a thing of quite modern making, and hardly an improvement on the tradition that long preceded it, which called for a somewhat sober, respectful and reflective morning celebration.” – Simon Winchester

As I mentioned above I’m more into to just good enough, not perfection. Instead of thinking “I want to get super fit and run a marathon this year” it’s “I want to be healthier this year by having fun doing some exercise, whenever.” It’s just a softer way to deal with yourself.

Given that, here are some things I’ve done in 2009, stopped doing in 2009, and hope to do 2010:

Things I stopped doing in 2009:

Using the same password everywhere:
A few of my websites got hacked this year because Media Temple had a security issue. That got me to thinking more about security. I realized that I was using one or two passwords across all my accounts. I switched to using 1password with dropbox syncing and haven’t looked back. You’d be amazed at how many accounts you have when you start doing this. My 1password has 265 account passwords stored it in.

Tweeting too hard: (see year in tweets)
For a while there I was tweeting my life all all of the boring minutiae. I was also link blogging like crazy and generally adding noise online. I even had my tweets published on my blog. At some point I was like who the hell cares… So I’ve dramatically lowered the volume across all the feeds and content I produce. I respect your digital space. Less is more…

Using Voice Mail:
This may predate 2009 but I haven’t looked back since I stopped using voicemail. It was just another inbox that I had to check all the time and 99 percent of the messages we’re “hey it’s so and so, call me back”.

Trying to keep up with the fire hose:
At one point I was subscribed to like 350 RSS feeds and followed like 500 people on twitter. Today I read about 30 feeds and follow about 70 people, which is still way too much. I hope to cute rss feeds out entirely this year but this is one of my vices.

Things I started doing in 2009:

Using Virtual Assistants:
I’ve been using virtual assistants to help me in areas that I have weaknesses. Let’s just say this has been a learning experience. I’ve used oDesk to find people to do work that I can’t or don’t want to do.

Composting:
On the environmental front I decided to stop being preachy about and it and focus purely on taking personal responsibility. I’m taking personal responsibility for my footprint and doing something about it. We’ve reduced the amount of waste we put out to about one of those little white kitchen garbage bags per week. Everything else is recycled, composted, or not even purchased in the first place.

Blogging again:
I’ve starting actually blogging again. I’ve been writing reviews, posting photos, and having fun with it. Hopefully it has added some value. Did I just blog about blogging? Sheesh this post needs to end soon!

Making mixtapes:
I listen to music all day long when I’m working. I often made mixtapes for people in the past so I figured it would be fun to share them with everyone. As such Friday Mixtape was born. Now the whole world can get to know my shitty taste in music!

Monitoring Productivity:
Working online can often be tough when people are constantly sending you amazing things to watch or read. It’s good to know how your time is being spent… I’ve been using Rescue Time as a tool for this. You’d be amazed how much clarity this gives you into how your time is spent.

Using Moleskines Again:
Aghast the horror analog?! Yeah I’ve been using moleskines again to document stuff, scribble notes, and just keep stuff. This post about a designer who has used 85 notebooks in 26 years got me thinking about this. 25 years from now the files on my computer now won’t even be readable but a collection of moleskine will still be useful as an arhive.

Backing Up My Stuff:
My digital life and media are important to me. I’ve been looking out for a good solution but I’m kind of stuck between local and cloud based backups. I have too much stuff to backup everything to the cloud. So I backup the big stuff like video and thousands of RAW photos locally to a Drobo. Check out my Drobo review if you’re interested in those. The rest gets backed up to the cloud. Mozy is great for backing up your stuff to the cloud. You may also want to check out backupify, and Amazon s3 + Jungle Disk.

Waking up super early:
We’ve been waking up around 5:30 to get up and ‘eat your worms’ as Sean says. I wrote this post before starting work today. It’s so quiet that I can focus really well. It’s my favorite time of the day.

Organic Food:
Dorothy and I decided we didn’t care if it was more expensive to eat all organic food. After watching documentaries like Food Inc and reading about the food industry we decided to try to eat as much organic food as we can. Can you think of a better investment that your own long term health?

HDR Photography:
I learned how to create HDR photographs this year. I use photomatix software. You can check them out here.

Inbox Zero:
I work from zero in all my inboxes whether it’s snail mail or email. If there is something in an inbox, something needs to be done. My brain is then free to think about other stuff knowing things will get done. The trick is to only check them on a semi regular basis.

Things I hope to do in 2010:

Epic trip with @dorothyjs:
This is in the works. We’ll be checking out after the olympics. We’re not sure how nomadic we’ll be but we’re going away for sure.

Work:
Continue working on all my projects big and small no matter how crappy they seem at first.

Contribute more resources charity:
I’ve made 50 loans on Kiva.org to date and I’d like to increase that number. I also donated several computers to charity this Christmas to Free Geek. I think they’re doing great stuff and I’d like to volunteer for them.

Continue working to mend relationships:
Just like everything else, even if they’re broken the key is to improve upon them…

In closing here is a nice thought Justin Ritchie posted on his blog from Thom Hartmann’s Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight:

A Cree Native American storyteller and teacher told me: “According to my tradition, from the beginning of creation, every morning, when the sun comes up, we are each given four tasks by our Creator for that day. First, I must learn at least one meaningful thing today. Second, I must teach at least one meaningful thing to another person. Third, I must do something for some other person, and it will be best if that person does not even realize that I have done something for them. And fourth, I must treat all living things with respect. This spreads these things throughout the world.”

Hows that for something to live by?! Happy New Year!

5 Things Meme

A while back I was tagged by Lee Lefever to write my ‘5 things you don’t know about me’ meme post. Does this mean I actually have to write something?! I’m used to lazily re-blogging everything…

Bad Film School Films
I wrote and directed a few short films and they turned out very badly. Months and months of work and in the end you get a bad film. But the point wasn’t to make an amazing film. The idea was to learn the process of filmmaking. Turns out making films (on film) is very hard and can be very tedious when you’re working with bitter people…

Nascent Mad Magazine Collection
A good friend of mine (Rick) has been trying to get me into comics. He’s a huge comic book nerd and he’s been on a quest to have me hooked on comics. He bought me a 1974 Mad Magazine and that was it. Now i’m knee deep in ebay auctions and other comic dorkery. Mad Magazines are so rad. Brings me back to when I was a kid and we used to read em. Looking back as an adult its interesting to see how much of it went over our heads as kids.

Failed Video Blog / Podcast Scourist.com
My brother and i created a daily travel video blog called scourist. The idea was a free daily travel show that didn’t suck. We did the show for like a month and got about 40 000 unique visitors. My brother and I went separate ways and the project fizzled out. I learned alot from that experience and it was pretty rad while it lasted. Why do I see it as a failure? Mainly because we didn’t really give it a chance. It could have done very well if we kept at it.

Depletist
I AM NOT A DEPLETIST!! I do my best to use only the resources I need and no more. I’m constantly trying to infect others with this thinking as well. Just ask anybody who knows me and they’ll tell you I’ve been pushing this sustainability stuff for ages.

Closet Librarian
I spend an inordinate amount of time archiving and sorting media. Instead of watching TV or doing something productive I often find myself sifting through stacks of photos or wading through reams of video films. I’m constantly pruning my iTunes collection (17 000 tracks) , my flickr collection (currently 58,319 photos mostly private / 74,311 views ), my digital videos (almost a terabyte) etc etc. Weird… Was I a librarian or something in a past life or something?

Depression
I’ve been clinically diagnosed with a form of depression that makes lots of things suck. Things like life. Everyone keeps trying to put me on drugs for it but I’m trying to battle it old school by eating properly, doin some frikin exercise, and re-wiring my brain to think more positively.

Ok, so that was 6 things… It would be nice to here from some friends on this meme: Jon, Bill, Sean, Justin, and Alicia. Given that this is a meme it doesn’t have to be 5 things about you that people may or may not know. It could be whatever you want. Memes are better when they evolve. Tag, you’re it.

I Know You Are Reading This

Well its official, everybody and their dog knows about my blog. (yes I’m a lyrical genius)

There was a time when I blogged anonymously and I could say whatever the hell I wanted to. But for some reason it seems that everyone I know now knows about this little bitch of a site. I guess the “some reason” could be my girlfriend. It seems that she thinks its “cool” to have a blog and that this must be shared with mommy, co-workers, friends, acquaintances and of course just random freaks…

The fact is I know there are a bunch of people reading this blog that are like closet readers. How do I know this? Because I can’t talk about anything interesting now because everyone already magically knows about it. How do they magically know about everything I find interesting you ask? THEY READ ABOUT IT ON THIS WEBSITE. I might as well just be like “yeah I know you are a closet reader and you might as well just tell me. It’ll save me from feeling like Mr Old News.”

Even my girlfriend is like “that’s like so five minutes ago dot com” after I tell her something interesting that I posted about. Then again, sheez not a closet reader like YOU ARE. She admits that she’s obsessive about reading the general uselessness she finds here.

The other reason I know there are closet readers is by looking at the servers and IPs that people are coming from. My favorite is when I see .mil or .gov in the logs! That’s hot!!! I like knowing that some government peeps and military personnel are watching, I mean reading my stupid propaganda.