Tuesday, January 10, 2006

and the answer is... 25%

First, my post from January 11, 2005:

"Well, I'm going to adapt a rule that Robert X. Cringely uses for his yearly predictions for my resolutions this year: I will revisit this record in a year's time, and see what percentage I accomplished. This will be the first time I have actually kept more than mental record of this stuff, so it should be interesting.

1. Complete an adventure game with Rod.

We have begun, in earnest this time, the project we first talked about at least 12 years ago. We have our game engine picked out, and we have our deadlines established. This has to be the year.

2. Complete and record at least five songs.

Last year, this began as "join a band," but in August morphed into "write and record ten songs before the end of the year." Considering I play only drums well, this was ridiculous to say the least, but I have two strong pieces that I really like, and am getting better at expressing my ideas on keyboard and guitar. Thank God for Acid Music, which lets me take the tiny snippets of my ideas and sculpt them into songs. Lyrics remain the hard part, which leads me to number 3.

3. Write.

This page is the first example of my writing I have steadily worked on in over a decade, and it is only a journal. I want to complete at least one short story that pleases me in 2005. It may not sound like much, but it would be an enormous personal achievement.

4. Draw.

In particular, ANIMATE. Where's that quote... *checks Chuck Amuck, the autobiography of Chuck Jones* Ah, yes. According to his first art instructor, we all have "...one hundred thousand bad drawings in you. The sooner you get rid of them, the better it will be for everyone." Upon hearing that, he notes that he was on his third hundred thousand. I am probably a quarter or so into my first, but every drawing brings me closer to being GOOD. Animation, aside from being an honest love, is a great way to bring that number up by leaps and bounds, since every second of a project involves so DAMN MANY.

Well, those are the biggies. It is pretty much the same list I always have, and none of those will increase my ability to support my family in the least. But these remain the things I am motivated to accomplish. Maybe this time I will."

And now, my update:

As it happens, I accomplished almost nothing this year outside of work. Taken in order:

1. Complete Adventure game with Rod

This fell by the wayside quickly. As so often happens, life has been in the way. This has been a big year for Rod. He's moved a couple of times, finally gotten a few certifications under his belt, and is currently pursuing dollar signs in Houston. For my part, I spent a few months trying to get a band going, started and then after six months stopped working out, changed jobs, and had some personal stuff to work through. We occasionally talk about the game in broad terms, but I think this one may be kaput.

2. Complete five songs.

Lo and behold, I did this. The songs remain in demo form, but discs have been burned and released to select compadres, and I have let these songs go. At last. It's only ten minutes of music, but it means a lot to me. Every note I play is a struggle on an unfamiliar melodic instrument, so this one... this one makes me proud.

3 & 4. Write and draw.

Nada. Nothing. I think I have actually lost interest completely. For years, these things equalled my creative impulse, but I understand now that it comes out in other ways. Sound has become what the pen used to be for me. When I sketch, it is musical in nature, to which gigabytes of hard disk space and more than a few audio tapes stand as evidence. I am coming to terms with this. It still feels strange at times, like I should be drawing, but the proof is in the work, and the work is my music.

So, what for this year? What is on the agenda for 2006? My goals are very short term and personal enough not to broadcast to the two people who might actually read this. Those who need to know already do. The situation I find myself in now is one that was not wholly unexpected, but was still surprising in a number of ways. Things are improving and with any luck, it will all end well. At this point, I can only hope.

Sunday, January 1, 2006

Happy Birthday, Maw!

My mamaw is 76 years old today. So some comparisons between then and now:

People living in the United States in 1930 could expect to live an average of 59.7 years. Today, life expectancy has risen to over 77 years.

In 1860 less than 20% of the total U.S. population lived in cities; by 1930 the urban population had swelled to more than 56%. Today, more than 75% of the U.S. population lives in urban areas.

The average asking price for a home in Washington, D.C. in 1930 was $7,146--a relatively small sum by today's standards, but it was a substantial amount in 1930. Nationwide, 47.8% of U.S. residents owned their own homes in 1930; today that figure is more than 66%.

In 1930 only 40% of households in the United States had a telephone.

Long-distance telephone service was very expensive in 1930. A 3-minute call from New York to San Francisco cost about $9.00.

Although radio was still relatively new technology in 1930, 618 broadcasting stations had been founded in the previous decade, and radio was rapidly changing everyday life in the United States. According to the 1930 census, 59% of U.S. households had radios.

1930 was the last year that the U.S. Census asked U.S. residents if they could read or write; results of the census showed that 4% could not.

In 1930 only 48,118 people lived in the desert community of Phoenix. The 2000 census showed that 1,321,045 residents lived in Phoenix, making it one of the fastest-growing cities in the country.

California had a population of 5,677,000 in 1930, and was the sixth most populous state, behind New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, and Texas. By 2000, California's population had grown nearly six times larger to become the most populated state in the country, with 33,871,648 residents.

In 1930 nearly 1.8 million residents of the United States had been born in Italy, the leading country of birth among those born outside the U.S. In 2000 the leading country of birth among the foreign-born was Mexico, the native country of 7.8 million U.S. residents.

In 1930 24% of all women in the U.S. were in the workforce; by 2000 that figure had risen to 61%.