In the Club
When I decided to restart the newsletter with actual content in it, I had very low expectations. Nobody reads this thing. Why create actual content that's trapped in this e-mail newsletter? Shouldn't I just go back to my blog instead? I'm honestly very surprised that it seems to be working. In a day and age when an e-mail is primarily for Amazon purchase receipts, there still seems to be some sort of audience. I got six replies to the last newsletter. That's not a humongous number overall, but imagine if some printed fanzine got six replies!
Even though it's getting a great response, less than 300 people even receive this email. Well, there's one way I know of to make a small audience better than a big one, and that's to make it an elite and secret club. In the myriad of content created by us at GeekNights, treat this newsletter like the Book of Prophecy
, only a lot less evil. You're now in the secret hideout beneath the forums. You've done well to make it this far, but how much deeper can you go? Do you feel special now?
Let's see what a few people had to say about the last newsletter. Just reply to this e-mail, and you might get featured in the next one. So simple.
McKillJoy asked if our newsletter crashed the PAX site. Shortly after I sent the last newsletter, the PAX site did go down for a short time. It was a coincidence. Not enough people receive this newsletter to have an impact on even the shittiest of web sites. The crash was also unrelated to the tickets going on sale. They went on sale and immediately sold out quite a few days later.
I was personally able to acquire 4 full weekend passes. If for some reason our panel is not accepted, or our friends need the badges, I'll be using them. But there is also a good chance I won't need them. In that case, we will probably give them away to our fans in an appropriate fashion. If you want the tickets, listen to GeekNights regularly.
Doug wrote to tell me that he also has a stack of unbuilt Gundam models. He asked about my favorite kit, which I will now proceed to geek out about.
My favorite kit is the RG Freedom Gundam
. Freedom Gundam is my favorite Gundam of all time. No contest. The scene in Gundam SEED when it first appears is so ridiculously epic. It has pretty much everything going for it, the name, the wings, the guns, the beam sabers, the classic colors, the neutron jammer canceller, atmospheric re-entry capabilities. It's just the best.
There are a lot of Freedom Gundam kits, so why is this one my favorite? Well obviously because RG (Real Grade) is the best grade. These kits have a level of detail on par with MG (Master Grade) kits. It's just so much more fun to build something more complex. Also, unlike MG, the RG kits are 1/144 scale instead of 1/100. It's much more tasteful to display a tiny robot on your desk at work. Having a gigantic toy is just garish. Pretty much every kit I have now is RG, and I've lost almost all interest in the other grades.
Weiru wrote in and told me a bunch of stuff I already knew about Kunihiko Ikuhara
, but also asked a question we get quite often. Why haven't we watched or commented on Penguindrum
? Well, I think the last newsletter answers it. How much time do I really have for the anime geekery when compared with others? It's in the queue. I'll watch it someday, and so will Rym. As it is, Jojo's is ahead in the queue, and I haven't watched that yet either. People often assume that if we don't mention, or haven't seen, something it must be because we don't know about it. Sorry, that's just not the case. Once I learn about a new anime it can actually take years for me to get around to watching it.
Josh wrote something that I thought I addressed, but actually neglected to mention in the last newsletter. I'll just insert his reply verbatim:
I like to offer my two cents on your musing of Lonely Geekeries . Your point about investing in hobby that could up just sitting in ones closet is a valid one. However I feel that if you always consider money and the possibility your geekery has hit it's plateau. You will never know how far you could have gone with it. Sometimes you just have to make that leap and not think to hard about in your geekery to find out if it is something you want delve further into. That's all I wanted add.
This is exactly what happened to me with photography. My whole life I always had cameras, but never used them very much. I would remember to bring the camera with me everywhere, but rarely took any photos. Imagine going to a convention, carrying your camera with you the whole time, and coming home with an empty SD card. When I found myself without any camera, I decided I just wouldn't buy a new one. I could just use my phone camera if need be. I was very worried that if I bought a new camera, it would be another bowling ball.
At the same time, nobody in the FRC was taking photos. Our one friend who had a DSLR, and used it, moved far away. Parties, conventions, and vacations were passing by undocumented. There's actually a pretty big photographic black hole in our collective history. When we do look at the few photos we have, everyone really enjoys reliving those memories. I greatly regret not taking more.
So I took a gamble. I bought a real digital camera with interchangeable lenses and manual controls. Suddenly because I had a fancier camera, the opposite of the bowling ball effect happened. It was just so much more fun to use this camera compared to the point+shoots I had in the past. I ended up wanting to take pictures all the time just because the camera itself was so enjoyable to use. I ended up doing so much photography that I pushed the limits of that camera, and recently upgraded. Just a couple weeks ago I was finally able to take a photo of lightning, something I have been trying to do for over a year. The lesson is that sometimes buying the expensive thing is just what you have to do to make a geekery really happen.
I don't know if people outside the tech industry realize this, but tech skills are in very high demand. Recruiters pester programmers pretty much constantly. They are all offering the same deal. They want to pay you more money. The job they are offering is much more challenging and interesting than the one you have now. Their startup is going to change the world for the better. The people working there are so awesome. You would be a fool not to quit and work for this new company.
Now, these recruiters do this as their full time job. If this sales pitch wasn't the most successful, they wouldn't be using it. In other words, those things are what most people in my industry are looking for. How come it doesn't work on me? I wouldn't mind having more money. If I'm going to spend 40 hours a week doing something, I would prefer that something to be more stimulating and challenging. And it is important that the people I'm spending that time with are people I enjoy being with. Am I really that different from my peers?
While I care about all of those things, they are low priorities for me. My biggest priority is simply spending as little time at work as possible. A friend recently told me that they are working twelve hours a day. They said that I'm a creator outside of work, while they are a creator at work. On the surface it seems to make perfect sense. I leave my mark on the world by speaking at conventions, podcasting, writing newsletters, etc. The less I work, the more I can do something I actually want to do. My friend actually really cares about and is fulfilled by their job, so the long hours are not an issue for them.
You might be nodding your head, but for me, it's just even more disturbing. Why do so few people have something outside of work that they find meaningful? You tend to think about non-geeks as the type with no lives to go home and do nothing but watch TV. For a geeky intelligent person to have so little going on outside of work to be content spending 60+ hours a week on one thing is just crazy to me. You're really fine sacrificing that much of your life for some other person's company?
What is also troubling is how people misunderstand me in the same way. I've had people say things like "If GeekNights was your job, you would work on it all day every day." The answer to that is absolutely not. There is not a single thing on this earth that I enjoy so much that I would spend that much time on it. No matter how awesome the job, whether it was to lay on the beach, ride my bicycle, play video games, or what have you, I couldn't bring myself to do it for that amount of time every day. The only reason I can tolerate the job I have now is because I spend so many hours at work not doing work. I spent this morning doing work, and I spent the afternoon writing this newsletter.
Look at self driving cars. That technology is ready to roll right this second. Imagine if we applied that same level of automation to everything else. The laborless society I have been dreaming of is not that far off. I'm not a Star Trek fan, but I've been told that's what the Star Trek universe is like when people aren't sitting in gigantic ships having really slow and boring space battles.
But will this dream even be possible? Employers are working employees long hours because they are willing to work long hours. If most people find fulfillment at work, that's very bad for people like me. Nobody will want to hire me if I refuse to work those hours. Even my current employer won't let me leave the office when the work is all done. Why did I have to sit here at this desk all afternoon with no work to do just to get money to eat and pay rent?
If the majority attitude was able to shape expectations of employers, will it also shape the future of humanity? Will the laborless society be actively prevented by people who only find fulfillment in labor? Will future generations be forced to do pretend work as a placebo for a meaningful and productive life? Seriously, have you seen this weather? Just let me go home.