Sliding Down

A blog by Dan Bergren

I'm angry.

Posted at 10:45 pm on Nov 25, 2014

It's taken me a while to find the words for how I feel about the grand jury's decision to not indict Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown.

Mostly I've been reblogging on Tumblr and posting what I can on Twitter and Facebook. Tumblr for more of my angry stuff, Twitter and Facebook for the more "white" responses. Because somehow I thought I need to filter myself because I might burn bridges or something. "Thought" being the key word here.

I don't have a very eloquent voice when speaking about race, privilege, and oppression. It might be weird to hear, this is all "new" to me. About a year ago I wasn't really aware of my privileges, of what it afforded me. As I learned more, I became conflicted, felt attacked, but then resolved it by realizing it's not about me. Then I didn't feel so bad about all the feminists on Tumblr ranting about men, or about articles ranting about white people. It took me awhile to realize I wasn't being personally attacked, but the system that enabled privilege and inequality.

So yeah, even after coming to terms with my privilege, it's still very difficult for me to find the right words to express myself. I still have a lot of crappy baggage from my privileged upbringing: the term "race card", thinking of racism on a social instead of institutional level, and avoiding racial insults because the "words are bad" and not because they're used to reinforce a system of oppression.

So I started responding to shitty people writing shitty things on Facebook. Most of it is ignorance, so far. I have no doubt something crappier will crop up by the end of the week, and I'll be "one of those people" who engage in Facebook conversations. I've seen many an Internet argument in my day, so I think I can keep it civil.

And no, I'm not worried about burning bridges anymore, or about writing super eloquently. The latter will come with time, I'm sure. As for the former… It's way too important for me to stay silent.

Noticing Changes

Posted at 2:23 am on Nov 22, 2014

I've been thinking about getting a haircut this weekend.

Rather, a proper one. I can give myself a haircut and save a few bucks, but I want to make sure it actually looked good this time. And I'm going to shave my beard.

I was planning on doing this to get in the "spirit of job hunting" and because I'm seeing a lot of family next week for Thanksgiving. But it also occurred to me that I haven't really worried about what I've looked like since I was dating in college.

I mean, I've "worried". I've cared if my mohawk didn't stay up or if I had hat hair in the winter. But I haven't done it for the benefit of society, to fit into the white suburbia mold I was raised under. I've tried to drift away from that on purpose, to help find myself. I didn't want to spend my energy caring about those motivations for how I looked.

In high school I spent a good deal in front of the mirror, after all. You know: girls, hormones changing by body, girls, insecurities (probably also hormones). I cared more about the little things.

So I'm thinking about getting back into that this weekend. By getting a haircut and shaving my beard. It's a daunting thought, but I think it might do me some good. I think it does anyone a lot of good to "look put-together" regardless if they're having a good day or going through a rough patch.

One last thought: it occurred to me that even as a musician I cared how I looked while wearing my tuxedo and playing in front of people. Caring about looks was part of my DNA until I stopped playing bass regularly.

And I cared about how good I was. I had auditions regularly to keep the positions I held in my orchestras, and I was constantly re-hired for pit gigs. I always had feedback about how sharp my skills were and where I needed to improve.

Software hasn't worked like that for me… Until now. Grad school has provided the right environment to keep me improving. And if I start working again soon, maybe my next workplace will provide something cool like that as well. Fingers crossed.

Winter Cleaning

Posted at 1:42 am on Nov 21, 2014

Okay, so quick update. I made some changes.

That's all for now. Copy is atrocious, but it's late and I have to do grown-up things tomorrow. (You know, in addition to playing Super Smash Bros.)

Green Fire

Posted at 12:47 am on Nov 19, 2014

So I finally got my green fire today. I said to myself, "Level 94 is high enough!" and got to work and learned the fight. I know being a higher level and being more geared helped me a lot more than last time, but I also thought critically about the fight instead of banging my head against the wall over and over again.

So that was good. I also took screenshots of my adventures, but those are on my other computer. Also my fingers are cold and it's late, so I'll keep this short.

Tomorrow is my class final, and then I'm off of school until January. During that time, I hope to find a job, possibly working for a startup. I think I'm past the point where I want to be picky about where I work. If it's in finance, so what? That shouldn't be an indicator of whether or not it will be a good fit for you.

I also want to get some real work done, and make both this blog and heymrbass.com look really spiffy. And games. Why am I not making games? That's my strongest strength, I should be making games!

Time for sleep. With any luck I'll dream up a game and have something to design tomorrow.

Changing gears

Posted at 10:03 am on Nov 18, 2014

So I'd like to change gears here with the direction of this blog. v0.7 was supposed to be about cleaning up old data, but doing just that is going to take a long time. It's also 18 days past due, so I think it makes sense to sideline that release for later.

Instead, I'm going to focus on making the blog prettier, release v0.9. I think it's a better choice for a number of reasons.

I get to focus on the "Now"

I'll be tweaking my blog's design and layout for what I write now, not what I wrote nine years ago. This means I won't need to fuss with broken images or weird HTML out of the gate, and I can tweak my writing style if needed.

It lets me conquer burnout

Burnout sucks. I know it's a buzzword and all that, so let me describe it a bit more clearly: you spend your working life hating work, and your non-working life trying to not think about work. Burnout destroys you by building up bad habits for years if left unchecked, and those habits are incredibly difficult to undo. If you're like many adults, you just kinda roll with it until it becomes the de facto way of existing.

I've been recovering from burnout for the better part of a year now. I'm happy to say that the bad habits are really starting to disappear entirely, but now I must work on building up new ones. One of those new habits is focusing on what's the most important part of building software, and not trying to fight fires all the time. I think that a good design for this blog is wayyy more important than fixing all of the old blog post links from over the years.

So yeah, new design. Let's do it.

While I don't hate the current design – and I think it did a great job for v0.1 – it's ultimately not my best work, and very much in the same vain as previous blog layouts I made when I was in high school. I know I haven't had the opportunity to do any real design, so this is my chance. I need to show the rest of the world that one of the websites that is most important to me also reflects the best of my talents.

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