Brandon's Journal

Recently, I wrote about my frustrations with YouTube and Spotify. Shortly thereafter, I wrote a blog discussing negativity and my problem with. Within moments of me publishing it, I felt a wave of hypocrisy wash over me. I was doing the exact thing I was complaining about. I was sending out more negative than positive into the world.

I've been sitting with that thought for the past few days and I realize that I need to make a change, because that is not the man I want to be.

I ran across this picture on Zelda William's Twitter and it got me thinking.

vgy.me

While I definitely have improved 1000% from say ten years ago, I'm still not that person. I don't know if I've ever been that person. I've always been waiting for the next bad thing to come along. And the one time I decided not to do that, I ended up finding my wife who I will be celebrating my one year wedding anniversary here in a couple of weeks.

I'm not sure what my next step will be, but I need to find a way to channel more positivity into me and through me because I am really over being tired and cynical.

Recently, I've been looking over my website, Brandon's Horror. It's fascinating to examine amount of visits each review has gotten which is displayed on the featured image. At my prime while on social media, I had articles reach over five hundred views. My most recent article has two and I'm one of them. But you can go through the archives and watch the numbers dwindle 500, 400, 250, 200, 100, and now less than five visits per posts.

So, what happened? Well, obviously I stopped sharing links on social media. I lost that captive audience I had of Instagram and Twitter followers and they obviously didn't bookmark my site. They relied on me to share my updates via social media and there was no true loyalty to my website and I think that is the problem we can't overcome. People are just not conditioned to save websites and check back like we used to. There has to be some sort of delivery service to bring them to the site whether it's an RSS feed, subscribe via email, or social media account.

This, of course, is not a factor if views are not really important to you, but aren't they? I guess, it depends on the type of blogging that you are doing and whether or not you feel it's important to reach an audience. Of course, to reach and audience, most of the time you are going to have to write for an audience, because not many people will want to listen to your own ramblings, at least in blog form. If you rant and ramble on social media, they will join you, “like you,” and interact. But once you take things outside of that closed off playground, it's hard to get anyone to even read your stuff.

Then again, maybe I'm just discussing my own personal experiences. I've just always found it interesting that when I'm on social media people are engaged with my writing and even my life. The moment I step off yet still provide the same sort of material, arguably even better and more detailed, they won't take the moment to bookmark it or even read the emails that come with the blog posts. What a strange, strange world we live in.

I'm struggling with dealing with all the negativity that seems to prevail these days. It seems everyone wants to lean into their dislike and hatred of just about anything. They no longer celebrate the things they like, but instead spend time shitting on the things they don't.

I have one friend who I text with almost daily and 95% of the texts involve negativity. This sucks, that sucks, look at how ridiculous this, etc. Almost every bit of it fueled by things found on social media. That outrage culture is just as bad as the cancel culture in my eyes and it makes me wonder how any relationship can last when “everything sucks.”

My stepdad is also like this. He spends all day with the news on and he spends every free moment discussing the terrible state of the world. Then he complains about his beautiful house, his huge camper, his new truck, his swimming pool, etc. etc. Nothing is ever good enough. Nothing is easy enough and nothing is excessive enough and it's exhausting to be surrounded by this 24/7.

I give up on my podcasts that I end up finding for this exact reason. I'm excited to see the topic they pick, but then when the podcast is mostly trashing the topic, I just don't understand what should compel me to listen? Because someone else likes trashing something? Because a forty year old movie doesn't fit into today's social values?

The Gottmans famously discovered the “magic ratio” for a marriage to work: 5 to 1. This means that for every negative interaction during conflict, there has to be five (or more) positive interactions to overcome the damage the negative one does. I'm beginning to wonder what the magic ratio is for friends, websites, social media, and news sources.

Recently, I lost my patience with YouTube and it's aggressive advertising, today I finally snapped on Spotify.

I've been a fan of Spotify for a very long time. I was an early adopter of Google Music, but Spotify was a service I grew to love. I liked the simple and sleek UI in contrast to the early Google Music UI which was incredibly resourceful but hideous. And sometime around 2018, I finally made the change to Spotify and have used it for my streaming services ever since.

But over the past few months, I've grown increasingly frustrated with it. First, there are the constant advertising of podcasts, which seem to get worse every day. Then there are the constant suggestions, which are sometimes accurate and sometimes way off base. And then there is the horrible changes to the UI which make it difficult to use. There is just so much crap on the screen at any given moment, it's hard to sort between what you are looking for and what you are being advertised.

I don't mind advertisements, if it's a free services, but I'm paying for a family plan. I don't like that every time I boot up the app I have a screen I have to swipe advertising something on Spotify.

I also hate that the playlists I search are increasingly full of crap. The thing I loved most about streaming music were handmade playlists. I loved that someone took the time to sort through an entire season of Burn Notice and found every song and linked it all in one place. That's fun for me and I love revisiting late 90's WB shows for their interesting and unique soundtracks.

But now, it's almost impossible to find an accurate soundtrack. Instead, you'll find a soundtrack that is 80% accurate and then some band (or fan) who are trying to promote themselves insert their music in the midst of all the actual songs. It's frustrating at hell to enjoy a good playlist and then hear a song that doesn't fit at all or lacks the same quality. It wouldn't be so bad if I found a good song here or there, but I never do. It's always crap, which is probably why these bands are resorting to this bullshit guerrilla marketing.

I've been trying to be patient but I think I'm done. I'm over Spotify. I'm going to continue using AntennaPod for my podcasts and I'm going back to mp3s. Why does the internet just seem to get progressively worse ever single year?

Note: Thanks to Michael for pointing out that I didn't properly link the blog. I've updated it so that it works now!

In the fall of 2008, my friend Jimmy and I started a podcast. It was a originally titled Fat Kids in the Basement, but was shortened to Fat Kids Radio. We recorded nine episodes over a couple of months and co-ran a small blog where we discussed movies, music, video games, wrestling, and life. It was a very fun time that ended way too soon.

Over the years, Jimmy and I have talked about Fat Kids Radio fondly. It was a long time ago, and we've obviously both grown and matured over the years, but the love we have for our interests have never died. In fact, I'd say over the years, it's only gotten stronger.

So, a couple of weeks ago when Jimmy texted me and mentioned that we should start a blog and call it Middle Aged Fat Kids, I was all for it. Work together with one of my oldest friends just chatting about all the random things that we love? Heck yea, sign me up.

Over the weekend, I put together a blog, bought a domain and now I'm ready to formerly introduce Middle Aged Fat Kids.

Middle Aged Fat Kids (MAFK from here on out) is a light website where we will geek out and have fun. I've decided to pull all my media reviews and entertainment discussions from this blog and solely share them on MAFK. Brandon's Journal will now be dedicated to just discussing life, tech, philosophy, religion, etc and the fun pop culture stuff will take place over on MAFK.

I hope you'll check us out and be sure to add us to your RSS or bookmark us. There will be more content in the future.

I've had some time to digest some of my thoughts regarding the concepts behind permanent writing and temporary writing and the role it plays in my blogging/journaling/writing future.

But first, I want to highlight some articles that were sent to me by Dino. He was reminded of them after reading my post and I was grateful to see some different perspective tackling the same subject.

How the Blog Broke the Web by Amy Hoy discusses the evolution of homepages into blogs and finally into social media. The article explores how we went from writing information that was made to exist indefinitely to trying to check off dates on a calendar.

Dates didn't matter all that much. Content lasted longer; there was less of it. Older content remained in view, too, because the dominant metaphor was table of contents rather than diary entry.

This is exactly what I was talking about the other day. Sure, some Web 1.0 websites might have an “Updated” date/time at the top or bottom of the page, but that wasn't all the important. It was the content on the page that was important. Not the date it was created.

For some blog readers, this might not be an issue, but I think for most casual readers it is. They only skim the most recent content and even then they might not actually consume it. And why should they? There will be more next Monday or Wednesday or whenever the posting schedule occurs. I would argue that not that many even use the tags or categories to explore related content.

This disappoints me because it devalues the older content. It's almost like saying, any book not written this year isn't worth my time to read anymore. And part of this is very much because of the way we update and the chronological order we present our content.

The second article he sent to me was Stock and Flow by Robin Sloan which looks at web content in economic turns. I'll allow Ms. Sloan to properly describe what stock and flow is:

Flow is the feed. It's the posts and the tweets. It's the stream of daily and sub-daily updates that reminds people you exist.

Stock is the durable stuff. It's the content you produce that's as interesting in two months (or two years) as it is today. It's what people discover via search. It's what spreads slowly but surely, building fans over time.

What an amazing way to break down web content. I'm obviously trying to lean into more stock writing vs flow, but I do think there is a place for the flow as well.

Some folks, such as Dino, have been creating digital gardens which act as archives and personal exploration devices for their various interests and hobbies. Dino mentioned that the stock writing would be what “what I would call a permanent note in digital garden terms. It's something that will stand the test of time.”

I love the idea of using something outside of your blog as a way to archive the important and quality writings. Some use digital gardens and I went old school with a retro designed website. Speaking of that website, I've decided to rename it Brandon's Homepage (at least I will in the near future), because I think it's more fitting of the title. The site is to serve as a landing pad for myself, but will also link out to everything else I'm working on. You can see on my Pro Wrestling page, I've taken an old WCW website, converted it into somewhat of a tribute and then linked to all of my recent articles and recaps from The Wrestling Insomniac. I'm basically archiving content and organizing it a static stationary type of page.

So, after a ton of deliberation her is how I've decided to proceed with my blogging and writing.

  1. Brandon's Journal – This will be my day-to-day blog. Some posts will be in-depth though processes others may be basic life updates. The site will be true to it's name and act as a journal.

  2. Brandon's Homepage – This will be the site that ties everything together. A one stop shop to get to whatever I'm doing and a way to enjoy a lot of what I've written in the past. This is my permanent record, my own take on a digital garden, 90's style.

  3. Middle Aged Fat Kids – Okay, so this is a new site that I'm planning on writing a whole post dedicated to in the next day or so. In a nutshell, back in 2008, I had a podcast with an old friend called Fat Kids Radio. Recently, we discussed starting up a low stress website where we could just share our interests and have fun. I got the website up and running this weekend and I'm quite excited about it. I plan on sharing my pop culture thoughts, movie reviews, video game impressions, and so forth on Middle Aged Fat Kids so that it's separate from the more serious discussions found on my journal.

For some, managing three different avenues for writing may seem extreme, especially when I still contribute to The Wrestling Insomniac on ocassion as well as Retro-Daze. But I'm thinking if I can separate my personal thoughts on life, philosophy, the internet from my more fun and goofy thoughts on pop culture it will create for more comfortable writing environments. It will also allow people to choose what sort of content they wish to read from me while avoiding the other. Then of course, I'll have the Homepage to just link everything together and a place to share my curated posts that are worth saving.

Last night, I found myself back on Archive.org, digging around and looking at old blogs of mine. Previously, I discussed some thoughts on my digital past and the growth that I've had in my writing since then. It's very easy to feel embarrassment when reading rants and immature musings, but last night I ran across some stuff that didn't fit into that category, specifically, a post I wrote the on my birthday in 2015.

Years ago, I would try to reflect on my year near my birthday. It was a way for me to monitor growth and practice gratitude. Somewhere along the line, I've stopped recapping my year and that's disappointing, because both my recaps in 2015 and 2016 were quite enlightening to read in 2021.

As I read through my revelations from just a few short years ago, I found myself eyeballing the rest of my old deleted blogs. Was it all rubbish? Was the way I shared myself, my interests, and the things I liked all that bad? Did it truly matter if the content was temporary and permanent?

The foundation of my beliefs regarding blogging in today's world was rocked. I looked back at this frustrated younger version of me and I felt myself get envious. Here was a guy who just wrote, had no problems revamping, and just kept writing. He put forth his love of nostalgia and the personal details of his daily struggles. I read through posts about job loss, therapy, depression, video games, and movies and I kinda missed that guy.

Have I over thought this whole blogging thing? Have I preoccupied myself with templates, designs, and even privacy? Is there part of me who feels that I need to mature in my writing? Because if I'm honest, some of the stuff I was reading last night is eons better than what I've been shoveling out as of late.

I've got a little thinking to do.

Last year, I wrote a blog post that is very similar in content to what follows. That blog post has since become a prime of example of what I'm talking about in permanent vs. temporary writing. Allow me to elaborate.

Back in the 90's, when the web was young, folks spent hours tweaking their websites. Some of them were a single simple page, while others contained dozens of interlocking pages covering a variety of subjects. I used to love checking out a fan page for a popular TV show such as The X-Files. It wasn't uncommon to see someone run an X-Files page, Buffy page, Roswell page, etc. All of these pages were chained together with banners or links. Here is a great example of someone promoting all of their various pages Angel Fan's Buffy and Angel Home Page .

I mention this because people spent a lot of time curating and crafting what one might call a piece of art. It wasn't a cookie cutter template or a single text box, it was a canvas that one used to promote, share, inform, and geek out on.

One of the things I remember fondly about that time is that when I wrote and worked on those sites, I wrote like what I created would last a millennium. It was permanent, every single word. Each page was crafted and there was no thought of hiding it or forgetting about it. Compare this to modern blogs, where people tend to read the latest blog after finding the article linked/shared and if you are lucky, they might scroll through some of your archives. But it's very much a cafeteria style web browsing, you just take what you want and dump the rest.

I believe because of the nature of blogs, the writing we do on them feels more temporary rather than permanent like the websites of yesteryear. I know that this post will be lost in just a matter of weeks and if you didn't see it while it was new, you'll probably never see it. That frustrates me, because something shouldn't lose it's value just because it isn't new and shiny.

Because of this feeling that everything is fleeting and temporary, I've ran dozens of blogs over the years, abandoning them with relative ease. It's much easier to garner attention to a new shiny blog then try and convince someone to come check out a blog with hundreds of posts. People want to get in on the journey from the beginning and checking out the backlog just isn't cool in a society where news comes by the minute and Tweets by the seconds.

But I think I did this because I knew deep down that what I wrote wasn't for the test of time. It was for the moment, just like the post I reference at the beginning of this article. I wrote out similar feelings last year and since then I've reset this blog twice and that post is now lost. It was part of the problem, it was only meant to be read temporarily.

Maybe writing in a temporary style makes the writing more valuable or maybe it feels temporary because less effort goes into it because we know it won't last. Blog hosts will close or change and become less user friendly. Domains will expire and at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, “Is this really all that important?”

I spent hours combing over archives of my old posts so I could pull out some of the best and put them together on my new HTML site: My Favorite Posts. It's far from complete and I hope one day to go back and clean up some of them since they are quite old, but when I posted them into my HTML code I felt like I was preserving them for the future. I knew that my format wasn't going anyway. I knew that I wasn't relying on Wordpress, Blogger, or Write.as. I knew that the file would be small, the words would look good, and maybe just maybe someone would take the time to explore my site and come to appreciate these little stories I shared oh so many years ago.

I think we ought to try and make some of our writing more permanent. I know complaining about the newest movie release or the latest sport score isn't something you may want to reflect on ten years from now, but there are those good stories that come from your heart, soul, and memory that deserve a more permanent home. And as much as I love blogging, I just don't think it's right avenue for archiving.

Well, I've been teasing it over the past month, but I'm finally ready to reveal my new homepage: Brandon's Journal.

The site was designed with HTML and is/will be in constant construction. I think for the longest time, I've felt like I had to be finished with something in order to share it, but I realize when working on a site like this the work is never done. There's always something to add or tweak and maybe I won't work on it daily, but I've been tinkering and rebuilding this site for over five years now. It's time to allow the world to enjoy it.

The idea is that Brandon's Journal will act as a home page that hosts various articles, old blogs, and stuff I'd just like to keep. That way I'm free to blog all that I want with no distractions.

I hope you'll check out the site and maybe even bookmark like we used to do back in the day. Check back and visit from time-to-time and see what new I've added. Just be sure to hit refresh whenever you pop on by so that you get the latest updates.

2021 has been one bitch of a year. Starting around March, everything fell apart. I don't want to go into all the details, because I've definitely spent way too much time complaining and processing those feelings and thoughts throughout the year, but let's just say it was tough.

Then almost like the skies opening up, things have gotten better. Slowly... one thing at a time, things have been improving. Things aren't back to the way they were say in February, nor do they look like they will get that way anytime soon, but things are on the up. It feels like our luck has finally taken a turn for the better.

Earlier today, I was journaling when a quote came to mind from The Big Lebowski.

The Dude is asked how he's doing and he replies:

“Oh you know, strikes and gutters, ups and downs.”

I always loved this quote and its such an interesting way to respond to such an effortless question that is asked over and over throughout the day. And as I was journaling about the change in the things outside of our control, this quote emerged.

I could easily say we've been bowling gutter balls the past few months. It's been tough and our scorecard has been low, but it seems like we are throwing a few more strikes right now. Our average is going up and in doing so its bringing our general uneasiness into contentment and I like that.

So, I guess I'm writing this for anyone who is going through a tough time. Just remember strikes and gutters. Sometimes its totally out of your control and you just gotta go with the flow.

-The Wannabe Dude Out

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