Prompted

I’ve been playing with my new hobby: generative AI art.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say about this in the coming weeks; I’m going to be doing a deep dive into the machine learning models and applications over the next week or so. I don’t think most people really understand these natural language prompt systems are going to have on us over the next months and years. Artists understand, yes, some of them, but tools like DALL-e, Stable Diffusion, Midjourney, and GPT have gotten much better over the last year or two, and they’re quality — but not tooling — have reached commercial and production quality.

Some of these models have already been put into use for video upscaling. Think VHS to 4k conversions, for example. And some of the things being done with virtual humans… zoinks.

There’s a lot of music generation going on that’s just scary. There are many companies out there offering song generation on demand. I’ve got several bookmarked that allow you varying levels of customization parameters to prompt your own house music track, for example. I’ll be combining one of those with the SD video I rendered last night.

The use of these models for brainstorming is immense, and overwhelming. I was working on a new song last week when I started messing around with these audio platforms.

It almost makes artistry obsolete. Coming up with ideas is trivial now, just push the button and you’ve got something unique. Using it as a starting point and mixing in various prompted results in manual and automated ways is going to be an artform of its own in a decade, maybe next year.

Head down

So school has started, the girls have been back for a few days and it’s amazing how much I’ve been getting done with them away. No longer interrupted constantly with the clamor in the other rooms, fighting, or requests for food, I’m actually able to sit down for twenty-five minutes without interruption. It’s glorious. I’m actually getting things done that I need to, to the point where I’m getting to a point where I actually don’t know what to do with myself.

I’ve been working off of a pomodoro timer, twenty-five minutes at a time, with a couple five minute breaks between them, then a fifteen minute break after a few cycles. It works, focuses me to stop task switching in the middle of whatever I’m doing, when those little mental distractions pop up in the middle of work.

I’m spending a good deal of my day in Clickup, managing the upcoming release for the dao, as well as planning the next one some months off. I actually started doing their courses, just so I can be on top of everything they have to offer. One of the issues I have right now is that a lot of the development pipeline seems to be split between Notion, which has been built up by the creative team as a database of sorts, and Clickup, which seems to be the actual task management system for the devs. So while we have requirements documents and project planning in Notion, the actual work is getting done in Clickup. So I’m trying a new approach for our v0.3 release and doing all the work in Clickup. Their docs system seems as robust as Notion’s, and it also allows me to cut out Google Docs as well.

The little five minute breaks are important as well, I think, to manage my energy. I brought my guitar downstairs so that I can fill those moments with some picking exercises, or working on songs. I’m still practicing piano every day, working on All of Me right now, as well as the beat pad. I’ve been playing around with GarageBand, Live and other programs, just messing around and trying to figure out how to compose using these tools. It’s a lot different than when I would just write a song on the guitar and write lyrics for it. Working with the keyboard and various instruments requires a lot more work to be able to live loop or mix songs on the fly. We’ll see where it goes.

We ended our summer with a trip out to the lake. It was a bit too hot, so we spent some time swimming in the lake and fried some hot dogs on the grill along with some fresh zucchini and eggplant from the garden. I had taken our bikes with us, so I did a loop around the sweeping gravel driveway that looped around the lake. It was fun, so I took Younger on a ride. After a short, somewhat easy uphill climb, we were able to coast down a ways at a brisk pace. We got to the second run, which was steeper, and I encouraged Younger to go first but she wanted me to go, so I did. It was fast, and as I got to the bottom of the hill I looked back and saw that Younger had wiped out. I bailed and ran back up the hill. She was hurt bad.

I’m not sure how she dumped herself, but she had fallen on her side and knocked her forehead directly into the rocky gravel. She was wearing a helmet, fuck all that it did. She had a gash directly in her forehead, and a goose egg was already swelling. Panic. I picked her up, threw her bike off the road, and started carrying her back to the RV. It was a good quarter mile, maybe more, but I tried to soothe her and carried her the entire way.

Missus doctored her up, we had first aid kits and ice, but I had to walk back to where I had left both bikes and walk them back. I felt like such an asshole for letting her get messed up like that. I didn’t push her to do it by any means, but I should have known that she didn’t have the riding experience on such terrain like I did. There was a good half hour where I thought we were going to have to leave and take her to the doctor, but Missus was able to calm her down and she was able to spend the rest of the night laying around watching TV.

After that episode was over, we actually were able to relax. After the sun went down things cooled off, and we were able to see the stars like I hadn’t seen in years. Away from the light pollution of the city, I was able to see every star in the sky, including the Milky Way. I managed to get Elder out to look at them for a bit, as I was fairly certain she’d never been out in the dark woods to see a view like that before.

The next morning we packed up and came home, then Monday we sent them to school, Younger with a huge, bruised contusion on her forehead.

Exhale

Today’s Friday, and I’m feeling better today. I forced myself to bed last night even though I wasn’t feeling drowsy, and tossed and turned until after one, brain giving me todos and thinking about work. One very critical thing did pop to my mind that warranted a reminder for this morning: funds in an untouched IRA wallet that should be awaiting me, salvage from the Perpetual Protocol v1 crash. Could be tens of thousands of USDC that I should have put into BTC as I did with the salvage from my regular account.

I’ve been attempting to buy an entire bitcoin the past few weeks, since the bottom dropped out of the market I’ve been aggressively throwing setting stinkbid limit orders up on FTX. I still have them, all the way down to 18k, but I doubt we’ll be seeing that price action anytime soon. Every time we run up I set more orders, 22050, 23050, and so on, trying to catch any dips. I’ve still got cash orders, and am more than halfway to my goal.

I find I don’t have the energy to keep up with everything as I did before. I’m sure not as active as I was during the last bull, aping into anything and everything. I’m not even interested in what’s going on outside of the ETH merge and SOL development. There’s just too much to worry about, and Star Atlas has enough going on there to keep me busy.

Speaking of work, I’m trying to step up my PM game. The ATLAS locker is almost out of my hands at this point, so I’m turning my attention to the proposals system and everything that encompases. Since we’re not under any pressure to deliver that, I’ve got a bit of room to sit back and think about the overall product pipeline, and flesh out my process. We mainly work out of two apps, Notion and ClickUp. Rather, I should say that the engineers work out of Clickup, but it seems that RevOps and most of the game development planning goes into Notion. Sometimes it feels like my job is literally copying and pasting from one to the other, but that’s not quite the full story.

I had lots of ideas last night that I need to add to my various backlogs. Plus I plan on cooking hibachi for the neighbors, since they fed the girls earlier this week. I got pounds of chicken, shrimp, and steak, and bought everything to make yum yum sauce and fried rice. Thankfully I only have one meeting today.

Eeyore

It’s been a while since I’ve sat in this chair, but I’ve been going slightly crazy and I guess I need to talk to somebody, even if it’s only myself.

Missus has been out of town since Sunday, on one of her Union-related activities. She’s been 100% for the last week, and I’m feeling 100% certifiable. I kid. I can’t count how many times I’ve yelled or lost my temper at the kids. They are doing their damndest to drive me insane, with what seems like constant bickering. Younger especially seems intent on testing boundaries. I vaguely remember Elder going through this and it driving me over the edge. I’m trying to handle it.

Working with them in the house has always been particularly tough, I remember COVID vividly. And work has taken a particularly serious tone lately, with some overdue airing of grievances and growth pains related to scaling. So I’m doubly stressed. I’ve turned into Eeyore.

It’s incredibly difficult to leave them (the children) to their own devices. Both of them gravitate toward the lowest common denominator of media, Elder to YouTube videos of Lord knows what idiot, and Elder tends to gravitate to sitcoms full of idiots. They’re already up half an hour or more before I wake up and they’re already at it, and there’s hell to pay when I ask them to put it down and find something else to do for a few hours. I’ve stuffed this house full of books, games, toys, musical instruments, and tons of activity books, crafts and so on.

We have had our moments though. Usually Younger gives me a very hard time at bedtime, she always reaches a point where she’s done with me reading her books and runs out of the room to get her mother, who lays with her in the dark until she falls asleep. I’ve managed to put her to sleep by reading An Incredible Journey, the classic book about two dogs and a cat, and I only need to read a page or two to her before she falls right out. It’s nice, and it feels good to be able to read the words and have my voice calm her, instead of the refereeing or mediation that I have to do.

I have not been taking good care of myself — obviously, it’s been over a week since I’ve sat here. The only exercise I’ve had the last week was cutting the grass, so I decided to go to the rock gym today. Of course the tunnel was backed up, and what should have been a twenty-five minute trip across was extended by an hour, mostly bumper to bumper as we tried to traverse the quarter mile to the on-ramp. Curse me.

We got there, eventually, and I had a somewhat middling session, since I was having to run back and forth every attempt or two to keep an eye on the girls. But I’m impressed. Elder is giving it a try, and is doing well, but she seems to be do a mostly head-on, centered approach to it, compared to her sister who seems to have picked up something of climbing’s natural hip-shifting, fluid movements.

The main source of frustration I seem to be having is the lack of flow. Now, with them in bed it’s not a problem, but every minute they’re awake that I’m trying to work I’m either getting interrupted every five minutes or feeling guilty because I’ve been letting them watch too much TV.

The good news is that they’ll be back in school in three weeks or so. The bad news is that Missus comes home late Saturday, then leaves again on Wednesday for another four days out of town. She’ll only be forty minutes away this time, and we’ll be able to visit her, but still, I may need to disappear completely when she gets back.

Busted

I’ve been dealing with a knee injury for the last week, a bouldering accident. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, it was near the beginning of my session and I walked it off pretty quickly. I knocked my right kneecap on a volume or something, I don’t remember. I do remember having a really good session though. I did several V4s that I was surprised I was able to complete, including one that involved a high step on my right foot, hip to the wall. It was a lot of torque, almost like a one-legged squat, but I was able to apply some counter pressure with my hands. I felt strong as shit.

I finished the session on a 5.10 on the top rope. I really pushed myself, it was really hard and my forearms were absolutely crushed, but I sent it. I got home late and hopped into the shower and came out to find a golf-ball sized swollen lump on my right kneecap. I iced it and took some ibuprofen and it came down, but it’s been bothering me for the last week.

Apparently I have knee bursitis, and inflammation of one of the fluid-filled sacs that protects the kneecap. It’s a huge mess. My knee has multiple bruises on it, in addition to the blistery spot on the kneecap, I’ve seemingly got a bruise that runs through my knee, starting on the front outside left and ending on the back outside right. It’s almost like I got shot through with an arrow. I’ve got most of my functionality back at this point, but the bursa is still tender and I’m hesitant to go back to the gym and risk fucking it up worse. It looks like these things can take two to six weeks to heal, so I’m going to wait another day and assess whether I should go back.

I did some research, and it seems that bouldering causes more knee injuries that top rope or trad climbing. ACL tears are common in bouldering from unexpected falls, but the high step, heel hooks and drop knee moves also cause problems. In my case, I know I had direct trauma to the knee cap, but I don’t think that explains the extent of the bruising, but who knows.

I really enjoy bouldering and I love pushing myself, but I’ve got to acknowledge that I’m not a spring chicken anymore. I’ve gotten other scratches, scrapes, bruises and pulled muscles while climbing, and the best thing I can do if I want to keep up with my new hobby is wait and give my body time to heal. I’ve been getting lots of sleep, and haven’t been active other than mowing the yard. I did some squats this morning, and I’ve been doing some stretching exercises to try and work my bum leg. Hopefully I’ll be healed up and ready to get back on the wall tomorrow.

Reset

Doing my best to get back on track with my Atomic Habits. Now that the Star Atlas Dao launch is over the team has a little bit of breathing room, which means I have no excuse for anything.

Step one of course in my plan is sleep, and making sure I get to bed at a decent hour. So I picked up some CBD gummies while I was out shopping for the girls yesterday and popped one last night. They’ve got melatonin in them, so turned out the lights at 10:30 and was asleep seven minutes later. Best quality sleep I’ve gotten in weeks probably.

So I managed to get up at seven and meditated for the first time in a while. And now I’m here journaling. So far so good.

I have to take Elder to sleep-away camp in an hour, so it’ll be lunch time before I’m back at the house and able to focus on work. I might have enough time to plan the rest of my day before I leave, but I doubt I’ll have time to do a pomodoro.

I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with Younger this week. Left to herself, she’d probably just watch TV all day, so I need to find activities for her to do, to give her alternatives. I wouldn’t mind sending her to the neighbors, but I don’t want to impose. Speaking of the neighbors, we let the girls have a sleepover Saturday night. It did not go well. Younger has been begging us to let her friend sleep over, and we did, but it seems her friend was more interested in playing with Elder than Younger, so she was feeling a bit left out and sensitive. Sunday was rough, I don’t think either of the girls got enough sleep the night before, but I took them to their auntie’s house for a couple hours at the pool.

I spent most of the weekend playing Tarkov and failing miserably at PVP. I also spent a notable amount of time playing piano. I re-subscribed to Playground Sessions — it actually uses notation and has popular songs, as opposed to Melodics which uses the player piano style and has original music for the lessons. I’d rather build up my sight-reading capabilities, so I wanted to give it a shot. I never really used it when I was trying to get Elder interested in the instrument, so I’m using it for myself and learning to play All of Me on it now. I’m making good progress.

Younger seems to have a genuine interest in playing music, so I’m trying to encourage that. She’s been making her own songs up, freestyling acapella, so I spent some time with her yesterday while Elder was packing. She wants to play the piano and do the lessons, but when I try to talk to her about fingering she gets frustrated and then we start fighting. We did have a pretty good jam session, I broke out a couple of guitars that I had in storage, and the three of us had a nice little jam session. I had Amplify Studio running on the girl’s computer and my Mac, the latter of which was hooked up to the digital piano. Elder was messing around with one of the guitars, and Younger had the microphone. It was great fun.

I told Missus I didn’t want to drink this week. I’ve spent a lot of money on beer, going through a six pack or more of high-dollar IPAs. Some of them are twelve or fourteen dollars a pack, and it’s a bit much, both for my pocket book and my liver. So I’m going to see if I can get a permit for the local cannabis dispensary. Enough dealing with people on the street, I’ll just get the medical grade stuff from the dispensary and be done with it. I’ve known about it for over a year, but never went through with the process because I assumed that they wouldn’t give me one, but I’ve made up my mind. If I had to choose between alcohol and cannabis, I would easily choose cannabis.

Daily notes

It’s the second day that the girls have been at camp. Elder is doing overnight camp and I’ve been driving Younger to day camp. The location is about 40 minutes away, so I’ve been spending a lot of time driving. I had originally planned on getting a spot at a co-working space near the camp, but traffic was good Monday morning and so I decided to go home. It was $25 a day to get the spot, and I wasn’t looking forward to sitting at some strange office for eight hours all week and dealing with all that, so I just drove home. It’ll cost me an extra $50 or so in gas, and as long as traffic isn’t bad I don’t mind driving. I’m catching up on my podcast feeds anyways.

We’ve got just over 48 hours until the big launch event at work, and everything is coming together. I’ve almost wrapped up my KB articles, and besides a few minor changes to the presentation, I’m almost wrapped up. The web and blockchain teams are just chugging along, and looks like we’re going to have everything that we need ready for the launch. We’re pushing a couple things out a week that aren’t needed for Thursday, but overall things are pretty chill. Everyone’s busy, of course, but there’s no panic or anything around potential failures or anything like that. Everything is going well.

Missus is at the office today. She’s got two more weeks till she’s done with her work as a social worker and will be full-time union August 1st. We’re both really looking forward to it.

My friend T stopped by yesterday, we had dinner and messed around with Melodics. I wound up giving him my M-Audio keyboard. The kids haven’t been using it, and I’ve got my Mac working with the piano now. I’ve been thinking about getting a year subscription to Playground Sessions. Melodics is good, but it doesn’t teach sight reading, at least traditional notation. I’m not sure what you call the player piano type slot notation, but I want to train that brain muscle better.

I’m hoping to get to the rock gym today. I went Sunday with Younger and they had most of the bouldering area setup with new routes, and I want to work on them some more. I did a V4 or two, which I think is the best I’ve done, but there are still V1s and 2s that I haven’t been able to do. Need to work on my upper body strength. Been getting better at pullups and hanging at the playground, but I’m not where I want to be.

Sleep-away

So Elder is going off on her first sleep-away camp this afternoon. After she gets back from church I’ll be driving her out to the Girl Scout camp and dropping her off. She’s done a weekend camping trip with her troop before, but I don’t think there will be anyone she knows at this one. She spent yesterday packing her bags, she’s bringing a lot of stuff. They told her to pack eight changes of clothes and a laundry list of stuff, her suitcases are filled to the brim.

I didn’t want Younger to feel left out, so I booked her for day camp. It’s a forty-five minute drive each way, so I’m trying to figure out if anyone else in the area is making the trip, but I’m probably the only idiot that did this. I’m really not looking forward to driving ninety minutes a day to taxi her around, but having the house empty of kids during working hours could be worth it.

Next week is going to be a critical one for work. Everyone has been busy as hell getting ready for this 426Live event. I can’t say much more than that. We’ve been in crunch mode for the last couple weeks, and besides a bit of wet paint following the event, we should be able to go back into a more relaxed tempo once that’s over. I’ve got a lot of work to do this week, then I need to focus more on being an actual product/project manager. I’ve been neglecting it lately.

I’ve been neglecting things around the house as well. I’ve just been doing the bare minimum on upkeep. I haven’t really been working on the projects I have around here, like taking care of this mining rig that is sitting on the table behind me. It needs to be disassembled, cleaned up, and disposed or sold. Problem is the price on graphics cards is so low right now it’s not even worth the cost. I always sucked at timing the market. I should have sold them a year ago. Buy high, sell low.

Missus is doing well. Two more weeks and she’s officially one-hundred percent union and no longer beholden to the management and bureaucracy of the VA hospital. It looks like she might also get that special dispensation for telework. Meaning she’ll be in control of her own schedule and able to stay home. I can already tell the difference in her mood, and she helps out with the girls and the housework when she has breaks. She’s also been shopping for new windows, trying to figure out how she can put twenty thousand dollars on her credit card so she can get a Southwest Companion Pass so that we can travel with a free plane ticket.

I’ve been maintaining. I haven’t been as physically active. It’s too hot to run much, although I did get out to run Friday morning. Haven’t broken a ten-minute mile lately. I had a number of injuries from climbing that have finally healed up, scabs and bruises are finally gone. I’m playing music, trying to make a daily practice of playing piano and the beat pad. I just got an adapter that lets me plug my Macbook up to the piano, which has nicer action than my M-Audio keyboard. The girls aren’t as enthusiastic about it, but maybe that’ll change. I actually broke the guitar out this week. I’ve had Running Up That Hill stuck in my head constantly and found a cover from this guitar duo that I wanted to pick up. It’s a simple song, mostly built around a iii-II-I progression in the key of B. Very similar to All Along The Watchtower with a few differences. Makes me wonder what other songs use that, but quick search turns up nil.

I’ve been using this online Pomodoro timer to use with work. It’s not motivating me, but it is adding a bit of disciple that helps me break through the procrastination. It helps me stay focused on the task, and sometimes I even stick to the short 5-minute breaks. It depends whether I’m doing stuff I enjoy or not. Doing 25 minutes in Melodics on the keys, then taking a break before doing another session on pads is easy, but when I’m working on a work presentation that takes me four hours to do I might cheat a little bit.

I’ve been playing Tarkov constantly, haven’t even opened any other games. The PMC runs are still terrifying, filled with moments of terror as I slowly walk through the maps at night, listening for the sounds of other players or scavs running through the woods next to me. The scav runs aren’t bad at all, but it feels like most of my time is spent playing Tetris in my hideout. I finally hit level 15 this week and unlocked the flea market, so I’m building out my hideout as much as possible, using scavs for loot runs and running quests with my PMCs. I’m actually handicapping my PMC as much as possible, running around Woods with a bolt-action rifle, trying to pop off headshots from a distance. It’s a bit of a problem when I run into other PMCs up close — I’m not good at no-scoping headshots, but I’m running cheap rigs so I just load up and go back out. I’m getting to the point now with some of the quest lines where I’m going to start taking some of my better gear. And today is my regular Sunday play sessions with my brother, and it’s time to go.

Whooped

So I pushed myself yesterday. My Whoop said I was at 98% recovery, so I knew I had to do something intense. I hadn’t had a score in the 90s in weeks, so I had no excuses. It was really hot yesterday, running was out of the question, so I decided to do some mountain biking. There’s a park about half an hour from here that has a trail that I’d never done before, and I knew it was a bit advanced for the girls, so I went to go check it out.

It kicked my ass. I guess I should say that I kicked its ass, really, all seven plus miles of it. It did wear me down, I had to stop several times because my heart was racing, but I only think I walked the bike up one or two short sections. There were tons of fast sloping downhills that made it totally worth it. The first three miles were the toughest, as it probably got the most traffic; lots of exposed roots that made it a very rough ride. Once I cleared the switchback though it was a lot smoother, and there was a fast gliding section around mile five that didn’t require any pedaling. I went late in the day, before sundown, and it got a bit too dark for my first time out there, and I rode through countless spider webs, but it was exhilarating and I’m really glad I made it.

The rest of my day wasn’t as productive. Elder gave me a hard time as soon as she woke up, fighting with her sister. Younger gave me a hard time going down to bed, so there’s that. Elder also got accepted in the pre-algebra program for fifth grade, and we got a message from her school that we need to get her up to speed on her fifth grade math before the school year starts. So I told her that she needs to do IXL for twenty-five minutes a day and she did not like that and threw one of her fits. Missus said that we needed to give her some positive reinforcement, so I took her to DQ so that she could redeem a coupon she got as a reward from the library reading program.

Today I have some deep work on the schedule, although I’m not sure quite what my priority is for work. Personally, I’m way behind on our budget and need to get that, but my work focus is on shipping the dao.

Reality check

Fourth of July weekend was pretty nice. We went to my friend C’s house yesterday. He lives in this bougie neighborhood. Maybe Cleaver-esque is a better description. The neighborhood throws this parade, it was a firetruck, classic cars, and a bunch of families on bikes decked out with red, white, and blue. After it’s over they have hot dogs and pizza, and lots of sweets. It started at eleven so we had to leave the house a bit early, dragging Elder out the door. It was hot but after the event we made our way to C’s house, where we laid out by the pool for most of midday. Left early and got back to the house where Missus could relax and watch her shows, the rest of us played video games.

I was not very productive over the break. I cut the grass, spent as much time playing with the girls as I could, and spent the rest of the time playing Tarkov. My brother found a co-worker who plays, and I joined their Discord server where there was a pretty regular group of people playing.

I did manage to keep the girls from trashing the house. Well, for the most part up until yesterday. The place is in a bit of disarray right now, so they’re going to have to do some cleanup before they can watch screens. I was just about to say how I’m lucky my Monday morning schedule is light, but I just realized it’s Tuesday.