Monday, August 29, 2011

One Year At Longtail Studios

Welcome to your new home.

I remember stepping out of the Halifax Airport with my luggage.  I remember it being a foggy night in a city I didn’t know.  I remember the extreme discomfort that came with knowing I wasn’t coming back to this airport in a few days or a week to depart.  I was in this unknown city, shrouded in fog, to stay.  I remember wondering if I’d made a mistake.

My first day at Longtail Studios was one year ago today.  When I stop and think about it I still can’t believe it’s been that long.  And then when I think about it again, I can’t believe it hasn’t been longer!

I remember that first day walking to the lobby and calling from the outside phone to get someone to let me in.  John, the Producer, set me up and my desk and told me what my first tasks would be, setting up a bug database and rolling it out to the team.  I was so intimidated.

I remember my first few months in Halifax I was crazy homesick for Winnipeg, which was weird since I hadn’t lived in Winnipeg in 2 years.  I remember there was a hotel ad in the elevator that listed all its locations, and one of them was Winnipeg, and just seeing the written word would always give me a pang of longing.

I remember waiting for my car and belongings to ship from Edmonton, staying in the corporate hotel in the meantime with a few coworkers I didn’t know yet.  I felt so overwhelmed I just hid out in my room the first few days watching tv on my iPad.

I remember first seeing the apartment I’d foolishly lined up without doing much research and quickly realizing it’d been unwise.

I remember my first real crunch during the final stretch of our last project.  I’d done crunch at BioWare, but nothing like this.  I didn’t need to go so intense on the hours, but I wanted to prove myself.  Not just to others but to myself.

Last one at the office.

Thankfully as the year went on things got better, and as I gained momentum a lot of good started to show itself.  I moved in to a nicer place, I caught up on my bills and suddenly got to enjoy the salary I was now making, I started making friends at work, etc.

I can’t believe it’s been a year.  One year ago I was excited to be starting at Longtail Studios as QA Lead, finally having a fulltime salary position.  And in only 1 year I’ve begun to make the transition to the Design department.  I haven’t actually done any QA work in months, it’s been passed off to someone else.  Getting an official promotion to Design would be a pretty big accomplishment for me, especially considering just over a year ago my goal was just to get a fulltime position, period.  And I can’t announce anything until it’s officially official, but let’s just say a pretty big blog entry will be coming very soon…

It’s been a big year, with some major ups and downs.  But I’m proud of myself.  Back in Edmonton, as Longtail began to look like a reality, I was overcome with fears and doubts.  I had those doubts echoed to me in the doubts of others, but I had to believe in myself and follow through.  This ended up being the biggest challenge of my life.  I moved to Edmonton on a whim, and stumbled into working at BioWare.  I was never given much responsibility there, despite fighting for it pretty hard by the end.  Moving to Halifax, on the other hand, was deliberate; there was no room for stumbling.  And after the initial intimidation that came with the responsibility, I flourished.

Longtail has constantly challenged me.  Every time I begin to get comfortable with where I am, I’m given more opportunity and encouragement to progress.  I’m constantly taking on new responsibilities, and learning new things.  I’m growing accustomed to the pace.  Change used to scare me, but that held me back.  Longtail has been pure opportunity for me, and I’ve learned to seize it.

It took some dedication and time to see it, but I realize now moving here for this job was the best investment I’ve ever made. It was an investment in myself.  And it’s paying off.  I’ve come so far in just a year, both professionally and personally.  I love my job, and I’m incredibly thankful to Longtail for all the opportunities it’s lavished me with.  I’m extremely excited for my future with the studio, and the continued growth it offers me. 

I can now say with absolute certainty, just over a year ago, when I stepped out of that airport into the fog, it was not a mistake.  It may have been hard to see through the mist, but there was a promising future ahead of me, and it’s still only beginning.

Longtail Studios

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Supporters by notme2000
Supporters, a photo by notme2000 on Flickr.
My Dad texted me this pic of him and my bro wearing DA2 shirts. They were having a BBQ at the lake. Miss them :(

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Health & Narcissism

Fair warning, this entire entry is about fitness and health, nothing else.

About a year and a half ago I’d been in Edmonton for about a year, working at BioWare.  I had just uploaded this picture to Facebook:

My biggest: 176

Kristina pointed out I’d put on some weight.  She’s good for giving you her honest opinion and I truly appreciated it, because until that moment I somehow hadn’t realized it.  I must have been in major denial, somehow I hadn’t realized when I bought pants they were size 34 now, not 32 like they used to be.  When I compared newer pictures with older ones like the one below, it became clear I’d put on weight…  And become less emo.

An old self-portrait

I weighed myself at 176.  I don’t know how much I weighed in Winnipeg, but I think I remember it being like 140 (I was thin but scrawny, no muscle).  So in the year and a bit since I’d moved to Edmonton and started working at BioWare I’d put on almost 40 pounds!  I’d heard others talk of the “BioWare 40”…  And it was all fat, definitely not muscle.  If anything I may have lost some muscle.  I thought about it: In Winnipeg I worked fulltime at Rogers Video, a job that required you to be on your feet all day, for 8 hours, running around helping customers etc.  My feet and legs were always tired at the end of a shift.  On top of that I went on long walks all the time in Winnipeg, sometimes 2 hours long around the city with my headphones on.

In Edmonton I worked at BioWare, a desk job.  I went for lunch with my friends every day, and it was rarely healthy.  Then I drove home, never going on any walks, or really any kind of activity.  In fact I’d gotten into the habit of picking up fast food every day on the way home…  It was clear I’d need to make a major lifestyle change if I wanted to break this trend.  And it wasn’t as simple as returning to how I lived in Winnipeg, since working at a desk made it kind of hard to get in the 8 hours of standing and walking I did at Rogers Video.  This would need to be a conscious effort with some real sacrifice.

At first I didn’t really know what I was doing.  I started the P90x cardio program, but my diet was still pretty bad.  I was also impatient.  I thought I must be doing it wrong when I didn’t lost more than a pound after my first week.  When Chad moved to Edmonton he decided he wanted to get in better shape too, so we both got free memberships at the gym in the hotel BioWare shared the building with. 

Cardio with Chad!Chad was all about strength training.  That had been how he lost all the weight the first time, so why not do it again?  I trusted his judgement and went along, but I was really self conscious about how weak I was, and I also knew it was going to be a while before I saw results.  In the end I decided I wanted to focus on cardio and diet to lose weight faster, and figured maybe some day down the road I’d get into weight training.

Once I focussed on cardio and went all out with it I began seeing results fast.  I was losing 2-4 pounds a week.  I was doing an hour of cardio 6 days a week, up to 1100 calories at a time.  My diet had changed and was much healthier.  I was definitely still doing some things wrong though.  I was starving myself a bit more than was healthy, especially combined with cardio.  But the results were motivating.

Down to 160!

By the time things at BioWare were coming to an end and I was prepping for the move to Halifax I was down to 160.  I’d lost 14 pounds in 2 months.  Not bad!

Once I got to Halifax I was stressed out, and my lifestyle started to slip.  No more gym, my diet got worse, etc.  But when I finally found a scale to weigh myself I found I was 155.  I’d continued to lose weight, despite it all.  That meant even with a bit of a slip, my lifestyle was still better than in Edmonton, so my weight was still slowly adjusting to a better lifestyle.

I eventually got a membership at a gym down the road from Longtail, but with the long hours I was working, the fact that I was bussing home instead of driving, and the dark winter nights, I didn’t end up going very often.  But I was making more money than I ever had, so I decided to just go buy my own elliptical.  Once I got that I started doing cardio at least 4 times a week, and improved my diet once again.  But after almost 2 months I’d only lost 3 pounds, down to 152.  After losing 24 pounds through cardio and diet, it was beginning to feel like I’d plateaued.


And that brings us to present day.  I’m in the best shape I’ve been in since Winnipeg, I can fit back into all the clothes from those days, but still not quite to the form I had.  I still have a gut when I sit, though substantially smaller than at my worst.  When I stand it’s easy enough to suck it in.  But I want better.  I want even better than I looked in Winnipeg!  The success of losing 24 pounds has made me realize the body is a machine, and with some willpower, if you put in the work, you’ll get the results.  Period.

That being said, I’ve lost all the weight I’m going to on my current lifestyle.  My moderately healthier diet and cardio isn’t giving me results anymore.  At this rate I’d lose maybe 4-5 pounds a year, probably less.  So unless I want to increase my cardio to take up every free moment it’s time to take a new approach.  Like I said in Edmonton, when the time came I’d do strength training.

WeightsSo earlier this week I bought a small weight kit and some other equipment for 70$,  I’ve improved my diet even further, and I also changed how I do my cardio, combining cardio with a decent leg workout.

My new plan:

  • Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays are my work out days.  I alternate muscles to allow them time to heal.  In between days are for resting and healing.
  • Tuesdays are shoulders and biceps.  Thursdays are triceps, back and chest.  Sundays are core (abdominal area) workouts.
  • After about 30-40 minutes of the weight training I then do my new, more extreme cardio on the elliptical. 
  • New cardio:  Instead of just running on lowest settings for an hour, I go the complete other way.  I increase the incline to full and alter between 3/4 and full resistance for 45 minutes.  I burn calories much faster this way, and I’m giving my leg muscles a more legit workout then just low-intensity jogging.  I’m dripping in sweat and my legs are burning by the time I’m done.
  • After the cardio I immediately do one last set of weight training exercises to muscle failure and then shower!
  • Much better diet (details later in this post).

I’ve really taken it to a new level.  This is much more extreme than the old plan.  Before I just ran until my body had to burn fat.  I’m still doing that, but also adding muscle all over my body.  Muscle burns more calories, meaning I’ll raise my natural metabolism and burn fat while I’m sitting at my desk at work.

I’ve also begun to make another big diet change, the biggest since my first one back in Edmonton.  No more starving myself all day only to gorge on snacks in the evening.  I’m eating 3-4 smaller meals a day, and healthy meals.  For example, lunch today was a medium sized chicken pita on whole wheat with very light mayo, spinach, bean sprouts, tomatoes and cucumbers!  Next time I go grocery shopping I’m buying 80% fresh.  WAY too much of what I eat has predominantly come out of a box or bag.  No more!  So from now on it’ll be largely lean chicken breast, sliced deli turkey, salmon, brown rice, etc..  I’ll thaw and cook it myself.  My cheat day of the week will be Saturdays, if I’m really craving some junk food with my videogames, or a pizza, etc.

Back to size 32!Losing 24 pounds in under a year took a lot of hard work, but it felt great.  Recently I tried on my old Edmonton pants, and that really made me realize what I’d accomplished.  Success breeds confidence, and I’m confident this is exactly what I needed to break through this plateau and begin another year long success story.  And so far I’m enjoying this next level of healthier living.  It will be weird to watch the scale go up now though, since I’ll be putting on muscle, which weighs more than fat.  Hopefully by this time next year though I’ll look the best I ever have!  Wish my luck!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I constantly come across great photos, links, videos etc.  I want to share them but I don’t want to spam Facebook, Twitter or my blog.  So I finally caved and started a Tumblr account.  It’s not a blog, I don’t write anything more than a mini-description of some of the links.  This is my blog, this is where I write and post things relating to my life.  My Tumblr account is for random crap I find.  So if you’re ever bored and want to see random cool photos, videos and links, head on over!  And if you have a Tumblr account too, follow me!


Monday, August 15, 2011



“The world is given to me only once, not one existing and one perceived.” - Erwin Schrödinger

Taking a chance is often an intimidating task.  All possible outcomes race through your mind.  Each play out simultaneously, indefinite until measured.  It’s easy to leave it to theory, to chalk it up to superposition and move on with your life.  Giving something that matters a definitive state can be a scary thing.  But they say the only things you live to regret are the risks you didn’t take.

Over the past few years I’ve learned betting on myself pays off more often than it doesn’t.  As success bred confidence I found it easier and easier to take a chance on myself.  And my life is so much better for it.  But this lesson was learned so late!  I can't help but reflect on all the chances I never took.  My life is filled with regret.  So many parallel lives playing out simultaneously in my mind, lives that could have been, should have been.

So many chances to shine were spent hiding in the dark.  So many ambitions silenced under my own guard.  Too many dreams of my youth never made their way to my waking life.  I've loved, but never took the chance they might love me back. Most of them never even knew.  I imagine a life where I told every girl, took every chance, and risked for every reward.  A world where every possibility was sparked into existence through my observation.  I’d have gained more than I lost.  I’d have taken 2 steps forward for every step back.  I’d ride the wave of probability.  Who knows how far I’d be if I hadn’t waited so long to open the box.

I’m still young, despite being the oldest I’ve ever been.  I can go forward with this knowledge, and try not to repeat the mistakes that haunt me still.  But they will haunt me forever.  I may never forgive myself.  Regret is the most diabolical of mechanisms.

Growing up, it seems, is the collapse of possibility into the reality.  Better late than never.  If we don’t take risks, life ends up being nothing more than a thought experiment.  So many dualities denied any kind of fate, left for eternity in limbo.  Parallel lives, both living and dead.  And neither.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Ghosts In Space

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” – Carl Sagan

Nine Inch Nails. Saturn in cold empty space. Happy Monday.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

It Takes An Ocean Not To Break

A new playlist today.  This one is all indie this time around.  Some really great stuff in this one, I think!  I’m trying out Tim’s idea of having a youtube playlist with all the songs.  This way you can give them a listen before you download.  But there will be some missing songs since not every song is on youtube.  Of course you can still
download the playlist as well!  Here we go:

  1. Battles – Ice Cream
  2. Walk The Moon – Anna Sun
  3. Foster The People – Houdini
  4. Funeral Party – Finale
  5. Yeasayer – Swallowing The Decibels
  6. Sleigh Bells – Rill Rill
  7. Walk The Moon – I Can Lift A Car
  8. Foster The People – Hustling (Life On The Nickel)
  9. Foster The People – Pumped Up Kicks
  10. frYars – Our Father
  11. The Books Ft. Jose Gonzales – Cello Song (Nick Drake Cover)
  12. Dog & Panther – Love Make
  13. Walk The Moon – Iscariot
  14. Yeasayer – Crazy (Seal Cover)
  15. Bon Iver – Calgary
  16. Dog & Panther – The Hungry
  17. Iron & Wine – Walking Far From Home
  18. Foster The People – Helena Beat
  19. Manchester Orchestra – Simple Math
  20. The National – Terrible Love
  21. Bon Iver – Beth/Rest

If you only watch one video, watch the video for Manchester Orchestra – Simple Math.  Powerful!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Abstract Artform – I Am Canadian

Back in Winnipeg in my teen years I was good friends with a guy named Shea.  Very talented and ambitious.  He is now known for his work in Abstract Artform, his hiphop project which is getting noticed by the Canadian hip hop scene.  I’ve posted a video of his before, here’s another:

The lyrics make me nostalgic, very Winnipeg.

He also just launched his own record label, things are looking up for him!  Check out the label’s site here!