Thank you, Life

I wrote this on/around the 30th of May, 2014. Like many of my blog posts, I keep them in draft state for years. Now, I’m choosing to publish them.

May I thank someone? I’d like to thank someone. Perhaps it’s science. Perhaps it’s my parents.

I’d like to thank the universe for my life being so grand. (Okay, I know many people are living a tough life in many places. I’m not discounting that by stating ‘My life is so great… la dee dah.’. I just want to acknowledge everyone and everything in my life.) In the past few years I’ve spent my day-to-day somewhat on autopilot. I soak up as much as I can, but there’s the mindless automation of commuting, working (I’m great at what I do, so sometimes I don’t even need to think to interact with and be kind to customers), and creating art. You know, the stuff that comes naturally. Maybe it isn’t autopilot… it just feels like it a little. Too few new experiences?!

I don’t want to dwell on my greatness nor the misfortunes — read: different lifestyles(?) — of others. However, I notice when others are affected by something I’m not. Poor eyesight; driving and operating a car; only being able to afford fast food; missing limbs; fame; poor education (in a field I’m familiar with); lack of travel; applying makeup in order to go outside; a woman’s menstrual cycle; medication; disease. Diseases. What the heck is up with them?! I’ve been sick. Mostly when I was younger. Thankfully, those illnesses were nothing that didn’t fix itself or just required a week of antibiotics.

I’m so proud of the people I see living their lives with a brave face or a pair of glasses. If I had to take daily medication(s), then I’d probably be dead. (Although, I do pretty well with routine(s). You know, getting dressed and the like.) Lately, I’ve been almost forgetting to grab my helmet before biking to work. That scares me. ‘Oh, Derek. C’mon. Splitting your head open on the side of the road is hardly something you should be scared of.’, you might be thinking. Well, that’s why I’m being thankful for my life.

No, my life isn’t perfect. Do I have ailments? Not really. I dislike the fact that my body sleeps so deeply (I’ve started to hypothesise that this is because I’m thinking about many things; this can turn in to a dream or just be strong brain activity) that it can be a struggle to wake every morning — even when I sleep on my bed of choice (a rug on the floor). Once or twice a year, I have a conscious fainting event. If anyone ever asked me the question ‘Have you fainted before?’, then I would likely not consider those “events” as fainting. Although, the more I think about it, the more it seems like I do have experience with fainting. It usually occurs if I’ve been sitting in the same position (perhaps sitting on my legs; blocking blood flow) for a long time. I have spent a good portion of the last decade sitting for an extended period of time. I usually don’t see any affects from that since I’m fairly active (biking and frolicking, mostly).

There are these rare times where I stand up and I can feel myself beginning to blackout. My first one or two experiences of this were luckily near soft objects, so I feel — still conscious — without hurting myself. There have been times when I’ve tried to catch myself from falling but bumped my head on a table or a wall. There’s never any pain. It’s weird. I’m weird. I’ve learned to understand the blackout/fainting is coming and I hold on to something stable as my legs begin to give out and I gracefully fall to the ground. Once there, it only takes 3-10 seconds before my body sorts things out and I can stand up again.

That’s me. I’m thankful to be who I am, and for everyone who has had a positive (read: everything is positive) impact on my life. I’m also thankful for everyone who suffers from ailments or stresses and chooses to live on. There’s lots of cake to be eaten, frolicking to be endured, and yoga to be enjoyed, so don’t give up until we’re able to do all those things on Mars.

This post was inspired by a video about Lyme Disease, “Under Our Skin.

The End of an Era

NewZealand-road-IMG_2461Back in 2011, I wrote a post on the Viddler Blog (post removed; see Wayback Machine or Flickr) about our change in focus away from Personal (free) users to business/corporate/education customers. That was a hard transition for me. It was even harder for the users. We occasionally still get messages from that old user base asking us where their videos went. I sent out so many emails, tweets, etc. I think we (I led the interactions with the old user base) handled it exceptionally well. When other companies decide it’s time to focus on revenue, they usually don’t go to such lengths to look after longtime free users.

Now, it’s time for my era1 with Viddler to end.

I’ve been with this lovely company longer than most. Seven years. In the technology and startup space, it’s rather remarkable for employees to stay with a company for longer than a few years. This was my first job experience outside of the entertainment (acting, producing, directing) industry and the retail space. I suppose I’m really loyal to products and people I’m passionate about. It has been so exciting and challenging to be a part of a company which has transitioned through some very different industries — albeit centred around interactive video.

For years, I’ve spent brief moments pondering about this day. What will happen with my videos? What will happen to the extensive rapports I have with customers and coworkers? Will another company tempt me away? Will I continue living in the USA (or move to Japan, Iceland, Spain, or New Zealand)? When I was told I’m no longer needed at the company, my initial reaction was peace and opportunity. (I didn’t think about any of the aforementioned questions until hours or days later.) I owe that to God. His plan for me is more than Viddler; more than sitting on my talents in one place; more than anything I can fathom.

So what is next? You tell me. I’ll be with Viddler until October 31st, 2015. After that, I’m all yours. Here’s my LinkedIn.

1I recognise ‘era’ means a humanly incomprehensible amount of time. Its use here is a little tongue-in-cheek; it has been a rewarding, loving, and great length of time. In my life so far, it has certainly spanned a large portion of it.

Who’s heading to SXSW 2012?

I originally posted this on Google+ and Facebook last week. No traction in those places, so here it is on my bloggy blog. If you’d prefer to comment on either of the aforementioned posts, or @djsteen on Twitter, then go nuts. 🙂

Who’s heading to SXSW 2012?SXSW Interactive 2012 logo

In short, I’m looking for:

  • Accommodation. (Wanna share a room?)
  • Fun activities (not pointless, noisy parties).
  • Events for the Interactive and Film portions.

More details:
I’ve been to SXSW every year since 2009. It’s a great event with great people in a great city. For every one of those years I’ve had a buddy (read: girlfriend) to organise accommodation, plans, etc. Last year, that relationship changed from “girlfriend” to “good friend”. So, we’ll be hanging out while we’re there, but she has her own accommodation.

It seems all the tech “gurus” book their SXSW travel and accommodation as soon as SXSW opens registration (around October the year before). Most others seem to plan around this time (a month in advance; when there’s very little accommodation availability at most places). Last year (2011) was crowded because SXSW Music dates overlapped Interactive more than in previous years.

I guess I’m really just looking for someone to share a room with. Whether we split a hotel, or you live in Austin and wouldn’t mind me making a nice crevasse in your couch. Let me know. I have candy.

I typically go to SXSW for the Interactive (March 9-13) portion, but this year I’d like to see a film or two at the Film portion (March 9-17). They’re $10 at the door, and on par with the likes of Sundance entrants.

In past years, we’ve completed several Gowalla (sadly, Gowalla is now closed) trips in Austin, but I’d still like to see more of the town (away from the conference centre) because it is such a lovely city. I may be riding a Razor scooter again this year. They’re VERY handy (and quick!) for traveling around the different SXSW hubs in the city. One year, we did bikes. Those were handy, but the rental fees are more costly, and they are more complex in tight situations (crowds, buses, getting back to the hotel, etc.).

Lastly, there’s no more Diggnation, so no live show this year. I wonder if Revision3 will still have a big event at Stubb’s anyway. Either way, I’m not particularly keen on the event, so I might just skip it to get ice cream the Ice Cream Man.

Let me know your thoughts and plans. (Even if we’re not friends yet; we should meetup and hangout.)

Oh, and I go badgeless. Like a boss.

Serious Winter Gear required

I’ve been meaning to get some winter gear for around six months — ever since I moved to Buffalo, New York. The fact that it was summer didn’t motivate me much even though I know such clothing would have been on sale back in April.

It’s now getting chilly up here in Buffalo and I’m darn excited about it. My weather app is forecasting snow for Saturday. I do need some warm clothing though. Right now, I only have a couple pairs of pants, many JC t-shirts, five dress shirts, a thin jacket, several hoodies, a thuggie, 3 suits, and 1 orange tuxedo.

Here’s what (I think) I need:

  • Winter/Snow Jacket
  • Winter/Snow Pants
  • Dress pants
  • Adventure pants
  • Jeans (I don’t do skinny)
  • Scarf
  • Beanie
  • Socks
  • Winter/Snow gloves

Here’s the ideas I have so far:

Winter Jackets

Rafter (Woman’s) by Foursquare (yeah, it was a clothing company before a geolocation app)

Foursquare Women's Rafter

Winter Pants

Studio (Men’s) by Foursquare

Foursquare Men's Studio

Dress pants

Pants by H&M

Suit pants (grey) by H&M

Adventure pants

Chinos by H&M

Chinos (beige) by H&MChinos (brown) by H&M


I don’t have any ideas on these yet. I would prefer a regular pair of blue jeans and a pair in a crazy colour (blue, orange, etc.). I went in to H&M the other day and noticed they have jeans for reasonable prices, but I don’t see any good examples on their website. Here’s a photo of a style I like:

Jeans on H&M

Scarf, beanie, and socks

I have a couple of keffiyehs (middle eastern scarves), but I’m also looking for a regular scarf. I have one brown/orange beanie (photo) already, but another would be handy. I’m looking for socks that will keep me warm and last a long time. I’ve seen a scarves, beanies, and socks at H&M that could be suitable, but I’m definitely open to ideas from sites like Etsy, etc.

Winter gloves

I have a pair of Johnny Cupcakes gloves, and I just bought a pair of iTap Gloves, so I’m fine for regular/soft gloves. I haven’t found a pair of fierce winter gloves yet. Here’s an example of the style and colour I’m looking for:

Columbia Men’s Whirlibird™ II Glove


I’m open to any and all recommendations. Please leave them (with links) on this post or the Google+ post referencing this blog. I prefer clothing that’s colourful (no blacks, if possible). The less expensive, the better — though I’d prefer to pay a little more to have something well-made and will last for decades. I’m not willing to spend much more than $150 for a winter jacket, $100 for winter pants, and $40 for winter gloves. Everything else should be much cheaper than that.

This is time-sensitive because I’m traveling to Ithaca, NY,  on Friday (28th Oct.); followed by Viddler HQ (Bethlehem, PA) in the first week of November for the opening of our new office. Hence, I would like to have most of these items before I head down.

Thank you!



Johnny Cupcakes TinyChat

A few nights ago Johnny tweeted that he was on Tinychat again. After being unable to join the first couple of times he and Pasquale had tweeted about it, I decided to pop in. I made a whole bunch of new JC friends and we all ended up brushing our teeth together. Lots of fun!

You should join us next time and become a JC fan!

Flushing Tampons down the toilet

I recently encountered something I honestly didn’t expect: a tampon in the toilet.

Several years ago a friend of mine told me a story of how foreign exchange students had been flushing tampons down the toilet and her school. The pipes eventually got clogged, they burst, and the teachers’ lounge was soaked. That story has always stuck in my mind.

Note: The fact that foreign exchange students were to blame isn’t relevant. Perhaps in their country the pipes can handle such things flushed down them. In most countries — especially older ones — this isn’t the case. Also, just as many Australian students could have been held accountable; it’s hard to prove.

Have you ever wondered what those ‘sanitary bins’ are next to the toilet in a public restroom? Those are for used tampons and/or ‘sanitary napkins’. This alleviates the drains and allows them to just accept human excrement and small amounts of toilet paper. These things can break down and are biodegradable.

Sure, most tampons are probably biodegradable these days, but that doesn’t make it okay to put them down the toilet. Toilet paper really shouldn’t be put down the toilet, but at least it’s far less absorbent than a tampon. The entire job of a tampon is to absorb liquids — you’ve seen the TV commercials with the blue liquid, right?

I doubt this will further emphasise the seriousness of this issue, but another story I remember from my high school days is when a science teacher explained to the class of what can be seen at a sewage treatment facility. Deceased dogs, cats, and other animals, batteries, paper, gloves, and many more strange items. Those are the things people put down the drain. The toilet is the largest water hole/pipe in most households, so that’s the drain people use for larger items. That’s pretty inconsiderate of the planet.

Listen. Water is the most precious commodity on Earth. There’s a lot of it, but there’s not always enough to go around. Hence, we have to preserve it and treat it like one of our most prized possessions. Placing tampons and another foreign objects down the toilet shouldn’t happen. We have waste receptacles for those items.

You don’t have to take my opinion about this though. Read others’ experiences with tampons and toilets on Yahoo! Answers and Ask Me Help Desk.