Joie de Vivre

The During of 2021

Happy New Year!

I’m resuming my tradition of writing a year end post. The last one was in 2019.

It’s obviously been a strange few years. I remember thinking when work closed at the beginning of the pandemic that I might be home for two weeks. And we are rolling into year three! While this isn’t a post specifically about the pandemic, the pandemic is a delineator of our times – there will be a before and after for those of us that lived through it. What follows, then, is an account of the good parts of my “during” of 2o21.


When 2021 started, I began a challenge to make music every day. I began keeping a music “day book” where I sometimes wrote down what I did and how I did it. I created a “catalog” on my computer, which is an index of music ideas and passages.

A record turntable.

I learned a lot about Ableton Live, which I very much enjoy working in. I attended a tape hacking workshop, and learned something about modifying cassette players. I started making effects and instruments with Max for Live. I joined a surf band, alternating between bass and drums. I got to hang out with Billy Martin at his house. I released an album on Scientifically Sound Records.

A hacked portable tape player and breadboard with 4 potentiometers.

This practice of making music everyday was profound. If you want to learn something about yourself – say, as a composer, then compose music every day. I started working in my Theoretical Audio Laboratory to produce Sound Experiments, and I continued to examine my perceptions of sight and sound. I probably wouldn’t have made my discoveries if not for this self appointed challenge. I developed a process for making music with loops, found sounds and musique concrète.

Did I actually make music every day? I don’t think so. Most days, I did something. And I grew and created more as a musician in 2021 that I did in all of the previous decade. Not bad!

We also got out to see some live music. A huge highlight for me was seeing Marc Ribot and Ceramic Dog.

Marc Ribot and Ceramic Dog

Book Club

2021 was the inaugural year of a new book club that Beverly and I founded together. It’s just for two people, and we don’t have to read the same book. We do have to read at least one book a month, and then we have a nice dinner and discuss what we read. This has been delightful. This year, I read the following for our club: Found Audio, Kink, The Plot, The Bullet Train, Circe, My Year Abroad, Piranesi, The Wrong Heaven, First Person Singular, Your Duck is My Duck, Just Kids, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, House of Leaves, Modern 12 Step Recovery, The Forbidden Surgeries of the Hideous Dr. Divinus, Turn Loose Our Death Rays, and Kill Them All!: The Complete Works of Fletcher Hanks. I also read several issues of The Comics Journal, and the first three volumes of the Wonder Woman Omnibus trade paperbacks.

We also watched a lot of movies and shows, but I’ll save that for another post.


I was able to get a COVID vaccine. It was also a shot of hope, and certainly a key turning point in this time. What a gift to have protection against some ghastly doom. As I write this, I can remember the free floating anxiety and uncertainty that pervaded everything we did. In fact, as the latest variant rips through the world, that anxiety feels more acute again. I should also mention that for me, the solitude was also useful. I become more grounded and centered. I think it accelerated my recovery, and I’m very grateful.

I began to run (sort of ) seriously this year, and completed a 12 mile race, among others! I didn’t come in last, either!

My dear friends got married, which was the first “big” in person event we attended after being vaccinated.

Amy and Dusten

The cicadas visited, after being underground for 17 years, and I made some art to commemorate them. It was a long, hot summer.

Beverly and I combined house at the end of said summer, and said goodbye to the pool. The mutts will miss it!

We traveled to California again, and to Virginia and Florida.

The Benefits of Radiation picked up some awards, and was screened in person at the Sweaty Eyeballs animation festival. This was a dream realized for me. I’m very grateful.

SNF Parkway Theater in Baltimore

Both of my daughters graduated from their respective schools in 2021, and both started new beginnings. We spent some good times together this year, and even got inked together.

I made a great deal of art, which I won’t summarize here – you need only read the blog portion of this site for that.

What’s Ahead

My intentions for 2022 include new animation and exhibition opportunities, volume 2 of Music to Hear Blindfolded, and more of all the good parts on 2021. Happy New Year, dear reader. I hope you are well.

Joie de Vivre

The End of the Twenty Tens

I haven’t written a year end post since 2012.

My life took a big turn in 2013, and during the years that followed. My marriage ended in divorce. I moved to another zip code. I changed jobs. I went back to school. I moved to yet another zip code. I changed jobs again. There were deaths, and loss, and the sad ending of relationships. In other words, a lot of life happened.

I started drinking in 2013, after ~20 years of not drinking. I strongly suspect that, because I started drinking again, I have not written any year end posts.

My previous “year in review” posts contained notes of gratitude for that year’s many blessings. I have so much for which to be grateful. I will not attempt to enumerate the many wonderful things that have happened since 2013, or even from 2019, in this year end blog post. I will name just one blessing, which I intend to carry into our collective future.

I am sober.

Happy New Year!

Joie de Vivre

2012, I love you.


I didn’t do a “year in review” for 2011 as I did for 2010, 2009 and 2008.  I have so much to be grateful for this past year. So much. Great friends (new and old), my happy kids, fitness, work, creativity and magic.  I’m not going to link to posts –  the great stuff and the people I love have been chronicled.

I feel younger than I did when the year started.

There is one thing I want to highlight – I fell in love with the work of Georges Méliès last year.  I’m mentioning it here to say that it’s in the spirit of such creativity, industry and inspiration that I say goodnight to 2012 and welcome 2013.



Joie de Vivre

Wrapping Up 2010

2010 was a colossal year.  In keeping with tradition of past years, I’m posting a quick recap and a look ahead. As I sat down to organize my thoughts, I once again marveled at the usefulness of keeping a Web log.

I spoke at WordCamp Boston, the amazing FitBloggin’ conference, WordCamp Philadelphia and was invited to speak at WordCamp Chicago & NYC. I became the co-organizer of the Baltimore WordPress User’s Group. It’s open to anyone, so if you have ANY interest in WordPress, you are welcome to join us. I began doing some technical editing for O’Reilly media. The next book I’m working on is jQuery, and I’m hoping to make the leap to author this year.

The 12′ circus peanut, which was on display in Baltimore City for 149 days as part of the ArtScape outdoor sculpture exhibition, was a success. This was an amazing process for all of us. The Circus Fantistique banner made rounds at ArtScape and the Baltimore Book Fair. The girls  had comics on display and we  learned about screen printing and publishing zines. Early in 2010, I learned how to paint (poorly) with oil paint.

I earned my black belt this year.  While the training and test taught me a great deal,  one of the most difficult parts of this was actually showing up. Being an instructor and attending the black belt work-outs was great. Earlier this year, I took a hiatus from the school to pursue freelance work and teaching, but I continue to practice. I have new fitness goals for 2011, some of which include more Tai Chi. My knee is holding up pretty well and I’ve even been able to run a bit.

What’s Next

I am grateful for my family’s general good health, and have high hopes for the new year. I am proud of my kids’ accomplishments and how great they are as people, students, musicians and artists.  I am grateful for the time I got to spend with my friends Neil, Chas, Scott, Roni, Zac, Allison, Jenn, and hope to do more of that this year. I’m adding Jim Groom to that list, too (road trip).  I’m grateful for the awesome clients I served this year – I am very fortunate. Thank you.

I’m giving a talk to some students in a week, and I’m speaking at FitBloggin’ 11.  I’m super excited about HTML5, and excited about stuff that brewing for 2011. This is an exciting time to be doing work on the Web.

My personal art production has been somewhat dormant these past few months because of a ridiculous schedule involving lots of travel and teaching 4 classes. I recently began doing video production for the day job, though,  and I really like it. I’ve been using Premiere, After Effects and a variety of cameras and mics.

Paper Cut Outs have become my favorite medium lately, and this is what I intend to focus on in 2011.

I set up a new site, called the Crunchy Ball Press, as a place to showcase paper based art, animation involving paper and especially zine making. I had intended to launch CBP during a talk at WordCamp NYC called “WordPress for Creative Geniuses,” but it didn’t happen. This site is a priority for 2011. And I’d still like to give that talk somewhere.

I’m interested in collaborators for CBP – I really don’t want this to be just my stuff. I want to work on things with other people; zines, animation and comics and I want to help others publish their work. If you are interested in contributing to the Crunchy Ball Press, drop me a line -> If you are reading this and thinking “I can’t do that because…” then you should write me, because you totally can.

Let’s tell some stories.

And so, happy new year, everyone.


Joie de Vivre

Fuzzy Focus

Happy 2010, friends. We made it through 2009. I’ve been debating the value of writing a New Year’s post because I’m a bit scattered in my thinking/feelings at the moment. I reread last year’s post, and I’m glad for it, so here I am marking the occasion.

New Years Day is my favorite holiday, followed closely by Halloween. As I mentioned last year, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I make them all year long as I need them. And yet, New Year’s Day is a great time for quiet reflection, giving thanks to the Universe, taking stock and making plans. It’s a hopeful, optimistic day. I should bottle this vibe and use it all year.

Taking stock

Here’s one of the cool things about blogging – it’s easy to remember the good things from the past year. I’m glad for a number of things, including:

What’s Next?

Here’s where the fuzzy part comes in – I’m not quite sure yet. I’m still haunted by TEDxMidAtlantic. “Sell your cleverness – purchase wonder.”  I was left with a strong sense of possibility and community and optimism.

A blog post by Dave Troy captured my imagination, along with a tweet in which he said:

Everyone around you benefits when you pursue your passions; following your dreams can be altruistic.

I love how I make a living. I like where I work (both places). I like (and need) all the spinning plates in my life. And yet, I suspect there’s value in spending the next year focusing on fewer things and doing them very well. I’m not going to quit my job and have a start-up as Mr. Troy talks about, but I intend to spend my free time by taking one of my ideas and fully developing its potential. I hope that everyone benefits, too.

In the mean time, I’m still on track for taking my black belt test soon (knees permitting). And, I’m looking forward to speaking at WordCamp Boston and at FitBloggin’.

Happy New Year, my friends. I hope it’s as amazing I think it’s going to be…

Joie de Vivre

Of Industry and Icebergs

I would not survive being stranded on an iceberg – the boredom would do me in long before the cold. One of my heroes, Ben Franklin, felt the same way. He said “Industry need not wish.” And that’s exactly why he didn’t die stranded on an iceberg.  He was too busy.  He was too busy for wishing.

I heard echos of this sentiment in Mr. Obama’s speech last week. Did you? Well, I did. Plus, he was decked out in his JCREW anti-iceberg gear.  It was iceberg cold, that’s for sure.

I spent New Years in Florida, at Disney, with my kids. It was a great trip filled with things like riding the Pirates ride, eating fish and chips and 100 foot mermaids. There were even tins of the world’s best tea.

Upon returning, I paused in my industrious activities to conduct a New Year’s ritual of reflection and planning. Now, this isn’t resolution making. I think one should make resolutions all year, when they are needed. It’s more of a taking stock and refocusing. It helps. Being thankful for the past year and hopeful for the next.

Here’s a partial list of personal goals, in no particular order:

  • Complete several Kung Fu milestones
  • Learn about painting
  • MORE grad school
  • Music
  • Daily Drawing
  • other stuff

And I am thankful for far too many things to enumerate them here in this post about icebergs.

However, in the name of industry, I launched not one, but TWO web sites this weekend (Women Making America and a decorative contracting company), and at long last, the portal I redesigned at work going live this week. I plan to write about that experience soon. Wish me luck, please.

Finally, there’s a new member in the Doran family: Esme the Hedgehog.

Esme does not like icebergs, but she DOES like the names Sonic and Mayonnaise, and will answer to either.

Until post #100, avoid the icebergs and stay industrious.