Mario Villalobos

Still Going Strong

100 days ago I hit my 1,000 daily move goal, and yesterday I hit 1,100. A part of me thought I’d slow down once I hit 1,000 days, but my fitness routine is so ingrained into my days that I don’t ever think about slowing down. My days are just my days. I wake up, get to work, and workout. It just is.

I won’t be doing anything special during this upcoming holiday break, so I guess I’ll keep going.

Eric Dietrich:

With a final vote Friday, Montana’s Districting and Apportionment Commission made it official: The state has a new congressional map, political lines drawn to define how Montanans are represented in the U.S. House through the 2030 election.

While the boundaries could still be subject to a court challenge, the vote represents the likely culmination of a monthslong districting process that kicked into gear when detailed 2020 census results were published in August, triggering a once-a-decade effort to recalibrate Montana’s political boundaries. The proceedings drew hundreds of publicly submitted proposals, days of verbal testimony at hearings in the state Capitol and thousands of written comments filed by residents across the state.

I’ve almost lived in Montana for 10 years, and even though my “California” politics are in the minority, this place has become like another home for me. Things got bad once Trump was elected (to be fair, things were bad everywhere once he got elected), but for the most part, I haven’t really felt like my politics ever put a target on my back. But seeing this:

This makes me feel personally attacked! What is this nonsense? The two markers on the map read “San Fransoola” and “Bozeangeles," portmanteaus for “Missoula” and “Bozeman,” respectively.

What utter nonsense! 😂

They used iPads. iPads. Matt Prior:

The standard way to digitise pages is using a flatbed scanner, such as those made by Zeutschel. They’re “the most reliable in the world”, says Boswell, “but they’re slow”. Flatbed scanners also don’t treat big bound antique volumes kindly. You have to pick up the entire volume, turn it over, flip a page and lay it back down – and the result is rather better if the spine is broken so the page flattens on the surface.

Autocar has duplicate copies of some old back issues, so treating them badly doesn’t matter so much, but there is a quicker and kinder method, which for these purposes works perfectly well. It just looks a little more basic: it’s a plank of wood with a hole in it, through which one aims the camera of an iPad. Place a volume beneath it, press the button. “Picture quality is on a par with a mid-range SLR camera,” says Boswell. That’s plenty for a magazine captured at close range.

And it’s so much quicker. Boswell’s team consists of four full-time scanners, who have taken from April time until, well, not long before now, to get through the collection. Computers do the rest. Optical character recognition software deciphers the text with “100% accuracy”, which makes the entire collection of issues searchable by keywords, and the picture is cropped and converted to a PDF automatically. Then there’s a quality-control check and, from this point, it’s all cataloguing and labelling issues by date.

Around 2010, I used a cheap flatbed scanner to scan hundreds and hundreds of paper documents I’d accumulated in my life up to that point. Ever since I purchased my iPhone (the iPhone 5 in 2012), I’ve been using these devices to digitize my life. I’m amazed that a major publication like Autocar, a magazine that has been “publish[ing] every week since 1895,” decided to digitize their entire archive using iPads. Add to it that they used “a plank of wood with a hole in it” is even more amazing to me.

It’s little things like this that makes modern life both so mind-boggling cool and scary at the same time. Scary in the sense of how fast the world is moving, how fast technology has progressed in just 10+ years. And again, add the fact that iOS 15 can automatically recognize text in all your photos, and yeah… 🤯

A Picture of Leaves

It’s getting colder. It was down to the teens this morning, and I had to let my car run for a bit to warm up and defrost the windows. This is one of my favorite times of year, this in-between time, this transition from one season to the next.

I took this photo this morning with my iPhone 13 Pro. I was intrigued by the new Macro mode, but I hadn’t really tested it out. When I saw these leaves on my walk, though, I thought, why not? I couldn’t get as close to the leaves as I could with my regular Fuji XF80mm macro lens, but I still like that I have this “mode” on me at all times. It’s nice.

I also shot some ProRes video this morning of the frost on the grass. I shot it because of how the ground seemed to sparkle like diamonds. I’ve yet to review the footage, but I’m excited about all this power at my disposable on a phone. Amazing times, huh?

Game Changer

Hours after I posted Friday’s entry, my friend Joe texted me, “I have something you are wanting.” I was just waking up from a nap, so I looked at his text without really registering what he was saying. After a few moments I realized he was talking about my new MacBook Pro. I immediately got into my car and drove back to work, picked up my package and almost dropped it because I didn’t expect it to be so heavy. I listened to The War on Drugs—so good!—and when I arrived home, I texted the above picture to my friend Ginger.

“Woohoo!!” she replied.

Woohoo, indeed!

I bought the space gray 16" MacBook Pro with the Apple M1 Max chip with 10-core CPU, 32-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine, 64GB unified memory, and 2TB SSD storage. She’s a beast. I’ve never possessed so much power in my life, and I don’t know what to do about it. After a few hours of getting it all setup—clean install FTW—I finally got around to using it, and the first thing I noticed was how beautiful the screen was. After years and years of using an iPad Pro as my main device (starting with the 2016 9.7" iPad Pro, then moving to the 11" one from 2018), I didn’t realize how much the size of a screen matters. It goes without saying, but I can fit so much on this screen. And don’t get me started on the display profiles. There’s so much power and versatility there that I don’t even know where to start.

Once I had Lightroom all setup, I started going through some photos with the Photography (P3-D65) profile set, and I couldn’t believe how quick and easy it was for me to apply my edits on them. The color accuracy is unreal, and I feel like it’ll take me weeks or months before I truly realize how incredible this technology is and will be toward my workflow. Thankfully, years ago, I purchased both Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro, two apps I’ve been so eager to really use and master but never quite could because I never had a machine powerful enough or comfortable enough to use to take advantage of them. Now that I do, I don’t even know where to start.

And that’s kinda the story with this machine. It’s so fast, so powerful, so unreal that I have to forget everything I thought I knew about computers and start over. Can I have 3 instances of Nova open plus Safari, Chrome, and Firefox, each with dozens of tabs open plus Lightroom and Photoshop and Photos plus Mail and Things and BBEdit and Github and Calendar and Music and Screens 4 and Reeder 5 and whatever else app I want? Sure, why not, and I don’t feel like I’m reaching the limits of this machine. That’s the crazy part.

Will I ever push this machine to its limits? I don’t even think that’s the right question. I think the question is, what can I create with this machine? And the answer to that is, whatever I want. And that’s a level of freedom I’ve never experienced before.

This machine is a game changer for me, and I can’t wait to see where I can go with it.

Photo by Aurelia K. Photography

A Stream of Consciousness Life Update

I’m listening to The War on Drugs' new album, I Don’t Live Here Anymore, and I’m enjoying the hell out of it. Over the past few weeks, I’ve purchased albums by Miguel, Lena Raine, Lana del Rey (a favorite), Meg Myers, Radiohead, SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE, Cassandra Jenkins, Faye Webster, Jana Winderen, DARKSIDE, Better Oblivion Community Center, Tyler, The Creator, Snail Mail, Phoebe Bridgers, Low, and many many more. As cliché as this is, music grounds me. It helps me overcome all of life’s struggles and hardships, all the bad feelings and dark thoughts I sometimes experience.

I believe in buying my music rather than paying some company the privilege of renting them for a month at a time, and yeah, it makes me feel good to do so. I get the same feeling when buying books from my local bookstore than to Amazon, even though it costs me more to both drive there and to buy the book. It’s one of those things that I feel we’ve lost as a society, the knowledge of the true cost of things. I listened to a recent episode of Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly where they talked about the carbon tax, and it made me think more about this. I recommend giving it a listen.

I swear I didn’t plan on making this post about the morality of where you buy things and taxes, but that’s kind of what happens when I write. Things just happen and I get to see where my thoughts take me. It’s fun and interesting. Anyways, what’s this about a life update?

In early September, I contracted COVID. I had mild symptoms, and I didn’t think much of it until I woke up one day and couldn’t smell my coffee beans. During the heart of the pandemic, I made an effort to smell my coffee beans most mornings to 1) make sure I didn’t have COVID and 2) because they smell so good. Fresh coffee beans are one of the best parts of life, right? So I woke up that Sunday not able to smell, so I drove to my local hospital and asked for a rapid test. They swabbed my nose (a feeling I had forgotten about until now—do not recommend!) and told me I’d get results within a day or two. I got the call on a Tuesday mere minutes after texting a friend that I was 99.99% sure I didn’t have COVID. Turns out I was 99.99% wrong.

I was and am fully vaccinated, but I do work at a school, and I, like far too many people, stopped wearing my mask. I had mild symptoms throughout the entirety of my experience with COVID, and I did regain my sense of smell later on the same day I lost it, and I’m now weeks and weeks removed from my quarantine, but I still feel some after effects of having had COVID. It’s not fun, it can be scary, and I don’t know what to do about it. It feels like I have a tennis ball stuck in my throat, and on some days I don’t feel anymore and on others I can. It’s weird and unpleasant, and I don’t know when, or if, it’ll ever go away. Right now it’s on the milder side, but I’ve been afraid to think that maybe it’ll go away this time, you know? Because it always come back and reminds me that something is wrong and that maybe—maybe—I don’t have that much more time of relatively good health left.

I paid off my debt over three weeks ago, and life has been interesting since then. I didn’t feel debt free for maybe a week or two after sending in that final payment, but now? Now I can feel it. As soon as Apple’s Unleashed event ended, I bought the 16" MacBook Pro with the M1 Max chip, all the RAM, all the GPU cores, and just 2 TB of SSD storage. She’s a beast, and she should be in my hands on Monday. I’m sorta back in debt, but really, only for a few months. Am I justifying it? Not really? I’ve been planning to buy a machine like this for a while now, and now that I have it? I’m good. My life is good. I don’t need much of anything else. I just want to create for as long as I can, however long that ends up being. If I have a year left, then I have a year left. If I have 50, then I have 50. All I know is that I have to take it one day at a time.

And today is a Friday, so I want to live this Friday as best as I can. And part of that means writing again.

I finished my school’s website redesign a few weeks ago, and even though it’s very much a 1.0 product, I’m very proud of it. I learned a lot, and I know I want to keep writing CSS and HTML for as long as I can. It’s so much fun and so very satisfying. I’ve been absorbing so much of my time and attention on the entire web development scene, from blogs and newsletters and podcasts, and I just want more more more. I love this feeling, and I hope it never goes away. And with that comes my desire to redo this website again. I have ideas that I want to explore and mock up and prototype, and yeah, I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I’m eager for this work. I’m yearning it, you know? I want to spend my time on this, like, right now! But I want to wait until I get my new laptop before I start working on it full-bore. I can’t wait.

Last Wednesday, the 20th, I donated blood for the first time. I don’t know why I never had before, but now I have, and I definitely want to do it again. Up until a few days ago, I never knew what my blood type was. But now? Now I know. I’m O+. I’m a universal donor. That was my wish. I was hoping I was a universal donor, and I am. And I’m going to keep donating my blood for as long as I can. It feels good that maybe my blood can help someone out there, some stranger fighting for another day with their loved ones, for another hug, for another kiss, for just more time. That’s what we’re all fighting for, isn’t it? At the heart of it? For more time with who we love?

One of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time was agreeing to be the academic coordinator for this student from Germany. It has been so enlightening to see the world through someone else’s eyes, especially someone from the other side of the world. This is her during her final volleyball game of the season, and unfortunately, it was my first and last time seeing her play volleyball. I, of course, brought my camera and took over 4,800 photos over a two day span. My Fujifilm X-T4 was crying for mercy by the end of it, but I didn’t care—I needed to take photos! It had been so long. It has been too long.

Fortunately, basketball season is coming up, and she will be playing. She has never played basketball in her life, but just seeing her go at it anyway has been inspiring. She had never played volleyball before either but just look at her smile! I think that says more than I ever could.

Halloween is this Sunday, then Thanksgiving after. All the holidays are coming up, and I don’t know what I’ll be doing during any of them, but maybe I can do something about that. Maybe I can live each day to the best of my ability with the people I care. I think that’s a very good goal. Let’s do it.

M.G. Siegler:

The problem with Facebook isn’t actually Facebook. It’s us. It’s human beings. The problem is that Facebook created the greatest tool ever to connect those human beings. And it has led to a world in which the local lunatic is now the global lunatic.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot the past few days, and I think what I’ve come up with is that there are two sides to extremism. There’s the obvious kind—the hateful and violent kind we’ve all been witness to the past half decade or so—but there’s also the not so obvious kind, the extreme kindness that feels transactional to me.

I’ve been feeling this a lot during the past decade I’ve lived in Montana, where the phrase “small town values” is worn like an unearned badge of honor, but I’ve also felt it lingering in the background in some online communities that I’ve dipped in and out of over the years. Don’t get me wrong, kind people are great, and we need more of them, but when someone online is kind to you and you don’t return the favor? Forget about it, man. That “kind” person or community kinda sorta turns on you because you broke this unwritten rule of automatic kindness that you didn’t follow.

Community is great, and we all need our clans, but an internet community? I think that’s the problem, and we as humans weren’t meant for something so big and complex.

I Paid Off My Student Loan Today

Like when I paid off my car loan back in June, I really don’t know how to feel. Part of me, of course, is happy that I’m done with this debt—my last debt—but the other part of me is ho-hum about it because this is something I’ve been planning and building toward for the past few years. And now I’ve done it.

I’m debt free.

What do I do now?

Robin Rendle:

I can be whoever I want and no-one can tell me otherwise. I can be funny or dark, a romantic or a raging goth. I can be a typographer, a web designer, a poet. Tomorrow? My accent can change, the colors revert, typefaces flipped inside out; I can change everything about this website and reimagine who I am. Edit the bad or worrisome or downright embarrassing stuff out, throw away the unsavory stuff, until I’m only showing you me at my very best.

So what you see here isn’t me.

In a bit over 200 words, Robin articulates something I’ve been feeling lately. I’m constantly changing, constantly rethinking my behavior, my thoughts, my likes and dislikes, my mindset and view of the world.

I’ve slowed on my blogging because I want to redesign my website again but oh my god I don’t have the time for that right now, but gosh dangit I want to so much. All I’ve been doing the past month is working on my school’s website redesign, and I’ve learned so much. Not just about web development, but about design and typography and even my own aesthetic and sensibilities.

Every time I read something a new, whether it’s from a book or from the web, I add it to my mental library of facts and ideas and opinions, and I let it do its thing up there. If it improves something I thought I knew, then great! If it contradicts with something I thought to be true, that’s great, too! We humans are very good at holding contradictory thoughts in our heads at the same time. If it makes me angry, then it makes me angry, and if it makes me happy, it makes me happy.

I don’t get those stubborn types of people who feel it’s a weakness to change your mind. Why live your life like that? I don’t get it. Maybe it’s just an American thing? More reason to travel the world!

There’s really no point to this post, and that’s okay. I needed to write things down to see what happened, and I liked what happened. So let’s go and post this thing.

Earlier this year, I moved my site from Micro.blog to Cloudflare Pages, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made when it came to this site. Sure, I had to learn Hugo, some HTML, and a whole lot of CSS, but when is learning ever a bad thing? I wanted full control of my site without any handholding, and that transition helped me achieve all my goals.

If you want to do the same, I suggest watching this recent video by Coder Coder. She runs through starting your own Github repository, how to connect Cloudflare Pages to it, and how to start pushing your code online. Knowing how to run my own website has been one of the best skills I’ve ever learned, and I hope more and more people learn how, too.

And this can all be done for free. No recurring memberships, no condescending handholding, just pure freedom. The way the web should be.

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