Tuesday, December 13, 2011

well well well

There's a burn that comes from drawing lines and holding out. And I admit that I don't entirely understand what I'm doing. I sleep well but I don't. Lately this song plays on repeat in my head—something for the headache, I guess.

Monday, December 12, 2011

the preoccupied life raft

I couldn't tell you why she made the conscious decision to end up in the water not knowing how to swim, because she had to have at least known something about how useless preoccupied her life raft was. I mean, she was throwing the barbs in right along with the game show host about how silly this guy's book cover was. The dude's not quite solid... and she knows it... so why exactly is she still drinking this kool-aid? Was it just wishful thinking, or did she really think he was going to swim for them both?

He had wired his brain so hard with delivering his "showstopper lifestyle" pitch that he had failed to register a suddenly helpless girl begin to drown. A simple mistake in calculation due to an error in the formula—an enormous mistake, yes, but a mistake nonetheless, not much different than the near-sighted shight we all do from time to time.

That's why I'm trying not to rag hard on Shawn Valentino, because under the nonsense there is definitely an extremely likable and tolerable person. He's going to take enough of a beating from humanity, anyway, without my help.

But the scene is useful to point out the distinction between the sales pitch and the product. For the salesman—a stellar sales pitch can sell a less-stellar or even bad product. And for the consumer—you can go for a ride on a pitch, but on a pitch alone? Don't count on being carried to safety.

I blame it all on women—who frequently get caught up in the dazzle of the (sometimes truly) spectacular performance... and sometimes even by choice. They say that men think with the "other head", but let it be stated that women do this also, and just as much—maybe even more.

It should be no wonder that the men who come across this principal, and particularly those deep in longing for the suitable helper (identified as a need even in the first man—"it is not good that man should be alone"), it should be no wonder that these men sometimes drive themselves to ridiculous lengths in learning to pitch themselves. Perhaps some end up as better salesmen than others; the product remains the same.

So there you go babe... your near drowning is now all your fault. Better choices next time, yeah? God bless you.

Next question. What's more important—the product, or the pitch?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

tryptophan vol. 1

Is this how it works — we wait patiently on the Lord, and in time He connects the dots in our meager brains?

Happy Thanksgiving

Saturday, November 19, 2011


It's just impossible for me to manage everything in my realm at the level that I know is possible. So I want to achieve some level of quality—then, time for contraction.


Then I suppose there's the glass-half-full view, where everything is new in some context. Asia was never new, until I walked into it for the first time in the middle of 2010, when it was new to me. Or maybe at least it's that everything can be new, given some level of... something. Heart? Naivety? I have got to find a week off to sort through my head.


What exactly is new? I'm having a rough time trying to discern what I could do that would not be a rehash of something that's already been done. There is already too much music to listen to, too many books to read, and it's growing at an exponential rate. Why should I contribute to the noise?

Yet here I am stumbling through album reviews writing down names to explore... when I have the time, which I don't. Maybe it's my escape from a rat race run that I've come to perfect. It's all strange, all cyclical.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It all requires a certain understanding;

What do you really want to do?

Monday, October 10, 2011

spring mvc 3.x with jboss 4.x

Yikes, I hope no one has to deal with the kind of crazy that is attempting to deploy a brand new app on an ancient server.

If you're running into problems with EL being ignored in your JSTL tags, make the following fixes to web.xml:

1. Change the root tag to reflect a web-app version 2.4
<web-app version="2.4"
xsi:schemaLocation="http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/j2ee http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/javaee/web-app_2_4.xsd">

2. If problems still persist after re-deploy, also add this block to the file:

Source: isELIgnored="false" (JSP forum at JavaRanch)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

late night lounge psychology

"...and I think, you know, he has a little bit of an Asian fetish."

I looked back at her and said, "What white guy doesn't?"

And we raised our glasses with our heads bowed, just slightly.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

We learned of Steve's death just minutes after it was announced.

As I considered it, the sky became darker, and the rain began to fall.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I sat for two hours at Ying-Yi's Mandarin-language Q&A session at MOCA. Think I was most inspired because I couldn't understand much of what was said. It left my brain a lot of space to think.

Why do so few people live how they dream of living, doing what they want to do?
Why is it so hard for people to plan out how to move around the obstacles?
What do I need to do to keep moving forward with all of this?
Why did it take me so long to ask myself these questions?

I do like working for the right clients, but at this point it has to be something more than just the man behind the curtain. It's not responsible for me to try to work without putting my name on it. It's not real enough to me anymore. I need to start producing on my own, finding the reasons for myself and producing. Not relying on someone else to tell me what to do. I'm not making real use of what I've been given...

Goodnight 台中

Sunday, August 28, 2011

0 days: but still counting

With a thrust I rejected my previous evaluation and went back again. Maybe if I run a little faster, I can pull all of it off...

Zero day came and went over a week ago, and no one noticed, least of all myself. It just goes to prove, we know neither the time, nor the place...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

11 days

OK, so it's my opinion then, that we shouldn't take inadequacy "lying down"—but then, why not?

Perhaps it's much easier to operate in the same ways as before. You know them, you know how to do them, and you know roughly what you're going to get out of them. Tomorrow isn't such a mystery. It's predictable, it's less risky, I can do it and I might be OK.

But I won't see the things I need to see unless there is a serious shakeup. It all has to be thrown to the wind, so that I can decipher what the actual problems are for myself, rather than listening to everyone else's guesswork.

Without all this distraction, when I am able to focus on the real problems at hand, then will I make real progress?

What do I want to see in my lifetime?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

18 days: failure, or, excuse me ms. tran

Inadequacy is something I think we should not take lying down. There is a perceptible difference between those who give up and those who don't without the fight of their life

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

19 days

I find myself staring out the window a lot, now in the last two weeks of my time in this apartment,

Is this really happening? ... ?

I'm sort of in disbelief...

Monday, August 1, 2011

21 days

Not to be over-dramatic, but I'll probably die with the drawings they gave me, sitting on the table next to my bed or something.

I think it's pretty tragic that they'll never know how I loved them, and that they'll never understand the circumstances under which I had to leave—

Saturday, July 30, 2011


The Chinese word for "plan" has two characters — jì 計 "computed/calculated" and huà 劃 "drawing/painting"

The artful product of calculation? It's all new food for thought in the debate of artist vs. technician...

23 days: overthought

Blogging about the abstract concepts of life (or, at least, attempting to) is great because, for me, I get to see first-hand how silly my thinking has been when I try to write it out and exhibit it to the public.

Many blog posts have never seen the light of day... (and I assure you that without a mass amount of editing, it is better that way)

I do hope the sum total of my over-thinking for years means something to someone else at some point, but even if I'm the only one who ever sees the value in it, I'm OK with the positive changes that seem to be effected on me these days.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

25 days

"Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious."


Everyone drove horribly today. It took an hour and 40 to get across the bridge. Is this how people want to waste their lives?

Portland and I didn't get along so well today.

I was about done with everything when I came across this quote. It's time to go.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Further research conclusively confirms: Carve your own path by logic. If a lot of people are doing it a specific way, that's not the way.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

27 days: performance

I don't know... when you find out the possibility exists to go faster, don't you want to?

Is that something I take for granted?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I'm embarking on an experiment where I only work for two hours on a project at a time, and that's it for the day. The goal is to push my mind to have maximum efficiency with a given task because two hours is not a lot of time to accomplish something useful. This idea is a rehash of some of the concepts from 4 Hour Work Week. I'll let you know how it goes.

- 黑

29 days: the divorce

Regarding the divorce: There's never much that can or should be said about these sort of things; everybody's situation is so different that other experiences are hardly applicable. With that—you already know all of this but it's worth repeating for the sake of keeping a good head. God allows these things to happen to work on us in ways that would otherwise just not be possible. It's both a learning experience and a setback as much as you allow it to be either. So no excuses, just forward motion in rooted faith, and your path will always be very bright. I'm not one much to quote the Bible, but for years I've found a lot of solace in the beginning of James:

2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Then I deleted that.

How are you doing?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

the manual: order of operations

If your Colin gets all abstracty-10,000-feet-up at too early a point in the day, he can and most likely will wreck a whole day. He may even think that attempting to read all 300-some "Very Short Introductions" (Oxford Press) would be a really good idea and use of his time at the present.

At best, this is not productive. We mustn't forget that learning and assessing is quite valuable and has its place, but pondering in circles for hours on end is of no use in actually getting something done. The best time for this is at the end of the day, when time is limited before the "inevitable" sleep and brain-reset.

For your Colin to be reasonably productive, he must operate throughout the day in this order:
  • Mornings are reserved for the brief reminder of long-term goals (but not assessment or creation thereof!) and micro-level planning of the day in pursuit of these longer goals
  • Work according to micro-level plans begins and continues throughout the normal business day with periodic non-thinking breaks as necessary
  • Evenings are for stopping to relax, read, ponder and socialize as necessary; it is only at this point that the assessment of long-term goals can commence as necessary
In the event that he complains when being forced into this schedule, you should remind your Colin that he sucks at actually getting anything really done; this should do the trick...

30 days: artist vs. technician

If I may greatly over-generalize for a moment. There are technicians, and then, there are artists. Neither is superior to the other, but their natural capabilities and methods for consuming their environments (and producing) are vastly different.

You can count on a technician to behave more consistently than you can an artist. It would be in err to give a technician something and expect to get something vastly greater in return. It would also be in err to expect anything in return from an artist; however, there is the possibility that what an artist does produce is nothing short of incredible: boundary re-defining.

The true artist's ongoing pursuit of the finest, of true beauty, often leaves them feeling lacking and confused: if they do not have, or have to their expectations, there is something missing. And like any true artist, the expectations are always growing, always growing. In a way it's sort of an unattainable path, like the rabbit in front of the derby horse. But it's that melancholy that makes life feel "alive".

Some people do not question their existence in the same way, and thusly don't need such melancholy to feel secure or normalized; they only find it a bother. I think this is a more practical train of thought.

Is it so simple that we can all be broken into these two categories? Or in various ways are we simultaneously both? Is it possible to break sides and move from one to the other, or, are we hopelessly at the whim of God?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Clarity and goals... neither of which I am used to having. This is wonderful.
I don't think anyone, myself included, anticipated it, but I think that's one of the best things about life is getting a feeling and just rolling with it. It's starting to look like one of the best decisions I've ever made, even if it means giving up a lot of the comfort I've earned for myself here... but comfort can breed complacency, so I'm over it.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

36 days: whiteout

I wake up around 2 PM in my sleeping bag on the bamboo floor of my apartment, and through these giant floor-to-ceiling windows I'm totally overwhelmed by the sky—nothing but pure, shining clouds covering the space outside. Even for Portland it seems unorthodox; it's way too bright; it's awkward.

I feel a twinge of fear inside.

Now, I'm no stranger to waking up with a "twinge of fear", perhaps the theme of my life for many years—but this is not that feeling. I can no longer attribute it to my screw-ups. It's only been 24 hours or so, but based on every single thing I've learned over the past few years, this is the rightest direction I've ever been in. I finally have the means and a clear path to clean up my mess, and I'm going to do it in just a few months...?

I grab my laptop and sit cross-legged on my sleeping bag among a pile of luggage and clothes, looking out over downtown to the south and toward the cloud-swallowed hills. I don't even have an Internet connection at this apartment anymore; just a wireless card. In fact it was exactly this way even weeks and weeks ago; I just didn't see it then.

... slowly it comes to me. This is that feeling I was fearing when I set out to un-capsize a couple years back. It's getting to be that time where my book isn't writing itself anymore. I'm leaving all pre-defined paths, and now I'm forced to write it.

In western society (or, maybe modern society is more appropriate) you go to school, get a job, earn a retirement, etc—and what I'm "throwing away" is a lot of things that a lot of other people desperately wish they had. I'm deliberate in what I'm doing, but it's still hard to swallow.

These clouds are so bright. It reminds me of when I was a kid... My grandmother, when she would make a mistake on the typewriter, she would grab this little bottle of whiteout and brush over the mistake... like it had never existed

Saturday, July 16, 2011

37 days: an opportunity

Much like my decision last year to move to Asia changed the way I thought about everything, the opportunity itself changes everything all over again.

With some careful thought over french press this morning...

ok, yes i could leave now, and i'd probably be fine.

but what if i dropped all of my expenses to near nothing, and was more focused at work than ever for an extra three months. could i basically solve all of my problems, before i fly off the face of the earth?

The experience of grasping a real opportunity is invigorating. Dropping everything everyone else told you you wanted for some set of principals you actually really care about.

It's the possibility of something actually new, no matter how many days it takes...

This morning I took a piece of graph paper out of my portfolio, and proudly in all uppercase letters, declared my intent to leave my dream apartment, without a second thought as to what I was going to do next.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

39 days: regrets

Yeah, I have regrets. I mean, I do wish that I had asked Adidas for an overseas job, you know, or something like that, back when I could have done that sort of thing.

But it's just too late now.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

41 days

I got off after 15-some hours of plane rides at noon yesterday, and didn't sleep all night. There's too much to think about.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

perfect moment #1

Gather perfectly-roasted artisan whole-bean coffee, a fresh-baked bagel and whipped cream cheese, and some precisely-ripe organic summer fruit. Assemble into a delicious breakfast.

Open the big window to let the fresh air in, sit on the couch, put your feet on the coffee table, and eat while you watch the rain come down in a drizzle over the Portland skyline. Don't open the laptop, answer the phone, or turn on the TV. Just breathe.

Monday, June 13, 2011

the manual

Coming soon???

"Colin Black, the manual" is a continually developing online book helps me, and it helps you.

I can gather my own thoughts about what is going on in my head, and refer to them later. It's an owner's manual for myself.

For you? Am I acting bizarrely? (always...) Well, here's me, from the perspective of... me. An operator's manual, for you.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I think what I fear the most now is mediocre use of time. Not making the best decisions.

I don't know why this is such a problem, and why I can't live life just to live it. It may drive me to do some interesting things, but there is a cost associated with all of this...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

hello from the captain

It's 2011 now, and my life is no longer an ever-capsizing ship.

Every once in a while I notice a leak. Sometimes all I have to do is go to sleep and then wake up to realize that there was never a leak in the first place; I was just seeing one in that moment. But even if there still is water coming on board, I make a plan and then I patch it up.

I don't need to redesign the ship now. It floats.

Sometimes I have to take a breath to realize just how unbelievably good things are, how fortunate and lucky I am, and how amazing it is that I'm actually living the life I only dreamed about four short years ago.

And then, sometimes I have to be reminded. :-)

Now then... what to do with this floating ship?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I think you should probably not forget what you set out to do in the first place.

You wanted a new life. Don't get distracted, and don't return to your old ways. You know better now...

Monday, March 14, 2011

I'm rewording my last post (which has now been deleted).

The winds of change, which I have discovered along this trip, beckon me to cut the crap and behave like a more normal human being. It might be good to see some sensibility in my life and in my actions before I die.

Friday, March 4, 2011

on selling

You'll find a new customer
when they see something in your world that theirs in comparison lacks

Sunday, February 6, 2011


I worked hard. I didn't take a break, I didn't even eat until the project was done. I needed to put a checkmark next to it and archive it off so I could get back to that strange place I'd just discovered.

That strange place was a place where not everything was completely, perpetually falling apart; it was a place where I could consider what was actually important.

The ability to consider is important itself, because without it how could I ever know I was spending my time wisely?

Time is precious because it is limited in quantity, but so potent with potential. Time is the currency of life, life itself.

What could you and I do with... pure time?

Friday, January 28, 2011

I observe, and I laugh a little to myself, only to realize how much people must laugh to themselves when they consider me.


Look babe, if you want to be right about something, sure, be right about whatever you want. Just don't complain to me when, at the end of the day, you still find yourself deeply alone.

Friday, January 7, 2011


You know, I try not to apologize too much for myself anymore. I say and do stupid things all the time, and I wish I hadn't right after I have, but honestly, the proof is in my behavior... me. Maybe I should just wake up tomorrow and make my best attempt to be better?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What happens in the end? Do I get the girl??

Or do I even care anymore?