The HitchHiker’s Guide: Living  0

It is said that before you die, your life passes before your eyes.  This is, in fact, true.

This process, called “living,” tends to be a rather tedious affair, often requiring lots of nothing to do (commonly including non-tasks like “sleeping,” “waiting,” and “watching TV sitcoms”), and occasionally entertaining periods of increased activity, commonly known as “excitement,” that often end with statements about the person’s willingness to repeat the period.  On the whole, though, the process is a long, boring one; nothing to write home about, particularly if said home has been demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass, leaving the writer with nothing to say anyways, although it could just as easily be said that it would leave them a lot to say, but just nobody to whom it can be said.

Boredom itself is interesting, because it doesn’t exist anywhere outside the mind of man, who is so incredibly creative, that when an astonishing event occurs, he will not be astonished, simply because he’s already imagined it, himself as its cause, and found thirty-five different ways to use it in similarly fantastic and improbable ways, none of which would actually work if he actually tried them.  This creativity so completely overwhelms one’s perception of the universe, that nothing that actually happens can compare with the imagination of man, leading him to a completely boring life, filled with distractions, such as digital watches and cellular phone ringtones, and of course, the circulation of small, green pieces of paper.

Why mankind doesn’t consider such distractions in and of themselves boring is a mystery that eludes even the most creative minds.

Some Linguistificationality, but Mostly LaTeX  0

In the second half of summer at YSU, I am only taking one class… an introductory course on Linguistics.


It can be dry, but it’s actually pretty interesting, especially for someone who wants to make his ability to speak his living.  The importance of diction cannot be emphasized enough, because when it comes down to it, people who hire voice artists do so based on how well they can get their point (or personality… or both) across.  Knowing how language works helps diction immensely.


Aside from the diction knowledge, this course has helped me in an unforeseen way… first with the International Phonetic Alphabet, and then with syntax trees, as well as the recreation of assignments from Word documents (I tend to recreate all my assignments separately from word).  You see, I try to find ways to recreate assignments in LaTeX, a document processing language that allows very elegant formatting with little need to draw lines, or track cells, or even to click at all.  However, recent attempts at duplicating homework have introduced me to the TIPA (phonetic alphabet), Tikz-QTree (syntax trees), enumitem (can set a letter-based numbering style for enumerate environments), array (creating a tabular environment with an enumerate-style number column), and multicol (mixing single-, double-, and triple-column paragraph structures in a single document) packages, as well as learning ways of introducing multiple-row cells in a tabular environment, and even introduced me to the “p{}” format for a paragraph-enabled tabular column.


I can’t just say that this is the only class I got a LaTeX workout in.  In my previous degree program (Information Technology), I got a workout once again, but the biggest workout was in the math areas (LaTeX’s strength), in which I used for both Algebra and Finite Math… it took me a while to figure out how to make a duplicate of the pivot tables in the book, complete with square brackets and the change arrowed items on the right, but by gum, I managed it!  Make no mistake… if you can do something in Word, it can be done in LaTeX.  And once you get the hang of it, the whole thing becomes a little addictive.  In fact, I’ve already started practicing by using LaTeX to convert the texts of Shakespeare’s works into a rather visually-appealing PDF format.  For example: All’s Well that Ends Well.  (It took me a few hours to figure out how to get the Dramatis Personae to use those multi-row curly braces, but I managed that sucker eventually)


Well, I look forward to more exercising of my LaTeXy muscles, so we’ll see what happens.

Degree Alteration  1

Wellp, I’ve recently discovered that I chose the wrong degree program.  Instead of the practical study of communication via media, I instead chose the degree program focusing on the academic study of communication itself.


While the study is not uninsteresting in and of itself, knowledge of this program will be unlikely to change my career path much.  I want to learn the ins and outs of media production, both for a career in voice over, and as a tool to expand my general knowledge to apply to the Penguin Producer website.  Trust me, I may be on hiatus, but I have not abandoned ship… More is coming, and I’ll probably start with the use of the Non toolkit of audio tools… as soon as I get comfortable with them.  Thankfully, FalkTX (like the god he is) is making sure these are in his KXStudio package repositories.


I have found, though, that the degree path I should have chosen (and have recently switched to) is “Telecommunications.”  Yes, I ignored that path because the name gave me images of being a telephone engineer.  Not really my choice in life.  However, further research showed this is exactly what I was looking for: practical and professional training in the production of audio and video media, including desciplines of scriptwriting, broadcast presentation (which would be perfectly in line for my choice as a narration voice-over), and broadcast programming.  Oh, the articles I could write about Airtime once I get a grasp of broadcast programming!  Never mind what all this can do for my podcasting skillz… I may just try again with a little more confidence (and a lot more grasp on just how to prep and present).


Aside from the correction in major, I remain with an Entrepreneur minor; let’s face it, all the skillz in the world are useless if you can’t sell what you do.  And as an out-of-work bum currently on the Public’s dime for a hefty education, I do want to get back into the game once I’ve retooled and rebooted.  At least, at around 40 years of age, I’m a little more disciplined and organized… well… with the emphasis on little.  I’m thankfully not set in my ways (except where Linux is concerned).


Yes, I use the hax0r “z”.  You got a problem with that? 😛



On Unemployment and the Prelude to College  0

Being on unemployment and waiting to begin college is a tricky situation.

On the one hand, the State of Ohio requires me to apply to two jobs each week, and supply them with the details in order to receive Unemployment compensation at all, even though that money was paid out of my income to begin with. Additionally, the work I’m supposed to be applying for is the same work I was doing before. On the other hand, I have about a month left before I begin going to college full-time. Once I begin attending classes, the unemployment will no longer require that I look for work, but that I attend classes sufficient for the purpose of the education.

Additionally, there’s the matter of burnout.  I am sick of customer support.  I got into the business to repair computers, and what do I end up doing?  Taking calls.  It probably wouldn’t be so bad if I had control over what I could do to solve the customers’ problems, but trying to solve problems with my hands tied by employers, and my options limited to “make promises I can’t guarantee,” and “pass them onto someone else,” is not my idea of good employment.  Granted, these are not always my only options, but as time goes on, these seem to become the most common things I’m expected to do.  Oh, and there are those people whose sole problem is that they’re not getting the free service they’re trying to trick or guilt me into giving.  I don’t like playing cat-and-mouse games, and I spent more time per day on that then actually solving problems.

This puts me in a pretty precarious position, as I am currently applying for work that I hope I don’t succeed in getting, because I’ll be VERY busy once I begin classes.  On the one hand, unemployment is paying barely enough for me to live off of. Thankfully, my parents were willing to help me out by allowing me to move back in with them. However, as a 39-year-old man, this is not really something one should be doing, unless I’m the one supporting them. But there’s nothing for that, I suppose, and I am getting by on unemployment. On the other hand, however, I will be attending school full-time, which means that once classes starts, I will not have enough time to study, work, sleep, AND unwind. And if there’s one thing I learned during my years in Arizona, it’s the importance of unwinding. Stress can do nasty things to your disposition and your health. For me, it usually resulted in nasty migraines and a VERY short temper. I don’t like having a short temper, because it makes me say things I will immediately regret. And I never forget the things I regret.

So far, I’ve been… well, “lucky” (for a given value of the word)… in that the one job I did get hired for immediately let me go due to a mistake on the part of the hiring party. Instead of being 45 minutes from where I live, the location was in fact on the other side of PA, approximately 5 hours away. Here’s to hoping the “bad luck spree” continues until I’m safely attending classes.

New Interest and Career Changes  0

Since I’d been laid off from work in December, I’ve been considering my next steps.  Desktop computer repair is no longer the certain profession it was, as several events occurred to make things rather difficult at best.


The first thing that happened was the specialization situation; when I started getting interested in computers, it was the 1980s, and computers were the skill in question; there might have been some programming and maintenance, but the skillset was much less involved before the intricate interconnections made possible by the Internet, and it’s internally-designed clone, the intranet.  This means that the computer is not just in the box anymore.


The second thing that happened was the introduction of mobile smart devices, particularly tablets and phones.  While they are very useful devices that makes me feel like I just found myself on the set of Star Trek, my skillset doesn’t mesh with these devices as well.  I can’t assemble a tablet or phone like I am able to construct a desktop or laptop, and upgrading requires disposal of the previous device.  Repair skills become limited in this regard when it becomes a case of “discard and buy” to fix problems.


Finally, the political climate is making offshoring a VERY promising prospect.  Face it, the cost of low-end labor in the US is far in excess of what is affordable, leading to less people being forced to do more, and when the resulting loss of productivity occurs, the cheapest jobs are shipped off to foreign shores.  And, as sad as I am to admit it, computer repair technicians are a dime a dozen.


Now, I’m not going to go into political discussions of the ethics of offshoring; supporting the free market means that this is a valid strategy, and instead of complaining, I need to choose my own actions in response to the circumstances.


One option would be to go back to school to update my skillset.  However, my interest in computers has since died.  I’m sick of repairing computers.  I’m sick of dealing with people who attempt to either guilt or trick me into giving them free service, particularly as an employee who doesn’t have the discretion to actually make the decision one way or another.


Another option would be to go into business for myself.  The problem is the supply; you can’t swing a cat 5 cable without hitting 5 or 6 computer repair technicians these days.  The market has a glut, both as employees, and as self-employed.  This means that I am getting crowded out by people whose skillsets are more up-to-date.


The final option would be to completely leave the technician field and go into something else.  For the last couple years, I’ve gotten interested in voice over and media production, something that becomes pretty obvious when looking at my other website, “The Penguin Producer.”  Of course, I want to still continue finding ways to use Linux to that end.


To this end, I have made the decision to go back to college.  Instead of computer science or any of its contemporary equivalents, I am choosing to go for Communications, with a focus on media.  With the knowledge I gain in this, I will have ample inspiration to create new content for the Penguin Producer site, and can work towards a career where there is more room for personal and professional growth… not to mention the opportunity for passive income.


In addition, I plan to minor in Entrepreneurship.  At this point, it’s becoming obvious to me that there are no longer stable jobs. Employment can only be guaranteed if you provide your own, since you then have complete control over what your own company does.  If business goes down, you can change your strategy (or focus) instead of waiting for someone to drop the axe on your pipeline.


On the side, I am also looking into real estate investment.  Having gone through nearly the entire line of “Rich Dad” books, I’m really starting to understand just how important having cashflow-producing assets are; if enough passive income comes in, I no longer need a job, and instead can enjoy one.


One thing of note: the topic of investment has gotten my attention, so you will probably be seeing more posts covering this topic as I get deeper into the research.

Hello!  0

Greetings to all who are interested enough to come here!  I am Lampros Liontos.  No, don’t worry about pronunciation; while my Father named me (he’s from Greece), I, like every common American, speak only one language: English.  I can give it to you in the Greek accent, but conversations where one switches from one accent to the next (in English, at least) tend to be disjointed, or at least just sound weird.  Of course, while my name may be Greek, I am Greek, English, French, Dutch, German, and Scot-Irish, so I’m hardly a pureblood in any sense of the word.

This isn’t the most interesting thing about me, however.  I possess a mental (dis)ability known as “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.”  I won’t go into too much detail on what you already know about the so-called “disorder,” as… well… you already know about it.  I will mention, however, a key feature of the disorder that is often not paid attention to by those who only know of it: the hyperfocusing aspect.

While those people with the disorder tend to lose attention quickly for those things they are not interested in, they are not completely devoid of focus.  It just goes in a different direction, and BOY, does it ever hit when it does.  I’ve gone into research binges where it’s been months or years before I finally come up for air (computers, Linux, media production).  More often, it only lasts a few weeks (various crafts, accounting, marketing).  However, in that time, I can become very well acquainted with a topic, to the point where some would consider me an expert in the field (although it’s rarely the case, as I’ve just become very familiar with the basics).  This leads me to what I’ll be doing here.

This hyperfocus is going to be the topic for this site.  During those research binges, I’ll try and post the things I learn here, to those who are interested in those things.  In the off times, I might just post my day-to-day thoughts, but if you have a question, feel free to ask.  Who knows, it might just set me off on another binge that you can then follow along with.  I plan to post blog posts, podcasts, and even videos where I find them appropriate.

So, yeah, welcome!  Enjoy, and remember to wear your seat belts once the ride starts… it can get bumpy.