Another Lockdown Drawing

It's becoming a habit: when I don't have time, I post an old drawing I did during lockdown. Except that this is also the subject. And it's not really a drawing. But hey.

Coronavirus: the thrid wave. People in need of a haircut after 3 months of lockdown. Capacity of hairdressers. Flatten the curve! Follow the "hairdressing" (french pun) measures.

Why do it fast?

I spend so much time writing on my computer (novel, screenplay, journal, email, etc.) that I recently started practicing typing. Every word-per-minute I gain will be paid back a hundredfold - that's my evil plan.

During one of these typing sessions, I realized the following phenomenon: I get much better scores when I'm not trying to go fast.

Or more precisely: when I focus solely on accuracy (making zero mistakes by going as slow as necessary), I become both faster (in words per minute) and more accurate (in errors per sentence). In other words: I type faster when I'm taking my time.

Hence my question: in how many areas am I inefficient (or just plain bad) because I try to go too fast?

Besides, why go fast?

It seems there is nothing we can do about it: it's a conditioned reflex. As soon as we master the basics of an activity, the next step is to want to increase the pace. Find the technique, the trick, the gadget that will allow to go faster to improve performance. Above all, don't waste time.

We see this everywhere. In school, the best students are those who shine in limited time. In sports, the medal goes to the fastest. At work, the first one in wins the job or the promotion. It's so ingrained that we don't even think about it anymore.

But recently, I've been leading the resistance.

If you think about it, you realize that there are many activities where speed isn't as necessary as you might imagine. Roughly speaking, unless you're an EMT, firefighter, or a sprinter, we've become accustomed to going too fast in everything.

So the next time you're working, walking, or cleaning, ask yourself this magic question, "Could I do this activity much, much slower?".

This way of looking at things has transformed my daily life.

The idea that I could complete a task "at my own pace" without regard to speed or efficiency makes any activity much more palatable to me. I procrastinate less. I am less anxious about work. I consider without apprehension actions that I would never have thought of undertaking before. And when I notice latent stress, I can often relate it to an underlying performance pressure.

But most importantly, this philosophy has another benefit I didn't expect: slowing down has made me much, much faster at everything.

* For those interested, my routine for typing on the keyboard: I start with keybr where my goal is to make zero mistakes with capitalization and punctuation enabled. then I move on to monkeytype where I need to be over 96% accurate (French 2K with capitalization and quotation marks). Finally, 10fastfingers to go as fast as possible while still staying above 96%.

The Best Episode of my Favorite Series

To get away from Six Feet Under, The Wire, Mad Men, or The West Wing for a bit, there's a series I had stumbled upon that blew my mind. I watched it again this week and it transported me again. But most of all, episode 8 - what the writers call the "turning point", where the protagonist(s) decide(s) to face their destiny - had a strong effect on me. It did it again.

The show is Halt and Catch Fire and the episode in question is called "The 214's."

It's nice to see a series thought out from the ground up. It doesn't feel like the writers are tricking themselves and constantly having to justify previously made-up nonsense. The characters are consistent. It goes somewhere. It's telling something.

In this eighth episode, after the dramatic setbacks we've come to expect before the climax, the three main characters make the decision to take the plunge and throw themselves into the void. Except that here, it's not the usual writing exercise seen a thousand times. I believed it. I was with them. Everything that had happened previously suddenly made sense and made me want to hit the road with them to Comdex.

And the opening credits were quite something.

I can't seem to find the subsequent seasons in VO. And I may be a little afraid of being disappointed. But if you have any leads...

Concept Art "My Life On Mars"

Concept art for an animated short I finished writing a long time ago but never got around to it. The next step would have been to send the script to producers.

My life on Marq

First sentence of the film (voice-over):

When the technology was advanced enough to reach Mars, all the governments of the world wondered:
- Who should we send?
- I know, said someone! What if we sent a child?
And everyone thought it was a great idea. But if you ask me: it was a silly idea.

Three Rules of Life to Change the World

Change the world, maybe not. But you'll stop bugging me.

1. No more "bon appétit" at every turn

At the table, with your family, with your friends: have a blast.

Even if the Nadine de Rothschild's handbook says it's not done (what's the next step: "bonne graille?" remarked a guest), it's part of French culture, part of your freedom of expression and if not, how do you break the ice with all those people you have nothing to say to?

BUT, when you see, sitting on a public bench or on a terrace, someone you don't know whatsoever, that you will never cross paths with again in your life, and who is taking the first bite out of their sandwich while reading the newspaper... Why bother them?

True: it's always nice to connect with another human being.

But other than forcing them to swallow hard only to respond with a half-hearted "thank you" and disappear from their life forever, what did you accomplish? What did you get out of this interaction? Why the cheerfulness in your voice and the self-satisfied little smile as you left on Amsterdam Street? (Those involved will recognize themselves.)

2. No more unnecessary croissant

If you're a waiter and I ask you for a coffee, there's no need to offer "And don't you want a little croissant with that?"

No. I don't want anything. Pack up your junk.

If I had wanted something, I would have uttered the corresponding words. I would have articulated "with a croissant" or I would have asked for the breakfast option. I don't need any assistance in appreciating my desires or formulating my wants.

So I know: it's probably your boss who demands it. But let me share a secret with you: there's nothing that requires you to follow dumb orders when your boss isn't standing right behind you. And I refuse to believe that he's replaying the surveillance tapes reading your lips to make sure you're suggesting the right baked goods. (If so, get the hell out.)

What's next? Ordering a glass of water only to have the waiter whisper in your ear "wouldn't you like to go for a quick pee first?". At least I'd find that funny.

3. Start now

Let's end on a positive note.

Whether it's meditation, exercise or finding meaning in your life, start now. Get started today. Right now. Don't even finish this paragraph. Just go for it.

Most importantly, don't wait until you "finish such-and-such a project" or "are in a better place."

There are two reasons not to wait:

  1. Without balance, your project is surely headed in the wrong direction anyway and its completion will only sink you further. As for the best conditions, they will only come if you do the right thing. Get started.
  2. If you put off what improves your life until later, "when you have time," your good resolutions will disappear along with your free time. Yet that's when you need it most.

For example: I meditate and journal every morning. Sometimes I skip a day or two - it happens. But never - oh, never! - when I have an important or busy day. On the contrary: that's when it counts and when I need all my mental energy.

The mornings after a bender when I'm eating fat while watching Netflix, it doesn't matter as much.

Websites, Wordpress, Drupal: How to do it as badly as I do

A quick word on how I make my websites because my method is:

  • Extremely slow,
  • Very tedious,
  • Not secure at all,
  • Unable to share/scale,
  • A huge waste of time in my life.

If you want to do the same thing, here's how.

In prehistory, I used to make static HTML / CSS sites. And it was fun. I had learned html during an internship at an internet company and I was having a lot of fun making psychedelic sites where everything moved thanks to carefully placed gifs (now I pronounce "jguif" to agree with everyone).

I should have stopped there.

Then I got into Wordpress. And let's be clear: it's very good, Wordpress. A very mature environment, a solid code base, a very active community around an open source schema with paying options for those who want them. Whatever your business, in 90% of the cases, Wordpress is a good solution.

I should have stopped there.

But when it came time to make a website for my company ChezFilms, I wanted more control. Over the aesthetics, the categories, the navigation. I started with a static html site: simple, sober, fast. Important company info, demo movies, an email address and that's it.

And that's when I messed up. I put my finger in the pie.

I thought to myself, "what if I created a tiny database to enter my movies anyway?" After all, with over 60 films under my belt, it made sense to be able to browse projects by client, by craft, by genre, etc. So I linked my site to this database in php.

But to populate this database and update it, I did need an admin console. So I programmed that, still in php: a quick and adapted way to enter movies, teams, projects. The version 1 was only for the movies. For version 2, I expanded to other types of posts: photos, articles, videos, etc.

And before I knew it, I had programmed a new Wordpress.

In much, much, much worse ways, obviously. But - I have to admit - very suitable for my needs. So that if you go to ChezFilms, it's still my code that runs the site. (The only external library I use is twig.) The console also allows you to manage invoices and quotes.

Then... I got tired of it. Since the beginning of the year, as you know, I've been taking a more content-centric than container-centric approach.

So I started over using Drupal.

It's a framework that allows you to build a site from scratch but more in depth than Wordpress. The architecture is extremely scalable so you can do whatever you want with minimal code. And there are ready-made templates. That's what I used to create this version of Boulengerie and that's what I'll use to create the next version of ChezFilms.

And then, I promise: we'll stop here.

Morning Stats

Distance walked this morning: 8.9km

Number of children dropped off at daycare: 1

Desire to work: 0

Diary entries: 1231 words (7287 characters)

Money spent on coffee and drinks: €11.40

Number of very important meetings this afternoon: 2

Number of meetings postponed without date: 1

Number of meetings postponed by one hour: 1

Number of times I told myself that in life you really have to plan for nothing, I mean: yeah, you can plan, but the most important thing is to be able to dance with the chaos when nothing goes as planned: 2

Number of women crossed sobbing in front of the Bataclan: 1

Number of times reading the name of an actress I vaguely know on the poster of a hit play made me think about the importance of growing your network to be successful so much that I read the wikipedia article on graph theory to think more deeply about the connections that bind us and imagine how we could automate the process of finding the people who are right for us: 1

Number of times I felt like I was wasting my time and not doing what I should be doing: 4

Number of times I said to myself "it's OK, I do what I do, stop judging": 3

Number of times it helped: 2

Number of phone calls received while writing this post: 1

Number of meeting postponed without date which now have a date: 1

This morning on a scale from 1 to 10: 10, easily.

My New Graphic Designer is an A.I. (Join the Club)

Those who have the eye will have noticed that a large part of my posts here are illustrated by images produced by an artificial intelligence, in this case Midjourney.

For input, I compose a short sentence in English to describe what I want, often accompanied by the terms "vector illustration" for a drawing or "photo-realistic" for a photographic result. And the program outputs four breathtaking proposals that I can transform or expand. All for 8 euros per month.

For example, here are the four suggested results for "French Baker shooting films with a camera and a baguette":

4 proposals by Midjourney for la Boulengerie

Which is not to say that graphic designers have become useless - not at all! They can still bring coffee or do the short ladder to help catch high objects.

Just kidding (embarrassed emoji).

If the images generated by A.I. are always of surprising quality, it is still very difficult to have real control over the result. The machine does what it wants. Not to mention the supernumerary members and other graphic aberrations that we do not fail to notice at second glance. Smart illustrators will therefore make these tools their allies by composing the right requests upstream and making the right corrections downstream in order to create richer works, faster. Or so we hope.

But yes: these jobs are evolving. Along many others. Ask GPT3.

Sunday Night Awakening

Didn't post anything this weekend and lots of work on my plate so I searched through my video impros from last year for one I could repost quickly. I was happily surprised to see that one of the most viewed was also one of the most spontaneous.

Another beatnik thing:

One day, I'll have to do a real review of this year of video improv. And change my face on the cover of this video.