An Unexpected (Career) Journey

fallCareerPath
Photo by Jeff Jordan. Visit https://jeffjordanphotography.com/

“When your passion exceeds your fear, you found your career.”–Brian Kidd

It was the spring of 2013 and I found myself jobless since my contract working for a mobile services startup through a staffing angency had expired. Just about 12 months prior to this my contract working for Google as a data analyst in their maps department ran out. I was becoming very tired of the revolving door that I found myself in and I knew I needed to change the path of my career because all roads seemed to lead to dead ends.

That summer, I found out about the Washington State Worker Retraining Program and knew that I had to take advantage of it. I also knew that it was time to really dive in and study what had interested me for years, but was mainly a hobby up until then—Web Developing. So I applied for the Worker Retraining Program in the summer of 2013 with aspirations of studying Web Development and the state accepted my application to enroll at Cascadia College in the Web Application Programming Technology Program.

Past Jobs Reflections of My Youth…

My entire life I have had many different types of jobs. My first job was as a paperboy for the Seattle Times, when I was 14 and 15 years old. It felt good to deliver the news to my neighbor’s doorsteps, as I was also, at this time, an avid reader and writer. I would write short stories, lyrics, and even poetry. I liked the idea of writing for a living, which several years later probably lead to me majoring in Journalism at the University of Washington.

My next job, when I was 16, was at a full-service Greek restaurant called, Pizza Bank, where I initially worked as a dishwasher. You might wonder, who would name their restaurant, Pizza Bank? Well, the owner, who was a Greek immigrant, named it that way because the restaurant was actually a converted bank, First Interstate Bank to be exact, until he bought the joint in 1983. So, why not call it the Pizza Bank?

I ate at Pizza Bank a lot during my youth (The Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo and Sausage Mostaccioli were my favorites, oh and of course, before my shift, we would get a free small meal and I would often opt for the delectable meatball sandwich), and my friends Jesse and Doug worked there, so I thought it would be a good job. And it was. I eventually became a line cook at the Pizza Bank and worked there during my early college days until I was 20-years-old. I only left because I was just tired of the place and wanted a change, for the most part.

My next job was as a line cook at the Pro Sports Club Bistro inside the famously luxurious Pro Sports Club in Bellevue. I heard about the job there through a high school friend who used to train at the club for basketball. He told me that the bistro based its menu on the Schwartz Brother’s restaurants, mostly Cucina Cucina. They even had a wood-fired oven mostly used for cooking pizzas and calzones and that excited me a bit as well.

I started working at the bistro when I was nearly 21 and stayed there until I was 23. During my tenure there I met a lot of rich Bellevue-ites along with some pretty famous athletes including John Johnson—who played on the 1979 NBA Champions Seattle Supersonics team—Gary Payton, Edgar Martinez, and even the cross-over dribble king, basketball star Tim Hardaway among others—Nate McMillan stopped in a few times as well, oh and I especially liked kidding around with former Sonics star Slick Watts—who was a regular and was hilarious—and his son, UW Husky basketball star, Donald Watts. At the bistro, I cooked for all the shifts, including the breakfast shift, which I learned to enjoy, although it was my least favorite.

At this time I was in college and honing in on a major. I loved being a line cook, but I was not so passionate about it that I wanted to make it a career. It was an excellent job for college since I could work evenings and on weekends. Looking back on it, I could have gone to culinary school to become a chef, or at least worked my way up in the restaurant industry, but it was just something that didn’t inspire me or create a fire in my belly.

From here on out, things get kind of messy, as most of our lives get messy, Due to some internal conflicts created by a falling out with a friend who worked at the Bistro, I went back to Pizza Bank for a couple years. I also worked as a Barista for Peet’s Coffee and even for about six months at Verizon Wireless in Customer Care before graduating from college, majoring in Journalism with a minor in music. (I had to quit the Verizon Wireless job because they would not work around my school schedule and wanted me to work only during the day.)

Now you might think this is where my career journey began and that my previous jobs were just to help pay for college and rent, and if you had asked me in my fresh-faced 20s what I thought of my work during my early to mid-20s, I would have regarded them as just jobs for the sake of having a job. However, now I realize how important those positions were.

As a paperboy, I learned the importance of delivering a product on time and preparing that product with quality and care. I also learned the importance of getting up on time to do a job, as on the weekends I would have to deliver the paper early in the morning, often getting up at 6 a.m. On Sundays, the papers were so heavy and bulky that my dad and I would load them into the trunk of his Toyota Camry and he would drive me around the neighborhood as I delivered papers, following the car with a steady jog and a determined look on my face.

As a paperboy, I also learned how to collect money from customers, some of which did not pay directly to the Times, so I would have to go to their doorsteps to collect. I learned very quickly how to be both nice and persuasive, especially with customers who did not like to pay on time. (By the way, my coolest customer was Jay Buhner, who played for the Mariners back in the day.)

As a line cook, I learned how to work with a team and take pride in my work. I learned how to work under duress during the rushes and how to think logically when a seemingly daunting task was put in front of me: For instance, at the Pizza Bank, during the dinner rush, dishes would stack up so fast that it would make you want to run out of the restaurant in order to flee (especially as a 16-year-old) and never look back. However, my boss, Ray, was a very motivational guy and he would show me how to organize and clean the dishes in an efficient way.

He would say to me, “Come on Kidd, I don’t want to see you have to work at McDonald’s.” That truly motivated me.

Then when I worked as both a prep and line cook—which I honestly never planned on doing—I learned some pretty valuable culinary skills. I was never intimidated by having to cook, but I also was a bit shy about cooking. That is until I had to learn the entire menu. I had not heard of Ramono or Kasseri cheese and although the Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo was one of my favorite dishes, until I became a cook, I didn’t know that both of those cheeses were added to the heavy cream of that dish. More importantly, I didn’t know how to prepare that dish until I worked in the front of the kitchen.

When I lived by myself as a bachelor for more than 10 years I enjoyed cooking for myself and I ate probably healthier than most 20 or 30-somethings because I wasn’t just buying fast food or making microwave dinners.

At the Pro Sports Club Bistro I learned how to interact face-to-face with the public because in addition to cooking, I would sometimes take orders at the front glass. I expanded on my culinary skills by cooking with a wood-fired oven and also cooking on a flat grill.

In my short time at Verizon Wireless in customer care, I learned some pretty valuable phone skills, how cellphones work,  and how to work with CRM systems. This would later come in handy when I worked in advertising.

As a Barista, I expanded on my customer service skills more, working behind the register as well as behind the espresso machine. I learned to work and balance a till and also how to make a plethora of coffee and tea drinks.

Looking back, I realize that some might deem the aforementioned jobs as unskilled or medium-skilled labor. However, these jobs taught me valuable lessons about how to be a hard worker and a good employee. The so-called soft skills that I learned from these positions are just as important to me as the hard skills I have acquired during my later career path.

You might not see these jobs on my LinkedIn profile, but I consider them all as important in their own right.

labyrinth

Back to that fateful summer…

In fact, it was during my life-transitioning summer of 2013 that I worked for a friend’s landscaping business, as one of the partners was out with an injury. It was during this time that I discovered just how important it is to go outside more and also, how physically, mentally, and even psychologically working in nature can be!

During my second year at Cascadia, I took a lighter course load because I worked about 35 hours a week at the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle in Corporate Communications. This counted as school internship credit. While at the bank, I earned money to help pay for some school expenses, and I also got to work at the same company as my late father, who was Director of Research and Business Initiatives at the Bank.

I graduated from Cascadia in 2016, finding only part-time or independent work in Web Dev. So in 2018 I worked for about one year for another landscaping company. You might think, damn dude, you went through all that schooling and after all of that you had to earn extra money by landscaping, that must have sucked.

On the contrary…

In fact, I discovered that while working outside, mowing, edging, pruning, or what have you, that some of the answers to my toughest programming problems would suddenly pop in my head. It was like my brain had to be relaxed (not asleep and also not strained) but relaxed and almost in a flow-like state for it to work optimally. I would go home after landscaping for eight hours and instead of resting right away, I would head to the computer and implement the ideas I came up with while out in the fields, laboring away…

But, back to the transition itself…

First a quick preface or background:

It was 2001, close to when I was to finish my time at the University of Washington. I had a friend who was about to graduate from Western Washington University, but his emphasis was on Web Design and Economics—mine was on Journalism and Music. Now, I knew this guy was bright, but I didn’t consider him a math, engineering, or computer genius, necessarily. Not because I didn’t think he had the faculties or gumption, but because I didn’t think it interested him at all.

One thing we had in common was we were (are) both musicians. This fella started creating websites for the bands he played in as well as other bands. I was amazed. These websites were not the websites of the ’90s, which mostly seemed boring to me, but, with the help of Cascading Style Sheets and Javascript and a dash of PHP, this cat was coding some pretty fantastic websites that I viewed as multimedia installations, with message boards, media players and some pretty awesome colors and graphics.

I knew way back then, that I had to be involved in Web Design and Developing in some capacity. Never had anything computer-related captured my interest so much. However, just like those dishes piling up in the Pizza Bank kitchen, the task of learning how to create websites seemed daunting. Not only that, but it also seemed arcane and even unimaginable. I mean, only like, you know, nerds can do that stuff.

I liked the Journalism industry and wrote for a bit as well as getting into news publication advertising, but Web Design and Developing still loomed in the back of my mind. I would build simple websites and learn things online, but this was a little bit before all the online programming schools, so I wouldn’t get that far.

However, it was after leaving that mobile services startup back in the spring of 2013 that I finally had enough: It was time to turn that spark that had been cast in my heart 10 years earlier into a flame and pursue my interest in Web Developing…

School…

When I started attending Cascadia College, I had no idea—although I thought I did—what I was getting into. My original intent, although I did not know what to really call it, was basically to become a Web Designer with some Developer chops.

The first quarter there was a breeze, partially because I was already familiar with HTML, CSS, Photoshop. However, my second quarter was a come-to-Jesus moment in that it was now clear that in order to really get where I wanted to go with an enriching educational experience, I would have to learn things I had never seen before and there was really nothing (except maybe The Philosophy of Logic) in my previous education that I could base those things on: Networking Fundamentals, Java (Object Oriented Programming), Beginning Database, and also Advanced HTML and CSS (Interactive Authoring).

I nearly quit that quarter because it seemed that my preconceived idea of what becoming a Web Developer would involve, was not related to the courses I was taking. However, in hindsight, I can see how all the puzzle pieces fit and how they were necessary to learn and to use today.

To keep at it was more of execution in intuition than logic, in faith, than certainty and definitely stubbornness and pride than innate talent. The interesting thing is, programming has not only improved my developing skills but also it seems to have improved the way I think and solve everyday problems.

I would go so far to say it has even improved the things I hold very dear like programming music, writing, and even, peculiarly enough, performing music. It could be that programming helps integrate the right and left prefrontal cortex along with the frontal and parietal lobes. Maybe Steve Jobs was right when he said that everyone should learn how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think.

Now you can think however you wish, of course, and there are many great thinkers who never learned how to program a computer. But I think what Jobs is saying is that programming touches on both intuition and logic, on art and science. Some of the best Mathematicians are not necessarily the best musicians and vice-versa, however, it could be that logic and art are more related than some might think.

As the famous guitar shredder Yngwie Malmsteen said regarding practicing hard music scales, modes, and chords, you have to eat your Brussel Sprouts. Logic and programming have definitely been my Brussel Sprouts, and they have made me a better designer, developer, artist, and maybe even human being.

Since earning my Associate in Applied Science in Web Application Programming Technology-Web Emphasis at Cascadia, I earned a full-stack JavaScript Techdegree from Treehouse and am about 80 percent finished with the UX Design Techdegree, which is projected to be finished by July 2020.

All this work paid off. In fact, it was on 02.11.2020 that I started my first major job as a Web Developer at Boeing. Finally. And then,,,

Laid off…

I was laid off because of the COVID-19 outbreak and my last day was 03.26.2020. I had been working from home since 03.06.2020, but I never thought that I would be let go, since before I left, my department was actually planning on ramping things up and hiring more designers and developers…However, half of my department was let go…

You might say I should be pretty angry because of what happened. Well, initially I was livid. Up until my last day, I worked my hardest and even finished a new page for the Boeing.com website, greatly impressing the seasoned, full-time Boeing program manager. (See Testimonial)

It was on my very last day that the anger and frustration almost became suffocating. I could barely type correctly and felt like I was going to spontaneously combust.

However, I have no qualms with my former employer. Most employers, including Boeing, did not see this pandemic coming and it was in their best financial interest to let us go; I understand.

My anger was mostly aimed at how hard I had worked to get a foot in the door in the Web Developing industry. My wife and I were elated. We started making plans to move and start a family because now we had the financial wherewithal to do so.

And just as quickly as that spark in my heart had been turned into flame, the reality of a pandemic doused it all out.

Right after my exit conversation over the phone with my boss, I started thinking of ideas to make money. I could pursue music licensing further and associate and affiliate marketing. I could expand on my small side multimedia business. I could and can still do these things, and maybe I will do them.

But I won’t give up on having a steady job in the meantime. With Web Dev you can easily work from home, which is ideal in this current pandemic situation. All in all, I know it will all work out.

Over the last couple of months of our social distancing and quarantine, I have been able to reflect on my past, including the jobs that I’ve held. Sometimes I cannot believe how quickly time has passed and also what I have been through to get myself on the right path, which is relative, as this is MY path and although it took a while to beat back the bushes, it’s now all laid out in front of me.

Sometimes you have to take one step backward to take two steps forward: Such is often the case in the Labyrinth of Life. Enjoy it!

–Brian Kidd

A Positive Cover Letter after getting Laid Off

emptyViaduct
Photo by Jeff Jordan. Visit https://jeffjordanphotography.com/

(I was recently laid off from my Front End Web Developing job due to COVID-19 and this is a sample cover letter I composed to a prospective employer.)

Hello (name),

I am very interested in the remote Frontend Designer position at (company name) Attached is my resume.

I have a diverse background, which in addition to Web Design and Developing, includes communications, journalism, editing, data entry, sales, and advertising. My most recent position was as a Frontend Developer for The Boeing Company, but I was laid off due to COVID-19.

I worked at Boeing from 02/11/2020 to 03/26/2020 and was really excited to contribute my hard work ethic and skillset to a renowned company. During my time at Boeing, we were assigned to work remotely for about three weeks before I was laid off. Working from home, I was able to keep up with my website maintenance duties along with building a new page located on Boeing.com.

During my abbreviated amount of time at Boeing, I worked on the main Boeing.com site as well as a myriad of internal websites, some of which I was able to go in and quickly dissect and inspect in order maintain the organization and coding style and conventions of each site.

At Boeing, the main technologies and languages I used were Visual Studio Code, Teamsite CMS, Beyond Compare, Photoshop, HTML5, JavaScript (ECMAScript 6), CSS3, JSON, and PHP.

In addition to my career accomplishments as a Web Developer, I earned a Full Stack JavaScript Techdegree from TeamTreehouse.com (MERN stack) and am currently working on the UX Design Techdegree from Treehouse, having finished seven of 10 units.

I am a person who feels comfortable working in the sweet spot between design and development but am able to do either equally well.

Please see my attached resume for more information.

Also, feel free to contact my former supervisor at Boeing, (name), (email).

My other references are listed below:

(name): (phone): (email): (title):
(name): (phone): (email): (title):
(name): (phone): (email): (title):

Brian Kidd
Web and Multimedia Developer
https://www.briankiddmedia.com
206.683.7451

I Cracked My Better Health Code and Feel Like Me Again, So can you!

Please note that the following is a general overview of some of the substances and activities that have helped me regain my general health and wellbeing as a desk worker. Please consult your General Practioner and/or Naturopathic Doctor before indulging or participating in what is mentioned herein and also to find a Health Code that works for you!

Links to purchase some of the products mentioned in the article are below:

The Healthy Programmer: https://amzn.to/2JOhsFV

L-Citrulline: https://amzn.to/2YdZEI5

L-Arginine: https://amzn.to/2ybdlgw

Nitric Oxide Strip Testers: https://amzn.to/2JNmOkC

Epic Xylitol Gum: https://amzn.to/32LS4Id

I’m no doctor, but recently with the help of my own research and a naturopathic doctor, I have been able to demystify my health issues, which seemed to increase in my 30s and now in my early 40s. Although I showed no outward appearance of being unhealthy (I was/am physically fit and besides shaving my thinning hair, my appearance is fairly youthful for a man now in his early 40s) as I began to work more in Web and Multimedia Design and Developing, I began to sit for longer durations of time without breaks—including, and most importantly, breaks with some physical exertion like walking or pushups—and it was taking its toll on my digestive and cardiovascular systems.

I did start to exercise again, and my digestion improved somewhat and my blood pressure would return to normal after a good workout. And I even spent a whole spring and summer working for a landscaping company to earn extra money. My hypothesis was that my health would greatly improve during my work as a landscaper, and for the most part, it did! I felt less anxious, more grounded, and generally happier. I did still have strange digestive issues like excessive belching and a little bloating, but I did feel better. I believe this was from the mostly light physical labor and also the increase of sunshine I was exposed to, which in turn increased the Vitamin D in my system.

See this great Healthline article for more information about the importance of Vitamin D: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-much-vitamin-d-to-take

However, just like I am no doctor, I am self-aware enough to know that for me, being a  landscaper would not fulfill my own goals of working as a Web and Multimedia Developer—producing video, audio and also content for the Web. There had to be a way to work at a desk off and on for 8 to 12 hours a day and stay healthy. And for me, these are the activities and natural substances that have returned me to the health I felt in my teens and 20s.

Nitric Oxide is your BEST friend

Seriously. Nitric Oxide is a vasodilator, which basically means it relaxes and widens blood vessels. Vasodilators affect the muscles in the walls of your arteries and veins, preventing the muscles from tightening and the walls from narrowing. As a result, blood flows more easily through your vessels.

What does this mean? You guessed it: lower blood pressure and blood pressure regulation. Which is awesome! It also means that it takes longer to get gassed during workouts or just general activity.

Click on this rad Healthline article to learn more about what foods have it and also the benefits of Nitric Oxide!  https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-increase-nitric-oxide

As mentioned in the article, besides certain foods, two supplements that are great for getting more NO in your system are L-Arginine and L-Citrulline. I also buy test strips to check my NO levels at least once a week. This morning before taking my L-Citrulline supplement, my NO levels were a bit low as indicated by my Berkeley Life nitric oxide test strip readings. However, after taking 1000mg of L-Citrulline, I measured my NO levels about 3 hours later and you can see the results on the test strip on the right.

20190724_143529

TestStrips

Replaced using Mouthwash with Chewing Xylitol Gum

There are many paradoxes in life, including health paradoxes. One of which is that although most mouthwash prevents cavities by killing unhealthy bacteria that feed on plaque, it can also kill the bacteria that helps create Nitric Oxide in the body, One way to avoid this paradox is to consume Xylitol, which is a sugar-free sweetener that is not only healthy, it actually prevents cavities and gum disease without killing the bacteria that creates Nitric Oxide in your mouth! For more information about Xylitol check out this informative Healthline article. I mean it, check it out! https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/xylitol-101

See a Naturopathic Doctor and Get a Food Allergy Test! 

So back to my weird belching and bloating. Well…it turns out that after taking the advice of a Naturopathic doctor and getting a food allergy test, that I have high food allergies to gluten, wheat, and dairy. At first, I was pretty bummed about this, but food allergies can subside with time. After pretty much cutting out all or at least a significant amount of the aforementioned food categories (I still enjoy at most a beer every week) after about a week I began to notice that my bloating and belching decreased significantly! I was also told to take Ashwagandha in the morning and Nattokinase at night for both better stress management and also better circulatory health. I also take CoQ10 and Omega 3 fatty acid supplements. However, as mentioned earlier, please consult an ND or General Practitioner before taking any herbs or supplements that are included in this article!

Eat a Healthy Diet

There are a lot of diet and exercise fads out there (e.g. Paleo, Mediterranean, Dr. Gundry, Vegan, etc.) however most health experts agree that not just one diet is right for everyone. According to most health organizations (including the CDC, the World Health Organization, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Health Service of the UK) a person’s daily diet should be composed of roughly the following:
30% Fruits and Vegetables
30% Grains and Starches
16% lean protein(meat, fish, eggs, beans)
16% Milk and Dairy
8% fatty and sugary foods

If you like me are trying to limit your intake of gluten, dairy, and eggs, this article might help you achieve this while maintaining a healthy diet: https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/getting-nutrition-dairy-gluten-eggs-1143.html

Be Active!

Do you know your max heart rate bpm? It is basically 220 – yourAge. Therefore a 40-year-old would have a max heart rate of 180 bpm. Most health experts agree that the best intensity level for walking or any other activity is roughly 60 percent of your max heart rate. Therefore, with the example above, that heart rate would be roughly 108 bpm. However, there is a range as seen in this article. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/target-heart-rates
For the example above that would be 90 – 153 bpm. (I usually try to keep mine at about 120-140 when doing cardio and about 90 – 110 when lifting or playing basketball).
Did you know that just walking 20 min a day can decrease your risk of premature death by 20%? A good goal for steps per day is 10,000. You can track your heart rate and steps (and much more, including sleep quality and caloric intake!) with this gadget that costs less than $100.00. Check it out!

Fitbit: https://amzn.to/2JRI4WF

So what do I do to stay active? Thankfully, even at 42, my knees and ankles are healthy enough to play basketball. I am no MJ, but I can play fine and I love the game. My advice is to find a sport that requires a general amount of physical activity, and if you are able, participate in it. Join a league, or just head out in the sun to the local outdoor courts.

I also lift weights on average about 4 times a week for at least an hour every workout.

This summer, I am going to get back into bicycling and am really stoked about that.

But all in all, if you don’t have the time or money to go to the gym, I would recommend staying at home and simply doing pushups and situps along with jump roping and jogging or bicycling. Honestly, just by taking breaks every 30 minutes or so and maybe taking a five-minute walk or other light physical activity during that break, you can stay reasonably healthy.  Oh, and use a Pomodoro clock so that you make sure to take breaks. Here is one I created a few years back. https://codepen.io/BrianBrain/full/egxRVd

Self Care – Reducing Stress and Increasing Feeling of Wellbeing 

I remember I had a boss once whose dentist told her she needs to get a massage. Apparently, this boss’s stress was showing in her dental health, possibly because of teeth grinding or TMJ. My favorite modalities of self-care are acupuncture, craniosacral treatments, and massage. These treatments can add up in cost, so although I get them every-so-often, to me, they are not as big of a part of my health equation as diet and exercise, but they are a great way to reduce stress and thus increase overall health.

Other forms of self-care are Yoga and Qigong. I participate in the latter and find that the breathing techniques and meditative movements of Qigong, particularly Yi Ren Qigong, have reduced my stress quite a bit. In fact, and this is for another blog entry, Yi Ren Qigong is probably the single most important self-care activity that I practice.

Find a Form of Spirituality that Works for You! 

Speaking of Qigong, I am a Taoist, and Qigong is related to the Taoist form of spirituality, along with other practices like Taoist Yoga and Tai Chi. However, find a system of spirituality that works for you. You might even find that just by attending church regularly that your mood and outlook will improve. Spirituality is so important for health and is often neglected in our lives.

Be Sure to Get Good Quality Sleep

This is different for everyone, but I try to get about 8 hours of sleep every night. Here is another great Healthline article. This one addresses the importance of sleep: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-reasons-why-good-sleep-is-important#section1

You Must Check out this Book

So yeah, this has been the first blog I have written on this site for quite some time. However, I do plan to make it at least a weekly occurrence, but we shall see. I mean, life can get so busy that it is hard to create routines that don’t directly have to do with work or family.

So in order to optimize my health as a desk jockey I wanted to find a fairly short and informative book that would guide me in living a healthy life. That book is The Healthy Programmer: Get Fit, Feel Better, and Keep Coding by Joe Kutner. If you only buy one book about how to keep healthy while maintaining a sedentary vocation, this is the one I highly recommend.

You can find this book in the link at the beginning of this entry, and I would also recommend checking it out on Google Books. Take care and Be well.

Yours truly, Brian Kidd:

Ths Holistic Programmer

theHealthyProgrammer

 

Multimedia Developing

This week was a week of finding patience in refining my crafts. I decided to give Mobirise a chance as a way to build lightweight websites on the fly. These websites are supposed to be mobile-friendly, and they are, for the most part. That is if you stay within the framework of the templates and do not customize them too much. My workflow for Mobirise is as follows: 1. Insert all of your blocks first (edit those blocks using the block editor) 2. edit your code with the Mobirise HTML editor (if you have that extension) 3. Publish your project locally to your computer so you have access to the website’s directories (For instance, now you can add images to the image directory and, using HTML, enter those images into your website outside of the confines of the Mobirise site template.) 4. add images to your site (<img src = “…”>) in a text editor such as Notepad++ or Dreamweaver 4. polish your code up to make any changes to the HTML5 and CSS3, use an FTP client to export the site to your host for public-facing website publication.

Within that workflow, I have been working on tweaking the website with Notepad++ and using CSS Media Queries to make the site responsive so that it looks good on all devices including desktops, laptops, tablets, phablets and cellphones. I am having a bit of a struggle tweaking the welcome page within the Bootstrap framework that Mobirise utilizes, but am coming along slowly, but surely. Right now I am having issues at screen sized width 768px, I think because there is a conflict between the bootstrap framework and my media query customizations. I plan to resolve this issue next week.

On the music front, I am still developing beats. Today I wanted to concentrate on making custom drums from scratch, no loops. I was inspired to make a beat with a syncopated sound similar to what John Bonham might program if he was an electronic music producer. The following beat was inspired by his work on the song “No Quarter.”

I am most happy with the simple yet poignant drum fills I programmed. You can see the drum roll in figure 1.2 .

figure 1.1BonHam Trance

figure 1.2

BonHam Trance Roll

Recording Basic Beats in Garageband

About one week ago I made my first ever beat in Garageband. It was a simple homage to a friend of mine who also produces beats in Garageband, with a early hip hop era beat complete with a bass and handclap, a la 1982. I am using Alesis MULTIMIX4 USB mixer as an interface for the vocals and used an aggressive hall delay. Listening to the vox, I can tell that they need to be smoothed out a bit into the mix, but this was my very first beat and I was basically messing around, experimenting. One thing I was proud of is the fade out at the end. Although I am not sure if this affects the normalizing of the beat when you export it. It is hard to adjust the normalizing feature in Garageband, as I think it automatically normalizes the track on export as long as you set it up in the applications preferences.  You can hear this simple, crude and somewhat humorous beat here.

For the second beat, I got a little more serious. I added reverb to the bass and snare and only used those two drums to create a sort of Joy Division-esque, simple beat simply by playing the drums with my computer keyboard. In Garageband, by pressing Command K on a Mac you can pull up the virtual piano and manipulate the sound of the instrument you selected. I was really stoked about a pad I found in the program called the Warm Arp Pad. The arpeggiated pattern it creates is very Bladerunner-ish and the notes I used are C and B flat  and C an octave higher in tandem and D Flat and A Flat and still hold the same higher C note as the previous pattern.

The piano sound used on this track was Steinway Grand Piano. As you can see from illustration 1.3, I tweaked the settings a bit and added some moderate reverb and echo to the piano’s default setting. The piano notes played are C C-octave-up A-Flat B-Flat G. I feel this piano sound gives it the classic NIN feel with a simple melody and lots of sustain.

For the bass, I simply used a sub bass setting and played an A note an octave apart. I did not tweak the bass settings. I also used a sort of arp bass when the grand piano comes in called a Tube Bass.

All in all, I am pretty satisfied with this being my first serious beat in Garageband. The next beat I create I will attempt to demystify how complex drum patterns are created. I am not sure how complex drum patterns can get in Garageband, but I will see what I can come up with. Eventually I will upgrade to Logic Pro, which is a more complex derivative of Garageband, with better plugins and overall sounds. I will say that I am pretty impressed so far with Garageband as a free Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). It is definitely a good DAW for the hobbyist, or a beginner who wants to start simple and see if making beats is something he or she would like to eventually take more seriously.

Garageband setup with virtual keyboard 1.1GbandSetup.png

Drum Reverb 1.2LiverPoolReverb.png

Piano Setup 1.3

PianoSetup.png

 

 

Getting into Music Producing

By trade, I am a Web Developer. However, I am also a musician and own a company called Kylmyys Media. According to some, including Jesse at MusicMakesCash, there is an abundance of money to be made by licensing your music for television, radio, movies and commercials—an abundance. As part of the music act Kylmyys, I have been involved in recording ambient/electronic music for nearly five years, although three of those years, 2013 – 2016, were a bit inactive as these were the years I went back to school. However, after taking a year to contemplate life a bit after the death of my father in March of 2016, including a trip to Cambodia with my girl friend, I have narrowed down my interest to four things, which will probably be my focus for the rest of my time on this planet: Web Developing, Web Design, Music Production, Music Performance.

Out of those vocations, only one, Music Production, is something I have very little experience in. I have recorded guitar tracks by myself for various projects, and programmed simple drum parts using Acoustica Beatcraft, but that is about as far as my experience goes. I know what normalizing is, and how to record live guitar properly.

Not too long ago, I thought it was sacrilege to record music without live instruments, especially drums. But with the advent of Digital Audio Workstations, DAWS, such as LOGIC PRO and Digital Performer, my opinion about using computer generated sounds has changed quite a bit: Gone are the days of the cheesy Casio keyboard drum loops, today synthesized sounds can sound very organic, often analog, and soothing to the ear.

This is one of the reasons why big name production companies such as FOX and the Discovery Channel are buying their underscores and other music featured in their shows from independent artists: Independent artists can now offer high quality production music for much cheaper than large music production companies and/or composers. much much cheaper. The bonus for the musician/producer is that after getting music licensed, the musician can make decent money from royalties. In fact, Jesse from MusicMakesCash claims that he and literally thousands of other independent music producers are making up to a six-figure, yearly income solely by licensing their music for T.V. , film and radio. Of course it took Jesse almost 10 years to get to that point and he had to have both the audacity and especially the tenacity to become such a success in the music licensing business.

However, let’s back up a bit: Kylmyys has just entered into the music licensing business and this is exciting for us. I decided that in order to increase our chances of getting music licensed, that I should learn how to produce music myself, using one of those DAW thingamajigs. Oh man, I am not going to lie: My ego is very vulnerable right now, but I know that I have a decent ear for music. I am hoping my technical prowess will not fail me and more importantly, my passion for music will not falter as I enter into the world of music production. I have signed up for an online course to speed things along and will document my progress on my soundcloud page. I am very excited about this, not only for the potential to express myself musically using a plethora of sounds available on a plethora of audio recording computer programs, but also the potential to perhaps make some extra money. Money that will keep paying me through royalties. It definitely applies to the idea that in order to make money, you don’t work for money, you make the money work for you. Oh snap, that reminds me, I have to check my stocks and bonds today, Whelp, gotta run! Until next time, be well! –BK

“Beet” high blood pressure!

Like many of my relatives my blood pressure fluctuates dramatically at times. It was one day at the eye doctors, after being diagnosed with early onset narrow angle glaucoma and Central Serous Retinopathy in my left eye (both conditions I have gotten treatment for), that the eye tech took my blood pressure. Now, I was obviously stressed by the diagnosis, especially because of my relatively young age, but my blood pressure was very high. 176/96 to be exact. The eye doc told me to go straight to the Immediate Clinic and get some meds. It was lower at the immediate clinic, but still high (155/90). I was really surprised, because a mere year earlier it was normal. My lifestyle had changed a bit, however. I was exercising less, not doing as much Tai Chi and Qigong, eating more randomly and less healthy foods and my screen time had gone up dramatically since going back to school. I would program up to 12 hours a day, sitting the entire time. I had to make some lifestyle changes fast. High blood pressure is not something to ignore, as it can lead to some serious health issues.

After being on a low dose of an ACE in inhibitor for about a year, I decided to look at alternative means to lower my blood pressure. In addition to going back to exercising and internal martial arts, (and also my new love, bicycling) I discovered the power of juicing certain fruits and vegetables and how they can lower my bp. Take today for instance. This morning, I used my Breville juicer  to concoct what I call BK’s Beetlejuice. (Try not to think of Michael Keaton in that horrific makeup while you drink it. Or maybe you like that look, and if so, carry on.) The ingredients in this juice include one large beet, about 4 carrots, about a handful of spinach (as you can tell, I have not created exact quantities and/or measurements for each ingredient) one large green apple, one large Navel Orange, one lemon and the optional half cup of strawberries or raspberries. Then, when all of those ingredients are juiced, I pour about one pint, or sixteen ounces, of coconut water through the machine. The cool thing is, not only does this add tasty coconut water to your juice, it also adds more high-blood-pressure-fighting potassium to the drink AND cleans any excess juice left inside the machine from the other fruits and vegies.

I just consumed about sixteen ounces of this drink about one hour ago. I took my blood pressure about ten minutes ago and it was 110/77. I have been drinking this juice almost daily for about two months now. For more information about foods that fight high blood pressure, including beets, check this out.

Because I have chosen the primary vocation of Web Developer in which I could be sitting up to several hours at a time, I also plan to purchase a desk riser so I can stand while doing much of my work. The health benefits of standing rather than sitting at work have been well-documented.

So there you have it. Just a simple suggestion for those who suffer from high blood or maybe those who just want to try a healthy and delicious drink.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have the sudden urge to go watch Beetlejuice but only because I had a childhood crush on Winona Ryder. She was delightfully, “strange and unusual…”

beetjuice

 

 

 

Working on Personal Portfolio

I have spent the last week creating a rather simple, yet hopefully effective, personal portfolio for my Web Media Development. I graduated from Cascadia College this June with a degree in Web Applications Programming Technology and am very eager to start working on projects. These can be anything from writing short stories to programming an MVC site in Visual Studio. I absolutely love the world wide web and hope to contribute interesting things to this vast and expansive network very soon. In the meantime, check out my website http://www.briankiddmedia.com for a few examples of my past work as a journalist, web programmer and musician. Oh, and as you can tell by my last sentence, I do not believe in the Oxford Comma, no siree.

Cheers!

Brian Kidd