ArcoJedi's Holocron

Who is ArcoJedi? A life-journeying Christian, ecstatic husband, proud father of four, web guru, all-around geek and Star Wars fanatic. Read these thoughts that he felt were worthwhile. Then wonder why he thought that way.

2022/04/28

Upcoming MO ECHO Events 🎼🎢🎷 Zyi Li Music πŸŽ΅πŸŽΊπŸŽ™

At the moment, there are three scheduled gigs I want to share with you.

Come out and see us. Check us out in this video from a benefit gig at Blue Strawberry.

You can learn more at Zyi Li Music and Entertainment LLC.

2022/04/13

Boredom - I'm Bored of the Internet Now

I wrote a most recent post of alphabetical websites I like for a reason that I'm struggling with. And it's tough to admit, but I'm very bored of the entire Internet. At least I'm bored of the stuff I visit almost daily. This is all entirely my fault of course. The modern web, the social web has evolved through design so that it maximizes the attention-grabbing dopamine triggers. And I gobble it up in my free time with ridiculous speed. The alphabetical list came about because I often found myself opening a new browser tab --usually on mobile-- and thumbing my through each letter one at a time and catching up on the latest updates, if there are any. But I found myself going in circles, bouncing around so much and getting nothing from it. You know that meme where it says something like "Browse Facebook for an hour until I get bored. Then I close Facebook. Wonder what else is going on,... so I open Facebook!" Ba-dum-tish!

But that struggle is real. And as I've mentioned before I'm not on Facebook (since Jan. 20, 2017) anymore. But I go to reddit.com, then imgur.com, then m.twitter.com, then tumblr.com and back around again. I go in circles a lot and it's sad and I'm not enjoying myself. I mean, I'm doomscrolling the latest news and it sometimes feels like it's important. But when I'm busy with these sites, do you know what I'm not doing?

  • I'm not learning anything new.
  • I'm not reading anything new or important.
  • I'm not building anything for myself.

This is all outside of work time and is my leisure time so it's okay to escape sometimes during this. But I'm starting to recognize that I don't have anything to show for it and it's not nearly as much fun as it used to be. This isn't a criticism of any of my actual friends on Twitter, or the quality of the content anywhere. I used to find the Internet, as a whole, inspiring and fun and full of possibility. Now I feel like it's all been collectively squandered and monetized and compartmentalized to such an ugly degree.

And yes I do recognize how fucking WHINY I sound right now.

I hesitated to write about this, because I know how it sounds. Part of it is the devisive politics of the last few years, of which I've wanted to write so much but instead just tweeted. Part of it is how much else I've got going on, most of it very good by comparison. A great number of the fun services that I've relied on in past years are folding up or no longer useful; Google Music, Flickr, and so on. And it bums me out.

What I want to do is turn all that negativity around and build stuff. Learn some new skills (career-relevant and/or not), reading more books (fiction and non-) and build back up some of the fun. Now to take that goal and divide it up into manageable pieces.

2022/01/27

Alphabetical List of My Most-Visited Websites

Here's a stereotypical apology blog post, referencing the lack of recent blog posts, which only further highlights the lack of blog postings. At the moment, there are only three live posts for the last year. That's current, but it might change. A peak under the hood shows that there are often blog drafts that get saved but not published. You can see that over the life of this site, I've got 974 posts saved but just slightly more than half actually published. I often have a seed of an idea to share so I save a quick one- or two-line note on the idea.

Let's pad things up a bit. Here's a fun experiment. Over the last year, I've been thinking about the detritus of my Internet history and found it might tell you a lot about what I browse through in my spare time. I use Google Chrome right now and my browser will bring up a suggested domain with the entry of just one letter. So here with no particular apology or emphasis are the alphabetical list of what comes up first for each letter. Some of these sites I like very much and would recommend. Some of them are just practical. None of these are work-related, as I use a different browser profile for work. Note that some of these may not be safe for work, so you've been warned.

  1. Amazon.com - We have a prime account, watch prime video and do quite a bit of online shopping here. We bought nearly all of our Christmas gifts this year online. That being said, as a company Amazon is lead by a rich oligarch I'd personally toss into the sea given the chance. I could rant about this for a while, but the recent trend of wealthy assholes playing astronaut while the world suffers makes me ill. There's some hypocritical actions here, buying from a company that I am so uncomfortable with. But I'm fully in support of government action against the company. Me personally boycotting any one company won't make that much of a difference.

    Second to Amazon, the most-frequently visited sites that start with "A" include some I own:

  2. So... pretty early here we run into a webcomic that I follow for it's story and artwork, but the content is very much pornographic in nature 99% of the time. Not too worried to admit that, but I won't link it here. Instead, I'll link the second runner-up, Blogger.com. Obviously that's the blog software I use to publish this site and quite a number of others. I'm kind of on the fence about recommending it as a platform, as Wordpress seems much more likely to receive consistent development. Perhaps someday I'll migrate permanently, especially if Google ever drops the platform. I'm still bitter about Google Music.

    Here's a few of my other blogger blogs, besides this one.

    Some runners-up for the "B" category...

  3. Google Calendar - For a while now, in our family, we have been using a shared calendar to organize events and work schedules. Did I mention that both my older kids have jobs now? So keeping track of who is going to be where has been much easier with a shared digital calendar.
    • A runner-up for this list is CNN.com, which is one of a few trusted news sources I turn to when called for.
  4. d20MONKEY by Brian Patterson - Here is another webcomic I followed very closely for a long time. This comic was largely about Dungeons & Dragons, and a gaming group of friends and their various interactions both in and out of game. The final post in the story was published late in 2020, but I have still returned here to catch up with the story from the beginning, read about some of Brian's homebrewed material and to await the next story called Innsmouth Garden Society.

    There are a number of other Dungeons & Dragons related domains that come up in the list for "D" here that I should mention.

    • D&D Beyond - a great site for D&D 5e players to create characters, campaigns, and encounters. I've been using this for all the games I've been running lately and it's just great.
    • donjon; RPG Tools - another great site with a bunch of D&D tools for game masters to help randomly generate character names, monster encounters, maps, and treasure.
    • 5etools - This one is a secret treasure trove.
    • The Hypertext d20 SRD - and one more great RPG site, although this one has fallen down the list a bit with some of the others I frequent more often.

    Also coming up for "D"...

  5. Example Domain - This is an example site, but I use it more often than you might think to test just about anything from my browser to my network connection.
  6. Fantasy Name Generators is another site I use often for Dungeons & Dragons, to come up with a quick list of character names very quickly. And there are generators for different species and different themes. Do you need ten Ewok Names from Star Wars? How about Legendary Creatures based on the names of real-world legends? Or how about Maiar Names from Lord of the Rings?
  7. Gmail tops this list, but coming in a close second is another webcomic I've followed for the longest time. It's also based on D&D and it's called Order of the Stick, hosted on Giant in the Playground Games. It follows the adventures of a stick figure band of adventurers out to save the world.
  8. How Many Days Until Star Wars? was a website I visited often to see the latest countdown to whatever was going to be the next Star Wars movie in the saga. I first learned about it back before Episode VII, then watched it closely for Rogue One, Solo and Episodes VIII and XI (not necessarily in that order). It appears the domain is no longer serving a countdown timer anymore, replaced with a generic "coming soon" message. That may be because there are no current plans for a full-length Star Wars film, only short-form shows and shorts on Disney+ for the moment. There ARE rumors of upcoming projects that will be developed, but no release dates yet.
  9. Imgur - Here's one of the few social media sites I still enjoy. Kind of an anonymous image/gif/video sharing site, very much started as a quick way to share images on Reddit. It's just a fun place to see new images every day, funny and irreverant.
  10. JustWatch - The Streaming Guide - This is a great site if you have multiple streaming sites and would like to watch a particular film that occurs to you, but you aren't sure what streaming site it might be available on. If you create an account and set your preferences for the streaming services you do have, you can get immediate search results specific to you.
  11. Google Keep - My favorite note keeping app, connected with my Google account. You can make shopping lists, idea lists, long form notes, capture photos, draw doodles, all kids of stuff. It connects with your email, calendar, Google appliances, and so on.
  12. LinkedIn - Another social media site. LinkedIn is a professional profile site and for the most part avoids a lot of the issues of other sites. I visit infrequently enough that I'm surprised to see it come up first. Since I've been off of Facebook for so long, this is the only way I keep in touch with former coworkers. I've also been doing a bit of networking with other musicians more recently so that's fun.
  13. Twitter - And one more social media site, which comes up next for it's mobile.twitter.com subdomain. I dumped the Twitter app off my phone but kept browsing to the mobile site. It turns out the mobile version was also "better" at the time in desktop browser so I stuck with it. Nowadays I can't tell the difference visibily, but I keep typing 'M' when I want to check out Twitter.

    Any more 'M' sites?

    • Musescore.com - A sheet music repository as well as a great composition/arranging tool. I've use Musescore for a while now, but I've been using it lately for arranging band music.
  14. NPR - One of my favorite news sites these days. Back when I was commuting to work and Reese was driving me, so she could have the car, we would often listen to and discuss the topics on the 1A show. I now listen to the show occasionally through the podcast app in Spotify.
  15. Reddit - What can I say? I like Reddit despite the toxic reputation it sometimes has. This one comes up for the old.reddit.com subdomain, which I prefer on desktop. I used to have an account that I used, but now I just browse the frontpage as a guest.
  16. Pinterest is a surprise, since I don't think that I visit this site very often. I save inspirational ideas for gaming, fantasy maps and music reference stuff.
  17. Questionable Content is another webcomic I follow regularly. It's about a bunch of 30-somethings living in New England. It's modern day, except there are robots everywhere and there are a few other subtle differences because of that.
  18. Reddit comes up next, and I browse the front page on my phone. On desktop I prefer the old.reddit.com as it's more my speed. Again, I stopped using my actual account years ago, but still browse as a guest. Pretty sure it's not a place I'd recommend to a lot of people, as it can be a shithole. Perhaps I should take my own advice? A second "R" site is another adult-rated webcomic, which I won't be linking to.
  19. I use Craigslist sometimes (which comes up for "S" because of stlouis.craigslist.org), searching for a good deal on a used trombone or marvelling at the free stuff people attempt to give away.
    • Additionally, Spotify comes in second for "S" in my browser.
  20. Tumblr was the first social network my kids wanted to join. Strike that, Reese wanted a MySpace page from a very young age, but we said 'no' for so long that she eventually gave up. When she was old enough for an online account, we suggested Facebook but she wanted Tumblr. Which I had no experience with. So I signed up for Tumblr just to have a way to monitor what the kids were doing. After a while, I started to really like it so it's become something I check daily.
  21. Utopia Studios, a rehearsal hall and recording studio here in St. Louis. I first learned about this place back in my Bullseye Womprats days, but I've been there a few times since then and it's nice. I don't really have much else that comes up for "U"...
  22. Google Voice comes up for "V" and that's how I have my personalized cell number.
  23. Woot is an online deals site that I've been a fan of since before it was a subsidiary of Amazon. I first learned of this site back in 2003 or so, and they specialized in having one special one-of-a-kind product deal for 24 hours (or until they sold out) and then they'd never have it again. Honestly, not as much of a fan since they joined the parent company. Their deals just don't seem as great.
  24. xkcd is another important web-comic that I've followed for a good long time. I know I've mentioned them a number of times before. Very simple, usually one panel, stick figures, usually science related, often quirky and obscure.
  25. YouTube is always good for some entertainment.
  26. Zyi Li Music and Entertainment! I've recently mentioned my band MO ECHO, and of course our website comes up first for "Z". I check the site's calendar and other resources to see where I need to be, but also to keep up with the other lineups.

And that's the alphabetical list of everything that comes up in my browser suggestion box when I type in a single character. I sort of skipped numbers and special characters because most of them bring up nonsense results. Except I did include 5etools above with the "D" and other Dungeon & Dragons sites. Otherwise, these are the ones that I browse first and fastest alphabetically. I hope that was interesting.

2021/11/15

xkcd: Bee Orchid

I've written about XKCD before. It's the webcomic I've followed for the longest. Sometimes it's simple tech gags and fun references, but often it's some very deep story told with simple stick figures. Here is another one that caught my eye...

xkcd: Bee Orchid

The botany, the entomology, the overall biology that comes together here is interesting. But the warmth of the story speaks to me.

2021/09/30

MO ECHO Brass Party Band at The Mocktail Lounge - October 23, 2021

Our band has been playing at various spots around town. Now we are coming back to the Mocktail Lounge in less than a month on October 23. The set is growing, the vibe is good and the sound is strong. Check this out:

A no cover, family friendly, 3 hours of music at the great non-alcoholic venue The Mocktail Lounge Saturday October 23rd 7p-10p! ZME's MO ECHO lineup is performing!

This is a STL based party/brass band that can be on the move. MO ECHO stands for Missouri/more echo. That is the sound you’d imagine such a band can create with its blasting horns. The Band consists of your standard band instruments (Saxophone, Trombone, Trumpet, Drums) and plays a variety of music. The music ranges from New Orleans like styled classics, new age brass band arrangements, and to popular hits of yesterday and today. This band is able to add energy to any event. With horn flashes, movement, and energetic and talented players, MO ECHO gets the audience grooving with a positive family friendly feel. The players are all of different backgrounds and experiences. Therefore, the compiled group brings unique styles to the table. Formed in 2020. #MOECHOLINEUP. zyilistl.com

For more information, you can check out the listing on Bandsintown. But keep in mind that the show is free and no tickets are necessary, it's just a feature that Bandsintown does by default.

2021/04/13

I'm in a Band (Again) 🎡🎢 MO ECHO, Zyi Li Music 🎢🎡

It's been a while since I posted about my music biz adventures. Well, I've joined up with a new band called MO ECHO, part of ZYI LI MUSIC AND ENTERTAINMENT. I can't say enough great things about this opportunity. We had a nice gig a few weeks back and Hendrick's BBQ and we are going to have another one coming up this Friday. There are many upcoming gigs on the books and I'll try and link them from here. This promises to be a big busy year and we are all going to celebrate as much as possible.

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