Any self-respecting geek knows that defragging a computer’s hard drive is an important part of system maintenance. The process can increase a hard drive’s speed and efficiency by reorganizing the way data is stored and removing digital clutter.
I have never been one to be very nostalgic – ever. Not even at the start of a New Year. Maybe it’s the circumstances of life this go around. Maybe I’m getting old. Maybe I’m just bored as I sit at Starbucks waiting for my wife while she is at the hair salon. Whatever the reason, I find myself looking back at 2012 as I sip my double-tall-no-whip-mocha realizing that the past year has been one big defrag.
Starting the Defrag
The biggest event for me on 2012 was changing jobs in March. I had been the Production & Commutations Director at Salem Fields Community Church for seven years. I loved it. It allowed me to use all of my previous 20 years of concert touring, web development and marketing experiences. Every day was a new adventure as I never knew what was just beyond the horizon. However, there was one serious flaw. I had the tendency to put my job before my family. As my wife and I are in the process of finding a child to adopt, it was imperative that I correct this error if we were to have any hope of building our family.
After MANY discussions with my wife, lots of late night meditating and even more prayer – I finally decided that the only way to realign my priorities was to find a Monday through Friday, 9-to-5 gig. And one dropped right into my lap that just happened to be in the same building where my wife works. So I accepted the new job and started the defrag process.
The change was not easy (read more here), but I have absolutely LOVED the extra time it has afforded me to spend with my wife and our extended family – especially our niece and nephews. Our evenings and weekends with them have been filled with making memories. I have never in my life experienced this type of consistant, quality engagement with family. The horrid process of changing jobs was worth every moment of grief, torment and mental anguish.
Defragging Increases Efficiency
My new, lighter schedule has allowed me to recharge my imagination and creative batteries. I was able to finish almost 40 books-I have not had time to do that since the days when I was on a tour bus for 75% of the year. That quantity of quality input is a necessity to maintain a high level of creativity. The input of course does not have to be just books, but common sense dictates that to always pour creativity into projects without refilling will eventually generate a deficit that cannot be overcome by sheer will. So be it books, movies, websites, hanging with friends, hiking in the woods, talking with mentors, etc. – it is imperative to find external creative input to serve as sparks for future ideas.
I have also had time to experiment, tinker and play around with new ideas. For me, experimentation is a vital component of fostering and refining my creative ideas. Some of the projects that I finished up in 2012 include:
ABCD/XY+Tuner Guitar Switcher
I was playing guitar one weekend at Salem Fields and needed to quickly switch between my electric and acoustic guitars. I needed to tune the acoustic during the switch, but I only had one tuner with me. I was able to borrow one before the gig and made it happen, but this problem was the catalyst for this guitar switcher’s design.
The switcher has the ability to switch between four guitars with all of the guitars having access to one tuner. Two of the guitars have the option to use a second separate output. So the electric guitars can route to an amp and the acoustics guitars can route to a direct box. It is powered by a 9-volt battery or an external power supply.
The biggest issue with it is that I used blue LED’s that are so amazingly bright it is like staring into the sun.
New Guitar: Les Paul Studio
A friend at the local Guitar Center called me one day to ask if I would be interested in buying a damaged Les Paul Studio at an extreme discount. I stopped by to check it out and decided to pick it up.
Apparently the neck had popped out of it’s joint during shipping. I had been keeping an eye out for a decent “project guitar” and this one fit the bill.
You can read all about the repair process here.
While at a company dinner, the owner mentioned that she wanted to add some paintings around the office. She was thinking about getting a handful of blank canvases and doing “something” creative with them but was unsure of exactly what that may be. I mentioned it would be interesting to do something with the company logo (a red square) on each canvas. She then decided to have each employee to do just that.
My co-workers were not exactly thrilled with this project and consequently, me – even though my idea did not include mandatory participation. This is the painting that I created. It’s certainly not a DiVinci, but I was happy with it overall.
In the fall we decided to remodel our home office and I wanted to include a standing desk as part of the new features. Purchasing a true standing desk can be quite expensive. So we went to Ikea armed with tons of measurements and several sheets of graph paper of scaled drawings. After several hours of negotiating the Swedish labyrinth we found all of the required pieces and parts. I spent the next week modifying shelves, adding supports and building a foot rest. I managed to cobble together what I think is a stylish standing desk.
The three LCD’s are pretty cool, too.
HO Scale Guitar Store
The pièce de résistance is the the Christmas present I made for two of my nephews. They love trains, especially the model train diorama they are building with their dad. They also love guitars (I may have had some influence in that area).
So I built, from scratch, an HO scale guitar store with a band playing on a stage on the roof with a lighting rig that pulses to the beat of the music from an iPod (the lighting rig is still in-progress, but is almost complete).
As I mentioned, I am not one to wax poetic about the meaning of life and whether or not the past could have been better or worse. But I know this, since “defragging” my priorities by making a point to focus on God, then family and then my job AFTER the first two, the last 9 months of 2012 were the most relaxed, low-stress, creatively productive and memorable times of my adult life.
However, I must remember that defragging is a maintenance task that must be continually repeated. My hope for 2013 is that all of us may stay focused on keeping our priorities properly aligned.
Happy New Year.