Answering powerful questions, No. 2

Since there was a No. 1 it only stands to reason that there’s a No. 2. And in fact, it was not unclear that there are a total of “6 Powerful Questions That Will Change Your Life Forever.”

A bold claim, to be sure, but since it is both free to ask and attempt to answer them for oneself, and because it offered a convenient way to create six new posts, i would be remiss to pass them by. And, you know, because of the life-changing part too. Which does beg the question – will it change for the better, or for the worse? Although the language of the inciting post is presented in a positive manner, there is no explicit statement of the outcome of asking these questions.

Nevertheless, i will ask and answer them of myself for you, reader. And because of the third thing on my answer for the first question.

Question No. 2: What are my greatest accomplishments in life so far?

This question is summarized thusly:

List all of the moments that you are proud of as well as the times that you’ve succeeded. To have accomplished these, you would have used some of your key strengths. See if you can identify why you succeeded. Also, list any activities, hobbies, or anything else that you do that you complete with ease. Within these lie greatest strengths.

Another list!

This one suggests more than straight itemization though, so more than likely it will wind up significantly shorter. (Plus, if i had 50 “greatest” accomplishments, how great could they be?) However, it is also suggested to elaborate on the items, so in terms of sheer word count i surmise this will surpass its predecessor.

  • Graduating from college: This is the first thing that springs to mind. My college experience has been erratic. Following high school (in 1995) i went to Ashland University because their cafeteria was the bomb. After the first year, i was unable to return so i worked for a year and then went to community college and earned an associate’s degree. Following on the heels of that i went to Kent State University, but i dropped out because “i don’t need a piece of paper to help me succeed!” Fast forward to 2012 and taking a job at a place i’d worked before – a place that was wholly unsatisfying and indeed hated (by me). So, the day i was hired back there was also the same day i applied to return to school. Journalism was my course of study in the past, and despite knowing it was not a lucrative career choice, i was far along in credits and did not want to start all the way over with something else. Also, my main goals for going back to school were: get a degree to help find better employment, and get a job that i don’t hate going to every day. Although it was challenging to work full-time plus overtime and attend school full-time for two years, i did graduate summa cum laude. Not long after, i transitioned to a new job in the journalism field as a copy editor, designer and writer. Since then, i was offered a job as a designer in Austin, which is where i live now. My job is very enjoyable and satisfying, and i have been paid to write stuff so i can legitimately call myself a writer. Even though it has been a lot of work to get to this point, in some ways i feel like it was a little easier because of my age. My motivation was pretty high due to my experiences in “the real world” fueling ambition and drive. At the end of the day, i am very proud to have finally gotten that “piece of paper” and it definitely tops this list.
Graduation day

Graduation Day, May 2014 with Professor Anup Kumar

  • Backpacking in Europe: My first real adventure, this came about in 2001. Just a few months after moving into a really nice highrise apartment with two friends, we grew restless and craved adventure. Not necessarily activities like skydiving and mountain biking (although we did do both of those things). We were fantasizing more about high adventure – and not just because we were high all the time. What we came up with was getting one-way flights to London and going from there. To that end, i sold literally everything that did not go inside my backpack. Clothes on consignment, furniture, truck, beloved and meticulously curated comic book collection…you get the idea. Even though this trip only lasted a couple of months (we weren’t sure when, if ever, we’d return to the states) and was the impetus for more than a couple of difficulties over the years, i have zero regrets about this endeavor. The moment i stepped out of Victoria Station is an image that is marked indelibly in my mind and every second of that trip was fantastic if only because i never thought i’d be able to do anything or go anywhere like that before. Only a couple of times during the entire walkabout did i feel even a hint of danger, most notably staying at the Hotel Kabul in Amsterdam while the government from back home was currently bombing the city Kabul shortly after 9/11. Even that wasn’t the fault of anything external; the people there were really nice and we had one of the best nights of the trip hanging out in the hotel lounge area with some kids from Ireland who were there to “visit the cathedrals.” My good friend Dan had his share of freakouts though. But in a weird way i think those moments helped balance things out because it was an opportunity to laugh and see the situation from outside myself, and see that it was okay. When we finally decided (begrudgingly on my part) to head back home, we hadn’t done anything tourist-y the entire time really, except visit the British Museum for a couple of hours. We made the adventure our own the whole time and that’s what made it memorable for me. A few times after getting back, Dan apologized for being kind of a stick-in-the-mud during the trip; he wished he’d let go of some of his fears a bit more and enjoyed himself. But, as i told him, he had nothing to worry about being sorry to me for – i had an amazing experience the whole time.
liberty hotel

Liberty Hotel in Amsterdam. We spent a good portion of the trip in Amsterdam.

  • Discovering real love: For clarification here i suppose i’m referring to basically romantic love, not, like, the divine sort or what you feel for your children or friends. i don’t really want to get too into this but, i will say that when you find it (or it finds you) it’s pretty much the best thing ever.  Over time it can fade or go away, and that can leave you with a lot of heartache. Sometimes it can take a very long time to move past or at least accept. But, at least for me, i consider experiencing this one of the highlights of my life for sure. It’s no secret that i’m a sentimentalist and i’m not embarrassed to say the time i shared with that special person informs a lot of my life. Some would say that’s a bad thing; i consider my overall happiness and contentment and my current state is the result of all my life experiences, so i’m not sweating it.


  • Making a movie: Was it a great film? No. Was it a good movie? …No. Is it an actual feature-length piece of cinema? Yes! In fact, we jokingly came up with several satirical “critic’s comments” that could be applied to “Bad Service” like “A movie, from beginning to end.” This 2005 project suffers from a number of amateur moves and mistakes, but still i consider it a great accomplishment that it was completed in any form. On a budget of essentially zero dollars, we tricked…i mean, inspired…a few dozen people to devote time, energy and effort to making our vision into a reality. My friend Anthony Snitzer at one time said it was his favorite project that he’d worked on at that point. Now, since then he’s had continued success as a video director, cinematographer and animator, but he did say that! Personally, Bad Service is hilarious to me, but mostly because when i watch it i am reminded of being there during shooting and all the wild things that happened on the other side of the camera. The making of the film is actually much more interesting to me than the film itself, and i still hold out hope that someday we can revisit the project and make a sort of documentary about that. The film is exactly 1 hour and 30 minutes long, which was cut down from i think about 2 hours and 30 minutes. On top of that there’s something like 8 hours of footage from all the takes we did and just leaving the camera on, so i think we could make a pretty decent behind-the-scenes making of thingie, hopefully someday. At any rate, writing, filming and editing Bad Service was a magical time.
  • Creating The Long Shot: Yep, that’s right – this here blog you’re reading right now (gratz on reading this far by the way) is one of my greatest accomplishments. True, it’s wholly at my own whim and discretion when and what i write. i don’t get paid anything and it’s not wildly successful in terms of audience. There has been growth over the last four years though, in terms of visitors, followers and personal improvement in quality. And it’s given me many opportunities to speak with fascinating people and attend terrific events. i got to speak with world-renowned artist Jim Mahfood, hugely popular YouTuber Chris Stuckmann, D&D entrepreneur Stefan Pokorny, three-time winner of Best Filmmaker Anthony Snitzer and lots more. The Long Shot covered Yuri’s Night Space Party at the Great Lakes Science Center, and i attended Gen Con as a member of the press. The Week in Geek column let me cover a whole bunch of cool science and geek stuff, and my coverage and photo gallery of Wizard World had something like 70,000 viewers in just a couple of days. It’s always been a great honor and pleasure that i’ve had contributing writers share their work here. The Long Shot started shortly after i returned to college in 2012 as a way to give myself extra practice writing. i actually haven’t looked at the “About” page in years, and after just doing so i am very happy to see that i’ve managed to stay on track this whole time.

The Long Shot exists for two primary reasons.One is to share stories of people who are engaged in autonomous media projects.  Two is to provide a place for me to share my thoughts and perspective on a myriad of topics that pique my interest.

Well, that was a fun trip down memory lane! At least one item on this list has given me an idea for a new goal to pursue. i’m enjoying this exercise and looking forward to answering the next powerful question.

What are your greatest accomplishments so far?


Answering powerful questions, No. 1

When i come across an article titled “6 Powerful Questions That Will Change Your Life Forever” i gotta at least skim over it, right?

powerful questions

Ever one for introspection, i’ve been considering the state of my place in the world for as long as i can remember (which is pretty long – i’ve got a good memory for the most part).

As a man for whom 40 is looming on the horizon, with no wife/gf or kids and having recently moved to Austin for a new job, i’ve had more time than usual to delve into the why’s of my existence. In many ways, this is a net positive situation because it speaks to the general abundance we enjoy in society. Without any real struggle for survival day-to-day, there is room for esoteric reflection on what author Daniel Pink describes in his book “Drive” as the three elements of the motivation formula: autonomy, mastery and purpose.

So, that’s a good thing, right?

At any rate, i thought it would be fun, useful and enlightening to answer those six life-changing questions for myself.

Question No. 1: What do i absolutely love in life?

The guide for this question reads as follows:

List anything that you love about the world and the people in your life. Think about any activities that get you excited and enthusiastic and make you feel most alive. This can be absolutely anything: music, sports, cooking, teaching others, learning, watching movies—anything. Within your love for these things lies deep passion.

So, a list! Big fan of lists here. A pretty easy way to start this project as well. This list isn’t going to be in any order other than that in which the items on it cross my mind.

  1. Dungeons and Dragons
  2. My tuxedo cat, Cosby
  3. Writing and copyediting
  4. New York City
  5. Walking in the woods
  6. Sunshine and warmth
  7. Overcast days
  8. Coffee
  9. Comic books and superheroes
  10. Journalism
  11. Getting lost in music
  12. Engrossing serial television and dramedy films
  13. Comedians
  14. Love
  15. Trying new foods
  16. Making lists
  17. Seeing another side to an issue (and being shown by someone else)
  18. Wit
  19. Making people laugh
  20. The ’80s
  21. No need for an alarm clock
  22. Talking with my closest friends Melissa, Dan and Brett
  23. Endless possibilities
  24. Geeks are cool now
  25. The beauty of human connections
  26. Even though that’s the way it goes, sometimes it goes the other way, too
  27. The vast and myriad ways humans can communicate with each other
  28. Pot
  29. Learning
  30. Technology (most of the time…)
  31. Mentoring from Anup Kumar
  32. 1960’s-era science fiction
  33. Pizza, tacos and sushi – the 3 greatest foods platforms
  34. Self-examination and introspection
  35. Gaming conventions
  36. Hope
  37. Torrents
  38. Mega Man
  39. Star Trek TOS
  40. Headlines and deadlines
  41. Colorful socks
  42. Courage on any scale
  43. Independence
  44. People who do their own thing and stick with it
  45. Sentimentality (and cheesiness)
  46. Making due with what i have
  47. Rewards of hard work
  48. Encouraging others
  49. Forward movement in life
  50. Graffiti

That feels like a good place to stop. When i started, i had no numerical goal, but somewhere around the high 30’s i felt like 50 was a nice number.

i’m curious to see how things turn out after answering the remaining five questions. Since i’m doing this “in real time” (i.e. i haven’t pre-written my answers yet) i’m looking forward to whatever discoveries i can glean from them.

What about your own list of things you absolutely love in life?

questions desert