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Lego Me!

Someone made a Lego… me! How awesome is this?

Jesse, who I know via the SFFaudio podcast made it, based on my Work It Out Yourself video:

Although the hat comes from an image on my website:

Africa trip route map

I’m going on a five week vacation to Africa!

Normally it annoys me when people refer to a place or thing in Africa as simply “in Africa”. For example, where is Kilamanjaro? It’s actually in a specific country. People seem to forget that Africa even has countries.

However, for this trip I’ve had to say “5 weeks in Africa” because the alternatives sounds like I’m boasting, or are confusing. I could list all the countries, but it takes a long time, and I forget which ones. The trip also spans different geographic areas, so East Africa isn’t accurate, but then saying East and South Africa is confusing because South Africa is also a country. Eastern and Southern Africa is probably the best way to say it.

We fly to Nairobi and stay for a day, then cross into Tanzania for Serengheti safaris, then down to Dar es Salaam and catch a ferry to Zanzibar. After 4 days in Zanzibar, we head overland to Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, with more safaris and interesting stops along the way.

After a few days at the Victoria Falls, we head down through Botswana to South Africa, and fly home from Johannesburg.

That should be pretty awesome!

Daily blogging will pause for a while, and switch to every-other-day blogging. I’ll be writing along the way, keeping a diary, etc, but I’m not going to spend any time or effort trying to blog along the way.

Travel photo blogging will continue, as all those posts are scheduled already. When I get home I’ll have loads more photos and stories to share here.

Travel photo blog scheduling meta post

I decided to check through my 2010 to 2011 travel photography collection as I want to publish everything I’ve not shared yet to my blog. It turns out I have waaaaay more photos to share than I ever imagined. I’ve shared some on Facebook before, but even then I’ve got folder after folder of images nobody else has seen, in some cases for almost two years.

So I’m going to clear the backlog! To do so I’m going to schedule one blog post per day. This means that in the coming months I’m going to publish content here than ever before.

But I don’t want the blog to get boring, and consist of nothing but travel photography. Some people do a 365 project, where they take one photo and share it every day, in an effort to take more photos and get better at photography. I have very little problem getting motivated to take more photos! If anything, this project will end up with me sharing way too many photos. Any long-time subscriber will know my photo blog posts usually consist of 10 to 30 images from the same location, and are mostly for my own benefit, for me to remember the things I did and saw on that trip. Who am I kidding? There’s often way more than 30 photos.

My plan is to do a travel photo blog post every other day. On the other days I’ll share something else, be it a juggling video, an essay, a review, some creative writing, a tutorial, a meta-blog post like this one about the blog. I’ll also make an effort to share some more music. I’m constantly writing and practicing music, probably as much as I practice juggling, and spend more time and effort on it than photography and writing. Why not put it out there?

So the challenge is there! A daily blog post of creative output. Or at least one photo blog every other day.

Of course, I’m going to Africa in March and April for five weeks, and will have to schedule 37 days of blog posts in advance. As it happens, with the travel-photos-every-other-day idea I already have half the blog posts planned. When I get back from Africa I’ll have another huge load of photos and stories to share, but might turn down the fire hose in terms of number of photos per day. Will I have the self control to only share five photos per day and not 20?

Burnie, Tasmania

I’ve written a new script that automagically compiles a blog post out of a folder of images using EXIF data. It took about an hour longer than I thought it would due to Lightroom 3 not using standard EXIF fields and labels, but in the future it should make posting photos to this blog way easier and less time consuming than my previous blog-post-creation script. Over the next week I’ll catch up with as many old batches of photos that I never got around to sharing here when I took them.

But first a quick test.

In December I visited Tasmania for the first time. I only had one goal: to spot a wild platypus and take a photo. Thankfully I found a very cheap and handy bike hire place and cycled out to a small reserve near Burnie, the port where our ship had docked.

Burnie, Tasmania

Burnie, Tasmania: A platypus! I tried taking a good photo, but this was the best I could do.

A platypus! I tried taking a good photo, but this was the best I could do.

Burnie, Tasmania: no description

Burnie, Tasmania: no description

Burnie, Tasmania: no description

Burnie, Tasmania: Bike ride.

Bike ride.

Burnie, Tasmania: no description

Broken knife!

Broken knife!: Thankfully this happened during a practice session, not during a show.

Thankfully this happened during a practice session, not during a show.

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2011 end of year blog thing

I have a few hours free this afternoon, so I thought I’d do an “end of 2011 look-back review type thing” blog post. I did a whole series of blog posts for the end of 2010, looking at the goals I set for that year, but this will be way shorter I guess. Why much shorter?

Well, last year I didn’t post my “list of plans and goals for 2011” to the blog, and I don’t think I referred to it here during the year. One reason was that my new year’s resolution (if you can call it that) was something like “Set fewer goals for the year!”

I didn’t want to be beholden to what January 2011 Luke wanted to spend time on when October 2011 Luke had changed his mind about it. On a weekly basis I have a larger creative output than almost anyone I know, so I have nothing to prove to myself or anyone else that I’m wasting my time, or that I’m a failure if I succeeded at only “35.05 out of a possible 50 plans and goals.” And yes, that was my success rate in 2010.

So in 2011 I intentionally didn’t work towards to plans and goals on my list. If I had time free, I’d look over the list, and see if it inspired me, but otherwise I just worked on what I wanted.

And, as it happened, some of the things I most proud of accomplishing weren’t on the list at all. For example:

  • The list said “Perform live set of my own music” inspired by spending time in New York with some awesome live performers.
  • I started performing at small music open stages in Berlin, and discovered that people really enjoyed my performing. They liked the fun songs, and how I chatted between, but hardly anyone commented about the pop songs and love songs that I’m so proud of.
  • I discarded other music plans and concentrated on writing more quirky and clever comedy songs, that I perform with just me at the piano.
  • This led to me performing more at comedy shows than music-only shows, and my comedy songs got a great reaction.
  • I now have 10-12 “comedy” numbers that I could, if the opportunity arose, put together into an hour-long show.

In January last year I never imagined I’d have the skills and material to do a whole new hour-long show. This is on top of the two hours of juggling material I have, AND on top of the (maybe) two hours of other music I could perform, and all of it original material.

I think that’s pretty cool. Right?

Who knows, maybe this year I’ll actually do a full-length solo music show, rather than just performing sets in longer shows.

All that aside, here are a few things from my list of plans and goals for 2011 that have been fun to track.


  • Visit another 20 new countries.

Partial win! I don’t have much control of this one, as I don’t make most of my travel plans. As it happened I visited 18 new countries in 2011.

I also made sure I got a video of me juggling in every country I visited in 2011 (win), even those I only passed through without leaving the airport.


  • Berlin and EJC and at least two other conventions (to be confirmed), one in a new country.

Win! Berlin and the EJC, plus the French Convention, Brianza Convention in Italy, Portland in the USA, and Passout in Germany at the end of the year. I’d never been to a convention in Italy before, so that was cool.

  • Win Fight Night Combat (against JJ for bonus)

Win! I won in Berlin, but JJ didn’t take part. I lost badly at the EJC. No bonus.

  • Run open stages and other events at EJC (with zero stress)

Win! 8 open stages over 8 nights. There was stress in the organization as a whole, but I deflected it all by being more professional and confident than others, and hopefully the stress didn’t leak out too far into the venue I had to control.

  • Track and break some personal records.

Win! I broke a few. The most “impressive” record was 5 club backcrosses. I worked on it many hours in the spring, up to an hour day for many days, and smashed my old record. It now stands at 50 catches, though my 5 year plan back in 2001 was to get 100 catches. I’m okay with never reaching that goal, even after 10 years.

  • Practice more (log hours per day).

Win? I’m not sure if I did practice more or less than previous years, because this is the first year I’ve tracked how much I juggle. I think I’ll release the nerdy numbers as a separate blog post.

Other juggling and performing goals included working on new material (win), building new props (win), developing routines which don’t need more equipment than I already carry (win), finishing the construction of “The Room” set (progress, but nowhere near finished), writing the show “Powercut” (fail), and working with other jugglers and artist on material for the above shows (win).


I had some writing goals, but this was tricky. Half way through 2010 I decided to keep a diary, and writing about 1,000 words per day for my private diary took up so much of the energy that would normally be spent writing fiction. I did manage to make progress on various novels. I even completed one novella and recently published it on my website.


I intentionally left this even more vague than others. Photography is something I’m still getting better at on a monthly basis, and until that stops, I don’t think I need to think about setting myself other goals.

My only goals were to learn more about small strobe photography (win), to learn more about self-portrait photography (win), and to set up a photo studio in my juggling studio at home (partial win).


By the numbers:

  • I had 31 plans and goals for 2011.
  • I succeeded at 15.9 of them.
  • I failed at 11.1 (the decimal is from visiting 18 and not 20 new countries).
  • At the end of the year I was still actively working on 4 projects (for example, an audio recording of one of my science fiction stories).

The numbers are nowhere close to last year’s success rate, but last year I put down loads of things that I knew I would succeed at anyway. Things like “continue to record the SFBRP podcast”, and even without trying I put out 32 episodes of science fiction reviews. And a lot of them were really simple too, like “buy a new camera bag”. How much effort does that take? Nothing compared to writing a whole novel!

And, as I said before, I decided to be happy to go on flights of fancy with my plans and goals and dreams.

I’m super happy with 2011, and how much I achieved in terms of life accomplishments and creative output. I even found an awesome girlfriend, and she is going to be included in many of my plans and goals for 2012.

But that will be a whole other blog post.

New for 2012: I’m turning off comments on my blog. Since early 2009, when I started this blog, there have only been about 10 comments really worth my time reading and approving. And for each of those, I responded individually by email, or created a new blog post. All the others were fine, but not worth wading through the spam.

So from now on, I’ll just leave my email address at the bottom of each post. If you have something to tell me, please email me. I’ve done this since 2008 on my SFBRP podcast, and have developed really strong relationships via email with my listeners. I’d love to replicate that here. Just so you know, I reply to every email: