Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Search Engines


SaxoLaxo-Illuminated-Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet — is how I might have not only begun this post but continued onward had I not thought this out further. For the unfamiliar, these bastardized words of Cicero have become common filler text to get a pulse on the graphical potential of a written work in progress; if you have a place for text, don’t write, test the layout with this “greeked” Latin instead. A wikipediable practice long used by printers and typesetters, I look at that grabbable premade block of illegibility and wonder if I have so convenient an option available. Deluded of course as its role is solely to uncloud their workspace for their actual expertise it nonetheless presents a compelling approach for beginning something. Here is your starter kit; you will find Lorem ipsum next to the manual. Because staring ahead, blinking casually at infinity, you find yourself with a question: when you start, what do you start with? Have I started yet?

A blog, being neither ancient nor complicated, doesn’t have or require an elaborate tradition for launch. But its utter basicity lets the culture of beginnings ring and echo throughout its simple blank slate. When aren’t customs necessary? If we consider a blog’s identity to importantly be written, online, and ongoing, a full post of Lorem ipsum becomes almost promising. The written blog could be spared great effort by using filler text. The online blog, entwined with the very practices of web design that responsibly employ Lorem ipsum, would be rightly familial with this low-level in-the-know designator separating internet tourists from natives. The ongoing blog could be no better hallmarked than by the growth shown postponing the release of actual unique content. So do we post Typo Cicero and move on? For the buried obelisk of text you’re about to excavate I think we’ll all wish I did just that.

Of course the loose custom for blogging is the wholly sufficient welcome-aboard-what’s-in-store-let’s-find-out but my now harbored bug has already convinced me that such a practice is no more distinct than shaking hands at hello. Surely day 1 is different for the tax analyst and the sex therapist. We’re not talking about sitting down at your computer, but beholding a long passed-down code heretofore unbeknownst to the unblogged. With no ready folklore let’s swivel our telescope wildly and, perchance, catch a glimpse of how we might prepare the page or prepare our minds.

Stepping from Lorem ipsum let’s isolate our medium here as the Written Word. For the literal act of starting, the monastic scribes of tot, tween, and teen centuries offer a very comforting approach erring arguably on the side of procrastination: if you have settled on at least the first single word you’ll start with, or even have made up your mind about which of only 26 letters is safe to commit to, then just capitalize and doodle it for as long as you like. Well before college essayists’ ability to tweak font size and line spacing by minutely calculated decimals satisfying page length requirements upon completion of an assignment, at the beginning of an assignment you had Tony the Monk trying to fill a whole page with the first goddamn letter.

Sure enough, once decided on my Lorem opener I started painting my dropcap L and completed it well before even a mental outline reached this many paragraphs away. And as positive reinforcement, what I had intended to be only a passing visual reference to our topic has germinated textual content. However, the historical inaccuracy I’ve presented in the motivations and process of illuminated initials leads us deeper into the question of when has something begun because the classical manuscript was actually (as you knew or presumed, I’m sure) already written before the illuminator illumed, and both the scribe and the artist were already accomplished in their respective crafts having by nature of their commission clearly proceeded beyond occupational first steps. So really we’re getting into a chicken reproduction problem here between the beginnings of a skill, the beginnings of a work, the beginnings of the work that induced the beginnings of a skill, and the beginnings of the skill needed to begin the work. So where in that carousel does one jump on?

The paralysis presented may sure seem laughable to the realists who recognize that for all of Zeno’s problems with an arrow ever reaching its target even he would decline being shot at. And with that let’s accept that projects obviously have begun, historically, but grant me that perhaps due to the disorienting jump into this carousel culturally conventional beginnings have emerged as safer ways of entry. Answering the call of the riled, I now needed to find these customs, but my pre-packed lunch for adventuring turned out to be a celery of presumptuousness.

SaxoLaxo-Access-BrickWhen eying this topic I had, yeti-like in my sinuous convolutions, this bold assumption of Iconic First Steps existing in the world. When I began flipping through my brain’s files, finding corroborant examples, I started holding them together and first noticed a lack of similar context or reference point in their usage. These conventions that I had organized as kin didn’t really fall into satisfying patterns, indicative, it seems, of that shifty carousel threshold demanding an almost quantum attention to the distinctiveness of the task begun. The presentation of them as thematically connected grew more tenuous when spurred to find extra examples online I quickly hit a brick. Not a setpiece-caliber grand collision with a conspiratorial steel beam wall; it was like I couldn’t get behind a brick, a brick just sitting there and I’m kicking it around trying to get behind it holding it in front of my face looking at all sides and concluding I have no clue what I’m trying to do with this.

Initiations, it seems, are almost entirely exclusive and personal and don’t lend themselves to easy summation. There is not, unexpectedly, an obvious language to describe this and no ready compendium of firsts is available. Whether painting or becoming a Shriner the messy start is surely specific and iconic, but intentionally, though blamelessly, concealed by eventual mastery. You start things to escape the first step. Despite the vibrant culture of googleablé How-Tos the majority of experiences still require you to actually do them to notice what has become integral to the process. It’s hard to find this stuff.

So the examples I’ll present below —absolutely acoincidentally all coming from practices I have some familiarity with— are the illustrations of my premise (i.e. “here’s what I’m talking about”) but also the tip-of-tongue sputterings to prod a cherades-style blurt from you (i.e. “do you know what I’m talking about?!”). Maybe this category of practical advancement doesn’t exist in the terms I’ve defined; maybe I’m confusing culture with erosion, the world being so continually full of firsts that we cope by subconscious acceptance and not syllabus reliance. Or perhaps we just get around to it when we can. To start the discussion, then, here it is, an unaccredited survey of the Customs of Beginning.


This is the first one that came to mind and will be a nice “in” for this conversation. The entirely pedestrian looking “Hello, world!” —as all our examples— will, despite its bland appearance, leap out to the initiated as an established landmark of their territory. Then there may be those for whom this clause is now rattling dreamily in their memory banks: they may venture to choose “Hello, world!” as a Jeopardy category but would never have retrieved it as a Jeopardy answer. And of course the rest are looking at the sheer banality of the expression and resting defiant that any of the world’s iconography is reserved for such pablum.

As the illustration alludes to, the simple sentence has become a standard way to test the text output of a program; from html code (as shown) to hacking devices, if you are demonstrating that text can be generated and displayed, “Hello, world!” may be for you. Its significance is that simple: merely something you use to test an operation. It’s really just a more professional “asdfasdf” as the syntax or message is only tertiary to its purpose. For this reason, it’s exact form can vary changing the role of its words from a clear statement to a formal recursively abstract title of its role (title for text, text as text, text is title):

Hello, world!

hello, world


Hello World

Its origins reflect the simplicity as well having been created and spread by the lubed and complex minds that developed coding’s best practices, being devised and employed simply for examples of output, and gaining a foothold in the culture of programming by its repeated exposer to programmers learning from the same sources and perpetuating the same customs.

That being said, there is something symbolically nice about the linguistic implications of “Hello, world!” specifically in its professional usage:  the words metabolized by the machine and born again on the other side of a very abstruse membrane now in their intended form displaying to the world that they made it through alive and are rather adorably giddy about it. This poetry is maybe only felt by the new programmer who —and here comes the purpose of this post— is instructed in how to generate “Hello, world!” as his very first bit of code. The very first step the very first time you start is saying hello to whom you’ll be affecting with your work. Due to the earliness of this educational task and the colloquial obviousness of its wording, there will surely be a sizeable demographic who either briefly encountered the phrase during vocational dabbling or caught a reference to it through the ubiquity of programming in our culture and thus knew of its usage but perhaps didn’t realize it was a 100% bona fide thing and not just a seemingly obvious-to-type thing. Certainly my experience with it is more on this casual observer-to-lurker side, closer even to the knows-nothing side, but with interest enough to consciously decide to, when depicting the code in the above animated gif, represent it in Ethan Schoonover’s color SaxoLaxo-Hello-World-Classicscheme Solarized (in dark mode) — which is itself exemplary of a cultural nugget that one might have subconsciously digested as “why yes that looks indeed as code should” without realizing that it’s a very specific and famous set of colors designed to ease the screen-weary eyes of programmers, but it’s not related to beginning things so we can leave that there and quite frankly the average reader probably more readily associates the pure green on black to be more iconic of code à la The Matrix.

So, ahem, in this way “Hello, world!” offers us two concepts about beginnings. One branches from our Lorem ipsum in being another text option for a proof of concept gesture; with this, then, we could have simply limited the entire body of this post to “Hello, world!” and punched out our timecards (or really just have titled the post “Hello, world!” in a clean and appropriate allusion to this theme and wrote a nice little paragraph about how I’m starting a blog and carried on with life…). The other concept is “Hello, world!” as the first taught rung on the recognized ladder of skill for its specific field, and it is in this way I found no precedent for this particular medium of blogging. The idea that “Hello, world!” is an established custom that anyone who has had even minimal exposure to coding could share as a point of occupational camaraderie in a we-all-had-to-do-that-hyup sort of way is exactly the type of concept that was fascinatingly out of reach as I attempted to research equivalent examples for practices I’ve no familiarity with. So what else was available? Where else can one begin?


While an omnibus collection of start-here customs there is not, the closest concept that is readily researchable is the standard test item. These are items, purpose specific, designed and used as shared language for all parties involved, from creator to observer, when the project or aspect being worked on doesn’t result in a visible and/or static final product. The Utah Teapot is one such item, as is, point of fact, the aforementioned “Hello, world!” whose previous section includes some observations applicable to this one. If “Hello, world” is demonstration boilerplate, the Utah Teapot is the boiler’s very blueprint. Less an object than the invisible math defining the object, this 3D model is the visual guinea pig for rendering engines’ benchmark tests: here is a process, this is what the process would do to a teapot.

The Utah Teapot, named after the state the Melitta brand kettle was purchased and used in, is SaxoLaxo-The-Burdick-Benchmark-Plate-1also known as the Newell Teapot, named after the guy who purchased and used the kettle in said state. While chosen for it’s helpful topology and quite literally his need for such an object arising during teatime, it’s perhaps of note that teapots, in their aesthetic oddity molded by functional simplicity, are seemingly just rather compelling to us as evidenced by their frequent appearances throughout culture such as in Bertrand Russell’s epistemological thought experiment and in the ontological exploration of being one children regularly sing about — or, like Newell, maybe the creation of these things just happened around teatime as well (although the obviousness of such a claim is challenged by similar circumstances not yielding a body of work indicative of creative thought during bathroom occupation).

As my description of this object lurches extraneously I’m exposing, I’m afraid, my shallow pool of knowledge and unavoidably too as algorithmic draftsmanship extends farther out of my wheelhouse than it really should. Despite computer generated imagery’s glossy pheromones directing virtually all media demands toward its toolset exclusively, I’m a hand man. No snob, I am tingly anticipating the overdue cultivation of some legitimate 3D modeling and animating chops (and a discussion of their merits in comparison to traditional meSaxoLaxo-The-Burdick-Benchmark-Plate-4dia is in store for future posts as this one certainly doesn’t need its already Hammacher-Schlemmer-sized umbrella of a topic growing a node) but I’m currently limited to simple procedures such as the teapots I’ve rendered here in SketchUp where, in illustration of notoriety, these models’ geometric data is prepackaged and easily downloadable as a file titled “utah [or newell] teapot.” Bear in mind as well for my low-level effort that the teapot is usually expectedly smooth and the low polygon count seen was my only way to paint on that cartographic pun. Again, wheelhouse: out of it. And while under the right computational prowess this object can be used to exhibit elaborate naturalistic techniques like light refraction, subsurface scattering, and distance falloff, I’ve here created what looks like Chris Van Allsburg’s venture into Magic Eye solutions. But a lack of CG pedigree is almost more fitting in this context as, even moreso than “Hello, world!”, the contemporary living human has almost assuredly seen intentional displays of this teapot without much fanfare; the legions of women and men working in this field so enwoven in society’s fabric have long enjoyed the community gesture of placing this in-iconography anywhere CGI may be found, e.g. Pixar films; conceding that sometimes a teapot is just a teapot, look out for the specific contours — there’re more brands than Melitta.

But for the conversation at hand, you may be noticing a bit of a square hole that this round pot is trying to fit through. Are you really beginning with the Utah Teapot? Once again, the attempt at ray tracing a vista of initiation cultures yields something blurrier than hoped. The teapot could be the first digestible manifestation of your abilities but you have already accomplished quite a bit technologically before having a use for the kettle. More helpful to us is the Utah SaxoLaxo-The-Burdick-Benchmark-Plate-2Teapot as universal reference point for its associated users and fields of interest: if you’re one of us, you know this. Even more prevalent than the casually placed tea set on the front-end are the allusions to this object on the back-end, whether in product logos or program user interfaces. To this group, the Utah Teapot is the skull in the inverted vanitas of their renderings, functioning not even as a token of their personal progress but of their whole industry’s. For example, there are now many more 3D test models of greater nuance, such as the Cornell Box (which, look up, but is basically the marching reminder of the brain in a vat’s inevitability — look that up too). What this indicates is that the “standard test item,” despite all its satisfyingly compartmentalized searchability, is the proverbial wrong tree for our intended barking. This category leads us to such concepts like the Indian-Head Test Pattern which gives a hint that we are now the in realm of development for the devices themselves and not the people exploring the craft. Beginning a work with yourself is more nuanced than a passable test and certainly encompasses more than the computer sciences. For the above customs, any blog post that endures beyond the publish button has already been tested in this way, with text or images; but what is comparable to the making of the post?


My journalistic calves relax as this lowers us off my tiptoes to a shelf I much more commonly use. Hamburgevons  —interestingly misrepresented by starting a sentence with it, more commonly homogeneously cased as either “hamburgevons” or “HAMBURGEVONS”— is not truly a word, but simply the very collection of letters you see sitting there. Nor is it a standard test item for typography. Our eagerly recurring Lorem ipsum, however, is considered a typographic standard test item the likes of which we covered previously, but while Lorem assists with the macro layout of text we are now delving into the micro calculations of designing the letters themselves.

Such an endeavor does itself have a standard test item, English’s favorite pangram, “the quick SaxoLaxo-Hamburgevons-Process1brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” A pangram’s alphabetically thorough nature is a reasonable way to display a typeface but the same quality makes for a discouraging first step when designing one. Instead, the exact type of custom I’ve been seeking out has emerged for the intrepid burgeoning typSaxoLaxo-Hamburgevons-Process2eface designer. Logic dictates that if there are 26 letters to complete, any number less than that is a good start. The realization then comes —counterintuitively— that alphabetical order is maybe not the best way to address this task when instead you could intentionally select letters that help you establish a projection point for the full typeface before all the work of completion. The Latin script of English (and friends) can be broken into stemmy bits and roundy bits, ascenders and descenders, perpendicular moments and acute crotches and a collection like hamburgevons has a representative assortment of these along with generally notorious letters such as “s” which are nice to just get out of the way. With that all worked out you can now extrapolate from those letters a prognosis of the entire typeface’s health. Designers have their opinions about which letters are most helpful and truthfully hamburgevons, while notable, won’t always be the habit at every foundry. It’s the professionals’ preference for a starting lineup of letters that is more of the cultural custom than the word itself which has its variations:




—or opening up the idea wider—




o, n, O, H

OH no!

O + H = D

There may be those who like to start with the number 7 or who choose new letters for each new project, but the recognized circumstance amongst typeface designers and the culture of thought surrounding it makes the idea of hamburgevons a valuable tool for beginning something new.

(Before carrying on and regardless of exposing my typographic greenness I need to take a moment to just exhale the anecdote that I am chomping down vice-like on my tongue over the sheer amount of times while writing this section I’ve deleted the word font. I supposedly have Steve Jobs to thank for this compulsion, normalizing the label font on word-processors for the role of typeface, and while I do believe in the populist fluidity of language I also appreciate technical precision particularly in a realm where the distinction between the two terms is so entwined with the copyright and patent navigation required for understanding how it is that anyone is able to use text legally. Fittingly then, as a homeopathic explanation, the US rules are convoluted with typefaces being uncopyrightable but patentable and fonts, like software, being copyright protected and license-requiring.)

Cough — now for this subsection’s example, the pattern continuing, I’ve created a typeface with SaxoLaxo-Hamburgevons-Textan arguably debilitating gimmick which is in continuing the 1st-step theme I’ve incorporated the glyph 1 as an integral structure for each letter. Forming anagrams of hamburgevons to see the overall texture (back in macro Lorem territory) I get a kinda gothic vibe; anSaxoLaxo-Hamburgevons-did1d with my 1-glyph rule set giving didone characteristics let’s baptize it Did1 Blackletter. Because of the extremely precise conditions prompting the creation of these letters (it’s truly fresh out of the oven just for you) I can’t in good faith defend its usefulness outside this post. Further undermining applicability is the fact that I’ve only designed hamburgevons and not zildjitwixpiqificky — a different starting option I’m not expecting to catch on. (Furthest, you should apparently consult your lawyer anyway before even thinking of typing on the computer.)

So we now have a wonderfully established first step for approaching a work, but while persistent execution nourishes one’s skills can we turn anywhere for the customs of the beginner herself? I.e. the learning typeface designer graduates through the same cycles of hamburgevons the masters still work with, but what are the customs the masters only reminisce about?


The mysterious workings of the traditional animator — it is with little relish I muse on the cabalistic perception of a craft that can be taught and pursued as easily as any other and while I extend a future invitation to “get off my porch” I really must remove this rocking chair and proceed productively. With the animated flour sack I now present an important development in our study of beginning-culture: the exercise. While a test or a process won’t guarantee the improvement of a skill, exercises always gift a boon to your process and test results. The flour sack exercise is a hand-drawn animator’s touchstone; never a step toward a finished product, your work on the sack yields nothing conveyable but a greater understanding of animation’s principles.

SaxoLaxo-Bouncing-Ball-AnimationThose with no previous interest in animation may nonetheless find their subconscious breached by another classic academism of Walt’s craft: the bouncing ball. This simple depiction, an absolute staple of animation education, is actually closer to “Hello, world!” than the direction we are trying to head with both being proven devices for the demonstration of theory but one-dimensionally unfruitful for continued practice (caveat / “Hello, wSaxoLaxo-Flour-Sack-Classicorld!” / standard test object / etc). Those with not even any previous awareness of the animation industry may even more readily conjure Muybridge’s horse gait photographs which really serve the same function as the bouncing ball but are just less whiteboard friendly.

In differentiation from those models, the flour sack isn’t an example of motion, it’s a tool for exploring it. Key to this is its more technically correct title of “half-filled” sack of flour as it was originally described in The Illusion of Life by Victor Frankenstein Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas (Googlers be warned, however, that “flour sack” returns more animation results while “sack of flour” more sacks of flour — also, briefly, my temporal lobe insisted far longer than I should like to admit that I was in fact searching for the sandbag animation exercise which though still returning results certainly gave the illusion of animation as even more shockingly arcane than it already is). The parameters and purpose of the flour sack have gradually subdivided into two effectively separate lessons, this likely happening as the artform synergized from a centralized industry to a if-you’re-curious interlibrary loan sort of operation. The traditional purpose emphasizes the attribute of “half-filled” and challenges the animator to dance their little flour sack around the page making sure to keep the bag’s volume consistent; this is the principle of SaxoLaxo-Flour-Sack-Flashsquash and stretch: deform your character as much as desired but adhere to the conservation of mass. The newer usage emphasizes the bag itself and challenges the animator to inject the featureless inanimate object with a relateable personality: can you make an audience care about a sack of flour? This style of interpretation often accentuates the tied corners of the bag as the hands and feet of the character in an effort to squeeze out every last potential hint of humanity. Both of these exercises invaluably hone the animator but for the scraped-knee sweaty-browed nitty-gritty of learning you can imagine the old school squash and stretch lesson snarling at Mr. Flour Sack to stop trying to get everyone to like you and simply practice animating.

As a workout there is no cutoff for this act’s effectiveness, but one could imagine an experienced animator needing less from the flour sack once comfortable actualizing more dynamic scenes. As the artist grows, then, our little duffel of cereal grain waltzes into the display case of mementos as a reminder of the journey so far. And with many having taken similar routes, fellow animators can relate their own early experiences encountering a flour sack in the wild before moving on to bigger game. This is a quintessential custom of beginning. However, further nuance appears when acknowledging not everyone attempts or even necessarily likes this illusionistic realism in animation. In deference to this I’ve included in my examples a flour sack exercise more applicable to current 2D animation trends; the idea that squashing and stretching could be something you literally do to an image without needing to redraw it will be a focus of discussion at that future date with my rocking chair but at the moment let’s use it to expose a key feature of the ever-shrouded culture of starting: specific schools of thought.


The Suzuki method of violin instruction typifies this nuance. There are no, as far as I can tell, locked-in customs for the general goal of learning an instrument. Certain aspects like tuning strings may seem paramount but could be left to the parent if the student was young enough; the FACE and Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge of reading sheet music isn’t discipline specific and might be avoided altogether for something like solfège; you may first learn the chords and scales of C on a piano or E on a guitar but beyond the preferences of those involved there is both a sort of egalitarian importance of all chords and an unavoidable fingering and music theory SaxoLaxo-Suzuki-Methoddifficulty scale from majors to sevenths, suspended, and so fourth; and the basic melodies of Twinkle Twinkle and its ilk are so universally known as to be customary beginnings for nothing more specific than human life in general. But subscribe to an individual teaching style and there will be recognized and repeated steps for everyone who follows.

There is no indication that the WB-based Chuck Jones practiced with the Disney-derived flour sack, and Tobias Frere-Jones would likely encourage interns to consider different letters than the apprentices at the Mergenthaler Linotype Company, so it aligns when the Suzuki method is unique in starting their young musicians with a carboard box instead of a violin. That’s right; it takes a well established convention to convince mothers across the globe that they are getting their money’s worth sending their children off to play a piece of cardboard. Not to simply yuk it up here is the twofold  reasoning behind this method: (1) you start musicians as young as possible and don’t want to risk eating $200 every time little Suzy succumbs to artistic differences (2) you ingrain the proper violin playing form before ever touching the real instrument, building a solid chassis before even thinking of installing the engine, sculpting the mold before pouring the metal. The narratively satisfying former point —sharing the logic of Miyagi’s “wax on/off” curriculum— is SaxoLaxo_Suzuki-Foot-Chartmore the spirit of the law as even the stabler motor control of older children still warrants the cardboard. The ideology is continued in the usage of a foot chart with a dance-step-like diagram showing the paragonic violinist’s stance and how to get in it. And as the pupil stands on their hoedown-caller of a mat with the mere illustration of a Stradivarius under their chin they lift in the air what else but a stringless wooden stick — “ready for Carnegie Hall, Ma.” This mute setup, for older students at least, doesn’t last as long as perhaps the rest of the household hopes. They earn their real violin but may still be guided by the foot chart while Suzuki’s other customs steep, e.g. the bookending respectful bow with rhetorical call and response (“I’m ready to learn/teach” or “thank you/no you” or whatever personal agendas encouraged) and the fostering of learning songs ear first, musical notation not appearing until many sessions deep.

Enjoy the reality of this custom by buying a cardboSaxoLaxo_Suzuki-placematard violin yourself. Known under different trademarks these are called Box Violins or Cherub Box Violins or Foam-a-lins (with alternate material to match) and are not complete without their bald bow. A variety, but not a glut, of music vendors offer these products and if ordering online you get the perk of receiving the product in a backup model. The foot chart is traditionally DIY and involves tracing your actual feet for the ultimate in luxury customization. My model was made on the back of a placemat and in the enterprising spirit of selling nonmusical simulacra it’s tempting to market an official Suzuki placemat with its frontside design depicting how to flip it over and make a foot chart yourself. Be advised looking at my images, however; that I didn’t actually capture the advocated footwork but remembered my teacher’s addition of a smiley face is indicative of the same traits that left me dwelling hypnotized by the Suzuki logo far longer than I spent practicing the contents of the books it appeared on. I recreated this logo above out of that still lingering fascination and the lack of any existing vector version online. Having said all that, the shipping marks in the header’s violin schematic are neither an error nor a meditation but what can instructionally be called a gag.

This stands, now, as our apotheosis of beginning customs: outsiders don’t know it, masters don’t need it, disciples won’t forget it, teacher’s insist on it, ability is shaped by it, and careers begin with it. It’s an artifact and a lesson, a memory and a recyclable, and I love that in humanity’s quest to explore existence and get good at doing so we devise these trail markers and climbing pitons in the form of culture to guide any traveler who has seen the distant peaks and wondered where first to step. Lest ye worry about a bottomless pit of subsections let me evoke my opening observation of this subject’s elusiveness before moving on to the denouement of our survey.


Let’s be honest. A better researcher than I could surely have compiled The comprehensive master list of customary beginnings. For all the probing in attempt to broaden my references I was only able to flesh out subjects already carried into my search. But in the leave-the-campsite-better-then-you-found-it tradition, as a first step for at least the conversational exchange of experiences, may this post get us all started. And as a warning-sign-dubious-certificate-hanging-in-office indication of my authority, here is a defectively classified and positioned table of contents:

Programming – “Hello, world!”

Computer Graphics – Utah Teapot

Typeface Design – hamburgevons

Traditional Animation – Half-Filled Flour Sack

Suzuki Method – Box Violin

There is one remaining system that I’d like to lob in the manner of “no tag-backs” spurring, if possible, your own pursuit of examples. The German Journeyman —I resist the urge to leave those words without any explanation— is potentially, more than any of my previous offerings, closest to the prima materia of initiation culture. Originating in Medieval Europe the journeyman years are a stage of learning between apprenticeship and mastery undertaken by craftsmen of artisanal specialties and remains a recognized custom in the form of French Compagnons and German Wandergesellen: journeymen. What makes this so special is that, more than just a title, it is a yore-based system rich with ceremonies, living arrangements, circumscriptions, terminology, a head-to-toe symbolically laden uniform, a-c-c-e-s-s-o-r-i-e-s, and all this not in the name of their career but specifically the very budding quest for knowledge; and get charmed, all summed up as the Waltz. This isn’t school as obligation but education as sacrament. At least in theory, because, as I’ve been building up to, I really don’t know much of anything about this custom and hope instead that some of you might. The inaccessibility of this topic in toto has only heightened my curiosity and, as discovered, I need to hear from those that have experienced these customs first hand.

So what have you been through? Are my mentioned items not ringing true in your worldliness? What’s the equivalent of the Wingardium Leviosa charm in your field? What’s the early enemy that became effortless in the last chapters of your RPG? Do the computer sciences have more apposite routines than those I’ve given? I’ve had “no way” conversations with cardboard Suzuki flautists, but is there some stronger commonality? Would music be best paired with the 12 bar blues? Even among activities I’ve partaken in — I’m at a loss for the opening moves of filmmaking; are tape and razor blades too bygone for editing? Is the pinch pot too smushed into the whole of pottery? Is the mirror game too peripheral to acting? Do electricians agree on a simplest circuit? What does every mechanic remember? Welders? Carpenters? Gardeners? Doctors? Goaltenders? Is the rifleman’s creed considered more proclamatory than developmental in the military; is boot camp too broad a concept; service stripes more end than means? What’s the first thing every HVAC contractor learns?  In lieu of these subsections, and in signification of receiving your traditions subsequently, the following paragraph will have to stand in for anything substantive. It’s really not worth parsing through it at all being, remember, only a placeholder.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.


So then what of the first blog post? The reality is that blogging as a medium is tremendously derivative of preexisting communication forms and its unique properties simply don’t demand any particularly wacky initiation; but the fact that its clearest differentiating feature is its onlinity should indicate both that the blog’s culture is anthropologically nascent and that when it does grow it will be very odd indeed. Presently, then, what is this post doing for me?

I’ve milked out at least 5 solid drips working on this, 5 drips to deposit on the young stalagmites of blogging customs:

1 – This identifies myself among you as someone with a real bad case of overthinkopathy and tangentitis: preemptive admission. While this post isn’t a template I’ll adhere to, my evident compulsion to express ideas virality unconsidered will remain the backbone and motive of this blog: pith before hits (okay, Scroller, if not pith then marrow). A large audience is a powerful thing, but I never want to waste even a single person’s time with something I’m not passionate about communicating.

2 – This post sets the precedent that all work presented here, however discrete, will be from my hand exclusively — transformative or educational fair use noted if necessary, but always in the service of new work (e.g. I didn’t conceive the Suzuki logo, nor did I repost an existing example informationally, but I did recreate the logo, and did so from scratch). The effortless shareability of content is one of the most compelling features of online art dissemination, but it has muddled up attribution to neolithic levels despite the content spreading at grey goo speeds. To keep things tidy, if you see it here, I’m creatively responsible; the whiz-bang creations of more deserving others will be linked to off-site. With not even a lack of judgement but a full respect for the cellular differentiation required of our multicellular internet, I will be serving as not an aggregating hub but a content creator.

3 – As an entrance into the world of social media, SEO, and analytics, this post does its share in connecting this blog to like a crapload of distinct keyword niches. Coming full circle to my own fruitless googling, I hope this post to be a replying signal lamp to anyone seeking similar clarification. As greater aid to that purpose here are my literal inquiries and “long-tail keywords” in the hopes of being there for the tired searcher I see myself in, though I don’t know a true way to make this backward compatible for the range I was looking for. The asterisk, read as a variable even within quotes, stands in for any disciplinal nouns and verbs, but we’ll use “painting” as our bait alongside. (This is like slide rule data-scraping.) And as I plugged in countless occupations let this unsuccessful list denote the dearth of helpful results and accompanying hunger.

  • tradition exercise learning * / tradition exercise learning painting
  • “traditional first step” / “traditional first step painting”
  • first thing you learn * / first thing you learn painting
  • classic introductory practice exercises for * / classic introductory practice exercises for painter
  • first skill to learn as a * “start by” / first skill to learn as a painter “start by”
  • good first project beginner / good first project beginner painter
  • before you master you must start with * / before you master painting you must start with
  • “first thing every * learns” / “first thing every painter learns”
  • “every * starts” / “every painter starts”
  • every beginner * knows how / every beginner painter knows how
  • cliche * assignments / cliche painting assignments
  • “every * has” / “every painter has”
  • every beginner * knows how / every beginner painter knows how
  • * first assignment / painting first assignment
  • first thing a * needs to master / first thing a painter needs to master
  • * beginner projects / painter beginner projects
  • first thing to make in * class / first thing to make in painting class
  • first thing to learn in * class / first thing to learn in painting class
  • first type of project / first type of painting project
  • beginner * first test / beginner painter first test
  • first project learning * / first project learning painting
  • what’s the first subject beginner * / what’s the first subject beginner painter
  • every * starts by / every painter starts by
  • * first technique to master / painting first technique to master
  • classic * lessons examples / classic painting lessons examples
  • classic beginner * “everyone learns” / classic beginner painter “everyone learns”
  • classic beginner “everyone has *” / classic beginner “everyone has painted”
  • classic beginner “every student has” / classic beginner “every painting student has”
  • first * assignment classic / first painting assignment classic
  • when teaching * start with / when teaching painting start with
  • every beginner learn how to / every beginner painter learn how to
  • first test every * performs / first test every painter performs
  • learning to * first test / learning to paint first test

(and for anyone arriving here looking for the answer to these specific searches, let me save you some time and say “still life” until I hear of something more detailed)

4 – A blog is only as good as the people that read it. If weary travelers find this page through search terms like above may they either be quenched with answers or pour from their own flagon to fill the scholarly cups I’ve left empty like the bad host I am. As hopefully now perceptibly emboldened, I’d love to hear your first steps. I’d love to hear your reactions. I’d love to hear your reasons why my concept parameters are faulty or misguided. All communication, from art to legalese, is interactive when encountered, so don’t confuse this with a fresco, hit me in my bandwidth. And onward, may our engagement forever be uncontrived and unpatronizing (a blogger’s blessing to hang over the web browser).

5 – Benefit number 5 will carry us through and out of this post, as it describes the obligatory act of completion. Perhaps most similar to the flour sacks and box violins discussed, the very act of completing something and exposing it publicly is a skill, trainable and imperative. Benefits 1–4 are stylistic or managerial, churned in one’s headspace, but finishing things is a muscle. To have actually published this is the best step I could take for creating work online. The length of text you’ve just bravely risked burning your retinas against might be noticeably symptomatic of someone who can find a million reasons to never end anything. Surely I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time on this single post. This is true. But it would have taken an even more inappropriate amount of time to edit this down to something more preferred. I may be a fool, but I’m no idiot. Arguably. If something is to exist in the world, affix its endpoint .

With life-giving curiosity well circulated through the entirety of this post’s body I now notice the blood-like taste of irony as the conclusion of how to begin is to finish. While bitterly obvious for a medium such as this where the continued release of new material is an actual qualification for the position, it still looms ever-winking as The Requirement of all endeavors. Finish. Gestation periods are real and some projects are Irish twin elephant calves, but as the concealed initiations have proven witnessable by only your deliberate entry; likewise, on tangible agency, you will always need to put that damn foot down before you can take another step. Finish this post. Consider, infinity is not the greatest value but an untold size, so the infinite possibilities of an unfinished story are not greater than the single possibility of a finished one, just untold. Knowing you can always make something else, end what you’ve begun, and accept the inevitable that no matter how much time you spend everything will never be perfet.

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