Decisions, Decisions

Get to bed early or write another post of at least moderate length? I haven’t been getting enough sleep, but lately it seems if I allow enough time for sleep, I’ll just wake early and be unable to sleep during the last 2+ hours. Alarm goes off at 2:30 AM. That’s 8 hours from the absolute earliest I could be asleep if I hurried to bed now.

On another note, following my initial click to publish this, I think my categories need help. I see things I am not sure I’d use and feel like there are things missing. Almost as if the blog had been neglected for years…

About Time to Update Theme

If I’m going to make a habit of posting, I really should change the theme to something better than the default that existed at the time we moved AV to WordPress. I have one I customized and used across multiple topical blogs a few years back, nice and crisp. Still not sure I intend to go with incorporating this into a suite of blogs as that would imply. Heck, still not sure I shouldn’t pack up and become more anonymous. The ridiculous post that mortified me and led me to examine myself so intently was seen bay more people who know me personally than I might have suspected, though that would only have taken one stray person seeing it and letting others know. Template change would be minimal.

Ironically, I want to write. That’s part of the point, exercising the writing juice. Usually I’d trip up on trying to make things perfect and then forget I had something to say. This may all come out as too stream of consciousness, and there may be typos or awkward constructions I don’t catch as I go, but it’s writing. If I am to get back into my book, being in a writing flow will help. So I’m noting the theme needing work, but instead of leaping on it, it’s a “do I have to?” kind of thing.


While I was at work or in the car I had at least one post and update in my head. Can’t begin to remember what they were, except probably at least one had to do with my Melody series, haphazard as it is, and pretty sure one had to do with the mea culpa on my old friend. Perhaps I’ll remember as the day passes. Easy enough to say something about the former, at least, even if it wasn’t the one I was mentally composing. I haven’t scratched the surface. I was thinking how obsessive it might seem. Almost as if I have traits that are autistic or OCD.

Ooh! I remember part of it! Teach Your Children, update to the previous post, which I dashed off before work.

Here We Go Again?

I can’t believe it’s been almost two years since I last posted. Well, I can. The urge to write has to be there. Taking the time has to be there. Feeling inspired has to be there. Not being skittish about posting has to be there. And I have to have made up my mind where and how and what i am blogging.

The plan referred to years a couple posts ago was that I would render this old personal blog a culture and perhaps personal oriented blog in a whole set of blogs on various topics. It has the benefit of being well established. I had thought I’d start using my real name rather than a pseudonym or pen name. After all, if nobody will hire me and I’m semi-retired as a result anyway, who cares if my political leanings offend. I’m leaning back the other way.

I’ve even considered starting completely fresh. New name. New domain. Too many people know me personally despite the pen name. This is not the post to address the grief this has caused, but this has had everything to do with the lack of blogging, going back as far as eleven years.

Part of the trouble with the suite of blogs idea was the work it would involve to do it right. Doing it right would mean the hope of making some money at it. My expectations have lowered. I just need the creative, intellectual and emotional outlet.

Should I bother to post here? I don’t know. There are things I must post here before it’s too late. One, anyway.

Beyond that, I have been bursting with inspiration. A single film I never saw when it came out in 1971, which might have been formative if I had, has given me enough to say to write several posts. If I wrote only one, it would be verbose even for me and would make no sense at all.

I have learned that I can roadblock myself with planning, preparation, and second thoughts. Granted, I need to be thoughtful enough to avoid hurting people with words I’ll forever regret, but I don’t need to spend weeks or months thinking about what domain, what topics, what blogging package and template or to hand code, only to lose my inspiration or nerve. It’s much like perfecting the resume getting in the way of job hunting, or perfecting every angle o your business idea keeping you unlaunched.

So here’s a warm up post that says not much but declares that I expect to fire away. Stay tuned… (Also, forgot to mention that I’m increasingly disturbed by the way social media in general and Facebook in particular co-opted blogging. That’s another incentive.)

Or Not

I keep seeing the previous post and thinking I need to say something about it, since no change happened, obviously. Here is what happened…

I had setup various blogs with different topics/areas of focus, on the idea I would operate – and be the only contributor to! – an entire blog group. thereby making money doing an easy form of writing. I feel comfortable with writing. However, it’s easiest to write short snippets of observation, commentary, or even information. Fiction and longer writing are hard.

Well, maybe they are not hard, but they are work. Duh. They require undisturbed focus. But then, so does short writing, and the work around maintaining the platform properly and generating an audience. It can be done, despite the heyday of blogs being over. I might be better to try a YouTube channel! I’d say I have a face for blogging, but I have seen what some of the YouTubers look like, and perhaps I’d also be self-effacing.

Shockingly, this domain still has a fair Page Rank. I had places for food, business and economics, book reviews, politics and economics/philosophy, tech (which could also cover geek interests and thus overlapped with culture), and “quick hits” – links and fast, snarky remarks shades of Twitter if it were still any good. I did not have a place for culture and personal interests. I had planned to re-purpose this place to be that part of the blogging empire. That might have included my interests in camping, bushcraft and prepping, though I’d considered another separate blog for that. On the other hand, that would make more sense if I actually got out and did that. Watching other people definitely falls under culture.

That would have filled a void and taken advantage of this domain still being somebody.

It apparently disheartened me more than I had realized, getting in trouble for things I have posted. The first time caused the big crash in my blogging and probably cost a large amount of money, as it was back when there was easier money in blogging and some was coming our way. It was a bad time generally. That was a locally newsworthy thing that had a personal connection. It might have been best left unremarked, and I do feel mildly bad in retrospect. However, I quite literally felt that my life and the lives of my family were in danger from the person who objected. I didn’t need an offer I couldn’t refuse, apart from seeing the point of it needing not to be there, so I took it right down. Google’s cache didn’t follow my footsteps promptly enough for people with modest understanding of the internet. Ugh.

The second time was more recent, and really needs a post in its own right. I’d forgotten or been unaware people actually visited here who would know what I was talking about when I didn’t name names in an utterly inane post written in a long overdue fit of pique that ultimately said more about me than about the person who’d angered me. Ironically, I am no longer even a little angry at the person who provoked the post, just sad that my actions are unforgivable, but I am annoyed at the person who pointed out how crazy I was being. Not for pointing it out. That I appreciate, and wish I’d seen sooner. I regret that I have more chance of recovering in the eyes of the person who set me off than I ever will in the eyes of the person who was angry at my anger. Anyway, I learned a lot about myself in the introspection that followed since, but the whole thing hovers over the very idea of blogging like a bleak shadow of don’t do it.

Finally, all these blogs? For money? I started because it was fun! I loved expressing myself this way. I had things to say, and enjoyed the interaction with readers and other bloggers. If I’m going to blog, that ought to be the reason. Nor should it need to be divided by topic among a vast array of blogs for marketing purposes. We’ll see. Short story long, that explains what I had meant by a change coming, and what happened to it.

I May Have Started This

Waaaaaaay back about 2003 I described Die Hard as my favorite Christmas movie. I feel like it has taken ten years for it to become something of a meme, enough for people to say that, yes, Die Hard is not a “Christmas movie.”

For the record, I meant it tongue in cheek. I had developed a tradition of rewatching Die Hard at this time of year because it’s so worth watching again, and the Christmas elements made it seem timely. The same is true of While You Were Sleeping, even if that is not a “teach it in how-to-make-a-decent-film class” the way Die Hard is.

Arguably the meme peaked for me a few weeks ago when I saw a character is Josh Roseman’s fantastic Secret Santa ebook refer to Die Hard as his favorite Christmas movie.

So while I sympathize with Sean Hackbarth in his defense of it on Facebook, I am more inclined to agree with Doug Mataconis et al.

But I reserve the right to keep calling it “my favorite Christmas movie” if only out of habit. It’s a Wonderful Film.

Late to the Party

Correct, but many years late. I was all over the “it’s a post, not a blog” topic several years ago. It drove me nuts! It still does, and seems to have increased lately, but as people told me even then, that horse has left the barn and I’m not going to stop it.

Thus it surprises me to see someone at Slate jump on it now, and be linked by Glenn.

This is a post. Or an entry. Or an article. Or even a piece. On a blog. A blog post, if you will. Or a blog entry, blog article, blog piece, this little thing I dashed off, whatever, but it is not “a blog.”

As I said years past, saying “I wrote a blog” is like saying “I wrote a magazine.” The entire thing. Funnier still when the verb used is “published.” Perhaps you could write a whole magazine, though likely that’d be a fanzine, and you’d be hard pressed not to include… articles contributed by others.

If you say “I published a blog on the mating habits of invasive African snails” I will wonder how an entire blog could be devoted to such a finite topic, and whether it wouldn’t be better simply to post on a more expansive blog about snails in general. Ditto for a “blog” about speed records set by unladen African swallows. That’s enough for a post, perhaps, but an entire blog? I know you for illiterate at blogging, and take you less seriously.

Ten Years

I managed to miss posting about my tenth blogiversary ON that date, February 25, 2013, but ironically posted my first in ages goofy quiz result, after a break of almost two months. Blogging in the early days relied heavily on such quiz posts.

So. Ten years! Of blogging. Sort of. It’s an anniversary, but it might mean more to me had I blogged more regularly. On the other hand, I was very nearly a “big name blogger” in my heyday. It’s just that my heyday was essentially the first year, and to a lesser extent the next year or two, coinciding neatly with Changes.

For a long time, I have been something of a homeless blogger, spread thin by life and the pursuit of side income from this writing. Wringing income for the family from past glory that had more to do with editing and managing than writing was all well and good, while it lasted. Who knew! Their turned out to be a way to make money from Carnival of the Capitalists after all, and if it had been active and the site I used for administering it updated regularly, we’d still have that. Or if I had even kept updating it as a general business blog, as intended. Anyway, things got rocky for Deb and I, and it was reflected in volume and location of my posts. I saw income opportunity, and that made me try to spread things around by category: food, tech, business and economics, politics, even culture. I went back to blogging solo. I went back to blogging jointly. I had and abandoned ideas. I had and didn’t launch ideas. My interests changed. Life intervened, yet not writing makes me feel empty. At this point, I see writing as my only logical career path, which is absurd, considering how hard it might be to make real money, even with self-publishing what it is. If I never make more from blogging, I really need to post, to feel right. Facebook isn’t the same, however much it contributed to making blogging a “dead medium.”

In the early days, blogging was social media.

There grew to be what I thought of as overlapping circles of bloggers. Each circle being a group of like-minded or otherwise friendly with each other bloggers – or sometimes non-blogger commenters – who would comment and share among the group in particular, but who were sometimes effectively part of more than one group. There are people I call friends, met through blogging. Oh, and a wife, who gave me three lovely children. Nothing virtual about that.

I posted anything I wanted, though not in the outrageous details of, say, Acidman, not worrying who might read it. I didn’t worry about the topic, since it was a general blog. I’d like to try going some of the way back to that, though unless it were an anonymous blog, I’d still pause and consider who might be reading. Family didn’t know about blogs, at first. Now having a pen name is not enough. At least, not the pen name they all know. We were at Blogblivion for a long time, so people might not look for us here. Same goes for having posted sparsely so long, and for my having blogged solo in places.

My goal has been to import stuff, if not ALL the things, from the old version of AV, from BB, and from some of the topical or solo blogs, bringing it all back here. You can see how far I got, considering it is May and that was one of my “yay, the kids are in school” projects. But then, my goal has also been to write longer things, like a book about my business experience.

Maybe I can’t write for a living. Maybe it can only be an outlet. Blogging was made for that. That’s not what this post is about, but I have no idea what I might do for a living otherwise, to step it up beyond a part-time job, however well paid. I seem to have lost all interest in computers, and between the changes inherent in the passage of time since I closed the business, and the lack of keeping current that was part of why the business had to close, I have limited confidence. Not zero, since I know how inherently brilliant I am at learning and figuring these things out – or intuiting them – but you gotta have skills to get work that pays. Which has been a problem for us, the donut hole situation. What I make on about 22 hours would need to be about five times as much on a 40 hour job that had to pay additional taxes, health costs, and daycare… to break even, but lose time. Add in the confidence I lost when I was unable to interview successfully, for what little I got that far at, and my lack of desire to make the economy look good for this administration, and you have a bit of an impasse.

Remember when my tagline was “but I digress…”? There’s a reason for that!

Here’s to many more years of digression, and hoping the blogosphere doesn’t die entirely.

Happy Anniversary!

On this day nine years ago, we were on our way from Fresno to Las Vegas, arriving late in the afternoon at the Luxor. After checking in, we searched for the place where you pay the government for the right to be married. And searched. Eventually, we found it. A clever sales guy outside snagged our business for the Las Vegas Wedding Chapel. No idea where we’d have ended up, left to our own devices. That worked out, and we rewarded him for the good sense to patrol the opposite side of the street from the mob of other chapel sales people.

And so we got married, as originally planned, sight unseen, we’d hit it off that well long distance. Is friendship the best basis for marriage? Does agreeing on most things supply longevity that might not be there if it were mainly about an overheated attraction? Perhaps. We each had some second thoughts, even then, and we’ve not been problem-free. Yet we don’t seem to be going anywhere, and non-traditional though we may sometimes be, the kids do not appear to be doomed to grow up in a sundered household, as I and so many did. Have the rocky parts ultimately strengthened us? Arguably so.

All told, I can’t imagine my life alone, or with that hypothetical wasn’t-gonna-happen someone else. Or without the three kids. These specific kids, born of this particular mother. I can regret my age and timing, and ponder mightabeens, but wow. Just wow.

Time travel to the post I wrote after my return home, five days later, apparently my first substantive post following the wedding.

Cooking, Blogging and Tech, Oh My

Or: Pay attention to your sites, dude.

Once upon a time, Jeff Soyer started a food blog called Single Guy Cook, which I hough was a brilliant idea. Unfortunately, it ran out of steam quickly, given limited funds and repertoire.

That inspired me to start one called Married Guy Cook, since I used to post frequently about what I’d cook, and I’d gotten deeply into cooking since getting married. Unfortunately, it hobbled along, given limited funds and repertoire, and I trailed off due to that and other issues. However, it was a popular and lucrative site, for a time, for earning money.

That and being even more broke than ever (I’d never realized while I was self-employed just how low my income was, though I did know that it was incredibly rocky – impossible, technically – to live on it) were part of the inspiration for starting Frugal Guy Cook, to which I ported the posts from Married Guy Cook.

Then I all but abandoned it, despite all my plans to make money from it, and to expand the focus to being frugal in this ridiculous economy and to handling our son’s multiple allergies and sensitivities. That meant it didn’t build much content or garner page rank, and never became a potential source of income. Granted, that was partly the reperoire thing, and the money thing goes without saying, but that was part of the schtick. Only so many things you can tout doing with dried pinto beans, cheap burger on sale (OK, that’s an oxymoron these days; burger that is sometimes on sale for less epensive enough to justify its purchase, if only because we have to eat), cheap beef on sale, cheap chicken on sale, rice, and what vegetables we can afford, or buy regardless. I never buy fish, for instance, because $5/lb and up is “rich people food.” Indeed, my current conundrum is that since my stents, I am supposed to eat healthier, and while there have been steps in that direction, going whole hog means money. And if I do spend more on food, it ceases to be “frugal,” at least by my standards. The next couple weeks will test my frugality. We have a freezer relatively full of meat, which helps, and are well stocked in other things, but I expect to have maybe $60 or so to spend through November 9th (maybe more, but there’s also gas, and I have to plan low rather than optimistic). Bread alone is $6-7 a week. Anyway, I digress.

I slacked off on that site so badly that I have yet to fix the weirdness that porting from the old one caused, or adjust the theme to look less funny as a result (or replace the theme).

On my last big shopping trip, I got a sugar pumpkin on sale for 29ยข a pound. Cheap and I love making pumpkin bread or other things from the source, though canned is easier. Yesterday I went looking for a pumpkin bread recipe. I may have had one saved on my computer, but my computer, and the spare one into which I put the till working drive from the dead one, is dead. I thought I might have written about making pumpkin bread, and if so, it might have made it onto the food blog. Otherwise it’s a matter of finding a likely looking recipe and trying it, rather than using one I knew was good from past use. Not that there’s much you can do to mess up pumkin bread. Besides, I can always make pumpkin cake, which is a matter of using pumpkin as the liquid in the egg and dairy-free cake recipe and adding appropriate seasoning.

In the course of checking whether I’d ever posted it, I found that every picture in every post I looked at had been replaced by a square graphic saying “SHOPWIKI.” Clicking the picture, rather than bringing up a larger version, took me to a site not my own.

“How was I hacked,” I wondered.

Well, I wasn’t. I allowed the old domain to expire, an unusual thing for me, but sometimes there’s reason to let go. The posts I had ported still pointed to graphics (and sometimes internal links) on the old domain. Which now belongs to someone else. My experience with lapsed domains, even if they have no page rank, is that someone snaps them up and makes them page full of ad links, such that they will generate at least something over the cost of registering and hosting the domain. It’s what my old business partner would have called “yawn money.” Make money while you sleep. Even if it’s a little, even if it’s some tiny form of arbitrage, it will add up and be something you wouldn’t make otherwise. I could go for some of that.

I still had all the graphics, mind you. The folder the old domain had been in was totally intact. So I copied it to the new location and modified each wrong URL directly in the database. Easy, but a bit embarrassing, given that it should have been done at the time of the port.

The moral of the story, I’d say, is pay attention. If you’re going to have a blog empire, mind your blog empire. If you’re going to write, write. If you’re going to maintain places to write, maintain them. Don’t be surprised if neglect leads to decay.

At the moment, I am only posting here, trying to do it regularly, building back up a blog we should never have left fallow in the first place. If it weren’t for the difficulty in porting Expression Engine to WordPress, the entire original content would be here, rather than archived. The conundrum is that topical blogs are lucrative. That was part of the reason for Frugal Guy Cook in the first place. I’ll probably post food-related stuff here now, but it’s an opportunity missed. Same for tech blogging and business blogging. I fell out of both, tech in paricular, since I all but stopped doing it for a living, and I lacked the money to keep myself up to date, which feeds the no doing it for a living and vice-versa. We’ll see what happens. For the time being, writing and maintaining this stuff is de facto a job for me, so all the more reason it should get caught up and get done routinely. Income, however speculative and lacking in direct connection to the effort, won’t be possible at all otherwise.